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Campervans Vs Tents: Which We Prefer & Why

campervan v tent

If you’re planning your next camping trip, tossing up the idea of staying in a campervan or opting for a traditional tent, you’re not alone. Do you go for the convenience and comfort of a campervan, or do you stay true to nature and embrace the simplicity of a tent? 

Our team has been on many a camping trip, both in campervans and tents, and it’s something we’ve debated amogst ourselves many times. 

We’ve compared the good, the bad, and the ugly of campervans vs tents, and we’re here to share our thoughts with you to help you make the best decision for your next wilderness escape.

Campervan Camping Tent Camping
Can drive to different campsites & explore surrounding areas Can hike to remote, unique areas for a different experience
Good privacy with solid doors, walls, & windows Good privacy within the tent, but less when outside in shared campsites (although you can always use windbreaks as dividers)
Requires purchasing or renting a campervan Relatively inexpensive to purchase a tent
Provides shelter from elements, sleeping bed, & basic amenities Extra precautions needed for camping in poor weathers
Less practical for everyday use & need driveway space to keep when not in use Highly portable & can be stored easily
May require reservations at campsites with limited van spaces Fits in most campsites with tent pitches
Campervan van view
Campervans Vs Tents: Which We Prefer & Why

Camping Mobility in a Tent Vs Campervan

Being able to move your kit around, including transporting, setting up, and packing down, is an important characteristic to consider when deciding which type of accommodation works best for you.

If you’re camping solo, you might not be so concerned with the time it takes to pitch and set up your outdoor living quarters. But if you’re headed on a group or family camping trip, you’ll probably be looking for an easy and quick solution.

Mobility of a Tent

Transporting a tent is generally straightforward due to its lightweight and compact design, making it ideal for those travelling to their camping location by car or even on foot.

Setting up a tent does require some effort, including assembling poles and pegs, but it becomes quicker with practice. Packing down is similarly efficient. 

We always recommend setting up and taking down your tent in the garden before each trip or having a few practices at it if it’s a new tent or you’ve never been camping before.

That way, you’ll figure out what goes where and see if there’s anything that needs to be repaired or replaced.

However, tent camping often necessitates additional gear, such as pots, pans, and sleeping bags, which can add to the overall load.

Mobility of a Campervan

Transporting a campervan requires simply driving to your destination, making it easy and convenient.

Unlike a tent, setting up involves minimal effort; parking in your chosen spot often suffices. Some campervans might need levelling or extending awnings, but these tasks are generally straightforward.

Packing down is equally hassle-free, involving securing internal items and retracting any extended parts. The campervan’s self-contained nature means you travel with your amenities – like your bed, kitchen, and sometimes even a toilet – eliminating the need for additional camping gear most of the time.

That being said, you’ll still need to pack your daily essentials like clothing and toiletries, as well as bedding and cooking supplies.

Tent view
Campervans Vs Tents: Which We Prefer & Why

Privacy & Security of Tents Vs Campervans

Another factor we think is pretty important is the privacy you want and the security that comes with either camping in a tent or a campervan.

Some of this will come from where you’re planning on camping, but your accommodation also plays a significant role in your privacy and the security of your gear.

Privacy Given by Tents

Tents create a personal, enclosed space that separates campers from the outside environment, offering a sense of privacy in nature. 

While you may not have the solid walls of a campervan, a lot of people choose tent camping for the community and social aspects. However, keep in mind that the level of privacy can vary depending on the campsite and how close the tents are to each other.

We often use windbreaks if we want to create an additional layer of privacy around our tents. This not only blocks the wind, but also serves as a visual barrier between you and your neighbours.

We also recommend never leaving any items of value inside your tent if you’re going out for the day. While camping is relatively safe, it’s always better to be cautious and keep your belongings with you.

Consider investing in a large-capacity rucksack or backpack so you can keep your valuables with you when you leave the tent, like the Highlander Harrier 35L pack.

Privacy in a Campervan

Campervans excel in offering privacy and security. Solid walls and lockable doors provide campers with a secluded and safe living space.

The ability to lock the campervan not only secures your personal belongings but also ensures a private retreat from the outside world.

Campervan flowers
Campervans Vs Tents: Which We Prefer & Why

Initial Costs of a Campervan Vs a Tent

One of the biggest considerations when deciding between a campervan and a tent is the initial cost of purchasing your camping accommodation. Because of the nature of these two products, there’s a considerable disparity between the initial costs.

Upfront Cost of a Campervan

The initial cost of purchasing a campervan can be quite substantial, often ranging from tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand pounds, depending on the make, model, and features.

A new, well-equipped campervan can cost around £30,000 to £70,000, while luxury models or those with custom fittings might exceed this range. Second-hand campervans offer a more affordable option, but prices still vary widely based on age, condition, and specifications.

This significant financial investment includes the vehicle itself, along with built-in facilities such as a kitchenette, sleeping area, and sometimes a bathroom.

Initial Costs of a Tent

Purchasing a tent is significantly more affordable than a campervan, with prices starting under £30 for basic models and reaching up to several hundred pounds for high-end, spacious tents designed for larger groups or extreme weather conditions.

However, it’s important to factor in additional costs, such as sleeping bags, mats, and cooking equipment, which are essential for a comfortable camping experience.

We stock a selection of tents to suit any budget. These range from one-man tents under £50, like the Vango Soul 100 tent, to the Naturehike Nebula two-man 4-season tent, which costs over £200 – in other words, it’s much easier to find a tent within your budget than it is to find a campervan.

Comfort & Quality in Campervans Vs Tents

The level of comfort you want from your trip is probably the second biggest deciding factor for many people. 

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep in a Campervan

Sleeping in a campervan can significantly enhance the comfort of your camping experience. They’ll usually come equipped with built-in beds, often paired with high-quality mattresses.

This setup not only elevates you off the ground, away from the cold and uneven terrain, but also provides a level of comfort comparable to what you might experience at home.

The enclosed environment offers a controlled temperature, ensuring a cosy atmosphere regardless of the weather outside.

Getting Comfortable in a Tent

Sleeping in a tent brings you closer to nature and offers unique comfort despite its simplicity. With the right sleeping bag, pad, or air mattress, you can create a snug sleeping arrangement that cushions against the ground’s hardness.

Tents allow you to choose your sleeping spot and often feature mesh doors, which allow for ample ventilation and a connection with the outdoor ambience.

In fact, the main reason why people go camping is to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. The sound of birds chirping, the rustling of leaves, and the fresh air all contribute to a peaceful night’s sleep – with the addition of a good-quality sleeping bag and mat, of course!

The Practicality of Tents Vs Campervans

Of course, you want your camping trip to go smoothly, so considering the practicality of a tent vs. a campervan is essential to ensure you have the adventure you want.

How Practical is a Campervan?

Campervans provide a high level of convenience, allowing travellers to bring the comforts of home on the road. The in-built facilities, like a bed, kitchen, and sometimes a bathroom, enable spontaneous and flexible travel plans.

However, their size can be a drawback, limiting where you can park or camp, especially in more rugged or remote outdoor areas. Additionally, the initial and maintenance costs of a campervan are significantly higher compared to traditional tent camping.

Not only that, but you’ll have to think about where you’re going to keep the campervan when you’re not using it to roadtrip. You might have to make extra space on your driveway or garage. Or, if you don’t have the room at home, you may need to consider renting a storage space for it.

How Practical is a Tent?

Tents offer unparalleled practicality for those seeking an authentic camping experience. Their lightweight and compact design facilitates easy transportation, making them ideal for hikers and backpackers.

The weather will obviously affect your camping experience, but there are lots of tents that are designed to withstand wind and rain. In which case, a 4-season tent will be your best bet, as these are specifically designed for harsh weather conditions.

Plus, you won’t really have to worry about where you’re going to store it when you’re not using it. Tents can easily be folded and stored in your garage, the loft, or in a cupboard in your house.

Tent sunrise
Campervans Vs Tents: Which We Prefer & Why

Campsite Availability of Campervan Vs Tent

You need to be able to access campsites around the country unless you’re camping in the wilderness or at the side of the road (which we don’t recommend)

While many campsites have pitches available for both campervans and tents, there might be some barriers to both types of camping.

Where Can You Camp in a Campervan?

Access for campervans to camping sites in England is generally good, with a wide selection of sites catering to vehicles of all sizes.

Many of these sites offer electric hook-up facilities, allowing campervan holidaymakers to connect their vehicles to an electricity supply for added comfort and convenience.

The availability of such amenities enhances the camping experience, ensuring that while away from home, one can still enjoy the modern conveniences.

However, it’s important to note that these facilities might not always be available, which can affect your camping trip.

Where Can You Camp in a Tent?

Tent camping in the UK enjoys broad access to campsites equipped to accommodate tents of various sizes and types. These sites often include basic amenities like toilets, showers, and sometimes even communal kitchens.

Wild camping, although restricted in England and Wales, is freely permitted in most of Scotland, offering tent campers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the untouched beauty of the natural landscape, provided they follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

This blend of options makes tent camping a more versatile choice for exploring the UK’s outdoor spaces.

Final Thoughts: Which is Better, a Tent or a Campervan?

Choosing between a tent and a campervan for camping really depends on what you like and what’s important to you. Both give you different but great ways to enjoy nature, so take the time to consider your choices and pick the one that fits the adventure you’re looking for.

But if we had our final say, we’d have to go with tent camping

Not only does it provide a more authentic and immersive experience in nature, but it also allows for more flexibility in terms of location and terrain. Plus, there’s something special about falling asleep under the stars and waking up to the sound of birds chirping!

If you want to get prepared and ready for your next camping trip, make sure you check out our range of camping gear from some of the best brands in the camping space. Whether it’s a new tent you’re after, cooking supplies, sleeping bags, or little gadgets to enhance your experience, we’ve got you covered.

And don’t forget to pack some good company and a sense of adventure – those are the true essentials for an unforgettable camping trip!

FAQs

Is it Worth Having a Campervan?

Absolutely. A campervan is a great choice if it fits your style of camping. It’s an investment in enriching experiences, exploring unseen places, and creating unforgettable memories, with a balance of comfort and adventure that’s difficult to achieve with other forms of travel and accommodation.

What is the Lifespan of a Campervan?

The lifespan of a campervan can vary widely, typically ranging from 10 to 20 years, depending on its make, model, usage, and how well it is maintained. With diligent care and regular maintenance, some campervans can last even longer, offering many years of camping adventures.

What is the Lifespan of a Tent?

The lifespan of a tent can vary greatly, often lasting between 5 and 15 years, depending heavily on the material quality, frequency of use, and how well it is cared for. Proper cleaning and storage can significantly extend its life.

Is it Cold in a Campervan at Night?

The temperature in a campervan at night can vary. Proper insulation and heating options, such as built-in heaters or quality sleeping bags, can help you remain warm and comfortable. Without these, you might get cold, especially in cooler climates or during the winter months.

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