12 Terms You Should Know Before Renting an RV

If you are new to RVing some of the languages that you hear may seem a bit foreign.  As with anything, when you have a new hobby or lifestyle, there is terminology that is used that is not common knowledge.  Learning the terms can help you choose the right RV site as well as operate your rental RV correctly.  Here are the 12 you should know before renting an RV:


Also known as dry camping, this means you are staying at a site or location without electric, water, or sewer hookups.  Some state parks may offer boondocking, as well as sites like Harvest Hosts.  It is also considered boondocking when you stay the night in a parking lot such as Walmart or Cracker Barrel.  When boondocking is it important to make sure your fresh water tank is filled and your battery is fully charged.  With a normal camper setup, your battery will only last for about 48 hours because the refrigerator panel, CO2 detector, and water pump all use battery power. Using a generator will recharge your battery, however not all campgrounds will allow it.

Black Water Tank

This tank is where wastewater is held from the toilet.  There is a black tank indicator on your main control panel which will tell you when the tank is full.  Once it is full you will need to dump it in the dump station.  However, the sensor in the black tank isn’t always accurate and can show that it is full when it is not.  It is necessary to flush the black tank occasionally to help clean the sensor.

Class A

A motorhome, or driveable RV,  built on a bus chassis.  These are often the most luxurious of the RVs.  They are best for couples as they don’t normally feature a bunkhouse.  You can find Class A’s for rent here.

Class C

A motor home is recognizable by the overhead cab which is used for sleeping or storage.  A Class C is the most common driveable RV.  They are easier to maneuver, similar to a box truck like a Uhaul or other moving truck.  They come in a variety of sizes and can contain bunks for families.  If you are interested in a Class C rental, you can check availability here.

Dump Station

A place at campgrounds where you can dump your black and gray water tanks.  Connect the sewer hose. First, you pull the black valve and then the gray valve to help rinse the hose.

Fresh Water Tank

The tank where potable water is held.  This water can be used by turning on the water tank when not using the city water connection at your home or campground.

Full Hookup

A campsite with a direct connection to water, electricity, and sewer.  This is the best type of campsite to choose for longer stays so you don’t have to worry about having to get pumped out or pull out of your site to the dump station.

Gray Water Tank

This is the tank where used water from the sinks and showers is stored.  On larger RV’s there are sometimes 2 gray tanks, one for the kitchen sink and then one for the bathroom.  It is common to fill these tanks up quickly when taking shows or doing dishes if you are not using the water conservatively.  You can check the gray tank level on the main control panel.  If water is not draining from the shower, it is a good indication that the gray tank needs to be emptied.  This would be done by connecting the sewer hose to the sewer line or dump station and pulling the gray valve.

Holding Tanks

This refers to the tanks that the water is stored in. There are usually three different tanks freshwater tank, gray water tank, and black tank.

Pull through

A campsite with easy access and departure that does not need you to back in.  A pull-through site allows you to pull the camper into the site.  This is a great option if you will be arriving after dark or are new to camping and don’t want to try backing up the camper.  We like to choose these sites when we are arriving late and leaving the next morning, we often don’t even unhook the camper from the truck.


The extra distance the rear end of the RV uses during a turn.  Make sure to have your mirrors extended to watch the rear end of the camper.  There is a general rule that for every 3 ft of overhang, it will swing 1 foot out from the turn.  Definitely be cautious of the tail swing when in gas stations.


A room that expands, providing you with more living space.

The list could go on and on, however, we found these were the terms that we most often use that our renters don’t seem to know what we are talking about.  If there are any other terms you are unfamiliar with you can be sure to go over everything with the local branch manager during your walkthrough at pickup or delivery.  If you are ready to rent an RV, you can check availability on our website Local RV Rental and Travel Trailer Rental – Fireside RV Rental.

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