Tell me about Pop-up Campers

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Saltbox, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. Saltbox

    Saltbox WTF is this?

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    The wife and I did our taxes this weekend. Looks like we will have enough money to buy a fairly new used pop up camper. Problem is I don't know crap about them. My wife, 7 year old son, 4 year old daughter and a small dog along with myself will be camping in it. What should I be on the look out for? Anything to stay away from. I really like the ones that have the bump-outs, and I'm not sure I really want a toilet. It doesn't seem like much privacy unless you kick everyone out of the trailer. Although I guess it would be convenient for those mid-night leaks. There are so many different models I don't know where to begin. What would you consider to be the top of the line manufactorer? We will mostly be doing weekend trips. Go to a campsite, setup and use the truck to explore while leaving the trailer at the campsite. A few people have told me that they should be stored indoors in the off season. I'm not to keen on giving up garage space for a pop-up. So help me out, cause if I make the wrong decesion, I'll never hear the end of it. In typical princess fashion the wife wants me to do all the research. She'll crtique my decesions after I spend the cash.

    :beer
    #1
  2. papalobster

    papalobster With Gusto!

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    I love my pop-up. The biggest problem is noise. There's no sound insulation, so it's like sleeping in a tent. My newest one is 19 years old, has water, heat and loaded weighs less than 2k pounds and I can pull it easily with a minivan. It has a cassette toilet, and yes privacy is an issue for my wife and daughter, but we tend to camp where there are no facilities so it's either the little toilet or the woods. We opted out of a fridge as we always have 2 coolers along. An external stove is nice, so you can cook outside without getting the inside too hot or smokey. An awning is nearly indispensable, gives a little more "living room". It sets up in about 10-15 minutes, and youcan do it in total darkness

    We looked at new ones, but realized there wasn't much difference between new ones and a few year old ones other than the price.

    I'm on my second Coleman/Fleetwood, we outgrew the last one. Best thing to do is go look at em, lay on the beds. Let the children bounce around inside while it's set up, you know real world check out. Figure out what features you absolutely NEED and shop from there. A 10 foot tub model can usually sleep 5-6. Ours can sleep 6 by literature, but in reality 5 comfortably.
    #2
  3. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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    Ill lay it out this way. They are easy to tow, you can get them in places where nothing bigger will fit. They are not hard to put up and take down. That's about it for the good stuff. I have an old one, but here's my take on the bad stuff.

    They are horrendously noisy in the wind, they suck when it rains hard because it sounds like you are trying to sleep in a snare drum that Jon Bonnham is playing constantly.

    They are prone to tears in the material even if careful and not totally anal. And even if you are anal about it they can rip pretty easily if put up or taken down in the rain. They also have limited floor space for families and larger groups of campers. They have a load limit often, scratch that that is ALWAYS exceeded by shit crammed into it by those trying to use it for a camper and a utility hauler for all their stuff. They have small wheels and tyres that are or at least can be hard to find.

    If used correctly and in conditions that are good they can be great. I'd never buy another one for here in NM since it seems to get windy and rain a lot during the summer weekends to the lake. Oh did I mention they are hotter than fuck inside in the summer?
    #3
  4. Saltbox

    Saltbox WTF is this?

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    Hotter than fuck! Now thats good info. I always thought they would be some what cool, with all of the screens. I'm not concerned about the noise. We're used to tent camping, so this will be like a huge upgrade. Any opinion on which brand is best, top of the line and which is the worst?
    #4
  5. NomadRip

    NomadRip Always a n00b

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    #5
  6. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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    It is so hot in them even with the window flaps open if there isn't any wind that it is better to hang out outside. Well, here in the desert it is. Oh, and get a Jayco or some top brand they are best for warranty.
    #6
  7. Danamr

    Danamr Been here awhile

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    Coleman and Jayco are what you will see the most of, then Starcraft, then a bunch of smaler companies. I have pulled a Santa Fe all over the Western US and Canada. I would say that a Santa Fe is a bit small for your family.
    If you have a rig that will tow one the units with the pull-out dining areas give you a lot more floor space, and you have queen size beds on both sides. We carry a porti-poddy for emergency use, I have not wanted to deal with black-water tanks and keeping things clean.
    We bought ours used 12 years ago, and have not had any problems with the fabric. You do have to be careful when you store them. Make sure the fabric is dry before putting it up for the season.
    As for the other issues noted above, it's a tent with a hard top. Hot weather. Sound issues. It's just like camping in a tent.
    Some people are not gong to be able to put up with that, but for a less that 2500# package that gives a comfortable living area in most weather, they are great.
    #7
  8. Trail Ryder

    Trail Ryder Your Hero

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    Why don't you rent one for a long weekend or even a week? It would be a shame to not test drive one first before you pull the trigger.
    #8
  9. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    I spent two weeks in one every summer as a kid. Ok as a basecamp, but the one or two nights spent on the way to where we were going were all setup, teardown, move shit around.

    It got to be so crowded with three kids and two parents that my brother and I just slept outside in a tent, left the one end for my sister, and left the dinette up all the time.

    The comments about floor space are spot on. There is no where to stand. Not sure they make them with a slide out dinette so you can walk past it to the bed, used to be you had to climb over. Total clusterfuck.

    Have you considered the hardsided 'hybrids' that have a bed poking out of one end? Seems like a much better compromise.
    #9
  10. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

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    Popups are only really OK with a couple in them. Even the big ones suck for floor space, shoot, even my 16ft self contained gets crampped with my GF and I and the two kids in it and they are only 4 and 8.
    #10
  11. Danamr

    Danamr Been here awhile

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    Hopefully the OP has done some research. If not I think the recommendation to rent one is a great idea.
    They do not suck compared to a tent.
    You are camping. They are not a 5th wheel or a land yacht where you spend most of your time inside. They don't have all the comforts of home.
    They are lighter that even ultra-light hard sides and easier to tow.
    If you can live with a tent trailer you get a better deal for your money.
    #11
  12. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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    The OP is in MA, not NM. He's only got three weeks per year where the heat will be prohibitive.
    #12
  13. Hannda

    Hannda Short, fat, bearded, old & slow

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    #13
  14. Green427

    Green427 Comfortably Dumb

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    We had a Jayco Jay series 12-footer.

    Like everyone said, easy to tow, easy to set up, easy to store.

    Ours had A/C, so it was a breeze. Jayco's quality is pretty good.

    Lots of fun, positive experiences, however:

    NOT good to have 2 young children that are at each others' throats, especially if you make them sleep on the same bed.

    Noisy, noisy, noisy. Just like in a tent. You can hear every drunk redneck on the campsite being obnoxious. If you fart, the whole campground can hear you. If anyone has explosive diarrhea, use the campground's toilet instead. It helps to have the A/C running to mask the sound.

    If one person scratches his ass, everyone can feel the shaking motion.

    If there is strong wind, there is shaking.

    If you go camping during cold weather, bring a ceramic heater and use the campground's electricity since the heater will run non-stop, as there is nothing to keep the heat in.

    Can't store much inside due to the low storage height.

    If everyone is a heavy sleeper, it is not much of an issue.

    Still, you CANNOT beat the low-cost and convenience. Still a HUGE, HUGE step above tents. Lots of fun, especially when camping with friends.
    #14
  15. KLboxeR

    KLboxeR Yeah, I ride a Harley. So what?

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    Rent one for the first season. Make sure it's for you before you buy as they depreciate fast.

    We found ours to be a colossal pain in the ass for anything less than a four day stay. Packing up/setting up and getting there is a full day- one day at camp- breaking down/unpacking and heading home is another day was the way that many three day weekends went before we decided it wasn't worth it for that short of a stay. We couldn't do many four day trips so the camper sat, then got sold. Pop ups are nice, but they have many drawbacks.

    The money we lost to depreciation ( we purchased it used, 1 year old, for 8k; we sold it for 5k three years later) would have paid for many a tent camping trip or rental cabin.
    #15
  16. Cumminsman76

    Cumminsman76 befuddled

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    Think of all the nights in a hotel that money will buy.:deal Plus you can't haul it with the bike.:freaky
    #16
  17. Sancho Panza

    Sancho Panza Thundering Shire

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    It beats a f____ing tent hands down. 3 Kids wife and two dogs, all the stuff is stashed in the camper at the begining of the season and it's ready to go! But try it out first see if it meets with everyones approval. Consider it low stress tent camping and it is great for that.
    #17
  18. Deans BMW

    Deans BMW Granpa Hoon

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    My wife and I had a 14' JayCo that we kept at our shop. We kept it fully stocked all the time and all it took was to hook it up to our truck at a moments notice. We had it raised 4" for increases ground clearance as we would always camp way off the beaten path along the Mogollon Rim in the White Mountains of Arizona. It was complete with ducted heat that worked great a refrigerator plus an Ice Box. A full shower and electric flush toilet.

    We loved the rig and used it a lot. We never used it in a campground so noise was not an issue.
    #18
  19. McB

    McB Long timer

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    We have an 8' Rockwood, the smallest they make. It works great for us, and pulls easily behind any minivan or small SUV. Friends have pulled them with Accords and Tauruses; and we've pulled ours in the flatlands with a Pontiac Vibe.

    Definitely much better than a tent, but not as good as a bigger camper or a rented cabin. Most of them can be had with a small rooftop AC unit, if you live where it's hot and camp where there's juice. Even without, they're not as hot as a tent; so it's all relative.

    For more than 2-3 people, or if all of those 3 are big folks, go for a larger one. There are some nice 12 footers out there that will still pull easily behind a V-6 minivan or an SUV or pickup.

    Popups are great as long as you understand their limitations.
    #19
  20. Saltbox

    Saltbox WTF is this?

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    Alot of good info, thanks.
    I have looked into renting one, the two places I've found so far want $500 for a week, and they tow it and set it up. I would like to tow it and set it up myself.$500 doesn't seem like much but I've been looking at some fairly decent used units in $3000-$5000 range, so that extra $500 could be the dough I need to close the deal.
    My wife and I are used to tent camping, but now with kids it is such a pain in the ass. Packing all their crap almost takes the fun out of it. I end up with one of those big plastic thule luggage things on the roof of the explorer. I figure a pop-up will at least let me have the majority of the camping crap ready to go. I also don't think I'd ever spend more than a week in it. A trailer would be nice, but I still like the idea of camping, at least while my kids are still young.
    The other way I look at it, buying a pop-up is like buying a KLR. There cheap, effective and at least the whole family can hopefully enjoy it, not the KLR, thats for Dads sanity.


    :beer
    #20