A comprehensive guide to pop-up campers

A pop-up camper provides a tentlike experience without having to sleep on the ground. When hitting the road in your pop-up camper, consider what and how to eat, what to sleep in, what toiletries to bring and what to do in case of an emergency.

Shop this article: Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark Camp QuiltSea to Summit X-Pot Collapsible Camping Cookpot and Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5 Medical First Aid Kit

What is a pop-up camper?

Pop-up campers are lightweight, compact vehicles that can park in more secluded areas due to their size. They are more affordable than the average camper and are quick to pack up and hook up, making the road trip easier. They can also keep you warmer than a tent in colder months but cooler in the heat of summer.

Pop-up camper setup

There are five aspects of pop-up camper setup.

  • Location: Locate where you want to set up your camper and consider the slope of the ground, nearby trees and electrical hookups. This is where to check if your camper is level. If it is not level, you can use blocks to prop up one of the sides before unhooking the tow vehicle.
  • Power: To power up the camper, run its electrical cord to the campsite’s electrical hookup after turning off the breaker. Once connected, you can turn the breaker on to provide electricity to amenities such as the sink and the refrigerator. At this point, users can crank down the leg support and crank up the roof.
  • Beds: Make sure that the canvas is not holding onto anything and pull the first bed handle out to start setting up the beds. From there, pull the support pole free and position this onto the stud on the frame. Repeat this process for the remaining poles. Lastly, lift both beds to latch the supports until the beds sit down firmly.
  • Water and propane: To set up water and propane in your pop-up camper, lift and lower the galley handle until it is in position. Then, link the male end of the propane hose to the female end on the lower frame of the camper. Finally, connect a sanitary water hose from your trailer to the water spigot at the campsite.
  • Water heater: To set up the water heater, you need to access the hot water tank, turn the gas knob to “pilot” and hold down. Place a flame on the pilot end of the tube using a long lighter. Hold this down until it stays lit. You should be able to turn on the knob, and the hot water tank should start to heat your water.

Pre-make your food

Before hitting the road in your pop-up camper, make your meals ahead of time. These meals can be complete meals stored in a cooler or prepped to be quickly cooked at a campsite. Also, pre-pack any portion meals that you plan to make by the fire for convenience.

Stock your pop-up camper with necessities

Buy a set of camping pots and pans in advance to prepare for every meal and anything that goes on in the kitchen. This ensures that you do not have to go back and forth for camping utilities or go without food for a short time because you were unprepared. Moreover, pack extra sleeping bags and sheets of various insulation to prepare for any situation that may occur.

Air out your pop-up camper after it rains

Mold and other bacteria are more likely to form when it rains. Due to the foldable nature of the pop-up camper, this bacteria can get into crevices and breed. Before packing up your camper after it rains, make sure everything is dry so that it can be clean to use for the next trip.

Tips for hitting the road in a pop-up camper

If you are a first-time camper, keep your trip close to home in case something goes wrong, or it turns out that you are underprepared. This ensures that you are close to safety and have everything that you need. Additionally, make a grocery list and a checklist for all items that you think you need to bring in advance.

Pop-up camper FAQ

Where do I go to the bathroom while camping?

A. If there is no bathroom in your pop-up camper and you do not want to go out in nature, travel with a portable camping toilet. This item is best for rooftop tents, car campers and drive-up camp spots.

What style of chair is best to bring on a camping trip?

A. Classic camp chairs are a good choice. These chairs have four legs and are very stable. They make sitting and standing an act of ease in comparison to low chairs and rocking chairs. They’re also affordable.

Sleep essentials

best Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark Camp Quilt

Eagles Nest Outfitters Spark Camp Quilt

This 3-in-1 blanket, quilt and sleeping bag provides warmth and comfort in 40- to 60-degree weather. The weather-resistant materials help protect the sleeping bag from rain and any other damage caused by the elements.

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best Kelty Mistral Sleeping Bag: 40 Fahrenheit Down

Kelty Mistral Sleeping Bag: 40 Fahrenheit Down

This mummy-style sleeping bag keeps heat in while being lightweight and durable. It comes with a stuff sack for storage and features an offset quilt construction to prevent cold spots. CloudLoft insulation locks in heat. The zipper is anti-snag, and the bag fits up to 6 feet in length. Use it inside or outside the pop-up tent.

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Kitchen essentials

best Sea to Summit X-Pot Collapsible Camping Cookpot  

Sea to Summit X-Pot Collapsible Camping Cookpot

This camping cook pot is heat-resistant and BPA-free to ensure food safety. The entire pot is collapsible for storage in small spaces. Its aluminum base conducts heat evenly for the best cooking experience and it comes with a strainer lid. 

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best MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit Gear

MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit Gear

This camping cookware kit is portable and made with food-safe, non-toxic anodized aluminum. The kit includes an aluminum nonstick pot, a pot cover, a nonstick pan, two bowls, a folding stainless steel spork, a soup spoon, a wooden spoon spatula, a cleaning sponge and a nylon travel drawstring pouch. It can be easily attached to a backpack and carried to campsites.

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First-aid essentials

best Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5 Medical First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5 Medical First Aid Kit

This first aid kit provides all the needed materials for any accidents that could happen while camping in your pop-up camper. It includes a wide array of medical supplies to treat pain, inflammation and common allergies. The wraps and bandages assist in immobilizing fractures and provide support. The antiseptic wipes and butterfly bandages help clean small wounds.

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best Adventure Medical Sportsman Series Medical Kit

Adventure Medical Sportsman Series Medical Kit

This medical kit provides items that treat common camping injuries. It is organized by injury type for quick access in an emergency and provides all the basic tools needed. This kit is also lightweight and portable. 

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