Thinking About Buying a Pop-Up Camper? Consider This…

20Feb
Thinking About Buying a Pop-Up Camper? Consider This…

We often joke that buying our first pop up camper was the best and worst decision that we ever made.

And it really was.

It was the best decision because discovering the RVing lifestyle was a life changing series of moments for our family.

It was the worst decision because we bought the wrong pop up camper.

Yup, we are one of the statistics. We bought a shiny new pop up camper with all of the bells and whistles for over $10,000. What we should have bought was a used one, for maybe $2,000 or $3,000 tops. We spent way too much money only to discover that another rig would be ideal for our family.

pop up camper in woods

Don’t get us wrong–our camper had a bathroom, stereo, air conditioner, large slide out, hot water heater, and kitchenette. In so many ways it was pretty awesome.

So what was the issue?

Well, we loved RVing so much that we started to camp a lot, and we started to take longer and longer trips.  When we bought the rig, we figured we would camp a few weekends a year and maybe take a week long family vacation. In reality, we were camping over 40 nights a year by our second season.

pop up camper at campground

After spending 16 days in Vermont and Maine on a four stop trip, we realized that all of the setting up and breaking down was eating up a lot of precious vacation time and a lot of our patience.  Eventually, we decided to sell the pop up camper and buy a travel trailer.

Unfortunately, we owed more on the camper than it was worth. This is common when you buy an RV with a long term loan and sell it too quickly.  Just like with an auto loan, those early payments are mostly interest–and RV values depreciate more quickly than car and truck values.  Live and learn, right?

This leads us to the number one issue we face when listeners ask us if they should buy a new pop up camper. ALL OF THEM insist they will not be one of the statistics. They all insist that a pop up camper is the only type of RV that they will ever, ever want.

And then they jokingly email us a year later letting us know that they are trading that beloved pop up in for a travel trailer.

We are never surprised.

That’s exactly why we should have bought a used pop up camper. You put very little financial skin in the game and then see if RVing is right for you. When you find out that you are completely obsessed with RVing, it’s no big deal. Go ahead and sell that pop up or trade it in for an upgrade.

pop up camper in woods

That’s what we should have done. But hind sight is 20/20, so we are passing on the pearls of wisdom to you.

You see, an awful lot of RVers start out with a pop camper, fall in love with camping and traveling, and move up into larger units very quickly. It’s pretty much a joke amongst experienced RVers.

That’s why it’s wise to start with a used unit and pay cash–not because you won’t use the camper, but because you will, and you may want to upgrade very quickly.

Two of our friends, who have become our regular camping buddies, took this approach when they purchased their first pop up camper.  They found a used unit, in great shape, at a great price.  They also fell in love with RVing, but when they eventually sold their little Jayco pop up after almost two years they actually made a profit.

So, we recommend that you buy a used unit, or at least a much less expensive one than we bought.

Even if you are convinced you will never want anything bigger.

Even if you get sucked in by all those fancy bells and whistles.

Just. Buy. The. Cheap. Pop. Up. Camper.

Years after our first RV purchase, we are finally taking our own advice. Even though we have an amazing toy hauler travel trailer that we love, we still missed that rustic camping experience that comes with a pop up camper. So we got another one. Except this time we found a cheap, used one on Facebook Marketplace. And she’s perfect.

You can read more about Penny the Pop Up Camper here. You can also check out our podcasts about the Pros and Cons of Pop Up Campers. Plus, we recorded an episode that was an Ode to the Pop Up Camper.

Because even though our first pop up camper was about the worst financial decision we ever made as a couple, it was also the best investment we ever made in our family.

See you at the campground.

Buying a Pop Up Camper

49 Comments

  1. JP

    Great advice. We also purchased a used pop-up, used it for 4 years, sold it for the same price. Bought a new pop-up and used it for 10 years before we bought our current hybrid, 11 years ago. We tend to hang onto things for a while. I love the ten reasons to RV rather than moteling it.

    Reply
  2. NYCgal

    After years (alright, alright.. decades) of various forms of tent camping (started with cycle camping and currently glamping) I’ve decided to ditch the job and cross country RV for a few months. Much as I smile whilst watching a fellow camper set up a pop up, feel like a modified tear drop will best fufill my current needs. I do need to pay close attention to resell,depreciation and the initial cost though so thanks for giving thoughts of BTDT.

    Reply
    • livelylittlecampers

      The teardrops are cool. Depending on your tow vehicle’s ability you might check out a really lightweight travel trailer like a Jayco Swift. You may pay a little extra for the style and novelty of the teardrop.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    You should come camping in Florida.

    Reply
    • livelylittlecampers

      Right now we are maxing out at 12 hour drives…but soon, very soon! The boys are actually BEGGING for Lego Land.

      Reply
      • Michael Smith

        Nice, honest article outlining the journey from tent, to pop-up, to travel trailer. My wife and I can sympathize with many of your experiences. We did a lot of motorcycle camping with a tent when my wife and I first met. It was brilliant. But, after we started our family, camping with the bike was impossible. We were fortunate that my parents retired to the family cabin in northern Minnesota so our young children had great first experiences with the outdoors. But when my parents passed, and the cabin had to be sold, we began the journey into family camping. We started out , and continue still, to rent pop-up campers each summer for our annual family camping trip. We generally go camping 1-2 times per summer so that’s why we decided to rent instead of buy. But wow…. what a HUGE step up from tent camping. Currently, we rent a nice Jayco with the electric pop-up feature (no cranking!) heat, and air conditioning. All four of us are super comfy. Last year our RV rental place offered a hybrid trailer for a $100 more than our usual pop up. We tried it out. The set up part was really nice, no pop up routine, the bathroom was good, only #1, but we discovered that it was really cramped. The slide out beds were significantly smaller when compared to the king and queen in the old pop-up. Plus, towing was more laborious and costly. This year we are going back to the Jayco pop up. Yes, we have more set up time, it’s more tricky to pack, but we love the room and openness the pop-up provides. For us, the Jayco pop-up is the sweet spot for our camping needs. It’s easy to tow with our unibody SUV. There’s lots of room when set up. Plus it has heat, air conditioning, running water, and electricity. It’s luxurious camping in the north woods. Love it ! Thanks for your blog. Cheers!

        Reply
  4. John Diggs

    My wife and I bypassed the popup all together and went right into a small 21 ft microlite travel trailer but have been second guessing our decision and wondered if we would have been better off with the popup with its own toilet and possibly a shower?

    Downsides of the TT include: Storage (no place to store and have to pay $50/month to store due to size versus a popup in our garage), cost (around $18k new), tow vehicle needs to be able to tow at least 5,000 lbs which puts you in a larger vehicle with bad mileage compared to a smaller SUV like an Escape, and cost to travel anywhere gets really expensive. I would say our gas mileage drops from 21 MPG down to 9 MPG when towing. We go on long trips across the country so round trip gas price is usually over $1,000 which has me thinking a smaller camper or getting a flight and renting a hotel would be considerably cheaper all the way around. We plan traveling about 4,000 miles a year in the TT… .

    The main reason we went to the TT first was concern about noise when sleeping and to have a our own bathroom for the middle of the night trips and also to have our own shower but thinking this can be addressed with a popup. Anyone have both and want to weigh in?

    Reply
    • livelylittlecampers

      Hi John–Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. On our last episode of the podcast, we talked about first time RV purchases and how hard it it to know what you want ahead of time. You really bring up some great points and we would love to share them on our next episode! Let’s see if anyone else has opinions about this…

      Reply
    • Jimmy

      We have had a pop up,travel trailer and a rv. We are currently Looking at new pop ups. They just work for us. We can get the important stuff that we want in a camper, still keep the weight low and the mpg’s up. Camping should be fun and relaxing. Not a Financial burden.

      Reply
      • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

        So true…everyone has a different budget, but we tell people not to stretch it. You just end up with less money for camping:-)

        Reply
      • Jimmy Young

        Hey Jimmy,

        My family has been tent camping for easily 10 years and we are at the point including with my age that a pop up camper is more than adequate. Tent camping is great although it requires lots of time in maintenance if you care to reuse tarps and other elements year after year. We started out with a six person tent, and have migrated to a 10 person tent and now a 16 person tent for all of the gear that our families requires and we are only four. We recently spent six days in a Rhode Island campsite next to a smaller pop-up camper. When they left, it took them 45 minutes to break down and be ready to leave. We spent the remainder of the day on and off gathering our gear together sweeping tarps laying tents and shelters out to dry in the sun, and all the other nonsense, including dealing with our children who did not assist because they’re younger. I fully agree with the author of this blog, a used pop up in the $3000 to $5000 range is where we are headed. I just need to look at all of them and make sure that there is no evidence of mice intrusion.

        Reply
    • Leigh

      We got a TT about a month ago. Took it out twice. And now it’s listed for sale. It’s a hassle. Rv parks are crowded and awful. All the “amenities” of a TT are wasted when camping off the grid with no hook ups. Going back to our trusty tent!

      Reply
      • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

        Sounds like you made a good decision for your family. It also sounds like you may have jumped to some pretty big conclusions without a lot of experience. All RV parks are certainly not crowded and awful. It sounds like you picked two bad campgrounds for your month of travel trailer ownership. But there’s something for everyone out there, and it seems like your trusty tent is a good fit.

        Reply
    • Carol M

      I totally feel the same way!!! and am toying with the idea of selling both my truck and my travel trailer to the tune of about a $20,000 LOSS. So…..with that said….Did you downsize? Our dream of RVing the country was quickly cut short for a few reasons but a big one was the cost of fuel–esp thru the mountains. The second was that, wow! it costs as much to stay a quick night in most places as it would a hotel.
      Anyway, what did you end up doing?

      Reply
  5. Michelle Davidson

    I love this!
    We just got a popup camper two years ago and have been repairing here and there.
    Our last trip did show us that if we want to go further, having a potty on the road, or a place to sleep overnight is beneficial.
    BUT we do enjoy the open feel so we may miss our pup, or go tent camping when we want to rough it.

    Reply
  6. Tiffany wynia

    We borrowed a pop up camper from some friends when we first started. Family of five no room. So we bought a cheap fifth wheel camper because we weren’t for sure how much we would use it. Found out we loved camping. It was a regular camper so kids where sleeping on the couch and table bed. Upgraded to a bunkhouse camper. Love. Kids have their space. Love camping.

    Reply
  7. Emilie

    We have been tent campers for 10+ years. We’ve gone from a small square tent with an air mattress to a pretty elaborate set up with a 3-room tent and extended length cots and mattress pads. The tent is great, but a pop up is our next step. I absolutely agree that a used, cheap pop-up is the way to go before committing to a larger, more expensive anything – whether that is an upgraded pop-up or a full-size travel trailer. I’m just going to be a little sad about all the gear we have accumulated for tent camping. I suppose we can always decide each trip how we want to go, but it’s hard to go backwards on comfort. Thanks for your insight. Camping is awesome, no matter how you do it!

    Reply
  8. Crystal

    Thank you for this tidbit of information! I have been wanting to get a pop up for a couple of years now. We are dedicated tent campers. I’d like to explore more places and still have the tent feel. I’ve been keeping my eye on Facebook marketplace and letgo, saving pennies here and there until I can buy one. Fingers crossed I’ll have one by next summer! Until then… Happy Camping!

    Reply
  9. Jeremy

    Great info, thanks for sharing. Ages ago, we used to be tent campers, and still do from time to time. A few years ago I bought an older 31′ Class C from a buddy, and we used the heck out of it for a couple years before hail damage claimed it. We know we liked RVing, but what we didn’t like was the cost associated with it. We’re pretty simple folk, but we do like simple luxuries as well (like a toilet, heat/cool, etc). Since we have both full RV and also tent experience, we THINK we know what we like and need, and what we don’t or can do without. We’re considering something like a Rockwood High Wall. I like the HW316TH model at present, because it offers plenty of sleeping space for our family of five, nice simple luxuries, and the deck out front for hauling bicycles and such.

    What caught my attention in this post was the setup and tear down time. That part concerns me, especially after watching the setup videos. But, I think the difference for us is we’re not approaching this as a step down from an RV, but rather a step up from tenting. What do you think? Having done all three, would this be a good assessment? Think we’ll be disappointed in buying a nice, larger popup?

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      As a step up from tenting, I don’t think the set up it too much of an issue since a tent is a big ole pain in the butt to set up and tear down. The set up is certainly far more than a traditional travel trailer or motor home for sure. Also weather can be a pain, since packing up in the rain is more of an issue with a pop up than other RVs.

      Reply
  10. Dan Tighe

    Driving on the east end of LI today,
    I realized that the only way I could afford a vacation out here would be to either camp or get a pop up.
    At 62 years old (though I am a beast) camping for me and my girly girl GF is not for us. In buying a used popup what are the most important things to look for, or beware of? Thanks!

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      A bathroom would probably be a top priority for someone who isn’t too into roughing it. Also…air conditioning. You can get a pop up with all the bells and whistles, just make sure not to spend too much on a new one. If buying used RUN away from any signs of water or canvas damage.

      Reply
  11. Rhonda

    I’m considering selling my home and buying an rv, camper, whatever! Can anybody help me make an intelligent choice?? Thanks so much.
    Knownothing

    Reply
    • Kyle Pifer

      Please go on YouTube and check out full timers videos for any thoughts or ideas they have for full time. You’ll be happy you did because it’s a very different thing for each family and individual.

      Reply
    • Mel

      Thanks for sharing your experience about your first van purchase. Its great to read your second purchase has been such a good fit for your family. So true about starting out testing the waters. A few years ago we bought a 25 year old Jayco pop up camper for a few thousand dollars. It was in really good condition and has solar power, which was a bonus.

      The set up got easier each trip, especially after replacing the awning with a fast set up awning/annexe and keeping the beds made up. Now it only takes us 10 min longer than a regular van to set up or pull down.

      The pros were that an older popup was a lighter tare weight for even easier towing so we could keep our regular AWD station wagon and not need to upgrade to a large 4WD. It was towed 350 miles, much of it on an incline on just under a normal car’s tank of petrol this year. Also, it is stored in the carport so there are no storage fees and there is quick easy access. These things outweigh the extra 10 minute set up and we dont really feel the need for a bathroom on board (at the moment!).

      This is working for us now since our longest stays are only 3 weeks, although all families have different needs at different times and months on the road in a popup especially with kids may get tiring…

      We bought a budget secondhand van to test out what would work without a huge outlay. Finding out we like the open feel of the popup worked out so there are no near future plans to upgrade yet but as you guys said there is no huge loss if there is a change now. In terms of normal accommodation since its purchase the popup has already paid for itself!

      For anyone considering a popup, check out the quick set up awnings, not the bagged and pole type which makes setting up a long process. That has been the biggest difference.

      Happy camping everyone!

      Reply
  12. Steven

    OMG, I am so glad I found your article… EVERTHING you mentioned as far as the good reasons were EXACTLY what I was thinking, but in the back of my mind a little voice was whispering most of the “bad” reasons… a lot of “what if’s” were bouncing around. I’ve been looking on Craigslist and I’ll try FB Marketplace too (hadn’t thought about that- so thank you).
    Like the old Frosted Mini-Wheats commercial, I felt like- The whole wheat side of me is saying “Be frugal and wise before jumping head-first into this!” while the frosted side of me says “BELLS & WHISTLES – NEW & FANCY! B/C you don’t know how the previous owner treated it!” (trying to rationalize the poor decision) and it had those little cartoon spinning circles in my eyes like I was hypnotized! Even some of the used ones are upwards of almost $10k! Fortunately, upon researching care and maintenance, my eyes caught the “best and worst decision” tag line in my google search.

    Thanks again for reinforcing the “whole wheat” side or the angel on my right shoulder trying to keep reason and sanity into this decision. I’ll stay under $3k.

    Reply
  13. Wendy

    We used to tent camp when we were younger, now that the kids are grown and we’re a little older I want to again but hubby needs a cpap to sleep and I need an AC. I feel like pop up would be the way to go for us. Am I correct that they have plugs in them and you can hook up to electricity at campgrounds? Also do you know if Ford Explorers are big enough to tow most pop Ups?

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      Pop Ups have a wide range of weights, but yes, there are plenty you can tow with an Explorer. Just make sure to know the exact tow capacity of your Explorer before making a purchase! Pop ups generally have electric capacity. You’ll need to camp at campgrounds with electric hookup in order to use the plugs and run the cpap and air conditioning. Good Luck!

      Reply
  14. John Gusman

    Nice article. I’ve been a passionate tent camper for 6-7 years now and graduated from the pole tents to the insta tents (2 6-person Colemans’). Time is a big issue for me so I’ve gotten the best I could to reduce the set up time (insta-tents, self inflating sleeping pads, good quality sleeping bags/cots). I’m organized too (everything in bins or bungy corded) so that helps. But I too now am thinking about the tent trailer or a small trailer- still trying to decide!

    Reply
  15. Doc

    if you bought a popup camper you get what you see. convenience, easy to pull, a little bit more of an issue to set up if it’s bad weather but if you are ‘close’ with your spouse then the experience is worth it. not everyone has the need for or wants to pull a TT or 5th wheel with a truck they had to buy because of the weight of the unit. A popup can be pulled by many vehicles. It’s ten steps up from tent camping and it’s enjoyable if the occupants really know and understand camping.

    Reply
  16. Johnny

    I really enjoyed the article. We bought a used popup this year to take hunting/fishing in our national forest here in Arkansas. We had it out a few weekends this summer and all four of us really loved it. Much more fun than tent camping. We can get the popup in and out of places we could never take our 30′ Outback. We spent around 160 days in 2018 in our TT this summer at the area lakes and rivers. We’ll spend much of the winter on weekends in our popup enjoying our national forests. The popup is great for short weekend trips, but for extended trips we much prefer the comforts of our travel trailer.

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      Completely agree! After enjoying the comforts of a trailer, it’s hard to go back to pop up camping for more than a short trip:-)

      Reply
  17. norman

    I bought a 1991 Coleman popup in 1998. I used it until 2018, and sold it to someone who was going to fix the lift system. I put lots of Aqua Seal on the canvas over the years (spent $100 for the stuff over the years), but it never leaked.

    I bought another 8-year-old popup this year for $2400, and probably put another $800 in it (trailer brakes, tires, hanging storage containers, sales tax/registration). I’d like a 17-foot hard-sided travel trailer, but my Subaru Forester won’t haul one (never go more than about 60% of your tow capacity).

    Like the article said, go with used. There are countless used ones that have barely been used.

    Reply
  18. vidhan

    Thank you for the helpful post.
    Portability is one major benefit of Pop-up camper.
    Pop-up trailers require only a small truck, SUV, or sedan to tow them. They are relatively light and aerodynamically built so towing them doesn’t require an extremely large engine. The extra money spent in gas will be minimal. It is extremely easy to maneuver and drive them to any area, unlike full sized RV

    Reply
  19. rick

    What about pop up campers in National Parks where they recommend hard sided campers due to wildlife? Anyone camp in a pop up in a National Park?

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      It’s actually very rare for there to be canvas restrictions in national parks. Even though people talk about these restrictions a lot, there are only a handful we have actually been able to document. And some of those have been temporary.

      Reply
  20. Marissa

    We are currently in the market for a used pop up, but I’m torn between ones with a wet bath versus ones without. We were tent campers in the past, but since my husband fell and now had back problems, we have to invest in something with a mattress. We always stayed at campsites with toilets. Just want to see what you guys think..

    Reply
    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      I really liked having a wet bath in ours. We mostly used the campground bathrooms, but the wet bath was perfect for the middle of the night or if the bathhouses were gross!

      Reply
  21. Jonny B

    I’m super pumped about our popup. My mom works at an auto auction and a dealer offered her a 1978 Coleman for ONE DOLLAR! She immediately paid and signed for it and passed it on to me and my family. My girlfriend and I along with our 2 year old have been traveling the country for 2 years with a cabin style half Dark Rest tent and thoroughly enjoyed life on the road visiting family. We had to dump about $700 into this popup to fix it. We removed everything we possibly could, bleached the canvas, waterproofed it, painted all the metal and wood, sealed the roof, reassembled it, and immediately took it from Washington State to Alabama to attend a wedding. The cables were completely shot and I had to repair them, which took many, many days and many dozens of hours of research. One cable snapped in Arkansas and we had to sleep in the van at a Walmart. We fixed it after the wedding after another $30 and a few hours of labor. I’m so torn between saying it was a waste of time and saying it was the best thing we ever did. It’s amazing to be off the ground, away from the bugs (except for damn flies), setting up being a breeze, and having the extra storage apart form our 2013 Grand Caravan. It was a serious challenge when things started breaking and I had to learn how to rivet and replaced the eye bolts with *solid forged* 3/8 inch ones from Lowe’s. The cables to this day, more than 6 months later, are still off, and I will be fixing them in the next few days while we’re camping in AZ, but we freaking love to hate to love to hate to love the dang thing! There are so many more opportunities for overnight stays on our journeys across the states than when we were in a tent and needed perfectly permed ground for a comfortable floor. An upgrade is eminent, but for now, as newbies in the full time camper world, it’s our home and if we jumped straight into a Jayco Flight like we strive for, we wouldn’t hold the knowledge and mechanical expertise we do to this day of all the functions and issues of towing and all of the components within basic campers. We regret nothing and recommend fully that a new full-time or part time camper try out a pop up. If it’s old and broken but all you can afford, do your research and find out what you’re comfortable with fixing for the price. Feel free to reach out to me if you need advice or expertise in repairing your popup at jonxbishop at gmail. I’m so happy with our popup and the freedoms it’s given us that I would be more than happy to pass the knowledge or advice forward. Be well and happy camping everyone!

    Reply
  22. Kristy Chapman

    Thank you! I appreciate this vlog so much. I was just looking for used pop up campers online. Great advice.

    Reply
  23. Mark S Levine

    This is a great article, and I agree with everything you say. For me, and I’d love feedback on this, it’s garagability. I am looking at van campers, and I am trying to decide between just a van camper, and a pop-up like the old Westfalia or the more recent VW Campervans or the Recon. To pop-up, or just use a campervan? It needs to be garagebale. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      It depends on your garage. Many people do keep pop ups in their garage, but air conditioning units on vans often make them too tall. It just depends on the measurements of your garage.

      Reply
  24. John McCanless

    Turned 73 a few years back, and retired. Thought wife and I would do some traveling, but Social Security only goes so far. Son found a cheap Class A Fleetwood Flair, so I thought it would be a cheap way to try RVing out. Glad I did! Paid $5K, and stored it near my son in Colorado…idea was to fly out and use RV, then fly back. Ended up I didn’t like the Class A, and my 70yo wife didn’t want anything to do with camping. Son and his family used it frequently for several years while I paid storage. Son recently bought a newer, bigger Class A for his family, so I’m trying to sell mine long distance without luck. Son would do it, but he travels for a living, and doesn’t have time after spending his short time home with family. Fortunately, I have relatively little in it, but ready to get rid of it. Meanwhile, monthly storage fees continue.

    Meanwhile, I bought a used Rockwood Freedom 1940 pop up with AC, propane stove, propane heater, electric/gas refrigerator, sink, small potable water tank…..no toilet or shower. I’m very happy with it. I try to stay in places where I can get water/electric hookup, and toilets, but can’t always do that. Weighs 1500 lbs, but bought a crew cab Tacoma to pull it. Tacoma has more than enough power, with decent gas mileage. It is also high enough to see traffic behind me over the top of the popup when pulling. Had problems seeing surrounding traffic when pulling with my ’02 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Tacoma allows me to load small (3500W) generator, portable toilet, home made shower stall, water pump, bikes, etc in bed of truck with a tri-fold bed cover. There are some drawbacks, but it works out great, and I take frequent, but reasonably short, camping trips while my wife stays home and gripes about it. Have been restricted to the southeast, and haven’t done any cold weather, but thinking about a trip out west. One big downside is cost and availability of campgrounds/campsites in southeast. Meanwhile, popup is stored in my backyard.

    Reply
  25. Tonia

    We bought our first pop up five years ago after “aging” out of tent camping. Getting in and out of a tent is hard work and getting dressed in them, not much room, etc. Just wasn’t that comfortable. We bought a 2007 Rockwood five years ago for $4,500 and it has been almost perfect. It has all the comforts of home including a bathroom. Two huge beds, indoor cooking, etc. We were entertaining a TT or 5th wheel but after more deliberation we have now decided on a newer pop up. We decided to get a 1-2 year old Forest River High Wall to give us the most luxury in a pop up and really still give us the rustic pop up camping experience. We only camp off the grid so we are going to add a little solar to our new one, and learn the water system more. We currently don’t use any water/shower in our pop up cause we never learned to do it….but that will change w/ the new one. But now that we have learned our way around dispersed camping w/ our used popup, we still going used but only 1-2 year used cause of the amenities I want. I plan on this one being w/ us for more than five years and we have much longer trips planned in the future. We do like the ease of traveling w/ a pop up versus TT. We can get in and out of dispersed areas easily.

    Reply
  26. Scott

    We started out camping in tents. After 20 years of tenting, 7 years ago, we bought a well used, 1988 Coleman Columbia popup. It was well past its prime when we bought it, but it had a new canvas and screw drive installed. The canvas runs $800 and we paid $1,000 for the popup. We have used it quite a bit in the last 7 years since we bought it. It is a very basic, small camper with no extra features. We love it because it is so easy to haul and park in a campground. (1,000 lbs dry weight) We haul it with ease behind your 2016 Ford Escape. You barely know it’s there. We often go to campsites and just get a cheap tent site. I guess its all in your point of view and what experience you really are looking to have. If you love “camping” and are looking to just get out of a tent but keep the rustic experience, then by all means, get a simple, cheaper popup without all the extra stuff. If you want to go “RVing”, than get a RV.
    Camping and “RVing” are not the same thing.
    Yes,,, we still use the old popup and will until it has some major issue that we can’t deal with.

    Reply
  27. Daniel Rosselli

    Great article. My buddy and I are working on a prototype off-road pop up trailer and since you’ve had the experiences and have gone through the trials by fire, we would love any advice/desires you would like to see in our design. Find us on facebook at All Terrain Design Co. and let’s connect. Would be fun to get you guys to take it out when its completed and get feedback.

    Reply
  28. Rich K.

    I bought a 1978 Rockwood 806 right before Memorial Day 2018. It needed work but I got it pretty cheap. Used it a few times last summer while I slowly repaired and upgraded it. This summer I completely rebuilt the roof (which was the biggest problem the camper had, as the wood was rotten and it leaked), replaced the canvas, and put a used 3-way refrigerator in instead of the 120v only ‘dorm’ fridge the previoys owners had installed. For what I put into it, I probably could have gotten a better camper to start with, but this way I was able to spread out the cost (I am on a limited budget) without taking out a loan. The little Rockwood (the smallest one they made in 1978, apparently) can be easily and quickly set up by one person, can be towed by a small SUV (1250 pounds empty), and can be parked in the garage for the winter, yet still has enough room for my wife, my two kids, and myself.

    Reply
  29. Pat Provonsil

    I would appreciate advice for a senior woman like me with buying a used popup. I’m very concerned that I won’t be strong enough to connect the pop up to a vehicle or set it up at a campground. Are there models that would be easy enough for me to handle? What kind do I need to look for??? Please help me find the right fit for me. I had been looking at only truck mounted rv campers but I haven’t found many available. I thought that was probably the easiest for me. I don’t like having the only auto available also being the camper. I like to see the local sites and go wherever I’m wanting to go in an auto and not having to drive the motorhome or whatever they’re called.

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  30. Lisa

    We started out in a pop up. Moved up to a pop up with heat/ ac bathroom. Then on to the travel trailer. Pop ups are A Lot Of work with set up / tear down- especially with little kids!
    Sold camper , years later , we are starting over with another pop up. Reason being: our grown/ married kids are not comfortable towing a travel trailer. And we want them to grow into towing/ camping again .
    Each person has to decide what works best for their needs. Buying a used pop up is a wise financial idea, but be careful of what you are buying used.
    Camping is a wonderful family time adventure! Whether you tent, pop up or motor home!

    Reply

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