Pop up campers, or tent trailers, are a very convenient and affordable way to enhance your camping experience. Many campers who have not had to deal with one before might think that setting up a pop up camper is not an easy task, but we assure you that it is much simpler than you think. In this post, we will go over the mandatory steps you should complete in order to ensure that your pop up camper is set up properly, to ensure maximum comfort and reliability. Naturally, we will also give you some extra tips on how to extend your pop up camper’s lifespan, and make the set up as convenient as possible.
Find a Good Spot and Level the Camper
Although you will often need to use external tools to level the camper – such as leveling blocks, or a small ramp. You can minimize the work you need to do by finding the best spot possible. You want to find a level spot, and if you are visiting a camp resort, then make sure to select a place near water and electrical outlets.
But before you get to leveling, make sure to unpack the gear you are carrying in the camper. We advise you to carry a small leveling device in your camper – even a small string level will do the trick, but you could also go with a larger leveler if you find it to be more convenient. Keep in mind that you want both right and left, and front and back sides to be level. Last but not least, the place you are leveling are the floor boards and not the roof – this is a mistake that you should avoid at all costs.
If you have chosen a great spot, you will likely to get excellent results with the leveler, and you will not need to do anything else. If there is an issue, however, we advise using leveling blocks or a custom-built ramp to raise the necessary parts.
Stabilize with Jack Stands
Now that you have achieved perfect leveling, it is time to stabilize the pop up camper, so that it will not tilt to any side while you are using it. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated pair of jack stands for your trips with the pop up camper. While it is possible to pass with just two jack stands, we suggest using four corner stabilizer jacks for the best outcome. Also, keep in mind that some pop up campers come with built-in jack stands that you can use – check if yours has this feature available before opting to buy aftermarket ones.
The advantage of using jack stands instead of relying on your pop up camper’s suspension is that there will be no swaying while you are occupying it. Even a hard suspension will move every now and then. By using four tongue jack stands in all corners of the camper, you apply just enough pressure to give the whole structure a much sturdier feel.
Do not forget to keep the whole construction in place by placing wheel chocks behind each wheel.
Level and Stable? Time to Raise the Roof
Although you can raise the roof without doing the previous steps, we advise you not to rush it. First of all, it may ruin the camper’s structure and balance in the long run. Furthermore, in case there is major leveling issues, it will be more difficult to sort them out once you have popped the camper open. The roof’s lift system is the component that is likely to suffer the most if you decide to regularly lift your roof without leveling and stabilizing first.
Typically, you raise the roof with a crank. Although you could start cranking all the way till the end, we advise you to try to preserve the health of this important part of your camper. Use this technique when leveling the roof – do 2-3 full revolutions, and then do about half a turn back. This will ensure that the cable is well-greased, and that it will not bind up on the wench. We advise you to regularly apply white grease to further lengthen its lifespan.
Last but not least, make sure that the ‘walls’ are not too stretched out – this means that you should stop lifting it slightly before it goes full length. This also helps preserve the mechanism, and minimizes the chance of malfunction or damage.
Time to Pull Out the Beds
The next step in the process is to pull out the beds. This is typically very simple, and the technique you need to use will vary depending on the make and model of your pop up camper. If you are having trouble with this step, you might want to check out the camper’s manual or refer to online community forums to make sure that you have the right idea.
Installing the Door is one of the Final Steps
Most models come with the door riding on the ceiling – all you need to do is to detach it from there, and fit it in the hinges found in the entrance opening. Installing the door might be a bit tricky the first few times, but it will get easier each time you do it. Make sure to tuck the canvas neatly around the door to ensure proper insulation.
Last but not Least, Tighten the Canvas
You want to be try and protected by the wind, so make sure to finish off the set up process by inspecting and fixing every corner of the canvas. Typically, extra attention is required in the corners of the camper, as well as near the bed frames and door. This is the last step, but we advise you to pay extra attention to it – failure to secure all openings and loose connections will not only make you stay more uncomfortable, but it may also lead to tears in the canvas if you encounter strong winds.
If you want to make things extra cozy, you could place some outdoor carpet in front of your camper – it is the perfect place to relax, and it also serves the purpose of keeping mud away.