Small Pop Up Campers: The Ultimate Guide

There is something magical about small pop up campers. Maybe it’s the way they unfold to reveal a surprising amount of space. Or perhaps it’s the adventures that happen in them. Either way, pop up campers are a great way to travel, they’re compact and lightweight and have everything you need for an epic road trip. 

If you’re into camping but are tired of constructing a tent every time you go on a trip, then small pop up campers are the next step in the world of the outdoors and could be for you. They are compact and lightweight, meaning they can be towed by almost any vehicle, making getting outside more accessible. 

Having more space is a luxury on any camping trip and some pop up campers even come equipped with seating areas and kitchens. Best of all, you will be treated to a proper bed, that is raised off the floor, heaven!  

Small Pop Up Campers

Pop up trailer packed down.

What Exactly Are Small Pop Up Campers?

A pop up camper is a cross between a tent and a trailer, designed to be lightweight and easy to move. The camper folds away neatly onto a trailer bed when being transported and then expands into a large set up once you arrive at your campground. Once set up, a pop up camper gives you more space and amenities compared to a traditional tent.

A pop up camper isn’t to be confused with a pop top camper, which is a campervan with a raising roof. Small pop up campers are not motorhomes and, thanks to their tent-like walls, you still have that feeling of sleeping outdoors, which is lost in a van. 

Small pop up campers can be towed by most vehicles as they are designed to be lightweight, somewhere in the region of 1000 to 3000lbs. However, checking your car’s towable limit is an essential first step in choosing you pop up camper. You do not want to buy one only to discover it is too heavy for your car!

How Are Small Pop Up Campers Better Than A Tent?

Expanded trailer tent with kayak and bike on top.

While small pop up campers may have tent walls, they have many more amenities compared to a standard tent. A tent is great for backpacking journeys, but if you’re looking to go on a relaxing holiday, then camping can be hard work. Pop up campers take away the effort and make your trip away more enjoyable. 

The one element that all pop up campers will have is a bed. Anyone who has spent longer than a few nights sleeping on the floor of a tent will know that it’s pretty uncomfortable, and the novelty wears off fairly quickly. Having a proper be is fantastic when going on a camping trip and will make your sleep more refreshing. 

Aside from a bed, nearly all small pop up campers will have a seating area. This is great as it gives you somewhere to sit inside if it’s raining or as it gets cooler at night. Small pop up campers have much more headroom than a tent. The height allows you to sit comfortably inside and be able to stand up properly when moving around!

Once you move on from a bed and a seating area, extra features are on a case by case basis. It’s a good idea to make a list of amenities that are essential to you when purchasing a pop up camper to ensure you get everything you want. Below are some things you can look out for in any camper:

  • battery bank 
  • solar power 
  • USB charging ports
  • campground electrical hook up
  • kitchenette with cooktop
  • sink and water tank
  • toilet 
  • shower
  • hot water 
  • lighting
  • heating 
  • TV
  •  fridge
  • skylight 
  • fan 

What are the downsides?

The thin tent walls of small pop up campers make temperature regulation difficult as there is little to no insulation. No insulation means it can get cold inside quickly, and also that it will heat up when sunny. If you’re spending most of your time outside this isn’t too much of a problem. However, you might want to pack an extra sleeping bag.  

Obviously, there is the setup time of a pop up camper to consider. While pop ups are designed to be quick and straightforward to erect, there is still some learning to do. Once you’ve done it a few times, things run smoothly, but it will always take a few minutes to complete.

Finally, storage space in small pop up campers is more limited compared to other types of RVs. As you need to pack the camper into the trailer when on the move, you can’t store equipment inside. This means you will need to rely on your car’s storage to pack everything you need for your trip.  

What Sets A Pop Up Apart From Other Campers?

Exterior of pop up

One huge factor that sets pop up campers aside from the crowd is the lower price point. Small pop up campers can cost anywhere in the region of $10,000-$25,000, which is considerably cheaper than any other style of RV. 

The second brilliant point is that, as they are lightweight, you will probably be able to tow you pop up camper with your current car. This is unlike a 5th wheel or other camper trailers that you may need a more powerful vehicle for, such as a truck. As well as being an economic benefit, this is good environmental news as you don’t need to have a second car.

Another environmental benefit of small pop up campers is that they use less gas per mileage as they are light. This is also good for your bank balance, saving more money for the fun stuff. 

Finally, a big plus point is that they are easy to manoeuvre and drive, meaning taking them out isn’t daunting. 

Top Five Small Pop Up Campers 

We’ve chosen five great examples of small pop up campers to show you what is currently on the market. They’re all great campers and would be fantastic for your next road trip. 

1. Isabella Camp-Let Dream

Small pop up campers - Isabella camp-let dream packed down hooked up to car.

First up, we have the Isabella Camp-Let Dream. This expanding trailer tent folds out to become a large space, suitable for 2-6 people with two separate sleeping pods. As well as the bedrooms, this pop up camper has a kitchen area that comes complete with a burner, sink and water bottle, prep and storage space.  

Inside of Isabella camp-let dream

When folded down this pop up camper measures just 323 x 160 x 95 cm and weighs 500kgs, perfect for easy towing. You can add a bike rack or roof box to the top of the trailer, allowing you to bring more gear on the road with you. The Isabella Camp-Let Dream costs around $20,000. 

2. Sylvan Sport Go

Small pop up campers - exterior of camper with people sat outside round fire.

The Sylvan Sport Go is one of the more simple pop up campers out there and doesn’t have many added extras. This makes it one of the most affordable pop up campers at under $9,000. When packed down, the trailer can also carry bikes and kayaks, giving you more gear to have fun with on your trip. 

Inside of sylvan sport

Inside, the Sylvan Sport has two modes. The entire area, measuring 1.22m x 2.13m, can turn into one giant bed, that would comfortably sleep two adults. For use in the day time, the bed converts into a seating area with a table, that could accommodate the whole family. This camper is ideal for someone who wants to get back to basics and have a home base from which to enjoy nature. 

3. iCamp Lite 

Small pop up campers - iCamp light expanded with kitchen out

Next up, the iCamp Lite is one of the more stylish small pop up campers on the market. This pop up camper has a simple design and is easy to use, with the tent expanding upwards out of the trailer bed.

Inside of iCamp lite

Inside and you can either be in seating or bed mode, giving you lots of room both day and night. Space has been saved inside the camper by going for a functional outdoor kitchen, that pulls out from the trailer. The iCamp Lite is currently only available in Europe and retails at around $15,700. 

4. Jay Sport Camping Trailer 

Small pop up campers - jay sport expanded exterior

The Jay Sport camping trailer by Jayco is one of the more luxurious small pop up campers on the market. So, if you’re looking for more comfortable indoor space, then this could be the pop up for you. Inside you can find a full kitchen, double bed and living area with an extra convertible bed. There is enough room here for the whole family. 

Inside the jay sport

The Jay Sport also has an attractive exterior, and with a simple design and minimal set up the camper will be ready in no time. Even with all of the added extras, the Jay Sport is an affordable option, with a starting price of $12,000. 

5. Air Opus 

Air opus expanded

The final entry on our top five small pop up campers is the Air Opus. This is a brilliant camper if you are looking for a hassle-free option. Set up time for the camper is just 90 seconds due to the clever use of air tubes. The air tubes inflate using an electric pump to provide stability for the structure, no more messing around with metal poles!

Inside the air opus

Inside and the Air Opus is stylish and comfortable with a full kitchen, seating area and bedroom. The interior furnishings are finished in either fabric or leather, allowing you to personalise your camping space. All of this does come with a slightly higher starting price of $22,000. 

Final Thoughts…

If you’re looking for an affordable camper then small pop up campers are the perfect solution. They come with enough added extras to remove the stress from a camping trip, but you still feel connected to nature when living out of one.

This connection to nature and an emphasis on outdoor living is a great way to disconnect from the real world and re-charge your batteries. 

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