The concept of mobile tent trailers has been around a long time. As matter of fact, the covered wagon that transported untold numbers of pioneers into the American west were a type of mobile tent trailer. Some 50 years later, when automobiles started to roam around the country, the covered wagon concept evolved into a type of car trailer that a camping tent could be erected on. These “tent trailers” were a specialty product, but still significant numbers were sold to those that preferred camping on a comfortable platform rather than on the hard ground.
It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, before the modern “pop-up” trailer came into existence. The magic of the modern versions is that they, well, pop up. That is, unlike setting up a conventional tent, once you park a pop-up trailer, the tent and roof part of the trailer can be erected within minutes. This was nothing short of miraculous to those who had been erecting tents for years.
Since the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of pop-up trailers have been built and over the years, they have become more advanced and more comfortable. Today, with hundreds of models on the market, there’s a pop-up trailer for just about everyone.
Chances are that you may have considered buying one but haven’t pushed the button yet. And, that’s OK. Pop-ups look like a lot of fun, especially if you have kids, but they aren’t for everyone – and they are expensive too. Here’s a few things to consider before you take the plunge.
They aren’t hotel rooms:
First and foremost is the fact that although they do have a floor, walls, a roof and some other amenities, but tent trailers are not hotel rooms. They are just one step up from your standard tent and therefore may not be for the best choice for people who are older, want more security, and/or plan to travel for longer periods of time. Plus, campgrounds can be noisy – much, more noisy than hotels typically are.
Do you have children?
That being said, for younger families, tent trailers can be an awful amount of fun. Most of the time, people park them overnight them in established campgrounds. This allows a traveling family to pursue sight-seeing adventures during the day yet have a nice, amenity-laden place to sleep at night – and all for a lot less than a hotel costs. America’s better campgrounds typically offer lots of activities and recreation facilities for families. For the cost of a tenting site, you may have things like arcade galleries, swimming pools, recreation rooms, even boating and sailing, if the campground is on a pond or lake.
Do you have a car that can tow a pop-up trailer?
Our technical consultants at York Chrysler of Crawford, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat dealer in Crawford, IN, suggest that you have an expert determine what the appropriate weight is that you can tow with your car. Most car dealers and RV dealers can help you with that determination.
Basic pop-up trailer stats:
Pop-ups come in a variety of lengths and have either one or two slide out beds. Even the smallest units are spacious when opened, and many offer a small eating booth that converts into another bed. Most pop-up trailers also have a small stove, sink and refrigerator and some have swing out cooking areas that allow people to prepare their meals outdoors.
On your typical pop-up, the roof and lower body are solid, but the side and slide out walls are made of canvas. Built into this canvas there usually is clear plastic windows that can be unzipped to reveal screens, or kept closed to protect against weather. Bedside canvas curtains can also be closed for privacy. Most of models today come with easy-care materials, and water and electric connections. The larger models may even have porta-potties, additional screen rooms, showers, air conditioners and furnaces.
Should you buy one?
Want to try out the popup experience? There’s always the used market for those on a budget. Just be careful you don’t end up buying a car because older pop-ups can really show their age. For those that are pretty sure that this is a recreational vehicle that the family will love, don’t be blinded by price. Remember that when you are traveling, comfort and ease of use are important and many buyers admit they wished they bought the “better one” after using their first popup.