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I’ve been a full-time RVer for two years, and I hadn’t heard of Bowlus Recreational Vehicles until recently. They have a very niche product. The market for Recreational Vehicles certainly isn’t saturated with them, but they have a really interesting story. Winnebago, on the other hand, I’m fairly certain nearly everyone has heard of. You see them regularly, and they have a lot of models from which you can choose. So, when it comes to Bowlus vs Winnebago, which is better? Let’s find out.
Bottom Line Up Front
If you are looking for a more luxurious RV with all of the bells and whistles, go with a Bowlus. If you are looking for a more affordable option that still has great features and a wider variety of floorplan options, go with a Winnebago.
Main Differences between Bowlus and Winnebago
The main differences between Bowlus and Winnebago are:
- Bowlus focuses on producing fewer models with a higher quality, whereas Winnebago has a more extensive product lineup.
- Bowlus RVs are lighter and more aerodynamic, whereas Winnebago RVs are heavier duty.
- Bowlus RVs have a more luxurious interior with higher-end materials and finishes, whereas Winnebago uses more standard materials.
- Bowlus created their first RV in 1934, whereas Winnebago was incorporated in 1958.
- Bowlus manufacturers towables, whereas Winnebago makes towables and motorhomes.
- Bowlus specializes in making their own aluminum RVs whereas Winnebago owns a family of RV brands under the umbrella.
Bowlus was created in 1934 and is credited as being the first company to produce a travel trailer. Henry Bowlus (builder of the Spirit of St. Louis) was an aircraft engineer who designed his first RV, the Road Chief, to be lightweight (it weighed 1,100 pounds) and aerodynamic. The Road Chief was made out of an aluminum frame and skin, which made it much lighter than the RVs of its time.
The Bowlus (and Henry himself) appeared in several Hollywood movies at the height of its popularity, and Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, and Merle Norman all ordered one.
Hawley Bowlus produced less than 100 RVs between 1934 and 1936 – across multiple models and size configurations. Geneva Long introduced the modern Bowlus in 2012 after a multi-year effort restoring an original one from the 1930s and then re-engineering it.
Today, the Bowlus company focuses on producing high-quality, luxury RVs that are still lightweight and aerodynamic.
They reimagined the aluminum RV for the 21st century and use modern materials and construction techniques. However, the original 1930s models are still collector’s items. They were built to last, and they did.
The modern Bowlus company of today creates a luxurious travel experience and advances interior decor. They use only the highest quality materials and obsessive attention to detail.
A focus on sustainability means the Bowlus RVs of today will still last a century or more. The proprietary design makes it easy to restore a Bowlus RV at any time in the future.
Bowlus is known for:
- Ultra-luxurious amenities
- The first heated floors in an RV
- Charging stations, wifi amplifiers, and routers
- A direct to consumer model and online sales
- Sophisticated power management
- The first lithium-powered travel trailer
- A sustainable RV
The belief that less is more leads to a simplistic design and production approach. Bowlus focuses on connecting with people and providing them a way to enjoy doing what they love. These travel trailers are unique, reliable, and versatile.
Bowlus RVs are also meant to go completely off-grid. Their extensive battery backup systems and their lightweight agility give you the ability to run the air conditioner for up to 8 hours before needing to charge. This is significantly more than other manufacturers offer. While you can’t go off-grid for an entire 24 hours if you’re running the A/C, you can still stopover for a night somewhere without hookups before continuing your journey. This freedom is what many Bowlus travelers love the most.
Bowlus currently offers three production models: Terra Firma, Endless Highways Edition, and Endless Highways Performance Edition.
The Terra Firma is an all-terrain RV that can go off the beaten path. It’s designed to be lightweight and aerodynamic with a focus on luxury and sustainability. This model was upgraded from the Endless Highway Performance Edition to include more flexibility and greater control.
It has more features that allow you to stay protected, no matter where your adventures take you. You have access to a modern galley kitchen with stainless steel countertops and two charging stations built into the dinette. Each dinette converts to a twin bed for extra sleeping capacity.
In the bathroom, you’ll find a large, separate shower with hotel-style amenities, finished in teak flooring. The included bench offers premium relaxation.
The master bedroom features a true king-sized bed with the option to convert to two more twins.
The exterior is wrapped in a sheath of aluminum, allowing you to enjoy every thrill and shed every worry.
Every textile is plush, every surface is polished, and every bit of what you can’t see is still working for you. A water filtration system keeps you healthy while pet-friendly temperature-controlled bowls slide out from a drawer. The HEPA filter ensures that your cabin air is always clean, no matter where you’re parked.
A slight downgrade from the Terra Firma, this model still has the same plush textiles and performance with slightly different finishes and colors. You’ll still enjoy a king bed, a modern stainless steel kitchen, and a protective aluminum coating.
However, this travel trailer is outdoor kitchen ready with a 110V outlet and propane connection. You can customize this space to your liking with anything that runs off of 110V power or propane.
This model is nearly identical to the Terra Firma. Still, it does take away some of those nifty features you can’t see, like the pet bowls, pet bed, and HEPA filter. However, you’ll still ride in ultimate comfort and have the luxury you need.
Bowlus RVs don’t come cheap. Even the vintage 1930s models sell on the secondary market for nearly $200,000. Getting a new Bowlus model will set you back at least $260,000. In my opinion, there are a lot of other RV brands that offer similar features for less.
Keep in mind, that Bowlus RVs are hand-built by skilled craftsmen in Oxnard, CA. Thousands of hours go into each unit. It’s not built like a mass-production RV (as other luxury RVs are), and it appeals to specific customers that are looking for this level of quality and craftsmanship. This alone makes the investment worthwhile for many discerning Bowlus customers.
There are no other RV makers that have put as much engineering, technology, and craftsmanship into a towable. There are no other RVs on the market that can go off-grid for two weeks and still run major appliances. There are no other full-size RVs on the market that you can tow behind an electric vehicle (e.g. Tesla X) or small luxury SUV. For buyers who want off-grid luxury living, the Bowlus is a smart investment.
- Extremely luxurious
- Lots of extra features and creature comforts
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Off-grid ready
- Very expensive
- Only one floor plan option
If you’re looking for a luxurious RV with all the bells and whistles, there are plenty of other great options on the market.
Airstream offers a range of luxury travel trailers that start around $100,000. They’re cheaper than Bowlus, share a similar aluminum exterior ‘look’, and have similar interior feature upgrades. Where they differ is in production. Airstream trailers are built on a mass production line, unlike Bowlus, where each RV is hand-built, with painstaking attention to detail and panels of “2024 aluminum which is the optimal alloy for applications requiring high strength-to-weight ratios”.
Airstreams are built for profitability and the ‘look’ of an all-aluminum travel trailer without any of the design, tech, or craftsmanship of a Bowlus. Airstream RVers are looking for ‘the look’ of an aluminum towable, at a lower price point, but do sacrifice the quality and high-end luxury of the Bowlus models. Airstream customers constantly complain about quality defects, whereas Bowlus seems to attract more discerning customers.
Airstream is a very popular brand, however, you won’t get the same off-grid capabilities with Airstream that you do with Bowlus. Bowlus appeals to those who want the best travel trailer on the market, regardless of expense. Airstream targets RVers who want the look of an aluminum towable at a lower price point.
Check out our complete Airstream vs Bowlus comparison.
Homegrown Trailers is a great choice if you’re looking for a more sustainable option. Their trailers are made from all-natural materials like bamboo and wool insulation. They run off solar power and can be towed by almost any car.
You won’t find the same luxury finishes in a Homegrown Trailer as you would in a Bowlus. However, you will get a more sustainable option for about the same price that’s still capable of being off the grid.
Living Vehicle Travel Trailer
The Living Vehicle is another great option for those looking for a sustainable and luxurious travel trailer. It’s made from recycled materials and runs off solar power. Its boxy shape and aluminum exterior made it look quite modern and sleek.
It has all the luxury finishes you could want, like a gourmet kitchen, spa-like bathroom, and comfortable sleeping quarters. However, it doesn’t have the same off-grid capabilities as the Bowlus.
The Winnebago company has been around since 1958 and has long been one of the most popular RV manufacturers. They offer a wide variety of RVs, from small travel trailers to large Class A motorhomes.
I remember having an outdated perception of Winnebago because of the large number of older Winnebago RVs I still saw on the road. However, after a couple of visits to local RV shows, it was clear the Winnebago company of today offers plenty of modern designs and amenities that are still built to last.
Some of the features that Winnebago offers include:
- A wide variety of RV models
- Sturdy construction
- A variety of floorplans
- User-friendly designs
- A long list of standard and optional features
The features you get will depend on the model you choose, but there’s no shortage of affordability and luxury at both ends of the spectrum. Winnebago strives to make something for everyone.
The Winnebago models are too numerous to count, but some of the most popular include the Vista, Travato, Minnie Winnie, and Micro Minnie.
This Class A motorhome starts at just $85,000. It’s built on a Ford F-53 chassis and has plenty of features that make it a great choice for those who want a luxurious RV without breaking the bank.
The interior is modern and stylish, with plenty of space for everyone to relax. You’ll find a full kitchen, a spacious bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom.
On the outside, you’ll appreciate the large storage compartments and the easy-to-use electric awning.
The popular Winnebago Travato starts at $65,000. It’s built on a RAM ProMaster chassis and offers plenty of features that make it a great choice for those who want a smaller RV with all the amenities.
These amenities include a full kitchen, a spacious bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom. You’ll find plenty of storage compartments and an electric awning on the outside.
Winnebago Minnie Winnie
The Minnie Winnie starts at $75,000. It’s built on a Ford E-450 chassis with a smaller footprint but still has plenty of great features like a full kitchen, a spacious bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom.
The exterior of the Minnie Winnie features plenty of storage compartments and an electric awning that makes it even easier to enjoy the outdoors.
Winnebago Micro Minnie
The Micro Minnie is Winnebago’s smallest RV, but it’s still packed with plenty of great features. It starts at just $45,000 and is built on a RAM ProMaster chassis.
Even though it’s small, the Micro Minnie still has a full kitchen, a spacious bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom. The electric awning makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors, and there are plenty of storage compartments for your gear.
Winnebago Fifth Wheels
Winnebago fifth wheels offer a variety of floorplans and features that make them an excellent choice for those who want an RV with plenty of space. Much like all fifth wheel manufacturers, Winnebago offers a variety of models that range in price and amenities.
Winnebago’s fifth wheels start at $44,000 and go up to $100,000. The models in the middle of the price range offer a variety of floorplans and features that make them a great choice for those who want an RV with plenty of space.
Winnebago toy haulers are built on various chassis and offer plenty of features that make them a great choice for those who want an RV that can double as a storage space for their toys.
The toy haulers start at $50,000 and go up to $100,000. The models in the middle of the price range offer a variety of floorplans and features that make them a great choice for taking off-road trips and extra sleeping arrangements in the back.
The floorplans offered by Winnebago vary depending on the model, but there are plenty of great options to choose from. The company offers a wide variety of floorplans that range from small and compact to large and luxurious.
The smaller floorplans are great for couples or those who want a more compact RV, while the larger floorplans are perfect for families or those who want plenty of space.
Winnebago RVs are some of the most affordable on the market. The company offers a wide variety of models that range in price, from the more affordable options to the luxurious models.
The company’s most affordable option is the Winnebago Minnie, which starts at just $18,000. The Minnie is a great choice for those who want an RV that’s easy to tow and has all the essential features.
The most expensive option from Winnebago is the Winnebago Horizon, which starts at $300,000. The Horizon is a luxurious RV that’s packed with features like a full kitchen, a spacious bathroom, and a comfortable bedroom.
It’s important to note that the prices listed above are just the starting prices for each model. The actual price of the RV will depend on the specific model, the floorplan, and the features that you choose.
- Plenty of models and floorplans
- Lots of storage
- Both large and small trailer options
- Not off-grid ready
There are a few other RV manufacturers that offer similar products to Winnebago. These companies include Thor, Forest River, and Grand Design.
Thor RVs are a great alternative to Winnebago RVs. The company offers various models that range in price and amenities. Thor is a parent company that owns many different RV brands, so you’re sure to find an RV that’s perfect for your needs.
The nice thing about Thor RVs is that they tend to be built with better quality while they can be a bit more expensive. Their service representatives are knowledgeable and effective when it comes to fixing anything that might go wrong.
Read our complete Thor vs Winnebago Comparison.
Forest River RVs are another great alternative to Winnebago RVs. I’m partial to Forest River for their wide variety of travel trailers and fifth wheels that are perfect for traveling families. You’ll have everything you need, including a few upgrades like outdoor kitchens.
Forest River RVs aren’t as easy to find because the company isn’t as large, and they don’t manufacture RVs in the same numbers. They can also be difficult to find used because people like them so much that they don’t get rid of them in large numbers. This is a great thing for anyone wanting to purchase a Forest River because you know you’ll be happy with it.
Perhaps one of my favorite RV brands of all time is Grand Design. I’ve had the pleasure of owning one of their travel trailers, and it was one of the best RVs I’ve ever owned.
Grand Design RVs are known for their quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and luxurious features. They offer a wide variety of floorplans that are perfect for any family size or need. I’ve also found Grand Design’s pricing to be very reasonable and offer a great value.
One of my favorite things about Grand Design is the service they offer to every owner. You can get your Grand Design trailer serviced by any authorized Grand Design retailer. Unlike other brands that require you to return to the dealership of purchase, Grand Design only sells its models at outlets that agree to service any Grand Design trailer, regardless of purchase location.
This is especially convenient for heavy travelers or those of us who live in remote areas. No matter where you are, you can always find a Grand Design service provider to help you with any issues you might have. You know they’ll be knowledgeable because Grand Design is one of the only types of trailers they sell.
If you’re looking for an RV, you may be considering Bowlus, Winnebago, or several other brands. These frequently asked questions will help you learn more about these two RV brands so you can make the best decision for your needs.
Question: What are the differences between Winnebago and Bowlus?
Answer: Winnebago and Bowlus RVs both offer a wide variety of models that come in different shapes, sizes, and price ranges. However, there are some key differences between the two brands.
For one, Winnebago RVs are built on a variety of different chassis. At the same time, Bowlus only uses the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in their RVs. This gives Winnebago a wider range of options when it comes to size and floorplan.
Another key difference is that Winnebago offers a wider range of prices, from the more affordable options to the luxurious models. Bowlus RVs are typically more expensive, with the base model starting at $260,000.
Finally, Winnebago has a more extensive dealer network, which means you’re likely to find a dealer in your area. Bowlus only has dealers in a handful of states.
Question: What are the best Winnebago models?
Answer: The best Winnebago model for you will depend on your budget and needs. If you’re looking for an affordable RV, the Minnie is a great choice. The Horizon is a top option for those who want a luxurious RV.
Those who need an RV that can double as a storage space for their toys should consider a toy hauler. Winnebago offers a variety of toy haulers that are built on different chassis and offer plenty of features.
Question: What is the top-of-the-line RV brand?
Answer: There is no one “top of the line” RV brand. Every RV manufacturer offers a different range of models that come in different shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Choosing the RV brand that offers the best selection for your needs is important.
Question: How do I choose the right RV for me?
Answer: The best way to choose the right RV for you is to consider your budget, needs, and preferences. You should also consider the type of vehicle you’ll be using to tow the RV. Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, you can start narrowing down your options.
When it comes to choosing an RV, there are a lot of different factors to consider. Two of the most important considerations are price and size.
Winnebago RVs are some of the most affordable on the market, with a wide variety of models that range in price. The company also offers a wide variety of floorplans, so you’re sure to find an RV that’s a good fit for your needs.
Bowlus RVs are much more expensive, but they’re also luxurious and offer a wide variety of features. If you’re looking for an RV that’s packed with amenities, Bowlus is an excellent choice.
No matter which brand you choose, be sure to do your research and find an RV that’s a good fit for your needs.