Is that really camping?
This is one aspect of camping that generates endless discussion, mainly how other people do it! The purists, the backpacking tent campers, look at the luxury RVs and fifth wheel trailers and say, “That’s not REAL camping!”
For their part, the owners of the sumptuous houses on wheels look at the tiny tents and say: “Poor things! Too bad they can’t REALLY afford to camp!” And so it goes, over and over again.
Is there no middle ground? Is there such a thing as REAL camping? I know that I will never be able to solve this problem, but since I am the owner of this blog, I will contribute my own two cents worth.
First, I’ll recount my own camping experience so you know that I’m not really siding with one side or the other out of ignorance. As you may know, I started camping courtesy of the United States Army. We share two person tents with air mattresses (on the ground) and individual sleeping bags. The temperature didn’t matter! The Army is a 24/365 operation.
Personally, when I was still in the military, I started camping with tents that were much nicer than the army version. Mine actually had floors in them! Wow! I thought it was great when I got a cot to put my sleeping bag on, no more sleeping on the hard rocky ground.
There were no good amenities like toilets, sinks or showers. I had to rely on the camp toilets for that. It had a small stove and a cooler cooled with ice packs. Man, compared to living in the country while maneuvering, this was living!
Once I even went on a motorcycle tour with several friends and spent the nights in camps. We carry small tents, sleeping bags and camp stoves. We had a fantastic time.
Then came a pop-up tent caravan. Many of the amenities were the same, but it was much easier to set them up if you were late. I still had to use the public restrooms, but this trailer had lights, a table, and places to sit. wow!
My first travel trailer was not “self contained”. That meant he had to carry the sewage and the bottom half of the PortaPotti to the toilets for disposal. Goal! This one actually had a heater, a built-in stove and a gas/12 volt refrigerator. Boy oh boy was I moving towards Big Time with this one!
Since then, my family and I have enjoyed traveling and setting up camp with a variety of trailers, pickup trucks, and RVs. Our current platform is a diesel pickup pulling a 31-foot travel trailer that has a great slide and is four-season rated. Of course, it is completely autonomous.
I have enjoyed every type of camping I have done over the years (except military bivouac!). Of course, camping in tents is more suitable for hot climates, but I have also settled in cold or rainy climates. If you are well prepared, you can feel quite comfortable, even with minimal equipment.
I think “camping” is a much broader concept than tents vs. motorhomes. Once I leave the house, I can go, more or less, wherever I want. There are campgrounds all over the country, even in places where hotels are scarce. Many of the parks and other tourist spots have campsites nearby.
For one or more nights, I can rent my own private campsite. Normal camping etiquette is that you do not make noise that disturbs your fellow campers between 10 pm and 6 am It is simply normal consideration of others that is expected of everyone.
Most of the campgrounds are located in areas away from the noisy traffic and pollution of the city. If you are looking to relax in a quiet environment, many campgrounds and very few hotels can meet that expectation.
Of course, one of the best things about camping is the camaraderie among campers. You can walk through the camp and people will greet you as you pass. If you see an interesting piece of equipment, you can stop and ask the owner about it. Most likely, they will invite you to sit down and have a cup of coffee. Try it in a hotel! They’ll call security in no time.
All of these things apply no matter what kind of camping you do, no matter what kind of gear you’re using. Campers love being around other campers. Trust me, a lot of RV owners started out in a tent too!
The bottom line is that it’s all camping. Enjoy the team you’re using right now and don’t worry about what you think other people think. Don’t be afraid to try different types of camping. You may end up enjoying something you never thought you’d enjoy.
That’s also a fun part of camping. Just go out and have fun.