Anyone who has done a lot of camping in a variety of different rigs (and tents) can tell you how the experience of pop up camping is an exercise in compromise. You have less interior space (and thus less storage space AND less living space) than in a travel trailer or hybrid travel trailer, but your rig is a lot easier to store, tow, and maneuver than those larger rigs. You also have living space that’s more comfortable and less vulnerable to the elements than you have in a tent. Of course, pop up campers with bathroom facilities also provide another huge benefit over tenting that should be readily apparent to any tent camper who ever woke up in the middle of a cold, rainy night with the sudden and pressing need to visit the little boy’s (or girl’s) room.
Of course, all pop up campers with bathrooms aren’t created equal. Space is at a premium in pop up camper design layouts, and the smallest rigs just plain don’t have any space for bathroom facilities. A lot of bigger pop up campers do have space, but there are a few important factors that differentiate them. Of the pop up campers that do have bathrooms, they can be broken down into the categories of “wet” and “dry.” These categories aren’t unique to pop up campers, and you can find “wet” bathrooms in everything from rigid truck campers to smaller motorhomes.
“Wet” Pop Up Camper Bathrooms
Due to space constraints, most pop up campers have wet bathrooms. That essentially just means that the toilet pedestal is inside the shower stall. In larger pop up campers (and other fair sized RVs), the bathroom will be fully enclosed with the water-proof walls and pan of a shower stall. This is a great space saver, but it means that the entire bathroom really has to be wiped down after every shower, and you may or may not be able to store a lot of toiletries in the bathroom without them getting wet.
Smaller pop up campers don’t have permanently enclosed bathrooms. These bathrooms typically consist of a raised shower pan that’s combined with a toilet pedestal. In order to provide privacy, and keep the water contained during a shower, a curtain is typically employed. When not in use, this type of wet bathroom is typically covered by a hinged lid that can provide either counter space or seating when closed, depending on the design of the camper.
“Dry” Pop Up Camper Bathrooms
While pop up campers with bathrooms that are considered “dry” are a rarer sight, they do exist. Unlike “wet” bathrooms, “dry” pop up camper bathrooms include separate toilet and shower facilities. While the toilet and shower facilities are contained within a single “room,” just like larger RVs or your house, the toilet, sink, and vanity aren’t physically inside the shower stall. This does take up more space, but it’s easier to wipe down the shower after each use, and you don’t have to worry about the toilet, vanity, and all of your toiletries getting wet. These pop up camper bathrooms are still small in comparison to those found in bigger RVs, but the space can sometimes be used as a private changing area.
Fully Enclosed Vs. Curtained
Most pop up camper “bathrooms” fall short of really deserving the name. Due to the dearth of floor space in most pop ups, those units that do include a toilet, or a shower/toilet combo, typically just have it sitting out in the middle of everything. In many cases, a wet bath will have a lid that covers it and provides additional seating when it isn’t in use. These “bathrooms” are sometimes provided with a curtain that can be drawn around the unit to prevent water from splashing during a shower and to provide a modicum of privacy, but not all units even include that feature. Some small pop ups even include storage for a porta potty instead of a cassette toilet or wet bath.
Some pop ups actually do feature fully enclosed bathrooms with solid walls, though. One example is Jayco’s Hardwall series, which is a line of a-frame pop ups. Some of the floorplans in the Hardwall line include bathrooms with solid, albeit folding, walls. After unfolding the walls and roof of the a-frame, you unfold the walls of the bathroom, and voila—your toilet is no longer in the same room as your kitchen, and your bed, and everything else.
Which Style of Pop Up Campers with Bathroom Facilities are the Best?
The best type of pop up camper bathroom is going to depend on a lot of factors that are specific to each buyer. You definitely have fewer choices if you want a dry bathroom, or even a fully-enclosed bathroom, although you can find both pop ups, like Trail Manor, and a-frames, like Chalet’s discontinued XL 1938, that have them. There are a lot more pop ups with wet bathrooms, and that type of bathroom is also available in much smaller rigs. So if you’re looking for a lightweight pop up camper with a bathroom, then that’s typically going to be your best option. Of course, you can always go with a portable camping shower (either solar or propane heated) if you need to.