Five Pros and Cons to Popup Tent CampersPublished on May 04, 2021
Are you considering a popup camper but don't know if it is right for you? I created a list of five pros and five cons of owning a popup, based on my experience of owning one.
1. Feels Like Sleeping Outside
If I had to pick my very favorite thing about my popup, it would be the wonderful feeling of being outdoors. Unlike a hard-side camper, in a popup you can hear the sounds of the birds chirping, waves lapping at the shore, or a nearby gurgling stream. It's like a white noise machine, but a million times better. Open the window coverings and enjoy nature… what a fantastic way to sleep!
2. Not Scary to Pull
When I first purchased a popup camper, I had very little experience pulling a trailer and was a little nervous. But my popup camper is so light, and has such a low profile, that towing is a breeze! Crosswinds don't bother me, and towing up and down mountains is not a problem. It took some time to learn to back, but practicing in an empty parking lot solved the issue.
In general, popups are some of the most affordable campers you can buy. If you want to splurge, there are tent campers that cost as much or more than the average hard side, but many are much more budget friendly.
4. Easy Maintenance
I'm not RV technician, but even I can do minor maintenance on my popup. Checking roof seals is easy… and you can do it from the ground! The water system is simple, and even with my cassette toilet/shower, it's easy to winterize. There is a large, friendly, online community to help, and answers to any maintenance questions you have are often just a Google search away.
5. Fits Almost Anywhere
I never have to worry whether a camping spot is big enough for my camper. I also love that I have room to maneuver in most parking lots, and my popup even fits in my garage!
1. Outside Noise
Road noise… bleh! That's the one thing I truly don't like about my tent camper. I always try to stay at campgrounds that are isolated and not near large roads, but it isn't always possible, and being near a highway means hearing the traffic all night long!
2. Setup and Takedown
It takes about 15 minutes for me and one helper to setup camp, which is not bad at all. Many newer popups have electric-lift roofs, and bed support systems that are much easier than the old kind, so setup and takedown is very easy. So why did I put this as a con? Because if you are like me, you prefer to camp in one spot for a few days, move on to another, and repeat. While setup is easy, it gets old after the third time in one vacation.
3. Lack of Storage
Popups don't have a lot of built-in storage. There's no closet, no dresser, and no place to put a laundry hamper. This is definitely a con, but in my experience, only a small one. Pinterest is full of suggestions for creative storage ideas, and there's usually a solution for whatever it is you are needing to store.
4. Foul Weather
Stormy weather can be a little scary in a popup, but of course, no RV that is safe in severe weather, so it's best to take shelter elsewhere. In my opinion the worst weather-related problem with popup is rain on takedown day. Your canvas has to be dry when the camper is stored, so if it is raining when you break camp, you have to set the camper back up at home and let it dry out. And while I don't mind setting up my camper on a trip, setting it up at home is all the work and none of the fun!
5. Where's My Recliner?
The one thing about newer hard-side campers that makes me jealous is the awesome theater-style seating. After a long day of hiking and exploring, there's not much I wouldn't give to be able to kick my feet up on a reclining sofa. I am convinced that if popup manufacturers could come up with a comfortable couch, fewer people would upgrade to a hard-side.
Some Additional Thoughts
Bears - One thing I often hear people say is they wouldn't own a popup because many campgrounds don't allow tent campers. Usually, this is followed by "popups aren't allowed in Yellowstone." In truth, there is only one campground that doesn't allow popups in Yellowstone because of the heavy bear population in the area. It is, unfortunately, the only campground with full hookups, but it is just not true to say you can't stay in your popup in Yellowstone.
Crime - Another reason often sited for not wanting a popup is personal safety. It is, without doubt, easy to break into a tent camper. But that being said, I have never felt unsafe in my popup. Even when staying by myself, or with another female, I have never felt threatened or scared. I'm not saying that crime doesn't happen at campgrounds, but unless you are staying at a more seedy RV park, crime is generally not a problem. Stay safe and alert and use common-sense crime prevention, but remember that statistically, campgrounds are safer than most neighborhoods.
Don't Try to Convince Someone - One thing I have learned by being a popup fan in the RV industry is that you should never try to convince someone to buy a popup. It is a different experience than other RVs and if someone starts out with the attitude that a popup is a bad decision, it will most likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they are worried about setup time, they will be unhappy anytime they hit a snag. If they are worried about outside noise, they will be attune to every noise in the night. Any problem becomes the fault of the popup instead of normal camping snags. So if your spouse or traveling partner is set against popups, you might be happier to let them have their way. Popups are, in my opinion, an awesome option, but they are not for everyone.