[box type=”info”] You don’t have to have children to be concerned about the safety of your vehicle. No one wants to invest in something that’s rickety and likely to cause them harm down the line. Does a pop up camper fit that definition or is it okay to drive and own one?[/box]
In this article, I plan on answering that very question. I’ll also delve into several scenarios you might find yourself in as a pop up camper owner and discuss whether you’re okay or need to get to safety.
Are Pop Up Campers Safe?
To begin, let’s address the main question: are pop up campers safe? The answer is yes, absolutely.
Of course, that depends on several factors. You always want to buy your camper from a reputable manufacturer or third-party seller. While there are some homemade truck campers and the like that do exist, never go the homemade route, as tempting as it may seem. What you’re saving in money you’re risking in safety.
You also want to be sure your vehicle is not too old. If it’s been manufactured in the last 10 or 15 years, then you’re generally safe to drive it. If it’s older than that, be wary. The vehicle may not necessarily be unsafe, but that depends on how well the previous owner maintained it. If you do have a camper that old, you want to check for soft spots in the floors, walls, and ceiling (signs of water damage) as well as for mold and mildew, electrical issues, foundational weak spots, and other issues.
Finally, there’s the condition of the vehicle. A relatively new camper can be more unsafe than an older one if its owner didn’t care for it. Regular maintenance, winterization, and cleaning are important. Otherwise, the quality of the parts in the vehicle will degrade quicker, leading to an unsafe environment.
Is Your Pop Up Camper Safe in…
One of the biggest threats to a pop up camper’s stability is wind. This becomes almost doubly true if you have a tent-side camper as opposed to one with hard walls. Some camper owners have reported feeling their roof move in particularly strong winds.
If you use stabilizers and jacks to secure your camper, then that rocking might be all you have to deal with in seriously gusty winds.
Failing to secure your vehicle could indeed lead to it tipping over, so be careful!
I don’t recommend you stay in your pop up camper in a thunderstorm, but we would say that of any vehicle. If there’s thunder and lightning accompanied by strong rains, then your metal vehicle becomes a lightning rod of sorts. There’s certainly a higher chance of it getting struck.
You can ride out little thunderstorms in your pop up with no consequence. If a severe storm is on the horizon, though, you might want to get to a hotel or take shelter elsewhere.
Many pop up camper and trailer owners will winterize and store their vehicles by November or December. If this is your first year owning a camper, winterizing means you remove your valuables, drain and empty all tanks and appliances, take out the battery, and generally make your vehicle an empty shell. Then you put a cover on it and stash it somewhere for the winter. This may be your driveway or garage. Others use RV storage facilities, indoors or outdoors, heated or unheated.
You should not try to camp in your pop up in a severe snowstorm.
The vehicle is not made for cold weather. Remember that with your camper setup you have the towing vehicle and then the pop up itself. That’s two vehicles that are at risk of getting stuck in the snow or sliding on ice and causing an accident.
If you’re in your camper and it starts snowing, find a safe place to park and seek other shelter.
Another situation pop up campers are not made for is floods. This goes for most trailers and RVs as well. Many of these vehicles hang pretty low to the ground, so it wouldn’t take much water to damage the undercarriage. If you continue driving, the water could seep in and ruin your floors.
As mentioned earlier, water damage is pretty much the most serious problem with trailers and RVs. It makes the vehicle unsafe structurally, as the metal components could rust or corrode and the wooden parts can rot. Do not put your camper in a situation where water damage can occur.
5. Very Cold Conditions?
Even if your camper has hard walls instead of tented ones, it doesn’t matter. Campers are not made to endure cold weather. Their heating systems are often mediocre, which means putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation if you camp in the cold. Don’t do it.
6. Very Hot Conditions?
Another thing most pop up campers are lacking is a dedicated air conditioning system. That means you’re essentially sitting in a sweatbox in the heat. While summertime is prime camping time, make sure you rig up a fan or mini AC so you’re not sweating in your camper.
Most pop up campers are lightweight, lessening your risk of sinking in sandy terrain. Whether this terrain is stable enough for parking overnight or for a weekend is up to you. If you can’t use your stabilizers and jacks because the sand is too loose, then move on and park somewhere a little safer.
8. Uneven Terrain?
Pop up campers, due to their smaller size and weight, could likely park on uneven terrain such as hills or rock surfaces at campgrounds. The biggest obstacle is securing the vehicle. Besides stabilizers and jacks, you’ll probably need wheel chocks as well. You should also make sure your camper hitch is in place.
Just because you can park on uneven terrain doesn’t mean you should. Even with all the above precautions, there’s always a slight risk of the vehicle rolling down the hill or tipping over.
If your pop up camper was produced by a reputable manufacturer and is in decent condition, it can typically be considered safe. It’s only the vehicles that have water damage or other structural issues that you should avoid.
[box type=”info”] Make sure you use your head when camping in inclement weather. While your pop up can withstand some wind, if there are strong gusts, you might want to get out of there. The same goes for snowstorms and serious rainstorms. Good luck![/box]