Travel Trailers vs Pop-up Tent Trailers: Advantages and Drawbacks of Both Options

travel trailer vs tent trailer BEGINNER INFO

In case the time for this tough decision has come for you, my advice is to take your time. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad one, but the opportunities of travel trailers are many.

Therefore, you can either make up your mind by having a variety to choose from, or get confused because of that same variety.

Moreover, before we proceed to talk about two options of hard side trailers and pop-ups, I want to make your search process easier (or harder for certain people) by mentioning the third option of hybrid trailers.

I will talk about this third option as well, but the main emphasis will be on the different characteristics of the two main choices.

travel trailer vs tent trailer

First of all, tastes and preferences vary. Therefore, I cannot say that the option A is perfect; meanwhile the second one has too many disadvantages. No! Each has its place in the people’s lives who have corresponding expectations from their campers.

The true camping experience with both options

It is a known fact that people used to go camping with pop-ups way before the hard trailers were invented. Therefore, for the true camping experience sake, pop-ups are much more appropriate.

Travel trailers hardly ever provide that experience. With this option, you will not feel as if in the nature.

Moreover, you are limited to the number of windows you have on the trailer. Therefore, the fresh air breeze will not be a pleasant memory from your camping experience.

travel trailer

Meanwhile, pop-ups allow you to open the whole canvas and enjoy your true camping experience.

However, if this is the only issue that you are encountering with, then the hybrid options are great. Nonetheless, this issue comes up only when you are inside the trailer and doing activities inside.

Storing your trailer

If you are living, like I am, in an area where parking your trailers on your yard is not allowed, then you will have to pay a trailer park to store the trailer when not using it.

Meanwhile, pop-ups are great for such problems. They are way too compact. Nobody will ever notice that you are keeping a pop-up in your yard.

I have a friend who even managed to store her pop-up in the garage. She wanted to keep the tent safe from rains.

Moreover, pop-up tents will save you time from having to drive to the trailer storage park to pick up the trailer.


A traditional travel trailer is like a mini hotel or a house when camping. This means that you and whoever is with you in the trailer will not be affected by any weather changes, such as rain. The hard canvas will keep you all dry and comfy.

Tent trailers are not that bad when it comes to protecting from rain. The only issue is that the canvas does condensate water.

If you keep the bed near the edges of the tent, they will definitely get wet. However, the problem is easily avoidable by keeping whatever you are afraid might get wet away from the corners.

Of course, the canvas of your tent trailer will be wet and you will have to dry it out before packing it up. If you pack it up wet, there is a big possibility of mold forming on the material. This will affect the future usability of the trailer.

Travel trailers are heavier

Well, there is no secret that pop-ups are much lighter in weight that trailers. Moreover, trailers, most of the time, are twice as heavier than pop-ups. I was once feeling advantageous and was able to drag my pop-up trailer with a van.

You might think that tent trailers are lightweight solely because of the canvas. However, the wooden floors and other boards of the regular trailers add more weight.

Additionally, tent trailers’ light weight has another advantage to itself. Since there is no need for a toeing truck, you simply use your van, which gives room for additional passengers.

tent trailer

I always use the back seats and the extra seats for my friends and family members who want to go camping with me.

With a toeing truck for my regular trailer, I was never able to enjoy the company of more than 3 people on the way to the camping areas.

Correct placement of the trailers in camping zones

I have always had problems with my trailer trailers in camping areas when having to find the perfect spot to settle. If we are talking about areas, where there are no trees, then this problem is nonexistent.

However, big trees have always been my worst nightmares when camping with my travel trailer. Having to move such a large vehicle, there are many ways to go wrong: bump into a tree, scratch the trailer with branches and so on.

Moreover, tent trailers are much more compact. Therefore, when toeing one, you can easily see whatever is behind or above it.

However, certain manufacturers have decided to make our lives easier by installing back up cameras on their RVs. If this is not the case, then most travel trailer owners get a camera and install it.

However, if the RV is quite large, the problems with views still occur.

Setting up and packing both trailer options

Regular trailers are a definite win for this point. Since there is really no need to fold or unfold the trailer, you can easily leave anything you want inside the camper.

This allows you to save time on packing and unpacking. You can have those extra hours for your sleep or anything else, really.

When you are using a tent trailer, I guarantee form my own experience that you will spend at least a couple hours on checklist of items to bring with you on the campsite.

Moreover, you will lose the same amount of time on setting everything up, as well as packing it up. In short, it requires too much time.

Additionally, regular trailers have much more capacity. This serves as additional storage space, which does not require constant setting up. If you go to campgrounds often, you can easily feel free to keep everything you need inside the trailer.

For most people this feature is a game changer. Many prefer going for short weekend trips rather than long camping. Therefore, it is preferable for them not to spend too much time on packing for just two days.

Currently, I have a tent trailer. This disadvantage is the most striking one for me. I wish I never had to set up every time I go camping.

Comparing prices

I really do not think that there is any need to mention that you will pay at least twice as less for a tent trailer than for a regular one.

The prices do vary drastically. Therefore, you need to make sure you are investing in the trailer you really need and like.

My advice is to look for used models. There are multiple portals for such sales. The most common one is Craigslist.

Moreover, you should remember the insurance rates as well. In the case of tent trailers, the insurance cost will be much less than for a regular trailer.

Bathroom issue

Regular trailers do not have any problems with the bathroom. The majority of models come with bathrooms.

However, in the case of tent trailers not every manufacturer makes their products with bathrooms. The ones that do have bathrooms and showers, the privacy is limited to a curtain.

I can tell from my own experience that it is not a bad idea to go to the public bathrooms of the campgrounds.

Security of your trailer

Travel trailers offer more security than tent trailers. You have the luxury of simply locking up the door and going to sleep, as well as leaving the trailer to go for a walk.

It is really not that often that people go and rob others on campgrounds. However, small and sometimes mid-size animals do manage to get inside of the tent trailers.

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Andy Fisher

Campers Mag is the website where I will share a lot of information about my experience, trailer, and things, that will help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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