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Pop Up Camper vs Travel Trailer

Discussion in 'Towing & Trailer Tech' started by ChevyFan, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. ChevyFan

    ChevyFan Administrator Staff Member

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    We just went tent camping for the first time as a family of five ... and I've come to realize that it's probably time to move past tent-only camping (especially in the south ... and especially with three kiddos) and get either a Pop-Up Camper Trailer or a full shell Travel Trailer.

    So, let's get a list of pros and cons for these two similiar but different types of if we can. Who's got each, and why do you have a prefenence for either one?
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  2. jake's silverado

    jake's silverado New Member

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    Hi Steve I've owned both. When the kids were youg and cas was tighter we had a tent trailer (2000 Viking 2469) 2 kids loved it. Up here no air con was required. Yup was warm and sticky some nights but lot's of ventilation and the 4 bikes fit on the roof. This one has a toilet that barely lasted the long weekend but easily dumped every morning with a removable tank. here is a link... THIS IS NOT THE ONE I OWNED! THIS IS DIRTY!
    http://www.funtownrv.com/inventory/170429/Used-2000--Viking-2469.aspx
    Now I have a 31 foot travel for wife me and Jake! Air conditioned and wouldn't have it any other way. I have a keystone outback 260FL Great for the 3 of us.
    Go to Keystone Outback website and look at the bunk house units. It will fit the 5 of you very nice. here...
    http://www.keystone-outback.com/index.php?page=floorplans&coast=&model=312BH
    They have a forum as well. outbackers.com

    Look at the Hybrids as well, travel trailers with the bunk ends...
    The kids will enjoy the time. I know ares did. So did we!
    Pat

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  3. jnbama

    jnbama Member

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    If you get a new camper take time to let air it out real good before staying in it, bad smell and fumes from construction glue and materials used
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  4. Enkeiavalanche

    Enkeiavalanche Moderator

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    Had a Pop-up first then a Hybrid (hard camper with slide out beds) Loved that had everything you needed and was light weight. Then I got married and after 5 years we sold it SO..... I am back to the Old Tent and this.... avcamper.jpg Hey it works and I have a 8-10 foot bed now.... :)
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  5. MrShorty

    MrShorty Moderator

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    When I was shopping for our trailer (4 kids 2 adults, so wanted beds for at least 6), here's what I found. Tent trailers it seems have more beds/sleeping capacity per foot/pound/dollar than full shell travel trailers. We decided for us that we wanted the most sleeping capacity in a relatively small trailer, so we opted for a tent trailer.
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  6. KidHauler

    KidHauler New Member

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    I got a "pull it out of the yard and you can have it" '68 Starcraft pop-up from a friend of a friend. Our family of seven used it for years. Like MrShorty said, beds are the key; or so we thought. It'll sleep ten, but one complete day of driving rain, no a/c, no bathroom, and no - wait for it - tv, with seven people turtled up inside, makes for a very long day. We still have it, but I think a cousin is going to claim it for a hunting cabin.

    We moved into an 8 bed Jayco travel trailer, and it's an easy haul with either 2500 Burb. The kids do love the bunks. My wife has been eyeing a newer Jayco G2 trailer that sleeps ten, has a kids suite (you can close their door:) ), an outside kitchen, and a bathroom with an exterior door (no sand in the common area). We've got a few more pop cans to turn in before we can get serious about that one.

    A lot of it depends on how you "camp". If you're out and about and only need a place to sleep, than a pop-up (with a bathroom) works well. If you go places where the kids are going to run you all day, and a couch, a brew, and a ballgame on the tube sounds like the way to end the day, then maybe the TT is a better gig. I've started to learn that campers are like trucks - the kids are only going to get bigger, so you probably ought plan for space to keep the peace.

    Good luck,
    #6
  7. Blackmatter

    Blackmatter New Member

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    Hi Steve. Me and my wife have had both. My pop up was a palimino yearling. It was a nice big pop up with a heater in it. We went camping in a state park in northern pa a week before halloween. It still got cold in the pop up. If you are looking for something easy i would recomend a travel trailer and here are the reasons why. With a pop up you either have to open it up before you go to load in it what you can then close it up again and open it up when you get to where you are going. With a travel trailer you can load it up with just about everything before you leave your house then when you get to your camp site you just set it up and you are ready to go. When i had my pop up which i got brand new and only kept it for 2 years i loaded every thing in my truck before leaving my house and when i got to the camp grounds had to set up the camper unload every thing and then put it in the pop up. The refer in a pop is alot smaller and it seemed to take almost a day for it to get nice and cold. Long story short the dealer i got my pop up from said that most people end up tradeing them in after a few years and get a travel trailer. We swore up and down we would not do that but we did. Also i know someone who works for the Irs and he said that you can claim a travel trailer on your taxes as a second dwelling as long as it has a bathroom and a kitchen. Hopes this helps and good luck. Oh by the way my travel trailer is a keystone cougar and we love it.
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  8. KidHauler

    KidHauler New Member

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    Oh, yea, I forgot about the tax exemption - great point!

    Steve, the camper shows have already started around here, so that's a great way to get out and see what's available. You can get into each unit and give them a once-over. Take the kids along, too, and get a read for what they like.

    Good luck,
    #8
  9. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Moderator

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    A few years back, when I thought I'd have time away from work, my wife and I decided to buy a camping trailer.
    We were lucky enought to be able to rent both types, pop-up and hard sided trailer, for one year we took turns renting each one and taking them to various places we like to get away at during different months of the year.
    In the end due to set-up and comfort reasons we decided on a Hybrid.
    Some of the desireable features were already mentioned, pop-outs for more sleeping room and to make a larger living space in case my daughters family came along (3 of them 2 of us), central HVAC system for temp control (the desert can vary as much as 60deg between night and day), TV and stereo systems if we get bored, full bathroom with shower/bath combo, sink, and toilet, self contained with water and power (I normally bring along a generator for desolate areas), full kitchen with oven, stove, and microwave. Basically it was like being at home with a better view out the window.
    We chose a Wanderer 23' sleeps an advertised 8, it had the ability to open up to 35', front master bedroom with center kitchen/bathroom and rear livingroom/diningroom.
    The rear had a drop down 7' deck that included weather curtains so it could be used as a patio or enclosed to be a sleeping area with cots, if you moved all the livingroom furniture aside you could haul ATV's or bikes.
    There was a 5' pop out bed that could be made up to extend the front bedroom if you needed the extra sleeping area.
    We used our camper in temps from 29deg upto 102 and stayed relatively comfortable, I wont say it was perfect but you wernt freezing or frying.
    The differences between the Hybrid and pop-up are really comfort based, a pop-up is normally 1 large room with no privacy. With the materials used now both trailers can be used comfortably in a wide variety of weather conditions but the hybrid will be more comfortable because of space availability.
    Somethings you might want to give thought to before choosing either are Storage, not in the trailor but where are you going to store the trailer when not in use, most people try to store them in their back yard but many neighborhood covenances have issues with this and wont allow taller trailers that can be seen over the fence.
    Power and water connections available where it's stored, you'll need to do maintenance and winterization on a trailer.
    Any tax write offs available for size or amenities?
    What are you using to pull the trailer? How much weight are you gonna have fully loaded with kids, pets, and all your supplies?
    #9
  10. Drake_korthos

    Drake_korthos New Member

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    Well it sounds like it really boils down to where and when you'll be using this rig. I'm actually in the market for a pop up trailer for a few reasons:
    Easier to store when not in use. The houses out here don't have as much room as other places, so the trailer has to go in the garage.
    We're looking at only needing room for 4 (have the truck tent, and everybody else better bring their own set up!).
    I like a more spartan approach, as we're out hiking, cookin, and enjoying the quiet more. I like "camping", not "homing".

    For me, this is more what I'm lookin for: http://www.starcraftrv.com/php/products/folding.campers/trailer.php?id=367 (the 1019 model)
    Or this, as a unique approach: http://www.tepuitents.com/models/moab-fort.html

    Good luck with your search, and let us know what you finally decided upon!
    #10
  11. Blackmatter

    Blackmatter New Member

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    I use to like to tent camp in the more wilderness areas and i would not eat anything when we were camping unless it was cooked over an open fire. It would take me so long in the morning to get breakfast and get going that we then got a gas stove and it just progressed from there.
    #11
  12. dtzackus

    dtzackus New Member

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    I grew up in a pop up camper, it was just me and my parents. About 6 years ago, my wife and I with our 3 kids bought a 19TT Keystone Zepplin 2 HTT (Hybrid Travel Trailer) which is an enclosed trailer, but the two ends fold out like a pop ups. It was great, very light weight, a/c, heat, bathroom, a total of 4 beds. One on each end, dinette broke down to a bed and the jack knife sofa folded into a bed.

    The problem was when we got to the site, we had to set up the camper, pop out both ends, then set up while our friends with enclosed campers, just pulled in and leveled up and they were done. At night, we had to fold down the sofa and dinette, in the morning, remove all bedding and use it during the day for cooking and kid down time, it got "old" quick, setting up and then packing up.

    Also, with the canvas ends you are limited by the weather, even though it had heat, the only thing that secured the ends to the bottom was velcro, a R value of 0. Plus when it would rain and get really humid, you would get the entire water dripping on your head from the condsation build up on the ends. Plus, if you were next to people who partied till 3am or just sat and talked next to the firepit, you heard everything thru the canvas ends. Plus I had to put the bunk ends away wet twice which got water everywhere and then had to "re-setup" back home to make sure the ends got dry or you would open a moldy mess.

    We upgraded to an enclosed travel trailer. We love it, the beds are all made, pull in, level up, and boom your done, set up the chairs, extend the awning and you can sit back and enjoy the RV lifestyle.

    Just my two cents.. get the enclosed unit!!
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  13. forace2011

    forace2011 New Member

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    Like everybody else here we started in a tent, then to a cheap popup, which we loved with no air, then we traded up to a top of the line Jayco popup with air and thought we were in the big time. Kept it 2 years and went to a dutchmen tt 26ft. Wow what a difference. Took it everywhere, Disney to Washington DC. Last year we traded her up to a 34 ft Rockwood with slides. Central air and heat, all the luxeries of home and very roomy for all. Also had to buy a truck(Diesel) to pull it. Used it for a year and love it. Took it to a camp ground in Myrtle Beach, SC and left it there. They pull it out anytime and now we have a place at the beach. Sold Truck. Best of both worlds for us. We can go or wife can go with friends , we are sleeping in our own bed and sheets and not behind anyone else. We would not have it any other way. But that is what we want. You do it your way and be happy. Just enjoy it. According to our dealer, most go through the same steps and usually end with an enclosed Travel trailer.
    There again it's just my $.02 cents worth. Good luck and happy camping.
    #13
  14. steved

    steved Former Member

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    It really depends on your use...

    If you use it like a tent (a place to sleep) then a pop-up (or even a slide-in) are perfect as they are small, easy to tow (thinking fuel mileage and maneuvering), and easy to store (if you don't keep them covered in the off season, they will eventually leak). I owned a 8-foot slide in for several years, it was an older unit without many amenities; but it saw nearly every state in the contiguous 48 states. Being it was on the truck, we were allowed into places that you couldn't take a typical camper (Pike's Peak, Valley of the Gods, even Key West).

    I "upgraded" to a small 5vr, its nice but we find we don't use it as often. Its nice because it has a bathroom and AC, but we camp to be outside; and find we really don't spend that much time in the camper. We are really considering buying a pop-up or another slide-in, and trading the 5vr; instead of installing rails for the 5th wheel hitch in this new truck.

    My coworker started with a BIG pop-up, then upgraded to a 24-foot, and currently has a 30 footer. They camped all the time with the pop-up, went everywhere. They haven't moved the current camper yet this year because they can't justify the gas and its intimidating for him to tow.
    #14
  15. moogvo

    moogvo Moderator

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    my wife and I bought a Coleman Cheyenne pop up camper when we were dating for weekend getaways. It does require a bit more set up than a travel trailer, but not as much as a tent. Mine had AC/Heat, and when we had to camp in places where there was direct summer sun, we had tarps that we covered the canvas bunk ends with. That kept it nice and cool during the day.

    To us, camping takes place outdoors. We used the inside for sleeping and napping. otherwise, we were outside. We had some really great adventures in that camper. I used to dream of a travel trailer, but looking back, I would do a tent camper all over again. this time, I would buy one of the bigger ones (Not that my original was small, it had a king bunk and a queen bunk) I am talking about one that has a MUCH larger box with a bathroom/shower and plenty of seating for those rainy days when you have to sit inside and play board games.

    Cons for tent trailers: If it rains while you are packing up, you have to open the camper back up when you get home so it doesn't mildew and rot. Limited space for hanging around inside. Extra set up time.

    Pros for tent trailers: Lightweight. Better fuel economy, smaller tow vehicle. Closer to nature. You sleep to the sound of the night instead of being isolated from it.

    At the end of the day, it really comes down to what you are going to do with it. If you want a place to hang around inside, then a TT is for you. If you want sleeping quarters only, but don't want to sleep on the ground, then a Pop-Up is probably the way to go.
    #15
  16. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy Moderator

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    Having done more than my share of tent camping in the 15+ years of Boy Scouts, I don't want to camp in a rolling tent. I want an extension of my house. I have my 32 foot travel trailer with a slide-out that I can pull into a spot, and in a short while after parking, be ready to go, or simply park it on the side of the road and walk into it with no prep and crash for the night. Even when I still backpack and camp in a tent, I pack in some luxuries. I'm helping restore a pop-up currently, and it's entirely too small and labor-intensive to set up.
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  17. moogvo

    moogvo Moderator

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    I saw a Coleman pop-up on a dealer's lot a few months ago. This thing was EASILY 4 times the size of the average, garden-variety tent trailer... tandem axle, king bunks front and rear with a slide out for the galley. the cool part is that it was all motorized, just like travel trailers. you press a few buttons, stretch the canvas over the bunks and you're set. Of course, the other amenities of camping will have to be manually set up either way... Grill, awning, chairs, indoor/outdoor carpet, etc. no, it isn't the best option for an overnight stay at the "Wal*Mart Astoria", but it is cool just the same. It all comes down to what the end user has in mind. Now, I am not saying that I would not like to have a fully enclosed TT, but it isn't something I NEED and would be quite happy with the RIGHT pop-up, personally speaking.
    #17
  18. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy Moderator

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    Before the person bought the pop-up that needed a complete restoration, he wanted to buy a Jayco 14SO, the biggest popup with a slideout like you describe. I saw pictures of it, and it did look quite roomy. It's amazing what a slideout will do in terms of massive increases of "roomieness". I love the slideout on my TT, I just wish I had one on the other side of the living room and another in the bedroom to give me more room.:money:
    #18
  19. moogvo

    moogvo Moderator

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    Shall we break out the plasma cutter and welder? MUHOOHOOHAAHAAHAA!!
    #19

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