If this is your first-time pop-up camping then this blog should be of great use to you, or at least that is my goal. I’ve included some pop-up camping hacks and basic packing strategy and organization for your new venture in pop-up camping!
A tent-trailer, or pop-up, is the happy medium between a tent and a full-sized camper. You can enjoy the simple luxuries of a small camper and skip sleeping on the cold, hard ground. Plus, they give you a great indoor space while you’re enjoying your outdoor time.
One of the plus sides with a pop-up is that you have some extra room for supplies. You can even keep utensils and pots and pans inside of the camper year-round which will ultimately cut down your packing time.
All of that extra space provides endless possibilities! What are you going to pack? You could bring a hammock, a telescope, scuba gear…where are you even camping? The Bahama’s?! I’m not angry just jealous. Also, don’t bring your pop-up to the Caribbean, that is just not practical and it’ll never get through customs.
If you’re camping like a normal person in a normal area like Maine or Montana or Minnesota…for some reason I can’t come up with any non “M” states…Malaska! No, I’m just kidding, I know the states… it’s Alaska.
Anyways, if you’re camping in a normal area with normal people doing normal camping things (gosh, you sound boring… just kidding again!) then this list is for you.
Where do you get a pop-up you ask? You can buy a pop-up, rent one, or borrow one from a friend. Either way, it’s a great option if you don’t want to go all out with a camper or go all minimal with just a tent. Maximum effort versus minimum effort.
Here are some of my favorite pop-up camping hacks and some advice on how to enjoy your first camping trip with your tent-trailer–there are limitless possibilities!
How to Get the Most Out of Your Pop-Up
Pop-ups are great for people with smaller vehicles because they are light and easy to tow with a small car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hook it up to your truck or SUV either. Plus, then you get the convenience of having your car with you to adventure away from your campsite.
One of the best things about a tent-trailers compact size is that you aren’t as limited with campgrounds. Some sites have restrictions against larger RV’s but since a pop-up is basically a tent on wheels you have all the more options to choose your perfect camping spot.
Another great aspect of tent-trailers is that they are inexpensive. You can rent, borrow, or buy a new or used pop-up. The prices range from 5k to 10k for a brand new one and it can be significantly cheaper for a used one. If you have a generous friend that has one sitting in their yard then it could be, potentially, free.
Tent-trailers are also a wonderful option for the warmer months because the more basic ones aren’t as well heated as full on campers. But, it’s a step above camping in a tent because you’re above ground and in an actual bed. Oh, the comfort and warmth!
Some pop-ups have kitchens, bathrooms, and dining areas. If you go with the higher-end tent-trailer you could even add heat, a shower, an air conditioner and a full kitchen. If you want tips on how to organize the inside of your trailer click here!
No matter how high-end your tent-trailer is they all have a hard roof and waterproof sides that will protect you from natures worst. You can invest in one with hard sides as well if you really want to enjoy the benefits of the indoors on your camping trip (a bit of an oxymoron I think).
To sum up the advantages of your pop-up you are benefiting from something that’s less expensive, less restrictive and smaller than an RV but more luxurious and easier to set up than a tent. You can’t lose!
But What Should I Wear?!
Packing is the bane of everyone’s existence on any type of trip or excursion. What clothes should I bring? Did I pack enough food? Are there any bathrooms available? Are we bringing the Kayaks? What is the weather going to be like? Oh no, now you’ve overpacked!
If you’re anything like me then you’re an over-packer and you become annoyed by the cumbersome accouterments that you aren’t even using during your trip. It is the ultimate struggle.
The thing I always say is be prepared, be prepared, be prepared. You have to be prepared when you’re going to be spending copious amounts of time outdoors away from the safety and shelter of a house and the comforts of everyday life.
Here is a list of the best way to pack up your pop-up camper without taking up too much space and without doing the ever annoying over packing.
Your essentials for the kitchen in your pop up are just like your basic kitchen needs for any camping trip. You’ll need a meal plan, pots, pans, utensils, dishes, a can opener, pot holders, and the basics. Not to mention the food needed to put all of those things to good use!
As for basic needs, you can’t forget garbage bags, Ziplock bags, aluminum foil, rags, soap, and sponges. It’s also good to bring along flashlights, lanterns, batteries, duct tape and some stuff for campfires (if they’re allowed, make sure you check beforehand).
That should include the makings for S’mores of course! That includes skewers or a knife to whittle off the ends of sticks like my family did when we were kids.
For bedding you are graced with an actual bed, so pack up the blankets! Pillows, sheets, comforters/bedspreads, and extra blankets. Pop-ups are not as well insulated as actual campers.
On camping trips, you should always bring a well-supplied first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, and any other basic outdoor needs to keep your family safe and healthy.
Now, there are some essentials that are specific to tent-trailers. First, you’ll need stakes to stake down your awning, you should also include some bricks (in case you can’t find rocks) to lodge under the wheels to keep your pop-up steady. It’s also important to bring something to put under the wheels to make the camper even in case you’re on any unlevel ground.
That’s the crazy thing about the woods, it’s not always level.
Buy some paraffin wax to apply to your bed rails so you don’t get stuck forcing them out or getting stuck without access to your beds. That’s one of the things that could make you an over packer.
Keep a basic toolbox within reach just in case there are some minor malfunctions or loose screws that need to be fixed.
Besides the fun stuff like kayaks, paddle boards, guitars, and board games these were your basic camping needs for your pop-up in beautiful weather.
Rain Be Ruining Stuff Sometimes
You have to be aware of the threat of inclement weather when you’re going on a camping adventure. You can use your tent-trailer to guard yourself against any rain or wintery conditions.
The goal of successfully camping in rough weather is to keep everything, including yourself, warm and dry. Sleeping bags are a great way to keep yourself extra warm because they have more insulation than regular blankets.
So, just because you’re sleeping on a bed that doesn’t mean you get to be bougie and leave the sleeping bag at home. You know those middle-class people from 16th century France! The bourgeois are the last people you want to act like while camping. That sleeping bag could be what lies between you and the cold grips of 16th-century style hypothermia!
A tarp is a great, essential, camping tool that is portable and can be used against rain, snow or wind. It can add a small layer of insulation to your camper or protection in case the tent-trailer springs a small leak.
If you are at a campsite with access to electricity you can bring a small ceramic heater, and if you don’t have access to electricity because you’re wild (whatever) then bring along a propane heater. Small propane heaters should be fine as long as you open a window.
In regard to taking care of your pop-up itself during inclement weather, you have to prepare accordingly.
Wipe your camper down right after it rains to prevent any rusting and make sure you open it up and dry it off when you get home so that it doesn’t get moldy! If you’re camping in the winter time you have to keep in mind that your camper will become stiff so make sure you warm up the inside of it before you try to force it closed because your precious baby camper will crack.
A great thing to add to your toolbox (that I mentioned earlier) is some caulking in case your pop-up springs a leak. The last thing you want to do is spend a rainy weekend having your head get dripped on while you’re trying to fall asleep.
Now that you’ve prepped, planned and packed properly you’re ready for your excursion with your new, used, rented, or borrowed tent-trailer! So, pack her up and get moving because you’re on your way to making beautiful family memories.
Photo by Brett Bashaw on Reshot