7 Important Things to Consider When Buying a Pop-Up Camper

A pop-up camper trailer to me is part RV and part tent. It provides more comfort than a tent and is more affordable than an RV.  RV stands for – recreational vehicle; a pop-up tent trailer falls into the category of towed recreational RVs.

It can be collapsed for hassle-free transport and storage. Pop-up trailers, aka pop-up campers, are perfect for that outdoor enthusiast.

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They are gaining popularity because of the affordability and freedom they provide. You don’t have the worry about the height of your pop-up camper when driving through low overpasses or wondering if your rig will have enough space at RV Parks & State Parks.

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

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Storing a pop-up camper will also be easier and less expensive.

They just make RVing less complicated. Granted, you give up some of the comforts a travel trailer, fifth wheel or motorhome provide, but you’ll have more money in your pocket. It really depends on your lifestyle and what you can afford.

Pop-up campers come in a wide range of designs and costs. You can enjoy recreational vehicle living as a couple or the family. Some even feature bathrooms, but those usually come with a higher price tag.

It is easy to find a pop-up camper that suits your sleeping and RV living needs from distributors such as Camping World, RV Universe, Generalrv, Leesurelite, among others.

But before considering a pop-up trailer, do your homework first. There are various things to keep in mind when shopping for a pop-up camper.

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

RV Groovin Life

1. Price

Pop-up tent trailers vary in price ranges. Of course, the price depends on factors such as the size, extra features, type, condition -new vs. used, etc. Of all towed recreational vehicles, pop-up tent trailers are the most basic, and so will always be cheaper.

A luxury motor home, for example, can cost over $100k; the price of a new travel trailer starts somewhere at $8k while a basic new pop-up tent trailer just costs between $4k-$13k.

Basic pop-op tent trailers feature a fold-down dinette, sink, an on-board fresh-water tank, a DC power system, refrigerator, stove/ furnace, interior lighting, storage cabinets, and sleeping bunks.

Of course, you can go for advanced pop-up tent trailers, i.e., high-end models that include non-standard RV living features such as heated mattresses, front deck storage, microwave, etc.

2019 Coachmen Pop-up Camper – Click for details

2. Material – Is it suitable for camping in your preferred location, climate?

Conventional pop-up tent trailers feature a hard-center roof and soft sides with screens. There are other types of pop-up campers that, when opened, form an A-frame; they feature hard sides. Which side material should you go for?

 Soft-sided pop-up campers

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

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Choose the soft-sided pop-up tent trailers when camping in pleasant weather. The soft sides feature windows with screens that allow gentle air through while keeping out bugs. And when its rainy, you can stay dry by zipping up the waterproof material over the tent trailer’s screen.

The only disadvantage of the soft side pop-ups is they don’t fare well among the twigs, falling branches, and hard objects.

 Hard-side pop-up trailers

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

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Go for the hard-sided pop-up campers if you want more protection from external elements. Hard-sided popups feature solid exterior walls but collapse and tow just as their soft-side counterparts.

Most hard-side pop-ups are the advanced RV that feature amenities such as bathrooms, microwave, oven, etc.

3. Set up time and Tear downtime

The time taken to set up and take down pop-up tent campers vary from model to model. On average, it takes 15-45 minutes to set up most pop up tent campers.

While the set-up time depends on the traveling supplies you brought in tow, it mostly depends on the model set up so inquire first or better yet ask for a demonstration of the whole thing. Go for the easy-to-set models if you want to set stuff down quickly and enjoy the outdoors.

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

RV Groovin Life

4. Is the Floor plan suitable for your family and or social needs?

Pop-up campers design range in sleeping capabilities, kitchen, sitting area, and bath size. Before purchasing  a pop-up tent trailer, do your homework on the floor plan; how many people are going to use the pop-up?

When going shopping for a camper, bring your family or friends with you to see how suitable the floor plan is. If possible take it for a test run.

5. Extra Amenities … Do you need them or they are just additional costs?

Not all pop-up tent campers are created equal, and when it comes to providing amenities for comfortable RV living, this is where you are going to notice the difference in price.

 Toilet/bathroom

Are you the type who likes to take care of business in your trailer? Or do you find campground amenities just alright? When choosing pop-ups, the question of whether or not to pay more for a toilet/shower is crucial.

Using your toilet comes with the extra job of having to dump waste tanks later at the dump stations. Plus, ensure the tent camper can hold and pump water for the toilet when not connected to campground water.

  • Water heater

Personal showers, of course, need water heaters, which adds to the total cost and upkeep of the whole camping experience.

  • Heating and cooling options

Depending on the weather conditions at your camping destination, you can choose from various heating and cooling solutions. But most come with gas/electric heater to warm the tent during cold weather and some are prepped for A/C. Check out this 2019 Coachmen Clipper for $7,899

Not all pop-ups feature heaters and air conditioning units, though. Extremely thin walls won’t insulate against heat and cold properly, while double duty units can be a bit expensive. So do your research on the cooling/heating system of the camper before buying.

6. Storage

Does the tent camper offer enough space to store your travel supplies? Most pop-up tent campers offer a great deal of storage for your traveling supplies. But stuffing up the pop-up tent trailer can lead to towing issues. So learn how to simplify the camping supplies you bring in tow.

If you are going to camp near a heavily populated area, you don’t need much storage space since you can go to the market and pick things up in your truck.

7. Used vs. new models

New pop-up tent trailer prices start from $4k to $13k. But if your ideal camper is beyond your budget, you can go with used models. Second-hand campers cost a bit cheaper, but you have to watch out for any repair needs, water damage, rotting floors, a leaky roof, ripped canvas, broken lift systems, etc.

7 Important things to consider when buying a pop-up camper

RV Groovin Life

If you are considering buying a second-hand camper,  be sure to have it thouroughly inspected.

The best Pop-ups are both beginner-friendly and user-friendly. If you are new to camping or RVing, a pop-up camper is relativly easy as far a towing and set-up. Although there are some designs that can be difficult for one person. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to do a complete tear down and set-up.

And make sure the pop-up camper is the right weight for your tow vehicle. Know your car or trucks maximum tow capacity. And avoid used pop-up’s with extreme wear, parts can be costly.

Listed below are the Pros and Cons of a Pop-Up Camper?

The top of the carrier consists of a tent similar to the ones used while camping. But in a pop-up camper, they are bigger. It holds all the important spaces for cooking, sleeping and more.

Although it seems like, pop up campers are the perfect choice for camping, there are some flaws in it as well. That brings us to the topic of the article below, the pros and cons of a pop-up camper.

Pros –

  • First of all, pop-up campers are lightweight and easy to tow.
  • Pop up campers don’t take up much space. Able to access most RV parks and State Parks.
  • Store it safely in your garage
  • It keeps you connected with nature.
  • Most vehicles would be capable to handle the weight of a pop-up camper.
  • A pop-up camper is very affordable vs. a motorhome or fifth wheel. Fixer-uppers can start as low a $1000. But the average cost is about $5000- $6000. Of course, a new camper can go up to $11,000 – $15,000.

Cons –

Since we ended the pros with the cost, let us discuss it further about its drawbacks.

  • If you are planning to get a big pop-up camper with all the facilities, they can get expensive.
  • The problem is, it is hard to find a pop-up with a decent bathroom. You may get the ones with cassette toilets. So, you need to do your research before investing.
  • Caring for a pop-up can be difficult
  • Since the tent is the main part, you can’t let anything happen to it. First of all, you need to keep your eyes peeled for holes.
  • Additionally, if the tent gets wet, you need to dry it carefully. If it is not dried properly, then mold could form on it.
  • Replacing the top part can be expensive, so you need to keep your senses sharp while taking care of it.
  • Folding parts can be tricky
  • However, disassembling them can be time-consuming and hard.
  • If you like to move around, a pop-up is lightweight. But this also means that it can easily tip over in severe weather and wind.

7 things to consider before you buy a pop-up camper

Final words

These are some pros and cons of having a pop-up camper. Overall, I think they are a convenient and good option for first-time campers. Check out alternatives, attend some RV Shows, rent a pop-up for the weekend and take a trial run before making any decisions. Don’t be rushed into purchasing until you have done your homework.

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Happy Camping!

RV Groovin Life

Bonnie