Pop up campers are incredibly popular now, people are choosing pop-up campers over the pricey motorhomes for practical reasons, they’re just more affordable. A pop-up camper is a foldable mobile tent which is easy to put up yet is also very easy to tow. Of course, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good. If you end up buying a less than capable pop-up camper, chances are you’ll end up needing to buy another, negating any savings you may have made. It’s worth getting the best pop up camper from the outset.
However, you’re in luck, a good pop-up camper may need not be as expensive as you think. It can be complicated though, because there are so many camper models available, each one promising to meet, if not, exceed your expectations. To help make your buying decision easier, I’ve compiled a list of the best pop up campers available to buy on the market today.
But before we get into the details, I’m assuming you would want to get to know more about the humble yet ubiquitous pop-up camper if you’re buying it for the first time. Or maybe you’re just someone that wants to get reacquainted with this affordable RV. In which case, the next section is for you.
Each one of us has their preferences, notwithstanding budget, so let’s begin with the most important factors to consider in a pop-up camper, as well as what are some of the questions you should answer before making your purchase.
If you’re fortunate enough to head out on an adventure filled journeys, ending up in exotic locales all over the country, then you might take some comfort in being able to hunker down in comfortable and familiar surroundings. A pop-up camper can meet these needs perfectly, but there are a couple of aspects you may need to consider.
- How many persons can sleep inside the pop-up camper? Some campers can accommodate two to eight sleepers at a time. If you max the sleeping capacity, it can certainly be cozy, but that’s the price you’ll pay.
- How much can you store inside? Length varies from ten feet up to as much eighteen feet and up to fourteen-floor plans for some models. A reasonable amount of storage should be enough to keep your things organized.
- Is it easy to tow using my car? Pop-up campers are lightweight in general, so it is compatible with virtually any type of four-wheeled vehicle, especially those with limited towing capacity. As pop-up campers are generally lightweight, the fuel economy of the vehicle is unlikely to be significantly impacted. The low profile also means rear visibility is decent.
This is where a trailer can up the ante over a normal tent- the creature comforts and features can be very attractive to a buyer. After all, a pop-up camper will be your home away from home, if not your only home so it’s got to have the bells and whistles, and then some.
- Does it come with a toilet? Toilets are not usually available for the smaller models for obvious reasons. For those that can accommodate one, it’s common to have a wet bathroom facility. It’s like the bathrooms you will find in trains. The shower head is almost directly above a waterproofed toilet so expect not only to clean yourself when taking a shower, but the entire room is likely to get wet. If you don’t like the extra hassle, there are even a few that have a separate shower and toilets. Again, it’s unlikely that these shower rooms will be very large, but there should be room enough to store shampoos, soaps etc.
- Does it have a kitchen and/or a living room? Ok, let’s keep it real, a kitchenette and a sitting room maybe. A small outdoor style kitchen can often be found on the side paneling. These may consist of a compact sink and a two to a four-burner stove. A portable kind can also be placed inside on some models. Even if you’re only equipped with a two burner stove, it can afford you the luxury of producing a range of homemade meals. Once you’ve been dining on takeaways and fast food for several days, the thought of a freshly made meal can be very appealing. Additionally, having a sofa can be a great addition to entertain friends or serve as your retreat after a tiring hike in the wilderness.
- Can it fit a refrigerator? If your pop-up camper can hold a refrigerator albeit the personal or mini kind, then that’s a big bonus. When you’re choosing food to take on your camping trip, having the ability to keep frozen items frozen and fresh items cool can make a massive difference to the variety of foods you can take with you. A cold drink on a hot day can also be a pleasant treat.
- Does it come with beds? Don’t expect a big, fluffy king-sized mattress. Remember, you’re not staying in a fully-equipped five-star hotel room. It’s a camper, but you can still have a soft bed that is comfortable enough to give you and your family and/ or friends, a good night’s rest. You can even upgrade the bedding with aftermarket alternatives such as memory foam or hybrid mattresses.
- Can it accommodate an A/C and/ or heater? An A/C unit during a hot summer and a heater on a cold winter freeze can offer much-needed comfort when the weather outside is less than clement. Pop-up campers are more vulnerable to the conditions going on outside compared to any other RV. If its hot outside, it’s likely to become very hot on the inside unless you can create sufficient airflow through the tent. Likewise, if it’s cold outside, the temperature inside can quickly drop on the inside unless you can provide a source of heat.
Just like any big purchase, you wouldn’t want to waste your money on something that will break only a few months if not weeks after you bought it. It’s a good thing that pop-up campers can last a long time with the right care and attention, but you need to make sure you’re buying a reliable model. Like anything else, there are occasional duds which you’ll want to avoid. There are some questions you need to address when getting your camper:
- Can I confidently drive it on the freeway without any concerns over its structural stability?
- What happens when you’re camped out and it starts blowing a gale?
The foldable feature of the camper itself should help in hinging and unhinging the trailer to your car without too much hassle. However, assembling your pop-up camper from its folded state can be tedious. It’s one of those things you need to know step by step using the owner’s manual, the more you use it, the more adept you’ll become at putting it up. Practice makes perfect. It might need some getting used to, but this is another important consideration for your purchase.
For worry-free usage and confidence in its abilities, care and maintenance are necessary. Aside from regular cleaning, you might be in for expensive repairs if it involves the camper flooring. Ultimately, you must carry out routine checks on the waterproof canvas, checking out for wear and tear, holes or anything else that may impact it’s waterproofing.
Additionally, checks should also be carried out on the roof lift system, seals and tires. Holes caused by abrasion are more prone to happen where the canvas meets the frame or where sections pivot, so pay special attention to these areas. You can most probably do the minor repairs by yourself and consult a professional for the complicated issues.
Again, the fact that his camper is collapsible when on the move gives it a tidy and neat look when not in use. When the trailer is unfolded, it’ll closely resemble a tent, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You can even add custom touches to your camper to better match your personal styling preferences.
Should you buy a brand-spanking new model or a used but in good condition variant? A used camper is not so much a bad idea for as long as the preceding buying factors are met. If you have the skills and time to do so, a fixer-upper can also be a good choice, you might even be able to sell it for a profit once restored. You must also check for any issues or imperfections on the following as well:
- the physical condition of the entire vehicle
- damage caused by moisture
- heating and cooling systems should be in working order
- fair selling price
But if you want to make a sound investment and have a solid budget for it, buying a new one makes more sense, most importantly if it’s going to rack up lots of mileage. That’s of course just my opinion.
POP-UP TRAILER VS OTHER RVS
There are different kinds of RVs catered to different buyers. One type is the Trailer van which is a much sturdier version with its hard structure. So how does our humble pop-up camper hold up to the trailer van? Let’s find out on this face-off:
Pop-up campers easily win this one. The specially treated canvas is lightweight and folds when you’re on the road, making towing the entire thing a breeze. Travel trailers with its metal walls, are fixed in size whether you’re camped out or traveling. They are a lot heavier and bulky in appearance.
You can easily store your pop-up camper when not in use, with some models even having a door lock for added security and peace of mind. On the other hand, you might need to find a lot more space in your garage to accommodate your travel trailer or worse, you may even have to pay just for trailer storage. Based on its compact size which makes for easier storing, It’s now 2 points for pop-up campers.
Aside from being lightweight, the low towing profile of the pop-up camper allows for regular driving routines you are already accustomed to. As such, backing up is less of a problem because of its low height when collapsed, it does not block your vision. When you are pulling an RV such as a travel trailer, you will need those special side mirrors to back up safely. If only for this reason, the pop-up camper wins.
It’s safe to say that you can carry out most of your basic home activities such as cooking, showering, relaxing, sleeping, storing things etc. in both the pop-up camper and travel trailer. In terms of versatility, travel trailers have the edge over pop-up campers, they tend to have more amenities and are easier to use.
While we are clearly praising the benefits of a pop-up camper, they do have several shortcomings that are not present in a travel trailer. I would say that pop-up campers are best suited for camping trips (glamping if you have a pimped-out model with extra perks) while travel trailers are for those who would want to go on long vacations and save money instead of booking hotels. A travel trailer is more spacious and therefore has more capacity for luxurious amenities. Travel trailers also require very little in the way of set up, most of the time you can just park up and with a small amount of effort you’re all set. They also tend to offer a little bit more of privacy because of its solid walls, which stop light as well as noise escaping.
And in case you’re wondering, you don’t need a special driving license or any additional training to be able to pull a pop-up camper. Your existing license will suffice
We’re nearing our best pop-up camper picks, and I know you’re excited to know which campers have been included. At this point, you have been armed with basic knowledge on what you are buying, the good points, the bad points, what to expect and what the alternative RV options offer over a pop-up camper. Now onto our top picks and the criteria we’ve used to score each of the options.
BEST POP UP CAMPERS REVIEW CRITERIA
- selling price – Being the most expensive doesn’t always translate to top quality. We have chosen five brands that have excellent price points, a.k.a more bang for your buck.
- functionality – We highlighted each camper’s salient features that make them so attractive to buyers. Brand A could have more storing capacity than Brand B, but Brand B has a four-burner stove while Brand A has two.
- customer rating – Who better to have a say than the actual person who has tested it. It is one thing to sell a nice product and another to have a sleuth of positive reviews and highly recommended product.
- feedback from product experts – Information by people in-the-know is, valuable. The technicalities are where it’s at and even laymen like us consumers need that understanding so we can appreciate the product even more.
We’ve spent countless hours and days researching this topic to provide you with the most comprehensive guide available. As we’ve already discussed, we’ve had to talk to customers of the chosen campers as well as RV experts to balance objectivity in our review choices. We also made use of online surveys to supplement our opinions and preconceptions. I will highlight the buying and review criteria we laid out earlier on in this article, as well as through in a few observations and thoughts.
Our intention is to provide you with as much detail as possible to allow you to make your own informed decision as to which pop-up camper best suits your needs. So, without further ado, please read on for our top 5 recommended pop-up campers.
The Jayco Jay Series Sport is arguably the best in terms of its functions and features. It can pack a lot of punch within its frame and its fifteen-inch mud tires which are available on the Baja Package model are icing on the cake. Towing is not a hassle given the ample ground clearance. It doesn’t hurt having the retractable aluminum steps and a screen door that’s self-closing, either.
Thanks to its sturdy cabinetry, you can store as many pots and pans as you want, keeping your camper clean and organized. You can extend your space with an outdoor feel using an optional ten-by-twelve screen room and privacy panels. This way you can enjoy delicious meals and engaging conversations outside but still have the benefit of shelter from wind, rain, and sun.
Talk about next level camper facilities- the Jayco Jay Series Sport boasts a kitchen with acrylic sink and faucet and stainless-steel stove which you can use either inside or outside. It comes with a hinged galley with a fridge which is pre-plumbed for added comfort. There’s an option for four-inch heated bed mats as well as bunk lights and fans.
It has a curtained bathroom, a dinette with reversible cushions, and area prepped for your entertainment where you can place your flat screen TV and sound system. Not to forget, a six-gallon water heater to enjoy your quick but relaxing hot shower. With four floor plans that stretch to an unbelievable length of twenty-five feet, it’s features and amenities rival those of many motorhomes or travel trailers.
The iron-clad warranty lasts for an impressive five years on parts and labor, which is a testament to Jayco Jay Series Sport’s reliability. Its dome-styled roof is made of fiberglass and has Duratek material tents that resist mildew and repel water. The windows are tinted with vinyl to protect from harmful rays and prevents cracking due to cold weather. The heavy-duty A-frame is Norco that neither corrodes nor scratches. Furthermore, the topnotch finishing’s on the embossed aluminum makes it suitable for any type of camp conditions.
The lift system has wide lifter posts connecting to the tent which makes it simple to assemble. It also has a leveling tongue jack and a retractable ladder made with sand pads allowing for easy entry into the camper.
The wall-to-wall vinyl floors is of premium quality and make this camper very attractive. The coziness is even more evident with its jackknife sofa, booth dinette and a lounge area where you can hang out and relax. The exterior of the Jayco Jay Series Sport appeals to the rustic and rugged as well as the picky and sophisticated buyer.
PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY
The Jayco Jay Series Sport is on the top of our list which hits almost all the marks of a perfect, liveable pop-up camper. It is made of high-quality materials that ensure its longevity. We like the fact that it comes with a good-size screen room with privacy panels when you want to experience the outdoors while remaining within the camper. You can stretch the length of the entire pop-up to twenty-five feet and that’s huge by camper standards. Those waterproof Duratek tents are comforting especially during the adverse weather conditions, we love being inside a tent when it’s raining.
The mud tires and high ground clearance are perfect for rough terrain. We could use a bathroom especially when camped out and it has one. Assembly is fast, easy and uncomplicated, taking only a few minutes to go from trailer to fully assembled. The 1050-pound rated bunk beds can accommodate a reasonable load to make your stay as convenient as possible.
There are only a few issues I can say about the Jayco Sport. One of them is that it suits a small group or family better. It could be tight if you have more people tagging along. I wish towing could be smoother on rough roads which may need some adjusting. I can also say its durability may be challenged during inclement weather.
You get the best of both worlds from the Forest River – Flagstaff Hard Side Pop-Up Camper. It has hard walls comparable to many campers or travel trailers, yet it has pop-up qualities which keep it portable and convenient. It’s very easy to tow and storage is straightforward. Having eight-floor plans allow for plenty of choices, The Forest River Flagstaff offers different variants to address different needs. If you want to save on conventional batteries, the camper is also prepped for solar panels, which can save a lot of hassle when camping without powered lots.
The Forest River Flagstaff has all the basics plus bonus modern conveniences. With the multiple floor plans, you can have a beautiful enclosed living room with maple interior. As for the pre-plumbed kitchen, it features a high-rise faucet and double-pan sink similar to those you can find in a regular house. Aside from the three-burner stove, you also have your microwave for quick reheating of your leftovers. Water supply is ensured with its pump on the underside.
Your entertainment is provided by the presence of a TV outlet cable, satellite hookup, USB ports, WIFI booster and ranger, detachable power cord plus converter and safety breaker to keep your appliances safe. You can enjoy your zzzzs on quilted bed mattresses with an option for heated bed mats. Attend to your bathroom needs with its hard wall shower and residential-type toilet.
The high-grade materials used in the construction of this camper assures its long-term use and appeal without fear of wear and tear. It also comes with multiple specific warranties on roof, floor, frame, tent, suspension and lifter system.
The fiberglass vacuum exterior, powder-coated steel frame and four EZ Crank Down Stabilizer jacks with sand pads will make setting up a breeze. You can be camped out in style without much effort.
The combination of the best features from a typical travel trailer and a pop-up camper improve the overall look of the Forest River Flagstaff. The hard walls, large, tinted rear roof, and windows give it a homier feel. This also allows more natural light and airflow, which make your stay comfortable and gives the impression of larger accommodation.
PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY
I’m happy to declare the Forest River Flagstaff Hard Side Pop-up camper as one of the best out there. As mentioned, the durable hard side walls and its folding top merge the great qualities of a trailer and a pop-up. We like how the entire camper is prepped to accommodate many gadgets and appliances to make your camping comfortable and effortless. The linoleum floors with a wooden design plus two-toned seats make the Flagstaff look even more beautiful inside. The availability of eight different floor plans provides plenty of options to the buyer. Another plus is the nice bathroom which I consider the best I’ve seen in a pop-up camper
The disadvantage of the Forest River is not having the flexibility of a camper style where you can arrange your interior whichever way you want because of the hard side walls. This will depend however on your personal preference as some might be ok with having a fixed floor plan. Comparing it to the Jayco Jay Series Sport, it does not have mud tires, so it’s less capable camping off the beaten track. However, you can always opt for a third-party tire to overcome this restriction. The pop-up camper also lacks a private screen room where you can hang out outside but still within the camper territory.
The LivinLite QuickSilver Tent Camper offers a wide range of features that you might be looking for in a highly reliable pop-up camper. The price is lower than most yet features many convenient amenities, it could very well be the most affordable luxury pop-up camper there is. You can comfortably sleep three to six happy campers within its length, which stretches to twenty feet and a height of eight feet with some floor plans.
Speaking of floor plans, there are four to choose from, so there should be something to meet your requirements. The 12-inch tires will provide you with ample stability on the road. As for storing items, you have several under-seat storage provisions made of thermoformed plastic which make great use of the space available.
The LivinLite QuickSilver comes prepped for appliances and upgrades such that you can easily make it your own style preferences and needs. You can add a variety of creature comforts such as air conditioning unit, awnings, awning room, LP furnace, stove, storage deck, residential kitchen countertop, privacy curtains, among others. On the technical aspect, you can go for electric brakes, higher road clearance, as well as all-terrain 15-inch tires for better road performance.
Default facilities include aluminum cabinets, composite countertops, vinyl cushions, fans on 2 bunk rooms, electricity outlets, hand pump sink, and water tank. If you’re not content with the basics, you can choose from any number of packages that increase the usefulness of the pop-up camper.
It is amazing that despite its lightweight construction, an all-tubular aluminum frame with vacuum walls can withstand all sorts of adverse weather conditions and they’ve been proven to be resistant to wear and tear. The composite laminate materials on the exterior are resistant to both water and mold. The LivinLite QuickSilver has a heavy-duty tent with zippered windows and emergency exits at the bed areas.
Again, its lightweight properties due to aluminum materials account for its tow ability and maneuverability even by small cars. Transforming it into a campsite can be uncomplicated with the swivel jack on tongue, pre-wired Furrion Solar and front/ rear stabilizer jacks.
You are assured to find a LivinLite QuickSilver that suits your aesthetic preferences, the trailer is available in over six-color configurations. When you’re towing the camper, it’s not at all distracting, as it folds into a neat package which is easy to tow as any other small trailer.
PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY
If you are looking to buy a pop-up camper that’s friendly on the budget but has endless possibilities, the Livinlite QuickSilver could be your best choice. I like the composite countertops, laminate flooring, aluminum cabinetry and residential Freeze/Crack-Proof Linoleum which are all very practical to use. I could fit more stuff into it thanks to the under-seat Thermoformed compartments that have more storage capacity than you might first realize. And because you didn’t spend as much on buying the camper, it means that you might be able to stretch to more luxury addons and amenities without fear of breaking the bank. I would get air conditioning, extra ground clearance, 15-inch tires, storage deck, seven-way plug and stove top, so I don’t miss anything. However, the choice is obviously yours.
However, it could use some improvements on the towing features. I also think that setup is a bit complicated, if it’s your first pop-up caper, it might take a bit of getting used to.
Going back to the Jayco Jay Series, it does not have a screen room as a standard- but you can buy it separately for an additional fee, of course.
Coachmen’s Clipper and Viking Camping trailer is one of the nicest out there with its towing procedure made easy by an aerodynamic profile. This pop-up camper has fourteen different floor plans, which provides an incredible amount of choice and options. It can comfortably fit up to seven persons making it a great option for families or group of friends. You can store your extra baggage in the super sliding storage trunk as an option.
Camping inside the Clipper and Viking trailer feels relaxing and comfortable given the standard facilities. Aside from the high-density Serta beds, several models of the Clipper and Viking have a built-in shower, Thetford toilet, furnace, privacy drapes, countertops, swing galley and drawer, Bluetooth stereo, acrylic sink, among many others. If you’re still looking for more items, you can always add air conditioning, a solar panel, screen room, etc. You’ll never have to miss out anything that you thought you can only have in a typical home.
The chassis being equipped with a tubular steel frame, Wide Trac Ultralube Spring and torsion Axles relieve you of any worries about the camper’s sturdiness. Driving with the Clipper and Viking is pleasant because of the electric brakes, radial tires and Goshen Lift System with Double Arms. The laminated exterior is quite assuring that your camper will stay with you for a long time.
This pop-up camper features a Glide-n-Lock Cable Supported Bed System among its state-of-the-art inclusions for easy set-up. The roof is controlled by a Dual Drive Winch by Canimex that when used with a power drill, raising and lowering the roof will only take a few seconds.
The Clipper and Viking camping trailer has that wow factor when you see the cabinets with walnut finish among others. They paid attention to the littlest details so that you wouldn’t have to look for anything else. Folds easily so towing it on the road is not an eyesore for other motorists.
PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY
We, including other customers of this pop-up camper, are happy with all the facilities that come with the purchase. I consider this one of those top luxury pop-up campers in the market. The lightweight but aesthetically pleasing design is attractive to buyers. You also get to enjoy the many things you can do with the fourteen-floor plans and be able to bring many companions with you and not feel too cramped inside. You will barely need to adjust to staying in this camper because it still feels homey with all the modern conveniences it can carry. On the vehicle performance, the electric brakes, aluminum rims, radial tires are welcome additions.
While it has a lot of useful features, the Clipper and Viking Camping trailer, however, is slightly more expensive than its direct competition. It also is quite unreliable during extreme weather. And if I want to nitpick some more, the few color options might put off some buyers.
The Aliner & Somerset Newport camper only has simplicity in its mind, therefore, pegged as a cheap option for consumers who are not fans of ultra-modern facilities. Despite its simple overall design with its one and only floor plan, it manages to deliver the goods, especially for the rustic adventurer.
The large tires provide a higher ground clearance and handle various terrain quite well. Storage is in a flip-up gallery and can fit a lot of the things you may need. The camper can provide refuge for the night for up to six individuals with its two 4-inch mattresses. In case you blow up one of your tires, a spare tire comes in handy.
While the Aliner & Somerset Newport is anything but luxurious compared to the other pop-up campers on this list, it offers important basics to stay true to the authentic camping experience. You have a decent-sized dinette that can transform into a 39 X 59- inch bed. You also have the standard equipment such as a toilet, double burner with cover, galley, LED lights, privacy drapes, and a portable 5-gallon water tank to help address your daily essentials.
This camping trailer offers Galvanized Steel Side Body Panels and insulated roofing to protect you from the elements. The stainless-steel lift system assures road safety of your vehicle.
Given the simplicity of the Aliner & Somerset Camping trailer, setting it up as a campsite will be a breeze. It is perhaps the easiest to transform among the pop-up campers on our list here.
This trailer looks good given its affordable price point.
PRODUCT REVIEW SUMMARY
Anybody who is money-conscious and prefer basic. straightforward features will love this pop-up camper. I like the convertible dinette that can turn into a child’s bed which is very efficient. It is spacious enough to accommodate two 4-inch thick beds and has plenty of storage with its several cabinets inside. It’s great that it has a two-burner stove with cover, so you can still cook your family recipes while you’re camped out. The large tires and extra ground clearance are perfect for handling the muddy terrain.
Now if you are used to premium amenities, the Aliner & Somerset Newport is not for you. Objectively speaking though, the cheap quality of construction materials remains a big advantage regardless if you are an extravagant buyer or not. As such, it will not be ideal for those who intend to use it frequently for camping trips.
TOP 5 POP-UP CAMPERS QUICK REFERENCE
Jayco Jay Series Sport Camping Trailer
- sleeps two to seven persons
- has four-floor plans
- up to eighteen feet in length
- closed length of about 11.7 feet
- a closed height of about 4.9 feet
Flagstaff Hard Side Pop-Up Campers
- sleeps two to eight persons
- has eight-floor plans
- up to nineteen feet in length
- closed length of about 17 feet
- a closed height of about 5 feet
LivinLite – QuickSilver Tent Camper
- sleeps two to six persons
- has four-floor plans
- up to seventeen feet in length
- closed length of about 10 feet
- a closed height of about 4 feet
Clipper And Viking Camping Trailer
- sleeps two to seven persons
- has fourteen-floor plans
- up to twenty-two feet in length
- closed length of about 12.9 feet
- a closed height of about 4.5 feet
Aliner& Somerset – NewPort
- sleeps two to six persons
- has one-floor plan
- up to eighteen feet in length
- closed length of about 13 feet
- a closed height of about 4.10 feet
There you have it, five of the most sought-after pop-up campers in today’s market. I’m sure there are more alternatives available but I’m confident to tell you that the campers are the best options out there. We have factored in buyer considerations such as function, amenities, durability, user-friendliness, and appearance for each pop-up camper on the list. And we have proven to you that a product need not be the most expensive to be regarded as one of the best. It’s about getting your money’s worth.
When something is expensive but justified by its purpose and quality, that’s a good buy. We tried to cover the need of all buyers- from the thrifty to the extravagant. While I could be biased in saying that you can use this comprehensive article as your only guide in buying your own pop-up camper, it is still best to check out the corresponding websites of each manufacturer for more granular info. I can only hope that I was able to positively contribute to your buying decision. Should you finally purchase the camper of your dreams, fill us in with your experiences by using the comments section below.