Saturday, December 9, 2023


Did you camp with a tent before buying your first RV?

Many RVers were tent campers before buying their first RV. It’s the natural progression in the camping world, isn’t it? Many people go from tent, to pop-up trailer, to RV (if there were a camper evolution diagram, that’s probably what it would look like).

Before you bought your first RV, did you tent camp? If yes, what made you decide to make the switch and buy an RV? If you had to go back to tent camping now, would you? Please tell us in the comments below.

And if you have a few minutes, read the history of tent campers. It’s interesting!

Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury is the editor here at She was lucky enough to grow up alongside two traveling parents, one domestically by RV (yep, Chuck Woodbury) and the other for international adventures, and has been lucky to see a great deal of our world (and counting!). She lives near Seattle with her dog and chickens. When she's not cranking out 700+ newsletters for she's hiking, cooking or, well, probably traveling.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Maurita (@guest_115880)
2 years ago

Started in an old Army tent, moved up to a Coleman tent, then to a Pop Up camper. Traveled across country in a 25′ travel trailer. Now own a used fixer upper 30′ travel trailer.

Maurita (@guest_115879)
2 years ago

My husband’s father was a Scout Master & so they did a lot of tent camping. But time came that sleeping on the ground became too difficult. We bought a used pop up camper & actually lived in it for over a month when we moved from the Midcoast to NE. Then we decied to Go West. Bought a small 25′ travel trailer. 4 years ago we decided we needed more space etc. We opted for a used 30′ that needed work, which my husband likes. He’s currently painting all the cabinets, doors, etc white. We are looking forward to enjoying it on our first 2021 excursion in April.

Dr. Willie Live (@guest_112725)
2 years ago

Our first tent was from Sears, had a yellow top. When the sun came up in the morning it lot up in side like someone turned on the spotlights. DW also had a tipi, it was like building a house. Lot of room, lot of work.

Cindy Trombley (@guest_110007)
2 years ago

Yes. We gave up tenting after our second child. I got tired of middle of the night bathroom visits. We skipped the pop-up stage and bought the first trailer where my 6’4″ husband could sit on the toilet without hitting his knees on anything. 43 years later we have a 34′ fifth wheel but we still use a tent occasionally. We keep it in the storage bay with the rest of our backpacking gear.

livan_life (@guest_109941)
2 years ago

Started tent camping in 1974 with my ex and continued afterwards with friends. When I began dating my husband we too tent camped before buying a pop-up. We loved the pup-up and still reminisce fondly of our adventures. Next was a TT, followed by three fifth wheels. Nearly 38 years later we’re looking for our first MH that may be our last. Of course we said that three RV’s ago. 🙂

Tim Slack (@guest_109338)
2 years ago

Absolutely! Backpacking w/ tent for years & years, a short stint of car camping, finally got a pop-up, then retired, went f/t in an Airstream for a year, now in 32’ Tiffin, still f/t going on 9 yrs now.

Tom (@guest_109295)
2 years ago

Tent camped for many years as a teenager on fishing trip with friends. Spent a few nights sleeping either on or next to picnic tables as wind and rain would cause havoc with the tent. My wife, children and I tent camped for several years until our knees and backs couldn’t take it any longer. After becoming empty nesters we had a platform in back of pickup with a shell on it that we slept on. As we reach retirement age we decided to go to a MH. Loved most every minute of our camping adventure.

sdw (@guest_109294)
2 years ago

No, were 72 and we didn’t quit our jobs to play instead like so many millennials are doing now. We worked and saved and now we’re rich enough to not have to go back to a tent.
Millennials remind me of that old fable “The Ant & The Grasshopper”.
Millennials being the grasshopper.

Bill (@guest_109278)
2 years ago

We still tent camp. There are places you just don’t have room to park a trailer. Plus, tent camping tends to make you really plan ahead due to not being able to carry your whole life with you. You have to carry only what you absolutely need in comfort items, food and water. I love both though. Our camper is home made from a 1972 Chevy pickup truck bed converted to a trailer. Looking at upsizing though. Makes foul weather camping more enjoyable!

sdw (@guest_109296)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bill

That just tells me you’re still young. Hope you’re saving your money for a better camper.
You won’t like sleeping in a tent when you’re in your 50s and older.

Deborah (@guest_109268)
2 years ago

We actually lived 6 months in our tent in the mountains. Loved it.

PennyPA (@guest_109256)
2 years ago

My ex- and I camped in a tent many, many moons ago. The one thing I remember is setting up a canvas high wall tent in the rain…in the dark!! We had a good time in that tent but then moved on to a Starcraft popup. After that, a truck camper to take us and the horses to shows, then on to my current fifth wheel that I live in BUT I recently bought another popup to do some traveling in.

Last edited 2 years ago by PennyPA
Bob Weinfurt (@guest_109255)
2 years ago

I slept in a tent a few times when I was a a kid. Did some snowmobile camping in my 20s, sleeping in a lean-to. My girlfriend and I bought and fixed up an old motorhome in my mid 50s and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. Been having a lot of fun just locally boondocking during this pandemic.

J.O. (@guest_109254)
2 years ago

I tented for years – little pop ups you crawl into to big 4 room tents. I would mock my friends with campers, etc, and tell them that wasn’t camping. Lol. I was wrong!

My first trailer was 13 feet. I loved it. It got wrecked when someone backed into me. So I alternated between tenting again and sleeping in the back of my SUV for a few years until I found another light weight trailer.

I am never going back to a tent! Lol.

sdw (@guest_109297)
2 years ago
Reply to  J.O.

Yep, these young people don’t realize what their life and body will be like when they reach their 50s and 60s, and 70s.

Jeff Craig (@guest_109253)
2 years ago

Wife works in a hotel and I’m retired Navy, so we both were not inclined to ever be in a tent. Got the RV as a retirement gift for us, even though I had never had one before – and we got such a great deal on our 35ft Class A.

Tom Macfarlane (@guest_109250)
2 years ago

I tent camped (or even without one) from age 11 (Boy Scouts) until age 55. That’s when my back told me that it was time to stop crawling in and out of a tent.

sdw (@guest_109299)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Macfarlane

Yep, I tent camped for 44 years. But now have a 37 5ver. If I get to change rigs. It will be to a 4×4 Duramax crew cab dually. With a Host Mammoth truck camper.

Suru (@guest_109248)
2 years ago

We tent camped almost every weekend when our kids were young. Then we bought a truck camper and camped in that until we became empty nesters. That camper sold me on never wanting to sleep on the ground again. Also, running water and a bathroom were a very nice perk too. Then we bought a big 5th wheel that we lived in while building our house. We camped in that for 5 years then downsized to a 20 foot Travel Trailer. I would never go back to camping in a tent. The trailer allows us to camp in any weather all year long and it is SO MUCH more comfortable!

Mike Albert (@guest_109244)
2 years ago

We started in my in-laws TT, with them; then a 10×12 cabin tent with n our own in PA, NJ and KY. Then fast (slow) forward 40 years and we now own a 24.5 foot B+.

DL Jenson (@guest_109243)
2 years ago

For years we tent camped even backbacking in our younger days. The night the wind blew so hard it knocked down our tent & we had to boat back to our truck I said I am done…Love my camper!

Bobkat (@guest_109238)
2 years ago

My wife and I camped in a tent (or tent trailer) for 40 years in 43 different countries, all by motorcycle (except Australia) before going full time motorhome 3 years ago. We still have the bike but sold the tent trailer.
Our adventures can be viewed at

KellyR (@guest_109228)
2 years ago

We actually started with a VW Westfalia, sold it for a VW Thing and tent camped, then back to a newer VW Westfalia, On to other van conversions and finally to our Roadtrek.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.