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What is a Pop-Up Camper?

By Ken Black
Updated May 23, 2024
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A pop-up camper is a camper that has the ability to be folded or broken down so that it is easier to transport. Once at the campsite, it can then be expanded vertically and horizontally to a certain extent. The ability of the pop-up camper to fold down makes it an ideal choice for those who want something more substantial than a tent, but don't want a high transport cost.

A pop-up camper has wheels and is pulled by a trailer. Usually the trailer component is seamlessly built into the camping component so that it looks like one cohesive unit. In accordance with laws governing the use of trailers, any legal pop-up camper will also have electrical hookups for taillights and directional blinkers.

Once at a campsite and ready for camping, it is a good idea to find a level patch of ground and make sure the wheels are immobilized with a wheel chock of some sort. If no wheel chocks came with the camper, it should be possible to use materials at or near the campsite, such as rocks. Bricks, if any are available, would also make a good immobilizer.

While some pop-up campers are not much more than elevated tents with a solid bottom, others offer features normally found in recreational vehicles or fifth-wheel campers. These amenities may include fully functional stove and air conditioners. Even electrical lights and televisions are options for some models of campers.

Further, it is not uncommon for a pop-up camper to have a toilet and shower as well. While the close quarters may not make the pop-up camper an ideal place for such activities, it is an option. Those who value their privacy may decide a pop-up camper is not for them.

The top of the pop-up camper is usually made of an awning of some sort. However, in some cases the top of the camper exactly over the main portion of the trailer will be hard, with awning spreading out from either side. This soft roof is what enables the camper to have its pop-up properties. It gives the sides and roof enough flexibility that it can be folded down, yet provides good protection for those inside when in use.

A pop-up camper is one of the most economical ways to travel to and from a campsite. The fact that is can be reduced to such a small profile will lower the amount of drag. This is a feature a normal trailer camper and recreational vehicle cannot do.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By whiteplane — On Apr 01, 2012

I have stayed in a pop up camper on a few occasions and I think it is really a lot easier to just pitch a tent. The camper is not much more comfortable and it is a lot of gear to haul into the outdoors. Even a massive tent can fit into the trunk of a sedan.

Plus you can get a really comfortable nights sleep in a tent. If you have a good pad or even an air mattress you do not know that you are sleeping on the ground at all. There are electric fans that can keep the air cool. I just don't see the advantage of the camper.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Apr 01, 2012

Lots of people hear about pop up campers and think of station wagons hauling them around in the 50s. But there are new designs that are surprisingly nice. They have a full range of amenities and can accommodate a surprising number of people.

Trailer technology in general has come a long way in the last 20 years. You would not believe how nice some of these things are. Staying inside is like being in a mansion. You could not camp in a more luxurious way.

By truman12 — On Mar 31, 2012

My family had a pop up camper when I was a kid. My dad loved the outdoors and most of our family vacations involved camping in one of the national parks around the Midwest.

The thing was that it was a pretty small camper and there was my dad and mom and three kids. So mom and dad took the camper while the kids had to sleep in an old army tent. We were young and never really complained, but thinking back I'm not sure there was a single night I slept in that camper.

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