A pop-up tent trailer is a must-have component when camping or traveling; it’s easier to tow than the full trailer RV. One thing that makes it unique is its ability to collapse and save up some space for you. The partial canvas structure contains large mattresses, a mess area, and a bathroom. Getting all these features at a lower price is a good investment for you. If you are looking forward to buying a pop-up tent trailer, then this guide will provide you with everything you need to know.
What Is A Pop-Up Tent Trailer?
A pop-up tent trailer looks similar to a travel trailer at first glance. However, these tents come with different features and roles. The difference can be the overall weight, the amount of space each one of them occupies, and finally, the price. A pop-up trailer weighs less and costs less. It also has the same features as the travel trailer albeit on a smaller space. If you are torn between the two trailers, you should choose the latter.
Before purchasing a pop-up tent trailer, you should do a little research on them. Some of the factors are the budget you have, the amount of storage you need, towing capabilities, and the facilities. We will answer these questions for you as you read this article. If you are still not sure of what you want in a pop-up trailer, you should consider renting one first. The purpose of this article is to make sure that you make the right decision when acquiring one. The space might be smaller and you will find the pop-up trailer a bit compact. Don’t be discouraged from trying it out, especially when going out for camping.
The 25 Must-Know About Pop-Up Tent Trailers
1. Towing Capability
A pop-up tent trailer must be pulled by a vehicle when heading out. The towing capability should be your priority. Is your truck up to the task? Look at your car’s towing capacity. The good thing about a pop-up tent trailer is that it can be dragged easily because of its light weight. Its manufacturers make it from canvas and metal frames for support, as opposed to travel trailers which are made exclusively from metal and other solid materials. Most vehicles can tow this pop-up tent trailer because of its weight. You don’t need to purchase an SUV truck, in addition to the trailer, to tow it. Even a small vehicle like Honda Odyssey can finish the job, saving you the investment money. It also saves you fuel.
This is arguably the best thing about a pop-up tent trailer—the ability to save up on space and give more cargo room at the same time. If you are wondering how this is possible, stay put. The pop-up tent trailer can fold, thus, save up on space. It can also be expanded to cover more room. The canvas plays a significant role here. You easily wrap the canvas and store in your garage or when towing it. Upon reaching your destination, you unfold it and set-up the tent. The reason you should store your pop-up tent trailer in your garage is to increase its durability. The metal frames and the canvas are prone to the vagaries of nature.
The design of the tent trailer is entirely different from the other camping vehicles like the RV or the travel trailer that you see out there, like the shape of the design and its ability to collapse or unfold. This gives it an aerodynamic shape. Why is this important? It is essential when it comes to towing. The shape generates less wind resistance during towing. It streamlines the air to allow free movement of the trailer. This saves you on gas, as the force needed to tow the tent trailer will be less. Unlike the RV and other camping vehicles, which have a rectangular structure, the tent trailer is much easier for your vehicle to pull and use less fuel.
It is important to note that in a pop-up tent trailer, you will be at the mercy of nature, even though your salesman will tell you that the canvas is military grade in thickness. But this might not be the case. Also, if you intend to heat the pop-up trailer during winter, the insulation will not be sufficient. It’s the same case during summer. If you install an air conditioner, the canvas will still let the cold air out. Watch this video to understand how to insulate your pop-up tent trailer. The only weather element it will protect you from is the rain. However, no problem is without a solution. You can purchase some foam from your local hardware store and line it up on the canvas. Foam blocks provide good insulation, even though they might not be the perfect solution to this problem.
5. Pop-Ups Do Have A Bathroom
Most people wonder how this is even possible in a structure that can be folded to save on space. Well, with advancement in technology and product innovation, pop-up tent trailers do have a washroom. You only need to lift up a canvas curtain and reveal the toilet structure. The bathroom isn’t as convenient as the one found in an RV, but to cut a long story short, you can use the washroom just like any other. In my opinion, this is more convenient than rushing to the forest or hauling an extra portable toilet. Dumping the waste is also easy, go to a dumping station and the rest will be done for you, at a small fee of course.
Let’s be factual about this: an RV costs upwards of $50,000 to purchase.
New tent trailers cost $2,000-$10,000 for a base model with a bed or a couple of beds, a small dining area, an ice chest or mini-refrigerator, and some type of appliance for cooking.
Larger tent trailers cost $7,000-$26,000 but provide better cooking appliances, heater, air conditioning, shower, toilet, a cable TV hookup, and could come with slide-outs. The more expensive models will have a tub shower with a toilet.
A pop-up tent trailer goes for $10,000, depending on the size and the facilities. You don’t have to be good at numbers to see the difference.
The point is, purchasing a tent trailer will save you more money, and will hold its depreciation a bit longer over time. In addition to saving on fuel as mentioned earlier, these items make a pop-up tent trailer best suited for those who are on a tight budget. I am not implying that you shouldn’t go for an RV; however, you should consider what you have before making that decision. This is good for beginners who are starting their camping routine.
7. Technical set-up
Be prepared to get your hands dirty if you settle for a pop-up tent trailer. You will need to set-up the whole structure with or without help. Because you had folded up the fabric for ease of travel, you need to unfold it when setting it up. Other mechanical stuff includes setting up the door, sliding out the beds, propping the supports, and making sure it is stable.
The tent trailer involves a lot of mechanical stuff than an RV or travel trailer. That’s if you go camping alone. If you have a companion, then the process will be seamless. That’s the beauty of camping with friends and family. This video below will be handy for beginners.
To put this straight, a pop-up tent trailer might not be safe for keeping valuables during camping. Since you will be camping alongside other families and friends, personal security is not optional. If someone decides to breach your tent trailer at night, all they have to do is carry a knife and peel the canvas. A very simple task, and they get away with valuables and other camping stuff when you are asleep. The solution is to lock your valuable stuff in your car at night or when out of the campsite. The RV has a solid door which can be locked. This is a good deterrent for thugs.
You will spend more time loading and off-loading camping stuff from a pop-up trailer. Because of space, you need to store some of your stuff at the back of your vehicle. This takes up time to set-up the whole component. For an RV or a travel trailer, all you have to do is reverse it into position and restrict its movement by clamping it. The rest of the stuff will be already there as it is. So before buying that pop-up tent trailer, you need to be aware that it is labor intensive and takes time to have everything in place.
10. Vehicle Space
One factor that you need to consider before buying that pop-up tent trailer is the available space in your car. We discussed earlier that the pop-up tent could be folded to save on space. This minimizes its storage capacity. You cannot carry all the camping gear on the trailer alone, which is why you need to seriously consider the available space in your car to accommodate some of the equipment. If your car is too small, don’t go for a pop-up trailer. You can purchase a rooftop carrier for your vehicle. This will help solve the space issue and you can carry on with your camping plans as usual.
The number of people a pop-up tent trailer can accommodate should be an important factor, especially for those with large families. Usually, a pop-up will provide 3-4 people, but above this number, you will be over-stretching it. The walkways are small because of its compact size. An RV will accommodate more people compared to a pop-up trailer. We have to make a comparison to see both sides of an argument. This will help you make the right choice for your family. The tent trailer will have less living space when compared to an RV trailer. If you are camping with your family, this might not be the ideal camping trailer.
We all agree that camping sites can be a little overcrowded. More vehicles mean small spaces to park and in which to maneuver. For the pop-up trailer, it will be easier to park and maneuver in the campsite. Why is this so? Since the pop-up trailer is foldable and its overall length is less than an RV, this makes it easier to park. The background will also be visible by the rear mirror. Unlike other camping vehicles which block the rear view due to their large structures. If you don’t want a trailer that gives you a hustle when parking it, settle for a pop-up tent trailer.
This is one of the benefits that come with the pop-up tent trailer. You will have little or no maintenance on the trailer. Other recreational vehicles come with engines and lots of moving parts. But the pop-up trailer only has few moving parts like the wheels and axles. You can see that the cost of engine maintenance in RVs will make your budget skyrocket. The canvas can also be replaced at a cheaper price when it wears out. This makes a pop-up tent trailer very cost effective and easier to manage than other camping vehicles. With this, you get a good return for your investment.
14. Fresh Air
The point of going camping is to experience the outdoors. You can get a break from staying in your home for a whole year. The pop-up trailer does just that, the canvas on the sides can be rolled up to let in the outside fresh and cool air, especially during the summer months. The thin canvas also allows nature sounds and noises from animals to give you the best camping experience ever. This is why most people settle for a pop-up trailer than a closed travel trailer. For those that have AC and other air conditioning units, it will save you on the running costs of the generator.
15. You Need to Air It Out
After a heavy rain or storm while you were out camping, you need to air the canvas so that it dries out completely. It can be a tedious process, but it is necessary. Airing out the canvas and the awnings will help increase the durability of the structure. As earlier stated, this pop-up tent trailer is sensitive to weather elements. It can rust, rip, and tear. If you don’t air it out, mildew and mold will form on the canvas, causing infections and bad smells. This is why you need to air it out during the day and prop it in the evening after a heavy rain or storm.
16. Cooking Will Be Outside
I personally will not cook inside the pop-up tent trailer because of some reasons. The first reason is the ventilation. Since the tent is small and compact, ventilation would be an issue. If you have to roll up the canvas, then you need an electrical heater that will not be affected by wind. Most campers use propane burners to cook. The problem is similar to an RV. The other reason is the close living quarters. This proximity can be a fire hazard. The canvas will catch fire and burn if you are not careful. This is why you should cook outside, in order to be safe.
Though this aspect is not that crucial when buying the pop-up tent trailer, it is good for your safety. Most of you know that a pop-up trailer rides on one axle. For those of you who don’t know what this is, there is a set of tires on the trailer. What is the issue with one axle? Most drivers who have towed the pop-up trailer know that is prone to seesawing. This seesaw effect is brought about by the single axle. You will notice that as you gain speed in the highway or any other roads, there will be a fishtailing effect, where the trailer tends to stay away from the towing angle. There is no way to get it right; the only solution is to fasten the trailer to the tow firmly and to drive carefully. The information on this site will shed more light on this issue.
18. Tow Ratings
You need to inquire about your vehicle’s tow ratings. Don’t just attach the trailer to the vehicle without prior knowledge on the towing capability. If your vehicle supports 4,000 pounds, you should buy a pop-up trailer that weighs less than 3,000 pounds. This is to avoid engine breakdowns when towing the trailers. The tow ratings of every vehicle are available on the manufacturer’s site, in case you are wondering where to get them. This website will be helpful on how to know the tow capacity.
The pop-up trailer is not a good option if you intend to travel in camps that bears roam. Bears will attack when provoked or when looking for food. The thin canvas is no match for the bear’s weight and claws. A single swipe and the canvas tears in half. It could be dangerous while camping in these areas. The solution is not to throw away food on the campground. Also, guards usually keep the camp secure.
20. Buy Second Hand
You can always settle for a second-hand pop-up trailer if you are tight on your budget. Since there is no engine to worry about, you can assess the other movable parts easily. Just check the AC unit, the canvas, and the wheels. If everything is fine, go ahead and purchase it.
21. Generator Noise
One downside of the pop-up trailer is the generator noise; it cuts through the thin canvas and causes a disturbance. If your campsite neighbor lets his/her generator on through the night, you will not sleep because of the noise. There is no alternative to produce electricity other than a generator. You have to get used to it.
22. Beginner Friendly
In some states, you have to get a special license to drive an RV. Getting a route that is RV friendly can be a headache. But there might be barriers on the road that an RV cannot pass or maneuver. The pop-up trailer is light weight and makes it easy to brake and maneuver corners for those who are not the best drivers.
The good thing about a pop-up tent trailer is that you can always add more compartments. The extra compartments are meant to store extra camping gear and stuff. This will provide additional storage space if you have a small vehicle to tow the trailer.
If you feel that you might make the wrong decision when buying a new pop-up trailer or a second hand, rent one so that you can experience all these features we have discussed. If it suits your needs, then you can go ahead and purchase it. I recommend RV Share when it comes to renting an RV.
25. Pull-out beds
The pop-up trailer relies on the pull-out beds; these beds are not that comfortable. The mattress can be thin. If you don’t support the pull-out bed very well, it might be unsafe for you to sleep on it. This can even make the whole structure collapse because of your weight. But this usually happens if the support isn’t strong enough on the ground.
Is the pop-up trailer well insulated?
No, it needs additional insulation material. You can improvise on this by using foam blocks. They will help retain heat in cold months or retain the cool air in summer.
Is the RV or pop-up tent trailer best for camping?
These questions cut across the features. But the most critical factor to consider is the budget you have and the cost of maintenance. The pop-up trailer looks good on the price and maintenance costs, though the RV is good for security. The answer lies in your personal preference.
Can it be improvised?
Yes, there is always room to add a few things like collapsible compartments and related stuff to boost the storage capacity.
We have three kids, can we fit in the pop-up tent trailer?
Yes, 4-5 people can fit in this tent trailer. The pull-out beds is spacious so that you and your family fit in them. The kids can share the beds if you support it well.
Never be in a hurry to make essential decisions like purchasing a pop-up trailer or RV. Always do your research before signing on the dotted line. This will ensure you get a good return for your investment.