Is Pop-Up Camper Weight ACTUALLY Important? + Safe Towing Advice!
By Kelly Beasley
So what does pop-up camper WEIGHT have to do with anything?
Well, kids, it's essential to know and understand for many reasons, which I will cover in this article.
And exactly how much does a pop-up camper weigh?
Naturally they don't all weigh the same, but the weight of pop-up trailers is usually under 3,000 pounds dry, though you can find a few exceptions.
This typically lightweight feature makes them very popular.
Let's dive into the details of what all makes a light pop-up trailer so appealing for camping.
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What Is A Popup Camper?
Popup campers are small camping trailers that expand when opened and are compact when closed for travel or storage.
They can be super small/short like 10 feet and can be as long as 21 feet.
Usually resting on just one axle, these travel trailers can be towed by many more vehicles than heavier trailers.
Their light pop-up camper weight makes them ideal for many who own an SUV, small truck, or even a car with a decent towing capacity.
Most often the sides or window areas are made from canvas, so they are usually not hard-sided campers.
That said, hard-sided pop-ups do exist.
How Much Does A Pop-Up Camper Weigh?
The average weight of a pop up camper is between 1,800 pounds and 2,000 pounds.
Sure, you can find some weighing a lot more and a lot less than that, but the maximum weight (dry) of a pop-up camper you're likely to see is just a little over 3,000 pounds.
Small popup camper or mini pop ups = around 1,000 pounds.
Medium pop ups = about 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.
Large pop up campers = over 2,000 pounds.
The weight of these campers depends on a couple of factors.
The more amenities the trailer has, the more popup camper weight it has.
Ones with bathrooms weigh more than those that don't.
Ones made with higher quality products also weigh more than those that use cheaper materials.
Pop-Up Camper Weight Basics
When it comes to any camper class, there are some weight abbreviations that you might not be familiar with.
They are essential to know and understand what vehicle you can or cannot pull with, how much of your stuff you can load into it, and more.
There are quite a few pop-up camper tow weight ratings and definitions.
Pop Up Camper Weight Ratings And Definitions
Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)
This is the tent trailer weight before you put anything into it.
It's how much the camper weighs leaving the manufacturer.
No water in it, no propane, no gear in it yet. This is also referred to as dry weight.
Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
CCC is how much you can legally and safely load into the camper.
It includes your possessions, propane, and the water you put in the fresh water tank.
All RVs have a limit that the axles can safely carry, so keep this in mind when you shop.
If a pop-up has a low CCC, you can't bring along much to the campsite, or will have to carry more stuff in your vehicle (assuming it has the room and weight capability).
Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio (GVRW)
(Also called gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR.) GVRW is the TOTAL that your pop-up trailer weight can safely be when loaded up.
You must consider all cargo, the weight of the camper itself, and the water/propane and holding tank liquids.
Basically, it's the UVW and CCC combined, and it's the highest safe weight at which you can tow your trailer.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
All axles have a weight rating, meaning there's a weight limit that they can safely support.
These campers are no different. You shouldn't overload the axle, or you can end up with big problems.
What You Need To Know About Weight Before You Tow A Pop Up Camper
There are things about weight that first-time buyers usually don't know.
These things are super important to avoid overloading your camper or loading it incorrectly.
Weight distribution in a pop-up isn't crazy important since they are very short trailers, and the axle is usually in the middle.
That said, it's still best not to overload the back end of your trailer.
Overloading the back end is a huge cause of sway.
If you have many heavy items, it's best to store them around the middle (above the axle) or at the trailer's front end while traveling.
Do Not Max Out The Towing Capacity Of Your Vehicle
Most newbies think that when a vehicle tow rating says 5,000 pounds that it's safe to get a trailer weighing 4,500 pounds and load it with 500 pounds of gear.
Because naturally, 4,500 plus 500 equals 5,000!
But that's a bad idea.
Doing so would strain the tow vehicle and push the limits.
In general, it's recommended to stay under the tow rating by 20% (use no more than 80% of the maximum towing capability).
So (for easy math's sake), if your vehicle says it has a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds, you should keep the FULLY LOADED weight of the trailer under 8,000 pounds (80% of 10,000).
Why manufacturers don't just factor this aspect into listing what vehicles can tow is beyond us.
Know How Much Weight You Can Add
The number that tells you how much weight you can add is the CCC, or cargo-carrying capacity.
You'll find this number on a sticker inside the camper (usually around the entrance door) or in the owner's manual. It's ultra-important you don't overload your trailer for safety (and insurance) reasons.
Some trailers have impressive cargo-carrying capacity, while others have a small CCC.
Do You Need Trailer Brakes For Your Pop Up?
This is an excellent question! The answer depends on how much the trailer weighs and the laws in the state you live in.
It's crazy, but many states differ in their laws about trailer brakes and even having a brake controller.
Trailer brakes help stop the trailer and keep it from pushing you when you brake, especially down hills.
It also helps keep wear and tear down on your tow vehicle brakes.
Check the trailer brake regulations in your state HERE.
Pop Up Camper Tongue Weight
All trailers have what is called a tongue weight or hitch weight. (What is tongue weight on a trailer?)
This is how much pressure the tongue of your camper puts on the hitch/back end of the tow vehicle.
All tow vehicles have a max tongue weight they allow. So make sure the tongue weight isn't too heavy for yours.
The tongue weight of any trailer should be 10 to 15% of the actual trailer weight.
Remember that most campers like this have their propane on the tongue.
A full LP propane tank(s) add weight and should be factored into the tongue weight.
Advantages Of Pop Up Campers
There are quite a few advantages of having a pop-up. Here are some of the best perks:
- So short and compact, they often fit into a garage.
- When towing, they are low enough that you can see behind you and are narrow enough not to need tow mirrors.
- Light, so able to pull with bigger variety of vehicles than most travel trailers.
- More comfortable than sleeping in a tent.
- Better gas mileage when towing due to low weight.
- Less expensive than a regular travel trailer.
Is It Hard To Tow A Pop-Up Camper?
Towing a pop-up camper is one of the best things about ownership.
They are light, and because they 'pop down,' you can still see out the back window/rear view mirror when towing.
This makes it way more comfortable to tow than regular bumper pull RV trailers.
Backing is much easier as well since you can see where you're backing. Pop up campers are one of the easiest to tow out of all RV types.
How To Find Out How Much Can Your Vehicle Can Tow
You can look up your vehicle's tow capacity by doing a simple Google search for your make, model, and year.
Or, check your owner's manual (which would be the most accurate method).
Remember to never push your tow weight to the max. Only go as high as about 80% of your towing capacity.
Safely Towing Your Pop Up Camper
Towing your trailer safely begins before you start driving.
There are some safety things to do and check before driving away.
We mean to test the brakes from the brake controller. It should have a manual braking switch on it.
Let off the brake and let your setup roll.
Then, manually hit the trailer brakes and your whole setup should come to a stop.
Also have someone help you check your brake lights and turn signals. If you're alone, try to back up against something so you can see if your brake lights reflect off of it when you apply them.
Double-check the hitch and be sure everything is hooked up and properly secured.
It's a good idea to thoroughly inspect even the steel hitch and the receiver for cracks or failure.
It's always good practice to check your tire pressure.
Even if you have a tire pressure monitoring system or TPMS (It is HIGHLY recommended you have one, especially for a single-axle trailer), it's good to see where the pressures register manually.
You can either use your own portable air pump, or take it to a gas station to inflate when needed.
Trailer Weight Check
If you can, weigh your trailer before your first trip, fully loaded, to make sure you aren't over your CCC and GVWR.
No, you don't need to check your weight before every trip. Just doing it once should give you an idea of how close you are (or aren't) to going over your gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
You aren't likely to pack up much differently on subsequent trips.
Adjust all mirrors before you go.
How Much Does A Pop-Up Camper Cost?
Pop-up campers are generally less expensive than other RV trailer types, even when buying new.
A new pop-up will start at around $8,000 to $10,000 and go up to about $45,000 for the largest and nicest.
If you buy used, you can get an even better deal. (Learn about NADA camper values.)
Watch out for big issues on older ones, such as mold and soft spots on the floor.
Can I Rent A Pop Up Camper?
It might be harder to find a pop-up than a traditional type, but keep your eyes peeled, and you should find something.
It should also cost less to rent than a hard-sided trailer.
What's The Average Weight Of A Popup Camper?
So how much do pop-up campers weigh?
Well, the average weight of a pop-up camper is a guess, at best.
But we've looked around at many on the market and believe that that number is about 2,100 pounds.
Now you know the average weight of pop-up campers and some critical things about towing one.
The low average pop-up camper weight allows for many vehicle types to tow it, and you'll enjoy better gas mileage than you would with a traditional heavy travel trailer.
If you know you want a lightweight trailer, a pop-up camper can work out very well.
So "how heavy is a pop up camper" is no longer a question you need to ask!
You now know the average weight and why it's essential to know about weights for safe towing and a happy camping trip!
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.