Are you curious to know just how lightweight pop-up campers can get?
The original idea behind pop-ups was to offer travelers quick and easy campers that were a breeze to tow and could bring us closer to nature (ideal for boondocking).
Today, however, pop-ups come in nearly all shapes and sizes.
So, if you’re on the hunt for a pop-up, or you’re simply a curious reader, you’re in luck.
I’ve put this guide together so you can see how much pop-up campers weigh and if they’re suitable for your wants and needs.
Some offer hard-sided walls for extra protection and a kitchen, while others resemble tents on wheels with only the basics.
All of the features will, of course, influence the weight of the trailer.
What Are Pop-Up Campers?
Pop-up camper trailers have been around for a long time. They are usually the more affordable choice when it comes to campers and RVs in general.
But that doesn’t mean they are the worst pick!
The whole concept of a pop-up is that when you’re on the road, the trailer is folded in, or down, to take up minimal space.
Then, once you arrive at your campsite, you can open it up and you’ll suddenly have sleeping quarters and a small living area. Of course, this depends on the model you choose.
A typical pop-up camper consists of a trailer frame, a box, and a hard roof.
On the inside, you’ve got pull-out bunks and soft walls.
These travel trailers usually include lots of windows and screens, like this example from Forest River.
The typical amenities you get with a pop-up often include a convertible dinette, a freshwater tank, perhaps a gas stove, and a refrigerator.
There are also premium models that include bathroom facilities.
What’s great about pop-up campers is the nifty use of space — everything serves at least two purposes. Take the dinette, for example. By day you can seat up to four people for a meal and then at night it folds down and becomes a comfy bed.
Some models offer you the amazing option to take some of the indoors outside. I’m talking about the stove and kitchen area that you can attach to the outside of your RV.
How Much Does a typical Pop Up Camper Weigh?
Knowing the weight of the camper before you buy it is crucial.
Being aware of its weight can help you determine whether or not your vehicle is able to tow it, how much you can pack, how many people you can bring along, and so on.
General Weight Of A Pop Up Camper
Pop-up campers are some of the lightest camper trailers you’ll find. The average weight usually sits anywhere between 600 and 2,800 pounds.
Pop-up campers have many weight categories, just like other trailers do. Generally, there’s a mini or small size, a medium-size, and a large option.
You must also take into consideration the material used for the trailer. This will have a direct bearing on the overall weight. You should check if the camper you like has soft or hard walls, fiberglass or plastic roof, etc.
Mini-sized pop-ups can weigh as little as 800 pounds — like the Clipper Pop-up from Coachmen.
If you’re willing to go a little heavier, the SylvanSport GO Pop-up is a wonderful option.
Mini-sized pop-ups are an excellent investment if you and your partner don’t care too much about all the extras. All you need is the pop-up, a couple of fold-out chairs, and a table, and you’re good to go.
Plus, these mini-sized pop-ups are super easy to tow and won’t cause excessive wear and tear on your tow vehicle.
Medium-sized pop-ups can weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds. These campers offer you a few more extras than the mini-sized models.
Take the 8SD Jay Sport from Jayco for example. It weighs just a little over 1,500 pounds.
This pop-up gives you two sleeping areas, a dinette, a small kitchen area, and lots of storage.
You can use a normal car to tow a medium-sized pop-up, which is one of the main reasons why many people prefer these.
In the past, a pop-up camper’s box (the frame around the main living area) would usually only come in sizes ranging from 8 feet to 12 feet in length.
Today, these large pop-up boxes can be as long as 17 feet or more. When fully expanded, they can even reach up to 27 feet.
These weigh more than the mini- and medium-sized campers mentioned above. But they also give you more amenities.
The extra towing weight is not too much of an issue for many people, though, because they’re still lightweight when compared to other campers.
A good example of a large-sized pop-up is the Flagstaff Tent trailer range from Forest River. These give you the standard pop-out sleeping quarters plus a slide-out.
The UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) of the Flagstaff Tent pop-up camper trailers can be as much as 3,700 pounds.
For these campers, you should make sure your current vehicle can tow this weight before placing a purchase order.
Factors That Affect The Weight
A lot of factors influence the weight of the pop-up you like.
These have a lot to do with what the manufacturer has included inside the trailer as well as with the materials used for its construction.
For example, two pop-ups of the same length can, in fact, have quite a significant difference in weight.
This may come as a surprise, but a smaller pop-up with fewer amenities can outweigh a larger one. It all depends on the materials used for its construction.
If we take, for instance, an all-aluminum pop-up trailer, we’ll see that it weighs much less than those made from heavier metals.
However, one great thing about pop-up manufacturing is that companies are always trying to make them lighter and more convenient for travelers.
Here are some of the key factors that affect a pop-up’s weight:
Most pop-up campers require you to raise the roof before you can use them. This is generally what you see in lighter models.
The original lift system included a pulley, springs, and other devices. However, this was found to take up a lot of weight, so, in order to reduce the weight, manufacturers came up with a clever lift system.
The new innovative method consists of a clutch controller winch that connects via a cable to the pulley. Once you engage it, it will help raise the roof.
Whether it’s a pop-up, a fifth wheel (which is a little heavier), or a motorhome, the weight of the roof is critical. It should never be too heavy.
A plastic roof seems to be the favorite option because it’s extremely lightweight.
However, many roofs are made of fiberglass. These are low-maintenance as opposed to plastic roofs, for example.
When it comes to the floor in a pop-up, there are usually three options: vinyl, carpet, or laminate.
The floor material can have a significant impact on the overall weight of the camper.
Vinyl tends to be the favorite option because it’s lightweight. However, it can be difficult to install.
Laminate is rarely the first choice in pop-up flooring since it is significantly heavier than vinyl.
And last but not least, we have the good old carpet.
Although this is usually the preferred choice when it comes to touch and insulation, it can be tricky to clean.
Carpets are notorious for gathering dirt and dust. Plus, they are not as lightweight as vinyl.
Are Trailer Brakes Needed for Pop-Ups?
Small pop-up campers with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 3,000 pounds are not required to use trailer brakes.
If you own a lightweight trailer, the brakes on your tow vehicle should be enough.
Any trailer with a GVWR of more than 3,000 pounds should have a braking system that engages all wheels. Most vehicles capable of towing should have a brake controller already installed.
If your vehicle doesn’t have such a controller, you can quickly get one from your RV dealer, mechanic, or places such as Amazon and U-Haul.
Pro tip: Most experts recommend using trailer brakes for all campers weighing more than 2,500 pounds.
Most vehicles will probably already have the option, and it will be much safer for you.
Can My Current Vehicle Tow a Pop-Up Camper?
As I mentioned earlier, you can tow a lightweight trailer with pretty much any vehicle.
In fact, with light trailers, you can actually use a motorbike.
However, it’s important to make sure that your vehicle can tow your trailer before buying or renting one.
Here are some weight measurements worth remembering:
- Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW): This is the starting trailer weight. It includes the hitch weight, the axles, and a full LP propane tank. This is in fact the total weight of the trailer as manufactured at the factory.
- Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC): This indicates how much weight is available for cargo, fresh water, accessories, and other equipment in the trailer.
- Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR): The maximum cargo weight that the camper’s axles can safely support.
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): This includes the hitch weight plus everything inside the towing vehicle, including the passengers, extra cargo, pets, and whatever else you’re bringing in the car. Simply put, this is the maximum weight of the trailer when fully loaded. It shouldn’t be exceeded!
When determining if your vehicle is capable of towing a pop-up or not, many recommend checking the owner’s manual.
Keep in mind that the total towing capacity of your vehicle includes everything you tow plus all the cargo and passengers in your car.
Pop-Up Trailers Are Simply Amazing
Pop-up campers are the perfect pick if you love spending time in the great outdoors.
These campers can weigh anywhere from 600 pounds all the way up to 3,000 pounds and more.
Pop-up campers provide you with just enough essentials, placed in a neat little lightweight package, ready to take on the road.
For the most part, you won’t need to upgrade your vehicle, but make sure to double-check before buying or renting.
Do you think a lightweight pop-up trailer is the camper for you? Or maybe you’re looking for an even lighter option?
If you already own one, what’s your opinion? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below. And if you found this article helpful, make sure to share it with your family and anyone else who loves RVing.