Pop-up vs anything else

spicyrt

New member
I’ve got possibility paralysis, trying to decide on direction for a new camper. Since I’m posting here, Im currently drinking the pop-up cool aid and particularly attracted to the AT Summit, GFC, Hiatus, and similar. Convince me to stay here?

In the past year, I’ve gone from wanting a van to slide-in truck camper to cargo trailer back to van and now onto lightweight pop-up.

I live on the east coast and want a four season rig (with plenty of real winter time), easy camp setup and down, ample gear storage for ski, bike, or climb. Comfortable enough for Ms Spicy to hang for a day with a laptop and the dog, and also driveable as a primary vehicle. Mostly a weekend warrior, with a small number of longer trips throughout the year. Bonus for different bed configurations when solo camping vs camping vs sausage camping. I also don’t want to spend much of my own time on a build — ideally I’m camping in the next 2-3months — though I’m willing to pay for quality, fast work.

oh I also need a new vehicle in the next 2 months, so I’m not tied to any particular platform right now. Options are wide open.

Torn between a short wheelbase van with plan to buy a build kit (adventure wagon Moab bed). Or buy a mid-size truck (taco or new ranger) and start searching for a popup.

So - should I just go get the truck?
 

grogie

Like to Camp
I hear you as it’s not an easy decision! I recently bought a Tacoma for a second build. I’ve been driving a Jeep TJ with a box trailer and RTT. The setup will go a lot of places, but the wife and I are tired of no where to go to get out of the weather, along with no heat!

The issue I have with most popup campers is they’re not easy to remove, and like with a GFC on my Tacoma, it won’t fit in my garage. Plus you’re crawling over the tailgate to get in and out on a lot of them.

I like the idea of a FWC Fleet due that it can be removed and nice size bed, place to hang out, and enclosed (so no dust issues since pickup beds are not designed to be air/water tight). But of course there is the weight issue! FWC does also have their new Project M that too can be removed easier (as it has attachments for corner lifts), which I’m keeping an eye on, and it's currently my favorite, and second would be the Vagabond as I like the bed slide setup it has over the GFC and AT Summit.

My other thought is an off-road teardrop trailer like a Bean that has a kitchen on the back, enclosed bed to hangout/ sleep, and heat, or something similar that is built for off-road. I tell myself that it would be much easier to just hook up to a trailer that is always ready to go for those long weekends, and being able to drop it at a campsite and not carry everything with you on rough trails. But of course you’re towing a trailer which has plenty of considerations to it, especially off-road.

I’m personally not a fan of vans. I was looking at full-size trucks too, which for payload they have their benefits, but I just didn’t want to drive a larger truck. I also went with the Tacoma Access Cab for the longer 6 ft. bed and I just didn’t need back seats. The Access Cab’s rear axle is also further back in the bed vs. where the axle sits in with a 5 ft. bed. I also looked at the Gladiator, however longterm build quality is probably better with the Tacoma. :)
 

LandCruiserPhil

Expedition Leader
Recently went through this.
If its important for your partner to go and be happy then you need to ask the question. What are the top 4 things that are most important in our new travel vehicle?

Our/her solution - https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/ramcruiser-the-build.213953/
Many build changes are taken place but this our base.

I have been lucky to travel and camp out of several cabin style trucks and offroad trailers over the years and so far very happy with our/her choice.
 

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Cummins_expo

Adventurer
Your 2-3 month goal might be difficult to hit because of manufacturers lead times. But lets assume you can get any the above....
I currently own a 4x4 Sprinter, Dodge 2500 and 4 wheel camper, and previously an AT Summit. They all have positives and negatives. Van will give you the closest to 4 seasons if you build it out with good insulation and heating. But you might be limited into what "trails" you take your van.
AT Summit or similar will give you the most "off roadable" platform but you will have much smaller living space. Just be sure to get a truck that has payload to spare, not the other way around. Plan to spend more time outside then in.

A FWC is a close happy medium because you can do some off-roading and remove the camper when you need a truck or don't have any adventures planned.

The Summit, GFC, Vagabon etc. are not that easy to remove so you probably never will.

The real questions are - What type of adventures do you want to get into ? Whats your budget?
 

Rando

Explorer
I live on the east coast and want a four season rig (with plenty of real winter time), easy camp setup and down, ample gear storage for ski, bike, or climb. Comfortable enough for Ms Spicy to hang for a day with a laptop and the dog, and also driveable as a primary vehicle. Mostly a weekend warrior, with a small number of longer trips throughout the year. Bonus for different bed configurations when solo camping vs camping vs sausage camping. I also don’t want to spend much of my own time on a build — ideally I’m camping in the next 2-3months — though I’m willing to pay for quality, fast work.
You should get a van.

None of the pop ups are really great in the winter. We use our FWC flatbed in the winter, and it works, but is not ideal. It is not really insulated so the heater runs a lot, condensation is an issue and the temperature is not very even. The GFC and other hinged popups would be even worse - not very comfortable for a day with the laptop.

On the east coast there is much less need for four wheel drive and clearance. A well built van conversion with winter tires has many advantages, hard walls that can be insulated, zero setup/take down, easy access through the sliding door (no tailgate crawl, no hobbit door), easy storage for bikes/skis/toys and likely no payload issues. You can start simple and just get a bed for the van to start with for this summer, then add on as you figure how you actually use it.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I have the shorty Ecoboost Transit and love it, we wheel some pretty tough trails here in the desert southwest.
With a Sportsmobile Poptop I get the best of all worlds, however if I did more winter camping I would get the mid roof, not as tall as a high but plenty of room to move around.
And with the 270 degree awning from 23Zero the useable outside space is huge, my van disappears behind the awning/walls :)
 

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Any soft-sided popup will be miserable for serious cold weather. they are moisture traps. those who claim they work OK for them just don't want to admit they made a mistake. If the vinyl is wet on the outside and then freezes, can't drop the top until it melts, so must have a good furnace to do that. I have read on this site reports that the optional Arctic Pak helps a bit, but also traps mosture between it and the vinyl -one guy recently posted he couldnt get rid of the condensation until he got home to a warmer climate. The hard-sided Alaskans are something to look into. I have the FWC Fleet and would never consider more than 2-3 nights below 28F
 

LandCruiserPhil

Expedition Leader
Any soft-sided popup will be miserable for serious cold weather. they are moisture traps. those who claim they work OK for them just don't want to admit they made a mistake. If the vinyl is wet on the outside and then freezes, can't drop the top until it melts, so must have a good furnace to do that. I have read on this site reports that the optional Arctic Pak helps a bit, but also traps mosture between it and the vinyl -one guy recently posted he couldnt get rid of the condensation until he got home to a warmer climate. The hard-sided Alaskans are something to look into. I have the FWC Fleet and would never consider more than 2-3 nights below 28F
Forced air heater promotes condensation whereas an air exchange heater will not and will provide much more comfortable heat. But I do agree a soft side camper would not be a top choice for consistent below freezing temps.
 

whwv

Observer
I went through this myself. I had a FWC Eagle on my Tacoma which I loved, but we ended up switching to a Sprinter. I had ~150 nights in the FWC and am at ~100 nights in the Sprinter. As people mentioned above, it definitely depends on how you are planning on using it.

The biggest reason we switched was trying to manage the pop-up. Nothing like waking up with a foot of snow on the roof or trying to raise the roof with broken ribs on a mountain bike road trip gone bad. Yes, you can manage the snow on the roof with a ladder and there are some solutions like a modified speaker stand to assist with lifting the roof, but dealing with the snow was just too much. We never had a problem with keeping it warm in the winter, but that's a west coast winter. Coldest we camped at was -15F and the heater had no problem keeping up, although condensation was a problem.

Our 4x4 Sprinter can't get to all the same off-road spots as the Tacoma/FWC setup, but it can get to enough of them. I wouldn't have switched to the van if it wasn't for dealing with the snow, but now that I have, I couldn't go back to a pop-up. It's so convenient to just pull over on a road trip to make lunch without getting out of the van or being able to reach behind the seat and easily grab a soda from the fridge. And now that I have a 6 month old, having easy immediate access to the fridge, stove, and sink is a game changer.
 

Rando

Explorer
Forced air heater promotes condensation whereas an air exchange heater will not and will provide much more comfortable heat. But I do agree a soft side camper would not be a top choice for consistent below freezing temps.
I am not sure I understand the difference between forced air heat and air exchange heat? Can you give some examples?
 

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
Done all of it. Loved my old Westy and its convenience. But vans can't haul anything while preserving their convenience advantages. Also don't have the dual use of work and play. Soft pop-ups are great but they don't have two of the biggest advantages of sleeping "inside": quiet and heat/cold retention. The ideal would be a modern hard side pop up. Alas, you have to make your own. Alaskans are nice but the design/engineering is 60 years old at this point.
 

Rando

Explorer
There are some van configurations that still allow you to haul at least some gear (bikes/backpacks etc). Otherwise you can use a hitch rack, same as you would need with a truck camper. Hitch racks are usually more inconvenient with a truck camper then a van because they block the only door (unless you have a side entry flatbed):



From: https://faroutride.com/platform-bed-installation/
 

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LandCruiserPhil

Expedition Leader
I am not sure I understand the difference between forced air heat and air exchange heat? Can you give some examples?
My terminology may be wrong the heaters I speak of are found in most high-end truck cabins and boats.

Webasto
Propex
Planar
Isotherm
 

Rando

Explorer
I guess I would call those 'forced air heat' as well. As far as I know, the only heating option that has any impact on humidity/condensation is using an unvented heater (Wave 3/6 or Buddy Heater are two common examples) which add significant moisture and thus condensation to the camper. All the other heaters (Propex, Webasto, Chinese diesel heater, Attwood RV stye furnace) are the same w.r.t condensation, they heat the air but don't add or remove any moisture.

Apologies for the thread drift.
 
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