RV Slides: The Pros And Cons Explained

PublishedOctober 15, 2020

"(Gasp) LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM!"

You may have thought this the first time you saw the inside of an RV with a slide.

Marshall slide opened

Slide Open, Creating Room

Yes, the additional space is incredible. Even a smaller 25 foot RV becomes much larger with an RV slide.

Are RV slides all good? Heck no. They can come with pretty major issues.

We already know that most RV brand names are notorious for building cheap, short-lasting products.

Add a giant RV slide with a dinky motor, give it massive earthquakes every trip taken, and you're bound to have problems.

What Is An RV Slide?

A slide is a hard-sided 'pop-out', controlled by the push of a button.

It uses a motor, either electric or hydraulic, to slide the extend-a-room in and out.

Travel Trailer Slide Going Out

They aren't known for their in/out speed... (See video above for real-time action.)

Some RV slides only contain a small closet, some are just for the bed.

Others have multiple slides containing anything from the kitchen to a dining booth.

No matter what they 'open', they definitely open up a space. This makes for a more comfortable living area.

However, RV slides cannot be out while you are towing.

Marshall's Lance trailer slide in

Slide in

Marshall's Lance trailer slide out

Slide out

Let's have a look at the good and the bad of the notorious RV slide.

(3 good, 9 bad. What does that tell you, eeeeek!!!)

RV Slide PROS

Like we said, there are pros. Here are the few:

1. Creates Extra Space

This is the obvious benefit, right? RV slides add square footage to an inherently small space. This is especially helpful if you take lots of, or longer, camping trips. It's especially helpful if you live in your RV full-time or have a family.

2. More Windows?

Some RV slides add side windows. Some don't. The side windows can really open up a space and add more air flow. When out in beautiful country, more windows are a huge bonus.

3. Unit Size

If one can stretch out their inside space to be WIDER, then one can likely have a shorter RV than they can without one. Having a shorter RV makes life MUCH easier when driving and maneuvering.

RV Slide CONS

We mentioned the cons. There are many. Do they outweigh the pros for you? Here you go:

1. Maintenance and Repair

Ok, the big bad news is that slides are NOTORIOUS for having issues. They can be a huge headache when not working properly. Even Marshall is currently having an issue with his slide on his Lance trailer.

It must be lubricated regularly, the motor can break, hydraulic lines can leak, the track can go awry, all the joys plus more.

2. Slide Toppers

These are little awnings that automatically go out over the slide when it's deployed. Designed to keep leaves, water, and other debris off the roof of the slide, you must watch them in inclement weather. Water can pool. You must get the water off before bringing your slide in or the water will come in with it. You shouldn't allow snow to collect. The worst is when it's windy. The flapping noise can be so bad as to keep you up. Many people put their RV slides in if it's windy enough out. Very inconvenient.

3. Leaks

Oof. Another big one. You probably already know that water is the #1 enemy of RVs. Slide leaks are not uncommon. If you have a leak, you MUST fix it ASAP.

4. Insulation

Slides are not usually as well insulated as the rest of the RV. The joints allow for air to get through. So the more slides you have, the less insulated your rig is. There's also a chance that bugs and rodents will have an easier time of getting in. Rodents may well be the #2 enemy of RVs.

5. Weight

RV slides are heavy beasts. This means an RV with a slide is heavier than one without a slide. So now you need a bigger engine in your tow vehicle (or a bigger tow vehicle in general) and you potentially have less cargo capacity in the RV. (But more room to put it, lol!)

6. Balance

One must not overload a slide with cargo. The RV may already be 'off-kilter' simply because of its slide(s). Add a bunch of heavy stuff to the slide area and watch it quickly not work anymore because of it.

7. Campground Spaces

You MAY run into issues of not being able to completely deploy your RV slide or slides at a campground for lack of room. Not exaggerating here. Some campground spots are not wide enough to accommodate two RVs with slides next to each other. Sad but true.

8. Access When Traveling

This is one most people don't think about when shopping for an RV. When you're traveling, can you access the RV and bathroom and whatever else you may need with the slides in? If you cannot, this can be a real pain on the road. If you must have slides, try to get an RV that gives you access to the important areas when slides are in.

9. Extra Chore To Set Up/Tear Down

If you don't move a lot, this may not be a factor for you. If you camp often and/or move often, then it very well may be an issue. You may not think it takes long, but again, it's ONE MORE step in your setup.

Conclusion

Travel trailer at unlevel campsite

RV slides are great... when they are working. When they have issues, they are a real pain to deal with. Personally, Marshall never wants an RV with one again. And some RV owners love theirs. Despite the drawbacks.

Get an RV with a slide and you will have more space to work with. Get one without them and you don't have to mess with the maintenance, repairs, and the possibility of being stuck somewhere because your slide won't go in.

It's your choice! Now go buy yourself an RV. (We suggest no RV slides, but if that is not practical for you, then by all means, get one with them!)

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • Still in tire-kicking mode for our retirement travel van but I rented trailers for many years due to husband unwilling to buy, store, insure, repair, pay for, you name it, an RV. Without young kids anymore, I am seeing the value of a solid unit. One trailer I rented, however, had a manual slide bed that came out of the end like a drawer. I’m hoping that is something one of the manufacturers still offers to add some bedroom space in the rear of a B+ van. As long as we’re fit enough to pull and push, why not! Am I just dreaming?

  • If I am not mistaken, there are two kinds of slides (not sure the names). One kind tends to be more “mechanical” and therefore more reliable (according to a salesperson when we were considering a slide). This may be worth researching.

    We decided not to buy with any slides (we live in the desert with many sand storms). It was interesting to learn about the 9 cons; we only came up with the first one. Thanks for the info!!

    • You are very welcome, Marie! And thank you for reading Camp Addict!

      Most likely what you are referring to regarding the two types of slides is the hydraulic and the mechanical (though I’m not sure ‘mechanical’ is technically the term – the actual term is slipping my mind right now).

      Hydraulic slides use hydraulic fluid (in hydraulic lines) pressurized by a hydraulic pump to actuate either a motor or some sort of piston to cause the slide to move in and out. These are prone to hydraulic leaks but are very good at moving heavy slides.

      Mechanical slides use motors driving a gear system. The motors directly turn the gears which work with a gear rack to move the slide in and out. There are lighter-weight gear-driven systems and some heavy-duty ones.

      There is a third type of slide that I can think of off the top of my head. Slides that use a cable mechanism to move the slides in and out. The cables are moved via a motor, so this would be another style of the ‘mechanical’ slide mechanism. The cables have to be properly tensioned and routed in order for this system to work properly. And, although I’m not 100% certain on this, I believe the cable drives are the cheapest slide mechanism out there and tend to show up on lower-priced units.

      Thanks for the comment and thanks again for checking out Camp Addict!

  • After canceling about 3 weeks of a month long trip to Michigan and the Upper Peninsula because of a severe electric problem that originated with the slide, your thoughts have a lot of merit. Appointment with a dealer in a few days, but I expect that it will be a big repair project, since the mobile tech that remedied some of the problems temporarily said the underbelly would likely need to be pulled down to run new wiring.

    I’d be interested in what trailers you’re considering w/o a slide? Arctic Fox 22G has a floor plan that’s fairly roomy and good storage. Lance 2075 has no slide either, but I didn’t see a lot of interior storage and I’m not interested in the outside kitchen. Most of the Casitas and Scamps aren’t large enough for our requirements.

    Enjoy your newsletters!

    • Hey Warren,

      Sorry to hear about the problems you had with your slide. I’m not surprised to hear about that though. If I were to venture a (very scientifically unsupported) guess, I’d say that slides cause the majority of large system issues that RV repair shops see. They are a system just asking for problems.

      While I love the idea of full-wall slides, opposing slides, slides in every room that open up the RV and make it really spacious, I just don’t want to deal with the potential headaches that come with them.

      The slide is the one major system I’ve had two issues with on my Lance trailer. Lance is a good quality manufacturer and tends to do things correctly, yet they too have slide issues.

      I’m not so much looking for a trailer without a slide as I’m really interested in Class B RVs (vans). This style of RV seems to fit how I want to travel moving forward, so this most likely will be my next RV.

      I have checked out the Arctic Fox 22G in person before. Definitely fits the bill as far as being a decent no-slide floorplan. I agree with you on the size of the Casitas and Scamps, yet I know a handful of people (including couples) that are full-time in these rigs. Great size to tow around, but not sure it’s a great size to live in, especially if there are more than one of you.

      Thanks for the comment! Here’s to no slide issues in the future.

  • As a con you need to mention that slides are also an easy access point for mice. Having had two RV’s with slides and two with out slides I do not think I will go back to a unit with slide. Enjoy the journey.

    • Hi John,

      We hear you! Slides are sometimes great, but the cons are too much for us. Marshall won’t get an RV with a slide again. Sounds like you’re in the same camp. Smart.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >
    Send this to a friend