RV's vs Tents

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

RV's vs Tents

Postby IceTurtle4 » Tue May 18, 2010 12:28 pm

Hi all,
Planning on going to BM this year for my first time... heading up from Los Angeles with a few friends and we are debating between RV and tent... I like the idea of tenting and feel it's more in the burning man spirit, but about 1/2 our group really feels RV is the way to go for the extreme weather conditions... My friend says she has talked to people who have gone before and they all say they would NEVER tent because it's just too hard... I'm not sure I believe that... can anyone out there offer up some advice on RV vs Tents? It would be amazingly helpful!

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Postby Fire_Moose » Tue May 18, 2010 12:55 pm

Go to disney land. Problem solved
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Postby dragonpilot » Tue May 18, 2010 1:01 pm

Anyone who says it's more in the "Burning Man spirit" to hunker in a tent simply can't afford to rent an RV. Just about everyone upon arrival goes to some degree of effort to make their chosen living conditions as comfortable as possible. An RV just makes the job easier.

I take an RV for reasons that make sense to me:

1. I can afford it
2. Hauls more peeps and gear
3. Instant camp
4. Creature comforts

We don't hide in the RV, but use it as a solid base camp, set up sleep tents outside, always an open house for camp guests. We usually arrive in the wee hours so no need to try to set up tent in blowing dust after driving all day into the night.

If you can afford it, do the RV. Once you get there check out the tenting scene. It's not TOO hard to tent, but it's all relative depending your tolerance of the given conditions. There are people who won't go to Burning Man even in a $500,000 Class A motor home! There are others who are just fine living the week in the dust in a 1-person backpacking tent surrounded by their water bottles and pork and beans. Where are you in that continuum?
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Postby phil » Tue May 18, 2010 1:44 pm

It's not "versus." Pick one: tent or RV. Come in the one you picked. People who talk about burning man spirit don't have it.


Oh, and there's no apostrophe in RVs.
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Postby peachandpapa » Tue May 18, 2010 1:56 pm

Whenever a newbie is set to stay with our camp, we press them to bring an RV. Burning Man is enough of a sensory overload to have to deal with a tent and the elements their first burn. Easier the better for our dear newbies...
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Postby Token » Tue May 18, 2010 2:12 pm

Do both. Get the RV, set up a couple tents in the morning shade side of the RV.

You never know when someone is going to drag some roadkill back with them after a long night. Tents rock much less than RVs.
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Postby Snow » Tue May 18, 2010 2:27 pm

a RV always wins in a tent vs. RV bout...squish
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Postby Plumeria » Tue May 18, 2010 2:40 pm

I would make a decision soon though, or else it will be made for you. As, you won't be able to find any available RVs!

Its really also a personal choice.
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Postby CapSmashy » Wed May 19, 2010 3:06 am

Year one, came solo, tent broke (big ass canvas wedge tent, center pole blow out, IBDave was somehow responsible), slept on a cot inside the carport. It was dusty. Really dusty.

Year two and three, tented in Kodaik cabins with nice shade, etc. Very comfy. 10x10 in 08, 10x14 in 09.

This year, the bus conversion will be complete so no more tenting it for us.

We invested the time and effort into the bus for living space for the simple reason that it sucks ass to drive 1800 miles in a slow ass bus and then roll in on not nearly enough sleep and shagged out from the 36ish hour drive and have to unpack half the bus to lay out the ground tarps, set up the carport, set up the tents, put all the shit in the tents, etc etc etc... And then, after 12, 13 days of building and tearing down the theme camp/village, take all of our personal gear down to repack and reload the bus.

This year, pull in, pop the air brakes, chock the wheels, put up the gennie smoke stack, give hello hugs and kisses, push some stuff out of the way and crawl into the luxurious king sized bed under the cool breeze of a combined total of 25k btu's of cooling power. :)
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed May 19, 2010 6:39 am

You can probably search the Tent Vs. RV question and pull up tons of material on this board, it's one of the topics that's been beaten to death.

As stated, it all boils down to how comfortable you want to be. Affordability isn't as big an issue as people make it, you don't have to spend big $$ renting the latest and greatest monster, you can always Craigslist up a cheap old trailer or something.
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Postby ygmir » Wed May 19, 2010 7:00 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:You can probably search the Tent Vs. RV question and pull up tons of material on this board, it's one of the topics that's been beaten to death.

As stated, it all boils down to how comfortable you want to be. Affordability isn't as big an issue as people make it, you don't have to spend big $$ renting the latest and greatest monster, you can always Craigslist up a cheap old trailer or something.


I wish the search feature was easier to use..........


on topic: (surprise!)

You can also get cheap, used travel trailers, as well as RVs, and campers, and, then, you have one.......doesn't have to be big, or fancy, but, they sure are nice.......I use a 20+ year old trailer, and, love it......
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Postby teardropper » Wed May 19, 2010 8:12 am

My first trip to the playa I took my teardrop trailer, basically a metal tent on wheels. You do everything outside, except sleep inside, which is very nice. But I decided not to bring it to BM because I think it is too hard on it. Rule: don't bring anything to the playa you can't bear to lose or ruin. So I got an ancient motorhome without air but everything works. Fairly inexpensive and nice to have a bathroom and indoor cooking space during a "breeze" and the shower is nice. Our camp is about split between old trailers and RVs and tents, with "younger" folks in the tents. They seem to do well, but, of course are younger and quite hardy. Of course, I often have a full RV during meal time. How tough are you, and very import, how much can you afford? If it's a tent, prepare yourself to make it as comfortable as possible, keeping mind that dust gets in everything, even an un air conditioned RV.
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Postby Boijoy » Wed May 19, 2010 8:44 am

I think you should go with an RV if you can. It's less about "spirit" & MORE about what kind of camper you are. You will find other ways to be "spirited" at Burning Man.. trust me. :)
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Postby teardropper » Wed May 19, 2010 8:56 am

"I wish the search feature was easier to use.........."


Yeah. How does that work?
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Postby Elorrum » Wed May 19, 2010 9:07 am

affordability, lack of storage off playa: my reasons for tent. Everyone has a bar to meet as far as comfort, and it seems to rise with age, in my own experience. I won't sleep near or on the ground any longer, if I have the choice, and I like to be able to stand up inside my tent. I have a wide long cot, and a wide long (2 in) thermarest on top of that, that meets my definition of camping luxury (to date) I have a five year old REI campdome 6 that has held up well for three years on playa... sister sewed a ripped rainfly last year and it's fine. I sleep well, and that's my main concern I guess. It's not a "spirit" issue at all. Do the best you can.
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Postby brickmaster » Wed May 19, 2010 9:51 am

I think comfort is part of the equation, but you can look at it the other way.

My first year we bough a shade stucture that didn't provide any shade and a tent that was a glorified dust catcher. Basically we were sleeping in a dusty oven.

This forced us to go out, and not spend time in camp.

Because we didn't have a comfortable base to retreat to, we ended up spending 95% of our time out and about exploring.

Wether you are comfortable or not at BM has more to do with your mindset than what you bring with you (within reason)
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Postby bm_cricket » Wed May 19, 2010 10:07 am

It's been said a million times but.. camp the way you want to.

Here's a good question that nobody else asked.. Are you an experienced camper? As in, was the last time you camped with your scout troop many years ago or do you consider pitching tent on the side of a mountain road or 10 miles walk up a trail perfectly reasonable ideas?

Do what comes naturally to you and you'll have a great experience. Any reasonable Burner won't give shit to some stranger for showing up in a 1/2 million dollar air conditioned ride.. if they park it and really participate in the event that is!!! I've seen tourists in tents and tourists in RVs. Just don't be a tourist and we'll welcome you with open arms! My camp has a tourist special charge on all purchases made with credit card for Mutant Vehicle taxi services. All major credit cards are declined and shredded on site.

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Postby ibdave » Wed May 19, 2010 8:52 pm

CapSmashy wrote: (big ass canvas wedge tent, center pole blow out, IBDave was somehow responsible), slept on a cot inside the carport. It was dusty. Really dusty.


oh really? hummm, be being the sober dude, I seem to remember you trying to seduce pinemom while showing off your solo-sex swing... Yup that's the story I heard... 8) 8) 8)
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Postby CapSmashy » Wed May 19, 2010 9:27 pm

ibdave wrote:[oh really? hummm, be being the sober dude, I seem to remember you trying to seduce pinemom while showing off your solo-sex swing... Yup that's the story I heard... 8) 8) 8)


:lol: Just seeing if you were paying attention.

Love ya brother.
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Postby ibdave » Wed May 19, 2010 10:14 pm

CapSmashy wrote:
ibdave wrote:[oh really? hummm, be being the sober dude, I seem to remember you trying to seduce pinemom while showing off your solo-sex swing... Yup that's the story I heard... 8) 8) 8)


:lol: Just seeing if you were paying attention.

Love ya brother.

i think ygmir wants to use your device... 8) 8) 8)
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Postby shroom » Thu May 20, 2010 8:06 am

I think I've decided on a tent for my first year. Coming from Georgia, seeing states I have never seen, I know I am going to stop a lot. Hauling our camper will slow me down. I'm an experienced camper. Playa dust has got to be better than a leaky tent and mosquitoes!
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Postby teardropper » Thu May 20, 2010 8:18 am

shroom wrote: Playa dust has got to be better than a leaky tent and mosquitoes!


Well, you're gonna' find out. The thing about playa dust is that it gets in anyway.
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Postby Just_Joe » Thu May 20, 2010 9:26 am

shroom wrote:Playa dust has got to be better than a leaky tent and mosquitoes!

Not Better.
Just different. which is what most people are looking for anyway.
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Postby gaminwench » Thu May 20, 2010 10:48 am

I loves me some playa dust; not so much the mosquitoes...
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Postby Honey Bucket » Sat May 29, 2010 10:12 am

If one should be contemplating tent camping - the best is what I saw last year, where the community had these huge shade structures above them, supported by scaffolding, encompassing half a dozen or so tents of various sizes, usually two man tents. But for all intent and purposes, RVing is the way to go, simply for the comfort level. Who cares if it's a bloody fortune?
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Postby Hoolie » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:48 am

I guess I'm in the minority here. I would never "camp" in an RV. Can't stand them. I find them stuffy, claustrophobic, and generally kind of lame. Even when visiting other people's camps, if I'm invited into an RV, I am hesitant. And once I'm in, I can't wait to get outside again. What can I say? I just find it an unpleasant place to be. I would never consider a rental. Way too expensive, wouldn't want all the hassle of dealing with a rental company, with all the rules and legalese, and I wouldn't want to deal with the extensive post-burn cleanup under threat of a huge cleaning fee if its not done to the rental company's satisfaction. I would only consider an RV if I owned it and it was already kind of beat up. Of course, then you need a place to store it when not in use. Moreover, I would really dislike driving one of these beasts, particularly if I had to maneuver it though any sort of urban environment. The one RV benefit that I am jealous of is the extra sound insulation, which makes it easier to sleep as the outside noise booms through the day and night.

Don't know who you spoke to who claimed tenting was "hard." I've tented every year I've gone, and it's been great. Wouldn't have it any other way. I love having my camp oriented outside, breathing the fresh air, and feeling open and connected to the world around me. You do have to put effort into building a camp that provides good shelter and can withstand the elements. For me, that is part of the fun and part of the experience. A solid shade structure is essential for your living space, and preferable for your tent. Also, a good tent goes a long way toward comfort. I've owned a Springbar canvas tent for several years now, and I find it quite luxurious.

So, there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, and different people with different preferences. Personally, I would get together with the 1/2 of your group that wants to tent, and build your own camp, and let the other 1/2 of the group do the RV thing.
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Postby trystanthegypsy » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:55 am

Tenting is hard, as in, it's hard to sleep past 10 or 11 am. Then just crawl out and find some shade in someone else's camp to sleep in. heh heh make friends.

I have the greatest little convertable 4-season tent that has zip panels over all the mesh. I can leave it sealed most of the time, and open up the panels in the early morning when the air is calm. Most of the dust that got into my tent was off of me- I also made a point to remove most of my clothes before getting in.
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Tenting vs RVs

Postby professorzed » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:44 am

[quote]Planning on going to BM this year for my first time... heading up from Los Angeles with a few friends and we are debating between RV and tent... I like the idea of tenting and feel it's more in the burning man spirit, but about 1/2 our group really feels RV is the way to go for the extreme weather conditions... My friend says she has talked to people who have gone before and they all say they would NEVER tent because it's just too hard... I'm not sure I believe that... can anyone out there offer up some advice on RV vs Tents? It would be amazingly helpful![/quote]

I'm with Token on this one. You say half your group wants to go with RVs, and I guess the other half wants to camp in tents. So why not do both?

RVs provide a useful wind block, anchor and shade for the tents. The tents provide extra, private 'rooms' for the half of your group that really wants it.

In extreme weather, you still have the option of 'roughing it' in a tent, or 'wimping out' and riding out the storm in an RV. You also have a place to stay if your tent gets ripped to shreds, or becomes airborne. You might not even be in your camp when this happens.

Those that camp in tents might not have the option of an RV. You have the option of doing either, or both.

I think that the reason some people are down on RVs is that some people might choose to stay within the comfort of their RV as opposed to experiencing Burning Man. Getting out, walking around, etc. I suppose it's a little like putting ketchup on a new kind of dish that you've never tasted before.

You have to drive to the event, and transport your stuff to the event. You can do this in an RV, so why leave an RV at home if that's one of your resources?
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Postby some seeing eye » Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:35 pm

I have never graced an RV on playa. I have traveled to and fro with them, hid in dust storms with them and shared a camp with them.

On the plus side, they are great shag wagons. At 50,000 plus attendance, there is more than one looking for a nice place to sleep on any given day and night.

On the minus, you need to manage a shared resource and you will be shunned by some tenters.

You can offset your costs by taking riders who tent in your or other camps, but you can only handle so many bikes, so much refrigerated food, stuff. In my riding experience we had one + a couple camping in an RV and one rider to and from (me). Suggest you get your riders to commit to cleaning-detailing the RV on your return, the more hands the merrier and less boring! Figuring water refill and grey water pumping on playa is non-trivial.

As for your campmate's fears, a shower is more valuable than an RV. A great camp more valuable than a shower, a mind open to adventure most valuable of all.

Your need to give some deep thought to the value proposition you provide to coinhabitants and visitors to your RV. I would strongly suggest tenting in year 1. RVing in year 1 will spoil you and negate experiencing what it was in the '90's, before SF's tech insanity.
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Postby ibdave » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:23 pm

shag wagon... I like that... 8)

Showers in a RV.... Not a good idea... In the 12 years with ours on the Playa, I/wife have taken maybe 6 showers in the RV.. Grey water tanks fill fast. I my self have never had a problem getting our tanks pumps when needed on those 12+ days on the Playa years. But have heard about people not being able to get a truck to come by, or they were parked to far off the road for the Straw to reach.... :shock: :shock: :shock:
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