Pop-up campers are very convenient and honestly, I’m a big fan of them, however, like with any type of camper/RV, there are also disadvantages that are often overlooked or not even considered until it’s too late.
This hasn’t been created to put you off buying a pop-up camper (for the right purposes they are fantastic), but to give you an insight into some of the common and overlooked disadvantages of owning one.
If you are currently on the fence then this should hopefully give you some insight on whether a pop-up camper is the right option for you and your family.
17 Disadvantages Of A Pop-Up Camper
1. They Have Thin Walls
Pop-up campers are made to be foldable and very lightweight. Due to this, the walls are much thinner than in a motorhome or an RV. This, therefore, leads to a variety of other issues.
First of all, controlling the climate, whether keeping it cool or warm, can be difficult because of the lack of insulation.
Keep in mind that this is also true even if you have a pop up camper with hard walls. There are then also concerns related to noise from the outside. Those walls are too thin to block much noise, so getting a good night’s sleep can sometimes be an issue.
2. It’s Cramped
Pop-up campers are convenient in terms of portability, but the space on the inside is quite limited. This is even the case if you buy a large pop-up camper designed for many people.
There are some pop-up campers designed to fit six or even up to eight people, but this doesn’t really mean that they have a lot of space on the inside.
Pop-up campers are extremely small and confined, which can cause issues. Everybody is going to be cramped in there, it can get really hot, and you’re definitely going to hear it when people snore.
3. No Or A Small Bathroom
Yet another issue with pop-up campers is that they generally do not have bathrooms in them. Moreover, if they do have bathrooms, they are going to be extremely small. Those pop-up campers that do have bathrooms still do not compare to motorhomes or RV’s.
No matter what the case is, you’re just not going to have a very good bathroom in your pop-up camper. If you do, it’s most certainly just going to have a small toilet and a sink, and absolutely no shower whatsoever.
4. The Canvas Can Tear
One of the biggest downsides of a pop-up camper is the fact that the walls can tear. If you get a soft walled camper that has canvas walls, they can break fairly easily.
Relatively sharp or hard objects can cause damage to them. This means that you might have to replace or repair that canvas.
Sure, it might not even cost $1000 to replace a canvas, but that’s still a good bit of money to be spending.
5. Issues With Mold
When it comes to soft walled canvas pop-up campers, a big issue is mold. When that canvas gets wet, if you don’t properly dry it or let it dry it before folding it back down, mold may very well occur. Mold will weaken the canvas, it doesn’t look nice, and it’s also not safe to inhale.
Therefore, after it rains, or if there is early morning dew, you absolutely need to wait for the canvas to dry 100% before you can pack it up and move on. You also need to make sure to constantly clean the canvas so that mold does not spread.
6. Time Constraints
Something else to consider with pop-up campers is that you need to set them up and take them down. Sure, many come with simple hand crank mechanisms that you just turn to set up the camper and take it down. However, you often still need to set up generators, support poles, bathroom facilities, and more.
Then, when you are done, you need to take everything down. You can expect to spend around an hour putting it up and another hour taking it down. The portability that pop-up campers come with does come with this time cost.
7. They Can Get Hot
One of the biggest issues you might face with a pop-up camper is that keeping them cool can be a challenge. Due to the thin walls, heat easily penetrates from the outside, especially on a sunny day.
Moreover, even if you do have an air conditioner, due to those thin walls, it won’t be very efficient. Retaining the cool air generated by your air conditioning won’t be easy, and this is also going to end up costing you a lot of money. You’re just never going to be able to keep a pop-up camper as cool as an RV.
8. They Can Get Cold
Just like pop-up campers can get really hot in the summer, they can also get really cool in the winter. Those thinly insulated walls don’t retain heat very well.
Therefore, even if you are using a heater, those walls won’t retain much of the heat. Not only does this make climate control a challenge, but it’s also going to end up costing you money.
9. Concerns With Quality
The next thing to consider when getting a pop-up camper is that they just aren’t the most durable things out there. The fact of the matter is that because these things are designed to be lightweight and portable, they’re also designed with that in mind.
Everything is built very thin, and unfortunately, thinness usually does not relate to durability. They have light frames, not much insulation, and so on and so forth. They’re just not as comfortable or as durable as something like an RV or a full-size motorhome.
10. No Hot Water
Something else to consider here is that pop-up campers just don’t come with hot water heaters. Yes, motor homes and RV’s do have hot water heaters.
Now, some pop-up campers might have enough space so you can install your own hot water heater, but that is going to take up a lot of space, and as you know by now, real estate is very tight in a pop up camper. Therefore, you do have a decision to make, whether or not you want to spare space for a water heater.
11. Storage Issues
Yet another issue to consider with pop-up campers is the fact that they just don’t have very much storage space. If you are going on a long trip, you’re just not going to be able to bring all of the belongings that you probably want.
Therefore, you have to do a whole lot of planning in terms of logistics to ensure that you have enough space to bring everything that you need.
Things like vacuum sealed clothing bags, additional shelving, and collapsible dish where are always to help save space. Yes, pop-up campers do have some built-in storage space, but it’s going to be very limited nonetheless.
12. Towing Capacities
What you then also need to consider with a pop-up camper is the fact that you need to tow it along with a vehicle.
Therefore, you may have issues with towing capacities. Yes, most larger pickup trucks and other such vehicles should be able to haul along a pop-up camper without issue, but this is not always going to be the case.
For instance, if you have a smaller vehicle, such as one designed for city living, then it may not be able to tow along a pop-up camper due to weight and towing capacity constraints.
Another issue to consider is the fact that because the walls of a pop-up camper are so thin, you are going to be able to hear every single noise from outside of the camper. Loud campground neighbors, your generator, and more are all potential disruptions to a good night’s sleep.
Moreover, this also goes in the other direction. If you are making noise inside of the pop-up camper, people on the outside are going to hear you. Getting a romantic night between you and your partner without notifying the whole neighborhood is not going to be easy.
14. Safety Issues
Something else to consider here is that pop-up campers generally aren’t the safest things out there, especially in terms of privacy. Those extremely thin walls aren’t very protective.
If an intruder wants to get into a pop-up camper or an aggressive animal, they can probably get in. Even really bad weather, such as severe wind or rainstorm, may cause severe damage to a pop-up camper, which therefore poses safety risks to everybody on the inside.
15. Privacy Issues
The simple reality is that a pop-up camper definitely isn’t the most private thing around. You can hear everything going on the outside, and people can hear what you are doing on the inside.
People are even going to be able to smell whatever food you are cooking. On that note, during the night, with the lights on, people are going to be able to see your shadows and exactly what you are doing.
16. Tipping Over
OK, so right off the bat, it is quite unlikely for a pop-up camper to tip over. However, if there is a very strong wind, and you have all of the tents fully extended, those tents can act like sails. A very strong wind may take hold of those tents and cause your pop-up camper to tip over.
The other thing to consider with a pop-up camper is that they generally need a good deal of maintenance. There are many moving parts that require regular maintenance, such as those mechanisms that lower and raise the pop-up.
The canvases then also going to require regular maintenance. Maintaining a pop-up camper can be a bit of a pain.
Conclusion: Is A Pop-Up Camper Worth It?
Whether or not a pop-up camper is worth it really depends on exactly what your purpose is. We would say that for most short trips, and for up to three or four people, a pop-up camper will do just fine.
However, if you are going on a trip with a lot of people, and it’s going to be a long trip, you might want to invest in something bigger, such as a real motorhome or RV.