If you’re wanting to spend time at a relaxing and scenic campground for a few days, you may be torn between two options: RV vs. tent camping. Neither of these options is objectively better than the other — it all comes down to personal preference. But if you’ve never been camping before, you may not be sure which is right for you.
Have no fear! We are here to break down your options. And while we may seem a little biased (we do love RVing), we’ll help you understand which is the best choice for the type of camping that you want to do.
Let’s dive in!
RV vs tent camping: Ease of set-up
If you’re looking for a type of camping with easy set-up, RVs and tents are neck and neck. Of course, it all comes down to what specific tent or RV model you get, but both have options that have simple setups.
Most basic tents can be put together by one or two people in ten minutes. Larger tents may require a little more time or an extra hand or two. As long as you have all of the parts, putting a tent together isn’t usually too hard. Don’t forget to consider everything you’ll need to unpack from your car.
RVs vary a little more in their setup times. If you have a tiny trailer, you’ll have to do things like unhitching and putting down stabilizer jacks. If you’re in a Class B motorhome, you really don’t have to do much at all! A large motorhome may take more time, considering you have to deal with slide-outs, awnings, and more.
The thing that sets the two types of camping apart in terms of setup is packing. With an RV, oftentimes, all you have to do is get in and go! Packing for a tent camping trip is a little more involved, as you have to pack in every piece separately.
Comfort levels in RVs vs tents
If you’re looking for comfort, RVs have tents beat.
There’s only so much you can do to make yourself comfortable in a small tent. Sleeping options are usually on the ground or hard cots. There’s no climate control, and only a thin layer of fabric protects you from the elements on the outside. Cooking is done on a separate grill or an open fire. Bathrooms are communal ones provided by the campground or simply behind a tree. Still, many love tent camping for this reason. It’s a great way to get connected to the great outdoors and experience nature up close and personal.
RVs offer varying levels of comfort, but even the most basic options are usually cushier than a tent. RVs come with full amenities like kitchens, beds, dinettes, and sometimes full bathrooms. They also provide more protection from the elements and often include heating or air conditioning. Most RVs also have the capability to be hooked up to electricity, water, and sewer. It’s basically a small home on wheels! If you’re looking for a true glamping experience, you can rent a luxury RV and stay at a resort instead of an ordinary campsite.
RV security vs tent security
If security is a big factor for you, RVs are decidedly much safer than a tent. There are tons of videos out there that explain how to feel safer while tent camping, like the one below from Bicycle Touring Pro.
You could implement these tips or you could just stay in an RV. Most RVs have locking capabilities, meaning that when you turn in for the night, you can lock the front door much like you could your home. On the other hand, a tent is secured with a simple zipper. If thoughts of intruders, creepy crawlers, or curious raccoons keep you up at night, an RV might be the better option.
Even if you feel safe at a campground, RVs are nice because you can keep your camp gear safely stored away if you need to leave for some reason.
Tent camping costs vs RV costs
Tent camping is usually the cheaper option. Good tents can be as cheap as $40 and primitive campsites without hook-ups are usually cheaper than spots for RVs.
However, you’d be surprised at the deals you can find RVing. With platforms like Outdoorsy, renting a cushy RV is more affordable than ever before. If you’re looking to treat yourself, you can still do so on a budget.
The verdict: It’s up to you
You have the facts — now it’s time to make a choice. If you still aren’t sure, try both! A few trips with both will help you pick a clear winner.