RVFTA #166: The $1,000 Used Pop Up Camper

The RV Atlas Podcast

RVFTA #166: The $1,000 Used Pop Up Camper

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RVFTA #166: The $1,000 Used Pop Up Camper

On this episode of the RV Family Travel Atlas podcast, we are telling the story behind our recent purchase of a $1,000 used pop up camper.

No, we didn’t get rid of the 2017 Jayco Octane 272. We just became a two-RV family.

Why on earth did we do that? We’ll go through the whole process from deciding to get a second RV to tracking down the perfect unit to negotiating a fair price to all of our plans for the remodel. If you want to read more about our thoughts on buying a used pop up camper, check this post out.

Segment One: The Used Pop Up Camper Hunt

There are many reasons why a used pop up camper was on our radar even though we just bought a brand spankin’ new toy hauler last winter.

The Octane toy hauler makes a ton of sense for us as a family, especially considering how much time we spend in our RV and how much gear we bring on our longer trips. However, the decision to go bigger came with some tradeoffs.

Heads up: everything comes with trade offs…

We now have to store our Octane away from our house, and quick weekend trips are more of a challenge. Plus, there are many rustic public campgrounds that are simply off limits to a rig that is over 30 feet.

I (Stephanie) also have the opportunity to attend lots of girl camper events. There is no way I would tow the enormous family camper to one of those weekend campouts. That would be ridiculous for too many reasons to list.


We decided to put our money where our mouth is. See, we made a big mistake 8 years ago when we spend too much money on a new pop up camper and then took a financial hit when upgrading to a travel two years later (you can read about that whole story here). And now we highly recommend that listeners think about a used pop up as an affordable and fun way to enter into the RV lifestyle.

Think of this pop up camper as a living example of us practicing what we preach: cheap, used pop up campers are awesome.

In this first segment of the podcast, we also discuss all the budget and spec parameters we placed on our hunt, including a very strict dollar limit and a total ban on Craigslist.

The search took about two months, and plenty of our lowball offers were rejected. But ultimately, we came home with a used pop up camper that hit all the checkmarks on our list. You can listen to the episode to hear all the details.

Segment Two: Penny the $1000 Used Pop Up Camper

Penny the Pop Up is a 1996 Jayco Eagle Series 8 pop up camper. You can click here to see the entire PDF brochure from Jayco for this series of pop up campers.

We were looking for something small, simple, and in fabulous condition, and Penny hit the mark in all these categories.

A little safety maintenance work was in order immediately. We brought the pop up directly to a local trailer supply shop to have her axle inspected and lubed, plus we had safety chains welded on.

Some of our plans for Penny’s refresh include:

  • Reupholstering the cushions
  • Slip covers for the beds
  • Replacing curtains
  • Laying new flooring
  • Installing a Porti Potti closet
  • Cleaning the exterior and refreshing the decals

Stay tuned for updates on all these projects. We’ll definitely be keeping our winterization blues in check by having fun with our inexpensive used pop up camper!

We also chat about how Penny got her name…and how the Octane Toy Hauler was finally named as a direct result.

Additional Information: RV News Minute and RVFTA News Roundup

Other information and links mentioned in this episode include…

Other RVFTA Pop Up Camper Episodes include…

Tips for Buying A Used Pop Up Camper with the Pop Up Princess
RV Makeover 101 with the Pop Up Princess
An Ode to the Pop Up Camper

See you at the campground!

Stephanie + Jeremy


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  1. Anne Kennedy

    Stephanie and Jeremy,
    In a lot of ways, our families are similar – we have energetic kids, we love camping, getting away brings us closer together, we believe there is a time and place for tent camping but really we love our air conditioning and our TVs, etc.
    In other ways, we are in different places. I am a single mom. I get so distracted every day with the “havetodos” – camping is an affordable way for us to get out of our daily routine and spend time together.
    ANYWAY, last year we moved from Virginia to Florida. The camping season is SOOOO much longer, but the bugs are SOOOO much creepier. So I decided to invest in the world’s worst financial investment: an RV!
    I don’t have a towing vehicle, and I don’t need one. Also, because it’s just me, a 6 year old and a 9 year old, I don’t have a spotter. I do not have room for a C and also I wanted something that could be easily towed. Although many people do not believe a B is for a family, our family is quite comfy in ours just because there is only one adult. During Hurricane Irma we took a spontaneous 8 day camping trip north and west, and it was great!
    Sorry for the build up, but I just wanted to say that I really related to your desire for flexibility, simplicity, and also opportunity with your little fixer upper. Thank you, and I look forward to your dual-RV-personas going forward!
    We are off to Ft. DeSoto for the holiday weekend next week … cannot WAIT. I hope to meet you at the Tampa show in January.
    All the best,

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas


      A Class B sounds like a fantastic option for your family and I’m so glad that you managed to find a good fit! The spotter thing is huge…people always say you can back in on your own and that’s true, but it doesn’t mean I want to:-) An RV is definitely an investment, just not a financial one. You are investing in yourself, your kids, and your happiness. That’s pretty valuable in my opinion. Have an amazing stay at beautiful Fort DeSoto. Look forward to saying hi in Tampa!

  2. Anne

    Thank you so much! And thank you so much for inspiring us every day.

  3. Lindsay Natale

    Great podcast! Always love the pop-up content, and look forward to more now that you have Penny! From your fellow class of ’96 graduate,

    Lindsay Natale

  4. Lorraine

    Do you have a recommendation for a pop up less than 1500lbs?

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      The Livin’ Lite pop ups are incredibly light weight, but they aren’t going to be making them for much longer so I would look into that now. A lot of the super light weight pop ups are going to be a little pricier because they are made with aluminum and other premium materials. Also check out the Purple Line Opus campers.

  5. Michelle Davidson

    We go our 92 Palomino for $300…off Craigslist.
    I think we have put maybe $500 into it, and that includes rebuilding the front end and king bunkend.

    We were not sure we wanted a popup so we figured used was the way to go. We do love it, but want to take some longer trips and the set up and lack of overnight TA camping is a pain so we may be looking for a TT in the next year. Then I guess we will stick to tent camping for boondocking.

    I love all the tips here!

    • RVFamilyTravelAtlas

      The set up and break down on longer trips is what eventually pushed us into the travel trailer! Keep your pop up if you can, and you may have the best of both worlds:-)

  6. Edwin Yates

    We are interested in finding a penny the popup. We cannot tow more than 1800 pounds.

  7. Cindy Westlake

    What is TA camping? How long does it take tonset them up and break them down?

    • Stephanie

      Set up and break down depends on a lot of factors, so there is no way to say how long it will take. If you keep your set up simple, i would say you could limit it to 45 minutes. Of course, it usually takes longer at first.

      • Joy Henderson

        Looking cheap be pop up camper have 98 Chev truck 4×4 bad credit m o down payment help

  8. Janet Marie Anthony

    I am looking for a used pop up camper under $1000 in great condition. I have a 2015 ford escape titanium all wheel drive.

  9. donald scarlett

    I have a 2013 Hyundai Tucson iam new to this and hope I could find a decent popup for 900 dollars or less is that possible and what would you suggest.

    • Stephanie

      You can certainly find a popup for 900 or less, but you will have to research your personal vehicle’s tow capacity using your VIN number.

  10. T. McSpadden

    Am trying to find a pop-up camper under 1000 pounds. Seems all of the ’90s Coleman Taos fit the bill, but no one is willing to go to the nada guide price. Can’t see buying a twenty something year old pop-up that is going to need repair for $2,000. How do you get a person to accept NADA price?

  11. T. McSpadden

    The NADA price for a 1999 Taos pop up is about $900 for high price. Yet people are requesting close to $2000. How can you get people to accept the NADA price? the pop up is over 20 years old now and has no three way fridge or air condition. So it is just the basic pop-up.



  1. Thinking about Buying a Pop Up Camper? Consider This... - […] can read more about Penny the Pop Up Camper here. You can also check out our podcasts about the…

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