“It’s not a good excuse. But it’s what happened.”
August 10, 2019 1:46 PM   Subscribe

 
The comments on the article are surprisingly specific and technical when answering the main question I had, which was “Why don’t owners just remodel them to look better?” Turns out there are a lot of difficult things to consider when you’re designing such a thing!
posted by witchen at 1:58 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I noticed this article doesn't mention the Jayco bird, who looks like you just asked him a question about warranty service.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:06 PM on August 10 [27 favorites]


“The community here is very conservative.”

This was always the answer to my eyes and a self-evident one at that. Conservative people with questionable tastes are the primary RV target market. Hence: ugly RVs.

I mean, geez, look at a McMansion.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:11 PM on August 10 [34 favorites]


Hiring a rave flyer designer and a vinyl wrap shop would be one way to address the problem.
posted by ardgedee at 2:13 PM on August 10 [12 favorites]


Compare the interior design of RVs to the interior design of boats, particularly sailing yachts (e.g.). Same challenges in terms of space and maximizing utility with limited volume, power budget, weight, etc., but very different target market, and different design.

The price of some big RVs is not really that much less than a good-sized liveaboard yacht, either.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:16 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I didn't see the article mention everyone's favorite retro graphic design. I feel like the idea of being swooshy and "nonlinear" came out of that era and has just stuck around in RV's because of the aforementioned conservative market.
posted by traveler_ at 2:20 PM on August 10 [20 favorites]


Well, I had to get past the assertion that Airstreams are made of stainless steel but once I did it wasn't a terrible article but I do think that a lot of it is in the eye of the beholder. Personally the outside isn't particularly offensive but the inside......shudder.....it is like being in a beige over stuffed over doily'd U-Boat. Alternatively the upper class ones resemble a high end bathroom by way of Vegas.

I do think it is interesting to contrast and compare RVs to the "Van Life" and Tiny house aesthetic, which while I am maybe more sympathetic with, I find to be based in the usual Bourgie Bohemian phenomena of inverted wealth display whereby what is clearly just leisure wear by dint of disguise as overalls is supposed to be vaguely ennobling. Remember the old days when SUVs first started catching on? To my mind that was just the consumerist expression of the dread of being your parents and driving a station wagon. (Or maybe hypothetical parents, or suburbanites or something that you definitely were not by dint of buying a Ford Explorer. (Sort of how now buying a Delica means you are not in fact contributing to global warming but are instead living for experiences and not things and basically better than those people over there.))
posted by Pembquist at 2:22 PM on August 10 [12 favorites]


McMansions are an apt comparison. If you maximize for interior space and are only constrained by DOT height, length, and width limits you get an ugly exterior. To make it less ugly manufacturers introduce status-symbol greebles to add visual interest back into the exterior design.

I've always thought the swooshes were an interesting design solution. They make a long blocky thing look less long and blocky by having the colors change as your eyes move across it horizontally and giving it the appearance of some kind of curves or a hipline that doesn't exist. They give the appearance of motion to an improbable box on wheels.
posted by peeedro at 2:27 PM on August 10 [17 favorites]


Ooh! I sometimes dream of getting myself an RV, but they are so embarrassingly ugly. And of course I can't afford one. But maybe if I designed one I could get one as my salary? Please pretty? If you are a manufacturer and reading this, memail me. I'm a good designer...
posted by mumimor at 2:30 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


It's sort of interesting to compare this to what's happening in the catamaran/yacht world. Cats can be twice or more the price of RVs, but still not out of reach for a couple prepared to save and sacrifice. They're largely competing for a similar market.

But the cat market is a completely different aesthetic. New boats are moving to a minimalist pseudo-nordic style, often referred to Ikea by detractors. A typical (upper end) example is the Lagoon 500.
posted by bonehead at 2:37 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


I don't think this is complicated and I don't think the author tried very hard. It's right there in a quote; "breaking up the big giant wall of the coach". A flat wall of color looks big and unpleasant. So you add some abstract graphic detail. Swooshes are abstract, suggest motion, and cheap and simple. It's a sort of local minimum for design. And it's a conservative market. (Which is a little funny; RVs have terrible resale value, right?)

One could certainly do better! Imagine RVs inspired by Pakistani trucks. Or dazzle camouflage.
posted by Nelson at 2:40 PM on August 10 [26 favorites]


I think the catamaran market does share some age and financial markers with the RV market, sure. But my guess is that choosing a luxury travel vehicle to get you to Bermuda as opposed to one to let you park on a gravel strip near a state park also corresponds with certain marked differences in taste/aesthetic.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:44 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


I think I could do just fine in an Airstream Interstate Grand Tour EXT.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:49 PM on August 10 [11 favorites]


Big RVs without graphics (for example) have a mobile command center or SWAT assault truck aesthetic. Without some kind of ugly graphics, your campground neighbors will assume you're from the government and there to spy on them.
posted by peeedro at 2:50 PM on August 10 [15 favorites]


I like the boat comparisons because the design decisions are almost identical, even though boats are naturally more beautiful than boxes on wheels. You can still shape those boxes far more elegantly than it is done.
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I keep tryin to get biscoti to puta mural on the dogtruck mnivan --gadalf holding a light saber with vallhuds at his feet -- but nooooooo
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:54 PM on August 10 [14 favorites]


My ex and I used to have a game. Put the word "ANAL" in front of any RV name and LoL.

It's a bit hit-and-miss, to be honest.
posted by klanawa at 2:54 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


I don't think the people who buy and RV and a cat are that similar, though there certainly is some cross over.

Maybe a more similar comparison are English canal boats, which is very much like caravanning but on water. At 3 mph. A very conservative, but also very different aesthetic there again. Different sort of conservative though.
posted by bonehead at 2:55 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


This teardrop trailer designed by a boat company is gorgeous.
posted by peeedro at 2:59 PM on August 10 [22 favorites]


RV manufacturers should embrace Dekotoras.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:01 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]




I love those Pakistani trucks! They are works of art. If I had an RV, I’d want to customize it that way. I’m sure the process would be stupid expensive though. Some of the esthetics remind me of camel tack in the Great Indian Desert. Raika people and other desert people not only make tack which is very elaborate, they cut designs into their camel’s coats. Some such designs take up to 2 years to achieve.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:07 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


There is an RV rental company that rents out a lot of class C RVs and decorates them with big vinyl graphics of national park scenery. So far, so good. But then on the side door they have life-size vinyl decals of a dog peering out a window. The presence of the decal there makes impossible the very thing it depicts! But then someone pointed out to me: This is perhaps a security thing. From a distance, potential window-smashers might be deterred by what looks like a real dog.

There is another company that rents out a lot of wildly airbrushed/spray-painted Ford vans that all look pretty unique. I’m not sure how well this would work on a bus-sized RV, but it works well enough on passenger vans.

It’s amazing to me that U-Haul trucks are better decorated than most similarly sized RVs.
posted by compartment at 3:08 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Article hits some key points, but it really mostly comes down to this: "breaking up the big giant wall of the coach"

To which I say: go full-on Partridge Family bus, Mondrian-style.
posted by davidmsc at 3:16 PM on August 10 [13 favorites]


if i should ever come into possession of an rv i promise you that the sides will display a very expensive airbrushed mural featuring orbs and wizards and galaxies and knights in armor and titanium dragons and lazers, with a z like that, and that everything will shimmer and every color will be in the bisexual lighting spectrum.

it will be like 1975 had a baby with 2015 and that baby threw up and you’ll love it.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:20 PM on August 10 [62 favorites]


I've lived on a sailboat, and just finished converting an old cabin cruiser with a busted inboard to an electric outboard. I don't think working on boats or rvs vs a house is more difficult, but it rvs definitely fall into a different mental space with some people. In my sailboat, for instance, I could stand up in exactly two places: the head/shower and at the galley. That was fine, and when you are crawling around the rest of it you think "this is awesome!"

Tell an Rver they will have to duck, though, and you won't sell any rvs.
posted by BeeDo at 3:21 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


A typical (upper end) example is the Lagoon 500.

Damn that's cool. I'm definitely picking one of these up when I win the lottery.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 3:21 PM on August 10


the "luxury" newmar king aire starts at 962K USD and the exterior looks like 90s sports apparel branding 🤢
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:23 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Dan's Space Van: Singer-songwriter Danny Michel has been touring Canada in the summers now for 5+ years in an old supervan badged with original Star Trek art (though discretely covered up in one particular area). He visits with friends and fellow musicians, and then gets them to play a song in his studio in the back of the van.

Dan's the man, when it comes to Vans.
posted by bonehead at 3:25 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


It's time for full-size Frank Frazetta murals to make a comeback.
posted by jquinby at 3:27 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


An RV should look like a spaceship. The GMC Motorhome was sort of close.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:30 PM on August 10 [11 favorites]


I didn't see the article mention everyone's favorite retro graphic design.

Exactly my thought. I really like those cups, I like when people wear the cup design as a hoodie, I like the way blank cassette tapes looked in the 80s, and I like these RVs.

But if I ever got my own I would definitely get the Fantasy Factory logo on the side.
posted by escabeche at 3:34 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Last year Merle’s Haggard’s former Silver Chief Touring bus was auctioned off. I was so tempted.
posted by spitbull at 3:54 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I'm with Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon and jquinby: If they are ugly anyway, why not cover then with dragons and stars and space?
posted by Canageek at 4:03 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I always thought the GMC Motorhome, as mentioned by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon, was a cool RV. I even liked them as a kid.

Now, help me: There was a TV show which featured some old dude and a young dude riding around in one of those GMC thingys (I think), and the young dude had a dirt bike which was kept inside and came out the side via a door...I think. I believe the show was supposed to be some post-apocalyptic thing. It would be the 1970s. Any help?
posted by maxwelton at 4:04 PM on August 10


They use swooshes to give the blocky shape the illusion of contour because they want to make it look more like a pterodactyl. RV buyers love pterodactyls.
posted by Poogle at 4:15 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Max, are you thinking of Ark II?

Or the Landmaster from Damnation Alley?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:21 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


because everything is ugly? because people suck at designing things? is that the answer? pls i didn't read
posted by Bwentman at 4:29 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Kind of a cop-out to exclude tear drops, airstreams and c-class vans from the discussion, as a lot of these are very attractive and honestly owned by a similar group of people.
Big RVs are the McMansions of the vehicle world- quality comprehensively traded for quantity. Both are essentially big flat pack vinyl boxes, which lends itself both to beige-ness and clunky detailing.
Honestly the swoops on the outside are often the least ugly part of a big box RV, although there are probably better ways to treat the situation. Building the vehicle with actual form and scale in mind would be a great start.
posted by q*ben at 4:31 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Maxwelton, I'm guessing you're talking about Shazam
posted by jonathanhughes at 4:31 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


But my guess is that choosing a luxury travel vehicle to get you to Bermuda as opposed to one to let you park on a gravel strip near a state park also corresponds with certain marked differences in taste/aesthetic.

well, you could always park your RV at the marina - which is just an hour's drive from elkhart, and yes if it's seaworthy enough, you could take a yacht to bermuda from st joseph ...

i've driven by the rv hall of fame quite a few times - it's right by the toll road

the fancy pakistani graphics would never work - people have to be able to find the "good sam" sticker, you know ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 PM on August 10


Bland real estate staging springs to mind, especially if the swooshes came in as a reaction to a splashy murals. Lots of people don't care that much about style. They just want something that suits their needs and doesn't offend them. All those beige and navy swooshes are probably a lot more appealing to a couple whose primary style concern is that they don't want to look tacky. (And for those who do want to look tacky...well, I guess that's where the swooshier energy drink aesthetic comes in.)

FWIW, I like that green-stripe retro Winnebago. And ESPECIALLY that dazzle camouflage, that is cool as hell.
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:40 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I agree with the comment above that the interiors are usually worse than the swooshes on the outside. The McMansion comparison people have made is interesting, because there are also plenty of enormous status-display houses that follow different aesthetics (e.g., the kind of expensive house featured in Dwell), but in contrast RVs seem to follow a consistent exterior and interior aesthetic from the low end up to the ridiculously expensive.

As my generation ages and (perhaps) starts buying RVs, it will be curious to see if the design aesthetics change or not.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:42 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


also some elkhart RV manufacturers make pontoon boats, too - with swishes - like forest river
posted by pyramid termite at 4:48 PM on August 10


My hot-take take is that the swooshes are neither marked masculine nor feminine for the modal US consumer. So many things have been market-segmented into one or the other that perhaps there aren't all that many designs left over. Can't think how to test whether this is true, or whether un-gender-markedness is an advantage for big RVs.

If a whole lot of the big RVs on the continent are made near one town, they probably just imitate each other through normativity, which is less interesting.

I wonder if there are road safety improvements possible in paint. Dazzle camo is aesthetically appealing but, insofar as it works, such a terrible idea when you're sharing the road.
posted by clew at 4:55 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Dazzle camo is aesthetically appealing but, insofar as it works, such a terrible idea when you're sharing the road.

It’s not that bad. We see it around Detroit fairly often.
posted by Etrigan at 5:06 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


There's a Jeep in my neighborhood that's painted in camo, with a "Jurassic Park" logo on the side. Every time I drive past where it is parked, I think.....dude, really?
posted by thelonius at 5:11 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I also didn't realize I wanted a dazzle RV to retire in until just now
posted by pagrus at 5:45 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


From the article you linked to, Etrigan:

"Dazzle functions similarly. By creating giant, optical patterns on an object, it makes it hard to track where and how quickly that object is moving."

In no reasonable world would the desire of carmakers to use the public roads without having public pictures outweigh the need of other drivers on the road to know where and how quickly a vehicle is moving. (Possibly the dazzle in question is scaled to hide purely aesthetic details and doesn't have any effect on passing drivers. Has that been tested?)
posted by clew at 5:51 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


There's a Jeep in my neighborhood that's painted in camo, with a "Jurassic Park" logo on the side. Every time I drive past where it is parked, I think.....dude, really?

I hear you, I'd be jealous as well.
posted by Carillon at 6:02 PM on August 10 [44 favorites]


Possibly the dazzle in question is scaled to hide purely aesthetic details and doesn't have any effect on passing drivers. Has that been tested?

All I know is that I’ve never had a problem tracking them. I would guess that we’re talking about levels of distraction that can be enough to make a torpedo miss from a kilometer away but won’t make you think a car two lanes over is going significantly slower than you think it is. Plus, I presume that test drivers who are trusted with prototypes are pretty good at avoiding other idiots’ mistakes.
posted by Etrigan at 6:07 PM on August 10


Thanks for the suggestions...I'm guessing it was Shazam!, but that's just a plain old box RV. My memory sucks, obviously.

Looks like used GM Motorhomes are $10K for needs finishing, $20K for nice and usable, and $40K+ for completely restored. Also didn't know they were front-wheel drive! Hm. I could sell my house and take to the highways and byways. Maybe I could just park in front of mefites homes in an epic road journey. If you guys could feed me and maybe pitch in for some gas money, that would be great! Thanks in advance.
posted by maxwelton at 6:15 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


Aside from the issues of tackiness and most new RVs being barely small enough to use comfortably on new build Interstate highways, the vast majority of the business is populated with shitty scam artists thanks to the lack of lemon laws or any kind of reliable warranty. It's like buying a car was before Magnusson-Moss, with essentially no recourse if the manufacturer or dealer decides to conduct business using the Trump model.

There was once a time I had a pretty strong desire to pick up something a bit bigger than what a Sprinter conversion is today and wander about the nation as I pleased, but the more I looked into it the more it looked like everything on the market, new or old, was built to about the same standard as an early 70s "trailer home." That is to say an incredibly flimsy fire trap.

All the negatives aside, I have seen some modern motor homes that, looks aside, are really neat in terms of packaging. Some of them manage to pack in an insane amount of stuff without feeling at all cramped and feel almost spacious with the bump outs deployed. I've lived in reasonably large houses that feel more cramped than a modern motor home. It's really too bad the talents of their designers aren't being put to better use.
posted by wierdo at 6:48 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I've said for ages that the company—or city for that matter—that resurrects that clean 1930s Streamline Moderne aesthetic could make bank by having that be their signature look. By its very nature it is perpetually old fashioned and futuristic simultaneously.

Usually I use the idea to daydream of a city like my own Seattle using it to create a signature look for their public transit.  Then I close my eyes and sigh because how cool would it be to have all the city public transit gleaming, curved and AD-FUCKING-FREE?  Just imagine if the buses, trains, and trams all shared a clean aesthetic. Talk about branding for your city.  

But the design could easily be adopted and modernized for RVs too. No one will ever convince me that it wouldn't be cool to see that look interpreted through modern eyes.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:48 PM on August 10 [21 favorites]


Ms. Wang might had found her article's question solved, once picturing Guy Fieri fucking a school bus.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:04 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I currently live in a converted 36ft 1991 Blue Bird/International 3800 school bus, and it looks dope as shit. Total cost, including gov surplus bus and all the RV fixins (incl solar system with 3kW inverter), is under $10k. So I'm not buying this whole "they have to be fugly for technical reasons" thing.

Someone (me, I guess?) should start a business copy-pasting my bus. Hell, it's all rounded, so you could paint it rustoleum white and call it "streamline moderne" and charge more.
posted by andrewpcone at 9:30 PM on August 10 [25 favorites]


From a person who is actually in the market for a large 5th wheel (me):

1. Goddamn I hate those fucking graphics
2. Looked into how much vinyl wrapping an RV would be. Prohibitively expensive.
3. The insides of the newer RVs are actually not bad at all. I still see a few beige monstrosities, but the majority are nice. Now, if they would get rid of the LED lighting in every nook and cranny.
4. We are talking about buying in the next 5 or 6 years. This article actually gives me hope that things may change enough that I don't have to have a tribal tattoo on my RV.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:50 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Growing up in the 80s I hated this type of truck graphic that you'd see everywhere, but lately have been experiencing a nostalgic desire for their return. Will the youth of the day look back fondly upon RV tribal swooshes 30 years hence?
posted by St. Oops at 11:27 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I've always thought it was semi-odd that the RV-building corridor in northern Indiana tended to also describe the Amish region of northern Indiana. I can't find any meaningful synergy in that, but it's just kind of...interesting...to see little horse-drawn buggies clomping past an RV factory lot full of shiny new land yachts.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 AM on August 11


What I want to know is, why are the insides of modern RVs so ugly?
posted by eviemath at 6:18 AM on August 11


Amish men provide much of the labor in the RV industry.
posted by peeedro at 6:36 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Something about these designs remind me of how hotel rooms are.

They're not designed to be nice, or designed to be homey. They're designed around a lowest-common-denominator sense of what a hotel room should be: sterile, inoffensive, and comfortable in a way that meets expectations and does not deviate from them. Sort of like how chain food places don't need good food, they just need reliability and consistency to attract travelers.

These RVs with terrible designs don't look like anything interesting, but they just look like how RVs are supposed to look - which means that they can sell, since most people just want an RV that looks like an RV, or whatever, and it guarantees that the HOA in the gated community doesn't get mad at you for parking what looks like a godawful billboard in your driveway.

I don't think this is a good thing, but I think I understand how it works.
posted by entropone at 6:44 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


andrewpcone, can we get a Projects post on the Blue Bird? Sounds amazing!! TEACH US YOUR WAYS
posted by youarenothere at 7:08 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


My ex and I used to have a game. Put the word "ANAL" in front of any RV name and LoL.

I came here to make sure everyone knows this mental virus.

It leads to things like "Anal Ranger" or "Anal Badger" and more.

My current game winner is "Anal Pleasure Way",

BTW, this also works for boat names.

Hello, yes, I'm 12.
posted by loquacious at 7:21 AM on August 11 [10 favorites]


Also, I just want to say that as a hiker/biker type camper, McMansion RVs are horrible and I really think they should be banned from parks and campgrounds - but they're major cash cows for said parks in camping fees so I'm not holding my breath.

It's fucking horrible to pull into a camp ground after a long day of hiking or biking and you're surrounded by canyons of giant RVs running generators, blasting light and sound pollution out of big flat panel TVs and otherwise bringing entirely too much of the indoors with them to the outdoors, and then spending most of their outdoor time effectively indoors or within 20 feet of their RV.

The people that do this are often the same demographic that think "camping" or "campsite fees" means that it's their God-given right to collect deadfall or even cut green wood for horrible, smokey, destructive campfires. Or to litter. Or to let their kids run amok stomping the trees and breaking off huge branches by using them as gym equipment.

I've been in campgrounds where I've stayed an extra day or two past a holiday weekend after almost everyone in an RV or car camping left just so I could have an actual quiet rest day before riding/hiking onward, and the difference in sound pollution at atmosphere is just incredible and dramatic.

No slamming RV doors, no incessant din of people shouting, no generators, no blaring radios or TVs. The birds come back and start singing again. I can actually nap without hearing kids screaming and tearing right through my camp. The air stops smelling like exhaust and cars. The supernova-bright lanterns go away and I can finally see he stars again, not to mention my own feet on a dark trail or campground.

I see RVers doing their thing in campgrounds and parks and I finding myself asking myself "Why are you even here? You apparently don't actually enjoy or value nature and you may as well party in a Walmart parking lot. Some of us are actually trying to get away from all of that noise you're making, but you brought all that all the way out here so... you could ignore nature and live exactly like you do at home? Seriously, why are you even here!?"

And meanwhile I have unhoused friends living in tents and sheds and crappy old vans and stuff. A full sized McMansion RV would be a complete home to them and likely the biggest apartment or private space they've ever owned or lived in. I have a friend that just bought a crappy older 30 footer and she rightfully is calling it her first "home" that she actually owns.
posted by loquacious at 7:43 AM on August 11 [23 favorites]


I've solved this by staying at hotels. All the amenities, hot showers and cold A/C and I don't have to clean.
posted by mikelieman at 8:10 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


There's a Jeep in my neighborhood that's painted in camo, with a "Jurassic Park" logo on the side. Every time I drive past where it is parked, I think.....dude, really?

I hear you, I'd be jealous as well.


Well then, let me tell you a story about the current NBA champions...
posted by srboisvert at 8:22 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


My ex and I used to have a game. Put the word "ANAL" in front of any RV name and LoL.

My coworker taught me this game. Since my office overlooks the main street of a tourist-heavy town I get lots of opportunities to see some good ones. Although the most common one I see doesn't work so well, "anal 1-800-rv-4-rent". They have some not-horrible graphics on them at least.

But the one that always gets me I pass regularly on my daily commute: "anal lance". Sounds like a bad day at the doctor's office.
posted by traveler_ at 8:50 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah I car-camped at a lakeside campground last year and goddamn if the RVer family there didn’t come to make as much noise for as much time as inhumanly possible.

My dream RV is one that can get onto BLM land and far, far from the fuckos.

Winnebago Revel is the first offering from a major that fills that need, but man that sticker price!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 9:13 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


“I think if you look at the exteriors just in the last year or two, there are a lot of people who are doing linear stuff and try to make it look more like stripes.”
Behold, the future: Striped RVs!

This is parody, right? Please tell me this is parody. I miss living in a world where parody was possible.
posted by eotvos at 9:24 AM on August 11


Hello, yes, I'm 12.
posted by loquacious at 7:21 AM on August 11 [3 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


ANAL EXPLORER!

ANAL AVENGER!

ANAL NOMAD?

ANAL.... bowler?
posted by klanawa at 11:13 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


St. Oops, that's actually one of the original paint options. I loved those things, but I was 5, so...
posted by klanawa at 11:19 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I too absolutely loved the late 70s solid-color thing. Just so clean, and classy if it incorporated more subdued earth tones... but I was pre-teen in the 70s so there’s that
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:25 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I changed my mind, if you guys are taking up a collection, I'd rather have the Black Pearl
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:53 AM on August 11


The EleMMent Palazzo Superiore has its charms. Bring money.
posted by bz at 11:56 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Gotta say the "Anal Revel" and the "Anal Palazzo Superiore" are both working for me.

I have a fantasy of doing a trip in an RV like this. Once, for a few weeks in the US. I'm willing to rent an RV for a month no matter how ugly the graphics on the outside are. But I'm guessing rentals are really expensive and really dodgy; is it a reasonable thing to do?
posted by Nelson at 12:36 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I think they should just give up on the exterior. At some of the worksites I manage, we work out of essentially shipping containers, customized to be offices, conference rooms, etc. At the start of a project, we have them delivered and stacked 2-high, build stairs as necessary, then work out of them for the duration of the project. The interesting thing is, they have to stay shipping containers.

Over time, the different work groups come to feel like they "own" a particular container and start customizing the interior. It becomes a contest of whose container can be the most surprisingly WOW inside, completely incognito from the outside. And I'm not talking just decorations, we've got welders, carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, IT... the only limits are (1) it has to be safe to occupy, and (2) still has to be a shipping container shape and physically capable of being shipped (strength, etc.) (I guess "moved by truck or crane", not necessarily meeting DOT shipping rules, it's rare we have to do that)

I'd like to see what kind of RV interior could be made in a standard 53-ft semi trailer. Or even several, you could have a party with one or more sleeping trailers, a kitchen trailer, a dinner/conference trailer, and a machinery (generator, water heater, chilled water for AC) trailer. (Your group of families would all need CDLs though)
posted by ctmf at 12:45 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


I'd like the setup V.M. Vargas had on that season of Fargo. A windowless semi trailer with a super-computer cabinet, a spartan bathroom, and simple wooden bunks for me and my henchmen.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:03 PM on August 11


If you're talking RVs, especially extreme customs, you can't forget Bran Ferren's KiraVan.

...the world’s only 6×6 wheel drive tractor trailer can scale the farthest reaches of the planet. Occupants can work, play, eat and sleep for up to three weeks at a time inside, while outside temperatures range from -30 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

[...]

Situational awareness systems: Twenty-two day / night high definition cameras, microwaves and laser radars and ultrasonic rangefinders continuously monitor surroundings for approaching vehicles and other objects.

Mast systems: Multiple pneumatic masts up to 58′ tall support communications and surveillance tools that can be used while the vehicle is in motion for activities like long-range optics, night vision imagery, GIS surveying and mapping.

[...]
Incinerating toilet. The KiraVan has an Incinolet incinerating toilet in the galley, which eliminates the on-board black tank – and trips to the dump station!


Vice did a short piece on it. Ostensibly built for Ferren's daughter, Kira, you can see how generally unimpressed with it she is. Amazingly, they convinced Ferren to take it out for a drive. For years I've wondered if the thing was such vapor that it might not actually be capable of moving, so I was amazed. But the multi-million super RV, the closest thing we have to a Landmaster in the real world, designed to travel offroad, with no support, (spoiler) broke down after a mile on the rough streets of Glendale, CA.
posted by jjwiseman at 1:42 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Also, speaking of aesthetics... if you're spending 20+ million $ on an RV, at least make it look super cool! KiraVan has an aesthetic, but not a particularly good one, to my eye.
posted by jjwiseman at 1:50 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


the closest thing we have to a Landmaster in the real world

Damn dude, I’ve seen that thing parked next to the that mechanic’s shop on Cauhenga my entire life*, and I had no idea what it was. Thanks for filling that void lol.

*I guess I was so used to it I didn’t notice that it moved away like thirteen years ago.
posted by sideshow at 3:03 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]


The people that do this are often the same demographic that think "camping" or "campsite fees" means that it's their God-given right to collect deadfall or even cut green wood for horrible, smokey, destructive campfires. Or to litter. Or to let their kids run amok stomping the trees and breaking off huge branches by using them as gym equipment.

Hold on there. Collecting deadfall is explicitly allowed on most national forest and BLM land. In fact, in some cases, it's a reasonable strategy for managing fire risk around the campsite. As for littering, I really haven't noticed that the "demographic" you are talking about is particularly given to littering. As for hating on kids swinging from branches, come on now. In only the most vulnerable ecosystems is that a serious concern. One could do worse than be a swinger of branches

I see RVers doing their thing in campgrounds and parks and I finding myself asking myself "Why are you even here? You apparently don't actually enjoy or value nature and you may as well party in a Walmart parking lot. Some of us are actually trying to get away from all of that noise you're making, but you brought all that all the way out here so... you could ignore nature and live exactly like you do at home? Seriously, why are you even here!?"

If you talked to a lot of RVers, you would realize a lot of them are traveling with people who are disabled, elderly, or very young. The RV allows them to get out and enjoy the surroundings to the degree they can.

I am youngish and able bodied and outdoorsy, and I frequently sleep on a pad in the back of my Tacoma, or in a bivy on the ground. Like you, loquacious, I am repulsed by the idea of bringing my RV-bus or other technological comforts to nature, and yes, I also find the noise of generators and subwoofers antithetical to the enjoyment of nature.

But I also understand and respect that there are different ways to enjoy the outdoors, and public land is for everyone, not just people of our cultural bent. There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land, the vast majority of which are RV-free, and the vast majority of which allows camping outside designated campgrounds. If you the RVs harsh your vibe so much, hike into the trees for half a mile and find a flat patch. I've done this several times, for that exact reason.

It's hard not to read a lot of hatred into your post. The hypertrophied concerns about litter and wood collection seem a lot like a standard "those different people are filthy and profligate," which is not a sentiment I can admire. I think we are better off trying to stile the urge to exclaim rhetorically "Seriously, why are you even here!?", and try instead to become genuinely curious about how people with different preferences experience the world. You can still hike and bike and camp in the backwoods all you like. The McMansions RVs will remain confined the the relatively small number of sites that can physically fit them.
posted by andrewpcone at 3:33 PM on August 11 [29 favorites]


Really really beautifully said andrewpcone. My partner loves the outdoors, loves camping, and has physical disabilities that make tent camping nearly impossible and each year it becomes harder for us to get out in nature. The bar is really fucking high. The price she pays for camping the “right” way means a week recovery at best and certainly isn’t enjoyable for either of us.

So we have used a borrowed RV a few times. It makes it possible for us to escape the city. And yeah, I sometimes wonder about the other folks with RVs and think that they must not love the outdoors in the way that we do — but it feels super shitty to have that assumption made about us, so I’m going to knock that off myself.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:56 PM on August 11 [5 favorites]


Another thought about RVs in nature.

I was raised with a reverent relationship to nature, and I have raised my daughter the same way. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a religion, but there is definitely a sense of the sacred or of transcendence. The idea is something like "forests and deer and stuff were here long before humans, and something like it will probably exists after we're all dead and gone, and the close, reverent study of nature yields a wellspring of both scientific and spiritual insight." So going hiking is not just "recreation," it is something of a sacred, spiritual exercise.

So when I see people with RVs and big screen TVs, I will admit there is a part of me that hates them for their profane, philistine ways. My inner religious fundamentalist immediately starts shouting "YOU are the people who caused the dust bowl with your rain-follows-the-plow bullshit, YOU are the hicks who have strip mined West Virginia, YOU are the ruthless loggers who have clearcut half the Olympic Peninsula, YOU are the drunkards who are pulverizing the Bakken shale, AND RIGHT FUCKING NOW you are burning fossil fuels with abandon in that damn generator and walling off your obese walmart shopping Trump voting souls with fugly decal-ridden RV steel from what little of Gaia's paradise remains in our troubled country, and thanks to YOUR profligate vile ways, we will all inherit a poisoned and slovenly and denuded and ungrateful world where our only refuge is the banality of netflix and la-z-boys and individually packaged rice crispy treats in sams club boxes...."

This voice can continue shouting forever, and one could argue it's not even wrong. But it is not a moral or empathic voice. It is not a responsible or reflexive voice. And honestly, I have spent too long letting that voice scream in my head, because when I'm weary of considerations and life is too much like a pathless wood, it is fucking seductive, with its promise of clear moral orientation. And when I let myself do that, I am not enjoying nature at all. Whatever humbling transcendence I imagine myself to glean for nature vaporizes in a huff of sanctimony. My face and neck get tense, and I drive like shit, and I start eating bullshit food and wanting a cigarette, all the while oddly secure in my conviction that I have stumbled on some important moral truth, and anyone who tells me to relax must be complicit in whatever awfulness.

I have let is scream for long enough to know what the voice actually wants, which is to purge the faithless philistines from the sacred forest, sentenced to haul their 30 foot monstrosities back to whatever godless sacramento suburb they came from. But even that's not enough. It wants the RV owners made to hang their heads in shame for their transgressions against gaia as a cleansing wildfire rips through their subdivision and everyone like it. And after Folsom and Oroville and Shasta dams fail, and the whole damn valley is rightfully flooded, I want tule reeds to piece through the twisted burned out 26 gauge RV siding half covered by the marsh, and I want an elk to stomp it down further as the memory of the fall from eden falls slowly fades.

Maybe my RV-hating fantasies are more apocalypic than yours, loquacious, but I detect some of the same spirit.
posted by andrewpcone at 4:28 PM on August 11 [8 favorites]


I car camp a lot -- so, not wilderness -- and yeah, RVers can be loud assholes, but so can people in tents. At least the RVers are usually in their own, avoidable section.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:27 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


Usually I use the idea to daydream of a city like my own Seattle using it to create a signature look for their public transit. Then I close my eyes and sigh because how cool would it be to have all the city public transit gleaming, curved and AD-FUCKING-FREE? Just imagine if the buses, trains, and trams all shared a clean aesthetic. Talk about branding for your city.

I think the reasons this doesn't happen are the same reasons RVs tend to be so samey - there just aren't that many manufacturers, which combined with the expense leads to extreme risk aversion on the part of both buyers and sellers. If someone came in with a radical new design, it might take off like wildfire... or it might not, and nobody is willing to take the chance. It's the exact same problem currently plaguing the American movie industry, come to think of it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I love the idea of having a camper van or RV (though it doesn't even vaguely fit in with my current lifestyle), but I'm uncomfortable with the sheer amount of gas required for them. This thread got me googling, and I'm unreasonably excited to see the debut of all-electric camper vans and RVs - tragically only available in Spain and Germany respectively for now. If my life were to undergo some fairly radical changes, I could see getting one of these. I really like the look of the camper van, too. (The RV, however, looks like an athletic shoe.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:01 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


There was a BEV trailer announced by a German company about a year ago, with smart ideas of being able to independently accelerate and brake behind the towing vehicle (indeed, it’s not a big stretch to imagine a trailer that literally just autonomously follows you regular car).

While CNG isn’t any greener than oil, at this point it’s at least more of a byproduct of our oil addiction and also domestically sourced, good in the macro-economic sense and not sending any money to the various a-holes in the Mideast, so I’m also interested in some sort of CNG-BEV dual power system.

Sadly, not a lot of engineering brainpower is being applied in this area yet...
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:55 PM on August 12


So something I noticed when I moved from a part of Canada with (in Canadian terms, that is) relatively cheap international flights to another part of the country where air travel is far more expensive is that... surprise, people don't seem to fly as much for vacations.

Back in southern Ontario you didn't hear of people RVing as much, and frequent international travel was a necessary part of being seen as credibly middle-class. The province I live in has Canada's highest rate of RV ownership. Albertan jokes aside, it's not because people here are rubes, but partly because air travel in western Canada is expensive AF. People want to be able to spend their vacations in slightly more comfortable circumstances than tent camping, but getting their families on a plane to Europe is cost-prohibitive, so enter the RV. What's so wrong with that?

Yes, RVs are ugly, but the classism and problematic assumptions about leisure and consumption choices are a touch uglier.
posted by blerghamot at 1:29 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


There weren't enough pictures with that article for me to really understand what people were talking about, but as I drove to work today, I remembered that I pass a RV storage lot on my way, so I made sure to take a long look. HOLY SMOKES. There was every variety of ugly swoosh you could imagine.
posted by acrasis at 2:37 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


The confusing thing is with current technologies it wouldn't significantly change the retail price to have several liveries available, or to have them fully custom, so you could have a few monochromatic or two-tone classic schemes, some more illustrative or patterned schemes, and whatever swooshy nonsense tests well in the conservative focus group. Customers are already paying to have their vehicle appear a certain way, they're just not being presented with options. Camper vans are really winning right now on aesthetics, at least here in the PNW.
posted by a halcyon day at 2:44 PM on August 12


RVs are really ugly but considering the target market I wonder if it's a bit "be careful what you wish for" wanting them to change. They could very well take their style cues from the lookbook of the upper middle class suburban Republican mid-50s dude who cosplays a Hells Angel when he trailers his expensive Harley out to Sturgis, because those guys buy expensive RVs reliably. Just wait for the cringy skull, eagle and thin blue line flag livery.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:23 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Jason_steakums, that's a...
Brb, starting a RV painting business.
posted by ctmf at 3:41 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry that some of you don't approve, but husband and I are planning on spending our retirement until we're too old to drive safely, in a 5th wheel trailer. We plan to hit every state in the continental US and as much of Canada as we can. We expect to be on the road a minimum of 3 years. We will park on BLM land, campgrounds and Flying J parking lots. Neither of us can tent camp for much longer. We have dreamed of this since we borrowed my in-laws rv in the 90s. No way we could afford to do this if we stayed in hotels.

I think purity tests suck and are incredibly narrow-minded.
posted by Sophie1 at 3:44 PM on August 12 [7 favorites]


Sorry, my rant definitely crossed some lines, and people have a right to be offended, and I seem to have offended some of my favorite people.

Mobility and access is definitely a challenge for a lot of people, and I should check my privilege. I'm not really trying to say "no RVs, ever" but I do wish there was a better, lower impact solution than RVs everywhere.

A lot of my ire about this issue is because I lived and worked in a high traffic state park for several years. I got to know the rangers pretty well and the challenges they faced managing public park lands. I was able to witness experience the full yearly tourist cycle over about a dozen full seasons.

The number one challenge they really faced was use impact and trying to keep the park from turning into a dusty parking lot, being denuded, dealing with litter and food waste thrown into bushes and so on.

I've also witnessed the closing of entire group area sites and individual campgrounds for multiple seasons due to abuse. The things I'm talking about aren't really classist. I'm not saying people aren't enjoying nature the "right" way. I'm talking about the abuse of our common property.

By and large the most destructive, loudest and most careless patrons were the people in the largest and most expensive RVs.

Sure, we had plenty of thoughtless car campers. I've even met very thoughtless bike campers and hikers, but they were much more rare.

Hold on there. Collecting deadfall is explicitly allowed on most national forest and BLM land. In fact, in some cases, it's a reasonable strategy for managing fire risk around the campsite.

This is not allowed in any state park or developed campsite that I've been to anywhere on the West Coast - and I was specifically talking about parks, not dispersed lands. And if it isn't actually banned in local NFS land it's taboo or verboten because it really isn't good fire management practices here. It also flies in the face of leave no trace and takes away understory food for drought and fire resistant plants like ferns, salal and more.

The accepted practices of the NFS as well as the BLM are pretty controversial and not necessarily best practices, either. The BLM allows mass grazing on far too many public lands, for example.

Collecting deadfall for recreational fires is not good forestry management practice according to anything I've learned so far with forestry management, and it's something I talk to a lot of people about. Some of them are professionals.

As for littering, I really haven't noticed that the "demographic" you are talking about is particularly given to littering.

Not my experience. In every park I've been in RVers generated the most litter and general pollution, be it noise or food waste tossed in the bushes because it's "organic" or even just tossing beer cans into the undergrowth, or burning heaps of trash, including plastic. Which is super fun to be downwind of.

As for hating on kids swinging from branches, come on now. In only the most vulnerable ecosystems is that a serious concern. One could do worse than be a swinger of branches

I'm not really talking about a kid climbing up into a tree and hanging out. I'm talking about the active, gleeful destruction of a tree and tearing off multiple branches or otherwise really stressing and abusing the tree. I'm talking about the kinds of aggression that if it were done to a dog, or a human, it'd be considered horribly abusive.

Additionally, repeated high traffic tree climbing will definitely debark and damage a tree. Where someone else who visited the park for a weekend saw just a couple of kids climbing a tree, I saw hundreds if not thousands climbing that same tree nearly every day for several years. I watched trees go through this kind of waning and even eventual death at multiple places in the park I was working at. It bothered me.

Anyway, yeah, I'm personally frustrated and I have a lot of bias about this.

I do believe in access to nature, and the healing and transformative power of nature.

I strongly question if someone is going to get any of that if they sit inside an RV watching TV. I find myself asking if this non-theoretical TV watching patron even wants to be in nature at all, or if they displaced someone that couldn't get a reservation for that spot who actually just wanted to be in nature and listen to what it has to say.

Further, what right does someone have to take away so much nature from everyone else by lighting up the night with the flashing glow of a huge TV in their RV, or the noise of a generator, or blasting music all day and even night?

(That's an additional side issue of access to public land, that RV campers tend to reserve all the spots up to a year in advance at many popular parks and locations, and I've definitely seen it displace people with less disposable income many times, and this seems inequitable to me.)

The more time I spend in nature the more time I realize every step we take, every tree we touch has an impact, and it's larger and more direct than we think it is. Even the noise of my footsteps in my backyard forest can disturb and quiet birdsong and feeding routines for an hour or more. The noise of generators or vehicles, the clatter of dishes... even those shouts of fun and joy have impacts we somehow barely even see.

These natural spaces deserve their own space, to not just be seen as resources for our consumption or enjoyment. We don't actually have many of those kinds of spaces left.
posted by loquacious at 5:27 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


You can still hike and bike and camp in the backwoods all you like. The McMansions RVs will remain confined the the relatively small number of sites that can physically fit them.

Eh, this is also classist and problematic.

Backwoods permits and passes are often highly restricted on a seasonal. Being able to afford the gear for safe and legit leave no trace camping is pretty expensive, often even more expensive than car camping. There's a bit of an accessible and affordable sweet spot for basic bike/hike camping at more established parks with improved campgrounds.

Many hike/bike tourers plan stops at these improved campgrounds specifically for access to a hot shower, laundry facilities or other essential needs on a longer, multi-stop route that may or may not involve backwoods or wild camping at all. Some people do this kind of camping with public transit and it's barely backpacking or hiking at all.

So you're basically asking the people who move around on their own power who usually have planned routes (and calorie/time expenditures) that involve using camp sites at improved campgrounds and parks should go even further out of their way. Like, love it or leave it.

One of the rules common to many state or county parks is that hikers/bikers usually get some sort of guaranteed first come, first serve accommodation even if the park is completely booked and full. They usually either have a designated overflow area, or they may choose to direct at hiker/biker to a car camping site.

This is because it's a public safety issue. The arriving through-hiker/biker may have spent the entire day moving under their own power. They often need to be able to sleep and recharge and move on to do it again the next day.

This is why many hiker biker sites are indeed isolated or set aside from car camping spots, but in most parks it's a tiny fraction of the available sites, and they're often in less than ideal locations, furthest away from facilities. At the park I worked at it was 5 sites out of about 150 total sites, not counting overflow.

With so many resources overwhelmingly dedicated to catering RV and car camping, I question if my stance or what I'm trying to say is really the classist one.
posted by loquacious at 5:51 PM on August 12


Like the small fraction of cyclists that ride like asshats and every driver has a story about it's likely a relatively small percentage of RV operators are responsible for all the remembered anti-social behaviour. However in the Provincial park I worked in certain behaviours were only performed by big RVs.

For example the park has some staff only roads; access to maintenance areas like our sewage treatment plant or maintenance yard, that sort of thing. Our STP road especially was seen as inviting (hey I understand, a little lake and large grassy area surrounded by trees with no other campers) and I used to catch people "camping" next to our sewage lagoon every couple weeks on average having ignored at least two signs prohibiting access. These people were never car camping, or backpacking, or bike camping, It was almost always some 7+ metre RV with four slide outs and a generator hammering away and when it wasn't it was a camper mounted on a 4X4. Half the time they'd be angry that I was redirecting them to one of camping areas. Dude, you are parked on a septic field, you have to leave. Once I had to get a Ranger involved.

BC has lots of rec sites which are generally small (1-6) barely improved "camp sites". Sometimes there is a pit toilet but mostly they are cleared levellish spots with sometimes a fire pit or picnic table. Sometimes they are just at the edge of a cut block and other times they are near some nice spot like a little lake or good view or at a trailhead or near a fishable creek/river (some of the sites are specifically for access to OHV areas and these sites aren't quiet). These small sites are generally designed/envisioned for at most a truck mounted camper and the people who used to visit them were ... quietish.

But as population has increased without much effort from BC Parks to increase front country camping these small sites are starting to see the 24 hour generator/music/patio light crowd (this sort of thing is technically illegal though enforcement is practically non-existent). And while they have as much right as the classic users to the space they aren't in the spirit of such sites and it has been creating friction. One RV Glamper can ruin the experience for everyone else at the site.

Even in our front country sites the operators had constant problems with people ignoring quiet times and running generators or playing amplified music.

Work a provincial park for a summer and you'll have a long list of stock lectures memorized:
  • Your dog has to be on a leash.
  • Smoking is only permitted in designated areas.
  • Alcohol is only permitted within the confines of your camp site.
  • Don't feed the wildlife.
  • Don't walk off the trail
  • That goes double for areas specifically posted as sensitive
  • Triple for sub alpine flower fields, just don't
  • Seriously, stay on the marked trails.
  • Collecting firewood/flowers is illegal.
  • Drone use in the park is prohibited. (Seriously you can't fly drones in the park and especially around occupied ski lifts and towers)
  • ...
As an aside I realize we are incredibly spoiled in BC where 90+% of the province is controlled by the Crown and basically undeveloped compared to most of the rest of Canada and just advantaged beyond belief compared to the small wildernesses in many places like much of Europe (isn't it the Netherlands where you are never more than a kilometre from a building?).
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


OK, let's put it this way instead.

Careless, selfish people suck whether you're in the supermarket or at a national park. "I've got mine" folks, whether rich or poor, are generally assholes and will make the lives around them miserable and ruin things for all of us that appreciate the time, care, thought and planning put into something we love.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:47 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


The campground misbehavior that drives me nuts is people leaving used toilet paper in the woods by the campsites; this is exclusively a tent-camper activity, as far as I've witnessed. WHY WHY WHY there's a toilet RIGHT OVER THERE but no, they must wipe their behind in the ferns 10 yards from the table.

Maybe there's an RV'er equivalent going on at the dump sites; I wouldn't know.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:00 AM on August 13


>
I do believe in access to nature, and the healing and transformative power of nature.

I strongly question if someone is going to get any of that if they sit inside an RV watching TV.


You're presuming they want to be healed and transformed. Maybe they just want to kick back in the woods for a week, go fishing, hang out with friends and family, and watch the game in the evening.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:04 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]




Being able to afford the gear for safe and legit leave no trace camping is pretty expensive, often even more expensive than car camping.

Scouts, at least Scouts Canada, has been practicing this for 40 or 50 years now at least (when they stopped pushing bushcraft construction and went to leave no trace instead). Many of those kids went out with very, very modest equipment and food taken directly from their home pantry. Honestly, a bag, a pack and an overturned canoe did it for most of my childhood.

Admittedly, we used campfires in the 1970s, but there are low- to no-impact ways to do that too. The old singer burner Coleman's displaced that in the eighties. Today, the preference is for a $25 butane burner screwed into a canister. It's safer and lighter than the old kerosene stoves. But that's the only major piece of kit. For the rest, a trowel and a few zippy bags and you're good to go.

Camping is going to cost something, but there were ways. For kids, Guides and Scouts and the local Boys and Girls clubs allowed disadvantaged kids to access the backcountry. Gear swaps are easy to find, in my experience, if you do even a little looking. Used gear is frequently a real bargain, as long as you're not climbing or something. In short, no-trace camping and canoe camping is possible on a budget. The major cost factor most run into is access to cars to get to the trailhead. IME that's by far the largest limiting factor.
posted by bonehead at 11:53 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


> RV campers tend to reserve all the spots up to a year in advance at many popular parks and locations, and I've definitely seen it displace people with less disposable income many times, and this seems inequitable to me

In the Washington parks I'm familiar with, RV spots and tent spots open for registration at the same time. And you can always put a tent in an RV spot, of course, but the quality varies.

RVers are not the problem. Underfunded parks systems are the problem.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:53 AM on August 14


You're presuming they want to be healed and transformed. Maybe they just want to kick back in the woods for a week, go fishing, hang out with friends and family, and watch the game in the evening.

That's fine, but maybe people who choose to use campgrounds in that way could be considerate of their fellow campers. We all make some noise. Being human, that is inevitable. What is not inevitable is turning the campground into a drive in theater. That is an intentional choice to be inconsiderate of others.

There are plenty of RV parks where it is entirely appropriate to fold out the giant TV, open up the awning, and be as loud as you care to be. That doesn't make it appropriate everywhere, just like it wouldn't be appropriate for me to rock up to a place like that with nothing but a tent and a can of beans and complain about the noise.
posted by wierdo at 8:09 AM on August 14


True. I haven’t run into that — I’ve never seen a TV in the open at a campground — but I hate hearing other people’s music while camping, and I run into that all the time.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 AM on August 14


« Older uspolitics from an external perspective   |   PyOhio 2019 Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.