Collapsable RV: How Does a Pop-Up Camper Work?

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While looking for an RV, you probably have come across the pop-up camper.  Some people say that a pop-up camper is not technically an RV, while others argue that it depends on the size and features of the vehicle. So, is a pop-up camper considered an RV? 

Yes, a pop-up camper is considered an RV. Pop-up campers are the lightest versions of RV and are great for those who want to enjoy the outdoors without all the weight and bulk of a traditional RV. 

pop up camper types

Which one would be right for you – an RV or a pop-up camper? Ultimately, that decision comes down to personal preference. But if you’re not sure which type of camping vehicle is right for you, this article will help you decide!

What Is Considered An RV?

The term “RV” is used broadly to describe many vehicles, from simple pop-up campers and travel trailers to luxurious Class A motorhomes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can consist of trailers, fifth wheels, vans, and even some larger SUVs or trucks. An RV is a vehicle for recreation, camping, or travel purposes. In general, though, all RVs share some common features. 

An RV is typically considered a self-contained vehicle that includes sleeping, cooking, and bathroom facilities – basically, everything you need to live in it full-time.  Some also have a living area with seating and a table. Many RVs also come equipped with entertainment systems like TVs and DVD players.

In addition, most RVs are built on a chassis from a truck or van, which means they can be driven on the road. Some larger RVs, however, require their specialized vehicles for transport. RVs can be stored in a garage or driveway when not in use. Some people also rent storage space specifically for their RVs.

Here are two main types of vehicles that are generally considered RV.

Motorized Vehicles

Using motorized vehicles as recreational vehicles (RV) has become increasingly popular. There are various reasons why people choose to use motorized vehicles as RVs, including the flexibility and freedom they offer. Motorized vehicles can be used for multiple activities, including camping, fishing, hunting, and traveling.

Some people use motorized vehicles as RVs because they offer a more comfortable and relaxed way to travel. Motorized vehicles can be equipped with all the amenities in a typical RV, including beds, kitchenettes, and bathrooms. This means you can enjoy all of the comforts of home while on the road. Motorized vehicles also offer greater flexibility when it comes to travel plans. You can go wherever you want, for as long as you want.

Another reason why people use motorized vehicles as RVs is that they are more affordable than traditional RVs. Motorized vehicles can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a conventional RV. This means that you can save money on your travel expenses. In addition, motorized vehicles are often easier to maintain than traditional RVs. This means that you can spend more time enjoying your vacation and less time worrying about the maintenance of your RV.

There are basically three types of motorized vehicles.

Class A

Class A motorized vehicles are the largest and most luxurious RVs on the market. They can range in price from $50k to $200k and up. These motorhomes usually have slide-out sections that increase the interior living space when parked. Some high-end features often found in Class A RVs include granite countertops, full-size kitchens, and satellite TV.

Class B

Class B Motorized Vehicles as RVs are campervans built on a van chassis. These vehicles offer all the amenities of a larger RV but in a smaller, more maneuverable package. These types of  RVs are perfect for couples or small families who want to enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of towing a large trailer.

Some features in a Class B Motorized Vehicle include a kitchenette, bathroom, sleeping area, and living area. These vehicles are typically outfitted with all the comforts of home, so you can enjoy your time on the road without sacrificing any of the conveniences you’re used to.

Class B Motorized Vehicles RVs are easy to drive and maneuver, making them an excellent option for those new to the RV lifestyle. These vehicles are also less expensive than other RVs, making them a perfect choice for those on a budget. If you’re looking for an RV that offers all the features of a larger model but is more affordable and easier to drive, a Class B Motorized Vehicle may be the perfect option.

Class C

Class C motorized vehicles are those that have a cab section that is built on top of a truck or van chassis. The minivan camper, based on a minivan or SUV, is the most popular type of Class C RV. These RVs typically have sleeping space for up to eight people and may also have a small kitchen and bathroom. Some Class C motorized vehicles also have slide-out sections that provide additional living space when the RV is parked. 

Class C RVs are typically shorter and narrower than Class A RVs, which makes them easier to maneuver and park. Such RVs are a good option for families who want the convenience of an RV but do not need the extra space that a Class A RV provides. Class C RVs can be driven on a standard driver’s license and get better gas mileage than larger RVs.

Towable Vehicles

There are many different types of RVs available on the market, but one of the most popular is the Towable RV. Towable RVs are vehicles that can be towed behind another vehicle, such as a car or truck. This makes them very convenient for those who want to take their RV on the road.

There are many benefits to owning a towable RV. 

  • One of the most obvious benefits is that it can save you a lot of money on gas. If you plan to take your RV on a long trip, you will not have to worry about filling up your gas tank often. This can save you a lot of money throughout your trip.
  • Another benefit of owning a towable RV is that you will have more freedom regarding where you camp. You will not be limited to camping in one spot, but you can tow your RV to different locations. This allows you to explore other parts of the country or even the world.
  • If you are looking for a more affordable option, you may want to consider a used towable RV. Many used RVs on the market are just as good as new ones. You can find great deals on used RVs if you know where to look.

Following are the most popular towable vehicles that are used as RVs. 

Fifth Wheel Trailer

This type of towable vehicle has become increasingly popular in recent years. Fifth-wheel trailers are designed to be towed behind a pickup truck and offer several advantages over other RVs.

  • One of the most significant advantages of fifth-wheel trailers is that they offer more living space than other RVs. This is because the fifth-wheel trailer hitch is mounted in the bed of the pickup truck, freeing up space inside the trailer for more amenities.
  • Fifth-wheel trailers also tend to be more stable on the road than other RVs, making them a good choice for long-distance travel.

If you’re considering purchasing a fifth-wheel trailer, there are a few things to remember. 

  • First, you’ll need to ensure that your pickup truck is adequately equipped to tow a fifth-wheel trailer. 
  • Second, you’ll need to decide which floor plan and amenities you want in your vehicle.. 
  • And finally, you’ll need to find a reputable dealer to help you find the perfect fifth-wheel trailer for your needs.

Bumper-Pull Travel Trailer

A Bumper-pull travel trailer is an excellent option if you’re looking for an RV that’s easy to tow and doesn’t require a special hitch. These trailers are attached to the back of your vehicle with a regular trailer hitch, making them easy to tow. Bumper-pull travel trailers come in various sizes and styles, so there’s sure to be one perfect for your needs.

When shopping for a bumper pull travel trailer, it’s essential to consider the size of your vehicle and the type of roads you’ll be traveling on. If you plan to take your RV on the highway, you’ll need a larger trailer that can be safely towed at high speeds. A smaller trailer will suffice if you only use your RV for local camping trips.

There are many different features that you can find on bumper-pull travel trailers. Some of the most popular features include slide-outs and awnings, which offer protection from the sun and rain. You can also find trailers with built-in kitchens and bathrooms, making them self-contained units that don’t require hookups to outside utilities.

When choosing a bumper-pull travel trailer, it’s important to select one that’s the right size for your vehicle. If you have a small car, you’ll want to choose a small trailer. You’ll need a larger trailer, like an SUV or truck, if you have a larger vehicle. It’s also important to consider the trailer’s weight when selecting one. The heavier the trailer, the more stress it will put on your vehicle’s suspension and brakes.

Check Out Thinking About Full-Time Living in an RV? WATCH THIS FIRST!:

What Is A Pop-Up Camper?

A pop-up camper is a camping trailer that can be collapsed or “popped up” when not in use. They are typically much lighter and more compact than other camping trailers, making them easier to tow and store. Pop-up campers usually have basic amenities like cooking facilities and sleeping quarters, but they can vary significantly in size, features, and price.

Pop-up campers are an excellent option for those who want to enjoy the outdoors without all the hassle and expense of traditional camping. They are relatively easy to set up and can be towed by most cars or SUVs. Pop-up campers offer more privacy and comfort than tents and can be used in all types of weather.

If you’re thinking about buying a pop-up camper, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • First, decide what size and type of trailer you need. Small pop-up campers are great for couples or solo travelers, and larger ones can accommodate families or groups of friends. 
  • Second, think about what features you want in your trailer. Do you need a bathroom? A kitchen? A place to sleep six people? 
  • Third, consider your budget. Pop-up campers can range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s essential to know how much you’re willing to spend.

Types of Pop-Up Campers

There are various types of pop-up campers to choose from, each with its unique features and benefits. Here is a closer look at the two most popular types of pop-up campers on the market today:

Soft Tent Pop-Up Camper

Do you love camping but hate the hassle of putting up a tent? Then a soft tent pop-up camper might be the perfect solution for you! These campers are easy to set up and take down, offering all the comforts of home while being super light and portable.

A soft-sided pop-up camper is a type of RV that features collapsible walls. The walls can be folded down when not used to create a more compact unit. These campers are typically lighter and easier to tow than their hard-sided counterparts. Additionally, soft-sided pop-up campers often come with more storage and living space than other RVs.

One of the best things about pop-up campers is that they can be used in various ways. Some people use them as their primary residence, while others use them as second homes or vacation homes. And because they’re so easy to set up and take down, they’re also perfect for those who like to travel frequently or go on camping trips with friends or family.

collapsible rv trailers

Hard-Sided Pop-Up Camper

Hard-sided pop-up campers are becoming increasingly popular among RVers. A Hard Sided Pop-Up Camper is a type of recreational vehicle (RV) that combines the features of a pop-up camper with the amenities and sturdiness of a travel trailer. Hard-sided pop-up campers are built on a chassis with solid walls, meaning they can be more comfortable and better insulated than traditional pop-up campers. 

They also typically have more storage space and better towing capabilities. Hard-sided pop-up campers are an excellent option for those who want the best of both worlds – the convenience of a pop-up camper with the added features and benefits of a travel trailer.

When & Where To Use A Pop-Up Camper?

If you’re considering purchasing a pop-up camper, it’s important to understand when and where they are best used to get the most out of your investment.

Some people enjoy using their pop-up campers all year round, while others only use them during the warmer months. It depends on your personal preferences and where you live.

If you live in an area with mild weather, you can probably get away with using your pop-up camper year-round. Just be sure to winterize it properly to prevent any damage from the cold weather.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you might want to only use your pop-up camper during the spring and summer months. This will help extend its lifespan and prevent any damage from extreme heat or cold.

Generally speaking, pop-up campers are best suited for shorter camping trips where you will be staying in one location for the entire duration of your trip. They are not well suited for long road trips or cross-country travel since they can be more difficult to tow and set up than other types of campers. Pop-up campers are also not typically as well-insulated as different types of campers, so they may not be the best choice for camping in colder weather.

Buying A Pop-Up Camper

Have you decided you want to take the plunge and buy a pop-up camper but where do you start? How do you know which one is right for you and your family? Here are a few things to remember as you begin your search.

  • First, consider how you will be using your pop-up camper. Are you camping mainly in the state or national parks, where hookups are usually available? Or will you be boondocking (camping without hookups) more often? If you anticipate doing a lot of boondocking, you’ll want to ensure your camper has enough battery power and storage capacity to last a few days.
  • Next, look at the floor plan and decide how much space you need. Do you want a camper with two queen beds, or will a single king bed suffice? How many people will you be sleeping with? Do you need a dinette area for meals, or can you eat outside most of the time?
  • Then, start narrowing down your choices by price. How much can you afford to spend on a camper? Remember that you’ll also need to buy or rent a tow vehicle to haul it and any necessary camping gear.
  • Once you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, start visiting dealerships and perusing online listings. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, and take your time to decide. With some research, you’re sure to find the perfect pop-up camper for your next adventure.

However, before buying a pop-up trailer, you must also consider its pros and cons. 


There are many benefits to owning a pop-up camper. Some of the most significant pros are

  • They are inexpensive compared to other RVs and can be towed behind most vehicles.
  • Pop-ups are also easy to store and set up, making them an excellent option for weekend getaways or longer camping trips.
  • These campers offer a unique camping experience. 
  • Unlike Tent campers, you are protected and can enjoy all the comforts of home. 
  • Pop-ups also provide more privacy than tent camping and are less likely to be disturbed by wildlife.
  • Another benefit of owning a pop-up camper is that they are very versatile
  • Most pop-up campers can be used as both a camper and a storage unit. You can use your pop-up to store camping gear, sports equipment, or even holiday decorations.


Apart from the pros, there are a few disadvantages to owning a pop-up camper as well. 

  • First, they are not as durable as some other types of campers on the market. 
  • If you plan on taking your pop-up camper off-road or in rough terrain, it is more likely to sustain damage than a heavy-duty camper. 
  • Additionally, pop-up campers can be more challenging to set up than other campers. 
  • If you are planning on going camping in an area where there is not a lot of space, it may be challenging to find a spot to set up your pop-up camper. 
  • Also, pop-up campers generally do not have as many features as other types of trailers on the market. If you are looking for a camper with many bells and whistles, you may want to consider a different kind of camper.

The Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to store and set up
  • Unique camping experience
  • Protected and more private
  • Versatile
  • Can be used both as a camper and a storage unit

The Cons:

  • Not as durable
  • Not for off-road or in rough terrain
  • Challenging to find a spot in small camping areas
  • Lesser features than other types of trailers

Should You Rent or Buy?

Renting vs. buying a pop-up camper depends on your personal preferences and needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision:

Renting may be the best option if you’re unsure how often you’ll use the camper or if you’re unsure of your long-term camping plans. It’s also an excellent way to try out different types of campers to see what best suits your needs before making a purchase.

On the other hand, buying a pop-up camper allows you to use it as often as possible and customize it to your liking. It can also be a more cost-effective option in the long run, especially if you plan on using it frequently.

No matter which option you choose, do your research and ask lots of questions to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Check Out 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Pop Up Camper:

Pop up Camper VS Travel Trailer: How Do They Differ?

Pop-up campers and travel trailers are great options for those who enjoy camping and spending time outdoors. However, before purchasing, you should know some key differences between these two types of RVs.

Here are a few critical differences between pop-up campers and travel trailers:

Size and Weight

One of the most obvious differences between pop-up campers and travel trailers is their size. Pop-up campers are much smaller and lighter than travel trailers, which makes them more convenient to tow and easier to store. However, this also means pop-up campers have less interior space than travel trailers.

On the other hand, travel trailers are usually larger and heavier than pop-up campers. They may be more difficult to tow, but they offer more space and amenities. Travel trailers can also be customized with different floor plans and features.

Sleeping Capacity

Another key difference between these two types of RVs is their sleeping capacity. Pop-up campers typically have enough space to sleep 2-8 people, while travel trailers can often accommodate up to 10 people.


Pop-up campers are generally more affordable than travel trailers, making them an excellent option for budget-minded campers. However, travel trailers often offer more features and amenities than pop-up campers but at a higher cost. So you’ll need to decide what’s most important to you when making your decision.

Setup Time

These RVs can be set up in just a few minutes, while travel trailers can take an hour or more.

Towing Requirements

One final thing to consider is your tow vehicle. Pop-up campers can be towed by most SUVs and trucks, while travel trailers generally require a larger and more powerful car. So, which is better? Pop-up campers and travel trailers both have their unique advantages. It’s really up to you to decide which one is best for your needs.

If you’re looking for a small, lightweight RV that’s easy to tow and set up, a pop-up camper might be the way to go. However, a travel trailer might be better if you need more sleeping space and don’t mind spending a bit more money.

Check Out Pop Up Camper vs Travel Trailer! (Pros and Cons)?:

Do RV Parks Consider Pop-Up Campers As An RV?

The answer to this question depends on the specific RV park. Some RV parks consider pop-up campers to be RVs, while others do not. It is essential to check with the RV park before making any reservations.

If an RV park considers pop-up campers to be RVs, then they will typically have a few different campsites designated for pop-up campers. These campsites usually have electrical and water hookups, just like the sites selected for larger RVs.

However, if an RV park does not consider pop-up campers to be RVs, then they will not have any particular campsites set aside for them. You may have to park your pop-up camper at a regular camp, which may not have hookups.

It is generally best to call the RV park ahead of time to find out their policy on pop-up campers. That way, you can make sure that you can enjoy your trip and not have any problems.

Should You Use a Pop-Up Camper For RV Living?

There are many reasons why people choose to live in RVs. For some, it’s a way to downsize and simplify their lives. For others, it’s a way to save money on housing costs or to travel more easily. And for some people, living in an RV is simply a lifestyle choice that allows them to enjoy the freedom of the open road.

Only you can decide if using a pop-up camper for RV living is the right choice for you. A pop-up camper may be a good option if you’re looking for an inexpensive and lightweight RV. However, if you’re looking for an RV with more space and amenities, you may want to consider a different type of RV.

If you are considering living in an RV, there are many things to think about and consider. Weigh the pros and cons of using a pop-up camper for RV living to help you decide if it’s the right choice.

Related Questions

Who makes the best pop-up camper?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as various factors can influence someone’s opinion on the matter. However, some of the most popular pop-up campers on the market include models from brands such as Coleman, Jayco, and Palomino. These brands are known for their quality products and commitment to customer satisfaction.

What Are The Best Pop-Up Campers For Families?

Rockwood 1640LTD from Forest River offers plenty of space for sleeping, cooking, and spending time together, making it a great choice for families. Plus, the setup is quick and easy, so you’ll be able to get on the road sooner rather than later.

Does a pop-up camper need to be registered?

Yes, a pop-up camper does need to be registered. Depending on your state, you may also need a special license plate for your camper. You can check with your state’s DMV to determine the requirements.

This is typically done through vehicle registration, and you will likely need to provide proof of ownership and insurance. Some states may have specific requirements for registering RVs and other types of vehicles. You can check with your local DMV or DOT office for more information.

How long is a pop-up camper?

A pop-up camper typically ranges from around 8 feet up to 30 feet. Some campers are even larger, but these are less common. This makes them small enough to be easily towed by most vehicles but large enough to provide a comfortable space for family or friends.

The Bottom Line

So, is a pop-up camper an RV? Technically, yes. But that doesn’t mean you should automatically consider one when shopping for your next home on wheels. Both camping vehicles have pros and cons, which ultimately come down to what you need and want in a vacation getaway. If you’re still undecided about whether a pop-up camper or an RV is right for you, we hope this article has helped provide some food for thought. At the very least, you now better understand the differences between these two types of campers. 

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Written by William Perry
William was born and raised in the United States and currently lives in Utah. A retired police officer, he is the father of three and grandfather of six. Along with writing, he enjoys traveling, the outdoors, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.
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