Is it worth it to buy a tent trailer ?

Is it worth it to buy a tent trailer ?

Last Updated on :

Pop up campers are the smallest forms of RV’s that include minimum amenities. They cost very less and most people start their rving journey with a smaller tent trailer or pop up camper as we call them. They need to be towed using a car or a truck unlike motorhomes like Class A or Class B which have their own engines attached.

Its definitely worth it to buy a pop up or a ten trailer provided you are looking for a rv that’s light weight, economical and if you are okay with less amenities. If this is going to be your first rving experience then going for a pop up camper makes sense as you may not want to spend high amount. One can try a used pop up camper as a first buy, use it for sometime and then may be go for an upgrade, if necessary.

Buying a new pop up camper straight away can turn out to be a bad decision if you feel the need of going for an upgrade later on. In which case you will be loosing the money when you sell it for a much lesser price.

So, does this apply to all ? Definitely not. We all are different and our likes and dislike differ. But, most people who want to start rving with a less risk of loosing money due to wrong choice can go for used pop up camper or tent trailer.

To understand better, lets go through all the pros and cons of pop up camper or tent trailer.

Advantages of pop up campers or tent trailers

Pop up camper are worth it because of the pros that they provide. A lot of people will agree with the points below and there will be lot more advantages to add as well. Lets try and understand what a tent trailer can give you and how its totally worth it specially when you are starting out new and are on low budget.

1. Cost effective way to start with

A pop up camper is modest form of camper or rv. It can cost you very less if you compare with other hard sided trailer or RV’s.

Tent trailers can be bought in as less as $4000 or even less if you go for used ones. Now, that’s way less and you don’t really have to go for a loan. You can buy it with a single payment and enjoy the camping lifestyle for years to come.

Price is a major factor when someone wants to go a Rving lifestyle. Check out average cost of different RV’s in the article posted earlier. Pop up camper however may not be considered as an full fledged RV as they may not have all the facilities. But, with the kind of price you pay, it totally makes it worth it.

Obviously for those who have experienced bigger Rv’s may not feel great with them. But, if one is just starting out then its definitely a great way to go for. One reason why people are hesitant in paying high prices is because of the fear of buying a lemon or buying something that may not turn out to be fitting in their needs.

Pop up tent trailer being so less costly gives you that freedom to try and test. Buying a 5000 or so pop up camper can help you realize what you need and if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle then you can trade it for a new one.

At times people buy a used trailer, use it for years and then sell it at same price or even higher. That’s kind of funny but its a fact.

Even though we all know how much camper or rv’s depreciates, pop up camper being so less costly makes such thing possible. Its just that some people get lucky or they upgraded their pop up or maintained it really well. or you had purchased it at really low cost.

2. Getting a used one can be great

All types of Rv’s depreciate heavily and so do pop up campers. A luxury pop up camper can actually cost a little higher. But, making such a buy may not be great if you are buying rv first time.

Spending too much on such campers may not work specially if you have any thoughts of selling it sooner. Initially you may feel that i am just going to continue with camper for many years. But, as soon as you get it and start camping you may feel otherwise.

Its only when you start camping inside it that you come to know about its short comings. With pop up camper you do have limitations but its totally upto you what you want. Specially the space and lack of amenities or features can result in you thinking of upgrading it.

And if that happens and you try selling it, you are going to make losses and that can be in high percentage. So, getting a used pop up camper itself will come cheap as most people sell it as they go for upgrade, and thus you get good deals.

Trying such used pop up camper makes great sense as you can always go ahead and upgrade it. And you wont be making much losses either, in fact as i said above at times you may sell camper at higher price.

With used tent trailer you also get lots of options, abundance of availability can also be better to find just the right one. Visit a campground and you will find loads of people camping in used tent trailer that they bought years ago. Its just that you need to get going and if it suits your needs off you are.

3. Low on maintenance

Pop up camper may not need high maintenance as compared to other RV’s like travel trailer or a fifth wheel. You need to cover it and can clean occasionally to keep it well. Since it is going to be small actually makes it easier for you to maintain as well.

Bigger the vehicle higher is the maintenance cost. You may however need to be careful with the fabric or the canvas and make sure it does not tear up. Since the pop up camper would have mechanical part to lift the pop up, it would need better care but overall its not going to be high maintenance.

With better wind resistance you also tow it better. For travel trailers you need more equipment to tow and that also adds to maintenance, but that’s not the case with pop up campers. In case of RV maintenance there is just one rule, more simple your camper is less is the maintenance needed.

And with tent trailer being basic form of camper, they need less maintenance. Also, not all pop up camper would have canvas, like an Aliner may not have one, they are hard-sided just like a travel trailer and are great during cold season. A lot depends on how you use a pop up camper as well. Doing regular maintenance is a good thing with rv’s anyways.

4. Storing is way easier than hard sided trailers

Storing a pop up ten trailer is less of a hassle if you compare it with a hard side trailer or a bigger motorhome like class c or class A. A smaller in size tent trailer can be parked in your backyard or a garage.

Its important that the RV be covered during winter season and if you plan o renting a space for a bigger RV, then it would cost you dollars depending on the region you belong. At-least $50-60 per month would be needed.

So, with pop up camper you can save on that extra spending and at the same time keep it protected. At times keeping it in the backyard will also allow your kids to camp in there so its kind of fun with that too.

Keeping the pop up camper behind your house allows you to check it for any molds or any other issues also. Placing it on the driveway or street is subjective, as at times that can result in different issue.

But it can be smaller enough to occupy the space. just make sure you don’t park it on the slope. A car garage can accommodate it provided you have little wider door and space inside. All in all storage of tent trailer is easier and less of a hassle for you. A bigger lengthier RV is always going to be problem if you don’t have enough space and you are not willing to put in amount for storage.

5. Lightweight and Easy to tow

A tent trailer can weigh as less as 400 lbs. Most pop up campers would weigh in the range of 700 to 2500 lbs though. But with that too its very less weight in comparison to other RV’s.

Towing such a weight can be much easier task for your car or truck. Heavier towable RV’s can be a tough job for your car or truck and also you need to be sure about weight limits. A bigger travel trailer or fifth wheel need much considerations and your car at times may not good enough to tow them.

Fifth wheels need truck as its end part hangs over the towing vehicle bed. Pop up camper (basic ones) can be easily towed by any cars. Most pop up camper would have limited features and thus they weight much less. Check out why the pop up campers weigh less and their other advantages because of their less weight.

towing a pop up camper

Some luxury tent trailer would include amenities making them little heavier though. Weight when towing any kind RV is critical and pop up campers score a ten on ten in this aspect. Towing anything behind a car in itself is something that makes you worry a little bit.

And thus, having that lesser weight can be a relief. Therefore people who look to start rving consider the weight of the tent trailer as an important factor. With weight, the hitch and the towing equipment also needs consideration and with ten trailer its kind of simplified.

6. Better than tent camping

Tent camping is great especially you love to go close to nature and just go the hard way. But, pop up camper kind of gives you almost both options. You can camp closer to nature and at the same time have a ready to move towable RV.

tent camping vs pop up camper camping
tent camping vs pop up camper camping

With tent trailer you just have to fold the pop ups and off you go but with tents it is going to take time to pack up. With pop up camper you are also kind of more protected than a simple nylon tent. Although pop up’s don’t really provide high security as it is going to be canvas but more secure than a plain tent.

But still its better than a simple tent. Pop ups even though may not have high end amenities like oven or a air conditioner but still give a homely feeling. They will have basic facilities like a smaller kitchen area, a sleeping area, or even air conditioner.

But overall good enough to stay and feel like a home. Remember it comes at much lower price. Other cons of tent include a hard time during rains and also if there’s dirt around then that can be problem with tents. Changing clothes can be a problem too when you are camping in a tent, pop up camper provide privacy from the outer world.

They may also provide storage even though it may not be big but to some extent that’s better than tents. You can check various pop up camper brands to check if they are providing better storage solutions.

7. Cheaper than hotels

Rving lifestyle can be much more fun than just spending time in a hotel. Hotels can be costly, RVing too is a costly thing if you have a big RV. But, with pop up camper its super fun and not so costly. Unless you go to a campground that charges much, its going to be less costly affair with pop up camping.

Boondocking is going to be free and all you need is a car to pull that tent trailer. Since the weight isn’t going to be high, the mpg isn’t coming down heavily either. So, overall tent trailer are much cheaper than hotels and can save you much.

Also, you can cook your own food, make friends in the RV community. Living in tent trailer at night time can also be a great experience which you cannot get living in a hotel.

8. Get the feel of boondocking and camping

Boondocking may not possible in every RV out there. Places less accessible can however be easy to go to using a pop up camper. Bigger the RV harder it is to go to remote places. Pop up camper being so compact makes it easier to travel and you can enjoy the camping almost like a tent camping.

And at the same time you have the access to basic amenities of a RV. Most people who do adventure and tent camping switch to pop up camper because they offer similar experience at a less cost.

should you buy a pop up camper?

Disadvantages of pop up campers

Yes, they do have lots of advantages but what all things doesn’t work with pop up campers. Lets find out the cons of tent trailers in detail. Remember a disadvantage does not necessarily mean a pop up camper is bad for everyone. It all depends on your living style and what you exactly want from these tiny tent trailers.

1. Less amenities

RV’s in general are equipped with amenities that can give you everything you need for a very comfortable stay. But, Pop up campers are different. They wouldn’t give you such loads of amenities.

They cost much less and with that kind of spending you only get limited amenities. Because they are compact, you can have appliances that are basic and mandatory. You will not find an air conditioner installed on all pop up campers.

Although you do get air conditioner installed on them but most will not have it installed. Modern RV appliances like oven, dish washer, big bed could be missing in them. You just go out camping with few most needed equipment and appliances.

If you want all these things to be added then the price would go up and thus there is no point in going for pop up camper then. More amenities mean more space and more weight. And that’s exactly what is not needed and thus, a compromise on amenities and appliance.

They may include smaller fridge, every compact kitchen and a smaller space for sleeping. Even the water tanks would be smaller in size, remember water does weigh significantly.

2. Limited Space

rv interior space
rv interior space

If you are a big family then you obviously need a bigger RV. A couple or a family with one- two kids can camp comfortably in a pop up. But, more number of family members or friends would need something bigger. A travel trailer can accommodate more number for people depending on length.

But, a limited space pop up camper can only accommodate few people inside it and with more people it is going to be more difficult for you. It also depends on the model you have. Some pop up camper may accommodate more number of people.

So, the best thing to do here would be to cross verify the number of people it can accommodate. Having convertible dinette to a sofa or a bed can also work out. Its going to be limited space and getting such dual purpose furniture can help accommodate more people inside.

But again with these kind of arrangements its going to be little tough. It totally depends on how you want to camp and what experience you want during camping.

3. Not highly secure

Tent trailer or pop up campers are light in weight and they have canvas or vinyl that will be the only thing on top of you. And thus, obviously it isn’t going to be highly secure. It is not going to be hard sided like a travel trailer. Read all the differences between travel trailer vs pop up camper here.

Specially when you are camping in wild area where there are chances of wild animals, its going to be a thing to worry about. Areas with bear can therefor be not ideal for camping in pop up tent trailers.

It is for the same reason that some region or park area wont even allow for pop up campers to enter. Even during weather that isn’t so god, pop up camper simply wont suit. Winter camping is not ideal with pop up campers.

4. Can get hot inside

Summer times can be real hard in RV’s when the temperature is soaring. Pop up campers can become very hot during summer time and nothing worse than camping in hot conditions. They are made up of material that is going to be thin and with that its going to heat it up.

The RV awning will provide you shade but cant really help with the heat it generates. They mostly will not have an air conditioner in there. But even f you install one it will never be like a proper RV. With hard sided trailer or fifth wheel you can just switch on the ac and be relaxed and remain insulated from the heat.

5. Winter camping is difficult

Similar to summer, winter time camping too is very difficult with pop up campers. A RV in winter in itself is a difficult thing to do. And thus, most people don’t really camp during winters. Campground would be empty during such times as well.

winter camping in pop up camper

Pop up campers have thinner walls that is not even hard sided so insulation from cold is a really difficult task with them. Most people go pop up camping during summer or early summer.

6. No storage or very less

Pop up campers fold when they are being towed and thus there is not much space left for storage. With this you aren’t really getting any option to bring in stuff needed for camping unless you pack it in your car.

So, a lite camping is all you can do with a pop up camper. You can try different ideas to get some storage but it isn’t going to be like a proper rv. A travel trailer for example will give you better storage at least some storage if not as high as class c or class a motorhome.

7. You need to be careful

Pop up canvas can tear if its not handled with care. Also when you are parked under a tree or a shade you need to give attention so that it does not cause any damage to your tent trailers. That’s something that may not be needed with your hard sided RV’s like travel trailer or fifth wheel. With tent trailer its going to be an additional thing for you.

8. Less comfortable

A pop up camper is always going to be a compromise in terms of space and amenities. No matter how much your pop up costs, its always going to be limited with its ability to provide you comfort. You can get an air conditioner or have a bathroom inside but it cannot be like a bigger travel trailer or a fifth wheel.

So, this brings us to our basic question that we are addressing in this post, “is it worth to buy a tent trailer ?”. And if this point of comfort is something that you cannot compromise then tent trailer isn’t for you. Just go for a bigger and better camper like travel trailer or class c RV.

9. Customization or modification is difficult

Modifying a RV to suit according to your needs is a thing of common. Many people get their RV interior designed as per their needs. When you have a pop up camper, the redesign can be tough thing to do. Its interior space is less and is designed to utilize the space. And on top of that if you want to make changes then obviously its going to be tough although people do modify the tent trailer as per their needs.

10. Set up can be time consuming

setting up tent trailer
setting up tent trailer

You go for camping, reach the campsite and then you spend an hour doing the pop up tent set up. It isn’t going to be easy for you. If you have mechanical automatic pop ups then it will be little easy. But a 40 minute set up will be testing your patience, specially when you know this will be needed every time you reach for camping.

11. Not great privacy

When you have a bigger motorhome or a bigger fifth wheel you can get privacy inside with multiple sleeping areas. But, with pop up campers you wont get any privacy inside and you will be living in a compact area just enough to sleep.


So, to conclude on this discussion one has to go through all the advantages and disadvantages a pop up camper has and then decide if its worth it or not. As we saw earlier itself someone who is looking for an economical rving style should try a used pop up camper before heading for a costly one.

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.
Close Menu