DO RV's Make Us Bad Burners?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:59 pm

Tent vs. RV camping has been a traditional yearly debate for a long time. One is cheaper (well not really, you can toss an old camper on the back of your truck for no more than buying a bunch of camping crap!) and one is more luxurious (well not really, some camps are amazingly elaborate!)
But the simple answer to the original question of the thread is "No!"
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Postby Blurt » Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:34 pm

I would also highly suggest bringing a spare air filter, just in case. We changed ours just after driving off the playa last year, and it was great not having to worry about it - the old filter was completely clogged. Also don't forget some water or coolant for the rad. There is some altitude to drive over. A spare belt, extra windshield washing fluid. All cheap, but super expensive if you need them and don't have.

And yeah, forget the awning. Pain in the ass.
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Postby shiznicks1 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:57 pm

I say as long as youre at BM, thats all that matters. Last year was my first burn, and I was fortunate enough to bum a bed in a motorhome. In all honesty, when you want to get out of the dust storm for a little while, having a shell around you is the best thing on the planet. I wouldnt worry about your friend though. One of the coolest things I noticed about BM is its open to everyone in life, from the person with only a backpack, to the person with the million dollar motorhome. Just be there and thats the only important thing.
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Postby [SpaceBoy] » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:19 am

i think its a personal choice. last year i was in a tent, and i vowed to never do it again!

although, since i have been slacking (and took a job making far less money) im sure ill say the same thing again this year. having solid shelter can be a god send, but like many people have already said, you end up gravitating back to it.

now in my camp the rv is the "launching pad" for the evening, so its nice to have a centralized location when everyone is ready to hit the esplanade.

your burn is your own, and if you waste it sitting in your rv, then thats your fault, but there is always stuff around you, so take the time to enjoy the sights
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Postby CapSmashy » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:10 pm

We're modifying our bus for use for sleeping in this year.

Pulling into place in camp, popping the airbrakes and a few minutes of moving stuff around to clear the bed is a lot better than a long ass drive and a few hours of setup once you get there.
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Postby EspressoDude » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:51 pm

If you do the RV, don't load a whole lot of heavy stuff in the ass end. Most have lots or rear overhang to go with the short wheelbase so they don't need 5 acres to turn around. If you get too ass heavy they wallow down the road and you can never lose your concentration driving without serious consequences. Keep the weight in the middle.

Don't use the awning, keep it closed up except when goin in and out, don't get the electric steps.

Inspect for NEW tires. There is no tire store in the middle of nowhere and no cell service to call AAA ( or AA ). Most rv's have no jack, safety stands, or lug wrench, but do have a spare (cuz most renters can't safely change a tire )

Keep the house batteries charged.
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Postby changoloco » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:45 pm

Get a VW Westfalia and be done with it. It has all the benefits of having an RV without all of the downfalls that have been mentioned in this thread. In a Westy you have a bed, stove, sink, freezer and fridge. However they are small enough that you won't want to be spending all of your time hanging out in it like it is your own private "VIP" section. Another huge upside is that they get 25+ MPG. I personally think that RV's are, in fact, not very BM like. They are a huge waste of natural resources and monetary resources.
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Postby CapSmashy » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:01 pm

changoloco wrote:They are a huge waste of natural resources and monetary resources.


:lol: That's the funniest shit I've heard all day!

Maybe you've never been or something but from my point of view their is little concern over expenses our utilized resources.
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Postby LostinReno » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:08 pm

changoloco wrote:you won't want to be spending all of your time hanging out in it like it is your own private "VIP" section.



I'm rather fond of my little 18' air conditioned VIP oasis. :roll:
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:44 am

changoloco wrote:Get a VW Westfalia and be done with it. It has all the benefits of having an RV without all of the downfalls that have been mentioned in this thread. In a Westy you have a bed, stove, sink, freezer and fridge. However they are small enough that you won't want to be spending all of your time hanging out in it like it is your own private "VIP" section. Another huge upside is that they get 25+ MPG. I personally think that RV's are, in fact, not very BM like. They are a huge waste of natural resources and monetary resources.


That last sentence is the most ridiculous, Burning Man itself is a "waste of natural and monetary resources"! Wanna be green? Don't go!
I apologize in advance for ranting, but the VW vs. real camper thing tripped my button.
I had a '68 VW Westy pop-top, and there's an '02 VW Eurovan Weekender pop-top in the garage now. I know what they are. They come nowhere even close to having all the benefits of a real camper! They also can't tow more that a jet-ski. And this is coming from a guy who does like Westys enough to own them! By the way, neither my '68 or even the '02 get 25 MPG. VW guys have always been notorious for inflated MPG claims. In reality, most Bugs barely get 25, if that. And yeah, I have one of those too, a '78 ragtop that I keep tuned perfectly. It doesn't get 25 MPG.
My favorite benefit of a real camper is the shower, with very large amounts of nice hot hot water. Try that in a Westy - it would be hard-pressed to even carry the 800 pounds of water. The A/C is great too! And the 72" x 80" bed! And the cabinet space. And the real kitchen. And the fridge/freezer that actually holds enough stuff for a week. And that's all in an 11-foot truck-camper. I had two motorhomes, but the truck/camper is a better tow rig for the 10,000 pound BM-stuff trailer - which no VW can do at all.
I like my VWs, but they don't even begin to replace a real RV for extended living in harsh places.

OK... off to the garage to replace a bad fuel-gauge sender in the ragtop Bug and wash the VW pop-top van.

P.S. I see nothing wrong with going to BM in a Westy if you wanna. It's just crazy to say it has all the benefits of an RV! It doesn't.
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Postby Boijoy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:24 pm

Westy is a van with a bed. period.
17 mpg. best.. & you were able to tow a jet ski?? I'm impressed!! lol
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Postby CapSmashy » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:36 am

If you want to average close to 25mpg while hauling in all the comforts of home in a sizable living area, you'll need a Dodge Ram 2500 with a tuned, chipped and exhaust modded Cummins turbo diesel with a gooseneck camper/toy hauler.
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Postby lonestoner916 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:31 am

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Postby Hedy » Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:57 am

I think the only thing that would make you a "bad burner" is you - not your preferred method of camping : ) If you approach BM with a sense of community and participation, you'll be fine, no matter what your housing.

I have done both - several years of RV, and a year of tenting. I prefer the tent.

My personal take on the RV, was that it was GREAT to arrive on the playa & not have to set up our personal camp. Park it & you're done. That's priceless when you are involved with a large theme camp like I am. You can get in, and get to work building the theme camp, and not deal with building your tent and shade structure, kitchen, etc. Another bonus that I enjoyed was the storage space. I like to have shit organized, so it was awesome to have cabinets and closets for me to put all my stuff. BUT that leads me to say that the RV sort of encouraged everyone to bring too much STUFF! Hey, we have the space, so cram it in! At the end of the week, it was a pain in the ass dealing with all that baggage. Also, living with 3 other people in that close of quarters for a week gets a little taxing as well. Don't get me started on cleaning it afterwards - one of my worst BM memories.

So having the tent/shade structure was very liberating to me. Yes, it took half a day to get everything set up, but it was fun to really personalize our living space (me & my husband). It was great that it was "just the two of us". I really evaluated what we needed and didn't need out there. I like to travel light, so not having to deal with all the excess was so stress relieving. Camping closer to the earth and in the elements was a wonderful experience.

Plus our cleanup post-playa was maybe 2 hours of washing out the cargo van, instead of 10 hours de-playafying an RV .
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:55 am

All totally valid points - but that assumes tenting vs. renting an RV. If you get your own you don't have most of those hassles - and you don't have to be rich. In fact, for the price of renting an RV you could have a nice trailer of your very own, or what I use most of the time, a big slide-in truck camper.
And with a 10 or 20 year old camper, you won't care so much about slightly "playafying" it.

For the price of renting an RV for BM two or three times, you could have also gotten a decent 3/4 or one-ton truck to pull/carry it with if you didn't already have that necessary tool of American life.

And for much less than the cost of continuing to rent an RV you could pay storage fees if you have nowhere to keep such a thing. Maybe not in SanFran where space of any kind is eleventy zillion dollars a square inch...
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Postby Hedy » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:42 am

>>that assumes tenting vs. renting an RV. If you get your own you don't have most of those hassles<<

I agree - it was the renting part that was one of the biggest turn-offs. If I lived on the west coast, I would have invested in a camper or RV. That would be fun, to make a playa-mobile, customized and all!
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Thanks!

Postby big baby jesus » Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:48 pm

Last year was my virgin burn and I tented it. By the end of the week my tent was in tatters and I had more dust in that out, but I wasn't miserable. I was thinking of getting something small to provide comfort when I slept, but was debating the merits and whether it was in the spirit of the event of not. I know that part of it was the shite tent I bought, but still the comforts of an RV sound appealing.

I'm also thinking of building a dome, but I'm wondering if spending the money and resources on something I use one week a year is also in the spirit of the event. It seems wasteful and renting something that can be used by others is less wasteful, but more commercial.

waste vs. commerce...

Maybe I'm overthinking it. Anyhow, thanks for the discussion.
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Postby winebuff » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:58 am

AntiM wrote:Art challenge: sew a giant RV cozy cover so it looks nifty and not like every other RV out there. I know it can be done, I've seen it. At least I'm assuming that was an RV under that giant pink rabbit....

Or set up a "front porch" with chairs and such so you can interact with people on the street.

Genius is right, baffle that bitch.


Hi AntiM

That is a GREAT idea! I am bringing a vintage 68 traielr I bought because I joined the sisters on the fly vintage womens trailer group. Just got a bitchin paint job and that would kill 2 birds with one stone :)

Challenge is on to make it into something great and protect it...
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Postby AntiM » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:15 am

I mostly suggest RV covers for ugly rentals and RVs with crappy paint jobs to hide the RV itself. A cover gets dust under it and rubs in the wind. Some people do cover their cars and swear by it, but others say it rubs off the clear coat.

I'm guessing here, but I think a good UV resistant wax/polish pre-playa would help more than a cover. The dust in the open air won't hurt your paint job if you wash it off soon after. The sunlight though, that's the killer.
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Postby much2naughty2 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:41 am

Over the years we've camped in the back of a squareback VW (less than 25mpg), pickup campers, and even lived for a couple months in a two man backpack tent and tarps. Last couple years we've been camping in our Alaska outfitters tent with queen sized airbed. Right now, we're waiting for our new 23' toy hauler trailer to be built and delivered.

That said, I can't say we have had a bad experience with any of them, because our expectations were on par with our camping conditions and preperations. Camping in the mountains in a tent, we bathed everyday, but expected to do it in really cold water. Unless it was raining, our expectation were to always be out and about, not stuck inside.

My expectaions have changed as I've gotten older, and the expectation I have for Buringman tell me I'm really looking forward to getting the RV. We still expect to be out and about every day, welcoming people into our awning shade, perhaps sharing an ice tea, our couch and chairs, and getting out to see as much as possible in 7 short days and nights.

Like any camping trip, figure out ahead of time what your expectaions are and are they realistic. Can you take the heat and dust of day and freezing your ass off at night. Can you still enjoy a meal with a fine seasoning of dust? We figure even a day or two of clean up after the event is well worth the experience for us taking the RV. Is it for you?

AntiM, I was thinging of building a big bra for our RV. Maybe two really big balls on each end of the top of the roof with a large silver tarp stretched and tied down well
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Postby Boijoy » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:03 pm

you know, the back of a rented cargo van fits a double size matress with room to spare & they aren't as expensive or as hard to clean as an RV.
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Postby illy dilly » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:28 pm

Last year we camped next to some folks that rented a huge fancy pants RV. They flew into Reno, and the RV company new they were taking it to Burning Man, and charged them a huge 'deposit' with no plan of giving it back. Maybe if they rented in northern California and drove a little further they may have saved some money on the 'deposit'. I don't know what kinda MPG an RV gets, and if it would have been worth it.

We (girlfriend and I) do lots of camping in CO; mountains, plains, even San Luis Valley (one of the highest valleys in North America) so the tent is just right. We also tend to bring car ports with us, to stage as kitchen and living rooms, while dome tents act as bed rooms or storage rooms.
Colorado high camping is hot in the day, and really cold at night, very similar to the Black Rock Desert. Except we build big fires at night to stay warm. After last year we have our busted up, broken, dust covered, zippers don't work, Burning Man tent, and our nicer CO camping tent. Only problem with that is that, dust can blow in where the one zipper is stuck open.

An RV would be really nice. AC would rock my socks.... and hers *wink wink*. But for us camping in a tent is no big deal. Our AC is 8" battery fans and spray bottles. Though, I have a feeling that after having an RV at Burning Man, I probably couldn't go back to a tent.
I like the Captains idea of getting a slid in camper.
How much do those things weigh? Can you still tow a gear trailer with a slid in camper?
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Postby Blurt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:11 pm

Re: Renting and RV...

I rented one year and with the mileage it was $2,500 (and I lost the deposit).

I then bought an old RV for $10,000 and this is year three with it - already paid for itself, plus I had it the rest of the year for trips near home. It isn't pretty, no gennie, no AC, but the convenience is fabby.

Well worth it if you can swing it.
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Postby jcliff » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:09 pm

I'm sure it's already been said, but I'll chime in. Some day I'll probably expend the money for an RV....for myself. I don't think I'd expend the money if I had to share it and be packed in with others. I have a tiny little tent for myself, but it offers some great benefits. 1.) I'm able to organize my stuff how it best makes me happy and content for the week. I've only been for 2 years....but I now have an organizational system down that works. 2.) At certain points (usually one afternoon and one night,) I have to unplug from the action and have some ALONE time. My little tent gives me some personal space so I can unwind, decompress and get ready to get back out into the community.

And no....and RV doesn't make you a bad Burner!
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Postby ibdave » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:13 pm

jcliff wrote:
And no....and RV doesn't make you a bad Burner!


I like the way you think... 8) 8) 8)
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:48 pm

illy dilly wrote:I like the Captains idea of getting a slid in camper.
How much do those things weigh? Can you still tow a gear trailer with a slid in camper?


The answer to both it "it depends". My behemoth weighs 4000 pounds, but it's as big as they make 'em (11 1/2 footer with extended cabover bunk) and I still pull the Land Yacht plus water, fuel, etc. so the trailer is about 9000 pounds total. But I'm using a 4-door dually.
It all depends on your truck, but campers are around in all sizes and as you trim down they get a LOT lighter than this thing.

For cheap Burning Man RV luxury, a trailer is pretty much unbeatable. They're roomier than campers and generally cheaper too, and that's what I'd get - but they're out if you also wanna tow something else.

Before the Land Yacht I did always pull a gear trailer. It's nice to keep the camper clear of excess crap so you can use it on the trip down, and when you arrive on the playa it's really great to have instant living quarters. It sucks to roll in after a long day (or night) on the road and be faced with erecting shelter and unpacking camping gear right away. Fuck it, do that tomorrow! Pour margaritas NOW!

If you already have a truck, screw renting an RV! It's nice to be able to pack up slowly, a bit at a time... and you can unpack when you get home on your own schedule. Sometimes I DON'T! Six months later, in the middle of winter, a few friends will come over and we'll go pour drinks in the camper, still smelling like playa dust, still full of dusty playa gear... and for a little while, we ARE back on the playa!

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Postby Mosin » Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:47 pm

Blurt wrote:Re: Renting and RV...

I rented one year and with the mileage it was $2,500 (and I lost the deposit).

I then bought an old RV for $10,000 and this is year three with it - already paid for itself, plus I had it the rest of the year for trips near home. It isn't pretty, no gennie, no AC, but the convenience is fabby.

Well worth it if you can swing it.


I rented one year and with the mileage it was also ~$2500. We bought an old RV (76 Winny Brave) for $3K and have done two burns in it, as well as innumerable other trips/festivals. Here's the rub... we're now ~$45K into this thing. It is basically like a Top Fuel/Funny Car... virtually everything except the outer shell has been replaced! So be careful when trying to determine if you can swing it...as it will ultimately be determined by the condition of the used rv, your usage/maintenance habits, and depth of your pocketbook.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:55 pm

Boijoy wrote:you know, the back of a rented cargo van fits a double size matress with room to spare & they aren't as expensive or as hard to clean as an RV.


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Postby Boijoy » Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:58 pm

LeChat, a portable swamp cooler might work for you also. uses less power & I think you can get them @ HomoDept in the spring for about 100.00
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Postby teardropper » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:06 pm

I have an old RV, with no a/c and no gennie. We have really considered using a swamp cooler on it. Could be run with a solar panel and batteries, or maybe just the panel if you only wanted to run it in the day. Swamp coolers. A real alternative to energy hungry a/c units as they have few moving parts and are very energy efficient.
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