Some new innovations are making it easier than ever to go camping in comfort.

By Paul Brady
July 21, 2020

Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

RV makers have been on a roll lately. Between 2010 and 2019, annual sales rose from 242,000 vehicles to more than 400,000, as Americans’ cravings for wild spaces and time away from screens intensified. More recently, the RV rental platform Outdoorsy has seen a huge surge in demand: In May, nearly nine in 10 reservations on the platform were made by first-time renters. The site, which is like Airbnb for campers, says bookings were up an eye-popping 2,600 percent this spring.

Among the most popular RVs in recent years have been smaller, easier-to-drive models. Tapping into the trend, Mercedes-Benz in February announced the Metris pop-top camper van (about $88,000, fully equipped), with swiveling front bucket seats, a mini kitchen, and room to sleep four. The first deliveries are planned for this year.

A Roofnest Sparrow pop-up for camping
A Roofnest pop-up tent in the wild.
| Credit: Courtesy of Roofnest

For those who would rather ease into the #vanlife, there’s the new Roofnest Sparrow (from $2,895), a roomy pop-up that fits on most vehicles with cargo racks, even smaller ones. The hard-top, canvas-sided system sleeps two and can also hold some of your camping gear, even when closed.

Even better, it sets up in less than a minute. And what regular tent does that?

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline A Better Way to Camp.