Most people are attracted to recreational camping because it takes us out of the rat race for a bit. It allows us to stretch our legs, relax, simplify, and commune with nature.
So, it’s an age-old debate among campers: Are you really camping if you choose an RV over a camping tent? While many camping purists would argue that staying in an RV diminishes the authenticity of the camping experience, growing numbers of recreational campers are opting for a more modern, comfortable approach to enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.
It's no surprise most people start their foray into recreational camping using a tent. A tent is a simple, affordable option, and, if you’re new to the world of camping, it's wise to get a little experience under your belt before making a huge investment.
But, inevitably, most habitual campers find themselves considering an upgrade. So, while tent camping can feel more authentic, it lacks the comfort and convenience of an RV. When deciding whether or not to take the leap, there are some benefits to RV camping to consider.
If you’ve ever been caught in an unexpected downpour while camping or had to cancel a trip because of inhospitable weather, you’re not alone. Protection from the elements may be the most popular justification for upgrading to an RV.
When you camp with an RV, you don’t have to worry much about the weather or temperature. You can hunker down in the RV for a card game or a cup of hot cocoa in cold or rainy weather. When shady spots can be hard to come by in the dead of summer, an RV with an awning can provide instant relief from the heat with little effort.
Most experienced campers put safety at the top of their list of priorities. First aid, food safety, and how to put out a campfire are all top of mind for most when venturing out into nature. Camping remains a pretty safe recreational activity, but injuries like fractures, sprains, and strains aren’t uncommon when camping, and they tend to be underreported.
An RV offers a level of safety a tent simply can’t. It's a more formidable obstacle for wildlife and the elements, and, if you do suffer an injury, self-treatment and recovery are more pleasant in an RV. It’s easy to keep a hefty supply of first aid items on hand, and it's preferable to rest a twisted ankle or clean and treat a cut in a more comfortable, dirt-free environment.
In addition, campers who have become a little less agile with age or who have a health condition that requires regular attention may feel a bit safer with the conveniences an RV can provide.
Another popular reason for investing in an RV is you’ll enjoy sleep quality and comfort. Roughing it is appealing to many, but, if you’re not a fan of sleeping on the ground, tent camping can be very uncomfortable.
RVs and motorhomes typically offer dedicated sleeping accommodations, from a king-sized master suite to a dinette that doubles as a pull-out bed. An RV also provides a better noise buffer if campfire sing-a-longs from a neighboring campsite are a little too loud.
For some, campfire cooking is the highlight of a camping trip, but, if beanie weenie isn’t your idea of a balanced meal, you may find RV camping more desirable than a tent. Even the most basic trailers or RVs offer some kitchen amenities, providing you with more options when preparing a meal.
It can also be difficult trying to keep foods safely cool when you’re tent camping. Lugging in coolers and ice can be a hassle, and, when the ice melts, you may have no alternative. Many RVs have some type of refrigeration options, so you don’t have to worry about food spoiling or becoming inedible.
The secure storage of food is also an important rule of camping. Campers sometimes have to go to great lengths to store food safely away from wildlife. An RV eliminates the worry of unwanted nocturnal invasions.
Keeping yourself and your equipment tidy can be a challenge when camping. If you’ve ever had to wait in line for a campground shower or braved a cold creek to clean up, you know how inconvenient it can be to bathe in the woods.
Particularly after a grueling hike or a successful day fly fishing on the river, the prospect of a long hot shower in a private bathroom is very appealing.
Using the latrine in the great outdoors can pose its own challenges. Whether you handle things the old-fashioned way with a shovel and some biodegradable toilet paper or you’re relying on the facilities at a campground, it’s not ideal.
Many RVs have bathrooms with functional toilets, showers, and sinks to make life simpler and potentially more hygienic, especially helpful in a pandemic.
And there’s no end to the amenities available in an RV. If you can dream it, there’s an RV that has it. These days, many come equipped with LCD televisions, microwaves, and even washers and dryers. As an RV owner, you can decide on the level of luxury.
Many seasoned outdoor enthusiasts find their camping checklist gets longer every year. Lugging everything you need to a campsite can get old. You can keep most of the items you need for a camping trip stored in your RV, so it’s all there when you’re ready to hit the open road.
In addition to safer food storage, an RV also makes it easier to store and secure other things you want to keep safe or out of the elements, such as bedding or personal items. Some RVs are even designed to store motorized toys like ATVs or jet skis.
The Bottom Line
In the end, a camping trip should be a vacation from the daily grind. If you prefer the more bare-bones escapist feel to your hiatus, tent camping is the way to go. However, if some added comfort and modern conveniences sound more relaxing to you, it may be time to upgrade to an RV.
The best news is, you don’t have to choose just one. If variety is key, keep the tent and invest in an RV, and you’ll be prepared to go off the grid and enjoy nature’s benefits however and whenever you like.