35 Things to Know Before Buying a Pop-Up Tent Trailer  

35 Things to Know Before Buying a Pop-Up Tent Trailer   
Pop Up trailer

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A pop-up trailer can be the entry point to the world of camping for beginners.

You have to do some research to know about the advantages and disadvantages of pop-ups and if it will suit your camping style.

Here are 35 things that you should know about pop-up trailers whatever they are good or bad, it will help you to make a buying decision.

 

Contents

1. You Get a Real Feeling of Camping Lifestyle

First thing first!

The big campers and RV’s have one negative point that sometimes it’s too good inside that you won’t step outside. This is what you are camping for, living near nature.

Due to the small design and close quarters of the camper trailer you are bound to get outside. The pop-up tent trailer is good for the afternoon but in the evening it’s time to be in nature.

So, what are you waiting for, collect firewood, prepare a hot meal and enjoy with your family and friends?

If you are not aware of the benefits of camping then read the following article:

2. Varied Price Range

Pop-up trailers come in various price ranges depending upon the features.

The features which affect the prices are:

  1. Type of pop-up trailer
  2. Size of the trailer
  3. Extra features of the trailer
  4. manufacturer
  5. Condition of the pop-up trailer (If Buying a used one)

But relax, pop-up trailers are way cheaper than the motor homes and are good for those people who are new to camping.

Pop-up trailers are the basic type of trailers that comes with fewer features which makes them less costly.

A standard new pop-up trailer can cost you from 3500 to 15000 dollars depending upon the manufacturer and features attached to it. Whereas, advanced models of motorhomes can be anything near to 100,000 dollars.

So, if you don’t want to spend money on the new one then start with a used one.

3. It’s Better to Get a Used One (For Beginners)

So, if you are in a mood to get a taste of what is camper trailer then it’s better to have a used one, especially if you are a beginner.

There can be various reasons for buying a used pop-up trailer.

  1. It’s good if you are new to camping because you might not have an idea about what is an ideal trailer for you.
  2. You might want to change it one reason or another or you are not a camping type of person.
  3. Your ideal pop-up trailer is out of your budget and you can find it cheaper secondhand.

Try your hands on a used one and it will give you the idea which one is best for you.

You can go to the National Automobile Dealers Association or NADA Guides website for the most up-to-date prices on pop-up trailers. You can also use the NADA guides when you have to upgrade or buy an RV, it’s really helpful.

Remember even pop-up trailers can cost you hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, but it won’t be costly as an RV.

Read further how much a pop-up camper and other RVs depreciates in value over time.

Further Reading: RV Depreciation Rate [Year Wise] [Class A,B,C Motorhome, Fifth Wheel, Travel Trailer, Pop-Up Camper]

4. Be Careful When Buying a Used Pop-Up Trailer

You can get a used pop-up trailer for 1000 bucks too if you are lucky. Look in your local RV store, Facebook groups, browse through local Craigslist listings and also join some RV communities to find the best sale.

But, be aware to buy the best thing as the trailer can look good in the picture than what it is in reality.

So, why to be careful while buying a used trailer or RV?

Nowadays it is easy to manipulate the photo by editing in photoshop or any other photo editing software. Angles can be manipulated to make a trailer look better than it is. Filters can be used to oversaturate an image to make it artistically beautiful.

Always, make sure to see the trailer yourself and examine its interior and exterior. You can also take the help of your friend or relative who has experience with it. Go through a thorough inspection before purchase, because you don’t want to get surprised after the deal is done.

Some points to remember while inspection:

  1. Make sure that the trailer has an AC unit you will require it in the hottest part of the year.
  2. You have to check the crevices with any leaks.
  3. Verify that the canvas has no rips, tears or mildew.
  4. Ask the seller about the age and condition of tires and brake.
  5. Negotiate with the seller to get a good deal.
  6. Ask for the document related to the pop-up trailer and any proof of maintenance if done earlier.

Watch This Youtube Video: 6 THINGS you MUST CHECK before you buy a POP-UP CAMPER!

5. Do Not Buy Trailer That Needs Major Repairs

The major reason to see the trailer is to know how much repair it needs. We are not trying to say that everyone who is selling a trailer is a scammer.

But, you should pay for what you get. You should look for the signs of scam so that you do not end in a bad deal.

It is better to sit in the trailer and even tow it to see if it is running well. Look if the frames of the trailer are bent, the lift system is working or not if the canvas awnings are ripped then look for another trailer.

Look if you can repair it by yourself or have to hire someone professional. The repair could end up costing you more than what you paid for it.

So, there is so much to look before you spend your money.

6. Buy Trailer That Needs Minor Repairs

It is a hard truth that used trailers generally needs repairs, but the point is, does it need a minor or major repair. Very few are lucky who will drive a used trailer without spending a dime on its repair.

Look for a trailer that needs the minimum repair. You will always find it if you are ready to search for it.

Talk to the owner and many will tell you actually what repairs the trailer needs. Repairs like patching up the awning or dents in the metal will not cost you much.

7. Take Your Time to Buy the Right One

Good deals do not happen overnight! You might have spent hours looking for the best trailer that fits into your budget but doesn’t get upset or buy anything in a hurry.

You have waited for long so have patience.

Whatever, you buy if runs, have to be used for at least 2 to 3 years, so, be careful. You are looking for a good trailer in the Facebook groups or maybe browsing online, keep searching and you will land on a good deal. Just make sure to keep your eyes open.

8. Generally, Pop-Up trailers Ride-on One Axle

This will not become an issue if you do not start driving on the highway, towing the trailer behind your vehicle.

The negative point is that you would probably never find the right towing angle. The trailer will generally behave like a seesaw, teetering up and down.

With this, you have two options

  1. High tongue- in which there is no fishtail at high speeds, and there will be more weight on the trailer suspension.
  2. Low tongue- in this it will have a fishtail at high speeds, and more weight will be on the vehicle suspension.

In both types of configuration, all will be not OK.

So, what to do?

It is better to opt for a high tongue to avoid dangerous fishtailing on the highway. This is an issue with one axle trailer which is unavoidable. Still, the last choice is with you and your driving experience.

9. These Trailers Are Generally Lightweight

Let’s, admit one thing we are all attracted to the large and luxurious motorhomes. But it also comes with a price.

So, if you are a beginner and are just getting into RVing and camping, then you must also be responsible for everything. You will be charged with driving from your home to the camping spot.

You have to calculate before making a turn or parking it in reverse. A driving motorhome is like driving a large commercial truck.

When you drive an SUV or a truck with a trailer attached you do not have to worry. Yes, you have to adjust or fine-tune your driving technique a little.

A pop-up trailer is more maneuverable than most of the RVs because of less weight.

Further Reading: Average Camper Weight [33 Examples]

10. They are Aerodynamic

Yes, they are aerodynamic in shape to save fuel. With a more streamlined design, the air can flow much easier and do not creates much wind resistance.

As you need to tow them behind your vehicle it does not decreases the gas millage.

11. Check Your Vehicle Tow Rating Before Buying

As you would be aware that you cannot tow a pop-up trailer to any vehicle. The heavier the trailer the more powerful truck or SUV you need to tow it.

Remember, it is very important to know the tow rating of your vehicle otherwise you can be standing in a lonely place with your broken vehicle.

If you are not sure about it then search the user manual of your vehicle or check out the manufacturer’s website for it. You will be able to find it easily. If your vehicle is not capable of towing the trailer then rent a vehicle that can.

Check Wikipedia Page To Know More About Towing

Check This Website To Know Towing Capacity Of Different Vehicles

12. Never Exceed Above The Tow Rating Limit

So, now you know the tow rating of your vehicle then what?

This tow rating will limit you to which pop-up trailer you can buy. If not satisfied then you have to borrow a vehicle from friends or relatives or purchase a new vehicle that can tow your pop-up trailer.

The general rule is that you cannot tow a trailer above that rating or ever try to come close to that.

So, what you do need to fix?

Remember, that the weight of the trailer won’t be final as you will need extra weight to accommodate passengers, camping gear, toilets, shower, and others. You have to keep in mind the combined weight of all things traveling in the pop-up trailer.

That’s why you have to select a pop-up trailer that is way below the towing capacity of your vehicle. In this way, you will avoid pain and suffering during your trip.

13. Size Varies, and Some Models Can Fit Inside Your Garage

Besides low cost, the pop-up trailers are also available in various sizes. Generally speaking, you do not need too much space and some of these trailers can also fit inside your garage.

There are some benefits to this.

  1. First, you can just tow the trailer to your truck or SUV and you are ready to go.
  2. Second, you can save money as RV owners have to usually rent out storage space in the offseason.

It is better to keep it inside the garage because the canvas material and its hard siding can get ruined much faster due to weathering. By keeping it inside you will be able to extend its lifespan.

So, if you have space issues then opt the size one that suits you.

14. These Pop-Up Trailers Are Not Well Insulated   

Although pop-up trailers are rated all-weather things because of their thick canvas, but they are not like other RVs.

During cooling and heating, air can escape out through crevices in the canvas. It is better to use some foam blocks which you can get from a hardware store. It is not a perfect solution but works well.

15. Pop-Up Trailers Generally Have Thin Walls

These trailers are light and compact things. They are made up of thinner walls than motorhomes or other types of RVs.

They come in both hard-walled and soft-walled models.

16. Generators Can be Noisy

The thin walls will not insulate the pop-up trailer against outside noises. If you have a generator or a loud neighbor it can feel they are inside trailer, with you.

If you are out in the wild then also your generator can give a feeling that you are not alone.

There are generators that make less noise than others but still, they are not absolutely silent. The constant hum of a generator can irritate you.

17. They Are More Exposed to Wildlife

Another problem which arises due to the thin wall is the danger of wild animals. It solely depends upon the area where you are camping so, if you are in northern states then there is a danger of bear attack.

So, if you have a canvas pop-up trailer then be sure to follow the rules. Do not keep your food outside so that it doesn’t attract wild animals.

Consider upgrading your camper with a hard shell so that it can protect you better.

18. These Trailers Get Hot

Yes, it can be hot inside because of the thin material. These are generally made up of metal, wood or thick canvas which cannot avoid heat from the sun.

Yes, it will protect you from sunburn because sunlight will not fall directly on you. you have to face this situation usually in summers and in the afternoon.

19. Air Conditioning and Heating is Available

Not all of them have air conditioning or heater available.

If you do not like too hot or cold then you can have a heating and cooling system inside these trailers.

But these units should be as compact as possible because you do not have sufficient space.

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20. Hot Water Heaters Are Also Available

During cold weather, you might need a hot water shower which you can be boiling over pots which is a bit time-consuming. A water heater can fit inside the trailer. There are many options available in the market.

image of NEW RV ATWOOD 6 GALLON GAS/ELECTRIC GC6AA-10E WATER HEATER DSI WITH WHITE DOOR
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21. Some of The Trailers Have Bathroom

This can be a big issue for a beginner as you are not in a habit of living without a bathroom.

Remember, models that include bathrooms are expensive and are larger.

The majority of the pop-ups do not have a built-in shower or toilet due to space issues. And if they have its very compact.

So, if you are camping on a campground or park reserves you will have access to toilets. But if you select a wild and lonely camping spot then it becomes an issue.

You have to adjust a little because if you want a shower or toilet inside the trailer then it will take much space.

Another option is to have portable toilets like a portable potty. They are good if you do not want your children to walk outside to the campground toilets alone.

Dumping the sewage is not a mess as you can take them right into the toilet and dump the sewage into the regular toilets. You can avoid massive lines that occur at the campgrounds RV dump station at weekends.

Space is not an issue when you can keep porta-potty inside a cabinet when not in use. You have to keep the holding tank close to avoid any smell.

photo of Camco Portable Travel Toilet-Designed for Camping, RV, Boating and Other Recreational Activities-5.3 Gallon (41541)
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22. You have to be Technical

To be an owner of a pop-up trailer means you have to be technical to do some special task. Do not worry, the first time is always difficult.

Remember, there are more setup involved with a pop-up then another form of RVs. You have to perform some specific task to have a safe setup. Things, like setting up doors, cranking up the hardtop and even sliding out beds, need some kind of technical skills.

It is not a very technical job but can be a tricky thing for a beginner.

23. They are Less Secure Than A Hardened Trailer

The overall security of these trailers is less as it is much easier for someone to get inside it. All they have to do is peel back the Velcro on the canvas.

If you are in the campground surrounded by neighbors then do not keep valuable things inside or make an understanding with your neighbors. When you are out they keep an eye on the trailer and when they are out you keep an eye on their trailer.

But, trust people after you have known them well.

You can also take the help of the security gadgets that can be great for your trailer safety.

Further Reading: Security System For RV- The Ultimate Guide [13 Tips To Keep RV Safe]

24. You Need More Space for Storage

One downside of a pop-up trailer is its less storage space which is not sufficient for the camping supplies.

You can have some kind of cabinet storage but it won’t be like as much as in other RVs.

So, to get more space for your camping gear, you have to create space.

Rooftop carrier is an excellent solution for pop-up trailers with less space. The longer the trip the more supplies you need, the more supplies the more storage space it needs.

Remember, not to exceed your vehicle towing limit to create extra space.

Image of AmazonBasics Rooftop Cargo Carrier Bag, Black, 15 Cubic Feet
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25. The Longer Loading and Unloading Time

Due to the less space, there is more gear you have to load and unload every time you arrive at the campsite.

There is a lot more work to do with pop-up campers such as pulling bins out of the vehicle and into the trailer.

26. Living Space is Less

You can be camping for days and weeks but the living room inside pop-ups is less and there is not so much room to stretch. This is not always the case but yes it will be more narrow and tighter.

Even the bigger trailer will not feel much spacious. Most of the pop-up owners spend their evenings and nights in tents which is a great solution for less interior space.

But do not get disheartened as you can have a bed, kitchen and even toilets but have to compromise with less living space and narrow walkway. Remember you are not there to live inside the trailer but to enjoy nature outside.

Pop-ups are not meant for large families but if a trailer is a medium for carrying vital stuff then it’s ok.

27. The More Compact and Collapsible the Item, the Better

When we told you about a portable toilet it was just a beginning as you have to keep it in your mind that the item you carry with yourself in the pop-up trailer should be as collapsible and compact as it can.

Items such as collapsible seats and beds, pop-up tables, mini-fridge, and collapsible towel rack can give you extra interior space.

You have to learn the tricks which other campers use to solve their issues with the least amount of tool. Carry things which can be useful for two or three things as it will take its storage space only.

Further Reading: Camping Hacks [List of 38 Hacks]

28. You Can Also Customize Your Camper for Creating Space

Customizing your trailer is an excellent option to increase the space and it also makes the camper according to your will. It becomes easy if things go according to your plan.

If you are not able to choose between your heating, AC or a fridge then set according to the need.

Heaters for cold months and AC/ fridge for warmer months will be better.

You can also add a layer of insulation in the walls and floor to keep the heat inside during cooler months. It will also be great for reducing roadside and generator noise.

Building shelves and storage cubbies around the trailer is another way to increase the storage space. You can add them to interior walls and even flooring.

29. Remodel Your camper If Necessary

Paint the walls so that they look appealing and have a more personal feeling. Add rugs or carpeting the floor will keep the cold outside during winter months.

Add some curtains to keep the sunlight away for sleeping. After all the trailer is like a home away from home.

Further Reading: Upgrade Your RV In 20 Cool Ways

30. Pop-Up Trailers Need Less Ongoing Maintenance

Pop-ups don’t have engine or motor inside them that’s why their maintenance cost is way less than the other RVs.

The only maintenance you have to take care of are:

  1. Wheels
  2. Axles
  3. Canvas (painting if it is metal or wood)
  4. Frames

The less moving parts a thing has the less maintenance a thing would need.

31. After the Rain, You May have To Air Out the trailer and the Awning

Rain is a problem for pop-ups owners as the canvas soaks water. So, if you see it’s going to rain then pop it down the awning and do not sit under it while raining.

If it is wet then leave it out open to dry and do this for the trailer itself. Depending upon the position of your window the water can get inside. If you have a space to park it under a building or covered parking then go for it.

You cannot be lazy in this situation as the mold and mildew could sprout up and ruin your pop-up trailer.

32. Probably You Have to Cook Outside

One negative point of RVs, in general, is their lack of ventilation and in pop-ups its worse due to limited space. Generally, people cook outside to keep inside clean.

Propane fueled gas stoves are good as they do not pollute the environment. You can also try to have electric grills which is good to make some delicious meals.

You can cook chicken, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, burritos and any other thing you want. They don’t take much space.

Image of George Foreman 4-Serving Removable Plate Grill and Panini Press, Black, GRP1060B
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33. These Trailers Need Special Hardware

Yes, you will need to change some hardware after they become useless. An annoying thing about these trailers is that there are many non-standard special hardware that is only required in these trailers.

So, finding these repair parts is a bit difficult as you have to contact RV manufacturers to buy them. They are a bit expensive due to the scare availability around hardware stores. Sometimes you have to contact the dealer or camper stores for a specific piece of hardware.

This is a unique problem with all nearly all RVs.

34. Pop-up Trailers Are Ideal For Adventurous Campers

Pop-ups allow you to enjoy the full camping experience which is also known as boon-docking.

Motorhomes can isolate you from the outside due to more space and luxury attached to it.

You are a few steps away from a tent and are allowed to experience the real fun of camping that is living outside. You can always (if security reasons are least) enjoy sleeping under the sky.

35. Renting Before Buying

If you are still confused about buying or not to buy then rent a pop-up trailer.

Yes, this is the best way to find out if you need it or not. If you do extensive research on it still it will not be near about the real experience which you can only get from living with it.

For renting you have to check out some rental website and choose your desired trailer. Our advice would be to check 2 or 3 models or even sizes one after another to find the best one for you.

Leasing out pop-up trailers is less expensive than the motorhomes or even bigger trailers.

So, what are you waiting for, drive away with your favorite one to explore new places?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Best Time to Buy Pop Up Camper?

In one line the best time to buy pop-up camper is at the end of the camping season (fall/winter). This is because people who want to sell do not want to go through the hassle of storing the camper for winter too.

Now, many of them know that people expect a better deal at this time. Another factor is that the demand for new campers decreases and the dealers want to clear the stock that they have.

If you are considering to buy then fall/winter is the best time.

2. How Much Weight can Pop-Up Camper Bed Hold?

Generally, they have a weight limit of at least 1000 – 1200 lbs. The weight limit of smaller beds can be anything from 500 to 750 lbs.

These beds have a weight limit and it differs from camper to camper. The best way to know it by reading the owner’s manual or search online on the manufacturer’s website. You can also send an email for the answer.

3. Can a Pop-up camper Tip Over?

Yes, pop-up campers can tip over and followings are the reason for it:

  1. Fishtailing
  2. Jackknifing
  3. Trailer sway
  4. Inclement Weather
  5. Acceleration

Fishtailing

It happens when the trailer begins to move separately from your towing vehicle. The hitch has to be located near the axle for the trailer to sway away. The hitch keeps the gravity of the towing vehicle and this is the reason your trailer stays in line. When this balance breaks the trailer sways. Fishtailing, jackknifing and trailer sway is all one thing.

You cannot keep too much weight on the hitch as this is the place where tongue weight comes to play. This the amount of downward force which the hitch can handle before fishtailing.

Failing to control fishtailing can drag your whole rig down with it.

Acceleration

Speeding is also one another reason for the pop-up trailer to tip over. When you speed up the trailer behind your towing vehicle also speeds up and when you push brake the vehicle and the trailer have to stop.

Naturally, it will take a longer time to stop the whole thing because of the trailer attached to the vehicle. The faster you drive the longer it takes to stop.

It is natural for you to speed up with your vehicle but sometimes you can forget that the trailer is attached to the vehicle. You should also be careful at turns.

Inclement Weather

High winds can also be the reason for tipping over. Large vehicles when they pass by also creates crosswinds.

The winds have to exceed 55MPH for the risk of tipping if the trailer weight is less.

 

Conclusion

A popup trailer is a good choice for someone who wants to get a feeling of RVing without much investment. These trailers can be easily towed by SUV or a truck.

But they require more time to set up and use and also have less interior space and basic amenities such as Toilets and kitchen.

If you can leave them all then you can take full experience of camping and RVing.

Happy And Safe RVing!

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