The Four Camping StylesThere's a camping style to fit every group, family, and situation. Depending on what you value most—freedom, comfort, flexibility, independence—you can find the perfect camping style for you. Every style has its benefits, and every one will give you a secure home during your upcoming camping adventure.
Tents come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, suitable for one person, two people, or a whole family. Kids usually love tent camping, in part because a tent is such a snug, kid-sized house. Many adults are less thrilled by the hardships of tent camping—sleeping on the ground in a small space without much headroom. But tent camping also offers the ultimate in flexibility, economy, and independence. Tents don't take up much room, they don't require much gear, and they're welcome almost everywhere camping is permitted.
It takes some practice to put up and stow a tent, so it's smart to test your tent out at home before your trip. You'll also want to consider the weather forecast before tent camping. Even with a good rain fly, tent camping can turn into a real challenge if it rains for days on end without giving your tent a chance to dry out. For more tips, see our article on tent camping.
CAMPER, TRAILER, OR POP-UP CAMPING
Campers and pop-ups are generally smaller than RVs, but offer a more substantial camping home than a tent. Trailers come in a range of sizes. Most of these offer special amenities like a gas stove, gas lamps, fold-out beds, collapsible tables, and cupboard storage. Many are roomy enough for whole families to enjoy, with separate sleeping quarters for the parents and the kids.
Because they're more expensive than tents, these are best for people who camp several times a year or who like to go for extended stays of 3 days or more. Unique challenges include hooking up the brake lights and turn-signals, hitching up, and backing up with a trailer. The benefits are many—you get a snug, warm, dry place to stay that's a lot like a small house, right down to the screens on the windows.
With an RV, you truly take your home on the road. RVs come in a variety of sizes and styles, so you can find the perfect one to fit your dreams. Most come with a stove, small refrigerator, an over-the-cab bed, a fold-out bed, a table with seating, and a small bathroom. Because the cab is connected to the rest of the RV, it's easy to move back and forth between the two.
RVs are extremely self-sufficient, letting people camp in places that don't have any facilities. They're also widely available for rent. Challenges include keeping track of gas, water, and other fluid levels, and parking the RV in tight or awkward spaces. When you go RV camping, you may also want to bring along another car for exploring your destination area, or toys like ATVs, bikes, snowmobiles, and small boats.
The closest thing to a home away from home is cabin camping. This gets you near to nature, with the wilderness just beyond your front door, but gives you all the comforts of a hotel or motel room. Cabins often have regular beds, full kitchens, air conditioning, TVs with other electronic equipment, and full bathrooms. Some cabins are far more rustic, so it's important to find out what your situation will be before you head out. Many require that you bring your own bedding, linens, cooking equipment, and food.
Cabin camping is a great way to camp with small children, people who are new to camping, or anyone who appreciates the comforts of home, but wants an outdoors experience. Cabins are a great choice if you think the weather might be bad, since they offer plenty of room, light, and options for things to do.