We began family camping in a tent over 15 years ago with our three kids and a dog.
It evolved from one tent to two, multiple coolers, a fully stocked camp kitchen, and more bins than you can imagine. We would remove a row of seats from our minivan and fill a car-top carrier as well. Once our oldest kid could drive, we would take two cars.
As time went on, and our camping numbers dwindled, we decided it would be nice to sleep off the ground. We’re not getting any younger! We bought a very small pop-up tent trailer and this has been our third season with it. On the odd occasion when our kids come along, they still sleep in their own tent.
A pop-up tent-trailer is sometimes called a PUP. Ours is very small and looks like something a big RV spit out, so we call it our Escape Pod. It is unique in that it only had one pull out bed end instead of two, but it doesn’t make much difference in set-up time.
These are the most important things we’ve learned in our switch from tent to tent-trailer – Pros & Cons of a PUP:
- Pro: Full campsite set-up with our PUP is 30-40 mins vs 1 – 1-¼ hrs with tents.
- Pro: Breakdown with our PUP is 1 – 1-½ hrs vs 2 hrs with tents.
- Neutral: Set-up and breakdown in the rain is miserable either way and requires set-up when you get home.
- Pro: A trailer allows seasonal on-board storage of cooking & table wear, utensils, campsite items, chairs, bedding, first-aid and toiletries, eliminating almost all gear transfer from our vehicle.
- Pro: We bring food items separately in our vehicle like when we tent camped but transfer canned pantry items to the trailer after set-up.
- Pro: We stock our on-board fridge with food the morning of or day before leaving as opposed to bringing huge chest coolers when we tent camped.
- Pro: The bed can remain made up when the trailer is collapsed, even with our memory foam mattress topper.
- Pro: We add clothes to the trailer just before leaving vs duffle bags in our car when we tent camped. No roof-top carrier required!
- Pro: On board hot/cold water/sink, propane heater, battery/hydro lighting & fan, battery/hydro/propane fridge, propane double cooktop, insulated above ground bed, and cassette pottie have increased our comfort level immeasurably!
- Con: All of the above mentioned amenities require maintenance, especially in spring and fall. Winterizing is a MUST!
- Pro: Stand-up room in the heavy canvas trailer with screened zip windows provides a haven from rainy, cold, or buggy weather.
- Pro: It’s easier to keep everything dry in a trailer vs a tent.
- Con: Some campsites do not allow trailers.
- Con: You need space to store your trailer when not in use.
- Neutral: We stayed within our tow-rating so we wouldn’t push our vehicle limits. It’s easy to go overboard and bring too much gear with a trailer!
- CON: PUPs are more expensive, new or used, than even the best tent set-up and your vehicle must be equipped to tow.
If you have any pros & cons to add, please leave a comment!! We’d love to read your experiences.