Why Do RVs Have Ladders in the Back?

Our first Tiffin RV had a ladder on the rear exterior of the coach to allow access to the roof. Our Newmar RV does not have an exterior ladder, so we needed to decide whether to have one installed or buy a portable one. Here is a list of things I learned about RV ladders that helped us decide.

Why Do RVs Have Ladders in the Back?

RVs have ladders in the back to allow access to the roof and equipment on the roof for regular cleaning and maintenance.

Some RVs Don’t Have Ladders

RV manufacturers have stopped adding ladders automatically to the back of coaches, but you can still order them as an option or get one aftermarket.

Some of the newer motorhomes like Newmar and Tiffin are using facades along the roofline on both sides of the coach to hide everything on the roof. The facades are generally complemented by a facade/spoiler across the back. That’s another reason why they no longer install ladders on the back. You would have to climb over the spoiler to get on the roof.

Our Class A RV has a motorcycle lift on the back, so an exterior ladder will not fit on the rear of the coach.

Our 2nd Coach didn’t come with a ladder.

Fun Fact: Several models of Newmar Luxury RVs don’t have ladders on the back because it would make them too tall!

Why You Need an RV Ladder

Our motorhome is 13 feet tall, so we definitely need an RV ladder to allow us to access the roof to clean and perform maintenance on the equipment and solar panels.

If you have awnings (like we do) or have windshield sunshade screens, you will need a ladder to reach them.

Types of RV Ladders

When trying to decide whether you want a fixed or portable ladder, consider that the fixed ladder will limit you to only being able to access the RV roof. You will need an additional ladder for anything else that you cannot safely reach.

Fixed RV Roof Ladder

Our 1st coach came with a ladder.

A fixed RV ladder is actually attached to the back of your motorhome. They can be a generic brand or one specific to your model coach, just remember that not all RVs can have ladders mounted to the back.

RV Extension Ladder

An extension ladder is typically what you see in most homes. Extension ladders can be purchased in many different lengths, but the problem becomes where to store one that is long enough to reach the top of the RV. So this probably is not the best one for a Class A RV.

RV Telescoping Ladder

Our telescoping ladder fully extended and unfolded.
Here’s our telescoping ladder in step ladder mode.

A telescoping ladder works similar to a telescope with each ladder rung sliding down to sit on the rung below it. When extended, each step of the ladder locks into place and this means you don’t have to have it fully extended to use it.

Make sure to carefully read all instructions for locking the telescoping ladder in place before using it.

RV Folding Step Stool

This step stool comes in super handy.

A folding step stool comes in handy if you don’t need to reach too high and they are easy to maneuver in small spaces.

RV Fire Escape Ladders

Some sites recommend purchasing an RV Escape ladder to help you escape in case of fire in your RV. These ladders were originally designed to be used in second-floor windows in homes and apartments as a way to escape out of the windows.

The idea behind these ladders are that if your RV catches on fire and you cannot make it to the exit door, you throw this out the window and climb down. The problem with this theory is that if an RV catches on fire, it is going to be fully engulfed in flames in a matter of just minutes!

If you have ever tried to climb a rope ladder, you know how difficult it is even when there is no emergency. They may work fine to escape a burning building, but I am not confident that they are a solution during an RV fire.

Don’t worry about messing with a ladder and wasting precious minutes that could save your life. Open your escape window (the one with the ugly red handles that you have probably never tested) and jump. You can worry about fixing any injuries from the fall AFTER you are away from the burning RV!

Make sure you protect the exterior of your coach when using a ladder.

Quick Tip: Many people use pool noodles and wrap them around ladder edges to protect their RV!

Which Ladder is Best for a Class A Motorhome?

Which ladder you buy for your Class A RV depends on how you answer a few simple questions

How tall of a ladder do you need? How tall is your RV?

Our Newmar Mountain Aire RV is 13 feet high, so an extension ladder that is tall enough to reach the top of our RV would be too big to store in the RV. We needed a telescoping ladder that can extend to at least 15 feet to safely get onto the roof of our coach.

Where will you store your RV ladder?

RV storage is limited, so make sure you find a place that your RV ladder will fit. We store our RV ladder in our sliding basement drawer.

How much does the RV ladder weigh?

We originally purchased a lightweight telescoping ladder but found that it was not tall enough for our RV to safely access the roof. The second ladder we purchased is plenty tall enough but weighs about 40 pounds which is a lot of weight to drag around. 

We found one telescoping ladder that has casters on the bottom that allow you to pull it behind you rather than carry it. The Finether 16.4ft Aluminum Telescoping Extension Ladder Portable Multi-Purpose Folding A-Frame Ladder with Hinges, 150 kg Load Capacity for Home Loft Office,EN131 Certified

Do you need more than one ladder for your RV?

A telescoping ladder is great for the outside of your RV, but it’s too big for inside your coach. If you have the storage room for a second ladder, consider buying a step ladder like this one:

Another type of ladder that comes in handy is a foldable Step Stool like the B&R Plastics 101-6 EZ 9-Inch Foldz Step Stool, White

Ladder Safety

Make sure you choose your RV ladder carefully to suit your needs. Whatever type of ladder you do choose, make sure you use caution and common sense when using it.

According to the National Safety Council, falls are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths and the top cause of nonfatal injuries.

Here are a few ladder safety tips:

  • Make sure to choose the right ladder for the job
  • Check for any overhead electrical lines BEFORE you climb
  • Place the ladder base on a firm, solid surface and avoid wet, slippery or soft surfaces.
  • Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing.
  • Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.

Whether you need to check your air conditioning units, your slides or awnings, an RV Ladder is a must-have item on your motorhome!

Are RV ladder bike racks safe?

If mounted properly, yes bike racks mounted to RV ladders are safe. The bike rack must be compatible with your bikes and your RV ladder.

What is the 4 to 1 Ladder Rule?

The four to one ladder rule relates to the safe angle of a ladder. The rule is that for every four feet of height you have to climb, move the ladder base one foot away from your RV or structure.

Carol Ivey

Carol is a long-time adventurer who loves traveling in her 44 foot Newmar Mountain Aire Class A RV with her husband Mike, and their Black Standard Schnauzer aptly named "Rider". Carol has been sharing travel stories and advice for years and their newest adventure chronicles what luxury RV living and travel is all about. Tips, tricks, and lessons learned about Glamping- seeing the country in style and comfort while cruising behind the wheel of a luxury RV. They definitely know how to RV-N-Style.

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