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Camping Methods and the RV Designed for Your Needs.

Updated on October 20, 2019
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Are you thinking about getting into Camping?

This article is for the reader who needs an overview of the different styles of Camping and the different Campers that are popular in the US, such as Tents, motorhomes, towable trailer campers, pop-up campers, and fifth wheel trailers.

Too many people jump into the world of Camping without really knowing what they are getting into; and far too often, they end up owning expensive equipment that is not suited to their physical capabilities, age, or personal inclination.

Hopefully, this article will put the right questions into the readers head so they can make an educated decision about what they may really like to do.

Once that decision is made, the reader can define a path of investment and expenditures that will help them reach their ultimate goals in the world of Camping..

Holiday Rambler Arista motorhome

Nice Holiday Rambler Arista motorhome, a cheap product to get into a motorhome in its day.
Nice Holiday Rambler Arista motorhome, a cheap product to get into a motorhome in its day. | Source

Back Packers

One of the most popular and cheapest Camping "styles" to participate in is Backpack camping.

You get to take everything you might need for several days of Hiking/camping, put it all into a backpack, and then walk through Forests and over Hiking Trails, up Mountains, across Deserts, and along Riverbanks and Ocean shores enjoying the great outdoors first hand.

The true greatness of backpacking is that you get to enjoy Nature, up close and personal, and at your own pace.

Sport Backpack, Camping, Hiking, Trekking

Eyourlife Military Tactical Backpack Small Rucksacks Hiking Bag Outdoor Trekking Camping Tactical Molle Pack Men Tactical Combat Travel Bag 20L
Eyourlife Military Tactical Backpack Small Rucksacks Hiking Bag Outdoor Trekking Camping Tactical Molle Pack Men Tactical Combat Travel Bag 20L

Even though I don't backpack anymore, I keep this great backpack in my Rv for use when my wife and I do go on a nature hike in many state parks.


Questions for the New Back Pack Camper

Everyone who thinks they might enjoy this type of camping and outdoor exercise should stop before they invest a lot of money and consider the realities of this sport.

Here is a list of some of the things that you should seriously consider, if you think you are a Backpacker, before you set off down this trail:

  • To hike over such terrains you must be physically fit and of a hearty disposition.
  • You will be sleeping on the ground, in a sleeping bag, of course, regardless of the weather conditions.
  • You will be subject to the vagaries of nature, regardless of whether it's cold, hot, wet or dry.
  • You will eat condensed and dried foods, that you packed for your outing with weight and size being the overriding considerations during your selection.
  • You will always need to take the time beforehand to research and study about the region you are going to be hiking in and through for a safe backpacking experience.
  • You will need to research and be aware of the status of any wildlife you may encounter during your Hike and carry the appropriate safety equipment with you in case of an encounter.
  • You will need to become somewhat of an expert on performing your own First Aid. if you injure yourself while backpacking, you need to be trained in the appropriate medical and survival techniques.
  • The truly best (and most severe) hiking and backpacking excursions are invariably not designed as a family sport, maybe a couple's sport, but not really a family sport.
  • Once you become adept at Hiking, you will tend to migrate to tougher and more dangerous trails, and these are not really safe for children, nor even for most teenagers, if they are not well trained.

As you can see, from what I have listed, the typical Hiker ends up being a young adult who is in very good physical condition and has taken the time to be trained in all of the proper safety skills that he or she might need.

Don't get me wrong, there are many older Hikers out there, but, once the legs, hips, ankles, feet and backs of the Hikers start to give out, they are eventually forced to consider other methods of enjoying the great outdoors.

Coleman 4-person tent

Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, Green
Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, Green

I keep my tent in my backpack in case we get caught by rain. It gives us a place to shelter from storms.


Tent Camping

Tent Camping is a very popular sport for young families who want to vacation and travel the country, and yet, not invest a lot of money in camping equipment.

A low-cost tent, a few indoor sleeping bags, and a few other basic pieces of camping equipment and the average family is ready to have a great time in the many campgrounds around the US.

Additionally, there are hundreds of Federal, State, and even City campgrounds that are set up for Tent Campers and they provide the basic amenities such as restrooms and showers for the convenience of all.

Tent Camping is rudimentary, and a bit i=uncomfortable at time with very few amenities availabel, but is is really great fun.

Questions for the New Tent Camper

As with Backpack camping, there are certain things that you need to understand before you get too far into the sport of Tent Camping.

Some of the limitations of tent camping are;:

  • You need to think hard and long, and decide what type of Tent camper you want to be. Are you just looking at Summer vacations?, Are you a cold or hot weather camper? Are you a Forest, Mountain, Desert, or Ocean shore camper?
  • You then need to understand tents, how they are made, and which particular size and design is right for you and your family.
  • There are certain basic items every Tent Camper needs to have, and you need to be aware of what they are as well as their costs, and how you are going to get them to your campsite.
  • You need to understand that Tent Camping provides only the basic comforts, and everyone in the family has to be willing to accept the physical, food, and privacy limitations in a Park or Campground.
  • There are certain tips for Tent Campers, that you should be aware of that will help you enjoy your time in the outdoors in your Tent.

Tent Camping is not for everyone, but it is a great sport for young families who enjoy not only each others company, but living in a basic environment close to nature.

Pop-Up Campers

The next option, in Camping experiences is to purchase an actual Camper on wheels.

The cheapest investment in physical Campers is still the Pop-Up Camper.

A Pop-Up is a small trailer body on wheels that has a solid roof that cranks up once you are at a camp site. This allows the owner to then fold out several built-in beds with canvas and screen window walls.

Depending on it's size and cost, the central part of a Pop=Up can include Electrical lights, appliance outlets, a small propane stove, a small built-in Fridge or Cooler, among other options.

These Pop-Ups allow the owner to have a level of personal comforts that are a step above the Tent Camper, while keeping the equipment investment at a minimum.

Facts to Know about Pop-Up campers

Some things that should be noted about Pop-Up camping are:

  • Pop-Ups usually have a small Propane tank mounted on the front, in addition to; 12-volt and 120-volt Electrical Systems.
  • Pop-Ups have a relatively small central interior space with fold-out beds attached at the ends, and this small space is used mostly for sleeping, and for some meal preparations.
  • Pop-Up camper people will still do a lot of their cooking and eating, and spend the majority of their time, outside the unit, similar to a Tent Camper.
  • Many Pop-Up campers will carry and use a small tent to expand their usable space for sleeping and socializing, especially if they have several children.
  • The canvas on Pop-Ups, requires special care to prevent mold and rot, in order to extend the life of the canvas.
  • Although better than what tent campers have, Pop-Ups have very limited storage capability for appliances, clothes, and other personal items.

A great model of Camper Trailer

This old Airstream is considered one of the best ones on the market.
This old Airstream is considered one of the best ones on the market. | Source

Trailer - Style Campers

The Trailer Camper has been around for hundreds of years, in one form or another.

It is a self-contained camper trailer, with a hitch on the front for towing it with a vehicle.

You can get a small 16-18 footer with just the basic amenities similar to a Pop-Up, or you can get 35+ feet long Trailer Campers with multiple slide-out rooms, and loaded with luxury accessories and systems.

In fact, our first camper in the early 70's was one of those tear-drop shaped 16-foot long Trailer Camper that you can see in old black and white movies.

We had several good vacations in it, before we moved on to a larger camper.

Useful facts about Camper Trailers

Some things that you need to know about Trailer campers before you purchase one are;

  • Do your research on brands, models, and accessories, as well as the re-sale values of used units.
  • Who is going to use the Trailer Camper. will it be just you and your spouse, or are you going to be camping with several children and/or friends when you camp.
  • They usually have propane and 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC systems built in.
  • They have a fresh water tank, and generally a small toilet, either a Porta-Potty, or one with an actual Black water holding tank, depending on it's age and size..
  • They have a small kitchen generally with a 2-burner or 3-burner propane stove, and often at least a small 120V-12V-Propane Fridge, and even sometimes a microwave.
  • They can have a propane hot-water heater, and a shower depending on it's size.
  • They have a Double or even a Queen sized bed, and some storage cabinets for linens, foods, and clothes, etc.
  • They can have one or more TV's, a TV antenna and sometimes a Satellite Antenna.
  • Some have a propane furnace, as well as one or more 120V roof Air Conditioners.
  • Depending on their size and weight, they can require a high powered vehicle to tow them to and from campgrounds.
  • You should be sure, when looking at a Trailer Camper purchase, that you either have an adequately powered and equipped vehicle for towing what you get, or that you are willing to trade vehicles to get the appropriate vehicle.
  • You should be aware that the costs of just setting up a vehicle for towing a Trailer Camper, can quickly add up to over a thousand dollars.

A Trailer camper is obviously a step up in luxury and comforts, above those with a Pop-Up or Tent camping set-up. But, along with that luxury, comes the higher cost in initial investment, as well as ongoing upkeep, also.

Fifth-Wheel Camper

Somewhere, sometime in the past, someone thought that it would be a good idea to take a nice simple Trailer camper, enlarge it, and raise the front 6-8 feet above the rest of the camper body, so that it would fit over the bed of a pick-up truck.

Then, instead of a simple ball-type hitch, they attached a commercial tractor-trailer type of hitch, and the Fifth-Wheel camper was born.

All joking aside, this configuration exists as a solution to the need for larger campers that weigh too much to be towed safely on a Ball-type hitch or by a regular vehicle.

With this special configuration and style of hitch, the camper could be much larger and heavier than with a Trailer. It could contain even more floor space, storage areas, and more exotic luxury options.

It was an immediate hit with a large number of campers due to the extra luxury appliances and other items that are included in Fifth-Wheel Campers.

Fifth-Wheel Camper

This is a typical design of fifth-wheel camper that you will find in almost all campgrounds around the country.
This is a typical design of fifth-wheel camper that you will find in almost all campgrounds around the country. | Source

Facts to know about Fifth-Wheel Campers

Of course, there are certain things you should know before you get into the purchase of one of these monsters of the road, such as;

  • Do your research on brands, models, and accessories, as well as the re-sale values of used units.
  • Who is going to use the Fifth-Wheel camper. will it be just you and your spouse, or are you going to be camping with several children and/or friends when you camp.
  • You will need a very high powered pickup truck to haul one of these, so be prepared to make the necessary investment in a tow vehicle, that is high powered, and gets pretty bad fuel mileage.
  • Be ready to invest in the appropriate towing equipment and accessories for your pickup truck, as these alone can run well over a thousand dollars.
  • The Fifth-Wheel camper, like the Tag-Along trailer, can be a sparce small camper, or it can be a 38-foot monster with six slide-out room extensions, and be loaded with luxury options.

The Fifth-Wheel, or "Fiver" is great way to camp and enjoy yourself with worrying about seasons, weather, or other restrictions that concern the Tent Camper and Pop-Up Camper.

It is a good way to get the comforts and Luxuries you want with a relatively reasonable price.

Class-C RV Campers

The Class-C camper is a camper body that has been designed to fit onto a standard truck chassis. It has it's own drive train, and is self-contained.

They are popular because they have the luxuries of a Tag-Along or Fifth-Wheel camper, and they have their own standard truck manufacturers drive train.

This particular design of motorhome allows the owner to sit in their camper and drive it around the country, and not have to use an extra vehicle with a special hitch system because most Class-C campers are small enough to just unhook from the campsite and drive into town to shop or eat out..

And, because the chassis and drive trains of these campers are standard truck manufacturers systems, they are easy to get serviced and repaired pretty much anywhere.

Facts to know about Class-C campers

Some of the things you need to know before you purchase one of these Class-C campers, are;

  • Do your research on brands, models, and accessories, as well as the re-sale values of used units.
  • Who is going to use the Class-C camper. will it be just you and your spouse, or are you going to be camping with several children and/or friends when you camp.
  • Generally speaking, because they are on a truck chassis, they will ride rough, like a truck, and have a lot of engine noise in the cabin.
  • The driver and passenger seats are often at the comfort level of a typical truck, and not very luxurious.
  • They do not get very good fuel mileage.
  • They will have the same comforts, luxuries and accessories available as those of a Fifth Wheel camper, just less free space to move around.
  • The larger Class-C campers can be underpowered for the load they carry, so know your engines and transmissions.

Overall the Class-C camper is a great alternative for many couples and small families. It is very popular, and you can get a lot for your dollar, if you shop wisely.

Class-B camper

The Class-B camper is one that is evolving so quickly that they are very hard to define today.

Originally, the Class-B camper was a van that was modified to provide sleeping accomadations, along with some other basic amenities for the traveler who wanted to save money on hotel/motel bills and camp as they traveled.

They provided a compact and efficient way to trael and save money for one or two people willing to sacrifice comfort for savings.

Today, you will not only see the classic simple, modified Van design, but you will also see Class-B+ campers that actually resemble Class-C campers.

Some are small and simple campers, while some others can approach 25-feet long and can be as exotic as a well-appointed Class-C camper..

The warnings here are similar to those for a Class-C camper, with the additional provision that you know what you really, really want before you get pushed into purchasing one of these units.

They are not the most popular type of camper to have, and often you can take a significant hit at re-sale time, because of this.

They are very popular for people who plan to travel in Europe where there are narrow roads and streets in almost every country and city.

A high end Class-A Motorhome

Monaco Camelot, Class-A Diesel Pusher motorhome in it's campsite.
Monaco Camelot, Class-A Diesel Pusher motorhome in it's campsite. | Source

Class-A Motorhomes

The Class-A motorhome is the high end of campers.

They are designed with the campers personal comforts in mind in every way possible.

They not only cost more, generally speaking, than any of the other types of campers, but they also are the most luxurious.

With a Class-A, you have so many built-in comforts and accessories, that many people actually spend most of each year staying in them and traveling around the country.

Many are even called Full-Timers and actually live in their Motorhomes year-round and follow the seasons as they travel and enjoy the country.

You will find that these big boys can come with Gasoline engines and supporting drive-trains or they can come with diesel engines.

Typically the Diesel Class-A will cost significantly more than the same size motorhome with a gasoline engine. This because the diesel engines with their drive-trains can carry larger loads than their gasoline counterparts.

Facts to know about Class-A Campers

Some things to know before you invest in one of these babies are;

  • Do your research on brands, models, and accessories, as well as the re-sale values of used units.
  • Who is going to use the Class-A camper. will it be just you and your spouse, or are you going to be camping with several children and/or friends when you camp.
  • How often will you be going out to camp, what is the average distance you will drive, and how long will you camp when you go out.
  • The Class-A can be either gas or Diesel powered, and the drive-trains are invariable designed to carry the load of the camper, along with you and your "stuff"
  • The Class-A has a significant amount of under-chassis storage space in lockable compartments.
  • They have significant; fresh water, black water, gray water and propane storage for your comfort.
  • They have a roomy driving area with very comfortable and adjustable driver and passenger seats
  • They have good vented air conditioning and heating systems.
  • They have large bedrooms, with Queen or even King sized beds.
  • They have roomy showers and toilet rooms.
  • They have larger kitchen areas with a larger Fridge, microwave, stove, and sink as well as counter-top.
  • With the multiple slide-out room extensions on the newer units, you end up with quite large living areas and bedrooms.

You just need to know that they are the most expensive option for the camper, but they are the most luxurious option. And if you look at the age of most of the Class-A RVer, it becomes obvious that they are the easiest to set up and shut down at camp sites.

Toy Haulers

There is a popular variant of campers, specifically the Class-A, Class-C, the Fifth-wheel and the trailer camper that I should make mention of.

That is the Toy Hauler. Essentially this is normal camper that the manufacturer added several feet to, in length. This area is distinctive because it has a large drop-down door and an open area behind the regular living area.

This area is designed for campers who want to take their "toys" with them camping. A "toy" is usually a motorcycle, a golf cart, a dune buggy, or even an automobile. Whatever it might be, the toy-hauler is designed for to be easily stored, and loaded/unloaded for the camper owners enjoyment once they get to the campground.

More Info about Selecting a Camper

Water and Camping:

Regardless of the type of Camping you are interested in, one of the key items you will need is Water.

So, always make sure that you have at least one gallon of good drinking water for consumption by each camper in your party per day that you will be camping. A

ll of that other stuff is nice, but everyone needs good fresh water.

Food and Camping:

With Food, you have a lot more leeway in your selection, and are only limited by you are willing to pack and carry.

The Back-Packer, of course can only carry so much, and this drives them to a higher evel of planning with their food pans.

But once you get to the larger campers and MotorHomes, with their Refrigerators, Coolers, and ample storage areas, let your creative mind free to allow you to eat whatever you desire.

Hopefully, this basic information will help you in your decision process, if you are considering getting into Camping. I have listed the major categories of RVs here, and there are more and more variants becoming available each year.

Space and Comforts in camping.

Probably the top thing to consider is just what you want as a minimal Comfort Level when you go Camping.

When you look a the options that I have listed here in this article, you need to make sure that your final selection is what will provide you with both the level of travel adventure that you desire and at the same time provides you with the basic comforts that you demand.

In Summary:

It comes down to your how you answer these questions;

What do YOU enjoy doing when you camp.

What do YOU want to spend to camp. How often do YOU want to camp.

Answer these and you can make the appropriate decisions to have a lot of years of fun camping.

Good Luck!

Basics of Campers

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Don Bobbitt


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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Timetraveler2-Thanks for the compliment on my article.


    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      Don, I wrote a very similar article when I first started here at HP, but I must say that yours is much better than mine and I am SO jealous!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      6 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      mperrottet- Thanks for the read and the comment.

      I understand your selection and it is great to have your transportation available for seeing the area once you camp.

      As to fifth-wheel campers, I recent;y got rid of my motorhome and shopped around for a good deal on a used "fiver". It took me several months but I ended up with a great unit in Cherry condition. But, I do not have a way to tow it ..... yet.

      I placed it in a campground in Virginia near our kids, and relatives. I will look for a truck next year.


    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      My husband and I decided on a 30 foot travel trailer that we tow with a Dodge RAM 2500 truck. We like the idea of being able to unhitch and have our truck to travel around in. We've been considering a fifth wheel, but just can't afford to move up right now. This was a really good review for people who are just getting into camping and aren't sure what they're looking for. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      8 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      When I was a kid my grandparents had a trailer camper, but with my family we tent-camped. Now with my own family we haven't done any camping, but one I am keen on that you didn't mention is the Aliner camper.


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