RV Camping Terms You Should Know

If you are new to camping, phrases like “toy hauler” or “hula skirt” may make you tilt your head in question. Perhaps you know what a “daypack“ is, but do you know what an “underbelly“ is? When you venture out into the remote wilderness, you may even find yourself doing some “boondocking.”


Once you are in the RV community, you’ll hear a lot of foreign terms thrown around. We’re here to help you navigate a new language – the language of RV fun and adventure. With this article, you’ll be ready to pack your “rucksack” and head out in your “rig.”


Tinder: No, not the dating app. Rather, tinder is the fuel you should be first using when building a campfire. This is a material that is highly combustible that will ignite with a mere spark. Tinder can be used to create the initial flame for a campfire that will then catch on fire and coax larger pieces of wood to follow suit.


Potable Water: another term for drinking water. This kind of water is safe to consume without additional treatment. When out hiking or doing anything outdoors, make sure you bring along potable water or have a portable water purification system.


Rucksack: This is a sort of backpack with shoulder straps that is used by hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Rucksacks are often made of canvas or similar durable material. They are super sturdy and designed to fit more gear than a regular backpack, which makes them a great addition to your camping gear list.


Primitive campground: While most RV campgrounds offer amenities such as restrooms, water, and electricity, primitive campgrounds do not have any of these creature comforts. A primitive campground is simply an empty patch of land or a woodsy area designated for camping. They do not have fire pits, and campers would do well to check the state regulations before building a campfire at a primitive site.


Boondocking: Taking primitive a step or two further, boondocking is also called “dry camping.” It refers to RV camping without any electric, water, or sewer hookups. It allows RVers to camp in remote locations only relying on the self-contained facilities in their RV. Boondocking can happen in public spaces (not private land or in national parks) and many WalMarts will even let RVs park in their lots overnight.


Back-in site: When looking around for RV camping spots, you’ll find many described as a back-in site. It’s just as the name describes. They are camping sites designed with RV campers in mind, where there is enough space for you to back-in your RV for an easy departure. RV campsites can also be described as pull-through sites, where the driver can enter from one end and exit from the other.


Full hookup: These are RV campsites that have access to the campground’s electric, water, and sewer supplies. Full hookup sites will be able to connect to these utilities, making for easy and comfortable camping.


Hula skirt: When RVs travel on dirty, dusty roads, they can kick up quite a bit of dust and debris. Having a hula skirt on the bumper can prevent this debris from hitting vehicles behind the trailer, saving it from potential damage.


Rig: This is one of several ‘slang’ terms used to refer to your RV. You will undoubtedly hear other terms, such as trailer, camper, motorhome, or other nicknames thrown about. How you refer to your RV is up to you and your camping style. Some RVers even name their rig “Charlie” or “Bertha.”


Self-contained: Most RVs have external hookups that can access utilities at a campground, while others supply their own electric, drainage, and water requirements. These RVs are called self-contained RVs and don’t have to rely on outside utilities. These models can be a great option for more comfortable boondocking.


Slide-out: Some RVs, especially larger models, have sections that can be pushed out to expand the available living space, and then retracted when the RV is in motion.


Snowbird: This is a term to describe RV enthusiasts who travel south during the winter months in search of warmer weather. Many snowbirds make it a yearly pilgrimage to head south and even go to the same campground(s) year after year to meet up with their RV buddies.


Toy hauler: An RV that is able to carry recreational vehicles such as motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs and other outdoor “toys.” These RVs have a larger interior space designed for safely housing this equipment for those who love to partake.


Underbelly: The undercarriage or floor surface of an RV. It includes water hoses, pipes, and other valves. RVers who hope to keep using their rig in the winter months often add protective material to the RV underbelly.


Winterizing: Those who utilize their RV year-round often have to winterize it when things dip below a certain temperature. Protection from ice, snow, and other inclement weather is essential for an RV to prepare for the cold. This process is called winterizing and should be done regardless if you use it or store it during winter.