Tent vs Caravan vs Camper Trailer.
The Pros and Cons
It’s the question that plagues everyone’s minds when they go camping. It’s a big investment, literally, so you want to make sure you choose the option that’s best for you. There’s so much to consider; cost, size, weight, how long you’re going away for, where you’re going, how many people are going, the weather conditions, and that probably just scratches the surface. We’ve put together some pros and cons of each, as a guide to help you make the decision that’s right for you.
If you’re a camper who’s looking for the true outdoor experience, a tent is definitely a good place to start. Camping with a tent means you’ll feel at one with natures elements – Earth, Air, Water and Fire (well, maybe not fire…). You’ll be able to hear the howling of the wind, the rustling of the leaves, the pattering of the rain, and the chirping of the birds and insects as if they’re sitting right beside you.
Experiences aside, the tent also has some great practical benefits. The tent is a very versatile invention. They come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, materials – you name it. No matter what your specific needs are, you’re almost guaranteed to find a tent that suits them. Moving around is also a lot easier with a tent, as you’re not hauling a great weight behind you.
Now for the best part, we have the cost. Tents are the most wallet friendly option for camping – you’ll almost always find a tent to fit within your budget. This is an ideal option for those who don’t go camping very often, but still want to enjoy the lifestyle every now and then.
Tents are not for the lazy – they require a lot of time and effort. Depending on the type of tent you have, it could take up to 45 minutes to set up or put down. Once you put your tent up, you then have to live with the uncertainty of whether or not it will actually stay up (This will mostly be paranoia, but it’s really quite difficult to completely get this thought out of the back of your head).
If you like to go camping in all seasons/conditions, you have to consider that tents aren’t exactly known for being weather proof. If you go camping in the cooler/rainy seasons, expect to find yourself in a few uncomfortable situations. Heavy rain and fierce winds can bring your tent down in an instant, and can lead to many a sleepless night. You’re also on the ground, which as you can imagine, isn’t the most comfortable thing in the middle of a downpour (picture a wet, sloshy, muddy ground).
There’s also the issue of security. If you go camping with a tent, you must ensure you keep all your belongings inside with you, and make sure to keep your tent zipped all the way up.
Caravans are a great option to consider for the serious camper planning on taking a lengthier trip. The beautiful thing about caravans is that they require very little preparation. They can be left “ready to go” from your previous camping trip, and after a very brief clean out, will be ready for your next trip.
Camping with a caravan will give you lots of space, which is ideal if you’re going on a family camping trip. You’ll have beds, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a seating area to fit the whole family without having to step a foot outside. Plus, you’ll save so much time because you won’t need to pack and unpack every time you move.
Another big plus that comes with camping with a caravan, is security. You can keep all your camping gear and belongings inside the caravan and whether you’re staying inside or you’ve ventured out for a bit, you get the ease of mind knowing that everything is securely locked up. Safety and security is a worry that won’t even cross your mind.
These luxuries do come at a price however, and a big issue with caravans, is the size. Having such a large amount of space means you’re towing a huge weight behind you wherever you go. This makes it very difficult to venture off road, and will limit which camping sites you’ll be able to stay at. (Many sites are set up for tent camping only).
When I said the luxuries of a caravan comes at a price, I meant literally. Caravans are expensive. Very expensive. On top of the initial cost of the van, you then have to take into consideration the price of maintenance and repair as well as additional gear/equipment and petrol. If you’re not serious about camping, it’s worth considering your other options before investing in a caravan.
The camper trailer is often seen as the middle ground between a tent and a caravan. Depending on the style, camper trailers can be significantly quicker to set up than tents.
Much like a tent, camper trailers come in a wide variety of styles ranging from soft floor to hard floor, from basic (no facilities) to kitted out, and more – so you can shop around with your requirements and find one that suits your budget.
Camper trailers are also lightweight, which means you can easily tow one behind you without worrying about excessive fuel use. This also means you can venture off road with your trailer (there are some exceptions, but most are suited to withstand off road conditions).
For many campers, one of the biggest benefits of a camper trailer, is that you still get that natural, outdoor camping experience, whilst knowing you have a hard roof over your head. You get the thrill of living outdoors with the comfort of sleeping in a secure, weatherproof place.
Camping with a camper trailer means limited space, which means you’ll have to carry additional gear with you eg. Portable chairs, tables etc., as you won’t be able to permanently store everything you need in your trailer. This also means it’s not an ideal option when planning a longer trip, as you will likely have trouble storing additional food/water to last the whole journey.
Camping with a camper trailer can also be an inconvenience as it means packing up and then re-setting up everything, every time you want to move. This can end up being a time consuming and frustrating process, especially if you have several stops to make during your journey.
Like the caravan, a camping trailer can also limit which camp sites you can stay in. As I mentioned earlier, many sites don’t allow for the space of a trailer, meaning your best options are to map out suitable campsites in advance, or keep on driving until you find one.
Have you read our guide, researched each option, and still can’t decide? Don’t panic! If you want to give each option a test run to find out which is best suited to you, you can always go for the option of renting a trailer or a caravan before you make your final investment.
Good luck, and happy camping!