The Disadvantages of RV Slide Outs » Bowlus Blog

The Disadvantages of RV Slide Outs

The Disadvantages of RV Slide Outs

The recreational vehicle market offers something for everyone. RVs come in just about every size and shape, and one of the biggest trends you’ll see in the RV world are slide outs. Whether you’re talking about a motorhome, fifth wheel, or a travel trailer, RV slide outs are most commonly found in the bedroom and living spaces. With the push of button RV owners can quickly and easily expand their interior footprint. Or at least that’s the idea; the reality is often very different.

Dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of slide outs and you’ll see that the disadvantages quite possibly outweigh the benefits of any added space. All that extra space on the inside can be a problem outside. Slide outs require additional maintenance and upkeep to keep their moving parts moving. Slide outs can leak.

Keep on reading and then decide if a RV slide out is really worth it to you, or if the best RV for you is one without a slide.

RV Slide Outs and the Campsite
There’s no denying that a slide out can provide you additional interior square footage. But to get that extra room, you need to actually have a campsite wide enough to extend your camper’s walls. That means your nice wooded campsite could be a nightmare if there’s a tree where you need your slide out to be. Same goes for poles or your electric and water hookups. You’ll need to consider your neighbors as well – your slides can’t encroach on their campsite. And what about your awning? Can you extend both your slides and your awning at the same time? All of these things can be especially problematic if you’re in a narrower campsite, like those often found in older campgrounds and national and state parks, or if you have more than one slide to extend.

For all of the reasons above, RVs with slide outs require additional setup and tear down time. It’s not just a case of backing it in and finding the most level part of the site. With slide outs, you need to be prepared to jockey your RV around on your site so you can fully extend your slides. And then you have to hope that you can get things level because if your rig isn’t level, you may have issues moving the slides in and out.

Once you’ve got your camper parked and your slides extended, it might seem like the slide out issues are behind you. But the next time you’re camping, watch your neighbors do a fun little dance as they access their exterior basement storage lockers. How many hit their heads on the slide above because they stand up too soon? Certainly the way you pack your basement can minimize some of these challenges, but many of today’s larger motor homes, fifth wheels and travel trailers come with as many as five slides outs. Some rigs come with super slides, or slide outs that take up nearly the entire side of the RV. Inevitably the one thing you need is going to be in the locker under the slide.

At Bowlus, we’ve chosen a different path. Rather than throw in a slide out, our aluminum campers are impeccably designed to make the most of the interior space. Our unique storage solutions, yours and mine closets, ample cupboards and drawers, and a flexible master suite were created with functionality in mind. And without a slide, you can park your Bowlus just about anywhere.

RV Slide Outs When You’re On The Road
Units without slide outs, like the Bowlus Terra Firma or Endless Highways Edition, have a leg up over units with slides when you’re on the road too. Slides are simply not designed to be used when the slides are in. That often renders the interior of your unit useless. Not so with a Bowlus. Our well-designed floor plans create a luxurious, and easily accessible space, no matter where you’re parked.

One of the biggest benefits to RVing is that you can stop in a rest stop or parking lot, pop into your camper, and have a quick homemade lunch. But in a rig with slides, that can be a lot harder. When not extended, slide outs often block cupboards and walkways. Even at a remote mountain rest stop there’s often not enough room to extend your slides.

There are similar issues if you want to boondock for the night at an off-grid site before hitting the road bright and early the next day. In a rig with slide outs, if you can’t get into the bed or necessary closets with the slides in, your easy overnight stop becomes a lot more involved. And if you’re near a road, remember that etiquette (and likely the local constable) says that your slide outs can’t block the flow of traffic.

RV slide outs are heavy too – some add upwards of a thousand pounds of extra weight to the camper. That adds to the dry weight of your rig and means you’ll need a larger tow vehicle. One of the advantages to a unit like those made by Bowlus is that without a slide, they’re light enough to tow with a small SUV or crossover.

Mechanical Slide Out Problems
Most of the issues we’ve talked about so far are inconveniences (some minor, some major). But there are a number of problems with slide outs that can render your camper useless. The primary culprit is that slide outs are heavy, mechanical objects that can break. Think of the number of times you’ll move a slide in and out over the lifetime of your RV. Consider that every time you move it down the road at 60 miles per hour, it’s in for a bumpy ride. Mechanical issues are inevitable, whether it’s an electric slide, hydraulic slide, rack and pinion, or cable slide. Even if the slide is well-built and well maintained, gears wear down, electric motors lose power, hydraulic systems fail, and the slide can go out of alignment.

When a slide out mechanism breaks, you’ve got real problems. If the mechanics fail while the slides are in, it’s easy enough to get to the shop (though it’s bound to ruin your trip, and you’ll need to find a hotel). But if the slides won’t retract, you’re stuck. If you’re lucky, your rig came with a hand crank and you can manually pull your slides in. If not, you’ll have to find a RV repair shop or a mechanic that can either come to you, or that can transport your camper to their shop, where they hopefully have the necessary slide out parts for the repair. You can’t pull a RV with its slides extended as you’ll be too wide for the road, so be prepared to spend both time and money on a fix.

Water leaks are also one of the biggest issues cited by people with slide out systems. They can be notoriously hard to trace. RV slide out seals wear out over time, and they degrade even faster if the unit is stored outside in the elements.

Some water leaks can be traced to an improperly installed slide, which means the whole thing may need to be removed and reset. It also means you might solve one leak only to create two more and a draft if the slide out seals aren’t reinstalled properly.

Unlike RVs that have to resort to adding a slide out to make the space functional, Bowlus’ luxury recreational vehicles are built with functionality, beauty and longevity in mind. Our high end travel trailers are handcrafted by artisans to meet the most exacting standards and to last for a lifetime of adventure. We think it’s clear that you don’t need a slide out, and all the accompanying challenges, when you can travel in style in a Bowlus.