Pop up campers are a great alternative to full-size campers and motor homes. This is especially true if you are not ready to buy a bigger camper just yet. Here is my list of the Top 10 Best Pop Up Campers for 2021.
- Sylvan Sport Go
- Forest River Flagstaff MAC and High Wall
- Forest River Hard-Sided
- Coachmen Clipper Express
- Aliner Hard-Sided
- Aliner Somerset
- Opus OP-Lite
- Taxa Cricket
- Rockwood ESP
- Chalet XL
Pop ups also referred to as fold-up and tent camping trailers are equipped with a vast array of standard and optional items that make them ideal for taking a long vacation or just a short weekend trip with the family.
The number of people that can be accommodated will depend on the model, type, and floor plan. You can expect a range of 2- 6 people sleeping comfortably.
Some folks are willing to take long trips with a tent camper whereas others use them for a weekend or short excursion.
Due to their construction, you are more apt to feel like you are camping rather than in an RV. For some, this is the perfect camping experience.
The Different Types
Not all pop up campers look the same. For me the typical one was the good old standard Coleman tent trailer which is no longer manufactured. These are known as:
Tent trailers are the perfect solution for those that want the tent camping experience without the issues you usually have with just a tent. Tent trailers are light and easy to tow and have canvas walls that extended up and out to increase the interior space. They are somewhat easy to set up but since you have many moving parts they are prone to failure. Many folks begin their RV experience with a tent camping trailer.
High Wall Campers
High wall campers are pretty cool and very innovative. The Taxa Cricket below is a good example of a high wall camper. The wall on these campers is solid, so they are sturdier in design and construction. The top portion of the walls are canvas and expands upward for additional headroom and space. Much easier to set up than a tent camper.
A-Frame trailers look like little A-frame homes when they are fully set-up. All the walls are solid, there is no canvas. Setting up an A-frame is just a simple matter of lifting the walls and latching them in place. They are easy to tow and can be towed with a small SUV and in some cases a car. Interior space is limited but for the right people A-Frame campers work really well.
Our List of The Top 10 Best Pop Up Camping Trailers
Below is my list of the Top 10 Best campers that you can buy including quick specifications overview and link to the manufacturer’s website. None of these tent or hard-sided campers have slide-outs or air conditioning.
You can add accessories to customize your camper if you like, they are a bit spartan when it comes to certain things you find in typical travel trailers.
I have done well over 50 hours of research to come up with this list. The research included reviewing forums, RV review sites, reaching out to owners and to the manufacturers in situations where we have questions that were not answered on their website.
#1. Sylvan Sport GO
The SylvanSport Go camper is one of the nicest and versatile we have come across. This is one of the more popular brands of campers due to its versatility. There is a lot to like about this camper beside the great looks. It is extremely versatile and is considered the “Swiss Army Knife” of folding tent campers.
The SylvanSport GO can be used in 3 modes. “Camper Mode” allows you to deploy the tent and awning which gives you ample sleeping space, lots of headroom, and a great awning that is super easy to set up.
In “Gear Hauler Mode” you have room on top for kayaks, boards, bikes, or any other combination of gear you want to take with you. This is a great mode if you are just going down to the lake or beach for a day.
If you need to haul appliances or pick up a load of supplies from your local home store the “Utility Mode” lets you do just that. This GO has the weight capacity to haul quite a bit of stuff. The living space is small but very useable. Excellent tent camping model.
The low profile combined with the lightweight makes it a cinch to tow with just about any car or truck. The SylvanSport GO is practically zero maintenance, and it’s built to last right here in America. Unfortunately no bathroom
- Super lightweight at just 840 pounds
- Aluminum frame
- TIG Welding
- Powder coating
- Diamond plate deck
- Sleeps 2-4 people comfortably
- The tent is 220-denier ripstop nylon, 3X heavier duty than typical family tents
- The Interior floor plan dimension is 48-inch by 48-inch
|Dry Weight (lbs): 840||Sleeping Capacity: 4|
|Length: 11’11”||Average Price (New): $8,995|
|Width: 6’3″||View Full Specs: Sylvan GO|
#2. Forest RV River Flagstaff Tent Campers
Flagstaff, a division of Forest River RV has a line of tent camping trailers that are great looking and affordable. We like the interior color palette of these tent campers. We find the earth tones grays and brown to be easy on the eyes.
They offer the MAC and the High Wall hard-sided campers. The MAC series is more of your typical folding camper whereas the High Wall series has the amenities you find in a typical camper, including a shower and toilet, a very well done interior decor all wrapped up in a light-weight camper.
Since it employs a canvas tent you should check out what it takes to clean and maintain a pop up canvas tent.
- One Piece Vacuum Bonded Fiberglass Roof with Metal Interior Ceiling
- Steel Air Conditioner Reinforcing Laminated Into Roof
- Slatewood Interior (N/A High Wall)
- American Maple Interior (High Wall Only)
- Wood Look Flooring (High Wall Only)
- “Leather Appearance” Seating
- Sleeps 2-4
|Dry Weight (lbs): 1,465 – 3,721||Sleeping Capacity: 4|
|Length: 17’2″ – 27’9″||Average Price (New): $9,900 – $25,500|
|Width: 84″||View Full Specs: Tent Camper|
#3. Forest River RV Flagstaff Hard-sided
There’s more to this RV brand than just tent campers. They also manufacturer hard-sided trailers. Don’t let the size fool you into thinking this is a cramped little trailer. You’ll find floor plans that are 20 feet in length when fully opened.
These hard side campers give you a vacuum bonded fiberglass exterior that is easy to set up. What’s great is you still get the towing and storage advantages of a tent camper.
- Completely Enclosed Living Area
- One Piece Vacuum Bonded Fiberglass Roof with Metal Interior Ceiling
- Large Rear Roof Tinted Sky Light with Shade
- Two Front Roof Tinted Windows with Shades
|Dry Weight (lbs): 2,1014 – 2,526||Sleeping Capacity: 2-4|
|Length: 17′ – 20’10”||Average Price (New): $11,000|
|Width: 84″||View Full Specs: Hard Side Campers|
#4. Coachmen Clipper Express
The Express is a cool looking camper with a rear tent that expands to add more space.
According to Coachmen, the Express has been designed to be easy to set up and store. In other words easy to enjoy. Towing the Express is easy due to its aerodynamic styling, and its super-lightweight.
The patent-pending Glide-N-Lock bed system makes for a quick and easy setup.
- E -Coated Tubular Steel Frame
- 12″ Tires
- Heavy-Duty Tongue Jack w/Wheel
- Wide Trac Ultra Lube Spring Axle
- Electric Brakes
- Compact Floor Plan
|Dry Weight (lbs): 1,277 – 3,750||Sleeping Capacity: 2|
|Length: 8’2″ – 13’11”||Average Price (New): $8,000|
|Width: 79″ – 86″||View Full Specs: Coachmen Clipper|
#5. Aliner Hard-Side
The company Aliner has 3 model types in their lineup. The Aliner is a hard side camper and the Somerset is a tent camper.
The Ascape is a teardrop unit and one of the nicest folding camper that we’ll cover in another article. Here we’ll discuss the Aliner. The Aliner hard side comes in 3 sizes and 3 equipment levels.
You’ll find a Small (10.5-foot box on a 14-foot frame), a Medium (12-foot box on a 15-foot frame), and a Large (14.5-foot box on an 18-foot frame). The equipment levels are Standard, Upgraded, Deluxe. Standard equipment is essentially electricity with water hookups.
The Upgraded equipment level gives you a propane system, more complex plumbing that includes holding tanks. Finally, the Deluxe equipment package includes everything in the Upgraded plus it adds, a stove, large fridge, outside electrical receptacle, and stabilizer jacks on all 4 corners. However, no bathroom.
- Fantastic fan
- 1 outlet
- City Water Hookup
|Dry Weight (lbs): 1,180 – 2,000||Sleeping Capacity: 2-4|
|Length: 13′ – 18′||Average Price (New): $15,000|
|Width: 78″ – 84″||View Full Specs: Aliner|
#6. Aliner Somerset
The Somerset is a very well-equipped camper and one of the best in the industry and one of the nicest pop up campers I’ve seen. Dozens of standard amenities make this dual-tent a perfect choice for a family.
There are 4 models in the Somerset line-up including the high-end Utah model which we particularly like.
Aliner recently announced the Somerset will not be manufactured in 2021 due to COVID issues. However, we have kept this model up on our 2021 list because it is a great camper that deserves mention. Used ones are hard to find.
- Inside Stove
- Stereo with Inside & Outside Speakers
- 35 Amp Converter with Charger
- 3-Way Refrigerator
- 16,000 BTU Furnace
- 6 Gallon Water Heater
- Well Designed Floorplan
|Dry Weight (lbs): 2,650 – 2,908||Sleeping Capacity: 5|
|Length: 18’9″ – 23’7″||Average Sale Price (New): $18,000|
|Width: 7’5″||View Full Specs: Aliner Somerset Utah|
#7. Opus Camper OP-Lite Off-Road
If you are looking for a compact trailer that is incredibly durable and has a beefed-up suspension that lets you take it just about anywhere then you need to take a look at the OP-Lite. It uses AIR Tent inflation technology to quickly set up the tent portion of the trailer. It’s great for camping.
This trailer is versatile and rugged. This little camper is off-road-ready via its heavy-duty independent suspension which has been engineered to go anywhere you 4WD can go.
It also is equipped with all-terrain tires, a front rock guard, and underbody armor with diamond plating. No bathroom is available with the Opus floor plan.
For all it has it is pretty light coming in at just around 2,380 pounds. Here is a list of 15 pop up campers and their weight.
- 20-pound propane tank holder
- 20-gallon water tank with 12V pump
- 100-amp battery
- Solar panel port
- Large exterior storage
- Sleeps two
|Dry Weight (lbs): 2,380||Sleeping Capacity: 2|
|Length: 17’2″||Average Sale Price (New): $20,000|
|Width: 5′ 6″||View Full Specs: Opus Lite|
#8. Taxa Outdoors Cricket
Pop up campers come in all shapes and sizes. The Taxa Cricket is a unique looking camper that is both lightweight and rugged. It can be towed by many 4-cylinder engines. It’s big enough to sleep, two adults and two kids.
The roof on the Cricket allows cross-ventilation but if you need it a little more cooler you can add an optional 5,000 BTU air conditioner.
- Easy to tow at just 1,753 pounds dry weight
- Spacious kitchen
- Baltic Birch plywood kitchen with milk crate drawer
- 2-burner stove with hinged lid
- Quad stabilizer jacks
- Rooftop cargo storage
- Portable Toilet
|Dry Weight (lbs): 1,753||Sleeping Capacity: 3-4|
|Length: 15′||Average Sale Price (New): $38,000|
|Width: 6’7″||View Full Specs: Taxa Cricket|
#9. Forest River RV Rockwood ESP Pop Up Campers
The ESP (Extreme Sports Package) by Forest River is a folding tent trailer designed active for couples and families. If you are your family are into mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, or surfing the ESP allows you to carry your gear with little hassle, so you can make the most of your outdoor experience.
New 2021 1970ESP Video Tour
- One Piece Vacuum Bonded Fiberglass Roof with Metal Interior Ceiling
- 3-Stage Double Arm Lifter Posts
- Lower Door Operational in Closed Position
- Wood-look flooring
- 3-Way Fridge 1.9 cu. ft.
- 3-speed ventilation fan
- TV outlet with cable and satellite hookup
- Digital Media Receiver with Bluetooth
|Dry Weight (lbs): 2,180 – 3,377||Sleeping Capacity: 4-5|
|Length: 17’6″ – 26’5″||Average Sale Price (New): $14,000|
|Width: 84″||View Full Specs: Forest River Rockwood ESP|
#10. Chalet XL
The Chalet is an A-frame trailer available in 3 models that offer some unique amenities typically not found in this type of camper. The Chalet XL has a permanent queen bed which is very nice for this type of camper.
If is one of the lighter models in our Top 10 lineup.
Once extended you will find 8-feet of headroom which quite high. The kitchen area boasts a large galley, residential height countertops, and plenty of windows and skylights to provide ample light in all directions.
Overall, the Chalet XL is an excellent camper that is easy to tow, easy to store, and has very low maintenance. Their Patented Electronic Roof Lift System makes for a quick set-up. Optionally available on this camper is a wet bath and a dormer, which are excellent features to add. Easy for a camping setup.
- Patented Electronic Power Lift System
- Patent High Wind Harness System
- High Sidewalls (42″)
- Fully Insulated Composite Construction Walls and Roof
- Durable Wood Grain Vinyl Flooring
- Hardwood Cabinet Doors
|Dry Weight (lbs): 1995 – 2,165||Sleeping Capacity: 3-4|
|Length: 18’7″||Average Sale Price (New): $18,000|
|Width: 87″||View Full Specs: Chalet XL|
As with any purchase, do your research before plunking money down on a camper. The prices shown above are average. The actual price and features you find may vary, since these can change based on market demand and manufacturers’ specification changes.
Pricing may also depend on what the dealer has in stock. The more they have, the higher the probability they will be willing to negotiate on price. Take a look at RV Trader to see what the average asking sale price is.
Also consider accessories such as an A/C unit, a portable generator in your budget
If a pop up is not something you are interested in how about a regular size camper from one of these top travel trailer brands?
What To Consider Before Buying ?
If you are considering the purchase of a pop up camper, there are several things you should consider before making your purchase. Should you buy new or used? Do you want tent campers or an A-Frame? The answer to these two questions is going to be based on your particular needs.
If Tammy and I were to consider one, it would be one of the larger tent trailers, simply because we had kids who would need their own sleeping space. But for you that might not be the case.
Buy a Used and Renovate
For those who don’t want to or can’t afford to buy a new one, buying used is a great option. If you are patient, you may find a great deal on a tent trailer. Just make sure to inspect it thoroughly, and you don’t end up with any surprises.
If you are handy or know someone who is, you can work on renovating your camper and making it your own. In the video below, you can clearly see what can be done for just $900 in renovating costs. Here are 7 more awesome pop up camper remodels.
With just about any camper at some point or another you are going to need repairs. Sometimes it’s having to repair flooring whether it be carpet, vinyl planking, or the sub-floor. The canvas is also one component that may need repair as well. In most cases, proper maintenance may prevent issues, however, in other cases, normal wear and tear will cause an issue that will need to be addressed, so be prepared for that.
One of the advantages of a pop up up camper is its low-profile, which makes it easy for them to be towed with a small SUV or a car. If buying a new vehicle with a greater towing capacity is not in your immediate plans and then this type of camper is a very good option for you. Learn about the average pop up camper weight.
Easy Set-up and Tear Down
Pop up camping trailers have moving parts that extend up and down or out from the main body. In spite of the moving parts, they are very easy to set up and to take down. This ease of setup is great since you’ll spend more time enjoying your RV experience than going through the hassle of setting up something like a tent.
Easy of Storage
Because pop up folds, they are easier to store. At just several feet (about 4 feet) in height when folded, most of them will fit nicely in a residential garage. Just make sure before you store it that the canvas is dry.
Protection From The Elements
You are going to be afforded more protection than being in a tent. But keep in mind that tent trailers are made of canvas and the extended sleeping area is usually netting with a canvas cover. A wild animal such as a bear can still get in if they are persistent. Follow proper food storage guidelines that are applicable to tent camping, and you should be fine, but remain vigilant.
What is the best quality pop up camper?
If we had to choose one it would be the Aliner Somerset. This is a well-made tent camper with plenty of quality features and amenities. It is sturdy and durable and has a great open floor plan.
Is it worth buying a pop up camper?
The answer is it depends on your budget and your RVing need. If you are on a tight budget and only go camping on weekends, then a pop up camper might be worth it for you. However, if you intend to RV for extended periods of time and have a family of 3 or more, than buying a pop up is not worth it for you since you’ll be uncomfortable in a small space. In addition, it won’t have the features and amenities you’ll want or need.
What is the best used pop up camper?
If you can find an Aliner Somerset and can afford the asking price, go for it, however they are hard to find used. Rockwood makes excellent pop ups that can be found on the used RV market, as well as Starcraft.
How long do pop up campers last?
A pop up camper can last from 3-4 years to as long as 15 years or more. How long they last, like everything else, depends on how well it has been cared for. If it has not been properly maintained, it’s not going to last a long time. Proper maintenance on a pop up that is good quality allows you to enjoy it for a much longer period of time. Yes, there will be things you’ll need to replace, but in the long run a well-maintained pop up should last over a decade.
Can a pop up camper tip over?
A folded pop up camper is unlikely to tip over since it is low to the ground and there is very little surface exposed, (i.e. walls). When the camper is extended, you have walls that can catch a strong wind, so there is a possibility it might tip over. It’s rare for a pop up to tip over, but not impossible. Should you encounter exceedingly strong winds or gusts while at your campsite, you might be better off folding your camper and seeking shelter.
Do pop up campers leak when it rains?
No necessarily however, due to the many zippers and Velcro seams you find on a pop up there exist the possibility of leaks, especially in strong rains. A damaged canvas or one that is not maintained and sealed properly can also result in rain leaks.
How much do pop up campers cost?
New pop up campers can cost from around $10,000 to well over $30,000. On the used market you can find pop up as low as $1,500 or in some cases even less, but be prepared for major renovations in most cases.
Are hard side pop up campers any good?
For the most part, they are well-made and offer much better protection from the elements that a tent camper. At the end of the day, it comes down to the quality of the manufacturer and how well you maintain your camper.
What do I need to know before buying a pop up camper?
The first thing you need to know is whether a pop up camper is right for you. Will it fit your camping style (weekend or long-term camping)? Will the budget you have set allow you to buy one that meets your needs? Are you OK with what it takes to set up and take down a tent camper? Those are just a few of the things you need to know before buying a pop up camper.
How much do pop up campers weigh?
Pop up campers weight anywhere from 800 lbs to well over 3,000 lbs. The weight of a pop up is also affected by the amenities you add and the weight of the cargo you will be carrying.
If you’re still not convinced, checkout this article I wrote on the pros and cons of owning a pop up camper.