Pros and Cons of Buying A Pop-Up Camping Trailer

Last Updated on March 6, 2024

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Pop Up Camper Pros And Cons

Key Takeaways:

  • Beginner-Friendly: Pop-up camping trailers are suitable for beginners, being towable by most vehicles and offering easier handling than larger RVs.
  • Varied Price Range: With prices ranging from $4,000 to $13,000, pop-up trailers offer affordability, with options for both basic and high-end models.
  • Additional Costs: Be prepared for additional expenses such as downsizing items, maximizing storage, and investing in space-saving solutions.
  • Thin Walls: Thin walls affect climate control and noise insulation, requiring additional measures like fans and heated blankets for comfort.
  • Buying Second Hand: Consider purchasing used trailers for cost savings, but ensure thorough inspections to avoid unexpected repairs.
  • Close Quarters: Despite varying sizes, pop-up trailers may lack privacy and space, particularly for larger groups.
  • Basic Bathroom Facilities: Pop-up trailers offer basic bathroom options, with larger models providing more amenities at a higher cost.
  • Maintenance And Care: Regular maintenance is essential to prolong the trailer’s lifespan and prevent decay, mold, and mechanical issues.
  • Storage: Pop-up trailers are among the most convenient RVs to store, requiring minimal space when folded and offering options for indoor storage.
  • Set Up And Take Down: Setting up and packing away pop-up trailers can be time-consuming, especially in inclement weather, requiring manual effort and support poles.


So, you are thinking of buying a pop-up camping trailer. Even if this is not your first RV, you should know the pros and cons of these trailers before making a decision or purchase. You want to know exactly what you’re getting into before taking the plunge. There are several important questions to consider before you but, and this guide will help you decide if a pop-up camping trailer is a right choice for you.

1. Beginner-Friendly

If you have never owned an RV before, it can be somewhat daunting to use one for the first time. The good news about pop-up camping trailers is that they are beginner-friendly. Very few people are comfortable driving or towing large RVs right away. Pop-up camping trailers can be towed by most vehicles and are light and compact, which makes it easier to adjust to than a larger trailer. It is important to know the maximum tow weight for your vehicle as some models of pop-up camping trailers may be too heavy for your car. You need to practice with the trailer before hitting the road. Even if you’re familiar with towing, you need to get used to how your specific trailer handles because parking, reversing, and braking are different when you are towing a trailer. One major downside of traveling with a big RV is finding friendly routes but pop-up camping trailers are more versatile.

2. Varied Price Range

Several factors influence an RV’s price such as the type, condition, size, and extra features. Trailers are almost always going to be less expensive than motorhomes and pop-up camping trailers are the most basic type of trailers, meaning they tend to be cheaper. Typically, you can expect to pay from $4,000 to $13,000 as compared to new travel trailers which begin at $8,000. You can also find higher-end models, although of course the price increases along with the extras. These types of pop-up campers come with non-standard features like front deck storage, or luxurious extras, such as heated mattresses.

3. Additional Costs

Buying the trailer itself is only the beginning. There are items you will likely have to buy to save space. Wherever possible, downsize. When it comes to appliances, trash cans, toiletries, think small. You can get a miniature BBQ unit and a mini coffee maker. For storage, some pop-up camping trailers can include built-in storage areas, but they tend to have limited capacity. It is a good idea to learn strategies to maximize the space available. A few investments early on can allow you to bring more than you expected on your trips. Buy a towel rack to stick to the back of cabinets, to hold pot and pan lids, and get a hanging caddy to keep personal belongings by your bed. Vacuum seal bags are also ideal for transporting bulky items, like sleeping bags and pillows.


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4. Thin Walls

Pop-up camping trailers are light and compact. And this means they will have thinner walls than a motorhome or travel trailer. Thin walls affect climate controls so make sure you consider this. Not all campers contain air conditioning units, heaters, or furnaces. If you are unwilling or unable to buy a pop-up camping trailer with these features, be prepared that both high and low temperatures can hit your pop-up camping trailer hard. Thin walls provide less insulation. You can invest in fans to help beat the summer heat if you don’t have an AC unit and a heated blanket can keep you toasty in chilly weather, especially at night. Thin walls also do not insulate well against noise. Along with any camping neighbors, your generator can be noisy. You can select generators that are built to be quiet to help minimize the disturbance.

5. Buying Second Hand

There are a few reasons you may be thinking of buying a used model. If your ideal pop-up camping trailer is out of your budget range or you just don’t want to spend all your savings, you might be able to find it cheaper secondhand. Conditions for used trailers can vary dramatically. Even if you save money in the purchase price, you can spend double that on repairs. You need to perform a thorough inspection prior to purchase. You also need to ask the seller about the age and condition of the tires and brakes. And inspect and test things like running the water inside and trying out the electrics. You don’t want any nasty surprises once the sale is final. You must always avoid purchasing a pop-up camping trailer with water damage.

6. Close Quarters

Pop-up camping trailers come in different sizes and can be just as suitable for families as they are for solo travelers. Some have room to sleep up to eight people. But, this doesn’t mean that privacy and space are guaranteed. In fact, privacy is a rare commodity in most pop-ups and you need to be prepared for staying in close contact with your traveling companions. You will be sleeping, eating, and living in a small space.

7. Basic Bathroom Facilities

Bathrooms on pop up camping trailers can range from non-existent to shower-inclusive. Even an advanced bathroom in a pop-up camping trailer cannot compare to a motorhome. There are a few options such as a porta-potty for trips into the wilderness. Or you can stay at sites with restroom facilities. Models that include bathrooms will be bigger and more expensive, so keep that in mind.

8. Maintenance And Care

Pop-up camping trailer maintenance involves more than you might expect. They are smaller than motorhomes, but maintenance still takes time and is important. Neglecting to care for your trailer correctly can shorten its lifespan. It can be dangerous for you to allow it to fall into disrepair.
Never store the trailer when wet as this can cause decay, mildew, and mold. It also weakens the canvas significantly so the next time you use it, you may find the fabric rips easily.

  • Cleaning the fabric is important to discourage mildew and mold from starting or spreading.
  • You also need to regularly inspect the fabric for holes and patch any you find right away.
  • Monitor the tire condition, looking for signs of wear and tear before every trip.
  • Pop-up trailers have a lot of separate parts and it is important to keep all these parts lubricated and functional.

9. Storage

The complications of storing an RV can be intimidating. You need to keep the vehicle somewhere when not in use. The good news is that pop-up camping trailers are among the most convenient RVs to store. When folded, most models take up little space. If you clear out your garage, your pop-up might fit inside. If not, it can be left covered in your driveway or yard. If not, you may have to find a storage facility. If possible, try to keep your investment indoors when not in use. Even when covered, pop-up camping trailers can sustain damage from harsh weather conditions.

Taking the time to prep your trailer for storage is essential. Pop-up camping trailers may be simple, but you will have to clean it thoroughly and ensure it is protected against pests. When in storage, keep your trailer as empty as possible. Take out valuables, clothing, and all food and drink.

10. Set Up And Take Down

The portability of pop-up camping trailers comes at a cost: the setup. Unless you have a basic solo pop-up camping trailer, this can take time. Packing it all up again at the end of your trip takes just as much time, if not more. Many pop-up camping trailers have hand-crank systems and support poles. The interior and exterior have to be fully unfolded. You will need to do this work even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Before you choose a pop-up camping trailer, know what you want. There are questions you need to answer before making the final purchase. What are your dream destinations? Do you plan to go boondocking or prefer to stay at campsites with resources? If camping rough isn’t your thing, you don’t have to compromise too much on comfort. With pop-up camping trailers.

If you are a sports enthusiast, select a pop-up camping trailer that suits you. For example, one that is capable of carrying canoes, kayaks, or other equipment. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about your needs. You can always start small. And if the smaller model is too cramped for you, look at the next size up. If the thought of living without a bathroom is unbearable, then do not waste time looking at models without them.

One final thing to consider is renting before buying. No matter how helpful research can be, it does not compare to the real thing. Renting will give you a good idea if a pop-up camping trailer is right for you and also gives you the opportunity to get used to towing before you buy.

Choosing to buy an RV of any kind is a serious decision. Pop-up camping trailers have plenty of benefits, but this doesn’t mean they are for everyone. You need to be aware of the negatives as well as the positives before you decide to make an investment. When you think before you buy, there will be less compromise, less surprise, and adventures will be more fun.

1 thought on “Pros and Cons of Buying A Pop-Up Camping Trailer”

  1. RENT the type of RV you are thinking about before buying it. Then you can do the same with yours if you do not travel much. It helps defray the cost of upkeep and storage. How many times have you seen RV’s in the driveways just sitting there month after month?

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