RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

Charter tent rental or personnal tent? That is the question this year.

I’ve done RAGBRAI the past two years and used PBV both times. I’ll use them again this year but my only question is: Is the tent rental worth the money? I’m thinking of buying a tent this year and letting PBV carry it to the overnight town for me. I’m thinking I want mind setting it up since the days are so long in the summer. The tent I buy will cost 25% of the PBV tent rental and setup.
Does the tent count as one of the two bags you’re allowed or do you still get to have two bags and the tent? Any input appreciated.

53 Replies

Bear59, March 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I’ve used the tent service from PBV from the first time I did RAGBRAI in 2008. The main reason is that my idea of camping is called “check-in” and I don’t own camping equipments. To me, renting the tent from PBV and never having to worry about putting up the tent has always been well worth it.


bentjay, April 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Have tried both over the past two years. The tent service is convenient, but sleeping cheek by jowl close to neighbors, tripping over adjacent tent lines, trying to find your tent in the dark, and being a long way from most of the PBV stuff going on, I have learned to prefer using my own tent as I did last year. I try to camp near to the baggage truck (they are my morning alarm clock).


Iceman, April 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Bentjay, I would disagree. Once you get past the cost, they are the picture of efficiency.

They are lined up in a uniform layout so you know EXACTLY where the tent lines are, unlike the areas where private tents are erected and tent lines are going everywhere.

As to sounds at night, well no tent – whether three feet away are fifteen feet away – will silence even the least sounds.

Finding your PBV tent in the dark is much easier (they are lined up in rows and each has a name tag with a number on the outside) that finding your private tent which are set up helter skelter all over the place.

And it never fails. Once or twice during the night you hear a loud scream and an “Oh s–t!” and it’s always someone in the non-rental tents that has kicked someone’s tent stakes during a kybo run.


Pdiddly, April 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Amanda, I’m sorry you had to let your sherpa go. However, I have employed him and he will be setting up my Yurt every afternoon. I just hope PBV has not adopted a “No Yaks” policy in the camp ground. I plan to park him next to my yurt. Don’t fret, it’s a very quiet Yak….


bentjay, April 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Each to his own. I tripped at least once an evening trying to maneuver through the rentals on my way to the kybos as the rows are not uniformly straight. It is impossible to see your tent’s # in the dark without shinning a light on the tent. The ONLY way I found mine (two years ago) was by finding my bike at night (#288 – way out back and despite what you say was hard to find at night). I also was very aware how easily I could see into my neighboring tents as they could see into mine when we had to stake the doors because of the heat. Now maybe I’m just inept, but I prefer my own tent.

You never knew what the previous tent occupants had done in your tent — one was full of a sickly scent of too much cologne and another a wiff of somebody’s bottom. Another was sticky and yet another had a hole on the bottom as large as my finger. And then my tent blew open and filled up with water during that Marshalltown storm that summer. Still I liked the convenience.

However having my own tent allowed me the choice of where to camp and I had some great spots last summer. The real difference for me was camping with friends. Also it is larger and more water/storm resistant.

I am not against the tent service, but it did not work well for me. Who knows? I may change my mind again this summer.


Sandaltan ., April 1, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Hold on there pardner!!!! Ya mean PBV does not give you the same tent each night???? Tell me that ain’t so Bentjay. With Bubba or Bike World tent service you get the same little hacienda each night.



David, April 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I go with PBV but don’t use their tent service so I don’t have first hand knowledge of the tent in Tent City (it does look cool, I like watching them put tent city up).

It does appear that you will get a different tent. I suppose with that many tents keeping it straight would be a significant logistical challenge.

I found this in the letter that is for tent renters. Tammy posts the letters on their website usually but none for 2014 have been posted yet.

It is unlikely you will get the same physical tent twice. So you guys are all at each other’s mercy to keep these tents clean and in good condition. More on this in the checklist below.

Naturally, we and the future occupants of your tent would rather you didn’t use a pee receptacle in the tent at night instead of walking to a kybo. This isn’t something we can police, but please don’t.


Fox Mulder, April 1, 2014 at 9:05 pm

The last place that I want to be when the Zombie Apocalypse starts is in a tent city with hundreds of other people discussing butt cream`and gluten free beer . No thanks, I’ll just stick to pitching my tent under a nice tree and chilling with my friends because I personally I like sleeping until noon. Maybe in a few years I’ll be ready for assisted living but not yet.


Pdiddly, April 1, 2014 at 9:06 pm

So when I pull into tent city and set this unit up I hope everyone doesn’t get jealous…..


I’m trying to finagle the weight limit restriction right about now….


Michrider !!!, April 2, 2014 at 5:23 am

Fox Mulder: The last place that I want to be when the Zombie Apocalypse starts is in a tent city with hundreds of other people discussing butt cream`and gluten free beer . No thanks, I’ll just stick to pitching my tent under a nice tree and chilling with my friends because I personally I like sleeping until noon. Maybe in a few years I’ll be ready for assisted living but not yet.

They’re putting butt cream in gluten free beer??? I imagine that’s a tasty brew!!!


reddog1, April 2, 2014 at 12:22 pm

This is a very funny post!
Comes down to do you have the bucks or don’t you??
The funny part gets into whether you want to sleep in a tent that may or may not have urine in it. Personally I say not!
There are so many great choices besides a charter who have campers who urinate in their tents and if it is on the web site not to you know that is what they have. Personally I never go with charters and I don’t care what service they have. Not good enough period. Having to have your gear on the vehicle at a certain time? are you kidding me.
We take our time in the morning and leave when everyone is ready, usually around 8. Not as many people on the roads and not as many vehicles for our driver either. We already know where we are camping the next day and have an address .. with showers, indoor camping space some of the time and if you like the driver will get out your tent and more than likely set it up for free. Sounds as if this only saves you several hundred dollars.. Also we have all the libations you would like and don’t have to worry about tripping over the guy wires or waking up the person who is sleeping/peeing in the tent next to you. As I said.. very funny post and no for me on charters.. especially after this.


SteveS, April 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm

The wide mouth yellow bottle is NOT for drinking…


Sandaltan ., April 2, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Bedtime check list: pillow, air mattress, sheet, eye shades, ear plugs, fan on, teddy bear and….. wide mouth 32 ounce Gatorade bottle with screw on top.



David, April 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

At least smell the lemon/lime gatorade first.


Michrider !!!, April 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hey, walking to the KYBO, during the night, is not that big of a deal for me!!!


Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 53 total)

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