I am looking to purchase my first pop up camper. please help


New Member
May 26, 2015
I know nothing about pop up campers or what to even look for? I have been scouting on craigslist but not sure the right questions to ask and what to look for when purchasing one. First of, what is a good brand?


Super Active Member
Nov 1, 2007
Perry, MI
Welcome from Michigan!
The first question is: What can I tow? That will help narrow the selections. What are you planning on using fro your tow vehicle? (An Explorer with a tow package will pull much more than a Caravan without the tow package)
How many are going to be in the camper? Just you, you and spouse/SO, 200 children?
Eventually it comes down to floor plan. What do you like/want/need. It can be the best deal around but if it doesn't fit you style/life - it's no good.

Here is a great place for some basic information:


Camping = Life is Good
May 4, 2009
Once you figure out all the information in the post above. You will want to watch for soft spots in the floor, have them demonstrate that it will crank up and down, check the tires, lights, stove, furnace, AC water pump. Check the canvas for tears/rips/damage and the stitching for any stretching of the holes that could leak. There is a checklist somewhere here on the forum.


New Member
May 26, 2015
Well as for the vehicle, it's going to be a Nissan Titan Truck. There is going to be 6 of us. Thanks, Just not sure what to look for


Wherever you go, there you are...
Aug 2, 2011
Steinbach, MB
My advice is to stick with the brands that are still being manufactured and that you can most easily find parts and service for. In no particular order: Rockwood, Coachmen (Clipper & Viking), Palomino, Flagstaff (all subsidiaries of Forest River RV) and StarCraft, Jayco or Livin' Lite.

If your budget allows it, I'd also recommend that you look at campers manufactured after 1999 to ensure they have the more modern Goshen lift system and more modern tenting. That's my .02, others' respected opinions will vary.

If your budget won't allow you buy a newer unit and you've got the ability to fix, fabricate and you're really good at finding parts, you can save a bundle with older models and learn a lot about popups in the process. Besides, you're quite likely to find help with whatever you need around here.


Active Member
Aug 11, 2014
motherof2 said:
I know nothing about pop up campers or what to even look for? I have been scouting on craigslist but not sure the right questions to ask and what to look for when purchasing one. First of, what is a good brand?

As stated, your tow vehicle is not an issue so next that comes to mind is budget. Are you looking to spend $500 or $15,000? Are you looking for a tent on wheels or a travel trailer like experience? Do you want a slide out, a shower, a toilet, etc...

Then you can start shopping for a brand and model.


Active Member
Jun 2, 2014
One thought process is to start out with a modest budget, and buy a used but good condition PUP that is large enough for your family. Decide if amenities like toilet, A/C, indoor sink, are necessities or "nice to haves" out of the gate. For us, A/C was a requirement, not a nice to have, so that narrowed our choices somewhat.

By staying with a modest budget and buying a used, GC/VGC PUP, you will have the opportunity to A) see how much you're actually going to use it, B) find out what you like/don't like about your floorplan, and C) determine if you should buy a newer/bigger/nicer PUP or TT. The advantage of going this route is you won't get hit with a lot of depreciation if you decide to sell after 1-3 seasons.

Another benefit of starting out like this is if you realize you bought the wrong PUP to fit your needs, the cost of making the mistake isn't a deal breaker.


Super Active Member
Jun 14, 2014
I don't think you need AC in WI, we certainly don't in MN. You could get by with a spacious 10' box for 6, but a 12' box may be better. Towing is not an issue for you. I would look used if I were you. For about $4-5k or under, you should be able to get a 5-7 year old camper that is ready to use, based on the prices that I have seen. You may have to drive a bit to get it. Some will depend on the style of camping that you want. If you are going to keep it simple, then a 3 way fridge and furnace will really be all you need to have a lot of fun and that gives you lots of options. Try to look at some campers, ask friends, look at dealers. But, again, I would buy used. Another option is to see if you can rent one or borrow one from a friend to try it out. Main thing I would do is understand what you want and then be patient in regards to purchasing and you will find something that works for you and is a good price.


Active Member
Jun 2, 2014
Have you looked at travel trailers too? One thing to note is that pop-up bed sizes are not to regular mattress standards. A king size slide out is not the same size as a king size bed you'd find in a bedroom. Usually if anyone is over 6' then things might get cramped in the sleeping department. I would look for 1997 or newer to avoid the L&W lift system which becomes problematic as time goes by. Avoid Coleman since parts are no longer made and are becoming rare. I wouldn't worry about a fridge. We put in a little fridge from Walmart (cost $90) and it works better than the factory fridge ever did. Toilet.....well six people using a pop-up toilet isn't wise in my opinion. The stench plus having to dump the black water is [:(O]. Our toilet is for emergency middle of the night #1 only. I would focus on finding mold-free, tear-free canvas along with a good chassis and floor. From what I see with the brands in the last decade is that they are built pretty much the same. A lot of parts are common. I would say no one brand is better than the other.


Aug 13, 2010
Lewisburg TN
Yr vehicle is fine up to 12 ft with 6 people plus what yr going to bring with you, the added weight adds up fast! Even though your in a cooler climate 6 people in a close environment can get warm depending on outside temperature, each body will be 98 degrees and that heat has to be distributed someplace, not counting each one breathing! In the morning you will definitely want to open up and air out, this is with the zippers open a little during the night. But the weather will put lots of variables in place. I had five people in my 10 footer with A/C in FL in Sept, the A/C did keep up but but the fresh (humid) air outside in the morning smelled good!
Depending on where you were planning on camping I would give A/C a lot of thought, and they also have a heater in most,
Next thing is storage when not in use, I prefer to store mine inside and not out in the weather.


Super Active Member
Apr 20, 2010
Do you know anyone that owns a RV? Always helps to have an extra set of eyes. It is easy to become overwhelmed with details, even to those more that have more experience.


A short run will get you within walking distance.
May 17, 2014
Boulder, Colorado
Before we bought our Aframe (used) we detoured through many campgrounds and asked folks for a tour. Only one turn down. Most folks are glad to tell you what they do and don't like about their unit.

I fully agree with the advice to try renting a unit for a three day weekend trip. You'll learn a lot!

Enjoy the search!


Super Active Member
Jun 29, 2010
Family of six for sure needs a 12 footer and really a slide out. 6 people is really pushing comfort in a popup. You'll probably want to keep much of your clothing in the pickup. You'll want to make sure you have both bunk ends, the table and a bench that convert into a bed. Honestly a bathroom is out as you'll want as much space as possible. I use a bucket with a bucket toilet seat and kitty litter. Also think hard about getting a screened porch for the awning. It doubled our usable space. We got really tired going In and out while cooking getting stuff. Now withy the porch we can just leave it all setup. Gizmos are a must. Ac is not needed but with 6 bodies it will be nice to have. I don't need my ac either but I sleep a heck of a lot better with it. Even just as a fan. Not sure what people talk about the fridge. I use mine on propane and it will be near 10 degrees on full blast. It barely used any propane either. I love that food doesn't soak in water. Ours also gets cold in a couple hours. I love ours. Just wish it was a day larger.

If I were you I'd be looking for a hybrid or a bunkhouse or kicking a couple kids out into a tent. 6 is too many for me. 4 in our 12 footer is near my breaking point. I will say our new screened porch really changed how much we enjoy camping. Especially my wife. She wants to go more now!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Jan 31, 2009
Kalamazoo, MI
Ditto on the 12 footer recommendation for 6 people (hopefully a few of them are little people). A slide out dinette is nice because it will seat 4 comfortably or you might prefer the wrap around couch. One with a toolbox on the front is another nice feature for all the hoses, chairs, grill, gray water buckets, etc. You might also appreciate a hot water heater and outside shower. Some people would say that camping with electric space heaters is fine, but I much prefer a gas furnace. If you're lucky, a refrigerator that you can access when the top is down is also nice. I also prefer the dining tables with the folding legs to the tables with the metal pipe that fits into the floor. Frankly, I rarely use the stove, so a carryout stove would be preferable for me.

I've also owned a highwall and appreciated the bigger refrigerator and residential size double sink. Never really needed the microwave or the oven in it. We also had the screened porch, but never used it, but you might appreciate the extra space. We just downsized from our highwall because it was a monster to tow and put up and my teenage boys now prefer to sleep outside in tents (go figure).

And ditto to the more modern vinyl coated canvas top.

I'm from Michigan and I don't have AC or feel I need it. Never felt I needed gizmos either. We typically camp in shaded campgrounds, not the open field type.

I admit that we definitely don't have RV superpowers and we were a little intimidated by all the different mechanicals involved with owning a camper, but we've done just fine. I've owned 2 Jaycos and currently own a Rockwood. I admit, I'm just a bit partial to the Jayco, but my Rockwood is a fine camper.

Happy Camping!



Active Member
Jun 27, 2013
Sounds like you have a TV that will open up your options - so you are all good there.

Think about storage. A pup may be small enough to fit in your garage. A travel trailer (if thats an option) may not. But if you don't have room for either, then storage is actually NOT an issue - you'll simply have it on the driveway or storage facility. At a storage facility, they typically charge by the foot (of your RV).

Also consider pups comes with set up time once you are at your destination. This can be trivial for some, but a pain for others.

Pups are considered soft-sided. If you like bear country destination, this can be a real issue - just check regulations at Yellowstone for example. For I live in Colorado... most places here I go to is considered bear country, but it's not really a problem for soft-sided campers. So don't necessarily let that steer you away.

If you do decide to go with a pup, I would highly recommend getting a highwall model (HW). 3 years ago we bought our first pup and went with a HW. It was well worth the extra money for all the added conveniences it comes with. We've have used everything, including the microwave (though not very often - it's just great when you can use it). One forum reply that convinced was someone that said... "we owned 3 other smaller pups before their finally trade-in for a HW. I wish we just went with the HW to begin with..." Its as good as it gets by way of popup camping. So if you're sure your family is the camping type... and you will use it... I say go big, or go home! I know some with smaller pups... and they literally still camp just one notch above tent camping. And they still hum and hoe about going out camping. And all I can think is it is because they have a lot of the discomfort of traditional tent camping because their pup lacks those key features. All I can tell you is ... "it is a pleasure going camping in one of these HW." Go big, or go home :)

Lastly... I think the best you can do is get a used Fleetwood brand pup. The newer models coming out of Somerset are junk. They just don't make them last when Fleetwood made them. I cant speak for Flagstaff, Forest River, Starcraft, etc... or all these other brands. But it's been a pleasure owning this 2006 Fleetwood Niagara (purchased in 2013).

Craiglist is a good place to start looking. SearchTempest.com is an engine that runs ontop of Craigslist which allows you to search based on radius miles. You may have to travel some distance if you get real specific in what you're looking for - which I think you should - year, make, model, at least narrow it down to 1-2 that you've researched and satisfied with. rvtrader.com is a great site too and is actually where I ended up finding my pup.

Budget wise... I'd say expect to pay $7-9K for a decent, well-kept HW like a Niagara depending where you are.