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post #1 of 17 Old 11-13-2010, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Pop up camper recommendations.

We were recently thinking of getting a pop up camper to tow behind the Jeep. I've got an '07 JKU sahara with the tow package. Any good recommendations or things to look for? It's basically for my wife and I along with our two elementary school aged kids. Doing mostly short 2 to 4 day trips.


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post #2 of 17 Old 11-13-2010, 06:27 PM
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I had an older Jayco 10ft pop up for 3 years but it was too small for my family. This past summer we found a 2006 Fleetwood Williamsburg and are really happy with it. We've got 2 kids as well and this setup works well for us. I think it weighs in around 2500lbs. I have not towed it with the JK yet but once I can re-gear I will use the JK to tow it.
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post #3 of 17 Old 11-14-2010, 07:57 PM
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Check out Quicksilver, It is all alumium with marine. It only weighs 600 to 800 lbs.

2014 Rubicon on the build!
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post #4 of 17 Old 11-15-2010, 09:42 AM
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We've got an 09 Coleman Taos 8', pulls great behind me w/ 6spd and 3.73s. It isn't huge though... We had a 10' prior and it had a lot more space, but harder to tow. ( it was1981 though and heavy!) the 8' is enough for our family of 4 and dog.

Check out craigslist....We got the new one for $2500 and sold the old one for $900. There are alot of choices out there.


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post #5 of 17 Old 11-16-2010, 03:17 PM
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JK's and pop-ups are a great combo.

On the technical side, look for either the "dry" weight or "curb" weight of the camper. This should be listed on the RVDA sticker somewhere on the vehicle. Dry weight is the lightest weight of the camper without you adding anything to it. Curb weight is the weight of the camper with things like you filling the water tank (if equipped). The JK has a tow rating of 3,500 lbs; however, if you attached a 3,500 lb trailer to your Jeep and then throw a cooler, some misc. gear, and your family into your Jeep you will not like the results.

I have an 08 JKU Rubicon with the tow package and my camper has a dry weight of 1,689 lbs. With all of my gear, myself, and a passenger or two, it tow just fine most places. Where it brings the suck is going up grades in the mountains. At 7% I have a hard time maintaining 35 mph.

For what you are describing as a requirement, I would use 2,000 lbs or less dry weight as a good rule of thumb. Luckily there are plenty of pop-ups in this range.

The first thing I would consider in the floor plan of the camper would be sleeping arrangements. Our camper has a queen bed at one end and the next size down at the other, a dining table that turns into a bed of the same (second) size and another table that turn into a small bed. With two young kids you could probably get by with just the two end beds but having a third bed would be convenient for when they get older or they bring friends along.

Next, having a heater is a big convenience. Even in warmer parts of the country it can still get cold in the middle of the night. Setting the heater at 60 really takes the edge off the air and makes for a comfortable nights sleep when it's below 40 outside. A heater will also require a source of electricity.

Most campers will have at least a 12V system. Having a power converter is nice also. This will allow you to take advantage of a 110V power source if available in the campground. I use the largest marine battery from Walmart on my camper. Mine has lasted been on my camper for 6 years now and is still going strong. Not bad for a $65 battery. If we don't run the interior lights all night long, we can get through a 4 day weekend even with the heater running at night.

Propane is another thing to consider. Most campers will have at least a single bottle system. Our camper came with a single bottle and I upgraded it to a 2 bottle system. With a propane refer, heating, cooking, and dish-washing (heating hater) we can through almost an entire week.

Many campers come with small refrigerators these days. Our camper has a 3-way fridge. This means it will run on 12V, 110V, and propane. If we are at a campground that has power hook ups I will run it on 110V. If we need the fridge and don't have 110V power available, I use propane. It actually works pretty good on propane. I never use it on 12V. It doesn't get as cold and it drains the battery way too fast.

Most campers come with a water storage tank but a lot of them do not have a water heater. Our camper is this way. We never use the water tank. We just fill a 5 gallon plastic jug at the campground. I'm considering installing a small 12V pump in the camper's system but I will also want to put a faucet on the outside of the camper. (We do almost all of our cooking and cleaning outside of the camper.) I am currently using a Zodi portable water heater. We used to heat our water on the stove in a coffee pot. If you can find a camper that has a water heater, it would be convenient but I don't consider it necessary.

Most campers do not come with air conditioners. Many have hook ups but you have to pay extra for the air conditioner itself. I know some people consider these necessary but I don't. Without a source of 110V power they are kind of pointless anyway. People who run a noisy generator all day just piss me off and I don't want to be like them so I don't think I'll have A/C for my camper anytime soon.

I second the craigslist suggestion. We got our camper for about $3K.

One of the better items I bought was a mini sway-control set up. My Jeep actually rides and controls better at 75 mph while towing than when I'm not thanks to it.

Camping stuff I use that makes my life easier (these are just links so you can see the items, you might be able to find the products cheaper elsewhere):
Sway Control:
http://www.cabelas.com/product/Valle...t=sway+control
Outdoor Stove:
http://www.cabelas.com/fryprod2-1/72...:referralID=NA
There is a grill box available for this stove that is great to have also.
Outdoor Camp Kitchen:
http://www.cabelas.com/product/Campi..._SEQ_104248980
There are lots of outdoor kitchen available. This is where we do our dishes as well as food prep.
Portable Water Heater:
http://www.cabelas.com/product/Zodi-...y%3D0&Ntt=zodi
This is new to me and I'm still messing with it to get it dialed in.

Last but not least, my camper:
Original Set Up:

New Set Up:

Quote:
Originally Posted by StubEXrube View Post
I can taste your meat from all the way up here.
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post #6 of 17 Old 11-16-2010, 05:27 PM
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great info fnc, i appreciate it
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-16-2010, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LS6TT View Post
great info fnc, i appreciate it
Yeah, great stuff. Lots of stuff to think about now.


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post #8 of 17 Old 11-24-2010, 11:01 AM
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I Have a 1998 Starcraft 1224. It has a cassette toliet and A/C. Two items that were deal breakers for my wife. My Jk tows it great. I have the 4.10 gears. I'm use to camping in a 25Ft Travel Trailer. I honestly believe I have more room in this popup than I did in my trailer. Perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids. Price was right too, Picked it up on Craigslist for $3000.
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-05-2010, 12:10 AM
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Just remember Pop-ups are for summer only !! Here in michigan we have some pretty hard winters and we used to use ours for hunting and it was pretty rough , those slide out beds get really cold when its 15 degrees outside , lol , also if you plan on doing any trail riding with your Jeep and not staying at camp sights , make sure you at least get the cabinet with the porta potty in it, you will thank me !! Also research the companies that makes them because there are some companies that are making pop-ups that look great with a real nice price but they fall apart fast !! One more thing try to find one with a retractable awning , for both sun and rain !! Good Luck , they can be a lot of fun !!

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post #10 of 17 Old 12-05-2010, 01:36 PM
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We have a 2006 Starcraft 11(RT). We pulled it to South Dakota year before last with the Rubi on 33's. It pulled ok. Used quite a bit of gas, but that was expected. Since then we have pulled it a couple times with the 35's. Made a big difference. Will have to go to 5.13's or 5.38's if we decide to pull it very far in the future.

The 11(RT) is a decent sized pop-up (not sure of the dry weight), and fits a family of four comfortably. It has the 31" tires for Rough Terrain. Self contained, with inside and outside showers, toilet, stove, sink etc. You should check them out. We bought ours new in 2006, and paid 10K. We have been very happy with it!

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post #11 of 17 Old 12-05-2010, 08:20 PM
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Another recommendation for checking out Craigslist. I bought a 1991 Coleman Roanoke in 2005 for $900 off Craiglist. It was is great condition, and we used it extensively for two years before the my kids got too big for it. If you're patient, you'll find a good selection of older pop-ups for $1,000 to $4,000 on Craigslist, then its just a matter of finding one you like in decent shape.



Then I sold it for $1,200 two years later on Craigslist. Upgraded to a 21' Hybrid, which is like an apartment on wheels: full slide, sleeps up to 8. Unfortunately, at 5,000 Lbs GVWC, too heavy for the JK and the kids are grown so it's getting sold. Now I'm building my own teardrop-type camper on a 4x8 trailer platform. But never buy a new camper -- a used one off of Craiglist or even eBay will save you a ton of money, and many are infrequently used so they're in great shape.

Some things you need to consider when looking for a camper:
  • Towing capacity: 3,500 for the 4-door, only 2,000 for a 2-door. That's trailer + gear. Rule of thumb is to try and stay 20% under the max.
  • Length: 8, 10, 12 or longer. Longer=Heavier, and more sway potential, but also more space inside.
  • Sleeping Areas: Aside from the front and rear tent/bunk ends, which are usually 48" or 60" by 74", the dinette converts into a bed. But on smaller pop-ups, the dinette sleeping area will usually be less than 74" long, making it suitable only for smaller children. This is a concern if your kids are old enough to not want to sleep together. Also, my experience is the kids always want to bring a friend or cousin.
  • Bathroom or Not: Most people who have a bathroom in their Pop-Up only use it for peeing unless no other options are available. The smell and humidity are uncomfortable. A bathroom adds considerable cost and weight while taking up lots of space. If you're mostly going to stay at campsites with bathroom facilities, having one in the pop-up is unnecessary. Even when boondocking, most use a porta-potty (bag, bucket or cassette version) with a privacy tent for toilet needs, and the pop-up's external shower or a portable water heater (Zodi, Coleman) for showering and dish washing.
  • Kitchen: Pop-up owners rarely cook in their camper, so the stove should be able to be relocated to an outside mounting point. A 3-way refrigerator is good for storing food and condiments, running on 12V/DC while in motion, and either propane (LP) or 120V/AC (if available) while stopped. Cabinet space for storage is always important, but counter space isn't usually a big requirement. All will have a small sink with either a hand or electric pump. A hot water heater is convenient (particularly with an outside shower), but again, you can use a portable water heater instead.
  • Storage: This is the weak point for pop-ups. Aside from the kitchen cabinets and storage under the dinette benches, your inside storage will be in bins stacked on the floor. An outside trunk is a great feature, or at least a small platform on which you can strap additional items. But don't get carried away on the platform size, as this will add considerable weight and length (sway potential) to the camper.
  • Awnings: One awning is normally included. I had a second awning on the other side of the camper, which is where I'd setup my dining area for protection from the rain and sun, leaving the primary awning to cover my lounging and cooking area.
  • Screen Room/Add-a-Room: These attach to your awning to provide more space, but take a lot of time and effort to setup and pack, and a lot of storage space. Unless you plan on staying put for several days, I find it's not worth the effort. A couple of Off Bug Lanterns always did the trick for me in repelling mosquitoes and other flying insects.
  • Heat: Here in the Northeast, unless you're sticking to in-season camping, a furnace is a good idea. We also used a furnace in June/July while camping in South Dakota and Wyoming. Depending on where you plan to travel, it might not be a necessity.
  • Air Conditioning: This is a mixed bag. We couldn't have survived in some places without Air Conditioning. But RV units are prone to freezing-up if run hard, and of course they need 120V/AC, either from campsite-provided hook-ups or a 3000W or larger generator. Some people have modified their pop-up to hang a small residential window air conditioner off the side, feeding it through a small, custom opening in a window, so they can bring and use it only when necessary.
  • Always check the roof inside and out for leaks, the floor for soft spots, the roof lifting mechanism, and the outside walls for any bubbles or ripples that indicate delamination of the fiberglass. Also use your nose -- check for bad odors before you buy a stinkbomb.

You can put roof bars and a Thule or Yakima storage pod on top of the pop-up to hold your clothing while in motion, as well as some bicycles or a canoe/kayak, if you use a narrow pod. You can also attach a rear hitch receiver for a bicycle rack, which is also handy for carrying folding chairs.

If you like to listen to music, get a pop-up with a built-in radio/cd-player or add one yourself, along with some marine exterior speakers. This will save you time on setup. Also, add some 120V/AC and 12V/DC jacks to the outside of your camper if they aren't there already, so you're not running extension cords all over the place.

Forget about those RV-specific BBQ grills. While they will hang nicely on your pop-up and run off the low-pressure regulated propane supply, they are overpriced and don't put out much heat. Instead, get a Coleman RoadTrip grill and T-off a long hose from your propane canister (before the regulator) to run it. Way more cooking heat. Add a griddle accessory to use the RoadTrip for pancakes and eggs. Note: Don't try to put a standard griddle or pot over the RoadTrip's BBQ grate -- the grate is aluminum and will melt. Don't ask me how I know that.

Reserve your fridge for food, milk and condiments. Keep water, soda and beer in a separate cooler outside the camper. Or you can splurge on one of those ARB 12V/DC refrigerators (you know you covet them ).

Some pop-up owners make custom-fit blankets out of foil-faced bubble insulation to cover their tent ends. This helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter (though your campground neighbors might think you're weird). You can get them with white foil instead of silver -- slightly less effective, but your pop-up won't look like a huge baked potato.

Consider flipping the axle for more ground clearance if you're going to boondock in rougher country. Also consider upgrading to dual propane tanks and batteries. Use standard 20-Lb propane tanks, they are the easiest to deal with as many places only replace tanks instead of refilling them these days. If the pop-up comes with a flat-4-pin trailer wiring connector, you can replace this with a round-7-pin and wire it up to supply the pop-up with 12V/DC from the Jeep while connected.

Thats all I can think of at the minute.

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post #12 of 17 Old 12-05-2010, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Lot's of good stuff there. We've been looking on CL but nothing has really looked that great yet. Luckily I'm not in a huge hurry so I'll just take my time until I get the right one. New is NOT in the budget. That would put waaay too much of a dent on the Jeep mods.
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post #13 of 17 Old 12-15-2010, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooter_Trash View Post
Lot's of good stuff there. We've been looking on CL but nothing has really looked that great yet. Luckily I'm not in a huge hurry so I'll just take my time until I get the right one. New is NOT in the budget. That would put waaay too much of a dent on the Jeep mods.
Be patient. RV sales drop significantly in the late Fall and don't pick up again until mid-Spring.

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post #14 of 17 Old 12-16-2010, 10:52 AM
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We purchased a '04 Starcraft 10RT last summer. I found it at a dealer that sells big fifth wheels. Told them I wouldn't pay more than NADA (which was about $3k less than they were asking) and they agreed. I think it had been sitting around for a while. Here in CO pop-ups are way overpriced in the summer. Most I have seen go for more used then the retail price when new. Fall and winter is the best time to buy.

As for towing, I knew the JK wouldn't do well, but I didn't expect it to be as bad as it was. Since mine is rated for 3500 lbs., I thought it would be ok to tow 2200 lbs., the loaded weight of the trailer. I was wrong. It handled the sway ok with the long wheelbase (the tongue weight was a bit off the first time I towed it), but it definitely is lacking in power. I have an auto Rubi with 4.10 gears, stock tires, and the max speed I could do in the mountains up the steepest climbs was 35 mph in first gear almost redlining it. The speed limit is 65. Needless to say I was in the right lane with the semis.

My advice is if you are planning to tow in the mountains is get the lightest trailer you can, and plan on not being able to go the speed limit. Here's mine:



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post #15 of 17 Old 12-16-2010, 11:23 AM
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I picked up a 2009 Coleman Utah (12' with a slide out) this summer. It's great, family loves it, especially the kids. I have two of my own, ages 4 and 7 and this will have plenty of room if they want to bring friends with us on future trips. Its a big one and heavy but the Jeep had no problems pulling it this year.
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post #16 of 17 Old 08-12-2015, 06:36 AM
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Do you have a JK or JKU? I have a JK with 3.73 gears and I just bought a 96 Starcraft 1224. I'll be towing it this weekend and I'm a bit nervous if my JK will be able to handle it. I'm seeing JK max tow capacity is 2000lbs where JKU is 3500. Thoughts on this?
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post #17 of 17 Old 08-14-2015, 07:59 AM
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I'm curious how the 2 door guys are doing towing. I've got an '09 2 door with 5.13s and 35s (soon to be 37s) and I normally tow a little 4x8 utility trailer. I bought a little rzr clone for my girls and it takes up the entire trailer now. I'm considering a few options.
5x8 enclosed to haul the buggy and camp in... Kinda like a toyhauler teardrop.
5x14 and build an enclosure in the front to camp in and keep the buggy on the back. I think this will be too much trailer for my jeep though.
5x10 utility and adding a roof top tent to it.

Anyone gone those routes?
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