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UPDATED: 5 Reasons To Avoid Pop-Up Campers

Pop-Up Campers are currently all the rage with camping. But should you be considering this type of camper when it comes time to head out onto the open road?

For some (the adventurous ones), this answer is a resounding yes. 

However, for most seeking to get closer to nature through camping in an RV, pop-up campers aren’t the ideal fit.

What is a Pop-Up Camper?

A pop-up camper is an RV trailer towed by a vehicle. While in transit or in storage, the camper is folded into a condensed package. The only thing exposed is the exterior coverings, allowing for easy transport.

When parked and ready to be inhabited, it “pops up” usually from a hand crank.

Both ends pull out to allow access to the bedroom space. In some deluxe models, pop-ups will even have pull-outs on the sides, increasing the interior living space.

These pull-outs aren’t quite the same as slide-outs in other campers, as most of them literally have to be pulled out by hand and set up with base supports.

The canvas that makes up the pull-outs (or pop-ups) then has to be wrapped securely around the exterior. While many newer models may have battery-operated controls, your camper still has to “pop up” to function as a camper.

How Much Do Pop-Up Campers Cost? 

Pop-Up campers range drastically in price depending on their age, style, size, amenities, and brands. They have been a popular way to go camping comfortably for over 70 years. 

You’ll find prices all over the board.

The pricing diversity makes it difficult to put one price on these.

However, to help give you an idea and get you started, 2021 models sleeping six will run you from around $10,000 for a basic setup to one with all the bells and whistles for around $25,000.

Pro Tip: Here are the 5 Best Pop Campers on the market.

Reasons to Avoid Pop-Up Campers: 

Before you decide to purchase a pop-up camper, you need to be aware of a few of their downfalls. Of course, you may choose to purchase one in spite of these. And for that, we applaud your adventurous endeavor.

#1 Climate control is difficult and they are prone to leaks.

Weather is as constant as change.  And pop-ups often don’t handle inclement weather very well.  While some newer models may be equipped with AC and heating capabilities, the general make-up of pop-up campers are not conducive to intense cold, heat, or water due to the lack of insulation from the canvas covering. Frozen water in the morning makes your morning cup of joe difficult to enjoy when there’s icicles in it.

Pop-up campers are also prone to leaks in the same way tents can be.

Not actually having a hard cover, water can pool in areas of the canvas and seep in through minuscule openings, possibly leaving you with unwanted waterfalls.

#2 There’s not a lot of room for storage.

While there is ample sleeping space – most pop-up campers sleep a minimum of six people, there is limited storage space for all the things that come with those six people.

This is great if you don’t need a change of clothes or if you plan on surviving on canned goods for the weekend. But we all like our clean clothes and gourmet food, so storage could be an issue.

Unless you’re a minimalist, then you’ll need nothing, and storage won’t be an issue.

Again, there are exceptions to the rules, being that some pop-ups can have added space for all the toys such as ATVs, bikes, and more, most do not. So those toys that generally come with both children and adults when camping will either need to be stored creatively or left at home.

#3 Many pop-up campers lack a bathroom.

There are a few people still in this technologically advanced world of portable toilets that still enjoy a good view with their morning bathroom ritual.  But most of us, while appreciating a good view, find much more comfort in the views of the four walls that surround a toilet.

Many pop-up campers do not have these four walls with a toilet in the midst of them. 

So unless you are willing to pee anywhere, then you might want to reconsider the idea of a pop-up camper.

#4 There is little-to-no sound insulation.

While the canvas walls make for ease of set-up, tear-down and transport, they do not make for great sound barriers. Yes, making a lot of noise on the inside increases your chances of keeping the unwanted wildlife out of your camper, but once you’re all sleeping soundly, those outside noises will creep inside. 

Yipping coyotes and scurrying raccoons may well interrupt your dreams. Those outside noises generally won’t bring you much comfort.

#5 Pop-up campers have very limited interior space

We all value family time. That’s usually why we go out camping in the first place. But we also value alone time just as much. 

Pop-up campers make alone time very challenging.

Plus, we all have that one family member that just doesn’t know when to stop talking.  There are no doors in pop-up campers.  Curtains, yes.  Doors, no.  

So while there is ample space for six people to sleep, the actual living space in a pop-up camper can be quite limited due to the lack of actual floor space in the bedroom areas.

If you’re entertaining your kids on a chilly night, be prepared for all of them to be in bed with you…where it’s warmer and cozier. 

Leave the Pop-Up Campers to the Adventurous Ones

There are worse things than your kids snuggling with you in bed on a chilly night. However, when this happens every night of your seven night camping trip, you might be regretting that pop-up camper purchase.

So, before you decide on a pop-up camper, just remember your last night in a tent. Where the rainwater kept you entertained as it slid down your nose. Your clothes were strategically tucked away in the corners to save space, and now they are also as wet as your nose.

The closest bathroom was as far away as crawling out of your now-soaked sleeping bag into the forested swamp of the outdoors. The coyotes have been entertaining you all night and this unknown growl has been accompanying them, yet there is no more center space in the tent for you to hide in.

A bit dramatic, yes. But, maybe leave the pop-up campers to the adventurous ones that love to go free-camping in the boonies!

We’re Not Biased – All RVs Have Reasons to Avoid Them

There are RVs for everyone, no matter your camping style. We know that pop-up campers will be perfect for some travelers.

If you want to discover the reasons why you may want to avoid other RV types, you can access the information below.

Reasons to avoid…

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  1. Douglas Skrivan says:

    Number 6 might be that they put you in the RV section of the parks. We had one for a few years and know that tent areas tend to be much quieter. People with RV tend to be less aware of the noise they are making because when they go inside they don’t hear as much of the outside conversations. We were kept awake many nights not because of this.

  2. Gene Lenoach says:

    There is another big reason National and state parks with bears do not allow them! No cloth sided campers!

  3. James L Bradshaw says:

    Arriving at your destination during a rainstorm causes you to get soaked setting up the rig, or possibly waiting for an undetermined time for the rain to stop. This is a terrible situation with a pop up.

  4. wscarter1951 says:

    #7 Tent campers are usually not permitted in areas with high bear activity.

  5. ScottJ_OR says:

    I’ve had a large RV several years. I love it and plan to keep it for a long while. But, the used popup tent trailer I recently bought is perfect for wild camping in the National Forest. It can go almost anywhere my Jeep Cherokee can go. I think a lot of people who hate RV Parks as I do would live the popup!

  6. joe leonard says:

    Yeah we got an old Apache hard side popup no canvas still had to fix leaks but rvs are expensive and impractical if you camp only a few times a year

  7. Lin Wise says:

    We love, love, love our pop up camper. When not camping, we set it up on our property all summer. We built a movable deck for the front. We can go down and watch tv in the evening or listen to music and snuggle. It’s so comfortable! Also, I love all the windows. When they are all opened, you have a 360 view. Soon, we’ll be taking it down and I will miss it.

  8. carolyn says:

    We loved ours, (just the 2 of us) hung a large open backed tent (that I altered) from the awning groove and put the porta-pottie, bikes, cooler and stuff in it. Gave us an extra room. Yes you hear every noisy camper’s inconsiderate noise, and yes we only camped in state forests here in and around Michigan, and yes we had a ceiling fan installed, and no – no leaks except through the holes the mice chewed in the canvas. We thought we had sealed EVERY imaginable entry way until we found piles of wild cherry seeds in it one spring. Now we love our FB Casita. We can go anywhere.

  9. Bob says:

    Granted that at 71 and full time 6 months of each year i no longer want a pop up, but that is how i grew up to live camping. My father made ours, not purchased, about 1952. It’s stupid to say you are going to have icicles in you coffee! Back then we used a portable kerosene heater. My sister and i loved the snowflake like pattern it projected on the ceiling. We were warm, and so was our coffee. Yes, i started drinking coffee very young. On family trips we towed it from one coast to another and by the time i got out of high school i had been to all the lower 48 states and in many places in Canada. Just and ice box, but back then that was the norm and you were able to buy blocks of ice in any size you wanted. The one my dad built into our pop up held a 50lb block. If i were only vacationing instead of full timing i would still use one of the small ones not meant for 6. Apparently people who are so spoiled they think this is bad would never go on a canoe trip or backpack.

  10. Christine says:

    We had a pop-up camper while we traveled for a year after my military career. It was easy to tow and set-up was quick. We didn’t have a bathroom so sometimes it was a hike to go to the bathroom. Some campground don’t allow pop-ups. We stayed at campgrounds or visited family. My husband did get tired of cranking it up! Outside noises were at times loud. I’m sure our “neighbors” heard more then they wanted…..:-) But thru it all we had fun and got to see a large part of the USA. Never had problems with mice or leaking canvas. But at one campground we saw the dangers of large tree limbs and what they could do to a pop-up. Luckily the people weren’t home. We sold our camper a few years back and look forward to buying a camper trailer and hitting the road again!

  11. Mark Flanagan says:

    We here in nz don’t have anyprobiem with pop tops and we had caravans and motor homes these are less fun

  12. Tammy says:

    Exactly. Mine is an 8 foot box and I tow it with a Ford Escape. I absolutely love it and the fact that it is light and so easy to tow. I set it up in about 10 minutes

  13. Dan says:

    Grew up on the East Coast camping in a Pop Up for weekend, multi-week and a month long trip from CT to Disney World. We pulled it with a 1980 Mercury Station Wagon, Mom, Dad and seven kids. We had a porta potti for middle of the night needs and I as the only boy typically slept in the station wagon. I’ve since camped in tents, pop ups, Class C’s, Class A’s and now have a quirky, hard sided version of the Pop Up, called a Trailmanor. Used, in great shape, with a full but small hardwalled bathroom, stove, oven, A/C and heat, we bought ours for under $5,000 and consider it a great compromise:
    – easy to set up
    – under 3,000 lbs
    – 3 Full Sized comfortable beds

    – set it up and leave it at campsite as you tour with your tow vehicle
    – with foldable tongue option: stores in a garage
    – economical to tow (don’t need a big truck)
    – never a leak
    – qualifies as a hardside in bear country

    Re Pop ups:
    – MUCH better than tent (shouldn’t have bugs or leaks)
    – comfortable beds
    – economical to buy used and tow
    – porta pottis are the norm
    – fold up hard side bathroom walls and A/C are common

  14. dave says:

    I see nothing was mentioned about a slide-in truck camper. Must be reliable. At least i think so, love ours..

  15. Gregory Wilson says:

    So there are alot people that are inexperienced campers. I have slept in a tent during snow storms and other things. A tent trailer to me was the Radisson because of the heat and the cool. Here are some of the things that you need to look into. Tent campers need to realize that in order to keep the tent warm they need solar which I have. A lot of tent campers don’t realize that pop-ups can get very cold and very hot. Solar helps with this. Here is some things you need to do. Set your heater at no more than 68 degrees (I keep mine at 62 degrees). Bring extra bedding. During the summer months, you need air flow, so open the trailer up. If you do not like the sounds of the wild life, this is not for you. I prefer a tent trailer, and I’m almost 60 years old.

  16. Debbie Cartier says:

    We had a pop up and will not own one again ours had a bathroom and a shower I think that’s what it was…Now we have a Dutchstar Newmar Coach and cannot even believe a popup was a part of our vocabulary now we’re travelling in style.

  17. Glenn Every says:

    I was surprised to read that canvas sided rv’s are not allowed in bear country. I live in South Africa and we have a wide diversity of wild animals ranging from relatively small duiker to elephants and then some meanies like lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino etc. Add to that scavengers like hyena, which have been known to attack sleeping people, along with some very poisonous snakes such as the black mamba. Certain rivers have crocodiles and hippopotamus in them. The hippo being the single biggest killer of humans every year in Africa. There are no restrictions on tents or canvas sided rv’s here and they are some of the most popular choices for camping here.

  18. Rae Debert says:

    I also had an Apache hard side. We used it for 18 years and sure it had issues when it got older. We took good care of it and yes it leaked once in awhile. The stove inside worked out fine but the fridge wasn’t very good so I would get a container and put a block of ice in it. Before we went I did little of food prep which made cooking so much easier. We loved the fact that we could take it anywhere to canp without the noise of a campsite. If I wanted to listen to dogs bark and kids I should have stayed home.

  19. Donna says:

    I live in Florida. Wouldn’t trade my pop up for anything or the years of fun I had with my kids. I love it because it isn’t a house on wheels. You still feel like you are camping. My a/c keeps mr colder in my camper than it does on my house.
    They sleep at least 6 people and if the kids aren’t teenagers. Even more.

    I get the whole bear country thing but for those of us who aren’t in bear country that enjoy the great outdoors, it’s an amazing option.

    As a single mom , I would not have been able to go or do with my kids the places we went or the things we saw if not for the affordablilty factor.

  20. Barbara Dombroski says:

    Hi, how do you hook up the water source on the out door fish cleaning table! I love it and it looks great, which model is it and price, I saw quite a few on Amazon, not sure which one is the one you have! TIA

  21. An says:

    That’s ridiculous. They definitely allow them. Along with regular tents. I have camped in 2 of the national parks with the highest amount of bears with cloth sides.

  22. William says:

    My neibors love there popup camper. Includes A/C. They take it to Disneyworld every year.

  23. Justin Time says:

    We bought our small pop up trailer last year. Its a 2005 model with everything we need with an exception of a bathroom- no biggie!
    We love camping in this – no leaks. Has a furnace, a sink, a stove and a dining area – perfect!
    Dont be fooled by this article. Buy what your heart desires. Happy camping!!

  24. Rick says:

    I just bought a used tent trailer. Well maintained 17 year ok. Upgrade from tenting 5 western states and Mexico for 8 months. I watched others with tent trailers set up and break down camp in less than half the time than me. My tent trailer is like a mansion on wheels with heat and a refrigerator. I’m glad that I see push back from a lot of people here. It’s not for many, but conversely, great for many. Take the advice as your situation requires.

  25. Russell Stringfield says:

    I was going to say that, but is one reason why we sold ours for a Travel Trailer.

  26. Carolyn Tolliver says:

    Our Coleman pop up was a perfect transition from sleeping on the ground in a tent to a Casita 16′ fiberglass trailer. Granted it was just we two older folks, no pets, no kids. We loved the pop up but so did the mice. We did everything we could to keep them out. They still chewed holes in the canvas. I turned a two room tent into one room, and attached it to the awning slide, put the bikes, wet clothes, cooler, and a small porta-pottie out there. We loved it for 5 or 6 years until the Casita arrived.
    So, yes, you hear all the campground noise, and weather might keep you inside, but at that time we were fair weather campers. (we did install a roof vent). We aren’t hard core “adventurers” but it had all the storage space we needed.

  27. James R Brady says:

    HI: Your information on pop ups is very informative. We have owned several pop ups over the years and they have enabled us to enjoy many vacation trips that we couldn’t afford if we werent using the rv. Over the years we have very little problems with leaks. You do have to service your camper to keep it in good operating condition. THe price of the camper was more in our budget. It also didn’t required a large tow car. We were a family of 5. Rainy days were a little more deficult to deal with, but you can learn to enjoy that time. Bathroom issue can be solved with the use of portapotty for night times.
    We just enjoy our pop up and today with just the two of us, we are using a hardside pop up. So you need to see what will work for you.

  28. Vicki Drake says:

    We found the biggest problem was setting up or breaking down in pouring rain. Everything inside gets wet no matter how careful you are. But they are an affordable option for a young family.

  29. Karl Blankenship says:

    We had pop up campers for more than 25 years, taking many multi-week trips across the country and into Canada. We never had a leak. Even our cat liked it. Yes, the climate control isn’t great, and taking down in the rain wasn’t fun, but I always liked the towabity (and gas mileage) with a pop up. We have a hybrid now, but I sometimes miss the easier towing and lesser maintenance involved with a pop up.

  30. Tom C says:

    Grew up in a family of five where we went camping spring and summer in an Apache hard top but canvas side and loved it. It was mostly the west coast in state and national parks. I never remember being denied due to bears as we camped in bear areas. Noise was not too much of a problem as folks weren’t using generators.

    We had the basics;fridge, stove,heater and a dinette table. No pota pottie but campgrounds had that. We did have a dishwasher, my brothers and me.

    The only real downside was the trailer tires, being small they tend to have more blowouts (pre TPMs).

    It was fun.

  31. D Rain says:

    Most likely the worst article I’ve seen. This is why a pop-up is not good for you. I had one for years, comfortable in every condition, never leaked and new ones are set up in minutes. They are half way between a tent and trailer. I could back it into nearly any site and we never needed hydro. We could carry extra items inside and save room in our truck. If you still want the tent feel with some added comforts I would buy another in a second.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Way over exaggerated, on the downside of pop-up campers, having owned one before never really had it leak, as long as you take care of them properly.

  33. David L Curry says:

    They’re real fun in a wind storm too. If high winds coming take it down. I was lucky mine just got spun 160 degrees, couple others flipped.

  34. Mike says:

    Have you considered taking a more balanced approach to your stories on RV types – 5 reasons to consider, pros and cons, etc. – for example More balance would be helpful