We have just returned from a two-week long vacation in which we camped our way up the eastern seaboard. The number one question we got from campsite neighbors and family we visited was, why did you by a pop-up camper?
To us, it seemed very obvious, but I began to see things through others’ eyes and realized, not everyone thinks like we do. Most family assumed we had a full size pull-behind camper and were surprised to learn how few amenities and creature comforts we really have in our pop-up. (I think they thought I was a “glamper.”) And in some ways, we are glampers because the number one reason we bought a pop-up camper is its hot in Florida!! My husband said, “I’ll camp with you, but I need A/C.”
After one memorable camping trip three years ago in which no one slept because of the gnats and heat, I finally relented. So we set out to find something to fit our families’ needs.
My husband’s requirements were simple: “It needs it to be dry, bug free and have A/C.” After talking about what we were willing to pay, how serious we were about camping and how much work we wanted to do, I pointed out a pop-up at our campsite. A pop-up! My husbands eyes lit up. A pop-up is a cross between a full pull behind camping trailer and a tent. Aside from remembering that an uncle owned one once, I never had any experience with a pop-up before.
So research we did! The more we learned about them the more we were convinced this was the right recreational vehicle for our family. Pop-ups offer the comfort and features of a camping trailer but in a lighter much more towable, compact option. I learned that there are different floor plans and styles with varying features and specifications, but all come with a stove and fridge. Only some models have toilet and indoor showers. None of this appealed to me however. Now wait! Before you think, what is she crazy?, let me preface this with saying that I took many summer trips with my grandmother in her full size pull-behind camper and cooking inside left a residual smell that I hated! I did not want to deal with that! Plus, we already had a camping stove and griddle, why do we need one inside? We like grilling. We like eating outside. We wanted this pop-up to be our sleeping area, nothing more. And the indoor toilet/shower? Let’s just say indoor plumbing is not worth the hassle given that all campgrounds and State Parks have facilities available for use.
Once we settled on a pop-up style, we set a budget and went to craigslist. The make of the pop-up was not important to us, but the condition of these four important things were:
- The canopy had to be in excellent shape. No holes, no patch repairs, no rips or broken zippers.
- The A/C had to be in working condition.
- The bearings and seals had to be new. (Tires we can always get, but replacing the whole hub on a trailer is time consuming and costly).
- The frame of the trailer had to be sound.
Anything after these four essentials, we could deal with. A broken fridge? Ok, no problem. The plumbing needs to be replaced? No worries, we won’t use it anyway.
The second most important reason we bought a pop-up was that it was affordable! Not just in the cost of the camper, but in the usage and maintenance of it. Pop-ups do not require a special car to tow them or special equipment other than a tow hitch. My husband’s truck and my small SUV could both tow a pop-up, and that knowledge alone made this option so much more convenient for us. We also did our research and learned that maintaining a pop-up and/or upgrading it was far more pocket-book friendly than a fifth wheel or full size RV. We ended up buying our pop-up used which was even more budget friendly!
The third reason we bought a pop-up was storage. We can park our pop-up in our driveway without it taking up a considerable amount of space or having to pay for parking at a storage facility. It sits low, has a short wheel base and takes up the same amount of space as a car. Our particular pop-up is a pull behind trailer that collapses to no more than 4 feet off the ground and 12 feet long. Once opened though, it extends to 16 feet long and rises to 10 feet high.
Since purchasing our pop-up camper three years ago, we have had many memorable camping trips and couldn’t be happier with our decision.