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

bentjay, April 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I do have to say that I was serious, now I am not so sure. The other few nights the tents were fine (I think).

The above replies ensured a much needed laugh today! I certainly don’t want to camp next to anyone armed with a wide mouth Gatorade bottle smelly or otherwise.


zabo, April 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I totally agree with Amanda, fox mulder and lawnchairman.

I can afford to pay for a charter, but it seems such a waste given what they provide and I crave my independence. I caught a ride with one of the charters last year but didn’t use their camping facilities. The down side was that I had to walk my bike two blocks at the beginning and end of the ride. The up side was that my walk saved me several hundred dollars. No brainer for me. I also had a better campsite and had a choice of where to pitch my tent…better to be away from a city of over-sized tent dwellers and their overnight bottles.

I want the flexibility to do whatever I want when I want to, and I am also a minimalist. I like the challenge or figuring out how to reduce weight without sacrificing functionality. I feel that I am as well prepared as most, and maybe even better prepared. This flexibility allows me to use the Ragbrai charter if I can get up early enough, or to sleep in late (although I would have to carry my gear). My bag is a portage bag in case of emergencies. I consider sleeping later than 8:00 an emergency. I have no problem getting up with the dawn on this event but am really a night owl by nature.

It’s nice that a charter can provide a replacement tent in case of bad weather, but it would have been nicer to have a lightweight backup in reserve so that you are not inconvenienced at all. My tent sets up/takes down in a few minutes with no effort, and my polypro sheets with visclamps serve several auxiliary functions including as a backup tent. Compromising with a small solo tent and tarps seem like a sacrifice, but given that the tarps can serve multiple functions (including sun awnings) I feel well prepared. I have cut the weight of my gear from almost fifty pounds to about 25, and I think that I may be able to cut it just a pound or two more. The small height of my tent was not an issue although I had to be organized in advance to be able to change clothes easily, but otherwise either I was up and outside or else I was asleep. No major problem.

My way is certainly not that of the mainstream but as long as my tent is strong, breathable and watertight, I am in my comfort zone.

Anyone have experience with Tyvec?


Michrider !!!, April 3, 2014 at 6:08 am

These posts just prove that everyone has their own way to do RAGBRAI!!! It’s a social event for me and that’s the way I view PBV. Pete, Tammy and their PBV crew are my friends. RAGBRAI is your vacation, do it your way!!!!


GetAClue Blue, April 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Thanks for all the good input. Not sure how to respond to the tent sharing comment except to say “GETACLUE don’t play that game”.
It just seemed like last year I had allot of daylight when I got to the overnight town. I think this year I’ll slow down and enjoy the pass through towns more. Sounds like a 50/50 draw. I’ll probably just do the tent rental thing again. I say, “probably”. Lol


Iceman, April 8, 2014 at 9:28 am

GCBlue – the PBV tents are fine. I’ve never smelled urine in my tent, never had sticky food residue, in my tent, etc. And I can assure you that just as many people – probably more – use pee bottles in the common areas (for PBV and for the non-PBV camping areas) as in the PBV rental tent areas. Get over it or stay home. You’ll face the same problems everywhere in RAGBRAI.

If you’re really worried about all this, carry a plastic bottle of Clorox wipes in your duffle and wipe down the inside of your PBV rental tent when you first enter. Hell of a lot easier than pitching your own tent, dragging your bags twice a day, etc.

I’m amused at all this pristine, wussy camping etiquette. How horrified must you be when you enter some of the kybos?


bentjay, April 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Hey, I completely agree with Michrider – “do it your own way!” I also agree (in part) with iceman that the rentals are a “Hell of a lot easier than pitching your own tent…” Pee bottle or not pee bottle – live and let live!

I just choose to use my own tent, lug my own luggage, not make judgements about others, etc. The kybos even at their worst are not so bad either.


Luv 2 Ski, April 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm


You can get a really nice tent for that one week of service. For example Campmor has the Big Agnes Big House 6 on sale for $289.00 right now. A great tent that has tons of room and is very high quality. So it totally depends on what is important to you, and how you want to spend your money.

For some putting up a tent is a piece of cake while others it presents an element of stress, especially having to set it up in bad weather conditions. Setting up a quality tent is ussually fairly simple and does not take much time and effort. Cheap tents can be another story.

A vacation is what you want it to be. Those that would hike the AT on vacation would never think of having someone set up their tent for them, just as someone who stays at the Four Seasons on their vacation is all about wanting personal service.

If you think you have a use for a tent other than at RAGBRAI, or if you think you may do RAGBRAI for years to come I say get your own high quality tent.

PS: Be kind to the pitchers and make sure you call those at the knees pitches strikes. The batters don’t deserve free ones. LOL


Michrider !!!, April 10, 2014 at 5:48 am

Thanks letitsnow! However, I already own several tents! On RAGBRAI, I choose to use PBV’s tent!!!! BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!!!


HillsAngels1, April 10, 2014 at 6:52 am

I have a great REI tent that I’ve used on RAGBRAI for the last 4 years. But this year I’m doing the whole PBV thing. Just want to do it differant that way next year I too can have an opp on this tent question.


GetAClue Blue, April 10, 2014 at 7:31 am

I’ve been real happy with PBV the previous two years I’ve done the ride but I think one of these years I’m gonna take the “Bagger” route and just pack it all on a good bike. This year I’m gonna to the tent rental again. This will allow more time to spend with the locals and appreciate each town.


pmac, April 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

Whether you bring your own or rent from a charter consider a small blinkie you can put on the top of your tent for those long lonely hikes to the kybo at night to guide you home. Of course if you use a thunder jug I guess it wouldn’t be necessary.


HillsAngels1, April 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

The only problem with the Blinkie is you better hope no one around your tent has one. You could end up in the wrong tent which could be a good or bad thing :)


Michrider !!!, April 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I don’t need to do the blinkie thing. My tent is always on a corner (#000)!!!!


Steve, April 12, 2014 at 7:50 am

Michrider: I don’t need to do the blinkie thing. My tent is always on a corner (#000)!!!!

I knew you got special treatment from PBV for all the advertising you do!


GetAClue Blue, April 13, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Looks familiar.


Viewing 15 replies - 31 through 45 (of 53 total)

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