Are RV Ladders Standard For All RVs?

Contributor

Tucker Ballister

Favorite Trip

5 Months Solo on the Road

Home Base

Hendersonville, NC

Favorite RV

2008 Fleetwood Bounder

About Contributor

Tucker Ballister is our Technical Content Writer. He’s a lover of the open road and the proud owner of a 2021 Sunlite Classic travel trailer (his 3rd RV to date). Check out more of his RV adventures, gear reviews, and outdoor advice at thebackpackguide.com.

RV ladders are made for interior and exterior use. Interior ladders are primarily used for accessing bunk beds, cabover beds, or drop-down bunks, like those in many toy haulers and Class A motorhomes. 

Exterior ladders are primarily used for accessing the roof – if it’s fully walkable. Ladders used outside your RV can also be employed for washing your RV or doing roof maintenance if your roof isn’t walkable. 

This guide to interior and exterior RV ladders provides insights into the best ladders for different applications, and we will answer the most commonly asked questions about ladders for RV use. Let’s dive in!

What Are the Different RV Ladder Types?

There are several common types of interior and exterior ladders for your recreational vehicle. Bunk ladders are the most common for interior use. For exterior use, the options expand, and you’ll have fixed, collapsible (aka telescoping), and folding exterior ladders. 

Today, many RVs are built with a fixed roof ladder from the manufacturer or an “RV ladder prep” designed to be compatible with a collapsing or telescoping design. For budget travel trailers without either, you’ll need a standalone telescoping ladder or a folding exterior ladder. 

Why Don’t All RVs Have a Ladder?

People using folding ladder to install RV cover
Photo by Camping World

One reason why an RV isn’t built with a ladder is because the roof isn’t designed to be walked on. This is more common in the lightweight, lower-priced RV market, but doing away with a ladder installation can also help manufacturers lower manufacturing costs by eliminating this installation step. 

Some RVs that do have fully walkable roofs still don’t have a ladder. That might be due to strategic manufacturing decisions, but most that don’t include a ladder are at least built with a ladder prep. 

Technician Tip: More manufacturers now install a ladder prep rather than a fixed ladder because the telescoping ladders are much safer and can be used in other applications than the standard exterior ladder traditionally used in RV construction.

You still need to worry about roof maintenance if your RV isn’t built with a fixed ladder or ladder prep. You’ll still need a ladder to access the roof to inspect it periodically and perform any required maintenance to prevent leaks and other roof damage.

Is There a “Standard” Ladder For RV Use?

Certain manufacturing standards (RVIA) govern how an RV ladder – or ladder prep – must be installed. However, you won’t find the same ladders used on all types of RVs. 

Fixed ladders are more common on motorhomes and higher-end towables. A ladder prep is a more common feature for smaller, more affordable towable RVs, requiring the purchase of a compatible aftermarket ladder to access the roof. 

What is a Ladder Prep on an RV?

Lippert RV ladder prep
Photo by Lippert

An RV ladder prep is a common feature found on many towable and motorized units. It’s essentially a small bracket that holds the hooks of a compatible collapsible ladder in place to keep it from sliding or falling off as you climb up and down.

Lippert makes one of the most common ladder preps and supplies it to popular manufacturers like Alliance, Forest River, Jayco, and others for use on some of their RV models. This ladder prep is designed for integration with Lippert’s On-The-Go Telescoping RV Ladder.

RV Ladders for Roof Access

Let’s take a look at ladders to help you get onto your RV’s roof:

For RVs with Lippert Ladder Prep

Lippert On-The-Go Telescoping Ladder

Lippert On-The-Go Telescoping Ladder

  • Extended length: 12’6″
  • Retracted length: 33.5″
  • Angled extension: Reaches 22″ above RV for added stability
  • Weight: Less than 25 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 330 pounds

Fixed Ladder Replacement (or for New Installation)

Stromberg Carlson Universal Exterior Ladder

Stromberg Carlson Universal Exterior Ladder

  • Material: Anodized aluminum
  • Tubing Diameter: 1″ 
  • Overall length: 100” 
  • Distance between uprights: 10”
  • Recommended maximum length: 92.5″ plus 7″ handrails on the roof
  • Mounting spec: On the roof,  12.75″ from the edge with a 5″ stand-off

Collapsible Alternative (aka Telescoping)

Xtend+Climb 15.5' Aluminum Telescoping Extension Ladder

Xtend+Climb 15.5′ Aluminum Telescoping Extension Ladder

  • Height Extended: 15.5′
  • Safe Working Height: 12.5′
  • Reach Height: 19.5′
  • Height Closed: 36″
  • Depth: 4.72″
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds

Folding Design

Little Giant Ladders King Kombo Pro

Little Giant Ladders King Kombo Pro Aluminum 6′ Ladder

  • Height Extended: 6′
  • Folded Dimensions: 6’1″ H x 2’1″ W x 7″ D
  • Weight: 21.5 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds

Our Best Ladders for RV Bunk Beds

Bunk ladders are available in various lengths to fit the height of the bunk you need to access. Let’s look at a top choice for two common RV bunk heights: 

Best Interior Ladder For 60” Bunks

Stromberg Carlson Silver Interior Bunk Ladder

Stromberg Carlson Silver Interior Bunk Ladder

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tubing diameter: 1″
  • Spacing between bunk ladder uprights: 11″ on center 
  • Overall width: 13″ (outside of ladder rung end cap to outside of ladder rung end cap)
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds

Best Interior Ladder For 66” Bunks

Stromberg Carlson Black Interior Bunk Ladder

Stromberg Carlson Black Interior Bunk Ladder

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Tubing diameter: 1″ diameter aluminum bunk ladder tubing
  • Spacing between bunk ladder uprights: 11″ on center 
  • Overall width: 13″ (outside of ladder rung end cap to outside of ladder rung end cap)
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds

Where To Find Bike Racks for a Fixed Ladder

Man mounting bike on ladder mounted rv bike rack
Photo by Camping World

With a fixed ladder, you have the advantage of using that ladder to mount an RV bike rack. The downside is that the bikes and the rack must be removed for you to use the ladder again. 

However, a ladder-mounted bike racks is a good solution for motorhomes that are towing a dinghy behind them. If you’re curious to learn more about these bike racks, check out our full guide to taking your bikes anywhere with your RV.

Frequently Asked Questions

Back of Thor Freedom Traveler motorhome
Photo by Camping World

Whether you need an interior ladder to climb into a bunk bed or an exterior ladder to get onto your roof, all ladders are about one thing: access. And we’re all about improving your access to quality RV information. So, let’s dive into some common questions: 

Who makes RV ladders?

Lippert (telescoping ladders) and Stromberg Carlson (fixed ladders) are two of the leading manufacturers. Some RV manufacturers also work with overseas vendors to acquire the ladders they install or include in their models, but this is more common for bunk ladders than for fixed roof ladders or telescoping ladders that are compatible with ladder prep.

Are RV ladders universal?

You’ll mainly find the term “universal” used by manufacturers of ladder designs that are meant for new installation or the replacement of a broken or missing ladder. These universal designs are mainly of the fixed variety meant to provide access to an RV with a fully walkable roof. 

Where do you store an RV bunk ladder?

Most designs require you to remove and store your bunk ladder before driving or towing your RV. Here are some ideas for safe, secure places to store it between uses: 

  • Under a jackknife or sleeper sofa
  • Secured behind an RV recliner
  • Between bunk cushions in the bunk itself
  • In a storage area under dinette cushions
  • In a closet or wardrobe
  • Under the bed in the main sleeping area

This isn’t a complete list, and you can store your bunk ladder anywhere that it won’t fall or shift to cause damage while you’re driving. You can also get creative with something like this to secure your bunk ladder in an area with open wall space if your ladder is compatible.

What is the weight limit on an RV ladder?

The weight limit of a ladder for RV use depends on the manufacturer. Most are rated for 250 to 300 pounds, but your safest bet is to check with your RV’s manufacturer (for fixed ladder weight limits) or the ladder’s manufacturer (for portable ladders) to get their rated weight capacity.


At the end of the day, RV ladders are mostly about access, but they’re also about safety. Here are a few other articles dedicated to keeping you and your RV safe on your next adventure: 

Do you have any additional questions? Let us know in the comments below.

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