January 5, 2017

The same manufacturer or even the same length popup camper can come in drastically different floorplan options. Here’s how to decide which is best for your needs.

Box Length

Popup campers typically come in 8-foot, 10-foot, 12-foot, and 14-foot “boxes” – meaning the part which is dedicated to sleeping space, not including the trailer tongue and other items.

The longer your box, the longer your fully extended popup can be since a 12-foot box could technically extend two 6-foot bunks to equal a total interior space of 24-feet (although in practice it is typically less due to some overlap in the bunk slides).

A longer box also provides more interior space outside of the slide out bunks for things like dinettes, bathrooms, and kitchen space.

A shorter box length means a shorter overall trailer, which can be easier to tow, navigate around tight corners, and allows for camping in smaller spaces.

High Wall or Classic

Most manufacturers have a “high wall” category with taller exterior walls. This provides several benefits, including:

  • No swing down galley required
  • More storage space from taller cabinets
  • More bathroom privacy due to hard wall pieces (top portion assembles when popped up)
  • Some have more traditional RV features, such as grey/black tanks

These high wall units are typically longer and more expensive. They are also taller when popped down and can sometimes block your view from the rearview mirror.


Different floorplans can behave quite differently in:

  • Weight distribution: heavy items like a swing down galley, oven, and fridge will impact hitch weight based on where they sit in front of or behind the camper axle.
  • Blocking access: a swing down galley can block access to anything behind it, an especially important consideration when the swing down galley is right at the front door.
  • Dinette: placed on the side means a small width, placed in the front/back provides more space but must be crawled over to get to the bunk (see also Not All Dinettes Are Created Equal)
  • Wheel Wells: every popup camper has them, it’s just a matter of if they are hidden by cabinet storage, encroach on your legroom under the dinette, or simply stick out.
  • Slide Out: creates more space but also adds to the amount of time for camp setup/takedown.
  • Exterior / Passthrough Storage: great to have for storing certain items, but takes away from interior cabinet space and forces cargo weight to tongue weight
  • Shower/Toilet: some women (and perhaps some men) won’t camp without them (see also Bathroom On Wheels)

Even certain exterior choices can have a big impact, such as:

  • Roof Rack: great for carrying bikes, kayaks, and other cargo on top of your camper instead of burdening the tow vehicle, but you must remove everything before popping up the camper (which can be annoying when you’ve rolled into camp late at night or need to transport the boats to a lake which isn’t near the campsite)

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I've been camping regularly since I was a kid, from quick Cub/Boy Scout trips to week-long backpacking trips and everything else in-between. We got a popup camper when our kids were 1 and 3 years old to enjoy more time outdoors together alongside a few conveniences like heat and running water. Since then, we've spent over 75 nights together as a family in our popup camper. I've learned a lot about the intricacies of a popup tent camper during this time and love to share those lessons here for the benefit of others.