Explore America's Campgrounds
Pop-up campers are an inexpensive way to get into RV camping. The smaller ones can be towed with almost any size car; their low profile results in less drag, improving fuel efficiency, and they are easier to stow than larger trailers or motor homes. With a few tips and tricks, you can maximize the enjoyment of your pop-up camper.
Check the towing capacity of your vehicle before you start shopping for a pop-up camper so you can stay within safe weight limits. Bath facilities in pop-ups can vary widely; decide carefully what you need. Most campgrounds have full bathrooms. Have the dealer show you how to set up and fold down the unit, as well as demonstrate the use of the stove, heater, etc.
Driving and Maneuvering
Practice backing up your trailer in an uncrowded parking lot before taking it to a campground. This will help you avoid frustration and embarrassment. Here's a tip to get you started: When about to back up, place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel. When backing, move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. When driving, watch your mirrors and make sure you give turns a wider arc than normal to avoid dragging your trailer's wheels over the curb. Allow extra room for stopping in an emergency.
Handy Additions and Upgrades
After you've owned your pop-up camper for a while, you will start to find ways to improve it. Storage is always at a premium. Find locations for hanging baskets, magazine racks, paper towel holders, etc., to make life easier when camping. Consider adding mattress pads or replacing the stock mattresses with high-quality inflatable ones. Add a quick-disconnect fitting to your fresh water intake to simplify hooking up. If your gray water tank is too small, you can add an inexpensive external tank and connect it to your gray water discharge with a short hose.
Maintaining Your Pop-up Trailer
One of the big advantages of pop-up campers is that they can be stored in a garage. If you have the room to do so, this is an excellent way to keep your rig clean and out of the elements when you are not using it. Otherwise, purchase a tarp large enough to cover it. Be sure to clean your camper after each trip. Use a mild detergent solution to remove any dirt and black streaks. Always check your tire pressure and lug nut tightness before each trip. Flush and sanitize your fresh water tank regularly according to your manufacturer's instructions.
Mike Frees is an I.T. professional who was first published in the Apollo Computer corporate journal in the 1980s. He has since seen print in fiction magazines, local newspapers and nonprofit newsletters, and has been writing online articles for the past year. He has a bachelor's degree from San Jose State University and a master's degree from the College of Notre Dame.