Beginner RVers may find that buying a tent trailer camper is a good way to explore the RV lifestyle. But pop up campers pros and cons are something to consider, especially when buying a new camper. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of buying and owning a pop up camper.
Pop Up Campers Pros
One of the best ways to get acquainted with RV living is inside a pop up tent trailer camper. If you’re thinking about buying one, you should know all the details about pop up campers pros and cons that might convince or dissuade you from buying a tent trailer yourself. Let’s look at the positives of pop up campers first.
Are pop up campers affordable? Absolutely! When you are in the market for a new pop up camper, you’ll be glad to know that it’s easy to buy a new pop up camper for less than $10,000. If you compare that to the price of a travel trailer, you immediately see the cost savings. The best new travel trailers can start at $15,000 and go up substantially. For example, the cost of an Airstream can exceed $100,000.
If you decide that a used pop up tent trailer is best, chances are you can find a used pop up trailer for less than $5,000. Some used pop up campers can be had for under $2,000. Just keep in mind that with such a low price point, you might be looking at a pop up camper remodel.
One of the biggest pop up camper pros is they are small when compared to a standard travel trailer. The average size of a pop up tent trailer gives easy access in and out of just about any campground spot. The weight of a pop up camper like the Aliner Expedition is typically less than 2,000 lbs.
A big benefit of buying a pop up tent trailer is that you can tow it with just about any vehicle. Even a family sedan can tow a pop up in most cases as long as it has a towing package. For example, a Toyota Corolla can tow up to 1,500 lbs. It’s not hard to find an ultralight pop up camper like the Sylvan Go, which has a GVWR of 800 pounds. This allows up to 500 pounds of cargo and passenger weight.
In a pop up tent trailer, you are not roughing it out like do when tent camping. Although most tent trailers are not as full-featured as a travel trailer, they still have some amenities that make them more comfortable than sleeping on the ground in a tent. For example, many pop up camper features include:
- fresh and gray water holding tanks
- stovetop range with oven
- galley sink
- outdoor shower
- and some have a cassette toilet
Just take a look at the Rockwood tent camper features:
Some tent trailers even have air-conditioning or at least prepped for A/C. In some pop up campers, a small furnace is included to keep you warm in cold weather.
The bottom line of owning a pop up camper is that you don’t have to live without some of the comfort features included in full-size travel trailers and motorhomes.
Living IN nature, not just looking AT it
Camping in a travel trailer or motorhome limits your experience of nature. For instance, you are surrounded by solid walls and isolated from nature’s movements and sounds. But a pop up tent camper gives you the best of both worlds. The beds are surrounded on three sides by canvas and netting, which protects you from the elements but allows nature’s sounds and scents to surround you, all while sleeping on a comfortable mattress.
Easy & Affordable RV Storage
The price of RV storage is one of the biggest costs of owning a travel trailer or motorhome. Monthly RV storage fees can range from $100 to over $400 for heated storage space. You can easily spend over $2,000 to store your RV in the off-season.
But if your pop up is one of the few campers that fit inside a garage, you save thousands of dollars in storage fees. This also allows you to inspect it routinely, so it stays clean and ready for your next RV adventure.
Pop Up Camper Cons
Even the most enthusiastic pop up camper buyers eventually learn about the downside of owning a tent trailer. Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of a pop up camper.
The lack of RV bathroom turns off many people from buying a pop-up tent trailer. Lots of people just don’t want to have to get up and walk outside to use a public bathroom.
When pop up campers have any type of bathroom feature, it’s usually only a cassette toilet. This small, portable toilet doesn’t hold much, and can be a hassle to empty at RV dump stations.
More Space Costs More Money
If your family is larger and you want a roomy and well-built pop up camper, it will cost you a lot more than the typical unit. For example, the MSRP of a new 2021 Aliner Expedition hard-sided pop up with toilet was $27,900.
Limited Sleeping Space
Travel trailers and RVs can easily accommodate 5-8 adults and kids. But pop up tent camper trailers have more limited sleeping capacity. Most pop up trailers only have beds for up to four people (ideally two adults and two kids).
There are no sleeper couches on any of the pop up campers I’ve seen or researched, and you are not going to find bunk bends either.
Pop up tent trailer maintenance includes the added chore of caring for tent canvas. This fabric can rip, develop mildew and mold, or just plain rot. If it gets wet, you must wait for it to dry before you folding and storing the pop up.
The mechanism to raise and lower the pop up also needs maintenance. It has moving parts that need regular inspection and lubrication to keep operating.
Set Up and Tear Down is a Chore
When you own a travel trailer or motorhome, it only takes seconds to park and camp. But a pop up tent trailer require more time to set up, and extra time to tear down for departure. Just watch this time-lapse video of a pop up camper tear down:
Summary of Pop Up Camper Pros and Cons
Don’t buy a pop up camper without considering all the pros and cons of tent trailers. Despite the downsides of owning one, many people still find they make great entry level RVs. Will you be the next one to say yes to a pop up camper?