Pop up campers are a great way to travel. They provide a basic living situation that would have all the necessary amenities. They are also very lightweight. This makes them a great option if you want to try and maximize the maneuverability of your vehicle. However, a lot of people tend to add lots of accessories to pop up campers. Because they want to try and increase the amount of luxury they can get from this sort of thing. This is a perfectly acceptable way to maintain your pop up camper. But it does come with a few disadvantages.
You need to learn how to manage the weight of a pop up camper. In order to do this, some information would be required. We will be giving you this information, including the average pop up camper weight currently available on the market. Did you know that some pop up campers are considered luxury models and are a lot heavier than truly lightweight models? Facts like these need to be taken into consideration. But first we will talk about why it’s so important to manage the weight of a pop up camper.
The Importance of Managing Pop Up Camper Weight
In order to get the most out of your pop up camper, you need to manage the weight. The purpose of these travel trailers is to provide a lightweight and portable living situation during your travels. That’s why they are usually so small as well. Despite their diminutive size, pop up campers offer all of the comforts of home. From excellent pull out sleeping arrangements to expertly placed furniture that is laid out in a pattern that maximizes space, pop up campers are a great example of how you can do more with less.
You should ideally minimize the number of premium elements you add to your pop up camper. This would help you get the benefits associated with maneuverability and speed. That said, some comfort is necessary. It helps you to stay relaxed during your trip. This is why understanding how much your pop up camper weighs is so essential. It can help you decide which items and accessories are worth the weight. You can better prioritize the items you need if you understand how heavy they would make your pop up camper. Setting a hard limit for the weight is a good way to limit the number of luxuries you add to a reasonable number.
Demystifying Weight Related Jargon
A major problem with pop up campers, RVs, motorhomes and other mobile living arrangements is that there is a lot of jargon that is used in them. There are different classifications of weight. The number of different kinds of weight categories can often be confusing. They can impede your attempts to better understand the true weight of a pop up camper. There are four basic terms that are used when describing the weight of a pop up camper. Each term means something slightly different, and all are important if you want a legitimate understanding of the weight you will be pulling along behind you. Here are the four weight labels that are applied to such vehicles:
This refers to Unloaded Vehicle Weight. It’s the most basic weight classification. Essentially, UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) is only applicable when the vehicle is still being constructed. It consists of the hitch and axels of the pop up camper as well as a full tank of propane. If you take every living feature out of your pop up camper, you would be left with the UVW.
It is important that you realize what UVW (unloaded vehicle weight) truly means. If a pop up camper has a low UVW, this in no way reflects its actual weight. The manufacturer usually adds a lot to the UVW through accessories and furniture. A low UVW is definitely a good thing, but other weight classifications and categories need to be taken into account as well.
Standard features are often added to the UVW to give a more realistic understanding of your pop up camper. Things like cabinets, mattresses and other basic necessities all need to be factored in here. Basically, the UVW is the very start of the weighing process. Plenty of other things need to be taken into account as well. Which is where the other weight categories and classifications come in.
This term actually has very little to do with UVW, or indeed any of the other weight categories. The full form of this term is Cargo Carrying Capacity. This is the spare room that you have left for storage. Everything needs to be included in cargo carrying capacity. The biggest contributor to this weight class is water. Fresh water is a necessity no matter where you go or how you live. It’s also quite heavy, especially when you have dozens of gallons of it in a fresh water tank.
Since there are different sizes of pop up campers, average CCC can vary. The most lightweight pop up campers can usually offer up to 300 pounds of CCC. Although certain mini campers only have 100 pounds available for you to use. Midsized campers offer anywhere from 300-500 pounds of CCC. Pop up campers rarely offer more than 500 or at most 550 pounds of CCC. Anything more than this might just put the travel trailer into a different category entirely. 300 pounds of CCC is usually enough for a small family. You might want to get 500 pounds if you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, though.
This is another slightly different weight rating. Its full form is Gross Axel Weight Rating. It’s basically the total weight capacity of the pop up camper based on the strength of the axels. It’s an important weight rating because it tells you the upper limit of the weight that the pop up camper can handle. Hence, it might just be the single most useful thing for you to consider. Especially if you’re planning on increasing the base weight of your pop up camper by adding a few luxuries.
You should never exceed the GAWR. It can place too much pressure on the axel. Towing a pop up camper whose weight exceeds its GAWR could potentially lead to it being released from the axel. This would be a disastrous situation by any measure. It’s especially dangerous when you consider the fact that it would result in all of your belongings being demolished. The axel of your pop up camper is the crux that holds everything together. If it breaks, there is no way that you can replace it without totally renovating your pop up camper. So you might want to take this rating seriously.
Gross vehicle weight rating is the most comprehensive weight rating out there. Gross vehicle weight rating takes into account every single thing that would be in the pop up camper, including the people traveling in it. This is the capacity that you should take into consideration when planning your trip. The ideal situation here is to opt for a low UVW and a high GVWR. This gives you an ample amount of wiggle room to add as much weight as you like. Gross vehicle weight rating once again differs based on the size of the camper in question.
An essential aspect of GVWR is tongue weight. This is the part of the travel trailer that would be attached to your car. A higher tongue weight means more durability. It increases the safety with which your travel trailer would be attached to your vehicle. However, excessive tongue weight is not a good thing. It can prevent optimal maneuverability, so you might want to get a larger car if the tongue weight is high. Larger campers have a tongue weight of around 300 pounds, but smaller pop up campers can often dip below a hundred. If you get the smallest pop up camper out there you might even get a tongue weight that is under 50 pounds.
Different Sizes of Pop Up Campers And Their Average Weight
There are four different kinds of pop up camper sizes. These range from mini to large. The bigger your camper is, the more it would weigh obviously. If you’re looking to buy a pop up camper, narrowing down your size options is a good way to start. Doing this would leave you with a more reasonable selection of pop up campers to choose from. Along with giving you a decent approximation of how much control you would have over the amount of weight that can be added to the travel trailer. Here are the average weights of the four different classes of camper:
If you want to go camping or other short excursions, this is the kind of camper you should get. They can usually only fit one person or two at most. Since they are so small, they can often easily weigh under 300 pounds. However, they also have very low GVWRs. This means that you won’t have a lot of capacity to add any extra weight.
You should only buy a mini camper if you’re alright with getting by with just the essentials. These pop up campers are so lightweight that you can even tow them along on a reasonably powerful motorcycle. This makes them prone to toppling over if there are too many things inside of them. While portable and compact, these kinds of pop up campers are meant for a minimalist lifestyle. That’s part of the reason why they are so cheap as well. There is no reason to spend a lot of money if you don’t plan on taking a lot of things along with you after all.
Keep luxuries to a minimum with such pop up campers. 300 pounds is a low weight, and you probably want to keep it that way.
These are the kinds of pop up campers that three kinds of people get: adventurers, budget vacationers and couples. They can weigh anywhere from 500-100 pounds. This gives you a lot more options in terms of adding weight. They can generally take up to 400 pounds of extra weight, and this number goes up with the UVW of the small pop up camper in question.
One advantage of small campers is that they have a lot more amenities. They frequently come with functional kitchens and fairly comfortable sleeping arrangements. What’s more is that while they do cost more than mini campers, they generally offer amenities that are disproportionate to the price increase. Hence, they are perfect for budget shoppers that need a bit of extra space.
One thing to note is that small campers generally don’t offer a lot of storage space. The extra space added to the camper is mostly used for amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms. Adding space for storage would put them into an entirely different class of camper. However, most people that are just going for a short trip for the weekend don’t need a ton of storage space anyway. This means that they can get by just fine with this camper without spending excessive amounts of money.
Medium sized pop up campers represent a nice middle ground. They have a few more amenities than small campers. A small dining area is usually provided. This is necessary if you plan on going on extended trips. Another aspect of these pop up campers that facilitate longer trips is that they have storage space. Some of the extra space this size of camper offers is used for extra amenities. The bulk of this extra room is set aside for storage space though. Hence, you get quite a bit of storage space if this is the type of camper you choose.
The average medium sized pop up camper would weigh between 1,000 to 1,500 pounds. They are the smallest campers you can get if you want to sleep around three to five people. Five might be a squeeze, but four can usually fit into a medium sized pop up camper without too much trouble. The combination of extra leg room, ample storage space as well as a still reasonable price makes these campers great for small groups. Their weight class also sets them apart since they often have significant buffers between UVW and GVWR, thereby giving you a lot of leeway when it comes to increasing the weight of the camper.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that this is a very broad category of camper. On the lower end, you would have campers that weigh between 1,700 to 2,000 pounds. That said, certain luxurious pop up campers might even weigh up to 3,600 pounds. This puts them in league with several midsized RVs and motorhomes. They’re generally cheaper than other mobile homes, though. This allows you to get as much space as possible without driving up the price to unreasonable levels.
This is the kind of camper you should get if you don’t want to compromise on add-ons and luxuries. They are made for small families and the like, and they can facilitate a lot of long term trips. It’s not just the weight that’s higher here. The roof tends to be higher as well. The previous three camper classes got progressively heavier and longer. However, this is the only class that offers maximum height. Some large pop up campers are up to 12 feet tall. Having extra vertical space is great because it facilitates ventilation. It also helps to make the room seem a bit less claustrophobic.
What Influences Pop Up Camper Weight
What Materials Were Used And How
You’re probably not going to find a lot of pop up campers that are made of steel. This is because steel is a very heavy material. While definitely durable, making a pop up camper out of steel would defeat its purpose. Hence, pop up camper manufacturers usually use aluminum or fiberglass instead. Both of these materials have their merits. They also have a few key differences which should impact your decision making process.
Aluminum is usually considered the more budget friendly option. It’s also very lightweight and reasonably durable too. Another benefit to aluminum is that it’s quite weather resistant. It doesn’t rust as easily as steel does.
Fiberglass, on the other hand, is usually considered a more luxurious option. It’s perhaps even more durable than steel, all while adding very little weight to your pop up camper. You can go for this option if you have the money. But bear in mind that if the fiberglass breaks, replacing it will be just as expensive. That’s not the case with aluminum.
Type of Walls Added
You can choose between comfort and durability in this aspect of your pop up camper. The comfort option would give you soft walls that have a plus feel to them. These walls are great because you can practically use them as a backrest without needing any cushions. However, the fact that these walls are so plush also makes them prone to tearing. They’re also a bit heavier than the other option, which is to get hard sided walls.
Hard sided walls tend to be cheaper too, so it’s not just durability that they offer. The fact that they’re lighter, cheaper and sturdier is enough on its own. However, these kinds of walls have an added benefit as well. This is that they provide superior insulation. If you’re going to buy a medium sized camper or even a small one, harder walls are the best option. Because these kinds of campers usually have kitchens and separate living areas that can be kept warmer with insulation.
On the other hand, if you’re opting for a mini camper then you might as well get plush walls. They add comfort without taking up extra space and the low UVW for mini campers means that the extra weight won’t have too much of an impact.
You need some kind of lift or pulley system in order to use a pop up camper. This mechanism is what allows you to pop the roof and start using the camper. A pop up roof helps make the camper a lot lighter. The extra space that you’re getting would have canvas walls which weigh next to nothing when compared to metal. That said, there has been a historical problem with the pulleys in most pop up campers. Old school pulleys and lift systems have a lot of levers and gears. Each component in these mechanism adds a lot of weight to the pop up camper.
This was a dilemma that plagued the pop up camper industry for many years. Lift systems were necessary but they made it difficult to keep pop up campers at a reasonable weight. Now, however, camper manufacturers have come up with a pretty smart alternative solution. The new mechanism uses far fewer components. All that’s required is a clutch, a winch and a pulley. Hence, you can get the proper mechanism for raising the roof while also being able to enjoy a lightweight camper that any car can tow.
A rather luxurious option when it comes to flooring is laminate. This would lead to a very smooth floor. Smooth enough that it would be very easy to clean. Any spill can be mopped up in an instant. Dust also has a very hard time accumulating on laminated surfaces. So as far as luxury and convenience is concerned, laminate is the obvious winner. However, we’re not judging options by luxury or convenience here. We’re judging them by weight, and in that department laminate does quite poorly since it’s really heavy.
The other two options you have are carpet and vinyl. Vinyl works best if you want to minimize the maximum weight of your camper. It’s still relatively easy to clean and the only issue is that it takes a while to install. Once you have installed the vinyl flooring, though, you will be done for a while. Because vinyl flooring lasts a really long time. Carpet is the most luxurious option available, even more so than laminate. It provides a very cozy feel to the interior and can be very comfortable to sit on since it turns the entire floor into a sitting space. It’s not very good if you are trying to keep your total camper weight under the GVWR, though. Carpeting is the heaviest option you can go for, and it’s also notoriously difficult to clean.
Add-ons And Accessories
This is where the true test of your resolve lies. As light as your camper might be, excessive amenities might still make it too heavy to tow. If you want an absolute basic pop up camper, it would come with a place to sleep, a dinette that can be converted into additional sleeping quarters and a tank that you can use to store fresh water. There are some amenities that are glaringly missing from this list, though. The most important of which are the kitchen and bathroom
Both of these should be considered add-ons in pop up campers. Kitchens are particularly heavy. They take up a lot of space and require a lot of new items to be added. At the bare minimum you would need a stove and a sink. Cabinets are also quite important, and a fridge is always nice. The combined weight of a full kitchen is going to come up to quite a lot. Bathrooms that come with just a toilet would be light enough. However you would probably want at least a sink in there as well, if not a shower.
We haven’t even discussed entertainment systems yet either. This is because such systems are super heavy and are generally not necessary either. You should probably forego an entertainment system, especially if you want to have a full kitchen and bathroom setup.
Tips For Managing Pop Up Camper Weight
Use The Right Car
The size of your car should match the size of your camper. Before buying a pop up camper, first see how much weight your car can manage to tow. If you have a regular sedan you should probably settle for a small pop up camper. A medium camper would be pushing it a little but it can still work. An SUV would be preferable for medium campers, and is absolutely necessary for large pop up campers. In fact, for large pop up campers a full sized truck might work best.
Distribute Weight Evenly
Minimizing the weight in your camper is one thing. It doesn’t change the importance of adequate weight distribution. Don’t make the mistake of putting the entire weight of the vehicle in one place. Try to distribute it evenly across the pop up camper. The least amount of weight should be placed at the back. Instead, put as much weight as possible up in front. This would help keep the trailer stable. The more weight you have at the back of the trailer, the more likely it would be to lose control and make your car lose control along with it.
Too Light is a Problem Too
Whenever people talk about managing weight in pop up campers, they usually refer to excess weight. Too much weight is definitely a bad thing. But too little weight can be a problem as well. Your camper needs some weight in it to keep it stable. If it’s a lot lighter than your car, it would similarly start to lose control. The camper you buy will probably have a hitch rating from the manufacturer. This would give you a range of weight that your camper can hold. Try to bring the extra weight that you add to the camper as close the middle of this range as possible. There’s a bit of a margin for error, but trust us when we say you don’t want to test its limits.
Steer Clear of The Maximum Weight Capacity
It can be easy to see the maximum weight capacity of a pop up camper and start planning how you are going to reach that weight limit. This would be a really bad idea, though. The upper weight limit is not something that you want to test out. It’s meant to include everything from water to kitchen appliances. Reaching the max weight with just your belongings is a sign that other necessary items will push you well past the weight limit.
The weight of your pop up camper can impact a lot of your decisions. It can make the difference between where you can go and what areas you would be restricted from accessing. Hence, by understanding how much pop up campers weigh, and managing this weight properly for maximum efficacy, you can make a better choice while buying a pop up camper.