Teardrop Trailer vs. Tent Camping

I missed my Friday teardrop photo last week because I was out of town for the 4th of July weekend, not teardropping, but camping in a tent. Every few years, my husband and I will take a kayak camping trip to Lake Tahoe. We pack all our gear into our kayaks and paddle several miles to Emerald Bay where we camp in the local boat-in campground.

The trip was fun, but exhausting, and got me thinking about the difference between tent camping and teardrop camping. I've been asked several times why I don't just camp in a tent all the time, and while I like the relative simplicity of a tent, it can wear you down much quicker than camping in the comfort of a teardrop trailer. My husband and I have a great tent: a Mountain Hardware four-season tent with nifty storage pockets and that is nearly impervious to wind. However, I realized that it is harder for me to enjoy myself while tent camping for several reasons:


It is nice that you can camp nearly anywhere in a tent. I can't tow my teardrop down to a kayak/boat camp or set up in the middle of the woods where there are no roads. This is where a small tent comes in handy...but that's it...it's small. Getting in and out of our backpacking tent is not easy and I do it less than gracefully, usually catching my foot in the bottom flap and nearly falling on my face. It's hard on the back, too.


Let's face it, tent camping is dirty. You are lying on the ground and all your gear usually ends up with a fine layer of dust on it. After every tent camping trip, we have to wash down all our gear with a hose when we get home. With the teardrop trailer, you are up off the ground and bedding tends to stay cleaner over a longer period of time. It's also easier to clean your kitchen items while teardrop camping since you can bring along some dishpans (which we could not even think about fitting into our kayaks).


We do have a fairly comfortable air mattress in our tent, but it in no way compares with the comfort of the mattress in the teardrop trailer. I get much better sleep in the teardrop and I'm able to enjoy our day hiking or strenuous kayak trips on a full eight hours of sleep. During this particular trip in our tent, my husband and I jockeyed for space on the mattress and ended up fighting with our sleeping bags when the temperature fluctuated. In the teardrop we sleep like babies under the fleece sheets.

While it's more stressful to tow and park a teardrop trailer than set up a tent, it actually takes much longer for us to set up and break down a tent camp than to set up and break down a teardrop camp. Tent camping requires a lot of stuffing and shoving while the teardrop just requires some minor packing.

In the end, I can only tent camp for about two nights before I'm ready to quit. I really admire people who head out to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail with only a light pack and a small tent. It's something I dream of doing, but only get close enough to doing by watching YouTube videos. What's wonderful about teardrop camping is that after a long day of hiking mountains or kayaking lakes and rivers, you have a comfortable, warm bed to come back to. Also, there is no dehydrated food in sight.


  1. My wife and I did serious tent camping during the winter months for about 12 years. We had two tents, a winter rated 2 person backpacker and big wall tent. We did canoe camping and car camping. In the end, we were pretty comfortable. Full camp setup would only take 15 minutes.

    We came very close to buying an Aliner once and we love the tear drops. However, we tow a sailboat now, so camp in our converted ambulance to camper tow vehicle.

    One of the big things for a long term tent camping is a tent with an attached screen house. It acts as a mud room to put your wet clothes and shoes. Also gives a place to sit out of the bugs and light rain.

    1. Wow...You're tough! Yes, we do like those tents with the built-in mud room.

  2. Teardrop camping does not involve messing with poles, stakes and tangled rope. When I camp with a tent, I spend a lot of time on my knees adjusting everything inside.

    1. Agreed. I also end up throwing myself into the tent rather than having to crawl around on my hands and knees in the dirt.

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