Buying a pop-up trailer. Any thoughts?

Discussion in 'Camping at Disney World' started by Readerbug, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Readerbug

    Readerbug Using My Ears

    Jan 2, 2013
    I'm a life-long tenter. Dad thought there was something wrong with RVs. :) Not!

    Growing up out west, we could practically roll out the back door and boondock in the wilderness, with a grub box full of evaporated milk, root vegetables, flour, sugar, baking powder and a fishing pole.

    Well, I didn't marry a guy like Dad. Good and Bad. More and more, when the kids and I go camping, we go to a state park and go alone, just overnight or two. Most of the times DH is along, happens to be bad weather or just tougher.

    DH likes FW, but he likes it better in a vehicle. (not that he's ever done it.) I convinced him to try tenting Disney just once more, and that it would be different because he's got more camp skills under his belt than when he last came to FW, ( a lot more, just wished he thought toughing it out is fun :) )...and because our kids are all old enough to be a lot of help.

    There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of dif between camping in a pop up versus tenting, except the lovely hard ground, and somehow, there seems to be a little extra security in wet or cold weather, in DH's mind, in a pop-up.

    So I'm looking. Now seems a better time than spring. It may be a long search, we live far from sizeable population, and have no RV dealer within 150 mi.

    What experience/advise do you have about pop-ups? New ones could take 6 mo to actually arrive. Any favorite online places I could learn from? Any recommendations of specific models to look out for?
    (Since it's our first, and a trial run, I'm for older, bigger, simpler).

    But, ideas welcome on anything pop-up, for anyone who might be searching, sometime?
  2. ClaudeZ767

    ClaudeZ767 Biennial Visitor to the Fort

    Oct 20, 2008
    Hello. I can empathize with your plight, just in the opposite construction. My wife grew up camping, first in pop-ups then later in travel trailers where I had not. About 6 years into our marriage, she convinced me that we needed a pop up. I was initially skeptical but went to some rv shows and took a look. I loved it. We bought it and took it to Fort Wilderness 3 times. The beauty of a pop up is just about anyone can tow it. It is really easy to set up, and for me, being under the canvas of the bunkends really felt like camping should. Flash forward to 2010 and our son was born. We took him camping in the pop up when he was an infant. He's 2 now and while the pop up was nice for just the 2 of us ( and maybe older children if we had any), it was a bit much with a toddler. So.. we moved up to a travel trailer. ( My wife wanted a bathroom anyway..) I guess my point is, to the unitiated a pop up is a lot of fun. We enjoyed ours for years.It is a nice way to ease into the camping lifestyle with a minimum of cost and effort. If you do buy a pop up, make sure that you get one that has an air conditioner. We found that keeping the a/c running at night ensured that the canvas would not sweat, but bring lots of blankets since it can freeze you out! We had a 2006 fleetwood sun valley. I think it is owned by Coleman now. Ours had king sized beds on each end, a kitchen with stove, a dinette that converted into a bed, a sofa that converted into a bed, a/c and when opened was about 28ft long. We pulled it with a Ford Explorer. When collapsed, the trailer was only 3 ft tall and offered little wind resistance and was easy to tow. I'll be happy to answer any specific questions you might have, based on our experience.
    happy camping!
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  4. MattFromPA

    MattFromPA Earning My Ears

    Jun 25, 2012
    We had one for ten years, then upgraded to a TT when our second child was born. We loved the pop-up though, it is very much like tent camping with the benefit of being off the ground (we just spent a week tenting at FW so I can compare the pop-up, TT, and tent experience).

    We bought our PU new and I would probably recommend that unless you can find a great deal on a newer used unit. If you go used, ask to see all the appliances in operation and look for water damage, especially in the flooring. Ask if they've ever lubricated the axle (should be an annual task). I would practice set-up and tear-down before buying also. It is a little bit of a hassle and may not be for everyone. Remember that if the tent is put away wet or damp, it must be popped back up at home to dry out to prevent mildew.

    They are easy to tow and don't require a beefy tow vehicle. If it doesn't have brakes, then your maintenance (other than keeping the tent clean and dry) mostly involves keeping the tires inflated and the axle lubricated.

    Have fun hunting!
  5. Pooh2

    Pooh2 Dis Veteran

    Jan 2, 2011
    We owned two pop-ups over a 19 year period year. One was a Rockwood, the other was a Fleetwood.
    We tented the first few years of our marriage but hubby decided he'd better get the pop-up if he wanted me to camp with infants and toddlers!
    Def made camping more enjoyable being off the damp ground, having a comfy place to sit indoors when it was raining or too windy to eat out at the picnic table. Beds were comfy.
    We liked storing all our gear and sleeping bags in the camper so we were ready to just pack food and clothes and go.
    We camped once at Fort Wilderness and it was much more resort like than our favorite campgrounds in Maine and Nh. We usually do not have electric and water hook-ups so having those in Loop 1500 was a real treat.
    Good luck finding your camper!
  6. WDW1979

    WDW1979 .

    May 13, 2006
    Hi, I am also thinking about getting a pop-up, or maybe even a hard-top camper, from a company called Livin' Lite. Since you're also in the market you can check them out at Both their pop-ups (Quick Silver) and their hard-top campers (CampLite) are made mainly out of aluminum with some composite, no wood to rot or steel to rust (except I assume the axel is steel). And since they're mostly aluminum, they are very light and can be pulled by almost all vehicles - one of the reasons I became interest in them.

    I have also thought of getting a larger pop-up from another manufacturer for the space and for a toilet/shower option - but I would have to upgrade to the new Grand Caravan with the more powerful standard engine as my 2010 Caravan can't pull a huge, wood & steel built pop-up camper.
  7. bama_ed

    bama_ed It's kind of fun to do the impossible-Walt Disney

    Sep 23, 2004

    I have a popup and love to talk pups. :cool1:

    Ours is a Jayco 2005 Highwall model with a 12' box under the roof. It has a slideout dinette, oven, microwave, a/c, furnace, fridge, and interior shower/potty. We bought it new when the kids were young and knew we would use the heck out of it and we have.

    Forward nine years now and kids are growing, in college (some) with differing schedules, and the camper gets used only 2-3 times a year for maybe 7-10 days. So you need to plan on how long you might keep it, how you camp, tow vehicle status, and more.

    I note from your signature that you have several kids 17 and younger. If you plan to camp with them all you need a big pup. Slideouts make the interior feel bigger but also add weight.

    How long you want to keep it will factor into new/used. Used is cheaper (duh) but harder to find. New is more expensive and may cause a delay as you said waiting for delivery. Look at craigslist,, and other outlets. Spring in when a lot of used units get put on the market. Buying a pup is not like ordering CDs or books off Amazon: you need to inspect a potential unit in person and have the dealer/seller demonstrate how/that everything works (cranking up the roof, all appliances, etc).

    How do you want to camp? We are state park and Fort campers - we don't boon dock in the back pasture or up in some remote meadow. We have a potty built in (only use it for number ones at night) and have never used the shower. Always used the campground facilities. I don't have a battery to run electrical when boondocking. A/C is a must IMO if you plan to camp down south.

    What tow vehicle do you have? Will it have a comfortable safety margin for the tow limit plus all the people plus all the stuff that goes camping with you? You can easily add several hundred pounds getting ready for a trip.

    Lots more to go into but these are questions you should try to answer before going shopping for a pup. If you know the answers, great. If you have more please ask, we are here to help.:surfweb:

    Bama ED

    PS - check out the forums at and for good reading. Look for forums that refer to popups, tent trailers, and/or folding campers.
  8. Bearikens

    Bearikens Mouseketeer

    Sep 3, 2010
    Readerbug, I noticed that you listed your location as the Ozarks and as I grew up in the MO Ozarks I just had to respond. Additionally, I own a 2007 Fleetwood Yuma pup and have taken it twice to FW. Incidentally I live in the Denver area, so it is a pretty long trip towing the pup to Florida. I see that you have already been offered some advise as to finding a pup. Keep you eyes pealed in the newspaper, RV trader magazine, online, Craigslist, and around the area where you just might find one being offered for sale.

    An additional word of advice would be to examine how you camp and then figure out what items you will need to buy to use with the pup. Drinking water hose, sewer connections, chocks for the wheels, and other accessories. Camp first and make notes of what you use and what you need and go from there. Items you take and don't use, don't take the next time. Think multipurpose use items.

    One of the fun aspects of having a pup is figuring out what mods (modifications) you can do. Some mods are for practicality and some are for livability. I've done a couple of mods to add homemade gizmos (search online for the words gizmo and popup to see what I am talking about), sewer hose, and added cable. Another source of information related to pups is Popup Times Magazine and there are multiple pup owner boards (popup portal for example) you can visit.

    There is a especially wonderful feeling when you pull into the line of RV's towing your pup at the Reception Outpost (misting up just thinking about it). Be prepared for questions about you pup after you have set up camp as pup owners are interested in other rigs, how the owners like it, how it camps, what kind of features you have, etc.
  9. Readerbug

    Readerbug Using My Ears

    Jan 2, 2013
    You guys are great!
    I love reading your advice and experiences.
    Thank you! Please add on, or add more, while I am digesting it all!
    Any links to old threads about this, would be good, too!

    Tow vehicle is a Toyota Secquoia SUV, loaded to the gills with kids, strategically packed, and a Thule pod on top.

    If I found a Jayco Sport 12, or 12SC, (I like counterspace near the sink) or Jayco 1207 from Santa, parked outside, I'd kiss him! Extra.

    But I need to learn about all kinds of pup models that would sleep a small crowd, cause I'm sure we'll end up with a 'new to us' something.

    It will go on lots of nearby, short state park trips, but its longest regular use would be at FW. Want to 'do without the extras', as long as possible. No experience of what we're missing w/o shower/potty, ect, no pain of loss! :) I would want hot water. I don't really understand the whole hookups thing, yet. In order to pup camp just a little up from tenting, what is the minimum accessories/add ons we'd need? AC. And.....?

    I need to ask each of you more ?s later!
    Thank you for your thoughts and experiences!
    I welcome any more!
  10. arthuruscg

    arthuruscg DIS Veteran

    Feb 22, 2011
    Many of the large popups come with AC, fridge, heater, ect standard. The smaller ones typically have them as options.

    For hook ups, it depend on the popup. Assuming you get a large popup you will need a drain hose or black/grey water storage container, water hose designed for drinking water (usualy white), and something for wheel chalks and leveling.

    I have left over scraps of 1x6 that I am going to make a stair style leveling ramp with and use scraps of 2x4 for chalks.

    Seeing as you have a fullsized SUV/Truck as a TV, you might want to look into a Coleman E3 or other similar popups with a large cargo/platform area. The E3 has 2 king sized beds with a side out dinnet/bed + couch that might work as an additional bed.
  11. Southern Bell

    Southern Bell DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2011
    My husband and I camped in a Starcraft Galaxy Pop up for about 20 years. It was my favorite and happiest times camping! It just worked. I think any camper you choose works best when it has three sleeping areas, two ends and one in the middle. It had 2 pull out end beds. 1 queen bed on one end and 1 double on the other end. It had 1 table bed (two benches on each side of table), and one long sofa that made a bed. The sofa had a small table but we ended up putting a strip outside and using it beside the stove we put outside. It slept 8 easily. On opposite side of long sofa and beside my big table and benches it had a small 12 volt gas fridge that never did work so I used as a cabinet for dishes. We bought a small electric fridge we used on top of it and then we put a microwave on top of the fridge. The gas stove went here for inside use or traveling, but I liked cooking outside because we didn't have air conditioner. Beside the stove space inside was a small sink with storage underneath. The sink was usefull especially if I cooked inside on my table with my electric skillet. Next to the sink we had a pretty good cabinet space with a huge drawer and a cabinet under that. Beside that we had a closet with a space under that for a port a potty or whatever. It had good storage under the two benches and my husband added drawers under the long sofa. I learned to store extra blankets & sheets under the matress and to leave the two end beds all made with the sheets and comforter for the next trip. In this camper My husband missed having a tool box even though he made a small one under one of the benches. Outside we added a big strong canopy that we never had to roll up (like now) It withstood some pretty good wind at the beach. It was pulled with a 1979 Ford Futura with a 301 V8 engine. The camper weighed about 2500 pounds. We had no air conditioner but because all the canvas rolled down we could plug up a couple of fans and it was durable. In fact we have camped early summer and had to zip up the canvas at the beach and.... we have camped in July and it was so hot we had to head for the water by lunch time for the rest of the day! LOL! One advantage of pop over our rv is that we could use it without electricity. Sometimes at the lake all the electric places are taken during holidays, but we could still camp by rolling down all the canvas. But now if we don't get electricity for our air conditioner we don't camp! LOL! I know this is getting to long and will try to shorten it! LOL! We sold our pop up, missed it later , actually tried camping in a tent one summer, then bought another starcraft pop up with large sided walls. It had air conditioner, built in microwave, fridge that worked, huge table in the middle with a small slide out, a shower with curtain around it and a port a potty, A storage area in the front that my husband complained about not having for 20 years. We actually had people compliment our pop up it was so nice. We used the shower some but it proved to be a little bit of a mess. We had seen pop ups with a button that raised the pop up. They would not install this for us and our warranty still be any good. So.. my husband was worn out every time he cranked up our camper, even with a little help from me and my daughter. We sold this camper within a year. Actually one morning while we were camping at the lake my husband looked at me and said I hate this camper, and he took it down and traded it for a Starcraft hybrid that day! We found out later we could not pull the hybrid as easily as they claimed and so then.... we had to buy a new vehicle. LOL! I loved this hybrid camper though! It had three big beds that let out and plenty of storage, full bath, easy pulled. As far as I was concerned this was our last. We were happy with it for about 4 years and then we started having water problems (leaking in the front bed). Then the cabinets and wall seemed to be coming unglued. The floor seemed to have a soft spot, too. Even though it was only used a little by the owner and sold as new to us, made us wonder if it was that way when we bought it. Before it got worse my husband traded it and bought a beautifull RV that simply did not work. Prettiest camper I ever had or would ever want and I hated it! It was the biggest camper I ever had and least beds. I seemed to be blowing up a bed all the time for the floor! It had one bedroom and a large living room, beautifull bathroom with glass shower doors. For some reason I felt like I did more work in this camper than I did in our pop up. Now we have a rockwood with three sleeping areas, a bedroom on one end, and bunk beds on the other,Two beds in the middle! We have a small bathroom with a tub & no glass doors but thats Ok with us because ...We have a kitchen inside and one outside. So... now it works just like our pop up did for all those years! So...I hope it is a keeper for a long long time! What ever you buy make sure it works for you and your family, don't buy it because its pretty, make sure there are no water leaks from vents or slideouts, make sure floor and roof is good, no soft spots, no peeling of cabinets, and make sure you can pull it!
  12. North of Mouse

    North of Mouse DIS Veteran

    Mar 31, 2011
    You had an interesting post, but for future reference, it sure would make it easier to read if you break it up into paragraphs. ;) These eyes get blurry with solid print with no breaks, LOL
  13. lodge

    lodge DIS Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    Make sure you can pull it, and make sure you have a spare! Great reading!
  14. Southern Bell

    Southern Bell DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2011
    So Sorry!
  15. iheartpeterpan

    iheartpeterpan Still A Kid At Heart

    Jun 25, 2008
    I bought a new to me Flagstaff High Wall camper last year off craiglist. My DH does not love camping so it is mostly me and my DD going it alone or with other family members and I have no problems pulling it with my Toyota Highlander w/ tow package. Mine is a fairly heavy and large PUP but some are quite small and light. I know you say you would be fine without the amenities but I love having the potty/shower in the camper, esp those late-night potty runs are so great with kids. We mostly camp in the national parks with no hookups.

    I was a tent camper for many many years and love the extra this pup has given us when camping. It has a slide and sleeps 6 and has loads of room for my whole family. I myself prefer the popup to a hard-sided TT because it is much easier to tow (as I am towing it alot by myself) and it gives me that tent camping feeling without the tent camping drawbacks - I feel claustrophobic in closed travel trailers. To each his own though. My DH has been camping more with me after having this than he did in tents though so it has been a win-win for my family.

    My DH and i looked for several months before we found something that we liked. I personally would not buy new because these things take such a hit on value as soon as you take them home - and many you find are hardly used at all, if you are patient and willing to look. Just be confident that you can learn/understand how the systems work and how to make your own minor repairs if you are going to buy used. I personally think that PUPs have pretty basic systems that are easily handled by the average do it yourselfer.

    I towed mine down to the Fort from middle TN last summer - about 700 miles. Long drive but no problems even with my smaller car!

    As far as amenities go, that is totally up to you and your style of camping. I personally would not own a PUP in the south without A/C. There's no way you could do the Fort in the summer without it. For me, minimally I would want a potty. Since I do a lot of national park camping without access to showers or hot water in the bath houses, the shower is very important. I have never used my microwave or my oven, but I find the stove to be useful. My water pump and hot water is an important feature to me. I have a king and queen bunk end and find them to be enormous, I would be fine with 2 queens. I have automatic lift system which is important to me because I set up by myself and would rather not crank. My furnace is important to me because I camp in the smokies in the fall. Mine has a 3-way fridge that I honestly do not use much, except for drinks because I camp in bear country and don't want the food inside (I just use coolers).

    If you have any kind of water tank you will need a waste tank and hoses like a barker or some other type of tote. Most PUPs do not have a black water tank (even though mine does) so you probably won't need black water sewage hoses. You will need some way to level, some folks use boards, link blocks, etc I use the Bal Leveler which I love.

    If you buy used and will camp at all without hookups make sure you take your battery to an automotive store and have them test the battery! Nothing worse than thinking you are fully charged only to have zip the next morning.

    Good luck on your search and Happy Camping!
  16. North of Mouse

    North of Mouse DIS Veteran

    Mar 31, 2011
    Nothing to be sorry about - you didn't do anything wrong - just a helpful hint ;)

    Keep up the good posting ::yes:: pixiedust:
  17. englishteacha

    englishteacha Have courage and be kind.

    Apr 2, 2006
    There's a great online pop up community, Pop Up Explorer, with lots of helpful tips and lots of nice people. Even though we sold our pop up and moved into a GIANT tent, I'm still welcome there. :) Pop Up Portal is nice, too.

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