Tent or Camper?

One of the first big questions that comes to mind for someone who is just getting into camping is what are they going to sleep in.    For someone new to camping an obvious choice would be to try renting a cabin.  This works great for beginners however it is very expensive and greatly limits the campgrounds that you can go to.  Therefore for the purpose of this discussion we will rule out cabins and just talk about the main differences between tent and RV camping.

Right off the bat I would highly recommend that everyone who is just getting into camping try out tent camping first.  It is a very inexpensive way to experience the outdoors and in my personal opinion the best way to enjoy the outdoors is to spend time outside, not inside.  One caveat with this is to keep an eye on what type of year you are going camping. If you are in a warmer climate I would highly discourage you from starting out your first camping trip in the middle of summer with 90 plus degree temperatures.  Your time camping will be miserable if you can’t even sleep at night because you’re so hot.  I would much rather camp in January in Minnesota when it’s 20° outside as opposed to the middle of the summer with temperatures reaching 100°.  Just remember you can always get a warmer sleeping bag, add another layer of clothes, and start a nice warm fire when it is cold outside, but when it is hot you can only legally take off so much clothes.  Additionally, most campgrounds that I have been to have great restroom and shower facilities so not having a bathroom available in your tent is really not that big of a deal.

If staying in a tent just doesn’t appeal to you at all, don’t worry there are still some great options for you to enjoy camping.  Using an RV is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, it is very convenient, they give you most of the same comforts as at home, and you can fit a lot of stuff in them.  The biggest downsides to an RV are that they are expensive, you have to maintain and store them, and they can be confusing for someone who has never used one before.  Luckily you have this blog to help you learn the ropes.  If you are thinking about trying RV camping I would highly recommend that you rent the type of RV you are interested in prior to purchasing one.  By renting an RV a few times it gives you a couple great benefits: you can try different styles of RVs to see what you like, and it gives you several opportunities to see what type of campers everyone else has, you never know what style of camper out there might peak your interest.  Even after you have rented one for a while I recommend buying a used camper before buying a new one because it is much easier to change your mind and switch to a different style of camper than if you bought a brand new one and lose a lot of value right away.  There are a lot of really good deals out there, in 2016 I got a 19ft travel trailer which was only 2 years old, for only $10,000.  There are many different types of RVs out there so stand by for a future post to talk about the different styles and the pros and cons of each.

To sumerize, here are the pros and cons for tents and RVs:

Tent Pros:

  • Innexpensive
  • No towing vehicle required
  • Simple to use
  • More versatile (can use any type of campsite)
  • Thin walls: lets you listen to nature
  • Easy to store and maintain

Tent Cons:

  • No climate control
  • No built in bath/shower/kitchen
  • Can be less comfortable
  • More of a nuisance when packing up while raining
  • Thin walls: The kid next door could wake you up at 5:00 AM
  • Harder to camp when it is hotter/colder
  • Constant need for ice to keep food cool

RV Pros:

  • Built in climate control
  • Built in bath/shower/kitchen
  • Typically more comfortable
  • Nice place to store all your camping gear, even when you are not camping.

RV Cons:

  • More Expensive
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Need storage space
  • May require a vehicle that can tow

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