Starting small as a beginner RVer is a smart way to jump into this lifestyle. The best small pop-up RV trailers are ideal for new RVers transitioning from tent camping to RVing. Their light weight makes them easy on the budget and your tow vehicle’s bumper, too. Most pop-up campers cost less than full-size camper trailers, and usually don’t require a heavy duty truck to pull them.
If the lower cost and lighter weight of pop-up campers seems appealing, here are the models that made our short list of the best small pop-up trailers of 2022.
What kind of pop-up camper trailer is for you?
Consider the pros versus cons of pop-up RV trailers for beginner RVers. You might find more positives than negatives about buying one.
Pros of Pop-Up Tent Trailers
- They can help you decide if RVing is for you.
- Pop-up trailers give better weather protection and more comfort than ground tents.
- The average weight of pop-up campers is between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds (according to Edmunds.com). Even small cars, SUVs, and lightweight trucks can pull pop-up trailers.
- You can pack more supplies to take longer camping trips and vacations.
- Average pop-up trailer lengths begin at about 12-feet long. Their small size lets you fit into many places that other RVs cannot go.
- Many tent trailers have a furnace, stove, refrigerator, and even air conditioning appliances to keep you more comfortable than camping in a tent.
- The average low price of pop-up trailers can be as low as $5,000 for used, or $8,000 for new pop-ups.
Cons of Pop-Up Tent Trailers
- Their smaller size means you’ll still do much of your living outside in the elements.
- Limited privacy in pop-up campers can make you not want to use the on-board restroom.
- Fabric and vinyl pop-ups can get super hot and stuffy in summer.
- Pop-up tent trailer set-up can be as time consuming as setting up a ground tent.
- Rain and damp weather can mildew soft-sided pop-up tent walls if you don’t air it out after your trip.
- Resale value of pop-up RV trailers is all over the map. Like all rigs, how you maintain your RV determines the money you get when selling it.
What to look for in pop-up travel trailers
Convinced there are more pros of pop-up RV trailers than cons? Here’s what to look for in pop-up campers you’re thinking about buying:
- Trailer Weight. The number one consideration should be to ask yourself “How much weight can my tow vehicle pull? Overweight RVs put you at risk of dangerous trailer sway and RV tire blowouts. Here’s how to find out if it’s safe to pull the pop-up you want:
- Find out the Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of your vehicle. This represents the maximum weight your tow vehicle can carry, including passengers, cargo, fuel and the vehicle itself.*
- Get the dry weight of the trailer, without gear. Add about 500 pounds of camping gear to that number.
- Then get your vehicle’s Gross combined weight rating (GCWR). This represents the maximum weight of your loaded tow vehicle and your loaded trailer combined. If the GVWR and the trailer weight exceeds that number, look for a smaller trailer.
- Appliances. Now ask yourself, what pop-up tent trailer appliances do you feel are necessary? Can you live without an on-board bathroom? Is a furnace and air conditioning critical for your comfort?
- Suspension. If you love going off-the-beaten-path, look for pop-up tent trailers with beefy suspension that can take you to those places. Not all models can do that.
- Pop-up wall material. Small pop-up RV trailers are built with soft walls or hard walls. Trailers with hard walls weigh more, but many campgrounds in bear habitat prohibit soft-sided campers from staying there. Consider where you want to camp before choosing a soft or hard-sided pop-up.
Now, let’s get to the fun part. Here’s our favorite small pop-up RV trailers of 2022. Some are soft-sided pop-ups, some are a hybrid pop-up with raised roof and hard walls. We love them all. How about you?
Best beginner pop up RV trailer of 2022
The Coachmen Viking Express 12.0TD has a dry/unloaded weight of 1945 pounds, and a Gross Vehicle Weight of 3750 pounds. This one wins our award for the best beginner pop-up RV trailer for several reasons.
- The 17-foot long pop-up trailer sleeps three people (realistically two adults and a child).
- Hard-sided walls make it nearly escape-proof RV for traveling pets
- Unique rear-entry design makes it feel spacious
- Included amenities like furnace, A/C, two-burner stove, and sink
- 3-way refrigerator (can run on AC shore power, LP gas, or DC house battery power)
- Option to add a air screen room for more space
- And an optional off-road package
- The best part? MSRP for a new model is about $13,000
Best 2022 pop-up RV trailer with bathroom
For many people, having a bathroom in a pop-up RV trailer is a must. But most bathrooms in pop-up tent trailers are poorly placed with minimal privacy. The on-board toilet is this unit placed in a convenient spot at the foot of the bed. A privacy curtain divides it from the rest of the camper for maximum bathroom privacy in a pop-up.
With other awesome features like the tall 80-inch interior height, large sleeping quarters and galley, heating, air conditioning, and a 20-gallon freshwater tank for bathing and cooking, the Aliner-Somerset-Grand Tour Utah is as close to a full-size travel trailer as you’re going to get in a soft-sided pop-up tent trailer.
Best off-road pop-up RV trailer
Want to ease into RVing after years of tent camping or backpacking? This is one of the best off-road pop-up RV trailers you can buy. Sure, the 6-foot 6-inch headroom is great. And we love the full outdoor kitchen, bath, and patio awning too. But suspension on the Opus OP15 Off-Road Hybrid Caravan won us over:
- Articulating hitch and galvanized steel chassis & drawbar
- Twin shock absorbers and trailing arm independent suspension for each wheel give it extra clearance for off-road adventures
- Cruisemaster DO35 hitch with 360* rotation for flexible towing
- Stone guard & diamond plated underbody anti-chip protection
Another reason to love this hybrid pop-up trailer? You can go off-grid for much longer than with most pop-ups with equipment like:
- 3 100ah AGM batteries
- 300-watt solar panel setup
- 2 x Fresh Water Tanks totaling 63 Gallons
- 17 gallon Grey Water Tank
- 10 gallon Black Water Tank
- Utility Storage w/ 6 Gallon Jerry Can Holders
- 20 lb. Gas Bottle Holders
Best 2022 pop-up RV trailer for small cars
Part glamping tent, part 840-pound ultralight pop-up RV trailer, the Sylvansport GO Camping Trailer is perfect for anyone who wants to tip their toe into RVing, without the huge weight, cost, or storage needs of typical pop-up RVs. Carry up to 960 pounds of gear, bikes and boards while in transit. Then set up camp and pop-out the tent for a 4-person base camp with a standing height of 6’ 5” and an 80” length by 116” wide. Awesome features of all bells and whistles available for this $13,995 MSRP pop-up trailer include:
- 2 bed panels
- 4 sleeping pads
- 2 table panels
- gear deck
- storage box
- tent awning
- spare tire
- hitch lock
- deck cushion
- screen room
- breezeway connector
- solar kit
- camp kitchen
The best luxury pop-up RV trailer of 2022
And now, for the most luxury pop-up trailer you can buy; the Safari Condo Alto R-Series. Part travel trailer, half pop-up RV trailer, this Canadian classic gets you into the outdoors in beautiful style and four-season pop-up tent trailer comfort.
The unique seamless aluminum roof is opened or closed with push-button electric actuators. Watch nature while you’re lounging inside with beautiful crescent-shaped tinted tempered glass windows. When it’s closed, the retractable roof is aerodynamic for a wind drag ratio 75% lower than a traditional travel trailer.
- 60″ X 76″ King size bed
- Front dining area converts to 36″ X 81″ single bed
- Dining area available even while main bed is set-up
- The table can be moved to create two distinct dining areas : a two-seat and a five-seat dinette
- Fixed flush toilet with black water tank
- Interior shower with curtain
- Storage in the toilet cabinet
- Lithium self-heated bluetooth batteries come standard (on 2025 models)
All of these luxury pop-up RV tent trailer features sound like they weight a lot. But this trailer comes in at just 1858 pounds (843 kg). It even fits inside most garages with its height of 83,5″ with the roof closed. You can’t do that with even the smallest traditional travel trailers!
The price of the Alto R-series starts at $52,000 Canadian (about $41,000 USD in 2022). Like many RV manufacturers, Safari Condo is experiencing production delays this year. But the wait is worth it, as you can see in the Safari Condo Alto walk-through.
Learn more about small pop-up RV trailers
Check out Camper Report’s many articles about pop-up trailers to find out even more about light, fun, and affordable pop-up RV trailers.