RV Slide Outs, Pros and Cons

Is there a downside to an RV slide out? These can make even a tiny truck camper feel like a spacious apartment, but nothing good comes for free.

What is a slide-out?

An RV slide-out is a cut-out space in the wall of an RV that increases interior space. They can only be (safely) extended after you have properly parked and leveled your RV and can increase comfort, particularly for large groups and families.

Not all slides are made the same, and while they have been part of RV construction for decades, these days you’ll have motors or hydraulic systems to extend and retract them. 

So what are the reasons you might hesitate before getting a trailer with multiple slide outs?

First, there’s an increased risk of leaks. Because slide-outs are essentially moving rooms, there are gaps in the walls of your RV. While seals can prevent water getting in, they aren’t perfect and can tear or even rot away, allowing moisture to get in. This is the same for any area where a hole had to be cut into the wall, be it an A/C unit, vent fan, etc. We go through the dangers of delamination in this post

There’s also the risk of mechanical failures. As slides are operated via motor or hydraulic pump, should something happen to it the slide will cease to function and ruin your weekend getaway. After all, it’s not much of a vacation when you can’t access your kitchen.

Increased weight also has to be taken into account. Slides can add hundreds of pounds to the dry weight of your RV, limiting tow vehicle options. If you’re looking for an SUV towable rig a no-slide unit is going to be far more manageable.

Also consider storage access during travel days. If you’re heading a fair distance there may be times at a rest area or gas station where you would want to access the kitchen or use the bathroom. Retracted slides restrict your access to parts of your trailer that can be frustratingly inconvenient on long travel days. 

Finally: Parking. When it comes to campsites you’ll need a wider lot in order to properly extend your slides safely. When parking, you have to watch your clearance for trees, picnic tables, and shore power pedestals to avoid damage and a big bill.

Are slides worth it?

In the end it’s up to you whether you want to deal with a slide unit. For some the extra worry about leaks and mechanical issues is enough to dissuade them forever. For others, the extra room is worth the risk (especially for families). 

So what about you? Do you like an RV with slides or do you avoid them like a family reunion with the in-laws?

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