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Pop Up Tent Trailers: What? How Much? Pros & Cons?

This is a close look at a pop up trailer parked at a camp site.

If you are considering purchasing a camper but do not want to spend a ton of money but yet be comfortable and secure, a pop up camper may be the option for you and your family.

Pop up campers, also known as pop up tent trailers, are less expensive than travel trailers and smaller recreational vehicles. Even if you can get a cheaper RV-style camper, you will still have to pay for insurance and other maintenance and those costs can add up quickly.

Related: Travel Trailers and Campers with Bunk Beds | Small Travel Trailers | Lightweight Travel Trailers | Types of Trailers | Types of RV Trailers

What is a Pop Up Camper?

This is a pop up trailer camper parked by the trees at a camp site.

Pop up campers, also known as pop up tent trailers, boast soft sides that fold down and are very similar to a tent but they are larger and have more space. Most of them will have a sleeping area and possibly a bed, a small kitchen area, in some will have a small bathroom or even a full-size bathroom. Pop up campers fold down completely and are lightweight and very easy to haul from one location to another, even with a car or motorcycle.

There are also some types of pop up campers, such as teardrop trailers, that have hard sides that come out instead of the ones that are made of tent material and they tend to have more high-quality interiors than the tent-style ones do. They are fun to camp in because the tent areas are usually made for sleeping quarters and it’s like you’re in the outdoors sleeping while being protected inside of a camper.

It is good to be educated and informed as much as possible before you purchase a camper. In this article, we will inform you of all of the pros and cons when it comes to pop up campers.

My daughter is in the market for a camper right now since her husband works in a variety of different locations from state to state. With four kids and a baby on the way, they need a lot of space but don’t have a ton of money to spend on a camper. While they would love to have a full size motorhome to travel around in that would offer plenty of space for their entire family, those cost a ton of money and they are not prepared for that kind of investment at this time. This makes a pop up camper a very viable option for them.

Check out our information below to decide if a pop up camper is the right option for you and your family.

The Pros of Pop Up Campers

This is a close look at a pop up trailer camp setup with all the camping essentials.

Hard to Beat the Price

It is hard to beat the price have a pop up camper when you compare it to other styles of campers. For instance, a brand new travel trailer is going to cost you about $11,000 up to as much as $35,000 whereas a pop up camper can be purchased brand new for about $8000 to $9000. You can also find many used pop up campers through online sales sites or through your local news media and save even more money.

Some pop up camper dealers also offer used options and if you decide to go that route, your savings will be even more considerable. Sometimes you can nab a pop up camper for as low as about $2000 but don’t bank on it. You’re probably going to pay around $5,000 or more even for a used one.

The Size of a Pop Up Camper

Pop up campers offer a more compact size so they are leaner, easier to transport, smaller, and more lightweight than other trailer-style campers. On the smaller end of the spectrum, you can get a pop up camper for his little as $6,000 or if you go for a mid-sized version, you will probably spend around $8,000.

Easy to Tow

You can tow a pop up camper with its compact size with nearly any vehicle you own, including a car. A lighter pop up camper can even be towed buy an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or even a motorcycle if it is light enough. This means if you are heading to a motorcycle event and you have a small enough pop up camper that does not weigh too much, you can take your camper with you and cut down on the costs for somewhere to stay when you reach your destination.

Pop up campers are great because you do not have to purchase a specific pickup truck or SUV that is powerful enough to pull it down the highway. Most standard cars can pull a lightweight or even a mid-weight pop up camper, but you should always check the capacity of your car when it comes to towing before you set up your rig for your pop up camper.

Pop Ups Can be Safer

When you are towing a large RV trailer down the highway, there are many risks that you are taking and should be aware of, such as fishtailing. This is also known as a jackknifing which means your trailer begins to move independently of the vehicle that is towing it and it will jut out at very sharp angles, much like a folding pocket knife does which is where the name jacknife comes from. Jackknifing or fishtailing can create a ton of damage and your out of control trailer can hit other vehicles and injure other motorists as you are traveling down the roadway.

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It can also take the vehicle you were driving while towing it right along with it which means you are spinning out of control and are at the mercy of other drivers on the highway not to hit you. It is a very dangerous situation that normally does not happen with pop up campers since they are much lighter in weight and much easier to tow.

Another issue you may run into with a heavier travel trailer is called trailer swing, or sometimes known as trailer slew. This happens if the roadway is a little slippery due to rain or ice and your trailer begins to swing back and forth. This movement is not as dramatic and scary as when jackknifing occurs but it is still a very dangerous scenario that you do not want to deal with.

Running Water is Great

Many people think a pop up camper is like a glorified tent and that they will be roughing it while camping but that is not completely true. While you will not have all the modern luxury’s as you would with a full size RV or travel trailer, you will still have some basic amenities such as running water if you camp at a location with water hookups. There is also a freshwater holding tank in pop up campers that is smaller than the one a travel trailer or motorhome would have, but it will still provide you with running water when you need it.

Stay Cool or Warm

Many pop up campers are equipped with air conditioning and heat so you can stay cool in the hot summer months and warm in the winter months depending on the climate in which you are camping. Neither of these systems are extremely sophisticated in a pop up camper like they would be in an RV so the heating and cooling potential maybe a little less but you’ll still have it available. You can also use external heating or cooling units in addition to the ones already built in to your pop up camper, such as a portable air conditioner or heater.

You will stay safe and comfortable along with your family members other guests.

Back to Nature

This is a close look at a pop up trailer parked by the trees at a camp site.

In today’s fast-paced world, it is very hard to completely immerse yourself in your family in nature. Everyone, including most kids and teenagers, has their smartphones or tablets with them at all times. If you want to be able to go on a camping trip and leave high tech behind, a pop up camper is a better option than the modern travel trailers and RV’s that are designed with USB ports, plenty of outlets, DVD players, TV’s, and even Wi-Fi service.

If you want your family to disconnect when you are on a camping trip for a day or even an entire weekend, a pop up tent trailer is a great option. The tent-like sides are much like an old-fashioned tent which will pretty much allow you to feel like you are sleeping in nature. Will you get many more amenities with a pop up tent trailer than you do with an actual tent, including a small kitchen, usually a bathroom, in indoor sleeping availability with actual mattress is, a pop up tent trailer still allows you to feel like you are one with nature so you are basically getting the best of both worlds.

Garage It

If you live in a state that is warm all year round, you will probably not have a need to store your pop up camper but if you live in the other states dad experience winter time , you will want to store your pop up tent trailer during the cold months. While owners of motor homes in RV travel trailers have to find a location large enough to house their camper for the winter, you can easily store your pop up tent trailer in your garage since it is not long and bulky like the others.

While your friends with large RV’s and travel trailers are spending a ton of money to rent storage space at a facility large enough for their camper or having to put down a bunch of money for a huge cover for their camper, you can just park yours in your garage and will not have to worry as much about winterizing it. You also have the benefit of being able to check on your pop up camper anytime you want to since it will be at your home Safe and sound in your garage or other outbuildings on your property.

The Cons of Pop Up Tent Trailers

A family enjoying their camping trip with their pop up trailer.

The Bigger, the More Money It Will Cost

One of the pros of pop up tent trailers mentioned earlier in this article is that they sell for a price of around $8000 for a brand new one but that is for a smaller version. The larger the camper , the more money you’re going to have to put out. A larger pop up camper is going to run you as much as $15,000 so just understand that the bigger model you want, the more money you will need.

Some larger pop up tent trailers can even cost you $20,000 or more so keep this in mind when out shopping for one.

The Larger the Camper, the Heavier It Will Be

Larger pop up campers can weigh as much as nearly 4,000 pounds and possibly more. If you opt for one of these, you may not be able to tow it down the highway with your car. You are going to need a heavier duty style pickup truck or SUV and you will have to worry about things that happen sometimes with travel trailers, such as jackknifing or travel swing that we talked about earlier in this article.

Full Bathrooms Are Scarce

When it comes to pop up tent trailers, if they have a bathroom it’s usually not a full bathroom. This means you’ll basically have a sink and a toilet but you will have to use the campground facilities to take a shower. Some pop up campers do have a small shower well many do not have a bathroom at all.

The floor plans of some pop up tent trailers have a Nook where you can install a cassette toilet. Basically, cassette toilets are a no-frills offered hygiene option and you will need to ensure that you have a connector for the cassette toilet so it can be hooked up to your water system. It should also have its own small black water holding tank to go along with it.

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If you are fortunate enough to find a pop up camper with a bathroom the chances are it will contain a marine-style toilet. Although a marine toilet is very similar to the toilet you have in your house at home, the black water holding tank will still be very small. This is especially the case when you compare the toilet that is installed in a pop up tent trailer versus the size of tank that you will have in a small RV or a travel trailer.

Basically, a smaller black water holding tank means that you will have to dump it much more often which can be a real pain while you’re trying to enjoy your camping trip or vacation. When you look at the different pop up camper floor plans that are available, you will realize that it’s not very often you can have your choice of both a shower and a toilet at the same time. With the smaller size pop up tent trailers, if a shower is offered at all it will be one that you will locate outside of the camper when you get to your destination.

Not As Much Space and Sleeping Areas

This is a close look at a pop up trailer tent parked at a trailer park site.

If you have a large family like my daughter but you want to camp and experience nature, a pop up camper may not be the option for you since it does not offer a ton of space or sleeping room. If you have several members of your family or you want to invite a group of friends to go on a camping trip, there is not going to be a bed for each person. Typically, a pop up tent trailer will only have one King size or a Queen size mattress in the bedroom and possibly a couch that folds out into a sleeper bed but you cannot count on it. While travel trailers and motorhomes tend to have bunk beds as well as a large bed in the bedroom, banks are not very common when it comes to pop up tent trailers.

Well, many people especially kids can sleep on the floor and sleeping bags, not everyone is comfortable doing that so the lack of sleeping space is something to consider before you purchase a pop up tent trailer. You should also keep in mind that there won’t be space for dining. Well, larger campers have a living room and a dining area or breakfast Nook, most pop up campers do not a lot for this and only have a very small kitchen where you can cook and store food. If you need something more spacious, a travel trailer or RV may be your best bet.

Generators: Up All Night

While most pop up tent trailers have electricity like other styles of campers if you are at a campground with electrical hookups, not all do or you may want to camp in locations that do not have electricity available. For any camper, including pop up chat trailers, you can purchase a generator to produce electricity no matter where you are located. The downside is that with a tent-style pop up camper, you’re going to be able to hear the generator running at full speed all night long which is definitely going to interrupt your sleep.

If you have a hard side pop up camper, such as a teardrop trailer, you may be able to get away with this option without bothering the sleep patterns of you and your family but if you have a tent style pop up camper, you will be able to hear it and your fellow campers might be annoyed by it also.

Tent Care Is Not Easy

Taking care of the pop up tent trailer is a little more tricky than it is for RVs or travel trailers. The size and weight of your pop up tent trailer are great since they expand your space and allow sleeping areas that make you feel like you’re camping out in the woods, the tent-style awnings require special care to keep them in good repair. When they are wet from rain, you must allow them to sit out and dry completely and if you retract them too soon, you may end up with a case of mold and mildew.

You must also check the tent pop-outs often for any tears, rips, or holes that may have a curd because if you do not take care of those, they can become much larger and much more expensive problems. You could even end up having to buy brand-new tenting for your pop up tent trailer which can be costly.

Lighter Pop Ups Can Tip Over

Although pop up tent trailers are easier to tow and navigate while driving down the highway, they are much lighter and can actually tip over, especially if a strong wind comes along while you are traveling. The tent-style awnings of your camper when it is set up can also be ripped right off your camper by a strong wind, causing tons of expensive damage. Since there is less weight to stabilize a pop up camper is since it is a lightweight option that you can pull with a car, it does not have very stable and durable walls which makes them even more prone to tipping over when there is a strong wind in the area in which you are camping.

You also have to be cautious of this spot that you choose to set up your camper at because it needs to not be on a hill or set up during bad weather. You also want to make sure you are not setting it up on top of unstable ground, including jutting rocks or mud, which can also make your camper fall over, you do not want this to happen, especially with anyone inside who could be injured so this is definitely a safety issue to think about before you purchase.

Time Consuming Set-Up

If you have a motorhome or an RV travel trailer, setting up your camper at a campsite only takes a short time but with a pop up tent trailer, set up can take a little longer. This seems to be the biggest issue for pop up tent trailer campers and the people who already have them. The time that you will need to set up and also to disassemble a pop up tent trailer takes a lot of time.

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Many people are unhappy about this because once they travel a long distance, they are tired and want to relax when they get to their campsite but cannot do that until they get the pop up camper set up and ready to use. This is definitely the biggest con and drawback to purchasing a pop up camper versus the other styles of campers that are on the market today. Also, when you and your family are ready to go home after your camping trip is over, it takes a lot of time to pack up your pop up tent trailer so that you can tow it back to your house.

No Awning

Many people who camp love to have an awning that just out from their camper when they get it set up so even if it’s raining, they can relax and enjoy the outdoors. While many RVs, motor homes, and travel trailers come equipped with awnings, pop up campers normally do not so this is also something to consider before you decide on which type of camper you want to purchase.

We hope this article in all of the pros and cons of pop up tent trailers will help you in determining if you want to purchase one or not. They can be really fun to camp in and are definitely a more affordable option for more families than ones that can afford a decked-out $70,000 motor home. After doing research for this article, I think a pop up camper would be perfect for my daughter, her husband, and her children if they will only be going to a location for a few days or a weekend.

If they will be staying for several weeks or months, they are obviously going to need a much larger RV travel trailer, a fifth wheel RV, a motorhome, or some other type of camper to be able to function properly for that length of time. Pop up tent trailers are a great option for a short camping trip but maybe not for an extended trip.

Here are some more facts about pop up campers and other campers for you to consider:

What is a truck camper?

A truck camper is similar to a pop up camper but it is made of solid material and can be placed on the bed of a pickup truck. Some of these are large enough to even offer a small bathroom.

What is a hybrid trailer?

A hybrid trailer is created by using a traditional hard-sided travel trailer and then adding on pop-outs on one end of the travel trailer or both ends. These are also referred to as expandable travel trailers and normally has the usual slide-outs that come with travel trailers in addition to the added pop-outs.

Do pop up campers hold heat?

Since pop up tent trailers can fold down to become very small and easy to move from one location to another, they can be difficult to heat. Because of the more flimsy material there made of, which much resembles a tent, they do not hold heat well.

There are things you can do to stay warm though if you are camping in a pop up camper during cold weather, including wearing layers of warm clothing and putting up plastic on the insides of the pop-outs and walls of the camper so that it will hold heat better.

Are pop up campers considered a small trailer?

A pop-up trailer is a wonderful choice for those who want to live the RV lifestyle but are not yet quite sure if they are in a position to fully commit to a large RV travel trailer, a motor home, or a fifth-wheel RV. A pop up tent trailer is a great option and will hook right onto the hitch of a car, SUV, or pickup truck to tow it easily from place to place.

Most of these trailers are considered a small trailer and people who are considering purchasing one should keep in mind that in the hotter months of the year or in hotter climate locations, pop up tent trailers can become very hot on the inside since they are so small and compact. Many come with air conditioning but it does not always work very well since the pop campers are made of flimsier and thinner material than other campers and is not insulated.

Should you cover your pop up camper?

When you are not using your pop up tent trailer, especially if it’s wintertime and you live in a cold climate during the winter, you will definitely need to cover your pop up camper. The great part about a pop up tent trailer is that if you have a garage, large shed, pole barn, or even an old rickety barn, it will fit right in there, so you should not have to pay to store it at a storage facility which can cost a lot of money.

If you have to keep it outside and have no choice during inclement weather, you will definitely need to spend the money on a thick nice cover for it because if the pop out tent sides get wet and do not dry properly, you risk running the pop out tent sides or having them covered in mold and mildew which can be dangerous to your health and the health of your family members or friends who camp with you.

Do you need towing mirrors for a trailer tent?

The general rule regarding towing mirrors for trailers is that if the trailer eight and a half feet wide or larger, you will need tow mirrors on your vehicle so you can see the entire trailer while traveling down the road or highway. If you can see down the sides of your pop up tent trailer while it is being towed, you should not need tow mirrors, and it should be fine if you are pulled over.