RV comfort in a lighter-weight, easy-to-tow package – that’s what a pop-up camper offers.
However, pop-up campers also have one other advantage over motorhomes: price.
In general, whether new, used, or rented, a pop-up camper will run you far less than even a low-budget RV.
So, just how much is a pop up camper?
Defining “Pop-Up Camper”
Before we get into cost comparisons, let’s take a moment to define what a pop-up camper is to ensure we’re on the same page.
Pop-up campers, sometimes called fold-out campers, are essentially a tow-behind trailer with a sleeping/living area. They differ from your standard travel trailer in that the roof can be folded down for easier towing and storage.
Pop-Up Camper Costs At A Glance
That out of the way – straight to the point. How much a pop-up camper costs ranges based on the model, age, and whether you are buying or renting.
On average, for a new pop-up camper, you can expect between $10,000-$20,000, potentially more depending on how extravagant you want to go. Used campers drop in price significantly, often more in the $2,000 to $10,000 range.
Finally, renting a pop-up camper varies by location, but is generally around $30 a night, not including insurance, deposits, and so on.
Diving Deeper: How Much Does A Pop-Up Camper Cost
Buying New: The Sticker Price
The cost of buying a new pop-up camper goes beyond the purchase price—but that’s a good place to start. As mentioned, you’re looking at between $10,000 to $20,000. Where on that price spectrum a fold-out camper will land depends on the age, brand, and, most importantly, the features.
On the low end, you’ll get standard features, usually including a:
- Small kitchenette
- Mini-fridge or freezer (some form of cold storage)
- A cooking surface (often a small camp-like stove)
Cheap pop-up campers are also generally smaller than their more expensive counterparts but are still a significant upgrade to a tent! As you move up in price, you’ll see not only more square footage but more features such as:
- Heated beds
- Air conditioning or a heater
- Shower or bath
- More cooking appliances
The Hidden Costs Of Buying New
Now that you have a rough idea of what a new pop-up camper will cost, let’s look at those costs beyond the sticker price—like maintenance, financing, and insurance.
Financing a Pop-up Camper
Most of us don’t have the cash to purchase out of pocket, which makes financing one of the first additional costs of buying a new pop-up camper.
Pop-up camper loans typically are available with up to a 20-year term and an interest rate of around 5.5% and up. Assuming you go with a standard model at $10,000, that means if you scored a low interest rate and kept the loan for the full 20 years, you’d pay over $6,500 in interest over the life of the loan.
With financing, aim for the lowest fixed rate you can find and be sure that there’s no prepayment penalty no matter how long your loan term is. Remember: the shorter the loan, the less interest you’ll pay. The same $10,000 loan at 5.5% with a 5-year term would run you just under $1,500 in interest—about ¼ what you’d pay for a 20-year term.
Pop-up Camper Insurance
Pop-up camper insurance tends to run much lower than RV insurance, but it is still a cost to consider when getting a price estimate. The cost to insure your pop-up camper will vary based on your location, chosen company, and a multitude of other factors from your credit score to the type of camper.
On average, you can expect between $200 and $400 per year or around $16-$32 per month.
Maintenance and Repairs
Fold-out campers aren’t high maintenance, but they do need to be maintained. While you may need to perform maintenance or repair tasks more often, depending on how often you use your camper, count on at least once a year.
Recommended maintenance tasks include:
- Checking the air pressure in the tires and ensuring they are road safe
- Lubricating and inspecting the cable system that raises/lowers the camper roof
- Greasing the wheel bearings
- Verifying that the tail and brake lights are functioning
- Cleaning the exhaust fan (if applicable)
If your pop-up camper also has an AC, you’ll need to change the filter, and if it has a toilet or plumbing, you’ll need to empty the tank, clean the lines, and if in a cold climate, winterize your camper. Most users find these costs, and any necessary repairs discovered during the process, are around $150 per year.
Buying A Pop-Up Camper Used
Beyond the reduced purchase price – between $2,000-$10,000 to refresh your memory – buying a used pop-up camper comes with similar costs to buying new. You will still need to insure and maintain it. However, you may be able to buy a lower-end camper in cash and avoid the financing cost.
There’s a whole slew of things to keep in mind when buying a used camper. This is why we created a dedicated guide on what to look for when buying a used pop-up camper that even includes a free checklist you can use.
As used pop-up campers are often older, you also want to consider the cost of depreciation. Fold-out campers tend to depreciate less than a new vehicle or RV, but they do lose value each year. Expect about 20% in the first year and 10% per year for around seven years after that.
Once a pop-up camper reaches that 8th birthday, depreciation usually flat-lines, and the value of your pop-up camper will hold steady.
When purchasing a used pop-up camper, be sure to check the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) value.
Costs Of Renting A Pop-Up Camper
How much it will cost to rent a pop-up camper will vary depending on where you live and the size/type of camper you choose. In most areas, prices average around $30 per night and top out around $100 per night. You also need to consider related costs beyond the nightly rate.
Some rental companies may charge additional fees such as a deposit (usually refundable), insurance, and cleaning fees. The deposit is typically between $250-$500, and rental insurance is often between 6-7% of the rental cost. Not all rental providers charge a cleaning fee, but if they do, expect $50-$100.
You can reduce your rental cost by:
- Booking online—and early
- Opting for a peer-to-peer rental
- Choosing off-season dates
- Selecting a smaller, less feature-packed model
- Rent long-term
Buying Vs. Renting A Pop-up Camper: Which Is Better?
All that said, your next question is likely whether renting or buying a pop-up camper is a better choice. Unfortunately, the answer to that question will vary from camper to camper—and by camper, we mean you!
Ask yourself how often you’ll use it, whether you have a vehicle that can handle towing a pop-up camper, and whether you’ll have to pay for a storage space.
If you camp often, have a tow-ready rig, and plenty of space to store a camper, buying – particularly in cash – is often the right option. Rental costs can add up quickly, but they are often more affordable than buying if you have to rent a vehicle and pay to store your camper. Use the information on pop-up campers above to do a little price comparison specific to your needs.
Vehicle Requirements And Storage
Pop-up campers frequently weigh-in between 1,000-3,000 pounds, so you’ll need a vehicle that can tow that much and has a tow hitch. Tow hitch installation typically ranges between $600-$1,200. You can check your VIN to determine how much weight your vehicle can tow. For pop-up campers, unless you have a small car, you’ll likely be fine—from smaller SUVs to big trucks.
If you have to rent a vehicle, keep in mind that many rental companies don’t allow towing. From those that do, you can expect a rate between $55-$150 per day. A per-mile rate may also apply.
Storage rental costs vary from about $100 a month to $400, depending on whether you choose an indoor or outdoor space or/and a heated unit. Pop-up trailers typically do just fine when stored outdoors but may fair the weather better with some form of cover or wrap.
Reducing The Cost Of Buying A Pop-Up Camper
While we already touched on ways to save money on a pop-up camper rental, you can also take some steps to reduce the cost of buying a pop-up camper. The first is to pay cash, but outside of that, you can also:
- Buy from a private dealer: Even if it isn’t an older, heavily-used camper, you’ll pay less if you buy from a private seller than a dealership.
- Shop end-of-year sales: If you do buy from a pop-up camper dealer, shop at the end of the year when they are likely trying to move this year’s models to make space for new inventory—remember to negotiate.
- Buy an older model, new: Speaking of last year’s model, if you can find one, buy an older pop-up camper new. You may be able to get high-end features at a much lower price point.
- Consider renting it out: After you’ve purchased your pop-up camper, you can rent it out when you aren’t using it and recoup your purchase price.