How Do Pop-Up Campers Work?

How Do Pop-Up Campers Work?
Whoever invented the pop-up camper did a huge service for campers who love to "rough it" without sleeping on the ground. These little beauties fold up very neatly, and some are so lightweight that you can pull them with a sedan or a small pickup. Most contain many of the comforts of home, and they're pretty easy to set up and break down.


Pop-up campers are hybrids; that is, they combine canvas components, like a tent, with hard floor and roof structures. The roof fits snugly over the hard sides and floor for ease of transport, and all the amenities fold up inside. Many pop-ups include wooden cabinetry, a small kitchen and even a shower. The camper has jacks for support and stability; the entire thing works best when you take some time to level it on its jacks before you do anything else.

Raise the Roof

Pop-up campers use a series of lifts to raise the roof, literally, so you can set up your kitchen, dinette and other furnishings. Some lifts are electric and some use a hand crank to raise the roof. Modern engineering makes even the manual models very easy to raise--just turn the handle and the system will lift the entire roof at once.

Set Up the Side Bunks

Once the roof is at its fullest extent, it's time to set up the end bunks. These usually rest on removable, stowed supports that attach to the frame of the camper's body. When the bunks are pulled out and the supports are in place, bows inside the unit extend to support the canvas over the bunks (much like the supports for a ground tent). These bunks serve as two of the camper's sleeping areas, one at either end of the rig.

Fold-Up Furnishings

The kitchen, bathroom and seating usually fold down and stow for transport when the roof is down. Once the roof is raised and the bunks have been pulled out, it's time to set up the kitchen (usually on some kind of swivel, and "set up" simply means folding it up), the dinette (the table, benches and pieces of cushion that make up this unit combine to make a small bed) and the bathroom (frequently a "tent inside a tent" kind of arrangement).

Break Camp

When it's time to break camp, you knock down the pop-up in reverse order of setting it up. Roll the kitchen down, lay the dinette flat, and pull down the WC. Collapse the bows supporting the tent ends and lay them down; begin to stow the canvas. Slide the bunk ends back into the camper and stow the supports. When the entire package is neat and tidy, slowly lower the roof, tucking in canvas as you go to make sure that it is neatly tucked inside to prevent nicks and tears.

Article Written By Colleen Morrison

Colleen Morrison has been writing professionally for two decades. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University. She ghostwrites articles, blogs and Web content for her clients. Articles under her name appear at M&M, eHow, Golflink and other sites.

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