Thursday, May 25, 2017

Choosing a Ladder for the RV

I've been searching on and off for several months looking for a ladder that we can carry along on our travels.  In the process, I have come to understand that there are two basic types that are most useful for people who feel like they need them:  telescoping and a-frame.

Telescoping ladders are great for RVers because they collapse into a small space, typically requiring less than three feet of storage.  A-frames may take up to six feet of storage, but they're safer because of their better stability.

If you have a larger motorhome, your roof is probably anywhere from 12 to 13.5 feet high.  Getting an A-Frame that will allow you to safely get on and off (and stay under six feet in storage) is not easy.  Telescoping ladders are therefore a better choice for roof access because you can get them in longer lengths - and they'll still collapse for storage.  Since you need to stand the ladder away from the RV a bit to climb it, you'd probably be most comfortable with a 15-foot telescoping ladder for hopping on and off the roof.

In the early days of my research, I had decided on a telescoping ladder similar to the Xtend and Climb 785P on Amazon.  It collapses and requires three feet of storage, yet extends to a more comfortable 15.5-foot length.

But that was before my wife expressed concern that my feeble old bones might break if I tried to get on and off the roof; if that happened it would "ruin" the trips we had planned (forget my injuries, the trip would be ruined!).  Back to the drawing board.

I made a promise that I wouldn't climb on the roof.  But I still need to get up high to clean roof drains, gutters (along the sides), and the tops of awnings and windows.  Sometimes, light bulbs may need to be replaced and tree branches moved out of the way.  I needed something that was tall enough to get the job done, but that was sturdy and stable enough to be comfortable using.

So here are the new requirements I drafted for my ladder:

  • A-Frame with foot stabilizers (legs wider at the bottom for stability)
  • Able to support up to 300 pounds
  • High enough that I could stand on the highest safe step and reach around the top of the coach
  • Storage length no more than six feet
  • Weight that I can handle (Note: almost every ladder I looked at, telescoping and a-frame, weighed about 35 pounds - so this is a "wash")
In the end, I found one that met every requirement and ordered it.

This is the Little Giant Ladder Systems Model 15109-001 ladder available from Amazon.  As you see it here, the top of the ladder (the thicker orange platform) is about 5'9" from the ground.  The "comfort step" is the highest safe place to stand, and it's a wide platform.  The comfort step is two rungs below the top orange piece.  When the ladder in its shortest position, the comfort step is 3'10" off the ground.  But when you extend the ladder, you are standing 7'8" above the ground.  I'm 5'10", and I can easily reach around the top of my rig, which is a little over 12'7" when not aired up.  Here are some photos of my ladder so you can get an idea of its size, both in its shortest position and fully extended:

I'm really happy with the new ladder, but am still trying to decide where to keep it.  There's room in the basement, but it might be better to keep it in the bed of our pickup truck. 

Until next time...


  1. I had been wondering about this very subject as I will become a full-timer in a few months. Your very thorough logic has made the decision for me. Thanks!

    1. Reading comments like yours makes it worth the time it takes to take the pictures, write it up and post it. Thanks for the feedback, and good luck in your travels.

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