Poll Results: Biggest Innovation in the RV Industry?

This was a very interesting poll with a mixture of predictable and surprising results. This poll asked, what has been the biggest advance in the RV industry in the last 30 years? Of the 205 readers who responded, 46 percent said that the slide out was the most important innovation with solar power coming in second with 27 percent. Lightweight composites came in a very distant third at only 7 percent.

What can we glean from these numbers? Well, I think it’s safe to say that many RVers like their space. Slide outs give you much, much more depending on how many are in your RV. It’s true that they increase the weight of your rig and come with a higher price tag, but RV enthusiasts don’t seem to mind as long as they can increase their legroom and living space. Indeed, class A motorhomes with five slide outs is becoming the norm with some boasting even more in number.

Somewhat surprising was the large gap between slide outs and solar power. A full 27 percent said that solar power was the most important innovation and I would have to agree. Solar power has given RVs an unlimited range and the ability to camp almost anywhere with total peace and quiet. RVs are no longer tethered to noisy, expensive campgrounds and teeth rattling generators. If you like to boondock in the peace and quiet, then I’d have to say that solar power has been the most important innovation, period. But that’s just me.

I was very surprised by the low number of respondents who selected the toy hauler. Only 4 percent said that was the most important innovation. Toy haulers have had a major impact on the RV industry with huge numbers of units being built on everything from travel trailers and fifth wheels to class A and class C motor homes and pop-up campers. With large sales numbers, I think it’s safe to say that the ubiquitous toy hauler is here to stay.

Here’s how the rest of the poll broke out.

The Toy Hauler 10 (4 percent)
Portable Satellite Systems 8 (3 percent)
Solar Power 56 (27 percent)
The Ultra-Quiet Portable Generator 11 (5 percent)
Lightweight Composites 16 (7 percent)
Aluminum Framing 3 (1 percent)
The Low Amperage AC Unit 1 (0 percent)
The Slide Out 96 (46 percent)
Other 4 (1 percent)

About Mello Mike 868 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.


  1. Great poll & interesting thoughts. I just got back in to a truck camper having had one several years ago. Haven't done a lot of boondocking, but we spend a lot of time Jeeping in the back country & usually base at an RV park in places like Moab, Kanab or Green River. I can see getting farther out in the future though, we spend a lot of time getting out to remote locations & it would be nice to start there.

    • Will do, just upgraded from a 97 Dodge to a new 2013 Laramie Longhorn 3500 crew cab dually. Talk about a jump in technology, I'm barely smart enough to work the electronics. LOL

  2. I think with the nature of RVs you allow people who don't normally camp (tent camp), like me, into the great outdoors. And because of this, the physical amenities will be more important than extending a more austere environment. I would also guess that seniors use their RVs more than famililies and seniors must trend more towards comfort and convenience. Again, this is purely conjecture.

    I am solidly behind solar power as the biggest improvement to our personal camping lives. We don't use generators or have a tv or play the radio when we camp. All we want is to use the lights at night to get our pjs on and for heat and hot water. The reason we camp is to expose our three young boys to the outdoors. So we go out once per month to get OUT of our lives – not to bring it all with us. So all we need is to not worry about our battery dying and we're all happy! We don't want more room because we don't live in our rv. We only sleep in it. We don't need a generator for the same reason.

  3. Yup … have to go with solar power and/or other improvements that extend the boondocking experience. It would seem that is not the primary use for many RVers, however. Hmmmm …

  4. Just saw a video…an RV with an upstairs….1,200 square feet total living space! The second floor goes down to travel and lifts up when stopped…..it also has 5 TVs….is that RVing?

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