Advice on Buying a Camper

Updated on July 21, 2012
P.:. asks from Phoenix, AZ
6 answers

My husband and I are interested in purchasing a pop-up/tent camper. We'll probalby get a used one. What advice can you give us as far as what features to look for, do you have insurance on your camper, what kind of maintenance does it require, etc. At this point I think we'll be pulling it with a Hyundai Santa Fe (I haven't check the specs on towing yet though). Anything else you want to share would be appreciated. Thanks.

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answers from Minneapolis on

we have had 2 popups, one faily nice, but got rid of both after 2 years of use. my main complaints? though compact to tow and store, you need a big cargo area in your vehicle to store all the stuff you can't pack in the camper. we were able to slide some items in after it was collapsed, but not enough. setup was faily easy, but leveling was a lot more difficult because it has only 2 wheels and the jacks were unsubstantial. neither of ours was big enough to have a toilet. we had a sink and stove - useless items - we always used an outside stove and 5 gallon bucket instead. i would have traded for a refridgerator anyday. after all was set up, we would have to transfer all the items from the truck into the camper. if it was raining we were screwed. and when you got home from camping, the last thing you want to do is jack it back up so you can clean it and empty it out. but you have to or you'll have a nasty surprise next time you use it.

i realized how tedious it was when we camped with friends one weekend who had a standard camper. they pulled up, and dad spent 10 minutes leveling the camper while mom started cooking dinner IN THE MICROWAVE with food from the REFRIG - something i would have died for that rainy friday night at 8 pm!

my advise? look seriously at a standard camper like they had. it was very light weight and compact - the bunks slid out just like a popup. we could tow it with our 4-Runner. and the price compared to a Nice pop-up was fairly close, a bit more but so much more livable. they had a bathroom, and would plug the camper in at home so they didn't have to unload the refrig/freezer each week.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

We had a pop up tent camper growing up and I inherited it when I had kids. Ours was the old style, the 2 sides flipped up and back. The beds were super comfortable with foam mattresses and we put a porta potty in there. It was only for #1 and a lifesaver in the middle of the night when someone had to go and I didn't want to walk outside with them. Yes, we had insurance on it, it had a license plate and we had to register it. One recommendation is to not cook inside the tent trailer. Ours didn't have a stove or sink anyway. The ones that did tend to absorb cooking odors. Better to get a little coleman and cook outdoors. Also, if you get a tent trailer without any electrical, make sure to get a rechargeable lantern rather than the old style gas ones for inside the trailer so you don't get carbon monoxide poisoning.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I've camped in pop-ups and they are actually quite spacious once they're opened up. The last time I camped in one, we were in North Carolina and my dad's favorite spot had an electrical outlet so we had an extension cord and watched movies when we all went in for the night. It was quite comfy.
They kept it stocked with everything but the food and took it out almost every weekend in the summer. We did the cooking and eating outside, although we could have eaten in if we wanted to.

There are many different models. Yes, it should be licensed, registered and insured. The cool thing is you can fit a ton of stuff in it, even folded down, to transport things so it doesn't all have to be in the vehicle you're driving. You can just keep it stocked with everything like towels, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, the basics. That way, all you need to do is get the food and you're ready to roll.

Be sure to check if your vehicle has the towing capacity and hopefully you'll find something that works well for your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Make sure it does not have odors.. like mold, potty smell, cigarette smoke or animal smells.

Make sure it does not leak.. You could even spray it with water to make sure there are no leaks.

We borrowed a pop up and really enjoyed it, 2 sides came down, had a stove and a fridge. but where we live we need an air conditioner for summer camping.

So we purchase an 18 for camper,. with a bathroom (potty, sink and shower), refrigerator, stove. and excellent heat and air.. It slept 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children.

We sold it recently and gosh we miss it. I may start looking for a replacement.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We just bought one! Sooooo excited!!

Friends have had theirs for a couple years and have just loved it. They, like us, both were avid regular campers out in colorado pre-children. With toddlers it's just a little more difficult, and now that we are in the mid west the weather is also a little more difficult.

So we just got a 2000 10 ft pop up camper. We went with a simple one. Our goal for a pop up camper is to make it a little easier to pack up (we can leave lots of essentials in the camper and not have to pack those everytime), have electricity and shelter and heat during bad weather and the night (with a 2 year old - it will be nice to be able to play games and hang out inside at night and have meals in the rain, etc.) and the pop up allows us to pull it, park it and set it up, then unhook from the car and be mobile if we need to.

Funny - the day we got it we called our friends for reassurance and they sent us a picture of them toasting with some wine inside the pop up and having cheese and crackers and their 2 and 4 year olds sitting having lunch...all the while riding out a rain storm at the colorado sand dunes. SOLD ;)

We literally just got it and haven't taken it out yet. We popped it up and have it out in our backyard to test everything out - and we are getting ready to go next weekend hopefully. So i'll let you know! :)

Personally - we went without the bathroom - we really don't want the extra cleanup of that and honestly don't mind using the facilities at the campgrounds or nature ;). We also went with a 10 footer (smaller, and fits in our garage). but the thing is soooo roomy!! it's bigger than my first condo. ;)

The way I see it, our pop up will give us convenience (less packing of essentials you can keep in the camper), electricity and heat during bad weather, and, shelter in the nighttime for the kids....and.....bonus....we can go hang out at any of our friends houses and have a hotel on wheels ;). ahhahah

we did not get insurance. we paid $1800 for a 2000 pop up. and it's in GREAT condition. 2 owners. has electricity, stove, refrigerator, sink and table and couches and sleeps 6.

email me if you have any questions! go for it!

...and you can rent one btw at camping stores to try it out if you want first...

ps - you just need a class 3 hitch for most - they are 1500-3000 lbs your car should be just fine. and really not much maintenance and takes about 20 min to pop up or down.


answers from Lakeland on

I would go to a store where they sell them new and learn about them before you buy. I was considering getting a pop up but they can be cumbersome. I am considering a tear drop or a small travel trailer (they make some that are less than 1500lbs).

The newer ones are very nice if your vehicle can tow the weight. They have (small) bath rooms and slides for extra room. You should always have it insured just in case there is a car accident while towing.

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