Pop Up Campers: Pros and Cons

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Convenience in Traveling: Hard-side pop-up campers are versatile and lightweight, making them easy to tow with various vehicles. Their compact size allows for efficient travel to different destinations.
  • Safety and Durability: Unlike canvas campers, hard-side pop-ups offer better protection against the elements and wildlife. They provide privacy and insulation, reducing noise during camping trips.
  • Affordability: Hard-side pop-up campers are more affordable than full trailers or RVs. They have lower maintenance costs and can range from $10,000 to $20,000, making them a cost-effective option for camping enthusiasts.
  • Check Out These Hard-Sided Pop-Up Campers:
    • Coachmen Viking: Offers ample sleeping space and storage, but lacks a bathroom.
    • Aliner Classic Hard-Side: Compact and lightweight, customizable layout, but does not include a bathroom.
    • Chalet XL: Compact yet spacious, fits four people comfortably, fully functional with various amenities.
    • Jayco Jay Sport: Lightweight with a spacious interior, and different layout choices, but does not have a bathroom.
    • Forest River RV Flagstaff Hard Sides: Offers different layouts with various amenities, and premium wood finish, but can be heavy.

Taking the chance to see the world has become more convenient thanks to the coming of RVs and campers. However, with motorhomes being a huge responsibility, it’s understandable that not everyone is ready to take on investing in a larger camper just yet. This is why hard-side pop-up campers are a great alternative instead.

If you’re still on the fence about hard-side pop-up campers, we’re here to give you the down low on this. We’ll even include some of the best and most popular brands on the market and their respective pros and cons to help you make the right decision.

What are Hard Side Pop-Up Campers?

Hard-side pop-up campers are essentially collapsible trailers, allowing you to take this with you on a towing vehicle of your choice. Serving as a temporary lodging site, this type of camper works by having sides that are comprised of hard or rigid materials that serve as walls that pop up accordingly.

This hard-side exterior is what sets this camper apart from other types on the market, with regular ones being fashioned out of canvas instead. Think of this as a cross between a normal travel trailer and a popup trailer, only that it is made of harder and more durable materials.

Reasons to Consider Hard-Side Pop Up Campers

Convenience in Traveling

Hard side pop up campers are quite versatile. You can use this with just about any vehicle, especially when your camper is lightweight, making towing and transport a breeze.

Speaking of lightweight, this camper offers ease and convenience when it comes to travel thanks to its compact weight and size. Since this errs on the smaller type and it folds and compresses, you can travel just about anywhere you wish to with the efficiency you need.

Safety and Durability

Compared to canvas campers, these hard side pop up variants offer you more safety and protection against the elements. These walls tend to stay up better and even deter animals from coming in during your camping time.

This likewise gives you the privacy you need and deserve, reducing any noise from coming in or going out.

More Affordable

Opting for a hard side pop up camper is more affordable than buying a full-on trailer or RV. Besides its low maintenance costs, this can fetch you anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, although you certainly can find some brands and types well below this.

In addition to its affordability, you can also save on fuel and energy costs in general since it isn’t powered up like the usual trailers or RVs.

Check Out These Hard Sided Pop Up Campers


Coachmen Viking

There is only two hard-sided pop up campers within the Coachmen Viking line, either the V12RBST or V12RBSTHW. For this particular review, we’re taking a closer look at the latter, especially with its high-walled feature that gives the camper an airier feel and more space to move in general.

Measuring 20.2 feet long, this is perhaps one of the more sizeable campers on this list. This makes it ideal for groups or small families who are traveling together and who’re taking several things with them.

This can sleep up to four people. Moreover, the camper is also equipped with a functioning dinette and has a decent storage space. It makes use of a quick-release hatch situated at the front of the camper, allowing you to access the said storage space easily.

Although the camper lacks a dedicated toilet or bathroom area, it does have a relatively large freshwater storage tank and a 6-gallon hot water heater.



  • Ample sleeping space and general space to move
  • Functional kitchen
  • High ceilings make the space appear larger as well
  • Sufficient storage space with a quick-release setting


  • Does not come equipped with a bathroom or toilet
  • Errs on the larger side of hard side pop up campers and can be quite heavy for smaller vehicles


Aliner Classic Hard-Side

aliner popupThe Aliner Classic hard-side pop-up camper measures 15 feet and weighs around just 1,590 pounds, making this one of the more compact and light campers on this list. This isn’t even the smaller camper offered by the company, so you can just imagine how compact this is.

Referred to as the Upgraded version, this particular hard-side pop-up camper is equipped with a propane system and a much more advanced plumbing system that lets you have some holding tanks.

Despite its small size, you either get the option to have a permanent bed installed or have a sofa bed option for more space to move around. You also get a working stove and sink, as well as other usual kitchen amenities, alongside electrical outlets and a solar port to boot.

It’s worth noting that the compact space gives some compromise on some amenities, such as lacking an indoor bathroom. Its setup more than makes up for it with its outside receptacle, outdoor shower, and water pump.

Customizing the Aliner Classic Hard-Side is also possible. From the mattress or sofa layout, as well as the addition of a water heater or A/C, you have full control over what goes on in your camper.

aliner layoutPros:

  • Available in 3 sizes and equipment levels
  • Customizable layout and features
  • Comfortable sleeping space
  • Includes strategic storage spaces


  • The small size doesn’t accommodate a bathroom


Chalet XL

Chalet XL

Measuring just 18.7 feet long, the Chalet XL hard-side pop-up camper is compact yet enough to accommodate four people within it. There are dual bunk beds with a rear bed but this keeps the rest of the space clear for movement.

The best thing about this camper is this is one of the lighter options, which is a great thing if you want more mobility while driving. It is also easier to stow away when not in use without compromising your comfort during your camping trip.

Aside from a spacious sleeping area thanks to its permanent queen-sized beds, it also has lots of seating spaces in its dinette. The best part is that this area can be converted into a bed.

Other amenities it has are storage spaces, a toilet, shower, fridge, furnace, and stovetops. For good measure, it is also equipped with LED and solar pre-wired lighting.


  • The spacious camper fits four people comfortably
  • Compact and lightweight for easy storage.
  • A-shaped frame offers more space at the top part
  • Fully-functional and furnished


  • Can be cramped for more than four people

Jayco Jay SportJayco Jay

Those who are looking for another lightweight option will find Jayco Jay Sport. Weighing in at 1,720 lbs, this one is probably one of the lightest trailer campers on this list. Despite its trimmed-down size and weight, it has one of the most spacious interiors.

Thanks to its pop-up structure, you can have big beds that can accommodate four to six people, complete with a dinette, storage cabinets, kitchenette, and a carryout stove, which definitely covers some of the most essential needs of campers.

People considering Jayco Jay Sport will be glad to know that they can choose between different layouts, containing amenities that suit their needs. These options offer the same convenience and comfort, but with slight differences.,

For example, the 10SD variant favors additional storage compared to 12SC, which has a sofa. The location of furniture and other features also vary per layout. The key is to check out every appealing option so you can see which one suits your needs best.


  • Different layout choices are available
  • Has a lot of useful features for camping
  • Ample bed spaces for up to six people
  • Additional cooking area thanks to the carryout stove


  • Does not have a bathroom


Forest River RV Flagstaff Hard Sides

If you are looking for a full-on RV experience with the help of a hard side pop up camper, then you should definitely check out the Forest River RV Flagstaff Hard Sides. This one does not scrimp on features and amenities, perfect for those looking for maximum comfort out in the wild.

Those who want a full experience should pick the T21DMHW layout, which comes with a dinette, flip-up bed, fridge, sink, stove, storage trunk, and a shower and toilet combo. If you want more seating space, you can go for the T21TBHW with only a toilet.

Aside from the amenities, another attractive thing about this choice is that it comes with a wood finish that gives it a premium look. Even the simplest layout without a toilet becomes preferable thanks to its looks.


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  • Comes with different choices
  • Every option has a microwave
  • Variants with port-a-potty and a hot water package with an outside shower
  • Looks great thanks to the wood finishing


  • Pretty heavyset


The Bottom Line

Hard-side pop-up campers are great choices for individuals who have pretty powerful vehicles that can pull a trailer. It is a great alternative to a full RV or motorhome without compromising in terms of features.

Now that you know the best choices, you can make the right decision and get one that suits your needs.

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