Pop-Up Campers: Get Closer to Nature & Still Be Cozy

pop up trailer remodel

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Looking for the top pop-up camper? If you aren’t totally convinced whether to get one of these super-cool little campers, you will be after reading this! Let’s dive in for a deeper look into why we’re seeing more and more pop-up campers on the roads today.

Pop up campers are so popular because they mix the compact size along with the comfort of having not only space for beds, but so much more!

popup camper remodel
[ image by @rice_camp via IG ]

 
 

What is a Pop-Up Camper?

The recreational vehicle owning sector in America is growing every year. It’s not only those aged between 30 – 64 years who have felt the camping bug bite, because 5% of the nearly 20% of Americans (that’s 1 in 5) who own RVs are under the age of 29 years. When you consider that the majority of the population now reside in urban and suburban pockets within vast concrete cityscape conglomerations, it’s easier to understand why the call of the great outdoors is so appealing.

pop up tent history
[ image by @jaycorv via IG ]

RVs are available in more than a few styles, in response to the different transport and storage needs of the folks who buy them. You get your Hollywood star-style hotel room on wheels RV, with satellite dish and hidden garage for a sports car included.

Then you get your DIY custom van conversions, sometimes with the occasional flower hand-painted on the side. However, out of all the RV shapes and sizes on the market, travel trailers like the pop-up camper are the most affordable and popular.

If you’re looking for a compact, easy-to-use camper that will definitely make your weekend getaway more comfortable, look no further than the pop-up camper.

history pop up trailer
[ image by @jaycorv via IG ]

 
 

Why All The Excitement About Pop-Up Campers?

Here are a few things you need to know about the pop-up camper:

  • It’s also called a tent trailer or fold-out camper
  • It’s a trailer you take camping that turns into a handy tent-like unit at the campsite
  • The tent part collapses down into a small, portable package that folds into the trailer
  • It has a partial canvas construction
  • Depending on which model you buy, your pop-up camper could have a functional bathroom area, mattresses, and a dinette.

 
What draws #vanlife enthusiasts to the pop-up camper is its incredible portability. Instead of having to haul a massively heavy caravan or everything-but-the-kitchen-sink trailer, the pop-up folds away into the neat package – making it mega-easy to maneuver and tow. Pop-up campers are one of the lightest RV options available.

This adds up to less gas consumption, making a camping weekend away with your pop-up camper one of the most ecologically kind ways to spend a holiday.

pop up camper closed
[ 2000 Jayco Heritage Camping Trailer image by @jaycorv via IG ]

 
 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pop-Up Camper

Like with any RV lifestyle commitment, it won’t always be sunshine and roses 365 days of the year. Alongside the benefits of owning a pop-up camper, there will also be some compromises and little sacrifices you will have to make along the way. Here are some of the pros and cons of pop-up camper ownership.
 

1Pop-up campers are lighter to pull compared to fifth wheels and travel trailers/caravans

The bulk of pop-up camper’s materials are canvas fabric. This makes them much lighter than an average trailer home.

Pop-ups can weigh from a nifty 800lbs up to over 2,000lbs.

Compare that to approximately 5,000lbs weight for travel trailers, caravans, and fifth wheels, and you can see owning a pop-up camper represents significantly less weight to pull around!

The difference in weight the pop-up camper offers can benefit you in two ways.

First up, the amount of mileage you get per gas tank is considerably more. Fuel economy is always a good thing.

Secondly, you won’t need a specialized truck to pull it. Simply add a tow bar to an SUV or midsize truck, and away you go.
 
 

2Tight space

Although pop-up campers are bigger than most tents, they do register on the smaller end of the RV scale. In order to maintain its compact, lightweight appeal, the pop-up has to sacrifice such things as headroom in the areas where you sleep, storage space, and kitchen/living space.

This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone who loves to spend most of their time outdoors anyway. A lot of pop-up camper enthusiasts say it’s the best way to straddle the two worlds of RV living and glamping.
 
 

3Canvas is not the best insulator

Pop-up camper materials might be light, but they are low on insulation capabilities. They don’t hold heated or cool air inside for very long, nor do they lend themselves to having HVAC appliances installed inside them.

If you love camping because it offers you the chance to sit around a campfire or you only venture into the wild during mild weather conditions, the pop-up is for you. After all, you could bring along a fan, portable AC, or space heater if you wanted to extend the camping seasonality the pop-up offers you.

 
 

4Watch out for damp

The pop-up is a cozy place to be if you’re caught in a sudden downpour. It does an excellent job of shielding you from unexpected inclement weather. Even if the weather report predicts summer thundershowers or spring rains, you don’t have to postpone your trip.

Even though a pop-up camper does a really good job of keeping out the raindrops, if you and your fellow campers are sitting inside one while waiting for the rain to clear, it could lead to the formation of condensation droplets on the interior of the walls (similar to what happens inside a car when the windows are shut).

It’s simple to combat this: all you have to do is leave the pop-up to air out when you return home or set up a fan heater to dry it out before leaving to go home. Like any other RV materials, a regular airing keeps things fresh and stops the formation of mold.

 
 

5Showers and toilets

Having somewhere private for ablutions when you’re camping is such a bonus. Pop-up camper designers recognize this, and some models have bathrooms. There will be a shower, and a cassette toilet – or at least space for a portable one – hidden away somewhere.

If you don’t know what a camping cassette toilet is, you’ve been using the wrong RVs! Also known as cartridge toilets, these portable, compact wonders offer campers all the convenience of a toilet, while still fitting into the available camper space.

The trick is they have a chemical tank slotted behind or underneath them, and it’s this that gets emptied whenever it’s required to be. For anyone with doubts over how luxurious it will be to use a cassette toilet when camping has obviously never had to take a spade into the woods.

pop up trailer upgrade
[ image by @noursesnest via IG ]

 
 

What’s the Difference Between a Teardrop and a Pop-Up Camper?

Both teardrop campers and pop-up campers are considered to be the middle ground when it comes to full-out RV life and tent camping. This is because they represent the best of the pull-along trailers that lend themselves so nicely to driving along the open road.

It’s hard to believe when you look at all the comfort and style a pull-along trailer offers, but it’s possible to pull one with a compact, hatchback-style car, and even a high powered motorcycle.

Teardrops and pop-ups offer campers all the comforts of a home, but without the gas-guzzling bulk of an RV. They also fit in very well into most suburban driveways or urban car parking spaces, which makes both the pop-up and the teardrop-style camper trailers an excellent choice for anyone hitting the road.

POP-UP CAMPERTEARDROP CAMPER
Pop-ups have collapsible tent-like structure and canvas walls.As the smallest camper trailer option, teardrops are basically “what you see is what you get” – with the occasional canvas canopy.
Looks like a standard nifty, pull-along trailer.Looks like a blast from the past. Teardrop campers were huge in the 30s and 40s, and recent models have maintained those softly curving art deco lines.
Easy to pitch and affordable.The teardrop trailer’s iconic look and status means a higher price tag.
Pull-out bunks are integrated into the pop-up camper’s lightweight fittings while still leaving a generous amount of interior space to comfortably sleep four to six (2-4 in the wings or 2-4 in the mid-section).The teardrop’s hard shell limits the amount of space inside. There are some bigger models that can sleep up to five, but then the aerodynamic fuel-efficiency and portability disappears.
The mix of canvas and trailer shell can mean hot in summer and cold in winter.Less affected by the weather and temperature fluctuations.
During transport, the pop-up can be locked secure, but not after you’ve pitched camp.Fully lockable at any time.
Compact enough to be easy to store.Compact and easy to store.
Good size for small families.Good size for couples.
Space for a kitchenette and bathroom.Campfires and spades for all you teardrop owners.

 

 

So there you have it. Both the pop-up and the teardrop have their individual pros and cons. They remain popular RV choices because they are compact, lightweight, and convenient. And what they might lack in luxuries, pop-up and teardrop campers more than makeup for with their ergonomic, fuel-efficient zippiness.

tent camper
[ image by @good2gocamping via IG ]

 
 

Why Should I Buy a Pop-Up Camper?

That’s a good question. With so many RV campers and trailer choices out there, why choose the pop-up? While acknowledging the “bigger is better” RV fans, the humble pop-up camper actually makes a compelling case for this not always being true. If you love the camping lifestyle, a pop-up trailer will be the perfect summer campsite solution for you as an individual, couple, or small family.

Besides being easy to tow and affordable, pop-up campers also offer the many modern amenities usually associated with a much larger RV.

  • Are you intrigued by the RV lifestyle, and find everything tempting about it except the five or six-figure RV price tag? A pop-up trailer is your golden ticket to RVing because of its affordability.
     
  • No special training required. A pop-up camper allows you to figure out how everything works, except on a far less intimidating scale. Instead of a 35-foot trailer, you have to learn how to handle, most pop-ups are 20 feet or less and weigh half as much as an RV.
     
  • Feeling overwhelmed by all the propane tanks, water tanks, furnace maintenance, cables, and slide-outs an RV has? A pop-up camper offers you most of the same mod-cons, with half the hassle.
     
  • When most people see a pop-up camper, their reaction is, “Wow, I remember those from my childhood! It’s good to see one around.” Whereas RVs tend to be seen in either of two ways: State-of-the-art and high-tech or old fashioned and lame. Pop-ups offer a safe middle ground.
     
  • Pop-ups give you a great camping crossover between tents and RVs. You’re still close to nature because of the screen windows and collapsible walls. It’s possible to feel when the sun rises and hear the birds at dawn while remaining protected from the cold, hard ground and rain.
     
  • The price tag of a pop-up camper can be tens of thousands of dollars cheaper compared to those of similarly equipped campers, RVs, and travel trailers. The accessible monthly payments are a key attractive feature of buying a pop-up. However, don’t forget that pop-ups can save you money in many other ways as well. You don’t need insurance for them, maintenance and storage is simple, fuel cost is far less, and they are safer and easier to tow.
     
  • All the modern amenities you want in one lightweight, durable, compact package! Just because the pop-up is smaller, doesn’t mean there’s no room for appliances and modern electronics. It’s smart design lets you have more fun while spending less time doing chores.

camper tent jayco
[ 1983 Jayco Camping Trailer image by @jaycorv via IG ]

 
 

Pop-up camper Sizes and Weights

The best news about pop-up campers is the price, of course. But like every item for sale, there are budget and high-end models, and everything in between. This makes shopping for a pop-up trailer that much more exciting, in my opinion, because there’s definitely one to suit every pocket.
 

a– What a bargain pop-up camper offers

For example, there are sporty little base models for around the $9,000 sticker price mark. Unloaded, they weigh 840lbs and reach 12 feet in length. Both the roof and the sides expand up and out in the base models. This creates loads of space. In keeping with their lightweight appeal, pop-ups have an aluminum frame, and when it comes to the bargain base models, it means they can even be towed by sedans.
 

b– What a mid-range pop-up camper offers

Moving up the price ladder, a mid-range pop-up camper can be bought for about $20,000. The pop-up walls on the side will most often be a hard shell, not canvas. There’s more floor space inside, and because of the hard shell walls and ceiling, it’s possible to keep warm in winter and cool in summer with an AC unit.

A pop-up camper in this price range is more suitable for family travel, but you will need an SUV to tow it. Depending on the model, you can easily sleep 4 to 6 people and expect to get a full-size kitchen and dinette for cooking and feeding. They weigh in at 2,500lbs, which is excellent considering the hard shell walls. Lengths can reach around 20 feet. There are so many floor plan options to choose from in the pop-up mid-range models, so figure out what layout you want before making your final selection.
 

c– What a top of the range pop-up camper offers

Attention all you glampers out there. You don’t need to only look at RVs when you want something extraordinary to make camping elegant and easy. Top of the range pop-up campers are luxurious and offer camping-convenience.

Prices can be quite high for lavish pop-ups, but they are still nowhere near the same price as the Hollywoodesque RVs. Luxury pop-ups are priced at around $32,000 and can weigh close to 3,000lbs. The 19-foot length, however, keeps it on the same length level as a mid-range priced pop-up.

Expect quality materials: powder-coated steel frames, trendy visible rivets, strategically placed holes to attach carabiners for tent canopy extensions, more storage. Despite all the bells and whistles, a high-end pop-up oozes aesthetic minimalism and good taste. This is definitely not a piece of kit you’ll feel the need to hide away in a lock-up garage.

 
 

Pop-up Camper Inspiration

Pop up camper remodels are some of my favorites! so I wanted to highlight some of my favorite transformations and the people behind all the hard work.

 
 

1Pop up camper by @noursesnest

This is probably one of the most darling pop up camper transformations I’ve run into, the color contrast, the boho touches, the lovely awning! Makes me swoon on every picture! Check out her profile for more images of not just this adorable transformation but also more design spaces.

pop up trailer
[ image by @noursesnest via IG ]
pop up trailer inside
[ image by @noursesnest via IG ]

 
 

2Pop up camper by Annie of zevyjoy.com

pop up trailer
[ image by Annie of zevyjoy.com ]
pop up trailer boho
[ image by Annie of zevyjoy.com ]

 
 

3Pop up camper by Lisa Rice of @rice_camp

popup camper bed after
[ image by @rice_camp via IG ]
popup camper bed before
[ image by @rice_camp via IG ]
pop up trailer after
[ image by @rice_camp via IG ]
pop up trailer before
[ image by @rice_camp via IG ]

 
 

4Pop up camper by Lisa Robin of @thelovelyhomestead

popup camper reno
[ image by @thelovelyhomestead via IG ]

 
 

5Pop up camper by Ashley of @ashleyizsa

white camper reno
[ image by @ashleyizsak via IG ]

 
 

Conclusion

Highly desirable as far as compact storage, convenience, and cost-effectiveness are concerned. The only thing to add is the fact the pop-up campers are just so gosh-darn cute as well!

References:

 

pop up trailer remodel
[ beautiful pop up remodel image by @noursesnest via IG ]

 

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And if you are looking for more information about tent pop up camper check out the popupportal.com, which is a great forum-based community with tons of tips and resources.

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Happy camping!

Joy

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Joy Kelley

Joy Kelley

I am a Lettering artist & creative blogger at HowJoyful.com - I love decorating, lemon pie & tea. I am always creating something, whether that involves lettering, sewing, crafting, or power tools. I am the mom of three little tornados that are always up for an adventure and along with my amazing husband we created this place to share our family detours. Check out my Instagram account here.