Tent vs. Pop-Up Camper: Which One to Choose for Your Next Camping Trip?

Whether you do it with your family or your close group of friends, camping is always fun. We get to connect with nature, have some time off from our busy lives, and have some quality time with our loved ones.

Yet, when it comes to sleeping at night, you might find yourself asking an important question. Should I camp in a simple tent or upgrade to a trailer-like version?

To help you out, we’ve put together this tent vs. pop-up camper guide so that you can make an educated decision.

Let’s dive in!

Introducing Pop-Up Campers

A lot of people are quite familiar with tents and their various types. Yet, not everyone knows what a pop-up camper exactly is.

A pop-up camper is a type of recreational vehicle that easily folds into a small, towable trailer. Because it’s partially constructed from canvas, it can be lighter than a conventional trailer. Not to mention that it may cost you less than other RVs.

Most pop-up campers include mattresses, eating areas, and bathrooms. This is why they’ve gained a lot of popularity among campers in recent years.

But how does camping in one of these trailers compare to staying in a tent?

Comparing Tents vs. Pop-Up Campers

In this section, we’ll discuss the similarities and differences between these two camping products. We’ll compare both regarding several aspects such as comfort, cost, convenience, and more.

After understanding all the pros and cons of tents and pop-up campers, you should be able to make up your mind about your favorite pick.


At first glance, you’d naturally assume that pop-up campers are better than tents when it comes to sleeping. However, comfort is a relative thing.

The first downside to sleeping in a tent is that you’ll have to lie on the ground. Even wrapped up in a padded camping bag, some people might not be comfortable with this because of back problems or other health issues.

On the other hand, if you stay in a camping trailer, you’ll have the luxury of sleeping on a mattress. This means better sleep at night and waking up fresh in the morning.

Yet, some people prefer to sleep on the hard ground to experience old-school camping instead of using mattresses as they do at home.

After all, it depends on what works best for you and how you prefer to camp.


Tents come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made for one or two people to use, and others can take up to 8 people. Still, packing several sleeping bags, pillows, and belongings can make the tent too stuffy.

In the case of pop-up campers, you’ll find that they generally come in bigger sizes. Thus, you can count on them for housing 8 people with comfort and extra space to spare.

Eating Arrangements

Pop-up campers include areas where you can make your own food. They come with stoves, sinks, and tables where you can sit and eat like you’re at home.

If you camp in a tent, you’ll normally have to eat outside. Not to mention that you’ll need to pack a portable gas stove to cook your meals.

Again, some people seek camping only to experience this minimalistic endeavors. They’d rather make food on small stoves or build fires in the middle of nowhere to gather around and tell stories. Therefore, it’s a matter of preference.

Water and Electricity

Between all the great benefits of a pop-up camper, water and electricity top the list.

For those who don’t want to stay disconnected from the rest of the world, electricity would be a must to recharge their phones. Also, you might prefer using electrical appliances such as:

  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Electric kettle
  • TV
  • Coffee machine
  • Electric stove

More importantly, you’ll get running water. This means you’ll be able to take a shower or go to the bathroom whenever you want.

You won’t have these perks if you camp in a tent. To go to the bathroom, you’ll probably have to wait in line until you can enter the portable bathroom on the campsite.

Some tents come with access ports into which you can shove an extension cord to power your devices via an external power source, but that’s just about it.

In addition to that, you won’t be able to store food for long periods of time since you won’t have a fridge in your tent. As a result, you’ll have to pack small portions to be consumed within a day or two.

Storage Space

Staying inside a pop-up camper allows you to bring a lot of items on your camping trip. You can pack pretty much anything because this unit is large enough to house you with a bunch of your belongings.

Let’s not forget that it can be towed. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about packing heavy stuff since you won’t be carrying anything on your shoulders.

Of course, this isn’t the case with tents. For starters, tents don’t have much space inside to keep anything but the essentials.

In addition to that, if you want to go hiking, chances are you’ll be carrying all those items in your backpack along with your tent. Thus, you’ll always need to pack lightweight objects to avoid putting a lot of strain on your back and shoulders.

Yet, if you prefer solo camping trips, carrying a one-person tent shouldn’t be an issue. Also, since it’ll be just you, you might not need a lot of items in your backpack.

Protection From the Elements

The main reason why many people upgrade to a pop-up camper is that it provides better protection. Because it’s typically built from sturdy materials, you won’t have to worry much about a rainy or windy day.

On the other hand, a tent is much less tolerant of extreme weather no matter how waterproof its material is. Also, its stakes and poles aren’t a match to the hefty body of a camper.

Protection From Bugs

Most tents come with mesh windows to enhance the inside ventilation while keeping bugs outside. Still, if you’d rather sit outside your tent at night, this can make you quite a feast for mosquito.

Pop-up campers usually come with larger mesh windows. Therefore, you won’t have to step outside and count on the unfound mercy of bugs. Instead, you can sit in front of these windows and enjoy the view of a starry night without exposing your skin to mosquito.


If your entire family is crowded inside a tent, everyone has to fall asleep at the same time. So, for example, if you want to stay awake on your phone, you’ll have to step outside so as not to disturb anyone.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be an issue if you use a pop-up camper. Because it includes separate beds, tables, and chairs, it’s more family-friendly.

Your family or friends can approach a variety of activities at the same time without bothering each other. Some can play cards while others eat, talk, or listen to music with some of you sleeping in the background.


Last but not least, it all boils down to your budget, doesn’t it?

You should know that pop-up campers can be much more expensive than the most luxurious tents.

Pop-up campers are equipped with water and electricity. They’re also bigger, more durable, and towable, unlike traditional tents. Not to mention that they’re made of high-quality materials to make them resistant to outside weather.

Some people choose to rent a pop-up camper instead of spending large sums of money to buy a new one. This usually works in their favor, especially if it’s only for one or two nights.

On the other hand, tents are available in a wide range of prices to suit all budgets. This is why tent camping is more popular than pop-up campers.

The following factors are the main variables determining the price of a tent:

  • Capacity
  • Wall and floor materials
  • Resistance to water and weather
  • Ventilation
  • Ease-of-use
  • Additional features (mesh windows, door design, wall pockets, etc.)

Therefore, to find a tent at a price that matches your budget, you may want to consider the previous points first. Fortunately, anyone who can’t afford to camp in a pop-up camper should always find the perfect tent to purchase.

Wrapping Up

A tent vs. pop-up camper, which one should you choose?

See, while a pop-up camper allows you to camp with luxury, glam, and comfort, it can also be quite expensive. Let’s not forget that it might prevent you from having a deep connection with nature since you’ll be surrounded by all of these devices.

On the contrary, camping in a tent will help you escape your everyday, routine-filled life. This can relieve stress and boost your mood. Not to mention that a tent is more affordable.

Yet, for someone who isn’t ready to give up electronics and a comfy mattress, staying in a tent might not be an option.