In today’s busy world, it can make great sense to take a break and get away. Just chill out and relax for a while. Then the questions arise – Should we go away on a vacation ? Should we go sight-seeing ? Maybe we should try camping ?
When some people think of the word camping, often they conjure up images of roughing it, getting wet, sleeping on rocky ground, and straddling a jack pine when nature calls. While all those things can still be done if so desired, but most will go for options that have at least some of the comforts of home.
A dry covering over your head, a soft bed to sleep on, and yes, a nearby washroom would be nice. Many of those enjoying camping carry those thoughts a bit further, and include a furnace, fridge, and even a hot water tank. So where does one start, and what factors should be considered?
Similarly to purchasing a house, one should consider budget, needs. and wants. Do you want to go RVing or Camping ? What is the difference you ask ? Well read on to gather some thoughts on the subject.
Camping is roughly defined as taking a holiday and staying in a temporary dwelling, such as a tent or a camper. It is usually geared towards outdoor recreation and experiencing nature in an enjoyable way. Camping is often done in a fairly simple manner, and campsites may or may not include services such as sewer, water and electricity. So you can see there can be many options available for camping.
RVing can fit the definition of camping somewhat, but extends it to include major road trips and sightseeing, and RV sites do tend to be more refined. Many people are full time RVers, using their RV as a full time dwelling. The proper definition for RV is ‘recreational vehicle’ and usually refers to towed trailers or motorized units which have some living space and some amenities found at home. I will go into more detail and explain different types of equipment and what that equipment may be best suited for.
So again, sit down and decide what kind of usage you will have, what your budget is, and what your requirements are. It would be very disappointing to purchase a $ 150,000 motorhome only to discover that you only needed it for the occasional weekend, and it got all scratched and beaten up going into small campsites. Do your homework, then hit the RV shows, dealers and camping supply stores.
Now let’s look at options that are available for your use. Starting with the simplest and lowest cost, is the versatile TENT. I know you have heard of them. For many people, a tent is the perfect answer. They bundle up into small packages, fit into just about every vehicle, and can sleep fairly large groups of people. Because a tent is just a shelter, often other accessories are brought as well, such as drinking water, a stove, coolers, lamps and more.
Tents are best used for relatively short periods of time while camping. On a sidenote, tents are not very secure when there are bears in the area. Just saying.
Some owners of pick up trucks want to go camping, but do not want to tow a trailer as they may find themselves in tight spots for turning around. So a different unit was created. This is called a slide in truck CAMPER. Most of them fit a surprising amount of amenities in a small space.
Because of the weights involved in constructing a camper, it is suggested to use a heavy-duty pick up truck, 3/4 ton or heavier. This combination makes the truck versatile, and allows the option of towing a boat. It makes it a favorite with fishermen.
Moving up in size are the TENT TRAILERS. Most of them are quite light weight and towable by a wide variety of vehicles. They lift up and foldout to sleep a surprising amount of people.
Manufacturers are including a number of creature comforts, such as fridge, stoves, furnaces, and in some cases even toilets. Larger models may have electric brakes, but that is a topic for further posts.
Some people will opt for a TRAVEL or HOLIDAY TRAILER. These also have many advantages, as they are towable by a wide range of vehicles. Tow trailers vary in size from small ‘teardrop’ trailers which are very light and easy to tow up to 40′ long units that could be lived in.
Once you get to 15 feet or longer, you will start to see air conditioning units on the top of the trailers. More and more of the trailers are also coming equipped with one or more slide-outs, increasing the living space and sleeping space inside.
One more tow combination that is available is the 5TH WHEEL TRAILER. Again, many sizes are available, ranging from 18′ to 45′. The advantage of the fifth wheel is the easy towing, and reduced combination length due to part of the unit sitting over the deck or box of the pick up truck. Most of the new fifth wheels now come with 2 – 4 slide-outs, making these very viable for extended trips or full time RVing.
Now to the motorized units, known as MOTORHOMES. they are categorized as Class A, B and C. Why are they classed as A,B and C? I have never been able to find out. But let’s work with what we do know, starting with the smallest.
A Class B motorhome, is also known as a VAN CONVERSION. They usually manage to fit in almost as many amenities as in the larger motorhomes, although in a condensed size. The one noticeable item missing is space. They are compact, get decent fuel economy and are easy to drive. A little difficult to venture away from the campground as you have to pack everything up to drive anywhere.
Next larger is a CLASS C MOTORHOME. One distinguishing feature of this style motorhome, is the van cab with RV body built out over top of the cab. Most often they are built on a one or a one and a half ton chassis. They are still fairly easy to drive, and often have a hitch for towing.
Some manufacturers are pushing the size envelope to about 32′ and include slide-outs. In addition there are other manufacturers who take a mid-sized truck chassis and make it into a Class C motorhome.
Moving upwards is the CLASS A MOTORHOME. To recognize this motorhome, think ‘box on wheels’. A few years ago there was a Robin Williams movie called ‘RV’. It is well worth watching for a laugh. Converted buses are included in this category. Because of their size and weight Class A motorhomes are built on commercial truck frames.
Class A motorhomes can be quite large and comfortable. The big ones literally are a home on wheels. Powered by either gas or diesel, it is quite common to tow a vehicle behind. Driving one these big boys is the same as pushing a section of wall down the highway, so fuel economy is not going to be great. Converted highway buses also fit in this category.
By the time you are motoring around in one of these units, it is safe to say that you are RVing! RV sites are often designed to accommodate big units and may have drive-through sites and provide a more refined experience.
So are you going camping or RVing ? The good news is that there is no Right or Wrong. It all depends on you and your desires.
The main idea is to take a break, get away, and enjoy life.
This is just an appetizer of what is out there. Here is an option to learn a lot more !