The Differences Between Vinyl & Canvas Pop-Up Campers

The Differences Between Vinyl & Canvas Pop-Up Campers

Explore America's Campgrounds

A pop-up tent camper or folding camper, is more sturdy than a tent, but less costly than a vinyl, hard-top camper. A pop-up tent camper often has soft sides, usually made of canvas. Both vinyl and canvas pop-up campers work effectively for camping, but each material has pros and cons.

Pop-Up Tent Campers Versus Trailers

A pop-up tent camper is a reasonably priced alternative to spending thousands of dollars on a hard-sided camping trailer, especially for people who haven't been camping many times. Pop-up campers are light and therefore easy to tow with most SUVs and trucks. Storing is also much easier with a pop-up tent because many can fit into a garage.

Some downsides to owning a pop-up tent camper include the actual set-up, which is normally done with a hand crank and can get tiresome, especially in inclement weather. Pop-up tent campers may also be lacking amenities in the bathroom, which may not be provided or may be separated by only a fabric divider. There is often a very small kitchen/cooking area and limited privacy.


Although a pop-up tent camper is not pinned to the ground and is off the dirt, large gusts of wind will still make the fabric of the tent whip around. When it comes to rain, vinyl is already waterproof. A canvas tent camper may require some maintenance to remain waterproof. (See the "Wear and Tear" section.)


Sometimes a pop-up tent camper will need to be packed up when it is still wet. To prevent mildew from forming, make sure to open up the tent to dry it out as soon as possible. If either vinyl or canvas tents already have mildew, remove as much mildew as possible with a lint brush (canvas) or toothbrush and water (vinyl). Use vinegar on a wet sponge to remove the rest of the mildew. Do not use bleach or detergent because that can ruin the waterproof coating. Never store your camper covered with a tarp because it will impede airflow and could help mildew grow.

Sweep off loose dirt with a brush and wash with water and a sponge to remove any dirt or debris on the outside of the tent.

Wear and Tear

To waterproof canvas, use either wax or canvas waterproofing spray available at many camping and sporting good stores.Scotch Guard works for temporary fixes on canvas, but do not use it on vinyl. If a vinyl tent begins to leak, use vinyl repair or rubber sealant such as 303 protectant or Son-of-a-Gun, which can also be found at camping and sporting good supply stores.

While camping, be careful to keep bushes and vines away because acid from some branches could harm the fabric and tear the material. Before closing the tent, check to make sure all seals and caulking are intact and note any repairs to make before the next camping trip.

Gone Outdoors