Using Your RV As A Basecamp

The Best Of Both Worlds
Dustin and Sarah's Tiffin Wayfarer parked at a campsite near a lake.

Like many outdoor enthusiasts, our camping adventures started with a car and a tent. After a few years, we upgraded to an RV and fell in love with the ability to bring all the comforts of home with us. Even though we’ve transitioned from tent camping to RVing, we still enjoy going on long hikes and sleeping under the stars, and have found a way to seamlessly blend both lifestyles.

Here we outline how tent camping and RVing can be combined, how you can use your RV as a basecamp and some special considerations when planning a similar-style camping trip.

Access More Remote and Challenging Trails

One of the biggest benefits of using your RV as a basecamp for backcountry adventures is that it allows you to access more remote and challenging trails. You no longer have to keep your hiking to daylight hours or even a single day trek. With your “home” nearby, you can go farther and stay out longer. We love being able to bring tents with us on our hikes and stay out for a few nights before returning to our RV. Many RV campsites are also conveniently located near trailheads or access points, so you can be one of the first hikers on the trail. This often allows you to see places with stellar views and less people. With an RV, you don’t have to be restricted to stay within a certain radius from your sticks and bricks or need to book hotels around your adventuring.

Linking Multiple Adventures Together

Another advantage of using your RV as a basecamp is the ability to connect multiple adventures in one trip. For instance, one of our favorite trips was when we combined a tenting and RVing trip in Canyonlands. We booked an RV campsite that had access to nearby trails, and then we took our time hiking down into the canyon. We camped for a couple of nights in the canyon before returning to the RV to refuel. After taking a shower, getting a good night's sleep, and re-packing fresh clothes and food, we went back out to tent camp at another slot canyon. And while it is possible to backpack for multiple nights, we found that by splitting it up, we were able to take our time, enjoy more of the scenery, do different activities, and keep our packs lighter.

Food Storage and Preparation

One of the biggest challenges of tenting and backpacking is being able to bring enough healthy food, and keeping that food fresh and safe from wildlife. While we always have a bear-proof canister with us, it can be challenging to pack food for longer than a few days. Plus, carrying food and trash can get heavy! Having an RV nearby that is fully stocked and temperature-controlled is a huge perk. You can bring however much food you’ll need for a day or two, and then return to the RV to reload before you head back out. Plus, nothing beats being able to have ice cream on a summer camping trip.

Gear Storage 

On an RV backpacking trip, you have the luxury of bringing more gear with you. You don’t have to limit yourself with the activities you can do. Do you want to spend a day fishing and rafting, another day mountain biking, and the last day taking pictures and hiking with your dogs? No problem! Most RVs are equipped with exterior or underbelly storage, allowing you to store your gear without taking up valuable interior space. Our Tiffin Wayfarer even has waterproof storage for all of our wet and dirty outdoor gear. Additionally, you can lock your storage bays and keep your gear safe and secure while you’re out.

Staying Clean and Comfortable

Let’s be honest, adventuring takes energy and energy means sweating. One of the challenges of tent camping and backpacking is staying clean and comfortable for extended periods of time. While you can always pack wet wipes or take a quick dip in the river, nothing beats being able to take a warm shower as soon as you step off the trail. Here are a few other cleanliness benefits to having an RV:

Alternative If Bad Weather Occurs

Have you ever made the most epic hiking plans, only to arrive at the trailhead and get stuck in a downpour? This has happened to us a few times and we don’t miss it at all. Luckily, with an RV basecamp, if bad weather does unexpectedly hit, we aren’t stuck looking for a last minute hotel or spending days with wet, soggy socks. Having an RV means you’ll always have a warm, dry place to stay. You can also rest easy knowing that all of your bedding, food and gear is safe and dry. In this way, having an RV provides peace of mind and security during unexpected situations.

Catering To Different Adventure Levels

If you have a large family or group with varying skillsets and recreation preferences, it can be hard to bring gear and equipment that accommodates everyone. However, with an RV, you have a lot more flexibility with what you can do and bring on your camping trips. There is plenty of space to bring adventure gear for the outdoorsy types, and for those that prefer to stay behind, they can enjoy the air-conditioned comfort inside the RV. We have taken many multigenerational RV camping trips, and we love that we can offer our family a plethora of activities (including a quiet place for the kiddos to nap during the day).

Tips For Finding Safe Parking and Campgrounds

  1. Research different campgrounds ahead of time to find ones that are located near the trails you want to explore

  2. Try to prioritize campgrounds that are well lit, have fences and gates, or offer some type of security (camera, guards, etc.)

  3. Let the campground host know if you’ll be leaving your RV unattended for a few days and ask if they can keep an eye on it while you’re gone

  4. Check reviews from other campers to get a sense of the quality, safety and cleanliness of the campground

  5. If you plan to park at a trailhead parking lot, check the reviews on Google or a relevant hiking website for any mentions of theft or break-ins

  6. Place all gear and valuables inside of your RV or tow vehicle, and ensure they are covered and out of sight

RVing and tenting can be combined to create the perfect camping experience. By using your RV as a basecamp, you can bring more gear and food with you, allowing you to stay out longer and explore more areas. Additionally, you can explore different areas without having to return home in between trips. With proper planning and preparation, RVing and tent camping can easily coexist, and offer you the best of both worlds.

Class C Motorhomes

Class C motorhomes offer outdoor experiences for larger families at a lower price point than Class A Motorcoaches. Recognizable by their raised sleeping or storage areas which extend over the cab of the RV, Class C Motorhomes offer more living space than Class B Motorhomes but are smaller in size and can offer better gas mileage than Class A Motorcoaches.

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An travel trailer RV parked in a green field.