"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Which is better camping: Tents or RV's?

by Jim Bessey
There are two distinct worlds of camping: tents and RV's. Each is as different from the other as Democrat and Republican. Emotions run strong in both camps, and proponents of one often disdain supporters of the other. "That's not camping!" the tenters say to the lazy, pampered residents of recreational vehicles. "But when it rains it pours," responds the RV lovers.

I've done both, and I'll take a roof over my head every time.

Purists will tell you it isn't camping if you aren't roughing it. Their ideal comes straight from a Coors Lite commercial: pure mountain stream, isolation, Jeep Wrangler in a clearing with a breeze wafting through the towering pines, and fresh-caught trout frying on a white-gas grill. Just you, your sweetheart, a playful Golden Retriever, and a couple thousand dollars worth of fancy gear from Adirondack Outfitters immersed in the pristine beauty of Nature, capital N.

I've lived in that picture, and even felt the condescending distaste for families who claimed they were camping in their luxury Winnebago's. I'm older now, a bit more tolerant, and have learned the wisdom of keeping my wife and children happy during vacations. By the time we'd bought a cavernous tent, screen house, stand-up grill, folding tables and a fleet of camp chairs I realized that we were no longer "roughing it" at all, merely postponing the inevitable. We bought a twenty-foot trailer the next summer.

We travel and camp in relative comfort now, and spend far less time worrying about the weather forecast. We can decide to leave on a few hours' notice, and don't have to venture into the mountains or find a suitable meadow by a babbling brook to achieve vacation success. And we don't have to pee in the bushes anymore.

I love having a bathroom! My wife loves it more. She never accepted the concept of visiting a thicket to attend the call of Nature. I have to admit that stumbling about in the darkness with a feeble flashlight, searching for a proper place to relieve myself has long since lost its original charm. We brush our teeth in a sink now, and use real toilet paper. We can even take a shower in the tiny stall if we want to. Running water is such a fine amenity!

Power was always a problem when we were tenting... keep reading.

See this story as it appears on Helium.com
Reprinted from an earlier column. All rights reserved.

Would you rather camp in a tent in the wilderness, or in an RV in a campground?


  1. As I woman of a certain age, my answer to this question is: Are you SERIOUS? (lol) Holding a flashlight while attending to nature's business may be awkward for a man, but it's virtually impossible for women! :-)

  2. I've never been camping yet Visiting my grandmother's farm where the closest thing to a bathroom was the outhouse...well, that was roughing it enough for me. Needless to say, I agree with Diane.

  3. Have to agree with both of you, Diane and Glory. While it was never an issue for us boys, the whole bathroom thing was very important to Lin -- and if I can't keep my wife happy I'd end up camping without her, in the doghouse!

  4. For me, based on experience I prefer camping tents.