Toy Hauler vs Travel Trailer: 5 Differences that Matter

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Travel trailer on open road on one side and couple on toy hauler patio ramp door on the other side.

So, you’ve decided to purchase a camper trailer type of RV. That’s awesome! Now it’s time to decide whether you’ll choose a travel trailer or a toy hauler.

But how to choose? Don’t worry. We will explain the main differences when comparing a toy hauler vs travel trailer to help you decide which towable RV option is the best choice for you and your RV lifestyle.

What is the Difference Between a Toy Hauler and a Travel Trailer?

A travel trailer and toy hauler have many of the same features, with the significant difference being a toy hauler RV has a separate garage space or a mixed-use living area/toy area that allows RVers to bring their toys with them on their camping trips.

Recreational toys are secured and transported inside the camper trailer. This can include:

  • golf carts
  • UTVs (side-by-sides)
  • dirt bikes
  • motorcycles
  • ATVs (four-wheelers)

This means you can still bring your toys on your travels even if you don’t have a pickup truck.

Different Types of Toy Haulers

A toy hauler isn’t just limited to a bumper pull RV, also known as a toy hauler travel trailer.

Ramp down on the back of a toy hauler travel trailer.

Fifth wheel toy haulers are fairly common in the RV market, but there are also class A and class C toy haulers (which are motorhome options).

You can find these types of toy haulers with many popular RV manufacturers, such as:

  • Grand Design
  • Heartland
  • Alliance
  • Forest River
  • Keystone
  • Thor
  • And more! 

A toy hauler doesn’t always have a separate garage space, which can save RV length and weight. In fact, small toy haulers are quickly gaining in popularity.

There’s a toy hauler option for just about every budget, adventure choice, and towing vehicle size.

1. RV Weight & Towing

Weight is one of the most important factors when deciding which towable RV is right for you.

RV travel trailer hooked up to a truck in a parking lot area.

When selecting your travel trailer toy hauler, be sure to know the cargo weight capacity of the trailer.

You don’t want to purchase a trailer with a 1000 lb cargo capacity when you plan to travel with a 2000 lb UTV and all its gear.

Toy haulers can be heavier and tend to have a higher cargo weight capacity compared to travel trailers, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly the cargo weight limit can max out if your toy hauler has fuel tank options.

The heavier your trailer, the more heavy-duty tow vehicle you’ll need.

My dad always says, “It’s better to have ‘more truck’ than you think you’ll ever need rather than realizing you need ‘more truck’ at a bad time.”

It’s crucial to know your tow vehicle’s towing capacity and give yourself wiggle room to not fully load down your truck every time you drive it down the road.

F350 towing a travel trailer on a back road in the mountains.

For example, your F350 dually diesel one-ton truck may have a towing capacity of 20,000 lbs, but that doesn’t mean you should load it down to 19,800 lbs while driving 70 mph down the highway, just because you can.

This will save you unnecessary wear and tear, which can lead to some costly tow vehicle repairs! 

2. RV Living Space

Traditional 5th wheels or toy hauler options will have larger living spaces, but you will lose your truck bed in the process. 

But for ease of comparison, let’s focus on the bumper pull option of the travel trailer and toy hauler. 

Door open to inside of toy hauler travel trailer living space.

A downside to the toy hauler trailer option is if you do have a separate garage space, you lose the living space and some luxuries that come with it, such as:

  • cabinet space
  • extra seating
  • separate dining table
  • separate sleeping area (in some cases of the smaller toy haulers) 

If your toy hauler doesn’t have a separate garage space, you will see tie-down D-rings in the floor of your living interior space, which can be aesthetically displeasing. 

Toy haulers often have fewer features than a travel trailer to help save weight to allow for a larger cargo capacity for outdoor toys.

A travel trailer tends to have a more “homier” feel to their living space layouts, and many offer multiple slide outs to increase that square footage and often feature a full kitchen area.

3. Storage Space 

A travel trailer will likely have more interior storage space than a toy hauler.

These storage spaces could be additional cabinets, under-bed storage, and more. 

Travel trailer parked in the desert at a rural campsite.

However, a toy hauler is not lacking in storage options!

Toy haulers often have multiple under-storage access points, and the garage can be used as a storage area for extra gear.

4. Toy Hauler Garage Space

The biggest difference between the toy hauler trailers and the travel trailers is the garage space.

A toy hauler travel trailer with garage door open.

Many larger RVs have a separate garage space that is closed off from the rest of the trailer by a door. This helps keep fuel smells away from the living space because nobody wants to eat dinner while it smells like you’re sitting in a gas station, right?

But what if you don’t have any toys with you? We’re seeing more and more creative ways full-timers and weekend warriors use their garage area for ways other than hauling toys. 

Clever RVers are converting the extra space into kids’ bedrooms, playrooms, remote home offices, pet play areas, home gyms, and some dreamy outdoor patios.

Hauling Toys in Your Truck Bed

No toy hauler, no problem.

You may think that if I don’t get a toy hauler, I won’t be able to bring my toys while on the road full-time or for weekend getaways. 

That’s not necessarily true, but you can be limited to the length and weight of toys you bring.

A truck towing a travel trailer RV with dirt bikes in the truck bed.

A truck’s towing capacity is different from its carrying capacity, so you’ll need to check if the bed of your truck can carry and fit your toys.

While you can get a ramp that allows you to load a UTV, ATV, or golf cart that sits partially atop the cab of your truck, it can be a bit precarious and downright unnerving driving that toy up there.

Even if you can’t fit the larger toys in the bed of the truck, you will likely have plenty of space to bring smaller toys such as dirt bikes, bicycles, e-bikes, and more.

RV parked in the woods at a campsite with truck and dirt bikes.
NOTE: The biggest downfall of hauling toys in the bed of a truck is they’re outside and exposed to weather and possible theft or tampering.

5. Cost of Toy Hauler vs Travel Trailer

The price range of both a toy hauler and a travel trailer is comparable to differences in features, size, and quality.

Shopping for a toy hauler at an RV dealer.

You can find everything from a budget-friendly small toy hauler to a class C motorcoach toy hauler that costs more than some sticks-and-bricks homes.

There are higher quality travel trailers packed with features that cost well over $100,000 brand new, or you can go with a used trailer option off Craigslist or RV Trader.

Is a Toy Hauler More Expensive?

The third axle is a feature that can drive the cost up on the larger toy haulers. Having a third axle increases your cargo-carrying capacity, which can add some extra dollar signs to the sticker price. 

But don’t assume a toy hauler is automatically more expensive than a travel trailer.

When it came time to purchase my small toy hauler, it was the same cost and length as a comparable travel trailer. The main difference was features.

The travel trailer had a slide out, my toy hauler doesn’t, but it has the garage back door feature, which was a priority.

A toy hauler travel trailer with the backdoor patio turned into a screen room with a kitty pool.

Even though I don’t have the extra space from the slide out, the outdoor patio space makes up for it!

Which type of trailer is right for you? 

When it comes to a toy hauler vs a travel trailer, the better option depends on what features are most important to you.

Travel trailer toy hauler parked in the desert.

Maybe you’re a full-time RVer who doesn’t want to haul a golf cart around the country, but the idea of having a separate office space sounds amazing.

Maybe you’re a weekend warrior and prefer the floor plans of the travel trailer better because it feels more like a traditional home.

Make a list of what’s most important to you before you make your final decision!

FAQ for Toy Hauler vs Travel Trailer

Here are a few answers to the most popular questions about choosing one of these RV options.

Is a toy hauler a travel trailer?

Not necessarily. A toy hauler can be a travel trailer, but you can also find fifth wheel toy haulers, class A motorhome toy haulers, and even class C motorhome toy haulers.

Can you live in a toy hauler?

Yes, many full-time RVers choose to live in a toy hauler. Fifth-wheel toy haulers might be a more popular option for RV living, but RVers live in travel trailer toy haulers too.

What are the cons of a toy hauler?

Additional weight requiring a bigger tow vehicle, limited interior amenities, and a higher cost should all be considered when purchasing a toy hauler.

Is a toy hauler considered a recreational vehicle?

Yes, a toy hauler is a recreational vehicle or an RV. RV types, such as fifth wheels, travel trailers, and specific classes of motorhomes, each offer a toy hauler version or style.

READ NEXT: You might also want to check out our post on travel trailers vs motorhomes to see a complete breakdown on a towable vs drivable RV.

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