Pop-up campers are an excellent pull-behind camper for a variety of reasons. They are typically not heavy or tall, especially when they are in a collapsed position. Additionally, they can be quite affordable and easily stored. However, due to their unique characteristics, they are not usually well insulated.
Insulation can be a requirement not just for winter, but for summer as well. There are a few ways you can insulate a pop-up camper. These include insulation, curtains, sealants, and even pool noodles.
A well-insulated camper will help to keep you cool in the summer months and warm in the winter months. Lack of insulation doesn’t have to be the downfall of a pop-up camper.
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Many things can affect the indoor temperature of your pop-up camper. In the warmer season, the sun beating down on your camper can heat it up very quickly. The mesh helps to provide ventilation, but without a breeze, you are out of luck.
In the cooler fall, spring, and of course winter seasons, it can get chilly. The windows and mesh areas can be zippered closed but the thin wood or metal walls and fabric paneling won’t do a great job of keeping the cold out or the heat in.
Due to these reasons, many individuals resort to insulating their pop-up campers with a variety of materials. Insulated properly, you can comfortably use your pop-up camper for many more months out of the year.
Different Ways to Insulate a Pop-Up Camper
Insulation will be helpful whether you are trying to cool off your camper or warm it up. However, some types may have their seasonal advantages.
- Reflective tarps.
One insulative method is using reflective tarps. These tarps will help to reflect back the sun’s rays to keep your camper cool. They can also be used for wind protection when covering the mesh portions of your camper walls.
A popular brand is Gizmo’s. These reflective coverings are rated for high wind speeds and are excellent at keeping your pop-up cool by radiating heat outwards. They can also help to cut down on dew formation on the inside of your camper.
There are two kinds available, bunk-end covers or interior liners. Bunk-ends are the parts of your pop-up that extend outwards and usually contain the sleeping quarters. The bunk-end covers are all designed to fit your model of camper specifically.
They use a system of bungee cord attachments that will remain firmly in place but also allow for easy on and off. All three types available are reflective, but they are each rated for different wind speeds from ten miles per hour up to twenty-five plus.
The interior liners are also for the bunk-ends. They can be held in position with the provided clamps and by tucking them between the canvas walls and the trailer frame. In addition to their reflective and wind-blocking properties, some users love the closed-in and cozy feel they provide.
If you don’t want to purchase a prefabricated reflective tarp you can look into making your own. There is a multitude of instructions online that use such objects as tarps and thermal emergency blankets.
- Reflectix Insulation.
Another highly-popular item is Reflectix insulation. Resembling a shiny foil like a bubble wrap, this product is easy to install and highly insulating.
The shiny surface helps to radiate heat from the sun outwards and control your inside climate (it is reflective on both sides). The bubble-like structure provides insulative voids, much like how air mattresses help to insulate you from the ground.
Reflectix is rather sturdy and can be cut down to the shape and size you need to fit your camper. Once you have your cut-outs you can slide them between the mesh and fabric of your walls and windows for wind, sun, and temperature protection.
Blackout Curtains. Blackout curtains are common in homes but they can be used in your camper too! These curtains are made of thick materials and can even have a type of rubber-plastic backing on one side for additional insulation.
They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and types. Typically the darker colors are better at blocking light and heat and keeping your inside temperature moderated. They are simple to hang, just like adding curtains to your own home.
If you are particularly crafty, you can even make your own blackout curtains. The best part about this method is that it is the easiest to adjust, just sliding them closed or open as you see fit.
- Minimize leaks.
You can use a plethora of materials to minimize air leaks. Pool noodles, tape, or even silicone for tears and holes will help to minimize the exchange of air between the outside and inside of your camper.
A drafty camper is a cold camper in the winter and a hot camper in the summer. Drafts will also negate the effects of any AC or heater that you have running.
- Insulating under the bunks.
One of the most common areas for lack of climate control includes sleeping areas or bunks. As these areas are suspended out over the ground and have thin fabric walls, they are very prone to getting either too hot or too cold.
If you simply pile on the blankets you may trap the cold radiating up from the ground between you and the covers. Some campers have found that using foam insulation boards under the mattress helps to create a protective layer.
Additionally, using sleeping bags under you and on top of the mattress (in addition to blankets on top of you) can help insulate you from cold seeping up underneath. In the warmer months, these methods will not be as particularly effective.
- Non-traditional insulators.
Other, less, typical methods include the use of fans, heaters, or electric blankets. These items are less “insulators” and more tools to keep you either cool or warm.
Heaters and AC units can be installed in your camper. However, they will come at a price and add weight to your camper.
Electric blankets can be used in the winter to keep your bunk area warm. Another method is pointing a fan placed in the central living area blowing towards the bunk quarters. This will help move air from the warm central space towards your bed where the temperature usually drops faster.
A Quick Rundown on Pop-Up Campers
Pop-up campers are beloved for their collapsibility and ease of transportation. These trailers are lightweight and short in stature when folded down. When you arrive at your destination you can “pop-up” the walls to create a more sizable living space.
In order for the walls to fold down, they are usually partially constructed of fabric. The walls also will commonly have a good deal of mesh netting to provide for proper ventilation. The more sturdy walls are constructed of metal or wood.
Pop-up campers do not come standard with insulation, AC, or a heater. Therefore, in the summer they can get quite hot and in the winter they can be downright cold. Because of this, many people are very hesitant to go camping in the colder months.
The thin walls of a pop-up camper are usually the camper’s upside and downside. They’re light and transportable but also not good insulators for sound or temperature. A pop-up camper is less of an RV and more of a tent on a trailer frame.
One example of a pop-up camper is the Viking LS. It is big enough to include a living space with a dinette, two double-size bunk beds, and room for storage. However, it is only seven feet wide, just over twelve feet long when closed, and only 2,098 pounds.
But, if you take a look at the picture below it is easy to see how little insulation is provided by the majority of the walls. And this is not exclusive to this model but pretty standard will all pop-up campers.
- Easy to maneuver and store
- Tent like atmosphere
- Not ideal for all seasons, cold in the winter and hot in the summer
- Not a lot of living space inside
- AC and heat are not standard
- Typically won’t have a restroom and/or a kitchen
Despite the drawbacks, pop-up campers are ideal for a great number of people. They are the perfect low-maintenance RVs that offer the best of both worlds. You still get to be out in the wilderness and nature but you don’t have to sleep on the ground and are protected from the elements.
However, if you plan on using your pop-up camper on more than just the “picture-perfect” days, you will need to insulate it.
Can I Camp Year-Round In My Pop-Up Camper?
There are various ways to insulate your pop-up camper but one truth remains. These campers may not be suited to all-season camping. It can be comparable to sleeping in a tent and therefore you will feel the effects of whatever. The weather is happening outside.
Nevertheless, the items listed above should help to at least make you more comfortable in either rain or shine.