Features advice

recon9

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
7
I am in the market for a pop up and looking for opinions on features. I have tent camped up to now.

At first I was thinking I'd want a hot water heater. But am now at the point where I think it would be more hassle than its worth. Does anyone have one and love it? I can use the stove to heat dish water.

I like the idea of the front storage trunks. I'm sure I'll fill it up.

A storage cabinet for a portapoti is important.

A carry out stove sounds great. Unfortunately some units I've seen with the storage trunks have fixed stoves. That just means I'll have to pack my Coleman.

I will use the fridge, but will also have a large cooler.

The furnace will get occasional use. I have no need for A/C where I camp.

Fresh water is a must instead of carrying a blue jug. Do you drink the water out of your camper? Any reason not to if the tank and tubes are maintained?

We will need sleeping space for four. The bed ends and dinette will be plenty. I'd rather have cabinets over a gaucho.

We will also make use of the awning. This will be a step up from hanging tarps from trees.

Any other features of your camper that you love or could do without, or wish you had?

There is a unit that has all of these features except the carry out stove, about 4 hours away. Would you buy a 4 year old unit from a dealership site unseen?
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,691
Jackson Wyoming
if you've been a tent camper the pup will seem like a hotel. We don't have a hot water heater and have never wanted one. We use the tank water for washing and teeth brushing. I would NEVER buy a camper w/o a complete inspection, brand new or twenty years old
 

billbillbillbill

Active Member
Sep 4, 2012
135
SLC, UT
I'll hit the ones I know about:

Front Storage Trunk- I have never had one but think it would be nice for packing but harder to access once it is popped up. Seems like there are a lot of water intrusion issues with them though.

Stove: Both of our popups had fixed stoves which I never used. I cook outside so my portable stove and later 2 burner Camp Chef were what I used.

Furnace: This was one of the biggest benefits of a popup. It never got it to super warm but took the bite out of the middle of the night and especially the morning. Never had an AC but don't camp with hookups often.

Water: We sanitized our water tank each spring and used the water. Our first popup didn't have a hot water heater and had a small sink. We used it for washing hands and brushing teeth. We used a big jug on the table for drinking and cooking. Not much changed when we moved to our Highwall except with a hot water heater and a larger sink, we did most of our dishes in the sink. It also had an outside shower which was nice the few times we used it.

The only features I wish I had was a rack of some sort for canoe/kayaks. I was never confident enough to drill through the roof and mount a rack. I know a lot of the newer ones have ways to do that.

As for your last question, I just drove 4 hours to buy my hybrid from a dealership after lots of pictures were sent. I had put a refundable deposit down and could have walked away but I know it would have been harder to say no. It turned out to be in good shape so I went ahead with the sale. Ask lots of questions, ask for pictures, and if you know someone local, maybe get them to look at it so you don't waste your time. 4 years old should be a fairly safe bet but you never know.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 21, 2015
2,426
I'd want a hot water heater. But am now at the point where I think it would be more hassle than its worth.
Maintenance for the water heater is minimal effort compared to most things. Sometimes I regret giving up that little bit of storage space though.
I like the idea of the front storage trunks.
Ours holds all the necessaries for setup with easy access when the top is down. We do have access from the end and inside so it's still useful when set up.
A carry out stove sounds great.
But if you camp where wind is an issue you may find it virtually useless outside. We used ours for the first year and then got a higher output stove for outside use.
Fresh water is a must
I sanitize our system twice a year and we use it just like the water faucets at home. Yes, we drink the water.
We will also make use of the awning.
Again wind is a big issue, we don't use ours as much as I would like to. It's difficult to store if the weather changes while set up.
 

Snow

Super Active Member
Jul 19, 2007
11,895
Ontario
I am in the market for a pop up and looking for opinions on features. I have tent camped up to now.

There are lots out there, just make sure you don't let the lips stick (updating/remodeling) some people do get in the way..

At first I was thinking I'd want a hot water heater. But am now at the point where I think it would be more hassle than its worth. Does anyone have one and love it? I can use the stove to heat dish water.

Had a water heater in our popup and used it all the time, from doing dishes to washing hands, to wiping down counters and table.. very handy to have in my opinion.

I like the idea of the front storage trunks. I'm sure I'll fill it up.

There is a weight limit on the front storage trucks and it is very easy to exceed those limits.. also the more stuff you put in there the greater your tongue weight will be.

A storage cabinet for a portapoti is important.

Had a cabinet and porta potti in our popup, only used the potti one 4 camping trips, it really was more of a hassle then doing the 2am bathroom walk with wife and kids..

A carry out stove sounds great. Unfortunately some units I've seen with the storage trunks have fixed stoves. That just means I'll have to pack my Coleman.

Most popups have a carry out stove, some actually came with 2 stoves, a carry out and a permanent inside stove..

I will use the fridge, but will also have a large cooler.

Used our fridge all the time, also carried 2 coolers, one for drinks and one for frozen stuff..

The furnace will get occasional use. I have no need for A/C where I camp.

Never had A/C in our popup, never needed it.. want to cool the interior, open all the windows up..

Fresh water is a must instead of carrying a blue jug. Do you drink the water out of your camper? Any reason not to if the tank and tubes are maintained?

We always drank the water from the onboard tank, did an annual water system sanitization of the tank, lines and water heater as part of the dewinterizing process.

We will need sleeping space for four. The bed ends and dinette will be plenty. I'd rather have cabinets over a gaucho.

We had a goucho, it was nice when the boys got bigger and needed their own beds.. also gave a comfier place to sit to watch movies, then everyone around the table..

We will also make use of the awning. This will be a step up from hanging tarps from trees.

We always used our awning, can'r recall a trip we didnt use it on.. however.. even with the TT (travel Trailer) we still hang tarps in the trees when needed, If for some reason I cannot use my E-Z-up canopy over the fire pit, then as best as I can, a tarp gets strung up to keep the fire pit dry..

Any other features of your camper that you love or could do without, or wish you had?

We used all the features our popup had... and use all the features of our TT.. including the washroom and shower.. which I am glad we didn't have in the popup..

There is a unit that has all of these features except the carry out stove, about 4 hours away. Would you buy a 4 year old unit from a dealership site unseen?

Only if the price was great.. when we bought our TT we did 3 or 4 day trips to various areas (up to 6 drives one way) to checkout dealers.. if it checks off most of your boxes, make a day trip out of it and go see it in person, only real way to inspect the roof, lift system, the floor and ensure things work as they should..
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,541
Albuquerque, NM
Be flexible and keep an open mind as you try out your new equipment. What features you will like and use will depend on how/where you camp, and your personal preferences. We moved to popups after years (decades) of tent camping. What we found through the years is that, with each change of equipment - tents, popups, travel trailer, vehicle - how we have thought we'd use them and how things worked best for us were not totally one and the same.
We originally thought we'd use the sink/water supply in our popups and remove the stove. It turned out to be exactly opposite. In our tiny (6') and small (8') popups, the sink was pretty useless, the water supply was a jug under the galley. It was just easier to use out tenting routine, inside or out. We loved having the inside stove as an alternative to cook easy things on the morning, or when the weather was too bad to cook outside.
Our first popup was not only tiny, it was pretty basic, except for the stove & the sink, it was a tent on wheels. Moving to the second, with lights and furnace, was luxury.
We used a folding toilet with gel bags in both, since it was space saving to travel.
Awning - we made one for the tiny popup, so it worked so-so (we learned a lot). The one on the second worked well enough to usually set up an outside cooking area there. The one on our TT is a pain, it doesn't give much shelter except at the doorway, and has to be rolled up when it gets breezy. We have had a separate shade/rain structure since tenting days, though these days it's not one that goes over the picnic table. It's more useful to us to have portable tables that mean we can be flexible in placement and such.
Refrigerator - it seems to depend on the size of the RV fridge on how well it works and how much it can replace coolers. Neither of our popups had a fridge, so it wasn't until we moved to a small travel trailer that we were able to not depend on the cooler for fresh food.
When we went to the small travel trailer, which is smaller than some of the large popups, we gained a hot water tank, along with a fresh water system and waste tanks. We do use the on-board water, but on stays longer than a weekend, we depend on campground water or water we bring from home to refill. We often use campground water for drinking; in the popups, we used a countertop water filter dispenser for our inside water, and continue to use that (then PUR, now Brita) for the drinking water. The hot water tank is wonderful. [we will be staying in a campground for a week this summer that will have no water, so we'll be arriving with full tank on the TT, and several Aquatainers in the truck.]
We have taken the trailer out while winterized, so we just revert to tent and popup-style of water in jugs and gel bags in the toilet, heating water on the stove.
We still take our outside stove(s) on most trips, we like having the flexibility of cooking inside or out. We're spoiled, if we have power, we can use the microwave (we wouldn't have ordered one, it was in the trailer when we bought it, turned out to be handy)
A/C - our first popup had a home A/C that the original owner had installed through the front wall. We removed it the first weekend we had it since a) we didn't trust it and b) we mostly dry camp and that was a huge amount of weight on the tongue for that tiny pop. Never missed it. Our second popup did not have one installed and it was fine. Our TT does have a home A/C on the side, we're happy with that, rather than the roof RV A/C, for the type of camping we do.
 
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Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
1,937
A water heater is awesome. They are easy to use.

Front storage trunks have a reputation for leaking but seems like a nice feature. I'd like one!

I agree that a potty is an important feature. If you have kids and don't want to set up a potty tent, consider getting a built-in bathroom with cassette toilet. As kids get older, they (and you) require more privacy.

I like having a stove inside AND out and not lugging back and forth, so I'd bring my Coleman before using a carryout stove outside. (Coffee happens before I go outside thankyouverymuch.) My popup has a flop-down stove on the side so we usually don't bring the Coleman. We do bring the Coleman with our TC and it is not a big deal.

I'll drink the water out of my camper. I also maintain the tank pretty minimally. :) It can taste a little plasticky though so we usually bring drinking water (some frozen in the cooler) if we can't get it from a campground spigot. We cook with it but with a tiny popup tank, if water is available, we will preferentially fill the kettle/pasta pot from a spigot if we can.

"I'd rather have cabinets over a gaucho." No no! The cabinets are under the gaucho! I have a highwall model so there is nice storage under the couch.

Awnings on popups are a PITA because they are entirely manual. I don't have a problem with manual except when it is so far above my head that I can't deal with it unless I take down my trailer or bring a ladder. Even so, I liked the awning on ours the one time we used it but it was 10 years old by then and it broke. I haven't decided if I want to fix it.For now a screen room is good enough unless it rains--it won't cover the door for that.

I wouldn't buy anything sight unseen. You have to sit in it and see how mangled it is and above all, SMELL it.

(I only dry camp and some of these answers will necessarily be different for those who camp with hookups.)
 

firepit

Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
2,663
The more storage the better.
Our fridge is too small and just holds condiments and a few drinks...stove and sink never get used.
The fridge is so small we need a cooler anyway.
We cook outside and have a wash tub that sits outside.
I would rather have more storage where all that is.
Our memory foam matress topper is 3 inches which is the max for our camper so we can leave them in place and close the camper up.
I slide our camping chairs and outdoor rug under the dinette.
We keep a big bag for bed sheets and items to cleaned between trips and when cleaned we just toss the bag back in the camper inside the door.
We bought puffer blankets on amazon that roll up and pack into their own storage bags and take up hardly any room.
Our pillows go under the dinette seat storage.
Our microwave...floor fan...grill table ..porta potty and small step ladder all go on the floor and are the last things that go on the floor before shutting up the camper.
AC is something i would not buy one without!...There will come a time when u wish you had it.
I would want my next camper to have at least a outdoor shower as well.
A porta potta cabinet would be nice...ours sits on the floor between the dinette bench seats once we are set up.( we dont eat in the camper so that space works well for porta potty).
As far as awnings go...im not a fan of them at least not on mine...its not big enough to block much sun or rain.
A stand alone canopy is much better for shade and cooking under in the rain.
For anyone starting out i tell them buy a used cheap camper and camp in it for a season to figure out whats a necessity and what is not before moving on to a more expensive 2 yr old or new camper.
There will always be something you wish you had but can live out.
But you find certain things are must.
As others have said...I would never buy sight unseen.
I spent over a yr finding our first camper back in the day.
I walked away from quite a few so called nice campers that were junk when i showed up to look at them.
Hope this rambling reply helps.
Good luck.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,443
Nj
Cassett tolet is a big one. And i used the water heater all the time, i didnt leave it on all the time but we did defently use it. Depending on the kids ages the hot water was great when my daughter was 5. Baths in the sink and hair washing. My pup had a shower also, but that was used less. Stock stoves lack some btus that other have, so thats not a big deal to take a 2nd stove. Pull out couch is better for bad weather, the table dosen't really fit 4 adults. The water tanks are good. Clean and use them. We do. Good luck. Oh, and always look at anything before you buy it.
 

recon9

New Member
Feb 20, 2021
7
"I'd rather have cabinets over a gaucho." No no! The cabinets are under the gaucho! I have a highwall model so there is nice storage under the couch.
Heh, I'd rather have cabinets instead of gaucho... Poor use of words. :p

Thanks for the feedback everyone. There is a model that I am interested in available to rent through rvezy. Maybe I should do that before I jump into anything.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
1,937
I know I know. :)

But if storage is a big concern, get a BIG popup! It was important for me to have a place for everything and not have to rearrange and put stuff away after arriving at the campsite. Once popped up, that thing needs to be ready to go. I don't want to have to set up the inside.
 

generok

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 7, 2013
3,391
Anchorage, AK
"This PUP has too much storage space", said no PUP owner ever. My PUP had a front storage bin, and it was awesome! It's where all the "outside" stuff STAYED... chairs, camp mat, water jug for greywater, canopy, tools, etc. I was able to put quite a bit on the floor of my PUP too. I was NOT, however, able to leave any toppers or thick bedding on my beds... I had a very tight roof. If you don't plan to take showers, the water heater is nice, but really, for what, slight warmer hand washing and dish water?

Good luck!
 

Fish N Farm

Active Member
Aug 4, 2020
586
Pearland Tx

We have a shower and a cassette toilet. I never used the shower. My wife does. With Covid and closures of bath houses you need to think about having your own piece of heaven. The Covid vaccines we have are already becoming obsolete. The bigger the Pup gets the heavier and light weight advantages begin to fade. You will always have a storage and gas mileage advantage over a TT the same weight. A loaded A frame looks nice to me also. They are just not as cheap as a canvas pop up.
 

MNTCamper

Super Active Member
Jun 14, 2014
1,332
MN
We have a front storage trunk and find it very useful for camp chairs, a small grill, camp mat / carpet, misc tools, bunk end poles, broom... All of the "outside" stuff is stored in there. We have a water tank, water heater, outside shower... we have never used any of those at all. We also came from tent camping and we just use the blue aquatainer on the end of the picnic table and heat water on the stove for washing dishes as needed (we use to dish tubs for washing). We have plenty of storage space inside, and that is even when we go for 2-3 week long trips, but we are pretty simple and often camp where there are no utilities, just a water source. We use our awning frequently, even in some pretty harsh weather and we don't have AC, we go to places where it is not needed. We do not have a porti potti, we have never found he need for it, even when we had pretty little kids.

Other than the front storage trunk and the general layout, most of the things that you have listed you can change later. I think starting a bit simpler first and then getting more stuff might work well for you coming from tent camping as I'm guessing that you didn't have all that stuff when you tent camped. Sometimes it is easier to be simpler.
 

Sneezer

Super Active Member
Aug 8, 2015
2,958
DFW, TX
I use everything. The water heater is great for dishes, and on those cold days to wash your hands. We have a shoilet - shower almost never gets used but super convenient to have that cassette toilet inside. With the double shower curtains you have some privacy as well.

I have a front trunk - with a slideout I think the trunk is almost necessary as you lose so much storage room when closed up.

I would never consider a pup without A/C. Granted, I live in TX, and the summers here are brutal. The A/C is the only thing that lets me even consider using it over the hotter months.

I always camp with full hookups, os having an onboard water tank is not that important for me. Mine currently has a leak, but I am still going to get it fixed as I do see the potential for using it in the future.

More storage is always good. Mine has a dinette and 2 bunks. I have cabinets with a countertop across from the dinette, no extra couch. For me this works, as I make great use of that extra counterspace while at camp - it holds the spare hybrid fridge, fold up wardrobe, stacks of bins, TV and game system if that comes, etc.

I spent close to a year actively researching pups, floorplans, reading threads like this on what people liked, didn’t like, what mods to do, etc. Looked at several before buying mine, and went to a couple RV shows as well. It was not a simple, easy or quick decision, and in the end the one I found wasn’t even a model line I new existed, despite all my research.

Edit - forgot the stove. I hated the one that came with it. It was big, heavy, and underpowered. It took up valuable space under the dinette for travel, and the flame would go out if you breathed on it. Atrocious performance outside. I dumped it, and used my camp stoves instead.
 
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Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
1,937
I wonder if it is common for someone who has had (and used) a water heater to say it's not worth having. I used to think I didn't need/want one. My first popup didn't have one and we were fine. But when we got one...yessssssssssssss very nice. It takes little space and not much energy (we do not have it on all the time) and starts up by flipping a switch.

I do not camp where there is a "bath house". It's damn cold in the morning and washing your face with warm water is just nice.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,541
Albuquerque, NM
I wonder if it is common for someone who has had (and used) a water heater to say it's not worth having. I used to think I didn't need/want one. My first popup didn't have one and we were fine. But when we got one...yessssssssssssss very nice. It takes little space and not much energy (we do not have it on all the time) and starts up by flipping a switch.

I do not camp where there is a "bath house". It's damn cold in the morning and washing your face with warm water is just nice.

We didn't care one way or the other about the HWT - until we had it. It is great. Our friends who moved directly from tent to Casita say the same thing.
However, for most hand washing, we don't run the water until it is warm, because we conserve both water and gray tank space. We're used to that in our house, given the badly routed hot water pipes. If we really need warm water to wash hands at home, we use the hall bathroom, which is a short run to the HWT. If we're using hot water in the kitchen and/or the dishwasher is running, we have hot water in our master bath. We'd love a recirculating system like my in-laws' house had, but it hasn't been practical the way the house is set up. After almost 31 years, we're just used to the routine.
Camping, w usually turn the HWT on when we get up and have hot water by the time we want to do dishes, same at supper time. Sometimes, we turn it on around 4 a.m. or mid-day, depending on when we want to take a basin bath.
 

Dingit

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
1,937
That's pretty much how we use it, Kitp. On when you wake up, off after breakfast until dinner. It stays warm enough that it doesn't need to be lit through the day. And of course the lines are so short the heated water is pretty instant.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,541
Albuquerque, NM
That's pretty much how we use it, Kitp. On when you wake up, off after breakfast until dinner. It stays warm enough that it doesn't need to be lit through the day. And of course the lines are so short the heated water is pretty instant.
Not such short lines on ours. the HWT is on the opposite side of the trailer, so the lines run, down, across, and up again. It does hold heat well most of the time, unless it's really cold out.
 




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