Lightweight pop-up campers (under 1,000 pounds) offer an excellent middle ground between RVs and ground tents – they provide more comfort and security than a tent but they are cheaper than an RV and can likely be towed with whatever vehicle you already own.
Pop-up campers do not impact your fuel mileage as badly as a full-size hard-side trailer would, and they are easier to drive with since you can often see over them in your rear-view mirror.
While there is only one pop-up camper under 1,000 pounds that’s currently being manufactured, we’ve provided a few options that can be purchased used or from dealer stock, as well as some other options that are heavier than 1,000 pounds but still very lightweight.
Weight: 840 lbs
So, what’s the best pop-up camper under 1,000 pounds?
The SylvanSport GO pop-up camper is the only one (that we’ve found in our extensive research) that weighs less than 1,000 pounds and is currently being manufactured. It’s marketed as the Swiss army knife of camping trailers, with tons of options for use. You can use this trailer to haul boats, boards, boxes, bikes, or any other type of sporting gear, or pop open the tent for a cozy little habitat.
Even the included gear list tells you how versatile this camper is: it comes with an equipment rack, crank handle, 8 frame pins, tent pod, 3 tent poles, 2 bed panels, 4 sleeping pads, 4 bed support poles, 2 table panels, a gear deck, tailgate step, tailgate bungee, storage box, 2 storage box keys, a stabilizer jack rod, and 4 ratchet straps. Whew! Just imagine what you can do with all that.
More info: sylvansport.com
Dealer Stock/Used Pop-Up Campers Under 1,000 lbs
These two options are available to purchase used or from dealer stock only, but they offer a more traditional pop-up camper feel than the SylvanSport Go.
Coachmen Clipper 9.0
Weight: 761 lbs
This tiny camper has a 54×74-inch bed, a sink, a small fridge, and an air conditioner inside. Outside, a grill mounts to the side for easy cooking. You can also opt for an add-a-room, which is basically a mesh tent portion that gives you a shaded outdoor space that’s protected from bugs.
This is essentially a sleeping pod with a small space to stand up and get dressed, but it’s impressive that it includes any kitchen amenities at all – running water is such a luxury when you’re camping. This camper is available from dealer stock only, which means that you can still buy it new, but you will be limited to whatever configurations the dealer has on hand.
Once the in-stock units are all sold, they will only be available to purchase second-hand.
More info: coachmenrv.com
Livin’ Lite Quicksilver 6.0
Weight: 750 lbs
This camper is only available used, and it is extremely bare-bones. The camper folds open sideways, with a couch, table, and air conditioner on the trailer base and a 60×78-inch bed in the fold-out area. This is a great budget option, although it doesn’t have any kind of kitchen or bathroom facilities.
More info: rvtrader.com
Pop-Up Campers Over 1,000 lbs (But Still Very Lightweight)
Next, we’ve got four pop-up camper options that are over 1,000 pounds, but they are still very lightweight and can be towed by most vehicles.
Coachmen Clipper Express 9.0TD
Weight: 1,418 lbs
This camper has a bed, a small fridge, a furnace, a radio, a bench seat, some counter space, a table that stores under the bed, and an exterior grill. There’s also a small gear rack on the roof, large mesh windows to provide airflow and natural light, and exterior storage compartments.
More info: coachmenrv.com
Aliner Scout Lite
Weight: 1,180 lbs
This tiny A-frame pop-up camper has a dinette that converts to a 40×76-inch bed as well as a 30×76-inch bunk. It comes with a sink and storage space throughout, and you can opt to upgrade to a soft front dormer for some extra headroom and/or to include an air conditioner/heat pump.
The camper has a solar port so you can add panels to power the three indoor outlets and LED running lights. It also comes with a diamond plate rock guard and a full-size spare tire on a carrier.
More info: aliner.com
Livin’ Lite Quicksilver 8.0
Weight: 1,200 lbs
This trailer is both over 1,000 pounds and only available used, but it can sleep up to six people so it’s an excellent option if you have a larger family. It comes with a sink, stove, propane heater, lights, USB and standard outlets, and an indoor/outdoor table. There are two queen beds that fold out and a dinette that converts to a full bed.
More info: rvtrader.com
Black Series Sergeant
Weight: 1,777 lbs
This camper is relatively heavy compared to the rest of the list, but it is a perfect lightweight solution for off-roaders or overlanders. It essentially folds out into a massive tent with multiple rooms and a covered outdoor space for true indoor/outdoor living even in the backcountry. This trailer can stand up to the most rugged terrain conditions with no trouble.
More info: blackseriescamper.com
How To Choose an Ultralight Pop-Up Camper
Choosing a pop-up camper larger depends on where you’ll be going and who you’ll be going with. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down your options:
What’s Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity?
All of the pop-up campers on this list are extremely lightweight and can be pulled by almost any vehicle. But, it’s still a good idea to check the owner’s manual of your vehicle to ensure that it’s rated to tow.
Keep in mind that all the weights on this list are empty weights, so packing up your trailer with water, propane, food, gear, and other supplies can easily add a couple hundred pounds. And, of course, your vehicle will need to already have a tow hitch or you’ll need to have one installed.
Even if your vehicle is rated to tow 1,500 pounds, that doesn’t mean you should load it up to the maximum. Staying at least a couple hundred pounds under the limit will help your vehicle handle better and brake and accelerate faster.
How Many People Will Be Sleeping in the Camper?
Of course, you’ll likely want to choose a camper that can sleep your whole family, or make plans to bring along a ground tent or a roof top tent to sleep additional campers. Many pop-up campers have storage areas where you can pack tents, air mattresses, and extra bedding to make this easier.
This also depends on how cozy you want to get – some campers can sleep four people according to the manufacturer, but will that be comfortable for your family? Be sure to evaluate this and try to see the camper in person before you purchase it whenever possible.
Do You Need a Bathroom?
Ah, the eternal question of whether a bathroom is necessary in a camper or RV. This depends a lot on where you will be camping and whether you are comfortable using public restrooms or just going outside. If you plan to camp only at organized campgrounds with bathroom facilities, you likely don’t need to sacrifice the interior space necessary for a bathroom.
But, if you’ll be boondocking with other people around and no bushes or trees in sight, a toilet of some kind will make life much easier. This can be as simple as a portapotty that you stash inside a privacy tent, or one that pulls out inside the camper. Or, you can be fancy and opt for a shower and toilet in the camper itself.
Do You Need Off-Road Capability?
Your standard pop-up camper will not hold up to the rough terrain of an off-road trip, although there are some pop-up campers built specifically for that purpose, like the Black Series Sergeant. This type of trailer will have heavy-duty construction, off-road tires, and beefy suspension to help it survive trail abuse.
More traditional pop-up campers are likely to be completely destroyed if you take them off-road. Think broken axles, cracks that create leaks, scratches and other damage to the exterior, etc.
Do You Need Heat?
For three-season camping in moderate climates, you likely won’t need heat in your pop-up camper unless you are extremely susceptible to cold. In most cases, cozy PJs and warm bedding will be more than enough to keep you comfortable through cold nights.
But, if you plan to camp in the winter or at high elevation, a heater may be necessary to stay comfortable at night and to prevent your plumbing from freezing up if your camper has any. Nothing ruins a trip faster than a plumbing disaster!
Although we only have one sub-1,000-pound camper on here that you can buy new, it’s worth considering a used or dealer stock pop-up camper, especially if you only camp a few times per year. The value of any kind of camper drops significantly as soon as you tow it off the lot, and some can be quite expensive to purchase new. A used camper that’s been well cared for can be an excellent bargain option!
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Cat is originally from Seattle, WA but has traveled around the US and Canada full-time in a self-converted school bus with her boyfriend Aaron since April of 2018. She enjoys rock climbing, paddleboarding, hiking, and generally being outdoors!