What is a Pop Up Camper? - Talking Campers

What is a Pop Up Camper?

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Ever wonder what is a pop up camper? From advantages to disadvantages, here’s everything you need to know before deciding if a travel trailer is right for your family.

Pop up camper at campsite

Pop up campers will be unlike any of the other options that you will read about. They’re much smaller, cheaper, and have far fewer amenities in comparison.

This is considered roughing it in the life of “glamping.” It’s as close as you can get to tent camping, but now you at least have a place to sit down and store some items.

The life of a pop up isn’t for everyone, but it does appeal to those that love the outdoor feel of camping and those that are looking to save as much as possible.

A new unit could be purchased for a little as $8,000 while averaging closer to $12,000. They can sleep between 2 and 8 people, not always comfortably, but it can be done. The typical length of a pop up is about 8-16 feet in length. 

Advantages

Cost

Pop ups are the cheapest option on the market of all motorhomes and towable campers. You won’t have to break the bank to get your family out to enjoy nature while spending that quality time together.

You could spend even less if you decide to look into used units. You won’t be able to expect giant discounts since there isn’t much room to really move, as you’re already closer to zero than any other option. 

Easy to Tow

I’ve seen fairly small cars install a hitch on the back which is questionable at best since they’re not meant for that, but they have done so and still manage to tow a pop up. The fact that they run about 1,000 pounds give or take is what makes this so possible.

If you don’t want to invest money into a vehicle just to tow, this could be the choice for you. Due to their low profile when collapsed, there isn’t much sway from the trailer, so it is super simple to tow. This will allow you to drive safely without feeling like you’re going to be dragged into the lane beside you. 

Pop up parked on a campsite overlooking a town

Easy to Store

Since Pop-ups have such a low profile, they won’t be much wider or longer than some cars, so storing one is easier than you would imagine. The size of other RVs causes their owners to store them at a storage facility which is an additional expense.

If you have the space on your property, and if there aren’t any city/county ordinances or HOA restrictions, then you could always store it exterior to your garage, but that isn’t always the case for most large campers.

Pop-ups don’t require much room, so you could store them for relatively cheap outdoors, but it will get more expensive if you choose an indoor storage facility.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages here outnumber the advantages, but that isn’t to say that you shouldn’t seriously consider it as an option.

The simple fact is that, when you pay less money for a smaller, more compact camper, you won’t have as many pros in comparison to larger campers. 

Features

Its outdoor feel prevents a pop up from having as many amenities as you’ve grown accustomed to indoors.

While, yes, you do in fact have air conditioning, it isn’t as effective. All that’s standing between you and outside is a tent with screens in it.

Your bathroom may also be inadequate or missing altogether. Having been pulled in next to pop ups previously, let’s just say that you may want to get used to using a portable outhouse if you aren’t near a bathhouse and awake in the middle of a night with that urge to go.

Electricity and running water are standard in most pop ups though.

Comfort

The beds will be comfortable enough that you shouldn’t worry about the feeling that you’ll be sleeping on a board.

Some people may draw the short straw and have to sleep on the floor if you’ve brought more people than the capacity of the pop up supports. Sometimes you will get lucky with a sleeper sofa in the unit, but it depends on size.

There won’t be a ton of space to store your items, so hopefully, your tow vehicle has a decent amount of space to bring your items. If not, you may require a second vehicle. 

Tent Care

This is one area that can be quite tedious. The expansion of your pop up is done by opening it up and undoing the different portions of the tent.

There are so many moving parts that there are bound to be rips, tears, broken pieces, and brittleness that occurs as the tent ages.

Ensuring the tent is clean and dry when it is stored will also be a huge factor. If not done properly, moisture can wreak havoc and compromise the integrity of your tent. 

Nature’s Effect

Pop-ups aren’t overly long at the base compared to the upper portion when it is open. When you combine this with the fact that they aren’t heavy for their size, it puts them at risk when in rough weather.

It honestly looks like an airplane to me because if those winds get high enough, it’s gonna take off on ya. Not to the extent that I’m probably making you think, but it can definitely be knocked on its side if the weather is bad enough.

Pop up camper sitting on a river

Lengthy Setup

The setup here isn’t going to be as difficult as a Travel Trailer or a Fifth Wheel since pulling in is fairly easy, but the process of getting setup can take some time.

You have to open it up, get the tent out, and manually set everything up.

Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels almost exclusively have a button that will cause their slides to extend or retract. Advanced electronics are not a benefit of pop ups.

Once this is complete, then you have to unpack things that you have in the vehicle(s) that you brought with you.

The other towables normally have enough room to store everything that you will need in them so that when you arrive, you don’t have much to unpack.

TL;DR Bottom Line

You have to really like nature to make this work for you. Pop ups are small, tight, and short on privacy.

Depending on how many people come with you, there will likely be people sleeping on the floor which will make it difficult for you to get up and make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Or you may have to pack tents to sleep extra guests.

Did we pick it?

Going with a pop up, honestly, wasn’t a serious consideration for us.

With the size of our family and with us enjoying a lot of amenities, it just wasn’t for us. If I wanted to be that close to the outdoors, I probably would have saved myself the money and would have just bought a nice tent.

Having a full bathroom without having to hike to it is also a nice feature.