Tent vs. Teardrop Trailer

Do the math, it never lies!

A key to camping in a teardrop trailer is efficient use of space.  Like backpacking, it necessitates careful packing and self-examination of what one needs when camping.

When we built our first teardrop trailer, we had concerns over space.  We were tent campers and hadn’t had an RV of any kind before.  However, we also realized that, unlike tent camping, everything we needed for a camp trip should be self contained without any need to shuffle gear from the car to our trailer (this was a major selling point for me as it was usually me who shuffled the gear).  SO, what do we really need?

On our first trip out, we put little round stickers on every item that we put in the trailer.  Then as our weekend progressed we’d use those things.  When we used something, we removed the sticker.  At the end of the weekend, we could see what needed and what we didn’t.  However, we realized that not all camping trips are the same.  So we camped several more times and slowly adjusted the inventory of the teardrop trailer.  Another part of this process that I really focused on was to take as many items as possible that multiple uses.  Then I’d only need to take one thing instead of many.  For example, Coleman makes a propane powered coffee maker.  It is awesome!  However, it is also large and has only one function.  Is there another way to make coffee that is smaller or using things that have multiple uses?  That focus helped to keep our load tight, efficient, and light.  Obviously, some things have only one function and must be taken.  Here’s an example of my thinking.

The ratchet strap

I noticed that we would take rope for a clothes line, ratchet straps for securing loads, extra to secure our screen tent, a bunch of webbing and a carabiner for our hammock.  All of these things are easily replaced with one item…the ratchet strap.  It makes a nice tight clothes line, does help secure loads, helps secure our screen tent -when needed, and adjusts easily to get the hammock quickly dialed in for maximum comfort.  One item…many functions.  Plus, by keeping it to one brand of ratchet straps, they all function the same and setup was more efficient as I only needed one process instead of many.

Now this attention to detail may seem anal retentive but it does smooth out an experience.  Like Steve Jobs wearing the same clothing every day to avoid wasting time on making insignificant decisions, these little camping hacks can help me get to doing what I really enjoy – hiking, swimming, sitting by a fire with a good book, cooking with my family, playing games, etc. instead of messing with camping gear.  The gear is a means to an end, not the end itself.

The Time experiment:

In this week’s podcast I describe a camping experience where I pulled in to a camp site at the same time another family did.  I was towing a teardrop trailer…of course…while they were tent campers.  I timed our camp setup.  I do this all of the time at Overland Trailer.  I run a timer to see how long it takes me to do something.  That way, I can accurately tell a customer how long a process or delivery time may be (assuming external forces on our business don’t interfere too much – i.e. supply lines or contractors).  SO, I timed our camp set up.  I didn’t hurry but worked at my usual pace to level the teardrop, uncouple it from the Jeep, arrange my clothing and make up the bed, put all of my groceries where they belong and pull out camp chairs.  My set up took about 18 min.  I didn’t pull out a screen tent for the galley or it would have been another 3-4 min.  My tent camping neighbors were done in about 80 min.  This makes sense.  They need to off load everything, organize it, set it all up, and then start camping.

Hypothetical situation:

A family travels for 30 days to see the nation’s wonders or to visit family and tent camp the entire time.  Each set up or tear down of camp takes 1 hour.  That is 60 hours of setting up or tearing down in a month long trip.  A FULL WORK WEEK of just messing with tents.  It’s no wonder people are exhausted after a trip like this.  Where are we spending our time on these trips?  Messing with our stuff.  I don’t know about you, but I can mess with my camping gear in my own garage.  I don’t need to do it on the road.  I want to get out there and see things not putter around with tent poles and inflatable mattresses.  This is one of the many reasons we teardrop camp.  So much faster camping without the regular maintenance of the large RVs.

I encourage you to do the math with your camping -or anything really.  Where are you spending your time?  Do you want to spend your time that way?  How many things do you have that have only one function?  It is possible that one item could fulfill the functions of many?

Until next time campers!


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