Do people only choose Pop Ups because they have no other choice?

tfischer

A bad day camping beats a good day at the office
I suppose people buy any major purchase because it's a good balance of a) Meets their needs, b) fits their requirements, and c) provides a favorable cost vs benefit ratio that they can justify.

When I bought our popup, I had only a 1800# towing capacity. But beyond that, I didn't want to spend tens of thousands on a camping device. It's not like I couldn't have afforded that... I have the money in the bank, it's just really hard for me to justify spending that kind of money for the amount of camping we do (and we try to camp multiple weekends a year plus one longer trip).

In the end I paid about $3500 for my popup... far less than a travel trailer, and I could tow it with my existing TV.

Could I have bought a full-sized travel trailer? Absolutely, but we would have had to upgrade the TV and it was the difference between spending $3500 and maybe $50-75K.

Still the way you frame the OP rubs me the wrong way... it makes it sound as if the popup was the best we could do, that we shrug and say "it's better than nothing". Truth be told I love the popup and have no reason to upgrade it even though we now have a TV capable of towing a lot more.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,452
Nj
I dont think they ment it like that. They never camped before, and if you look at pups they do look like its one step above tenting. Hell, my daughter was embarrassed with the pop up. Thats partly my fault for sticking with full hook ups as we usally go for a week at a time and it was easier for the sink and shower. Plus the kido was 5 and a girl and im a guy. Using the confert stations wasn't easy as I had to wash her. (Note to campgrounds, the familly confert stations are great for people like me) Lol. We would be the only pup surrounded by class A a and 5th wheels. Even the 5th wheel people would come up to me and ask why I was taking up a sewer spot when we didnt need to. I Then had to explane that my pup had a toilet , sink and shower, they couldn't belive it.
 

tombiasi

Super Active Member
Sep 1, 2012
6,773
Northwestern New Jersey
Hi,

Just looking to hear if anyone chooses to use Pop Ups despite being able to get a travel trailer if they wanted. Not everyone has the money and capable tow vehicle to haul a travel trailer, but for those that could if they wanted to, why do you still choose a pop up?

I have never had a camper, either as a kid or adult, and am looking into getting something for our family of 4 and this is something I’ve been wondering.
A statement like that can get you tarred and feathered around here:)
 

Tonya Harding

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 15, 2018
1,913
Virginia
Bought a pop up bout 20 years ago on a whim after driving by an outdoor oriented business that sold Ranger boats/4 wheelers etc.; turned around & went back to look, wife said do it, I did it...kept it 3 years or so, went back to tents & tarps, bought an Aliner 4 years ago, then a NuCamp Boondock XL teardrop, sold those 2 & now have a SylvanSport GO. Will probably sell it this fall or spring, may go the TAB route, never know what I'll do until I do it...
 

Wrenchgear

5 Star Eagle Camper
Aug 5, 2010
3,694
Near Elmira, Southern Ontario
Saying a Pup is a great starting point doesn't fly with me, it's the ending point for us. Money is not really a concern for a trailer. Yes I like that it was cheaper than a big one, but I could buy a big TT or 5er if I wanted one. I truly don't want one. People also say, and even in this thread, that they will someday 'upgrade' out of a Pup. I consider that a 'downgrade'. I love our pup. We camped in tents for 20 years, and have been in the Pup for 12 years now. We had 3 kids in our tents and Pup, now its only Mrs. Wrench and me, so we have even more room than before. The kids all bring their own tents now when joining us.

Requires smaller TV for better gas mileage and cheaper purchase price
Easier to tow
Can store it in my backyard (and in my shop for winter) not pay for a storage compound somewhere
Less maintenance costs (only 2 tires to replace in stead of 4, fewer bearings, that sort of thing)
No waiting in the dump station line up on leaving day
Less insurance premium cost
Still sleeping in a tent for camping, not a mobile hotel room
Huge windows to watch the stars through at night
Get in and out of smaller/tighter campsites with ease
Have a simpler experience, not glamping

When my back gives out (all the way) from old age and I can't crank up the roof any more, I'll put a batt winch on the tongue. When I can't pull out the bed ends anymore, I'll get Mrs. Wrench to help me. When I can't open a bottle of beer anymore because of arthritis in my knuckles, I'll ask a random passerby for some help and offer him (or her) a chair and their own bottle.

Its all supposed to be fun, don't get caught up in a race of who has the bigger "better" one in the campground. Bigger is not always better.
 

Austin694

Active Member
Feb 18, 2015
139
I like the versatility of the popup trailer. I can store it in my garage, so I have no storage fees, and don't have to have a giant trailer in my driveway. We go on trips with friends and family that have hybrids and TT, and I don't see the benefit. They don't seem any more comfortable than our pup. We have the shoilet combo. Which is actually more convenient than having a black tank. When its full just go dump it in the pit toilet or dump station. Where as in a TT when its full you're done and have to take the whole trailer to dump. Pups are also more flexible when it comes to campsites. On our recent trip the site we got was mislabeled as a trailer site and if I had a TT there is no way it would have fit. But with the pup we just swung it around and wedged it in. The cons are the setup and takedown time. But I find its not that much more than TT maybe 1/2 hour longer. Also I like that it doesnt feel like a house, when we're camping I want to feel like I'm outside. I want my kids to have to sit outside, be cold in the morning, have some comfort, but enjoy the change from the norm.
 

z.saw

Member
Aug 23, 2022
71
I think the way I asked my original question came off as rude, which was not my intent. More-so, I was looking to hear from people who preferred pop-up campers to TT regardless of the price and their reasons for that. What I meant was, are there people here who can choose whatever they want, but for certain reasons pick the pop up specifically?

If I buy a pop up it will mostly be because I don't have a capable TV and can't afford a TT - but maybe there are reasons to want a popup even if I could. Really didn't mean to offend, everyone has their own situations and preferences.

Man I sure know how to break the ice.
 

z.saw

Member
Aug 23, 2022
71
Saying a Pup is a great starting point doesn't fly with me, it's the ending point for us. Money is not really a concern for a trailer. Yes I like that it was cheaper than a big one, but I could buy a big TT or 5er if I wanted one. I truly don't want one. People also say, and even in this thread, that they will someday 'upgrade' out of a Pup. I consider that a 'downgrade'. I love our pup. We camped in tents for 20 years, and have been in the Pup for 12 years now. We had 3 kids in our tents and Pup, now its only Mrs. Wrench and me, so we have even more room than before. The kids all bring their own tents now when joining us.

Requires smaller TV for better gas mileage and cheaper purchase price
Easier to tow
Can store it in my backyard (and in my shop for winter) not pay for a storage compound somewhere
Less maintenance costs (only 2 tires to replace in stead of 4, fewer bearings, that sort of thing)
No waiting in the dump station line up on leaving day
Less insurance premium cost
Still sleeping in a tent for camping, not a mobile hotel room
Huge windows to watch the stars through at night
Get in and out of smaller/tighter campsites with ease
Have a simpler experience, not glamping

When my back gives out (all the way) from old age and I can't crank up the roof any more, I'll put a batt winch on the tongue. When I can't pull out the bed ends anymore, I'll get Mrs. Wrench to help me. When I can't open a bottle of beer anymore because of arthritis in my knuckles, I'll ask a random passerby for some help and offer him (or her) a chair and their own bottle.

Its all supposed to be fun, don't get caught up in a race of who has the bigger "better" one in the campground. Bigger is not always better.
Oh man thanks for the great reply. This was the kind of anecdotes I was looking for when I made the post. All of those reasons really appeal to me. I often feel weighted down by having too much to look after, so the simplicity and lower maintenance costs of the pop ups is something that I think I would really prefer. These types of posts are what make me want to pull the trigger on one sooner rather than later!
 

Hilldweller

Super Active Member
Mar 2, 2021
1,057
Hog Waller, GA
I think the way I asked my original question came off as rude, which was not my intent. More-so, I was looking to hear from people who preferred pop-up campers to TT regardless of the price and their reasons for that. What I meant was, are there people here who can choose whatever they want, but for certain reasons pick the pop up specifically?

If I buy a pop up it will mostly be because I don't have a capable TV and can't afford a TT - but maybe there are reasons to want a popup even if I could. Really didn't mean to offend, everyone has their own situations and preferences.

Man I sure know how to break the ice.
You didn't come off as rude to me; I got it.

And I'm a case in point. I could afford just about anything, have enough truck to tug about anything, but most other types of trailers didn't fit my needs.

Make yourself a list. Must-haves, nice-to-haves, can-totally-get-by-without. Be honest with yourself.
For me, canvas is a deal breaker. I had that with the Conqueror. Which was a trailer I loved --- except when the canvas got wet on the last day of a camping trip. Then it became a 3 day ordeal of drying it out.
But in sunny weather it was fantastic.

 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
2,141
Ha! Don't feel bad. I think popup people can be sensitive because some RV owners think tent trailers are lesser when they are just different. I like the tenting. I like that it is huge when open without having to tow something huge. I don't like that I can't use the fridge or bathroom when stopping on the road. I don't like that tanks are small. But I really hate being in a regular trailer!
 

jonkquil

Super Active Member
Jul 20, 2009
891
I liked the OP's question and I'm not offended by it.

When I bought my first pop-up in 2009, I had never towed anything before, I knew nothing about TT's or pop-ups, I had never even been inside a camper! I was a tent camper & wanted something more comfortable and was too intimidated to tow anything large. I also wanted to store what ever I had in my garage, so yes, a pop-up at the time was the only choice for me.

But I absolutely love my pop-up, for me owing it goes way beyond 'it was my only choice at the time' now it's my hobby, lifestyle, passion, obsession.....(according to DH)! :laugh:
 
Last edited:

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,407
Every trailer people purchase is because they believed it to be the optimal choice for their use-case, given the criteria they expect.

  • How many does it need to sleep?
  • Do we care about towing mileage?
  • Do we care about handling while towing?
  • What is our budget?
  • Do we need a hard-side (like do we only camp inside yellowstone where hard sides are required at some campgrounds)?
  • Do we need the ability to fit into smaller campsites?
  • Where will we store it?
  • What will we tow it with?
  • Do we need cold weather capability?
  • Do we need air conditioning?

To say there is no other choice may be assuming it's all cost or tow-vehicle related. Those are obviously major factors, but there are plenty of other factors that may go into the decision that leads a person to buy a specific type, and ultimately a specific model with specific options and features. The questions above are only some of those that may lead to that final decision. And of course, some of the decision is based on excitement and emotion. People buy on emotion and rationalize with facts. Even people who plan do that to some degree.
 

WimStang

Member
Jul 17, 2022
23
I did the TT route and now back to an Aliner. Easier to tow, easy setup, easy on gas, easy to maintain, easy to park, easy to store, and with a few tweaks as comfortable, if you don't need a bathroom. Mine does have an portapotty and outside shower and I've used both...no big deal. The big rig was too much hassle and more like dragging a rolling apartment with you, in my opinion. We tired of the big TT and rented several Pup before deciding on the Aliner. Best of luck.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
12,272
Ontario
I wouldn't say a popup is less maintenance then a TT, simpler maintenance Yes. Less maintenance NO..
With a TT you have annual roof seam inspections and repairs as needed, annual water system maintenance to do, annual greasing to do , annual ac unit maintenance to do..

With a popup you have all that still to do, just can be accomplished in less time..
 

WimStang

Member
Jul 17, 2022
23
I never said it was less maintenance than a TT, if you were commenting on my post, I said it was easy to maintain and my reference was to an Aliner. Just attempting to clarify.
 

Grandpa Don

Super Active Member
Sep 5, 2018
1,886
Southern California
Back in the 1970 and 80s when I was a young man with a family, I had two travel trailers. Both fully self contained. I towed them with a 1969 Ford F250 Camper Special truck. At that time I was married and had three kids. I now have 4. I loved having both trailers. The kids all grew up and the wife left me in 1982. .

Fast forward 40 years. I am now single and in my late 70s. Two of my adult sons are camping fools. Ten years ago I started going with them, but I only had a tent at that time. One son has a travel trailer and the other has a pick-up slide-in camper. Tent camping was tough on me. So I started looking for something new. I wanted a small fully self contain trailer that I could pull with my 2007 Ford Ranger equipped with the smaller V-6 engine. The 2007 Ranger was stolen and wrecked about 4 years ago. I now have a 2010 Ranger 4X4 with the 4.0 engine. I wanted an empty weight under 2,000 lbs. I looked at several, but could not find what I liked or could afford. My son said that since we only boondock camp that it might be difficult to get a tall trailer into some of the camp sites he went to. So I started thinking about a slide-in like his. One that collapses down to make it smaller. I looked at several. But again I did not find anything that I liked or could afford. Then I stared thinking about a popup camper trailer. I liked the collapse down feature and the light weight rating. I looked at several. They were junk! Then I found one on Craig's List that looked interesting and well cared for. It was a Viking that weighed in at 1,500 lbs. It had everything in it that I wanted. It was located 200 miles away from me. The asking price was $3,500.00. The owner said that it was in immaculate shape and that he would tow it half way to me for an inspection.

So on a Saturday morning we agreed to me at the half way point in Santa Clarita California. The minute I saw it I knew it was going home with me. And it did! It is still in immaculate shape and I have never been sorry that I bought a Popup camper. I will admit that there are times when I wish I had a hard side trailer for short over-night trips. I may still buy one if I find the right deal. I even still think it might be nice to have a slide-in like my sons. But I will not sell my popup. It has been perfect for the trips to the remote campsites with my sons. The popup was not my first choice. But it is the best I could do with the tow vehicle I had, the money I could spend, and the boondock places I go to.
 

KeizerTrailer

Active Member
Aug 31, 2020
166
Keizer, OR
My family started in a 1960's Caveman camper, which was a half step above a PUP, but had hard walls. As my sister and I grew up, my parents realized a trailer was needed. He got a solid used Jayco Eagle FW (that my sister and her husband now own). We learned to tent camp and trailer camp growing up. Once I moved out, I tent camped. Tent camping was fun and easy, not to mention it was something I did being a wildland firefighter once I came of age. Once I found my perfect model, now my DW, we tent camped until we had our second kiddo, then realized we needed something better. Our current TV can pull 5k, which is more than I want to pull, especially when my DW wants to go solo with our three girls. So we found our current little PUP, a 2000 Jayco Qwest 8U. Got it for $500, needed work, but I am down to fix. Needed the rear wall rebuilt, leaks repaired, get it back to fighting shape. That is all done now, took it out for its maiden voyage this year: that trailer rocks. It is easy tow(weighs less than 2k#'s loaded), easy to set up, sleeps all five of us just fine. Ahem, I digress. To get back on topic: PUPs aren't always a first time purchase for people, sometimes they are. It all really depends on the current situation and what the needs are. I would do it all over again. I think, even if I had more than our budgeted $2000 for a trailer, I still would.
 

1380ken

Super Active Member
Nov 7, 2013
2,987
Mass
It is a very poorly worded question to post.
"but for those that could if they wanted to, why do you still choose a pop up"
So my pros and cons of owning and camping in a pop up don't count because that is all that I can afford.
I know you didn't mean it that way.
 




Top