Everything you need to know about Pop-Up Campers

If you’re reading this article it’s likely you are considering buying a pop-up camper.

To help you with this decision we have written an article on everything you need to know about pop-up campers.

Wanting to upgrade your camping experience?

Tired of setting up tents and packing the car full of gear.

Instead, you want to simply hitch the camper trailer and drive off for the weekend?

For those who desire more creature comforts but don’t want the hassle and expense of owning a motorhome, a pop-up camper is an affordable option.

If you’re used to car or tent camping, there’s no question a pop-up camper is a serious upgrade.

Below is our article on everything you need to know about pop-up Campers

Benefits of a Pop-Up Camper

Pop-up campers are the most basic type of trailers, meaning they tend to be cheaper.

  • More spacious and comfortable than a tent
  • Gear and equipment is stored in the camper, meaning less packing required
  • Affordable ($4k to $20k)
  • Easy to store/park/set up and maybe small enough to fit in your garage
  • More protection from the weather
  • Tend to be lightweight and can be towed by most vehicles

Traveling to national parks there can be size restrictions for RVs, however, pop-up trailers generally fall well under the maximum allowed length.

Pop-up campers can be much cheaper in other ways, too.

You generally don’t need to purchase insurance for pop-up campers.

The cost of maintenance is often minimal because pop-up campers are smaller and easy to work on.

Fuel costs are often much cheaper, too because campers are easier to tow than many pop-up trailers

Because of their compact size and low weight, pop-up campers are easily transported including ventures down narrow, dirt roads that might pose hazards to those driving larger recreational vehicles.

If you’re in the market for some serious off-grid adventuring, pop-up campers are an excellent way to get out there

  • Length: Between 8-16 feet packed, or 16-32 feet popped up
  • Weight: 700-3,000 pounds
  • Sleeping space: 2-8 adults
  • Amenities and features: Varies, but may include air conditioning, kitchenettes including stovetops and refrigerators, on-board plumbing systems and water tanks, bathrooms, showers (interior or exterior), propane furnaces, generators, and more
  • Cost: $6k-$25k new, and less if purchasing pre-owned
Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers
Jayco pop-up camper

There’s room but not too much

There’s room but not too much.

Depending on how many people using the camper generally determines how little room there is or isn’t.

To make more room or space, we can fix annex onto the camper for use as a living/dining room.

Another option is to set-up another tent for sleeping.

Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers
Jayco Jay Series Interior https://www.jayco.com

Very thin Walls

Pop up campers are lightweight mainly because of the walls thin.

Thin walls provide very little insulation and protection from the cold.

During warmer months campers warm up making for unpleasant sweaty conditions,

Cooling and Heating

To make for more pleasant conditions add a suitable heater during the colder months.

In the summer months, a fan will help to circulate the air.

Fans and small space heaters are great options, but be aware that the soft sides do not retain very well.

There’s also the option of installing an Air Conditioning unit or buying a portal air conditioner.

Remember powering these units will require a generator.

Generators can be noisy, especially with thin-walled campers.

We recommend using low noise generators such as the Rainier R2200i Super Quiet Portable generator.

Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers
Jayco Pop-up Camper

Not so great Insulation

Most campers are made from wood paneling.

Removing these panels and packing them with insulation can improve temperature control.

Rugs on the floors can also help with insulation.

Giving the walls a coat of fresh paint can improve insulation while freshening up the camper’s look.

Having some level of insulation may help a bit to keep the heat in during winter and the heat out during summer.

There is some storage but not heaps

Pop-up tent trailers can include built-in storage areas, but they tend to have limited capacity.

We suggest buying collapsable gear and being clever with packing.

There may be spots available on the wall to mount shelves or cabinets for additional storage.

They can have bathrooms

Toileting

Believe it or not and space constraints aside, some pop-up campers have bathrooms inside, including a shower.

The toilet is sometimes a cassette toilet – or a toilet that’s in plain view and in the main living area but hidden under a bedside table.

The worst thing about having a toilet in the camper is going to the toilet when there are others present.
Unpleasant sounds and aromas are likely, perhaps causing performance anxiety.

The alternative is to use the camping grounds amenities. A benefit of using camp amenities means no trips to the sewage or dump station line.

Avoiding these lines can save you hours if you’re trying to check out of a campground on a busy holiday weekend.

Not to mention, you won’t have to use gloves and mess with the stink of sewage.

If these comfortable camp toilet amenities are unavailable there is the option of using a camping toilet.

These range from $20 for a basic model to $90 for a more sophisticated toileting system.

Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers
Inside a modern style pop up camper

Showers

Most campers don’t come with showers whilst others do.

Regardless, showering in a camper is like using the bathroom in a plane, very cramped.

Many parks have decent, roomier amenities. There’s also the option of showering outside.

Kitchens are generally small

Camper kitchens can be useful. Kitchens are cramped and cooked food can make everything in the camper smell.

Therefore, I spend most cooking outside which I find to be more enjoyable and social.

Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers
Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers

Check your vehicle towing capacity

Before choosing a popup camper you need to understand your vehicle’s towing capacity.

The last thing you want is a trailer that you cannot tow.

The best place to look is in the vehicles manual.

If not found in the manual reach out to the manufacturer to find out the towing capacity.

In addition, It’s also important to factor in how much gear you will be storing/carrying on the trailer.

This weighs needs to be added to the overall amount of weight being towed.

Can pop campers be used in Winter

Pop up campers can be used in winter.

The obvious challenge with thin walls keeping the temperature inside warm enough.

As mentioned above, installing insulation will improve heat retention.

The other option is to turn on an electrical heater.

Check out the Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Heater that provides 360-degree heating. Electrical heaters will require a power source.

Recommend not using any gas heaters inside a tent or any closed environment.

Not because they may cause a fire, because you can quietly die from carbon monoxide poising or asphyxiation.  It’s simply not worth the risk. 

When its time for sleep and tucked away in your sleeping bag, place an extra blanket or two over your body

This will provide your extra protection from the cold air whilst retaining body heat.

Blankets also provide a sense of comfort and protection, which is good especially for kids.

The great thing about blankets is they can be partially or fully taken off depending on how warm you become throughout the night.

Blankets also take up minimal space in your camper trailer and can be stuff in between gear if necessary.

What’s the difference between Pop-Ups Campervans and A-Frames?

You may have been wondering what the difference is between Pop-Up Campervans and A-frames, especially since they are both compact and towed by a vehicle.

That aside, there aren’t many similarities between the two.

A-frames as the name suggests are built from hardening material on all four sides and when erected forms an A-frame shape.

The hardened material makes for great insulation (perfect for extreme environments) and noise cancellation when compared to pop-up campervans. 

Pop-up campervans with a hard roof and base come with thick canvas walls.

Canvas walls do not provide fantastic insulation against very cold or hot weather.

Nor do they prevent campsite noise coming in (especially noisy generators).

If you’re a loud-speaking family the canvas won’t prevent the neighbors from hearing you’re conversations.

However, the upside to being made from canvas pop-ups are lighter and more fuel-efficient when towing compared to the A-Frame. 

A-Frame Pop-Up Camper

In terms of space, A-frames are shorter (12-29 feet) than pop-up campers (18-26 feet).

Pop-ups are more suitable for families or couples seeking more space to move around and lightest towing option.

A-Frames are suitable for couples or small families (up to 4) who like camping in extreme weather conditions and prefer a quiet existence.

Buying new Camper

A new pop up camper can set you back between $4k to $20k depending on the size, quality, and features of the camper (kitchen appliances, showers, toilets, etc).

Before you start shopping around for a pop-up camper we suggest the following;

  • Check your vehicles towing capacity (as discussed above)
  • How many beds do you require? How many people will be sleeping in pop up camper
  • How much space do you require? Do you intend spending a significant amount of time in the camper or is it just for sleeping
  • What type of adventure will you undertaking? Going off-road, through rocky terrain or just on the seal and unseal roads?

Buying old Camper

The best time to buy a Camper is fall and winter seasons when there is less interest/demand from buyers.

The worst time to buy a pop-up camper is in the camping season.

No matter how clean the pop-up camper looks you will need to perform a thorough review, checking for rust, water damage, and holes. Also, check under the pop-up camper for rust and wear.

Set-up the pop-up trailer yourself, looking for issues. Take the pop up camper for a tow, looking and listening for any issues.

Check to make sure the axle is aligned and bearings are in good condition.

How long do pop up campers last

It is projected that pop up campers last 15-20 years, however this depends on how well it has been maintained or not.

By performing regular maintenance and keeping it stored in dry and out of the weather will surely lengthen the lifespan of the pop-up camper.

Storage of Camper

Some campers will be small enough to fit in your garage, others will be too big.

If you are wanting to store your camper in the garage check the dimensions of garage and camper before purchasing.

Camper should always be stored dried, never leave it wet.

It’s always good to give it a clean before parking it away so it’s clean and ready to use for the next camping adventure.

Empty out the water tank and faucets making sure they are empty and dry.

Before you pack it away in the garage remember to take out any perishable and wet towels or clothing otherwise you will receive a nasty surprise when next using the pop-up camper.

You can store the camper outside, best not use a tarp to cover the trailer as it can damage the corners. Best to use a softer breathable RV cover.

Rodents! Even though you have taken out all the food, rodents are still attracted to warm dark places that they can set-up nest.

Make sure you place rodent bait in and around the trailer. This also includes inserting mothballs.

If there are kids around these need to placed carefully and removed when going on the next adventure.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering buying a pop trailer consider renting a trailer or borrowing one from a friend.

This will help you decide if pop-up camping is for you.

Otherwise, take your time researching pop-up camper trailers.

If you are considering putting in an offer for a pop-up trailer make sure you thoroughly examine the trailer before purchasing it (especially if its second hand).

If you have any feedback on our for Everything you need to know about pop-up Campers, please leave a comment below.

We would appreciate any other tips or ideas.

Further Information

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