RV Slides, More and Bigger, May Not Be Better

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April 1, 2010

Slides, or pop-outs, are abundant on most of today’s motor coaches and trailers. Depending on the RV make, model, size and floor plan will normally dictate the number of slides. There may be one or there may be multi.  There are small slides and there are full wall ones. Additionally there are varying depths usually from about 12” to 36” or more.

So, how many is enough? More may not always be better  While bigger and more may provide additional interior space, it may have trade-offs. Let’s look at some of the other considerations one should take into account, for each choice.

 Multi (3 or 4) deep slides may provide very little livability when faced with overnight stops where slide deployment is not possible. Access to the bathroom may be awkward for larger people during travel times. The vehicle will be heavier than those with less or no slides. Generally, for most multi-slide units, slides on one side must be deployed to attain a reasonable comfort level.

Single side slides (1 or 2) may he slightly less livable when faced with overnight stops where slide deployment is not possible. Access to the bathroom may be awkward for larger people during travel times. The vehicle will be heavier than those without slides.

Non-Slide units provide the same space in all circumstances.  Generally they can boondock in locations that slide types would not and also have more parking choices when in the same place.  Their weight is generally much lower than a slide equipped unit of the same make and basic model.

But, all the new class A units and fifth wheel trailers seem to be multi-slide.  Do they even make two or no slide coaches anymore?  Well, the answer to that is yes, however only in some makes and models.

Slides also tend to make basement access more challenging, not only overhanging it, but reducing the door and storage height also.  Passenger side slides protrude into the area that generally is covered with the patio awning, thus reducing the canopied space.  Additionally the awning material, if overhung the slide, may be subject to wear from contact with the slide top and corners.

So, what about full wall slides? Generally these are available on some large class A coaches.  While they do provide an abundance of interior space, they do have some disadvantages.  You will note that the full wall slide is always on the driver side of the vehicle, as is normally, the AquaHot or similar hydronic boiler.  However, by regulation, the fuel fired boiler can not be mounted and exhausted beneath a slide.  Therefore, full wall slide units have the hydronic burner exhaust, you guessed it, right in the patio area.  So if you are planning to sit beneath your awning with friends, perhaps enjoying an outside television, you better make sure the fueled portion of the burner is in the off position.  Additionally, slides, and particularly large slides such as full wall, increase the vehicle weight and possibly the weight distribution.

Now, you may think I’m an advocate for less or no slides, but this is not the case.  In fact, I have a four slide unit currently.  It is just that various designs and options often involve some form of trade-off.  The difficult thing, may be to get the right balance, that is to get the one you want, providing you can accept any trade-offs that may come with it.

On Thursday, April 15th we will be looking at a new innovation in coach slide-outs, the 5 slide.  Don” t miss it.

So, how many slides do you have, or want?

Just Counting Slides    –    Lug_Nut    –     Peter Mercer

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  3. Jen Snyder

    Oh, and we will use ours year round for dog shows and weekend camping in campgrounds and then considerably for weekends in the ski area parking lot in the winter too…iv’e heard slides in the winter can get froze/stuck out???

  4. Jen Snyder

    Our hang up on slide vs non-slide has been more in the repair arena…like with power windows and doors in cars early on there were problems but those have been worked out…I’ve heard that RV repair garages are kept in business (slight exaggeration) in large part by slide repair…what’s your experience? AND is it a case that perhapse the newer slide models have worked those “kinks” out? how old is too old to get a used rv that would have modern reliable slide construction assuming there were “kinks” and that those “kinks” have been worked out that is…

  5. Mark Gray

    I moved up from towing a dual axle trailer to class A coach 7 years ago.
    I am now alone with my husky and we travel all over the US. Right now I am I am living in the RV in my sister’s driveway.
    My coach loaded weighs 13,500 lbs loaded (weight checked at Pilot) and I get 10MPG + if I am not running the generator, the generator drops me down to 8-9 mpg but it lets me run the roof AC and a big ‘Class A’ audio system for my music, and my PC. I have no slide outs and I don’t need any. While traveling I sleep between the big trucks and stay frequently at Pilot Travel Centers.
    At every place where there are other RVs as well as mine my rug is the smallest of the group but it is plenty for a single guy and dog.
    I am often entertained watching a rig pull in, park, deploy slide-outs and setup camp, takes them 30 minutes to sit down, takes me 5 minutes if I get fancy.
    If I ever have a family again I will rethink my requirements but for me right now my Winnebago Itasca Sunrise 32RQ is perfect for me (and my dog!).

  6. George

    Jim Spellman states “for the perceived additional elbow room” . It’s not perceived elbow room, it is actual elbow room. I just went from 3 slides to 4 (both fivers) and yes there are drawbacks. I can boondock at Flying J or Walmart and except for crawling “over” the bed to get to my side, I don’t need to put my slides out. If I’m at WalMart I usually park near a light standard and I feel safe putting the slides out knowing that if someone runs into my slide they will also hit the light post. On the other side I put out 12″ orange pylons to warn pedestrians and drivers of my slide and my step. I had two trailers with no slides and there is NO comparison. I now live in a home not a tube.

  7. Lug_Nut

    Gary, Another two slider. The two slide definately has less trade-offs than a four. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for your input.

  8. Gary

    Two slides for me please. Super slide in the living room and a small one for the bed. The only trouble I have ever had was blowing the fuse for the little slide. The first time it happened, I about had the whole thing dismantled before I found the problem. Now I carry a big package of the slow blows and can change it in a heartbeat. It has been working pretty good for a while. I think that the original problem started when “someone” either me or my wife forgot to move the hard camera case out of the way. The case got sprung and the slide got stopped. Everything in my RV is accessible with the slide in except the living room TV. We are still spry enough that we can crawl across the bed to get to the closet if we have to . We can watch the bedroom tv with the slide in and all of the needed “stuff” for basic survival is accessible. Oh, I almost forgot – my wife can’t get to her cast iron with the big slide in… yikes.

  9. Lug_Nut

    Traveling Light 2, Excellent point. The unrestricted patio plus easy to get to basement on the passenger side. Thanks for sharing that with us and for your very fitting input.

  10. Traveling Light 2

    For me and mine, wife, 2 dogs and a cat, we think 2 slides is best. One in living room, one in bedroom. Living room slide to the street side please, so we get full use of patio awning.

  11. Jim G, So true. A bigger house is only as good as what more you can use. Hopefully you were thinking along those lines too, otherwise, I’m not going there. Thank you for posting that bit of fun and reality.

  12. Bill Amick, Yes, you get hooked on the extra space provided by more slides. Before you get that 2 slide LR, check it out closed first. If it serves you then, go for it. Thanks for your great input.

  13. Jim G, It sure is food for thought. With the right configuration in a “C” it might work well. Thank you for your participation on this topic.

  14. Art Armstrong, Now if you could drive a double-wide down the road, you might really have something there. Thanks for the thought and interesting input.

  15. Jim G

    Like so many aspects of our lives, it could be said that size doesnt matter, rather it is how you make the best use of what you have

  16. Bill Amick

    I spent some time years ago in my Dad’s coach, before slides became popular. Then a 2 years ago we bought an ’02 Diplomat, our first coach. It has 2 slides, LR & BR, and we love it. I would never have one without at least 2 slides. Next coach, we will look for 2 LR slides and 1 BR slide. The difference in room is tremendous. In our coach, we can access everything with slides in. The LR is just smaller and the BR is not a walk-around queen bed island…no problem and very comfortable. We LOVE our “Dip”.

  17. Jim G

    With a Class C with 1 slide, I often think it would be nice to have 2 slides, with one in the bedroom however this posting and related comments give me pause to reconsider. Either way, good food for thougth

  18. Art Armstrong

    When we first bought our triple a few years ago our kids called it the “POP OUT CAMPER”.

    I’m waiting for them to design a half and half MH………….split right down the middle and each half slides out…….oh wait I think that would be called a double wide!!

    We’re “camping” !!!!!


  19. Bill Pelkey, Good point. Slides make a larger space for more comfortable living, especially for full timing. Thank you for your great input on this topic.

  20. Jim Spellman, Yes, that is certainly a growing trend. Thank you for taking the time and for a very fitting comment.

  21. Ken Locarnini, It’s easy to see you embrace change. Thanks for your super slide input.

  22. Feeline, The Ambassador is a nice coach. If I’m not wrong they make, or made, a unit with an office in the rear, even with a rear window. That one offers alot, even retracted. Thanks for your informative input.

  23. Dirk, Yes, many are head bangers. And it’s always the bin you need, under the slide. Thanks for your valued input.

  24. George Rogers, Actually it has nothing to do with time. It’s about other issues as outlined. Thanks for your input.

  25. Dr Quick, Well, unfortunitely, the most gadgets you have on your RV the more issues, other stuff, not only slides. But, your point is well taken. Thank you for adding your great comment.

  26. riggarob, Sounds like you are sold on slides. I think most are, and for good reason, the room and comfort. Thank you for taking the time to input.

  27. ray martin, Getting around the bed is a issue on most. Newell, for one, uses a power folding bed, similar to a hospital bed. The head of the bed powers up while the foot retracts. It works well. Thank you for your input.

  28. Bill Pelkey

    My wife and I own a 93 Pace Arrow 33J , It’s plenty enough room for us now. We just travel on weekends,plus our vacations. To fulltime in a unit without any slideouts I dont think I could do that. Need more room. We want to look into fulltiming when the time comes, I would need at least 3 slides , 2 in the living area 1 in the bedroom.

  29. M H Bell, You have had 4 coaches without slides? Great to hear your comment and obviously comes from real experience. Thank you for your valued input.

  30. Tom Palmer/Barbara Kirkhart, There are trade-offs for everything. It sounds like your unit is reasonably comfortable in. Thanks for your great input.

  31. bill kukurin, Well, there may be some different AquaHot exhaust locations, but for what I’ve seen, including the Newmar King Aire, it’s on the driver side. Thanks for your input.

  32. jim wyrick, The 2 slide does provide a happy medium, roomy extended and workable not. Thank you for your comment.

  33. I concur with Dr Quick and a few others on this topic; for the perceived additional “elbow room” you’re just inviting additional trouble, in one way or another. As any good engineer will tell you, the more complex you make them, the easier it is for something to go wrong (or, put another way, “The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain”).

    As for myself, I have the “sports car” of motor homes: a 1999 Chinook Concourse 2100XL. It suits my needs as far as getting away for a few days or a week or more when I want to, while enjoying some modest comforts and amenities.

    While there will unfortunately still be a demand for “bigger and better,” the smart money will reside on downsizing and managing with a little less, especially in today’s economy and uncertain oil market that’s speculator driven. The RV manufacturing giants like Winnebago are starting to see the writing — which explains their introduction of the View, View Profile, Navion iQ, ERA and Via — while smaller and nimbler companies like Coach House, Roadtrek, Pleasure-Way and others look to increase their market share.

  34. I grew up in the era pre-slide, the 80’s, and I personally never want to go back. Though I definitely was one of the youngest fulltimers back in the 80’s, I have been fulltiming in RV’s since then. The advent of slides to me was the bridge between living in a torture device, to having a comfortable HOME on wheels. Having slides in a unit has made all the difference from living in a simulated hallway to having enough room to comfortably be able to navigate around other people in the same rig without being on top of each other. And I’m a slim in shape dude. Talk about bad fung sheui!

    Bring on more slides! Can’t wait for the slide-ups, vertical space hasn’t yet been explored!?!

  35. Feeline

    We have a 06 Ambassador with 4 slides, we can function with all slides in, but it is a little inconvenient. You can not watch TV from the drivers side couch, you have to climb over the bed to get to the rear wardrobe, and a few other minor problems.

    We do most of our stopping in campgrounds, even ovenite, but we do have certian places that we stop for a quick nap, in some of these places, it is not easy or even possible to put your slides out.

    All in all, I prefer the 4 slides for the room they provide, we spend very few hours in places that limit the use of the slides, but we do spend extended periods of time in places where the slides make our stays much more comfortable.

    To each his own, thats why they make RV’s in so many sizes, shapes and colors.
    Happy motoring.

  36. Dirk

    We love our 06 full wall slide 38 foot Bounder. Draw backs I see. Crawling under side to get to compartments…..you learn to get out what you need first. And Back bedroom TV is not accessable when slid in……not good for our young kids. I worry about the slide not coming in someday. I would buy another!

  37. If you cannot spend 2 minutes extending the 4 slides, you should be inconvienced. Its not worth the time to answer, its no problem.

  38. Dr Quick

    I really wonder how practical slides are. When you think of how bad some of the roads are and all the bouncing and shaking that RV’s endure. Then you cut a hole big enough in the side to drive a car through and expect that hole to be 100% water tight for the life of the RV. I tell you it AINT going to happen. From a lot of the post on the RV net they seem to be more problems then they are worth.

  39. riggarob

    I have an ’08 FW Providence 40X. I can watch our 40″ TV, access the bath, fridge and bed room w/the slides in. No slides…………..NEVER AGAIN! Robbie

  40. ray martin

    I have a 2003 fleetwood bounder with two slides,no way to get around the bed or to the closet when the slide is in.Would like a different configuration.

  41. I have a 2002 Pace Arrow 37A 2 slides, no problem getting to anything inside the coach with both slides in. Wife and I are Big people 6′ and I weigh 265 lbs. However when the slides are extended i have to get on my hands and knees to get into some of the basement compartments. and then bump my head if I rice up to fast. In spite of those little problems. I doubt if I would ever have another class A without slides. I have had 4 without slides. This is my second one with slides. Only way to go for me.
    M H

  42. Tom Palmer/Barbara Kirkhart

    We have 3 slides on our 37′ 2009 Newmar Dutch Star, and can access everything except the pantry cupboard at the rear of the living area with all slides in. Ventilation in the bedroom isn’t great with the bed slide in, but it’s do-able for one night if needed. We have full access to the galley, refrigerator, and bathroom with all slides in. It’s very liveable, and we’ve never been somewhere where we couldn’t at least put the small closet slide in the bedroom out. We wouldn’t want to give up our full passthrough undercarriage compartment with it’s two-sided slideout tray in order to have a full body slide – where would we store the golf clubs?

  43. Lug Nut
    Once again you only see what you think you see. Fleetwoods /American Coach have the exhaust directed to behind the rear tire on the DRIVERS SIDE. The Newmars all have the same arrangement. The full Wall slides eliminate the “hall” down the center of the coach and gives a nice open living area.
    Thanks for the Blogs

  44. jim wyrick

    I have a double slide in a 2003 bounder, and can utilize the entire coach when not set up. The queen bed just becomes NOT a walk around island. Nothing is unaccessable! I have seen some where you cannot get to the bathroom unless it’s set up.