Can a Pop Up Camper Tip Over?
Pop up campers can be a great entry level in to the amazing world of family camping. Or indeed they can be an upgrade to tenting. They can give you such wonderful memories and at a much lower cost that starting out with an RV.
I have recently read online a few nightmare stories of pop up campers tipping over on sites and so I have done some research to see if this is common for this type of camping or whether there is another reason a small number of pop up campers have tipped. The results of my research are that if your pop up camper is set up properly it will not tip over.
How do I set up my pop up camper?
If you are new to the camping scene my first piece of advice is to have a dress rehearsal for setting up your pop up camper. Get the whole family involved and have a go at setting it up on your drive. This will help you understand exactly what needs to be done, how to spot any issues with your camper and more importantly how long it will take.
Ensure that you arrive at your destination with enough time to properly set up your pop up. It is normally not a five minute job so aim to get to your camping site mid-morning to lunchtime. Arriving at dusk and then trying to set up your pop up alongside finding time to eat and relax, unless you are a seasonal expert, is likely to cause a lot of stress. This is not the best was to start any family time away from home.
Select a good location at the site. Ensure that you have sufficient room around your camper to allow for the pop out elements. Take care not to have trees to close by that will get in your way. Be sure to be amply close enough to your utility hook up as you do not want to take the time to get set up and then find the electric hook up is a couple of feet too far away!
Making sure your pop up camper is level is the single most important consideration. Do not unhitch your vehicle until you have levelled your camper. You may need to move your camper forwards or backwards a few feet to get it level. Most campers will have spirit levels, for both directions, in the vehicle hitch area which will help you get your camper as level as possible.
In order to level the camper you may need to place some wood underneath one or more of the wheels. This is why we do not unhitch until we are happy the camper is level. If you need one side to be raised, move the camper a couple of feet forward or backward. Place a plank of wood on the floor and then move the camper on to the wood. This allows you to elevate one side of the camper to make it level.
Once you are happy that you have levelled your camper place some chocks against the wheels for stability. This will also stop any small movements when you unhitch your vehicle. You do not need to go for anything expensive; I have used a couple of pieces of wood which serve this purpose very well.
You are now ready to unhitch your vehicle. Firstly, lower the trailer tongue jack to the ground and ensure it is stable. Unhook any electrics or chains you have attached to the towing vehicle. Use the tongue jack to raise the camper high enough that the hitch can be released from the vehicle and slowly move the vehicle away from the camper. I would highly recommend having someone watching the tongue jack whilst you are moving the tow vehicle just in case you have forgotten to release something!
Have another check of the spirit levels and make any final tweaks with the tongue jack. You are now ready to pop up your pop up camper.
Partially lower your stabilizer jacks so they are about 2 inches from the ground. If you are on sand or softer ground it is a good idea to have jack pads (or again some thin pieces of wood) to spread the weight of the stabilizer jacks.
This is now the time to open your roof and/or side pods. Take care as during this time the camper will move around slightly. This is where the chocks you placed earlier will come in handy. Once you have opened all the elements of your pop up camper go back and completely lower the stabilizer jacks to the floor. As a rule of thumb I always drops them so they are initially tight to the ground then I give them one more turn! The trick here is not to unbalance the good work you already done by levelling your camper. You just need to secure your levels with the stabilizers.
With some pop up campers you will have a solid door to fit, though some have a zipper style soft fabric door.
Hook up any utilities, like electric, and then set up the inside of your camper. You are now ready to enjoy your time away with your family.
Tent vs Pop Up Camper?
This is going to sound a little snobby but I would consider the pop up camper to be more refined than a tent. Some people say that the pop up camper is the upgrade between a tent and an RV. Some pop up campers have bathroom facilities and with electric and gas hook up it can be a home from home.
One of the main things that I enjoy with the pop up camper opposed to a tent is the choice to eat inside. At the height of summer when you want to get away from the bugs a camper provide safety inside.
Both tents and pop up campers need to be properly aired if they have got wet. The pop up camper can take more time to air than a tent. It is very important that you properly air your pop up camper as any damp can produce mould fairly quickly. Untreated mould can rot the canvas leading to tears and waterproofing issues. Mould can also leave a very unpleasant smell that is very difficult to get rid of even when you get rid of the mould itself.
Pop up campers need to be towed and the weight of your camper will determine what tow vehicle is required. The law in some states is very strict on towing capacity of your vehicle so this is an area I highly recommend you research properly. It also ensures you and your family are save on the road whilst towing. I would suggest a sturdy SUV at the very least for smaller pop up campers.
Pop up campers are more expensive and you will need storage space for it whereas a tent can be tucked away in your basement. Also to consider is manoeuvring a trailer is not straightforward. Especially reversing up your driveway!
I moved over to a pop up camper mainly because I didn’t want to sleep on the floor anymore. I have found I have had much better sleep in the pop up camper opposed to the tent.
A final consideration would be the size of your family. What I would say is that tents, these days, can be fairly large. It may be an aspect that you consider as pop up campers do tend to be on the ‘cosy’ side. Campers are brilliant for 2 people, ok for 4 people but beyond this it is going to feel a little claustrophobic. Tents do give you the option for a larger party.