Lightweight Pop Up Campers

When it comes to featherweight campers, the scale doesn’t go any lower than lightweight pop up campers. In addition to being easier to stow, tow, and handle in general, pop up campers are just light in comparison to other RVs. Part of that is due to the fact that they’re so much smaller, and a good part of the wall structure in a pop up is typically composed of canvas instead of solid materials. When unfolded, a huge chunk of the length of a pop up camper is also composed of lightweight canvas. That allows even small pop up campers to weigh significantly less than travel trailers of comparable length.

It just stands to reason that lightweight pop up campers are going to weigh less than even ultralight travel trailers, truck campers, and other RVs, but how do they actually stack up?

Let’s take a look!

lifetime trailer makes some of the most lightweight pop up campers on the market

Some of the lightest of the lightweight pop up campers double as cargo trailers.

Finding a Full Line Pop Up RV Manufacturer

Just so that we’re comparing apples to apples, let’s take a look at an RV manufacturer that makes tent trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers and truck campers. There aren’t a lot of people out there anymore who cover all those bases (mainly because there aren’t a lot of pop up truck camper manufacturers around), but Palamino RV does fit the bill. While there are lighter options in each of these categories available from other manufacturers, comparing numbers from a single brand allows you to see the marked difference between lightweight pop up campers and hard-sided models without differences in materials and manufacturing techniques entering into the equation.

ModelVehicle WeightHitch WeightLength
Pop up truck camper
1,056 lbs11'0"
Hard sided truck camper
1,675 lbs.15'4"
Tent trailer
1,400 lbs.122 lbs.11'10"
Travel trailer (lightweight)
2,812 lbs.337 lbs16'3"
Fifth wheel
5,770 lbs.1,107 lbs.24' 5"
5,257 lbs.773 lbs.24' 10"

Comparing Lightweight Pop Up Campers to Other RVs

As you can see, Palamino’s lightest pop up truck camper is over 600 lbs. lighter than their lightest hard-sided model. The B600 is also several feet shorter than the HS-1802, which makes a direct comparison a little sticker, but the fact that the B600 is so much shorter just means that it’s perfectly suited to lightweight trucks with smaller boxes.

When you move on to the comparison between tent trailers and travel trailers, the weight difference is remarkable. Palamino’s 280LTD pop up tent trailer weighs in at 1,400 lbs., while their 12RBC travel trailer (which is part of their Lite-Weight Canyon Cat line) tips the scales at 2,812 lbs. And that’s dry weight, so you have to add extra poundage on to the total once you’ve filled the rig with fresh water and all your camping gear.

Before we proceed, it’s important to understand the concept of “hitch weight” and hitch classes. The primary classes are defined by SAE J684, and each class has a range of hitch weights that it can safely handle. You can check out our hitch weight rundown for the details, but in general you need heavier duty hitch classes in order to tow travel trailers and pop up campers that have heavier hitch weights.

Returning to our comparison of the 12RBC travel trailer and the 280LTD, it’s pretty easy to see how great lightweight pop ups are for smaller vehicles with class I hitches. The hitch weight of the 280LTD is significantly less than the 12RBC, at 122 lbs. vs. 337 lbs. That means you should probably be able to tow a 280LTD tent trailer with a class I hitch that can handle a tongue weight of over 100 lbs., while you’ll need a class II hitch to tow a 12RBC travel trailer.

Also see more about: Towing with a Class I hitch

Now, you might have noticed that there’s also a significant difference in lengths between the tent trailer and the travel trailer in our comparison. The tent trailer is just shy of 12 feet long, while the travel trailer is a smidgen over 16 feet in length. That’s true, but you have to keep in mind the fact that the closed length of the 280LTD is 11’10”. After you pop it up, the 280LTD travel trailer is 16’8″ — five inches longer than the travel trailer!

trailer hitch for lightweight pop up camper

If you have a class I trailer hitch, then a lightweight pop up camper is a perfect fit.

When you look at Palamino’s lightest fifth wheels and toyhaulers, the numbers just get even bigger. The 773 lb. hitch weight of the 21-TFB toyhauler means you’re more than likely going to need a class IV hitch to tow it, and the 1,107 lb. hitch weight of the F295RL fifth wheel means you’re probably not going to be towing it with your little import.

Other Lightweight Pop Up Campers

Of course, Palamino’s relatively light tent trailers aren’t the only (or even lightest) lightweight pop up campers on the market. Jayco and Starcraft are both well known for their lightweight pop up campers, and the lightest models out there are actually tent-on-trailer units manufacturerd by outfits like Lifetime ProductsLivin Lite and Time Out Trailers.

ModelVehicle WeightHitch WeightLength
Jay Series Sport
1,190 lbs.185 lbs.11'7"
Starflyer 8
1,185 lbs.200 lbs.11'7"
Time Out Trailers
Easy Camper
320 lbs.20 lbs.8'8"