Pros and Cons of Pop Up Campers

Camping is a wonderful hobby. It brings you and the entire family outdoors for some of the most unforgettable vacations. Essential to enjoying these camping trips is your gear selection.

At the top of the list of camping gear is your choice of shelter. A tent would be the most common and well known. Other types of shelters are bivvies, tarps, rooftop tents, swags, campers, and RVs.

One shelter type that is gaining in popularity is the pop up camper. These campers are part RV, part tent, part trailer, and part camper as it borrows elements from these various shelter modes.

mini pop up camper with van

Pop up campers have come a long way with their features. There are even pop up trailers with bathrooms. These pop up campers with bathrooms would fall in the higher end spectrum of this shelter modality, as entry-level units are more basic. (Learn How to Keep Food Cold While Camping)

Most owners of a pop up camper have strong opinions about their units. The pros and cons of pop up campers are best heard from them.

Living in a pop up camper (also referred to as RV pop ups) is said to present many unique advantages and challenges.

For instance, owners praise how the modest size and abundant screened windows allow them to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings.

On the other hand, those unimpressed with the pop up camper whine about how easily parts break down and how belabored they are to set up.

Is it a polarizing issue? Not really, but obviously there are two drastically divergent views. For everyone’s sake, I have decided to take a dispassionate look at the pop up camper and list the pros and cons (based on owner comments and my own observations). You decide if it is a shelter mode for you. (Learn What is Car Camping)

The Pros of Using and Owning a Pop up Camper

They are Nimble and Maneuverable

Owing to their relatively small size compared to campers, trailers, or RVs, pop up campers can pretty much go anywhere. There is an abundance of beautiful National Park campgrounds that have sites made half a century ago. By today’s RV standards, these campsites are small.

man beside camper

The huge motorhomes and large toy haulers of today have footprints that cannot fit in many of these campgrounds.  A pop up camper, on the other hand, can handily fit in these designated campsites, with room to spare.

Commune with Nature

Since you can situate a pop up camper just about anywhere, getting intimate with nature is much easier. You could easily find a spot on the sand in Cape Hatteras National Seashore or in place under the starry skies of Zion National Park.  Adding to this unmatched mobility, the inherent design of a pop up camper enhances the experience.

Owing to many screened windows and vents and the combination of hard shell and cloth material, you feel less isolated from the outside. There is more of an authentic immersion when in a pop up camper.

Ease of Towing and Transport

Pop up campers are easy to tow using an SUV or minivan. You do not need heaps of horsepower to transport it around due to its reasonable towing weight. That means no additional vehicle rental or purchase is needed as your own daily driver could pull it.

Ease of Storage

Because of its foldable design, a pop up camper will not be a headache to keep. They will not take up as much space as a conventional trailer camper. That leaves precious space for cars used daily and even some spare room for miscellaneous games in the garage area and driveway area.

The Cons of a Using and Owning a Popup Camper

Belabored Set up Dismantling

I know of many campers that do not look forward to setting up and breaking down their shelter system. For these folks, it takes up too much precious time during a trip. I do not blame these people as I have seen a belabored set-up of a pop up camper.

I once watched in agony, as some poor campers had to elevate the roof, struggle to push out and steady the beds, and secure the canvas. This not so simple process is surely not for everyone, as there are many moving parts in a pop up that need dealing with.


You know what they say about parts: the more there are, the more opportunities exist for breakdowns. Well as the case may be, pop up campers have more parts than the average shelter system, hence the propensity for something going kaput is frequent.

The mechanisms of a pop up camper is more intricate than a conventional trailer. Many of the pop up camper enthusiasts are the tinkering type and do not mind the occasional fix-me-up situation. Unfortunately, not all of us are the “MacGyver” or “DIY” type.

Finally – Both a Pro and a Con – Cost

The price point of a pop up camper can be either a bane or boon. Many excited people can spend too much on their first pop up camper, only to decide on an upgrade very quickly.

Such hasty purchasing decisions can leave many enthusiastic campers burning a hole in their wallet. That is not just a con, but also a bummer. (Learn What to Do While Camping)

However, if you play it smart and buy an entry-level pop up, you could enjoy its many features minus the bulging expense. Better yet, try and scour the 2nd hand market for a deal on a used one with higher-end specifications. (Find the Best Queen Size Camping Cot)

If you succeed, you will be getting into the RV living category at a steal, leaving you with some spare cash to buy accessories. Now that is surely a pro and win-win all the way.

So, is a pop up camper for you?

Pros and Cons of Pop Up Campers