Thursday, September 21, 2023


Did you camp with a tent before taking up RVing?

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!


  1. As a teen we tent camped, once during the regents of a hurricane our tent collapsed, we spent the rest of the night sleeping inside a picnic pavilion. Placed the sleeping bags on the picnic table.

    • Hi, Tom. What are “regents”? Was that supposed to be remnants? If so, I’ll change it. Thanks! BTW, sounds like quite an adventure! Have a good night. 😀 –Diane

  2. We couldn’t afford vacations or to buy the tent, camp stove, etc, when our kids were young. Then we got a steal of a deal a 1980 popup trailer. It kept us off the ground and dry when it rained (often) on our pacific northwest camping trips. It paid for itself on its first use. After 10 years, we replaced it with a newer popup. Ten years ago, we decided the soft life was for us and made the jump to a class A motorhome. With it, we’ve taken several cross continent trips.

  3. Tents (plural) from youth through my 30s, had a van for a few years, then when we divorced – he got the van and I went back to tenting! After the house was sold, I bought my first motorhome, a small Class C, but finally got out of the tent, and it was all mine (and the kids!) 😉 When I remarried, I vowed that “someday” I would have a Class A motorhome and retire and see the US – I did (and still do)!!

  4. We started out with a 10’X13′ Coleman Tent. We were starting our first camping adventure. However, after mastering a whole new vocabulary while setting it up, we sold the tent and bought a Shasta Compact camper. What luxury! After a few years with the wife, 2 kids and a dog, we decided there must be a better way. Bought a 36′ Diplomat gasser when Diplomat was still Diplomat. We loved it. After 72,000 miles we bought a 39′ Dutch Star DP. Wow! Talk about going to the promise land! Alas, age caught up with us and we felt more at ease downsizing to a 24′ class C. Going to keep moving on as long as we can. But in our memory bank are sweet memories of when our kids were kids, we had no money, but the time in the tent was time we now treasure.

  5. The very last time we tent camped, yours truly came down with the stomach flu. In addition to the issues of having no bathroom nearby, I had the chills so badly that there was no getting warm. I told my husband then that I would not camp again without a bathroom and source of heat! We bought our first camper that year.

  6. Does camping as a boy scout count? Actually my family started out in an army surplus tent when I was around 5 and my wife and I also tent camped at first. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, a serious back injury put an end to my sleeping on the ground, but I really don’t miss it.

  7. Progression: under the stars, tent, pickup & canopy, 10′ overhead camper, 22′ Sunflyer Class A (best overall), 24′ Toyhauler, 11.5′ Lance cabover, now a 24′ BTouring Cruiser. Still have the tent, airmattresses and outdoor camping gear for very occasional use.

  8. As a Boy Scout leader I spent many days camping on the side of trails, along a river bank on canoe/kayak trips, and snow huts in the winter. Now my definition of roughing it is our 40′ MH with washer and dryer. No more ground dwellings for me!

  9. As a child, DW spent many nights in a tent while traveling between NE Alabama and San Diego to visit paternal grandparents. I spent two nights in a tent. The first was pleasant with two schoolmates, “camped” in the sideyard at the home of one of them. The second was miserably cold camped in Mammouth Cave National Park several years later. So, my answer was “No.” We travel with all the comforts of our sticks-and-bricks with a couple that even it lacks. So, I rarely “camped” before RVing, and don’t really “camp” now either.

  10. I tent camped for decades. Now I live full time in an RV, but still tent camp on kayaking, canoeing, and horse packing trips. The best of both worlds.

  11. We still use a tent when not using our 40 ft 4 slide DP. We have a roof top tent that fits on top of either of our two tow’ds, a modified Cherokee Trailhawk and modified Wrangler JK. We sometimes use the DP as a base camp for when we go off roading, exploring, fishing or hunting in the back country and sleep in the solar energy equipped RTT for a night or three when away from home base…… roughing it in comfort!

  12. Tents in younger years, froze butt off in Colorado
    Pickup canopy with plywood bed
    Borrowed tent trailer, very fun with kids
    21’ Layton trailer, one of the nicest rv’s we have ever had
    36’ Bounder motor home, nice unit but overheated engine if even coming near a hill
    36’ Everest fifth wheel with Ram 3500 diesel, loved the trailer lousy frame
    2006 Country Coach 40’ Inspire, Absolutely the best unit we have had

  13. Great comments. Loved the question and the visual the comments created in my mind.

    Like so many, tented in my youth and have now ended up with A/C, soft bed and dry socks, while “camping” on boats and in RVs.

    Even built igloos with childhood friends in those youthful years and yes, we would spend a few nights in it every winter. Just to say we did it. Snow is an amazing insulation against the cold.

  14. YES! and if my husband had his way, we would still camp with a tent. Started out with a tent 39 years ago. Went to a travel trailer (and we both enjoyed it), then back to a tent, pop-up camper, tent and finally back to a travel trailer. We pretty much gutted the kitchen/living area of our current travel trailer to make it fit us and our life style and we love it! And you would think once you are retired you have more time to camp, well I have no clue how we managed to get everything we do done when we worked!
    Tents were fun but the last straw was when a racoon scratched and ate his way into the tent while we were sleeping in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! Went home and I started looking for a travel trailer and didn’t give my husband any options. Travel trailer or no more camping, the choice was his!

  15. We tent camped for 20 years; my husband still backpacks so he gets “tent time”. We originally bought our (first)popup because we planned to visit the PNW. After two very wet trips to Glacier NP, we wanted a way to sleep off the ground. Never have made that trip.
    We used both tent and popup for while, popup was idle a few years until we renovated it. That tiny (6′ box, one bunk) one showed us we liked that style of camping under canvas. We up-sized a bit after 2 years in the renovated one.
    We moved on to a 17′ TT 9 years ago, when my joint issues made solo camping less than reliable; even with my husband, I couldn’t do a lot of the set-up.
    Would we still tent camp? If the right occasion came along, We still have our big tent and all the supplies. I could sleep on the ground, it’s the rest of the set-up, etc. that I couldn’t do – and I don’t tolerate cold and wet as well as I once did.

  16. I have used a tent some, but I always preferred my Army surplus jungle hammock—much more comfortable and easy to carry on a motorcycle.

  17. Started camping in the middle 50’s in a Boy Scout tent, then in the early 60’s got a 11′ x11′ canvas umbrella tent, my son still has it. Only had to replace the small brass zipper on the door with a heavy duty plastic zipper about 50 years ago. My 2 kids slept in for quite a few years, when we were seasonal campers in Maine, my wife and I slept in a Wheel Camper pop up.

  18. Used tents as a kid up through mid 20’s. My Dad had a 9′ pickup camper, so sometimes we were in that on family vacations. Growing up in the country, my friends and I camped a lot out in the woods of the area with our tents. Local farmers didn’t care if we set up in their woods, which we often shared with their cows! I remember when one of my friends got a large military surplus tent like the Doctors in M*A*S*H lived in. WOW! 🙂

    As adults and shortly after our first child was born, my DW and I got our first used TT, a 1960’s 20′ Forester that perhaps would now be considered “vintage.” It was heaven compared to sleeping on the ground, being eaten by mosquitos, and getting wet in hard rainstorms. No AC and it had a metal air-pressurized 20 gal water tank instead of a pump. It was built like a brick…well, you know. They just don’t build them like that anymore.

  19. Tent camping is why we went to RV camping. We loved tent camping. At 65, wife and I were tent camping at Eagle Lake CA in October. Nighttime temps went down to 26F. Middle of the night nature calls were brutal. As we left, the wife said “I am never sleeping on the ground again.” and we haven’t.

  20. My first portable shelter was a pup tent I received for my 8th birthday. My brother and I “camped” in the backyard until it was destroyed (by us). Various other tents in my youth. Now that I’m old and soft, no tents for me!

  21. We started camping with our almost two year old in 1967 in an aluminum covered contractor’s shell with three boards along the walls and a ceiling light in the back of our 1955 Ford truck. One year was enough and then had an Apache pop up that required us to tie on the canvas to the metal “ribs” each and every time we went camping. Still camping but thankfully in our Class A.

  22. After retirement we started planning longer trips around the country and knew a trailer would be more convenient and comfortable. We didn’t buy a large trailer, it’s 6.5’ X 10’ with 6’2” head room but has sink, wet bath, fridge, microwave and air. Though we are still in our 70s we still have our tent camping set up and use it from time to time. The last time was before COVID lockdown, we traveled to Arizona camping along the way.

  23. Our 20 year-old family tent was handed down to the next generation this past spring and they now use it. Even with an inflatable mattress, getting down and especially up from near the ground gets harder every day.

    I chuckle to myself about one reason my son-in-law prefers a tent – it is ‘simpler’ than a travel trailer; both camp setup and maintenance. Yeah sure. It ‘only’ takes 20 minutes to set up camp (unless raining, and not including time to unload from the car and later, repack). And there is the seam sealing, occasional patching, and drying if packed damp.

  24. Started out with a bed roll under the desert stars. Graduated to a tent to sleep with fewer bugs. Advanced to cot sleeping in the truck’s bed with a SoftTopper. Got tired of loading/unloading, moved on to a Class A. Still enjoy sleeping under the stars and enjoying crisp fall air…..

  25. I started camping with my parents who owned a tent, then a Hi-Lo camper, then lastly a small TT. When I was an adult I went straight for a pop-up telling my wife, “No way am I sleeping on the hard ground again.”

  26. Oh ya the old tent. Fine when younger and did have good times except if it rained. But the packing and unpacking was the pain. Don’t miss the tenting or the unwanted guest. You realize the luxury of a camper once you have.

  27. I had been a tent camper. Thus for our honeymoon I introduced my bride to tent camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After two nights in a tent we did not go camping again until we purchased a Travel Trailer 30 years later. After eight months of weekend camping we sold our last house and have been on the road full-time for 28 months!

  28. Started in 2 person backpack tent. Then, typical dome style. Too difficult for us to sleep on ground now. Too far down, too hard to get up.

  29. Started in a TT with my parents in 1955, went to the back seat of the family car and then into a tent with my brother. When I got married, wife & I got a tent then a TT and back to a tent then back to a TT and finally the Motor Home (Class A)

  30. We actually started camping in an English made travel trailer in the 70’s and then went to tent camping for a couple years before going back to RV’s until the present day.


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