Converting Soft-Side Pop-Up to Hardside Panels


I, like many, was enamored with Haitus campers hard-side pop-up topper for their hardside, lightweight, still-functional-as-a-daily-bed-storage-cover camper, until the prices crept up to crazy.

Out in here in high-desert, winds can keep you up at night, especially if the canvas sides of your pop-up get flapping.

Then I got to thinking: what if you merely added some sort of flip down or flip up hard side panel to a canvas pop up? Or even some sort of stowable panel that would clip into place to added a smooth, rigid exterior to prevent canvas flap in high winds?

Anyone experiment with such ideas?


A Son of the Purple Sage
Hmmmm. Interesting idea!

If you used rigid enough foam boards for that reinforcement, they’d not only be a bit more lightweight but also they’d give you extra insulation. You could (hinge) the longest ones probably just using a good duct tape on the seams. That’d make them easier to store inside your rig.


@PHeller, DIY retrofitting existing soft-sided campers with hard walls is absolutely something that could be tackled with the right amount of testing and elbow grease. I can't speak specifically to Hiatus's design, but I've been developing a wedge style hard-sided pop-up that takes inspiration from vintage hard-sided campers. You may start with dozens of paper origami and foam-core models to suss out the initial mechanics and 'sandwich' stack of your rigid panels when closed, but I found it an invaluable exercise before starting to cut on bigger, more expensive items. Whether the walls use a simpler flip-up or more complex collapsing method, the hinging and weatherproofing are where the rubber meets the road. I've enjoyed reading folks' threads on repairing old Alaskan Campers, and there are interesting DIY examples of hard-sided pop-ups around the internet that may give you more ideas and inspiration. Also feel free to take a look at my build thread to get an idea of how I'm approaching the task. Renovations and retrofits on an existing camper are sure to offer their share of challenges, but I think you have a great idea for the skilled DIY'er.


New member
I have been thinking about this, as I would love a small pop up camper for the back of my ZR2 Colorado so that I could ski bum out of the truck and still be able to use it in the desert here in Utah. I love my RTT in the summer (except when it's windy down in the desert. I am pretty happy this was the first thread I found! WY_CC I will definitely be looking into your build!


Western Dirt Rat
I think it's totally doable and have had this thought many times. Long piano hinge on the sides, with strap that pulls the panel up into place as the roof raises, then folding panels on the ends. Your existing roof lift mechanism will dictate a lot of how this works. You could use insulated garage door panels and hack them to fit.