Pop up Trailer and General Camping Questions

Updated on February 29, 2016
O.H. asks from Phoenix, AZ
9 answers

We are thinking about getting one and fixing it up. Well, minimal fixing. Lol There is one local that has the hard sides and about 6 others with regular soft sides. Which one do you have? I've seen some cute remodels online but wondering about your personal experience.

Here’s some background. Both my husband and I are plus size and I have bad knees so I can’t easily sleep on the ground. Not sure what the weight limit is on the beds but I can check on that. The one and only time we went tent camping, it didn’t go well. We have 2 teens and a small dog. We live in AZ so it’s hell hot in the summer and think it would be fun to go up to the mountains on weekends and school breaks. And possibly taking it to the west coast for a longer trip with hubby.

My husband isn’t really a ‘handy’ kind of guy. Are they easy enough to set up? Hook-up all the appliances and things? How long have you had yours?

Do you have any DIY tips for pop ups? Extra things we could buy to make it easier?

How and what do you cook? Like are there electrical outlets to plug in a crock pot? What are extra appliances you use?

What kind of things do you store in it and what do you take with you?

Do you have a port-a-potty inside?

Can you plug in a fan at night when you sleep? Or a space heater?

What are some activities you do with older kids?

Anything else I can't think of that you can add? Just wondering about experiences with pop ups and any tips before we possibly get one. Thanks much!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Sharon W...I basically agree with you about hotels! The kids are 16 and 13 and I don't they really 'want' to hang with us but I'm going to make them. lol I realize time is short now.

Thanks everyone for the info. I'm currently chatting with a couple people who are selling theirs and I'll see what we decide to do.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

we had a pop-up for years. how we loved it. so many awesome family memories created therein. we had the soft-sided version with a cooler (no fridge), a little coleman gas stove, two bigger pull-out beds and two small ones that were in the middle.
my dh and i weren't plus (i am now) and the pull-out (supported from the outside) beds held us with no problem. ditto the boys and dog all jumping and crazy on 'em. and i'm betting they build them even better now.
it was easy enough to set up. my husband's a cinch at all that stuff so he did it with minimal fuss, but in a pinch i could have managed it.
we didn't take a generator so we didn't use any electrical stuff. i'm sure you can get them with plugs if you want. we just took ice bags to keep the cooler stuff cold, and used an outdoor coleman stove for cooking so only used the little cooktop in bad weather. and we always took a canopy so we weren't totally stuck inside if it rained.
no port-a-pot, and i don't recommend it. stinky, even the good ones. even with tiny boys we had 'em get up if they needed to pee in the night. and boys are easy that way<G>.
no fan or space heater. even on cold nights the camper would get cozy when all the windows were zipped shut and we were all in there, especially with snuggly long johns and our good sleeping bags and blankets.
we had a TON of board games that lived in there. we took lots of books with us, as well as plenty of coloring books, toys, cards, and (when they were older) hand-held video games. we never got bored.
keep a little broom and dustpan in it- you'll track lots of mud and leaves inside and it'll make you crazy if you can't do a little basic housekeeping. have each kid bring a backpack of their own stuff, but no more. in that small space it can get overwhelming to have every kid bring a ton of stuff.
obviously lots of easy snacks. and tons and tons of wet wipes!
you'll love it. i miss ours, even though the boys are gone and the ol' man and i just tent camp now.
:) khairete

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I've never had a camper but I've done some car/tent camping.
I would love a little trailer someday, but a small one. I wouldn't want a toilet or shower in it, I'd rather camp at a campground with real toilets and showers.
I have a portable two burner Coleman propane stove, basically anything you can cook on two burners at home you can cook on that. I'd never drag along a crock pot or any other appliances, that's too cumbersome. I only bring two lightweight metal pans, one for each burner, Coffee and bacon/eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich stuff for lunch, chili or stew for dinner. We also cooked over or in the fire (hot dogs, s'mores, foil packet dinners, etc.)
As far as a heater or fan? Again too cumbersome. I HATE the heat so I would never camp anywhere hot. Cold is easier because you can warm yourself by the fire, and as long as you have good sleeping bags and dress in layers it's not hard to stay warm, especially if you have someone to cuddle with.
Hike, swim, hike, take photos, hike, play cards, hike, nap, hike, read, hike, cook/eat.
Can you tell I like to hike? :-)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't have a camper, but we do a lot of tent camping. I don't want a camper because in a lot of the campgrounds I like to go to the best spots are not accessible with a camper (ie, hike in, or down a slope to the lakeshore). My sister does have a camper, but still does all of her cooking outside in a kitchen tent. It is usually too warm and cramped to do much cooking inside the trailer, and when you are camping the idea is to be outside as much as possible. As to whether you have electrical depends on whether you have an electrical campsite or a generator. If I have an electrical site I have a two burner electric cooktop I often use, as well as an electric kettle. When no electric I cook on the fire or a propane camp stove. When camping the kids and I spend lots of time hiking, biking and hanging at the beach. We bring a ball, or a kite We also bring some cards and games in case of rain. We camp at campgrounds with modern washroom facilities within a short walk, or with outhouses nearby. I would rather not have the mess of a porta-potty to deal with. I would sooner go in the bush!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Our only campground experience has been in an RV - we took 2 family vacations with our son and dog, and then we actually took our college search trip in one as well (way easier than checking in and out of hotels all the time).

I realize it's far from a pop-up, but I just wanted to add that our experience in campgrounds was fantastic. Other camping families were very helpful, especially the people who park their campers there for the season. Someone always had a tool we needed or some other essential, and were more than happy to help. We also found the staff to be helpful at most private campgrounds.

We had our own bathroom in the RV but lots of people were using the campground showers and toilets. Unless you have little kids or someone who has bladder issues and is always up in the middle of the night, it's not such a big problem to walk to the bathrooms and to plan your visits just as you would with a car trip.

I'd definitely go to a camping show if you can - you really will learn a lot. Obviously a lot of the exhibitors there will want to sell you a new vehicle, but there will be others who are campgrounds and supply places. You can always visit the pop-up exhibits and ask about th issues you ask in your question.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I was considering a pop up but went with a small travel trailer instead, it just worked better for us. I like having the bathroom inside (if someone needs to pee at night), AC (since we are in Florida) and the option to use the TV, it is usually just my daughter and I that go camping. We also bring our dog and I wanted her to be safe inside it when we are out, where should couldn’t get out (scratching the sides) and where someone wouldn’t steal her (she is a pure bred Boston Terrier).

When I was looking I liked the hard sided (like an A frame), but they did not have much room inside. If you like tent camping go with the soft sided, they have more room inside and you should be able to sleep on the side beds or you can fold the table down (most of them sleep 6 to 8 people). Be careful getting a used one, check all the seams, make sure everything works (fridge, sink), and double check for rot, bugs, etc.

I am not big with using chemicals, but we have a camping toilet that uses bags. There is a powder inside that turns human waste to gel then you roll up the end, Ziploc it and throw it away. They are easy to use and not messy.


We also have a portable stove and grill that use the small propane tanks. I have kept our regular camping stuff just in case we ever need it.

You should have plugs inside, but remember that you will most likely be plugged into a 30 amp at a camp ground and if you use too many appliances at once it will pop the circuit. Some of these campers will have heat and/or AC, it really depends on what you are looking for.

I would recommend looking at a dealer first to get an idea of how they work (some are manual crank to open and some are electric), check out the different styles, and see if they have something in your price range (this way if something is wrong they will most likely fix it).

Figuring out what you will need really depends on your family. Start with the basics (cooking, bathing, etc.) and go from there.
**The most important thing is making sure your vehicle can tow it. It’s not the pulling part of towing, it’s being able to stop with all the weight behind you. A lot of people don’t consider this and that’s when accidents happen. **

I almost forgot that this is the time of year when there are RV shows a plenty. That would be a great place to look around and get an idea of what would work best for you (including how to fix them up).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We do a lot of camping (tent) but most of our friends have trailers - from full RVs to pop ups. It is quite a big thing here to camp on weekends and then for summer vacations. We have been to the RV shows too - so I've checked out quite a lot of trailers.

I am pretty sure pop up trailers are equipped for plus size people. And they are fairly comfortable. You can always upgrade the mattress - our neighbors do (plus size). What we notice when we camp is most people don't spend a lot of time in the trailer - you get the stuff we also bring - the extra sun-shade canopy, where you can sit or eat. We have a bug shelter zip up tent too. Some have canopies built into the side so really, you'd just be sleeping in it mostly.

I find bathrooms totally fine at campgrounds and I'm squeamish. My friends with trailers don't use their bathrooms inside their trailers - except at night if they have to. Just easier to use the facilities at campground. They are typically cleaned often.

So where we camp, we just get an electrical site. For us, it's about $10 more than a site without it. There's usually a tap with water nearby.

We have a coleman stove and we have this grill (it's orange and round) that we got at LL Bean. I like the electricity to heat up my kettle. I am too impatient first thing in the morning to wait to boil water for coffee. We hook up an outside light just for the kids with an extension cord.

We tend to stay at campgrounds that are either near a beach, or have activities, bike trails or hikes for kids. Kites, cards, a football, also we camp with friends and the kids take off. For me, that's worth the bother. Kids love camping.

My friends typically start out with a pop up and then if they like it, they upgrade. And most people start with a second hand one. You just have to make sure your vehicle can easily tow it.

Most have an outside/outdoor rug and dust pan to sweep dirt off to keep inside of trailer/tent clean. Also some rubber boots in case it rains. We just do the cooler - we freeze large containers of water - we use it to drink as we go.

So long as I have a nice gravity free chair (I have an inexpensive one, that reclines perfectly) I am good. I also have a cot and a camp futon I got for me at LL Bean. I have restless leg syndrome and also mobility issues and I find it is the most comfortable bed I've found other than my own. No pressure points. And it's off the ground so I easily can get in. Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for me - sometimes we camp for a full week, so that's a deal breaker for me.

It's a really affordable way to enjoy the outdoors and I highly recommend it :) Dogs are welcome too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi Osohapi,

I can't resist...My idea of camping is no room service or bellman.

I am of no use to you on this one whatsoever but I would like to commend you for thinking of ways to increase your family time together and the family bonding.

Sounds like lots of upcoming card and board games are in your future. Enjoy them while they want to still hang out with their parents....It's fleeting for sure. :-) S.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We had a pop up that we parked at a campground (same one) all summer long when the kids were younger and then the campground stored it for us folded up in the wintertime. We loved it. They are super easy to set up (and in our case, we only did it once a year). We had a step in front to eliminate that "big step" you had to take to get in. We also had an awning/canopy that kept the area over the door shaded and provided outside area even if it was raining. Ours had a small heater, but we never used it - it did have a little 2 burner gas stove and we would run that for a few minutes before bed if it was really cold to take the chill off. We didn't use plug ins since we only had a "rustic" campsite so I can't speak to fans and such. We usually cooked out on the grill or the little Coleman stove set on the picnic table outside. I didn't enjoy cooking inside the camper other than maybe coffee in the morning.

The only real downside we found was storage in the off season. Because it folds down, it doesn't leave a lot of room for storing stuff. Whereas a hard sided one we could have just filled it and parked it. This was different for us because we had a lot of stuff at the site since we stayed in the same place all the time. We probably wouldn't have noticed it so much if we were traveling around (although maybe - because we had so many kids, we probably would have needed the camper to also be a trailer to haul the stuff because we didn't have a lot of room left over in the Suburban).

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You may want to just step in and out of them because my knees can't take that action. I much prefer a tent and an extra high air mattress. We use one of those jump starters to blow it up, and charge our phones, and basically not leave much technology behind.

My husband had a pop up when we met, he sold it because it would never be used.

1 mom found this helpful
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