Advice needed on first Pop up purchase!!

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by Cls, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. Cls

    Cls New Member

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    Hi everyone!

    I am currently in the market for a Pop up. It is just my husband, baby and I with the hopes of one more sooner then later. We did a practice run this summer with a friends tiny pop up, we enjoyed it but would definitely need something bigger! I know I would like something big enough for my family and eventually a couple friends to join. I have a V6 4Runner so I have to be able to tow with that. I like the extra storage compartment in the front and like the idea of the u-shaped couch, like in the Coleman sun ridge. I would just like opinions from those who are in a similar situation:)
    Want something 1995-2005
    Are two king beds necessary?
    Storage in the front?
    U-shapes couch vs straight couch?
    Heater/AC?
    Sun Ridge vs Cheyenne?
    Viking vs Coleman?

    Thanks so much in advance. I am a planner and enjoy redoing things, so I want something that is going to last us awhile
     
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  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Here are my two cents. I prefer not to have the u shape couch as that would be something you have to climb over to get into bed. Sure once kids are big enough to put them selves to bed it would be far easier as kids usually don’t mind the climb. I was also worried about feet prints all over the cushions. However the u shape couch is bound to be more comfortable than my straight couch.
    I have a Fleetwood Utah which is one with a slide out. I personally love having a slide out as I’m not tripping over people’s feet if they are sitting down. That and my little side kick is not complaining how she banged her knees on something if she misjudged the climb off her bunk. I suggest is to go to an RV shop even if your planning on buying used. stay in units with similar layouts for about an hour with your whole family. Pretend your putting kids to bed, pretend your cooking, pretend it’s poring rain and your all stuck inside. That will give you a better idea if a floor plan works for you.
    As far as the make. Coleman/Fleetwood does not exist any more and so parts are getting harder and more expensive to find. Even more I find many RV shops refuse to work on them as they don’t have parts readily available in their shop. So if your not the handy type you may want to find something that is still currently in business. I love my Fleetwood but she is a lot of work to keep maintained and I’ve had a crash corse in how to repair things myself. Also something to note about Coleman/Fleetwood between the years your looking at is they’ve had a lot of problems with the roof. My 04 has the alumitite roof nick named alumileak so many of these units unless the previous owners replaced the roof or truly kept it stored inside may need some work to make it leak proof. I bought mine with a known “small leak”, didn’t realize it was much more complicated than I first thought.
    No matter what unit you choose look it over top to bottom. Look in every cabinet with a flashlight. crawl under the camper and check the floor, check the axel, etc. tip tow on the floor as it makes it easier to find soft spots, press on the ceiling and roof to make sure it’s solid. Bring a checklist with you so you don’t get sidetracked and tick off everything you looked at.
    Best of luck with your search.
     
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  3. bheff

    bheff Well-Known Member

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    All the above is good advise
     
  4. CamperChrissy

    CamperChrissy Well-Known Member

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    Welcome! You will be in for a fun adventure with your little ones!

    Here's my two cents:

    King beds - it sounds like you want to keep this for a while, so imagine you have two kids and they are getting larger. In my experience, two average size adults can fit comfortably in a camper queen. A king can fit two average side adults and a 7-year-old. One thing that we found is that we prefer to not use our dinette table as a bed. We use it as a table a lot and don't want to mess around with making and un-making it. So we have two kings, which comfortably sleeps the five of us.

    Storage in the front - I definitely like having some sort of outside storage for all the set-up items (crank handle, hoses, electric extension, wheel chocks, etc.). Our first PUP did not have this, so we used a storage tote that we could slide in the door when the camper was closed and stashed it under a bunk end when camping. Our current PUP does not have a full front trunk, but it does have an access door that goes to the area under the couch (which runs along the front end of the PUP). It works great for storing all those set up items. I thought I wanted a front trunk, but turns out this storage solution works fine for us.

    Heater/AC - this depends very much on your camping style and if you plan to camp with hook-ups. And where you live. I live in the Chicago area and here I would definitely say you want both. For example, a week ago it was 90 degrees. This morning it's 45. So for any spring or fall trips, we have to be prepared for any weather!

    Last thought is that it might be a good move to buy an inexpensive used one to start. I found it's hard to know what you actually need until you camp several times. We thought our first PUP was the one, until we spent a few rainy days all stuck inside climbing all over each other and then I got to take my youngest to the pit toilet in the middle of the night in a thunderstorm. Now we have a bigger PUP with toilet. The lesson is that we thought we knew what we wanted/needed, but until we actually camped in a PUP it was hard to know. And because our first one was inexpensive, it was easy to sell and buy a bigger one. It might take a couple tries to find your "forever PUP."

    Good luck! Hopefully you will find a good deal this fall!
     
    Cls likes this.
  5. Arlyn Aronson

    Arlyn Aronson Well-Known Member

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    Nice to have you here with us CLS. Most all campers in the 1995-2005 range of age, will have various damage. How much time and $$$ do you plan to spend on it after finding one??
     
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  6. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 11.53.58 AM.png
    The bed size is usually controlled by the length of the bed . A 8 foot box usually has 2 queens, 10 a king and queen, 12 two kings.
    I don't like u shape bunks as you have to climb over them to get into a bunk ...... but maybe that would be needed for little guys and a soft landing if they rolled out.
    A/C if you camp where it is hot. Furnace if you camp where it is cold..... but you could add a portable heater.
    Front Compartment are nice ...... but over the years may start to leak ...ours did.
    As for brands. Our Coleman had metal side panels and a full door ......but they dropped the ball using wood framing under the plastic end caps.
    Their lifting system worked well if you took care of it. Colemans parts can be hard to get.
    Just my 2 cents but leaf springs seem to me to be more trouble free and easier to repair.
    A shower in a popup I think takes up too much space. And the refrigerator are too small. An oven, big stove, big sink are not needed.
    Our first camper was an 8 foot simple Jayco, moved up to a 10 foot Coleman Cheyenne. Both served us very well. I would never get another 8 foot box. just too small.
    If we camped with teenagers I would put them in tents.
    If you ask what we camp in now, a 16 foot hybrid. It has a bathroom and a good size refrigerator and is 8 feet wide .....heaven

    Good luck with your search ....you want a good roof and canvas
     
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  7. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    I have a u-shaped couch and I like it, partly because I have to climb it to get into bed! I have a highwall model so it's harder to get up there. My kids use the other bed and it has a little step to get in. They never have to pee in the middle of the night so it works out fine.



    You're probably not going to have this popup forever so you don't need king beds (but if you're bringing friends, the two kings are better.) . Your kids are still small, especially the second one. :) You'll probably be in something else before the kids are big enough to need a king bed. My kids share a king and do end up fighting. The teenager does not want to snuggle. Next trip, they will have to have a physical divider installed, or the mattress replaced with individual pads. The bed platform is large enough for that. (In our truck camper, though, I can share a queen with either of them and it's roomy enough--although that one kid sure likes to snuggle...)

    Try to get a bathroom. Porta potties are great if you can't. But it's super nice to have a potty with privacy inside. But again, not a big deal until the kids are big enough to demand privacy. A bathroom/shoilet/cassette is not a waste of space. You can put your trash can in there!

    Everything does depend on your style of camping--hookups? AC needed? Outside cooking only?
     
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  8. FARfetched

    FARfetched Active Member

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    Personally, I like the U-shaped couch. It allows a little sprawling room, and you're going to kick your shoes/sandals off before stepping up on the cushions anyway.

    Here (SE US), A/C is more important than heat—but if you have both, camping season can be year-round.

    Depending on your kids, you might want to get creative with sleeping arrangements as they get older. For example, Charlie is 3-1/2 and is a flip-flopper at night. I've been afraid he would flop out of a bunk—or worse, go overboard through the sides. I found if we take the dinette table out, two of the seatback cushions fit perfectly in that gap, and a fitted crib sheet fits perfectly over them. He can't fall off the floor, after all. That might be a good way to set up a baby bed as well, at least when it's not cold outside.

    For a moody teen (our 10yo is showing signs of becoming one of those), maybe get a backpacking tent and pitch it under the rear bunk. That affords both privacy and shelter, while still being close enough to communicate (and to duck inside if the rain starts coming in through the floor of the tent).
     
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  9. Camper054

    Camper054 Active Member

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    We recently went through the process of buying our first popup. It is fun, but can be exhausting as well. Here are my few cents:

    1. Be patient and extend your search: Craiglist, Facebook marketplace, and also local newspaper garage sales! Yes, may not be much, but you may find something there. As for Craiglist, I expanded my search to nearby cities - not just the city I live in. You can enter min and max price as well as your zip code and a mile range to expand your searches. By being patient, I mean, unless you find the perfect camper within your price range, keep looking.

    2. Once you find one you are interested, there are couple of things I would look to ensure there are no major issues. For a used popup, there would be wear and tear, but somethings are easier to replace and fix than others. For example, crank/lift system - open and close by yourself to see if goes up 'smoothly' and stays in place if stopped in the middle (Coleman/Fleetwood, I believe); Roof - no leaks or major cracks in the roof and water stain or soft spots inside; Floor - there are no soft spots or water damage in the floor - not just from inside, but also look from underneath with a torch light. We found out that there were no soft spots from inside, but along the sides, there are few soft spots, which annoyed me later! Another point with respect to the roof is that when it is up, if it is square - what does this mean? I have read posts where the door would not fit or close properly. This tells that either the roof is not raised properly or when raised, the roof is not square with the floor. Look at the door in a fully opened pop up, and see if it fits and locks, and open and close properly without any significant gaps - in top or bottom.

    3. Canvas/curtains: all the zippers work and there are no holes or tears in them. It is pretty pricey to replace them. Talking about holes and tears, you do want to make sure there are no mice damage or droppings under the beds, cabinets, under seats, etc.

    4. In terms of design and amenities, whether to have a slide out or not - it is your choice. Usually, slide outs are bit bigger and bit more expensive, and so are the ones with shower and potty. It is a 'good idea' to have one with AC and heater, which gives you flexibility in camping. There is a great website NADA guide (https://www.nadaguides.com/RVs/Manufacturers) that will give you an idea of the price range as well as designs for certain make/models.

    By the way, we have a 2002 Cheyenne with AC/heater, furnace, and four bike racks on the roof and LOVE it! :).

    Good luck and do come back and tell us what you got.
    MC
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  10. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    Ours has a U shaped couch, it's nice for sitting on when reading or waiting out a rainstorm or something.
    But, we use the front bunk so we don't have to climb over it. Not an issue as it's just 2 of us.
    Front storage is great, leveling gear, folding chairs and firewood go in there.

    Ours is 2300lbs dry, towing with a 4Runner. It's rated to 5K, honestly I wouldn't want to tow much more then 3500 with it here in the hills.
    It doesn't have any trouble towing, but seems like it would be hard on it to tow a heavier camper.
    Heat and heated mattresses, no AC. Usually don't miss the AC, but it was hot the other day while we were out and I turned on the vent fan and opened the zippers on the bunks. Cooled down by bed time.
     
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  11. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

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    I would think long and hard about bringing friends along.
     
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  12. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    I normally go camping to avoid people, but that is just me.
     
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  13. Camper054

    Camper054 Active Member

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    I am the 'same' - I want to get away and be just with my family in the nature, when I want to go camping...but most of the campgrounds are busy/full during prime camping seasons. So, not easy to avoid 'people', but we are with similar minded camping folks, :), so it is okay, I guess.
     
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  14. FARfetched

    FARfetched Active Member

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    Yeah, like I said in another thread, I'd be happy in an empty campground. But for the kids, having other kids to play/hang out with is one of the most fun parts of camping. I remember those days myself.
     
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  15. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    There are tons of posts and articles about what to look for (and look out for) when evaluating a used pop up, and with evaluating how much weight you can tow with your vehicle. I'll limit my responses to features you may or may not want... for what it's worth, your mileage may vary :)

    I had a 1999 Coleman Bayside up until last year and loved it. However, as others have said, Coleman/Fleetwood is long out of business and finding replacement parts is difficult at best, and impossible at worst. On mine, what should've been a couple easy exterior panel replacements (after an accident with a snow plow, but that's a whole other thread) turned into a totalled rig. It couldn't be repaired because the parts don't exist anymore. My new (to me) pop up is a 2007 Rockwood.

    upload_2019-10-8_19-38-0.png

    I would strongly recommend the 12' box with the king bunks, or a king and queen mix. Avoid 8 or 10 foot boxes, you'll find with a full family that it will get crowded VERY quickly. Even if you think you'll mostly be outside, at night and during rainy weather you'll want the extra interior space. As your kids grow and invite friends along or make new friends at the campground playground, you'll want that space even more. If you can, go for the slide-out dinette. It really opens up the interior even more. Once you go that route, most of the couches will be straight. I don't recall seeing many models with a U-Couch and a slide-out.

    The front storage trunks are a really nice thing to have. Be wary of Colemans older than about 2002 with the front storage box. They were poorly designed and often get water rot inside, and repairs are a nightmare as it's integrated with the camper cabin, not a separate, sealed unit. Post 2002 and other manufacturers designed them as a separate unit that is more water-tight. It's really nice for storing pop-up trash can, grilling equipment, hoses, wheel chocks, tarps, etc... think things that will get wet and muddy when it rains that you don't want inside on your cushions when you pack up to go home! Also keep in mind that on many Colemans the main door can't be opened unless you first raise the roof, so that trunk is nice for your "parking" equipment, wheel chocks, crank handle, etc. That's one nice thing about my Rockwood, the door can open without raising the roof first, so I can access the inside, but that front storage trunk was a "Must have" when I bought my new rig.

    Heater and AC depend on how you like to camp. If you want to camp in colder and warmer conditions and will have hook-ups, then they're must-haves. If you're a few-times-a-year camping in mild-conditions type of camper, then you can go without. Personally I love late-Fall camping and use my heater quite a bit. I have an AC for when I use the camper as a "travelling hotel" on multi-week road trips but rarely, if ever, use it when I'm just weekend camping nearby. Decide now what you want though, and if in doubt, get them, because they're a pain to add afterwards. Better to have and not need than need and not have as my grandmother would say.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  16. Camper054

    Camper054 Active Member

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    @Cls , let us know if you like the suggestions and which way you are leaning. Have you found something that you took a look at?
     
  17. Cls

    Cls New Member

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    Thank you all for you input, it has been super helpful! I am still looking for the perfect one for us, but will let you know what I decide on.
     
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  18. Ironmonger

    Ironmonger New Member

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    I bought a '95 Coleman Sequoia by Fleetwood. I'll forgo the pre- purchase inspections, as there are plenty of those elsewhere. Mine is a 12' box, one king, one full bunk. Since it's just my wife & myself, it has plenty of room. It has no refrigerator, oven, or furnace. It does have an outside faucet (they call it a shower), and a gas hot water heater. I like that it has an AC mounted in the cabinet instead of on the roof. Coleman had a 'swing out galley' which I thought weird at first, until I realized that the cabinets could remain loaded as the trailer is stowed. It gets a bit heavy, but a good feature nonetheless. I like the slide out outside range. Mine has a cassette toilet, which is a nice feature for older campers. The bad parts are that there is not much storage, and the dinette that converts into a bunk is not big enough for an adult to sleep on. The Coleman used big ABS panels front and aft, which will break if you push on them. Many had leaky roofs. The spare tire is mounted underneath the camper instead of on the back of the trailer. It has an electric lift, and manual corner stabilizer jacks. Some pros, some cons, but overall, I love it.
     
  19. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Well-Known Member

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    If not for my fridge and being able to get dressed standing up, as opposed to laying in a tent, I wouldn't have bought a camper.
     
  20. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

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    First question should be what are you using as a tow vehicle ?? Learn about the vehicle first.. like its tow rating, payload,axle ratings, does it have surface area limitations etc.. Once you know the various numbers for your vehicle and how they inter act (as payload increases, tow rating usually decreases) then you will have an idea on the max weight of trailer you need to be looking at.. Use the trailers GVWR as a guide.. this is the max. weight the trailer can weigh when loaded and ready to camp.
     

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