One of the things I sometimes think about is how the RV industry has changed, or not changed, over the decades that I’ve been enjoying the lifestyle. I started RVing with my parents and siblings at a very early age, so I have been involved for 50 years or so.

As with many camping families, we started with tenting throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. We soon graduated to a tent trailer, then a Class B van, and finally a 23’ Winnebago. It was in the latter vehicle that we took a six-month trip across Canada and the USA, as my father took a medical sabbatical.

Blast from the Past

Thinking back on the tent trailer, compared to today’s offerings, they haven’t changed much. While Recreational Vehicles do provide more amenities across the board these days, my daughter’s 2006 tent trailer was pretty much the same as the 1960s model we had. Granted, there are many higher-end offerings that provide “luxuries” such as slide-outs, hot water, and bathrooms, but the basics remain. Similarly with our Class B van, although like all other RV classes, the available options seem limitless these days. The van my father purchased was a 1982 Tradesman conversion with a queen bed, fridge, stove, furnace, and sink. It only lacked a toilet. Fast-forward to today, where Super-B RVs are more commonplace. These vehicles may sport all the same luxuries as top-end Class A or 5th Wheel units, only on a smaller scale. However, smaller Class B units such as the one I owned later in life are very similar to the vans of old. My van really only added a bathroom, but still had the same cramped living quarters.

Class B Van

Class A units have certainly evolved, but the basics are still the basics. Most RVs are now controlled by Multiplexer computers, monitoring everything from lights to awnings, and there is a move away from propane towards things like residential refrigerators. So we are experiencing much more automation and software controlled Recreational Vehicles, but the way we use our rigs hasn’t really changed. My 2006 Diesel pusher works for the most part the same way as my father’s 1976 Winnebago did.

Newer Amenities

Sure, we have seen significant changes in the way technology is contributing to the RV lifestyle, but in the end, RVing hasn’t really changed. We still use most of the same basic systems such as batteries, inverters, converters, generators, and LP systems, even though the technologies themselves have advanced. Basic RV appliances and systems such as batteries, fridges, stoves/ovens, water heaters, furnaces, generators, inverters, and converters have not changed much, other than some of them utilizing technological advances to help them work smarter or more efficiently. Advances and increased adoption of technology such as Lithium batteries, inverter generators, solar systems, and pure-sine inverters have made the RV lifestyle a little more efficient, but we still enjoy the basics, for the most part.

Modern Travel Trailer

In the 1970s I couldn’t travel in a Super-B or -C RV, and I couldn’t watch satellite television, fill my large residential fridge with food, charge my batteries off-grid with solar panels, or enjoy over 80% efficiency with Lithium batteries, but travelling with my family in the RV today is the same as it was back then. Quality family time with all the amenities of home. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Steve Froese
Author: Steve FroeseEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Steve Froese is a Licensed Professional Engineer in British Columbia, as well as an Interprovincial Red Seal RV Technician, which is equivalent to a Master Certified RV Technician in the USA. Steve was a personal friend and colleague of the late Gary Bunzer (“the RV Doctor”), and works closely with FMCA as the monthly “Tech Talk” columnist, as well as being a member of the Technical Advisory and Education Committees. Steve and his family are lifelong and avid RVers, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.

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