People who love experiencing the great outdoors also happen to take great pride in the pop up campers they’re towing during their travels.
Collapsible pop up campers are a fantastic way to provide immediate shelter for the night at a campsite. They’re also affordable and come with stylish amenities and spacious designs.
However, as attractive as pop up campers are, many travelers begin having issues once they hit the road. A camper that is too heavy is more laborious for your vehicle to haul and will prove inefficient when filling your gas tank.
So while installing further cool amenities such as an entertainment center or added exterior storage might sound enticing, they can also burden your camper with added weight.
With so many pop up campers on the market today, it can be challenging to choose a model specific to your needs, and just as importantly, your vehicle’s towing capacity. Below we will explore the essential factors you need to know before purchasing your own.
Table of Contents
Vehicle Weight Basics – Everything You Need to Know
Before considering a purchase, you should have a good understanding of the basics when it comes to the weight of a pop up camper. Not only for the camper you’re currently eyeing but for the one you may already own.
So what is the tow weight of a pop up camper?
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)
Unloaded Vehicle Weight is the initial weight of the trailer straight from the manufacturer. Containing the bare minimum, it includes the weight of the axles, the hitch (tongue) and a full LP propane tank.
Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
Cargo Carrying Capacity is the weight of your gear packed into your camper along with additional features, camper accessories, and equipment.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
Gross Axle Weight is maximum axle weight, which supports all cargo weight including trailer hitch weight which is usually add some extra weight to towing vehicle.
Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio (GVWR)
Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio is the weight of the hitch (tongue) combined with your vehicle’s total weight that your camper can safely carry; these include all cargo and passengers.
So how do I find out how much my camper weighs? A sticker or plate given by the manufacturer will be located on your trailer displaying your GVWR.
Average Pop Up Campers Weight – How Much Does a Pop Up Camper Weigh?
If you’re considering a pop up camper, you’ve probably wondered how much do pop up campers weigh.
The weight of a pop up camper will vary significantly depending on its size and the amenities included. Weight categories have been assigned to pop up campers to keep things simple, ranging from mini to large.
Mini-sized pop up campers
For minimalists who aren’t concerned with fancy amenities, and instead choosing to relish the great outdoors, a mini-sized pop up camper is a no-fuss, budget-friendly alternative.
Particularly useful for motorcycle owners wanting shelter with the bare necessities provided, the lightest pop up camper available weighs 250 pounds. For those wishing extra legroom, the next size up weighs 375 pounds.
Small-sized pop up campers
A popular choice for travelers wishing to get away for the weekend, many will opt for a smaller trailer. But how much does a small camper weigh?
Small-sized campers typically start at 500 pounds and go all the way up to 1,000 pounds. Prioritizing a person’s needs a small camper offers a basic kitchen, drawers to store belongings and sleeping quarters suitable for two people.
Smaller sized campers are ideal for shorter travel durations and do not require substantial towing power, preventing wear and tear on your vehicle.
Medium-sized pop up campers
Medium-sized campers generally weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds, providing more space for travelers wishing to stay-in longer than the odd weekend. Its additional space is sufficient for storage and further installation of amenities, and also comes with a small kitchen area, dining area, and two sleeping quarters.
When it comes to towing a medium-sized trailer, the demands of towing are still manageable for many standard vehicles such as SUVs, sedans and minivans. Because of this reason medium-sized campers are a convenient and popular choice among many travelers today.
Large-sized pop up camper
If you consider your pop up camper a second home that you plan to live in for extended periods, a larger pop up camper may be worth the added expense.
Ranging from 1,600 to 3,700 pounds, not to be outmatched by its weight, a large camper also has considerable height, coming at 8-12 feet. Furthermore, once fully expanded a large trailer can reach up to 17 feet, with some reaching 25 feet.
This type of camper is ideal for families or couples wishing to experience luxury on the road, providing space for extra amenities and all camping essentials.
Can My Current Vehicle Tow a Pop-Up Camper?
Before you decide on a pop up camper, you’ll first need to know the towing capacity of your vehicle and its fuel efficiency.
Cars with better fuel efficiency will naturally have an easier time driving long distances while towing heavy loads, reducing the need for stopping regularly to top up gas.
To keep things simple, let’s say you have a car that can tow 1,000 pounds; then you’ll need a pop up camper that weighs substantially less. Keep in mind you’re not only accounting for the weight of the camper but also your vehicle, including cargo and passengers. You’ll also want to leave adequate ‘wiggle room’ to accommodate last-minute additions to your trip, such as extra camping gear.
If your vehicle cannot tow your pop up trailer, you’ll quickly be in the uncompromising position of either having to find a different camper or vehicle to support the one you already own.
It’s essential, therefore that your vehicle is compatible with your chosen pop up camper. Vehicle owners can quickly check their tow rating by reading their vehicle manual or using their VIN# provided to check online.
How to Distribute The Weight Inside of a Pop Up Trailer?
Correct weight distribution is essential for achieving the ideal balance in a pop up camper when traveling. If the distribution of weight isn’t loaded across your trailer evenly, it could potentially cause your trailer to sway.
If a fully loaded trailer exceeds 50 percent of your vehicle’s tow weight, then a weight-distribution hitch is recommended.
A distribution hitch will cut down the vehicle’s tongue (hitch) weight by spreading the excessive weight onto the axles of the trailer and vehicle.
Tongue weight is the maximum amount of pressure that is applied to the vehicle’s hitch from the trailer. Manufacturers recommend a tongue weight to pull the trailer smoothly, should not exceed 9% to 15% of the total trailer weight.
To identify a distribution issue, check if your camper sags more than a few inches after your camper is hitched up, this will cause your headlights to be aimed incorrectly.
Factors That Affect The Weight of Pop Up Campers
Anyone wishing to educate themselves further before making a purchase may want to understand the factors that affect the weight of a pop up camper. After all, a camper’s size does not always correlate with how heavy it is, as some small campers weigh more than medium-sized ones.
So what are they exactly? The three variables to consider are materials, construction and design.
The design of a camper will dictate the materials used for construction, all of which contribute to the weighted total. Consumers wishing to tow lighter campers are in luck as manufacturers continue to use lighter materials for construction to accommodate buyer needs.
- Lift System
The lift system has been one component of a camper that has changed for the better. Previously consisting of a pulley, springs and winches that were considered too heavy, manufacturers began to implement new innovative ways to reduce its total weight.
Camper models today rely on a lift system that includes a clutch controller winch that connects to the pulley via a cable. People using pop up campers will be required to raise the roof to begin using it.
Pop up campers, regardless of its size, will generally have soft pull-out walls enabling campers to begin their setup conveniently. As a result, roofs have had to be produced with lightweight materials.
While plastic remains a popular material, some pop up campers now use fiberglass for their roofs, as it requires less maintenance than plastic.
The three standard options people usually use for their pop up camper’s floor are Vinyl, Carpet and Laminate. As each material differs significantly in weight, they also come with their pros and cons, meaning weight alone is not always the deciding factor.
A popular choice among buyers is Vinyl due to its lightweight material, with the downside being that it’s notoriously difficult to install.
Carpet, on the other hand, while aesthetically pleasing to the eye and easy to insulate is heavier than Vinyl and harder to clean due to dust build-up.
The least popular option is Laminate flooring, known for its durability and scratch-resistance it will also make a pop up camper significantly heavier.
- Other amenities
Standard campers will typically provide necessities such as sleeping quarters, a freshwater tank, and a convertible dinette. Premium trailers will include bathroom facilities.
However, an unloaded pop up camper can be quickly overloaded by an overabundance of amenities if not tracked.
If you decide to include a kitchen or additional bathroom, you will have to install their exclusive amenities which can be easily overlooked.
For kitchens, these will range from heavier objects such as a sink, built-in cupboards or a refrigerator to lighter inclusions such as cooking utensils and plates. Then you have everything in-between such as a cooking stove and espresso machines.
Bathroom facilities will need plumbing fixtures such as a portable toilet, a sink, and faucet. Water supply pipes also need to be installed to carry water throughout.
Amenities will also depend on your preference and location. In hotter areas, air-conditioning in a pop up camper is almost a requirement, whereas, in colder climates, many will need a propane furnace to circulate heated air.
Both bathroom and kitchen facilities will also require a propane cylinder to provide gas for heating water, space heating, and cooking, which can also weigh down your camper trailer.
Pop up campers are undoubtedly a fantastic investment for keen explorers, saving you a fortune on hotel rooms and the restaurant meals that come along them.
Although the nuisances of a camper’s weight can be overwhelming, knowing your vehicle’s towing capabilities is a good start. From there you can find out which size of camper suits you and understand the basics of what will determine its overall weight.
So what are your opinions on the importance of amenities? Maybe the luxury items you’ve put in your camper is worth stopping by the gas station more frequently.
Or perhaps it could be time to reassess what’s really weighing your camper down and consider removing them. While we’d all love an entertainment system, it just might not be practical for its towing vehicle.
Was our pop up trailer weigh guide helpful? If you feel like we’ve missed anything, express your thoughts below. Until then, happy camping!