I hope all of you enjoy your holiday season and have beaten the campsite reservation lines by preparing for the 2022 RV season by reserving your RV campsites for the coming year. In August of 2021, I was fortunate to receive a top market forecast study that predicts 2022’s RV sales.
If you’ve kept up with the RV influencers of RV life and others across social media, there’s a lot of back and forth about the 2022 RV camping season in the U.S. Based on my research, I’d like to share the best predictions for the 2022 RV season.
Is RV Camping Still Popular?
The company that put the market research study together, Strategy Titan, sent it out to the RV industry, media, and some influencers. Their goal was to identify all of the current indicators to forecast the latter half of 2021 and all of 2022’s RV sales.
While not meant for public consumption, the study gave the industry enough to chew on to decide how they would move forward. In addition, the RV media and blogosphere used the information to guide their research and observations.
2021 saw massive growth. The final RV sales numbers in 2020 were 430,412 units, according to Go RVing. The final numbers aren’t in yet for 2021, but the RVIA speculates between 567,000 and 587,400. The study concludes that 2022 will see total sales over 550,000 or more, but some RV types will sell better than others in a small way.
2022 RV Sales Will Continue to Rise, With Some Adjustments
Most RV categories will see a 3-5% drop in overall sales. Yet, some RV types will have sales elevations as high as 8%. In my mind, I translate this as the overall sales of full-size travel trailers, fifth wheels, and Class A motorhomes will have a few hundred fewer sales in 2022, but consumers will make up those lost sales in the categories below that are predicted to grow by the same percentage or more.
- Camping trailers – Including hardside and softside pop-ups and all styles of teardrop campers.
- Class C motorhomes – I suspect that the small-chassis versions that use the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are the “saving grace” for the category.
- Park models – I was surprised as you. Yet, people that are into the tiny home movement are finding park models an excellent alternative.
I wondered how the study was so optimistic when they predicted a sales forecast so high. The RV backlog updates, mother nature, and other forces have kept manufacturers held up. Experts say the backlog won’t alleviate itself until we’re well into the 2023 RV camping season.
My opinion: Despite everything we’ve gone through in 2020 and 2021 that made all of the disaster movies look underwhelming, the RV industry has pulled off record sales these past two years. If the container ships and trucks can keep moving, 2022 will be another record-setter.
Why is it so Hard to Find Campsites?
As a country, we continued to see COVID-19 mutate into the Delta variant and other related issues continue to affect our daily lives. The backlog isn’t going away, and drought and wildfires hit the western states hard. In addition, national forests, campgrounds, and boondocking areas may take years to recover.
The marketing study, various RV influencers, and experts list the same negative factors that made the 2021 RV season difficult. What I found interesting is the fact that the research study shows optimism among RVers around the country. I had to remind myself that the RV community is a hardy bunch. We eat uncertainty for breakfast (okay, we throw a little sugar and spice on it and add a little bacon).
Before the RV boom, many counties weren’t too hip to the idea of allowing new campgrounds to open within their borders. I won’t go into the reasons (and trust me, there were some hum-dingers), but the attitude has changed. If you do a quick search on YouTube or Google, you’ll find glamping paradises, expansion RV parks for popular attractions, family-friendly campgrounds, and many others. I’m even looking forward to that Love’s Travel Stop and KOA partnership expansion plan. When I went to the last local RV show, I saw some new campgrounds around the state with booths in the vendors’ area.
I still highly recommend making your RV campsite reservations over the off-season, but with these new campgrounds opening up, you may have better luck this year grabbing up that premium site you’ve had you’ve always wanted.
What’s the Future of the RV Industry?
Matt states that many manufacturers aren’t making significant changes in the gasser Class A or travel trailer sector. However, he did see the most RV innovations in the diesel Class A RVs, toy haulers, and campervan categories. Matt predicts that consumers may see Class B prices fall to more competitive levels since many brands are on the market.
The Electric RV Conversion Continues
Another point of interest during the discussion is RV solar panel systems. In the 6-7 years Matt has been in the RV world, he’s seen systems go from a trickle charging battery device to towables that solely rely on solar for power. If you look at Nomadic Cooling (a subsidiary of Dometic), their roof A/C unit for RVs runs on batteries. Winnebago installs it on the off-road Revel campervan.
If you’ve kept up with the EV truck news, Rivian now has their pickup on the road. 2022 will see many of the long-anticipated all-electric trucks on the road affecting the RV industry forever. Some like Rivian will directly affect the tent campers and backpackers, but others like the Ford F-150 Lightning with a 220v outlet in the cargo bed will impact towables.
When it comes to RV innovation, I believe we’ll continue to take steps to rely more on solar energy to remove propane from the RV lifestyle. My biggest concern for 2022 has to do with campground readiness.
Many older campgrounds don’t have the electric infrastructure to support the needs of a 30 or 50 amp RV while an EV vehicle is recharging in the same electric post. Now think about the 50 to 500 campsites on the property with an RV and EV plugged in simultaneously. I think we’re going to see a lot of news reports of campground blackouts in 2022.
The Key to the 2022 RV Camping Season is Educating Yourself
Mike Wendland stated that when an RV runs over a pothole, it’s like your residential house going through a near 5.0 earthquake. Solar panel experts will tell you solar energy is still the slowest method of energy generation despite the advances. RV insiders have no idea when or if prices will come down, even with all of the information they know.
My point is to continue educating yourself through the RV Life network to learn the realities, the perspective, and the information you need to know when deciding what to do about your coach. 2022 looks like it will have its challenges from where I sit, but I’ve booked my campsites and have high hopes.