Pop-Up Campers: RV or Impostor? The Reality

You must have come across pop-up campers while looking for an RV (Recreational Vehicle). It has been a long debate about whether pop-up campers are a type of recreational vehicle or not. 

A pop-up camper is considered a lighter version of an RV that is perfect for camping experiences. Pop-up campers are compact, lightweight, and more streamlined than a traditional RV, making them perfect for anyone who wants to travel without all the bulk of a larger rig.

In this article, you can learn everything you need to know to get started with pop-up camping for your next vacation.

What Makes a Pop-Up Camper an RV?

A pop-up camper is a type of RV also popularly known as a fold-out camper, pop-up caravan, and tent trailer. In simple words, the pop-up camper is basically a unique travel trailer that is collapsible when not in use. This type of recreational vehicle falls somewhere between a traditional trailer and a motorhome. 



As the name suggests, a pop-up camper can be “popped up” when required while camping. It has rigid sides like those trailers but is relatively lighter due to the canvas extensions. The compact design with lightweight structure makes them convenient to tow as well as store in a garage. 

It is an excellent alternative to camp tents and a perfect choice for anyone who likes camping without the hassle of typical camping. Many models are equipped with all basic amenities like a kitchen, bathroom with toilet and a shower, refrigerator, AC or heating system, and others.

Apart from an easy setup, these trailers offer more comfort and privacy as compared to tents, as you get to sleep in a residential-style bed. Also, they can be utilized anywhere, regardless of weather conditions. 

Though not fancy, pop-up campers can provide a reasonable place to stay while enjoying a camping trip with your family or friends.

Types Of Pop-Up Camper

You will find different types of pop-up campers on the market, each unique in its characteristics and benefits. However, they are categorized into two types; soft-sided pop-up campers and hard-sided pop-up campers. 

Both can be folded down for storage and differ in the types of walls. Let’s have an insight into each type of pop-up camper:

Soft-Walled Pop-Up Camper

Those who do not want to get into the hassling routine of setting up a traditional tent should definitely get on board with a soft-walled pop-up camper. This type of pop-up camper comes with collapsible walls made from canvas material. 

It is easier to place, and you can also fold it when it’s not in use. Being lightweight, this type of trailer is highly portable and can be easily towed around, even with small cars. Moreover, soft-sided campers offer more living space and storage compartments as compared to their hard-sided alternatives.

The beauty of soft-walled campers is that they are versatile. It can be used as a primary residence or a vacation home while traveling with family or friends. 

However, you should be aware of some disadvantages associated with this type of trailer. The sides of soft-sided pop-up trailers lack serious insulation, so they can’t provide complete protection against harsh weather conditions. Also, it is not good at keeping the noises out, so with those thin walls, you get to hear everything.

Hard-Walled Pop-Up Campers

Hard-walled pop-up campers have become quite popular for combining a pop-up trailer’s characteristics with a traditional RV’s robustness. This type of camper is built with sturdy walls, providing insulation and privacy to RV owners. 

It offers a huge interior room with comfortable amenities like a bathroom, kitchen, sleeping space, as well as a dinette. Hard-walled pop-up campers can be a good choice for anyone who wants the comfort of a regular pop-up camper as well as the pros of a regular RV in a single unit.

The only downside of this camper is that a small car can’t tow the additional weight, and size can’t. However, some models offer floor plans to allow easier towing with an average-sized vehicle.

Interior Of Pop-Up Campers

You can’t expect a lot when it comes to the interior of pop-up campers. They usually feature a very basic interior design, and the construction material also falls on the lower end of the price spectrum. It has a tight living area, making it more suitable for couples rather than families. 

The sitting area is normally limited to a dinette but covers at least four people. Some models even have a separate shower and toilet. However, you can also take a portable toilet. The basic kitchen includes a sink, stove, and a tiny fridge. You can check for bigger models that can even accommodate appliances like a microwave, coffee maker, and entertainment unit.

The sleeping area contains foldable beds with thin mattresses. All in all, a pop-up camper includes almost everything you would need to enjoy the outdoors.

Advantages Of A Pop-Up Camper

While we have already discussed many benefits associated with a pop-up camper, let’s compile them here. 

Easy To Transport

Pop-camper is lightweight and, therefore, highly portable. They are compact and can be easily towed by smaller vehicles to your favorite camping ground. 

Has Enough Space

Though not as spacious as a traditional RV, a pop-camper’s got enough space to accommodate essential amenities you would need on the camping trip. It comes with enough interior space, and you can have extra space when you park.


One advantage of pop-up campers is that they are relatively more affordable than their larger counterparts. They can be towed behind small vehicles so that you would not need a large truck. Also, these trailers can be sold everywhere at even better prices.

Easier To Setup And Store

Pop-up campers are easier to set up and store thanks to their compact dimensions. This makes them ideal for camping trips on long weekends. They can easily get into more secluded areas and easily be stored in the garage after use.


Another advantage of a pop-up camper is its versatility. This unit can be used for both camping and storage. Also, some people use trailers as primary residences as they have all essential features like a bathroom, kitchen, and bed.

Disadvantages Of Pop-Up Campers

Just like anything, pop-up campers also have some drawbacks.

Limited Space For A Family

Even with extensions, a pop-up camper is small and does not work for a big family. This type of trailer is not primarily designed to accommodate many people. So, if you have a big family or intend to go with lots of friends, getting yourself a larger caravan is better. 

Bad Insulation

Being made from canvas, the walls of a pop-up camper can’t provide enough insulation both on the hottest days and on the coldest ones. Traditional caravans have better insulation and keep you comfortable in all weather conditions.

Pop-up Campers

Not Durable

Pop-up campers are not as long-lasting as most recreational vehicles available. It is less likely to withstand a damage if you take an off-road trip or take a turn to rough terrains.

Frequently Asked Questions

When And Where To Setup a Pop-Up Camper RV?

Before investing in a pop-up camper, you should know when and where they are most useful. It is important to know these details to make the most of your bucks. 

These campers can be used almost everywhere, even at locations where traditional RVs or larger caravans are not allowed. Similarly, if you live in a place with mild weather, you can use this trailer around the year for recreational activities. However, you must ensure protective measures to prevent any damage during winter.

Likewise, if your area faces extreme temperatures, it is suggested to use the pop-up camper only during the summer and spring months to extend its lifespan. 

Should I Buy or Rent A Pop-Up Camper?

Honestly, it all comes down to the personal preferences of the person. However, there are a couple of things that you should consider while making the decision.

Buying this trailer may not be a practical decision for someone who does not know what they are looking for in an RV. You can rent and try out variations of campers to decide which one works best for you.

Contrary to this, buying a camper is more budget-friendly in the coming years if you like to go out frequently, as you can use it whenever required. Regardless of your choice, it is advised to do research beforehand to get your hands on the best option. 

Bottom Line

So, is a pop-up camper considered an RV? Technically, the pop-up camper is a lighter version of a recreational vehicle. It is ideal for a single person or couple who likes camping on weekends. The compact size of this trailer allows convenient transport, setup, and storage. It comes with certain advantages and disadvantages that are deciding factors in making up your mind. Hopefully, this article has helped clear some doubts, and now you know whether you should opt for a pop-up camper.

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