Renting vs Buying

August 5, 2016

Here are some things to consider when deciding to rent or purchase a popup camper, including a price breakdown when long-term ownership is considered.

Initial Expenses

A popup camper can be one of the best purchases you ever make, providing years of outdoor recreation and family enjoyment. Just keep in mind that beyond the actual camper price, you will also spend money on:

  • Required accessories not included by the dealer or private party, such as new propane tanks, batteries, etc.
  • Trailer hitch (if not already included on your vehicle), including a wire harness
  • Sales tax
  • Property tax and/or license/tag fees
  • Insurance
  • Potentially a new tow vehicle if yours can’t support the weight required by a popup camper

Ongoing Expenses

There are also ongoing expenditures to plan for with an owned camper, such as:

  • Regular maintenance, such as winterization and de-winterization, axle/brake service, etc.
  • Storage (if not available in your garage or outside next to your house)

Additionally, owning a camper and taking good care of it involves cleaning it after each trip.

All of the above is taken care of by your dealer when renting.

Product Selection (Features & Options)

When renting a popup camper, you are obviously limited by what brands and models that dealer carries and has available for your particular dates. Planning ahead is the key here, as there may be no rentals available for that special occasion. On a positive note, you can rent different types of popup campers each time to see what you prefer, or obtain a different camper for different trip needs.

Buying a popup camper provides you with a myriad of product selection. It just comes down to cost, features desired, and local availability. But with proper planning and a bit of patience, you can probably find the perfect popup camper – especially with the help of our comprehensive buyer’s guide.


The camper you own gets older with each passing year, each camp trip, each time a hail storm hits the roof, etc. Rental campers can often times provide a late model (this year or last) unit for each trip, which sometimes includes new features and options that weren’t available just a few years ago.

Which Option is the Best?

Popup camper dealer Roberts Sales likes to say that when renting a popup camper, at the end of camping trip you have your memories and hopefully some nice pictures. When owning, you have all of that and a camper.

The best choice depends on your needs and finances. However, an oversimplified answer is that one camping trip or less per year lends itself well to renting. For two trips each year, the above considerations are tough to pick a clear winner. For multiple trips each year with the same general needs, owning a camper that maps well to those needs is probably best for you.

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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.