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Knowing this one thing can transform your T@b experience

By Jenn

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Figuring out what supplies to buy, how much battery power you need, how many propane tanks you will use, whether to buy a tent, an awning, or a sunshade can all seem pretty overwhelming to a new owner. But, if you know just one thing, it can transform how you approach all of the questions, above, and expedite your T@b learning curve. What is that one thing? If you know your camping style, you will make better decisions, ask better questions, and be more in control of conversations with your dealership. Camping style will determine the right options for you.

How do you know your camping style?

The T@b tends to attract a lot of former tent and first time RV owners, so many people do not really have a good feel on how you will use your T@b. Others are downsizing from a larger RV and wonder how a tiny camper will differ from their previous experience. My recommendation for people who do not already know how they will use their camper, is to wait until you complete your first year before making a lot of purchases and modifications. With the exception of factory installed solar (which I highly recommend if for nothing else, the convenience of built-in battery trickle charging,) most other purchases and modifications can be made as easily a year after you buy as they can when you bring your new trailer home. Take your time, enjoy learning about your trailer and your camping style will reveal itself.

To help you start to understand your needs, I have personified a few of the primary kinds of camping styles for you so that you can begin to see yourself in these personas.

Sam is a weekend warrior. Sam likes to go off-roading and spends most weekends in the nearby mountains and desert roads a couple of hours from home. Most camping trips are 2-3 days.

If this style resonates with you, then when you read or ask questions on Facebook or the T@b forum, describe yourself who does weekend boondocking trips. Boondocking, or dry camping, means that you are camping without any “hook-ups”, primarily, without shore power (electric) connections and you will depend on:

  • Your battery to power lights, the television and stereo, water pump, and to supply a small amount of power to a three-way fridge (AC/DC/LP) and Alde or to completely power your two-way (AC/DC fridge.)
  • Propane (LP) to cook, provide heat and hot water, and power a three-way fridge

Barb is a road warrior. Barb takes cross country trips and only stays at each campsite between 1-2 days. Did someone say Walmart? Barb drives long days and pulls into a Walmart to overnight park before heading out the next day.

From the brief description, above, we know a couple of things about Barb, but we will need to watch how she camps for a more complete picture. Barb will:

  • Need to “boondock” when overnight parking at Walmart (See Sam’s propane and battery needs)
  • Need to make sure her tow vehicle is set up to charge her T@b battery as she drives
  • Her stays are short, but we are not sure if she will opt for campgrounds that feature hook-ups or if she will be dry camping in the as she treks from coast to coast. We do that her stays tend to be short, so she might not need to upgrade her battery. Her brief stays at Walmart should not totally drain her battery if she is wise, but she might want the luxury of greater usable capacity.
  • A sunshade or awning are probably the best route to go for Barb. When your stays are short, you don’t want to waste travel time setting up and tearing down a tent. A sunshade can be up and down in just a couple of minutes.

My recommendation for Barb is to see how her park camping habits pan out. If she does a lot of dry camping, a larger battery capacity might be in order, but one propane tank will be enough. She will be able to refill as she travels from park to park. Some parks, like Yellowstone, actually have stations inside of the park where she can refill.

Pat is a parks warrior. Pat will travel from the east to the west, but does tends to find a spot and stay for 3+ days. Pat might spend a week in Rocky Mountain National Park and then a week in Moab before heading home. Pat might use a combination of campsites with electric and free overnight parking along the way, as well.

Pat is similar to Barb, but we know Pat will be in parks that often have no hook-ups. Factory solar is probably a good way for Pat to start and if she feels pressed for more battery capacity, she can add that later. Pat should know that a tent might help if she spending a long time at one site, but not all sites allow them and they can be time consuming to set up by herself. She will want an awning or a sunshade to help keep her T@b cooler in sites where she is unable to find shade.

Wayne is found at local state parks all summer long. As soon as the clock strikes 5:00 on Friday, he, closes his laptop, strolls to the driveway and pulls off for another weekend of relaxation. He likes state parks because the ones he visits always have electric, water, and a dump station. He will also spend 2 weeks of vacation stretched out on a hammock at his favorite site in his favorite campground. Wayne winterizes at the end of September, every year, and leaves it winterized until the middle of May, each spring.

Wayne does not need to change his battery or propane capacity. He is taking short trips and relying on campground shore power. Wayne is a good candidate for his choice of tent, awning, or sunshade. Wayne can go straight to the glamping aisle and starting looking for his favorite creature comforts. Just don’t overload your tow vehicle capacity, Wayne!

Facebook and Forums

A lot of times people ask a wide open question like, “Do I need 2 batteries?” and they get all sorts of answers. Much of that advice could be completely inappropariate for you if you do not know your camping style. You will get better responses if you provide more detail in your question. Try providing more detail to get better responses: “I am new to owning an RV. I am pretty sure I will mostly camp at local state parks that have shore power. Will the battery the dealer provides be sufficient?”

Closing and Resources

This might be than less than satisfying for some, as they are in search of all of the right things to get their camping careers off in fast and furious fashion (guilty as charged!) Take your time to fogire things out and you can always sell what you don’t use and change your set up later. Embrace the uncertainty and let your camping style find you!