Are pop up campers waterproof ?

Are pop up campers waterproof ?

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Pop up camper are great for boondocking and they give lots other advantages. Easy to tow and light weight pop up campers are less costly and are great for beginners. They however do not pack in many amenities but just the appliance/items you may need.

Folding pop up or tent trailers are awesome but are they great during bad weather conditions like rain? Do they leak water when raining? Lets find out if they are waterproof or not.

New models of pop up campers are waterproof but with time they may loose waterproofing. Used old pop up camper canvas may not remain as good as it was when new. Thus waterproofing may be needed from time to time.

The pop up camper canvas in newer models is not pure canvas but its mostly combination of canvas cotton and vinyl. Vinyl material gives good waterproofing to the pop up camper.

Different materials on the pop up campers

Pop up campers have fabrics that could be vinyl or canvas cotton or it could be both vinyl plus canvas. Most new models come with vinyl that is very much waterproof. Canvas made up of cotton is not highly waterproof and thus coating of waterproof is added by manufacturers.

Old pop up campers came with only canvas and if you own a newer model then it will have very good waterproofing.

Having a combination of both vinyl and canvas also works great as they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Thus if you bought a used camper then you are likely to have both of this as fabric for your camper.

Vinyl fabric has better ability to repel water and avoid soaking. Thus it keeps the water away from entering inside. Canvas has less capability in doing this.

Thus if you are going to camp in a rainy weather then keep this point in mind. Vinyl will shed the water pretty well and thus provide better camping conditions in rains. Canvas fabric however can be waterproofed to keep the water out.

Vinyl material can result in condensation which is lesser in case of cotton canvas. Thus having a combination of both works great.

A canvas on the inside and a vinyl on the outside can work great.

This will prevent the water leak as well as condensation on the interior. Condensation may look like water leaking and many people mistake condensation with water leaking. It will be like water leaking inside but if you observe closely you can figure it out.

Condensation can result in mold and mildew which again can cause musty smells and odors. Hence you need to be careful of that too.

Waterproofing the tent trailer canvas

Getting the pop up camper canvas waterproofed will need you to take few steps. If its vinyl on the outer side then be sure to use a product that says vinyl friendly. Else you may end up damaging the material and it will loose its waterproof badly.

Cleaning the pop up camper fabric also need to be done with care and any extra scrubbing may lead to damages. Following the manufacturer recommendation is the best solution for this. Lets see steps that need to be followed to waterproof the tent trailer camper canvas.

1. Before you apply the waterproofing coating be sure that it is cleaned. Do not overdo it as it may be bad for the fabric. A mild cleaning with suitable soap or detergent should do. Use brush that is soft. Once you wash the pop up camper canvas make sure it dries well before going any further.

If the canvas of your camper is very dirty like bird dropping or has high mold and mildew then you may need to go hard way. So, depending on whats the condition is, decide on the cleaning. You can use a soft and mild detergent like Woolite. It also depends on the type of fabric it is so be sure to do little bit research on what soap or detergent should work for your fabric.

2. Next step is to dry the pop up camper canvas after its cleaned. So be sure to give it some time and let it dry fully.

3. Applying the Waterproofing coat on the pop up camper is the next step. You can try different products to get the canvas waterproofed and one such product is 303 fabric guard. This comes as spray bottle that you can use directly and coat the canvas.

If any part of the fabric has vinyl then make sure you cover it with something and do not put any of it on vinyl. Spraying the vinyl with 303 fabric guard may damage it. One can waterproof the canvas as many times as needed but just make sure you do check on your canvas before doing it.

Vinyl part of the pop up camper fabric need to be treated or cleaned using products that are vinyl safe. You can clean the vinyl after canvas has been waterproofed.

Reasons behind pop up camper leaking

Its not that all pop up campers leak. If you own a used pop up camper and its leaking then there could be issues with how it was handled. There are several reason why it could leak.

An old canvas on the pop up camper may damage with time specially when it has to withstand UV rays, and other harsh weather conditions. So timely maintenance is all it needs.

A newer model will have better waterproofing and may not need any such coating or treating. So be sure that you don’t do necessary things with its canvas fabric.

Its design too can result in leakage, UV rays can make caulking detoriate and result in leakage. So the idea is to make sure caulking is restored and getting any holes sealed. Bunk end leaking is another issue specially if its coming down heavily.

Some people also use tarp over bunk ends and that may help in both keeping the heat out as well as providing some protection from rain. Its bad when you get you camper bed wet, this may happen due to both condensation as well as direct leaking.

You have to figure out why its happening and then address the issue. Condensation is more common and can be addressed by using different techniques. You need to have good ventilation or have heater or ac that can help get rid of it.

Having an air conditioner or vent installed on top can also result in opening that will bring in water drops. So, you need to make sure any screw be tighten properly.

Resealing the roof

When you install an ac or a vent on the pop up camper its important that you reseal any holes or openings else it may start leaking from there. The roof of the pop up camper can loose its strength after withstanding the sun, rain and UV. And caulking may be needed.

People use silicon as the roof sealant but it may not allow paint on it. So that’s one point to keep in mind. For sealing the seams on the pop up one can use ethernabond tape. It can work great in sealing the seams. Using silicon caulk however may not be good idea. It can shrink and pull away resulting in retaining dirt.

You also get paints that act as sealant as well. One such product is kool seal. Using a good primer along with paint can also work well. But, it depends on the type of roof material it is. You can use a paint roller for putting it on yourself. Roof resealing is needed to make sure rain doesn’t come in. And trying these various things should work.

Tips to maintain the canvas

Pop up camper canvas needs good maintenance else it may quickly catch on to mold and mildew. Its harder to remove the molds and then keep it waterproof and you may have to replace it at high cost. So best thing to do is to clean it and maintain it periodically. Following these tricks will allow you to keep your tent trailer or pop up camper in shape. Lets see steps in cleaning the canvas on the pop up camper.

  • The canvas can be cleaned using warm water. Use a soft sponge to clean the bird droppings, other dirt on it.
  • Other things like dust need to be vacuum cleaned
  • Do not store the pop up camper wet. Instead let it dry completely. Otherwise it will get hold of molds which can result in other issues like smell and health issues.
  • Do periodic check and clean regularly to keep it in good shape. But don’t overdo cleaning as it may loose its waterproofing and damage it.

Tent trailer canvas repair

Sure the canvas with vinyl coating will be waterproof but it also has its life. After some years or so it may not remain so specially if the maintenance is not done. And with maintenance too it can loose it capability. Or the canvas itself may get damaged due to various reasons like below,

  • It may tear
  • normal wear and tear, as its exposed to UV rays and sunlight
  • holes to external elements

One can sew the holes to make sure its not leaking. For this, make sure you use different piece to sew it together else the waterproofing may go away. Getting the holes sewed as early as possible is necessary else it may become a bigger problem.

Canvas repair can be done using a patching kit and adhesive. Buy a patching kit of similar colour as your canvas and use adhesive to get it patched on the affected area of the canvas. Allow it to dry for some time and then apply waterproof spray if needed.

While you see holes or patches being damaged on canvas its important to understand the material of the canvas. Not all will be pure canvas cotton. A Coleman have sunbrella which is not canvas. One needs to order the same material instead of trying different.

Other Pop up camper restorations can also be done but you need to be careful specially with canvas , roof and windows. Any wrong doing can make it worse especially during rain when it can leak.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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