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Old 03-23-2019, 09:08 AM   #1
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Question I need some advice, Travel Trailer vs. Pop-Up... + Jeep

I think I have this in the correct Forum… concerns RV economics, purchase questions, but also towing...

The Short Story. I would like some opinions, pros & cons, etc. from people experienced with both Travel Trailers and Pop-Ups, in particular the hard shell pop-ups.

The Long Story. I have a 2011 Forest River Rockwood Roo.



I bought it a couple of weeks ago, thinking it could be pulled by both a Jeep TJ (Wrangler) and a Jeep KK (Liberty.) I was wrong. The TJ can't pull it, nor anything else that our family could use. The Liberty can pull it, after I make some upgrades. But, the Roo has a larger frontal area than what is recommended to tow with the Liberty.

I had considered pop-ups, but have been told the canvas doesn't keep in the heat and the A/C. The A/C matters only because we planned on taking whatever camper we get to FL. Heat matters as we camp in the Fall. Then I found these types of pop-ups...



I would assume they have to fair better in temperature variations.

What we want in a tow-behind camper:
  • Sleeps 4
  • Inside kitchen; sink, refrigerator, stove
  • toilet
  • Furnace
  • A/C
  • Brake assist, but I think this is standard equipment..?
  • Weighs no more than 3,500 lbs.
  • Shower, maybe can do without this
For tow vehicles, I will not be replacing my TJ, except to maybe get a TJ Unlimited, (Jeep LJ) which increases tow rating to 3,500 lbs. The wife's Liberty can be traded for a truck, but at current price-point for a suitable quad-cab pickup truck, that's not really in the budget. (I really wanted something that we both can tow; I go on Jeep-ing trips, and my back is telling me that tent camping is soon to be a thing of the past. )

For storage, a pop-up will fit in the garage. The travel trailer was supposed to be stored beside the garage in a yet-to-be-built addition, but that adds additional expense.

What started as a fun, exciting experience, has turned into a stressful, potentially too expensive one. I need some experienced wisdom to bounce some ideas and options off of! Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:21 AM   #2
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Those 'A frame' campers have nice layouts, are light weight, and easy to tow. One thing to consider is how tall are you? How much of the floor area are you going to be able to walk around without tilting your head?
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Wiscampsin View Post
Those 'A frame' campers have nice layouts, are light weight, and easy to tow. One thing to consider is how tall are you? How much of the floor area are you going to be able to walk around without tilting your head?
I'm 6' 4". I don't know how much room the A-frames have, I've not been in one yet.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:32 AM   #4
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If you're 6'4", you probably won't be happy in an A frame. If you have kids, I'd say a high wall popup would be a better choice provided your Liberty can handle it. Good luck with your decision. Many of us have been there.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:41 AM   #5
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Wife and I had a pop up, and with A/C was fine in Kentucky in July. We used the same pop up on the California coastal areas, and while a little chilly, the heater was fine. Its amazing how well they can do with canvas now a days. This was a 2013 pop up, when we did it. Now our Travel Trailer is much more comfy, but for what youre looking for, and weight limits, Id reconsider a pop up.
The A-frames look nice, but if youre tall, maybe not so nice.
Good luck!
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:06 AM   #6
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The questions you're facing is what many before you have faced. It's the trade-off between having a trailer that is livable with the features you want and having the tow vehicle that will accommodate that safely.

Obviously, the more features you want in a trailer is going to exponentially increase it's weight. Eventually, you are going to have to make the decision to either upgrade your TV or forgo some trailer options.

When our kids were little, we bought a no-frills Nimrod pop-up that we pulled with my Datsun 710. That trailer was basically a box with two beds and no sink, fridge or toilet. We used campground facilities for those needs. Later, we purchased a brand-new Jayco that gave us the sink, an "ice box" (literally) that we replaced with a dorm refrigerator, and we had a porta-potty that we could dump at the dump station. We pulled that with a Dodge Caravan 4-speed (yes, a manual). With the kids growing and outside noise becoming a factor, we decided to upgrade to a travel trailer. We found a Sunline 17-footer that actually slept 6, had a stove, a fridge and a wetbath. We didn't want to upgrade to a new TV, so we actually pulled that sucker with the Caravan (probably unsafely in retrospect). A few years later, the Sunline fridge went, so we decided to sell it rather than sink $2000 into repairing it.

We stubbornly refused to buy a new tow vehicle, so the only replacement we could find that we could pull with the Caravan that would potentially meet our needs was a StarCraft Travelstar hybrid (much like the one in your picture). It was a one-axle 17-footer with a U-shaped dinette. After having gotten used to the quiet of a travel trailer and not having to pop-out each time and dry out canvas when it got wet, we hated the hybrid and sold it the next year. Finally, we had to bite the bullet and upgrade the TV to be able to pull the next trailer (a 19-foot Mallard) that had the features we needed and wanted.

Moral of the story: You have to weigh the wants and needs you require in an RV with a tow vehicle you can live with the rest of the time when you're not camping. Something will have to give on one side or the other. Consider how often you'll go camping and if having to upgrade the tow vehicle is really worth it. BTW, pop-ups come with A/C units on top these days. Good luck!
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:19 AM   #7
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I personally think that you should keep the TT you've already bought and upgrade your tow vehicle to at least a 1/2-ton pickup.

The A-frame is a smaller camper...and your kids aren't shrinking as they get older, which means that you will eventually upgrade to a larger camper, which means that you most likely will have to upgrade your tow vehicle then!

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Old 03-23-2019, 12:41 PM   #8
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"I had considered pop-ups, but have been told the canvas doesn't keep in the heat and the A/C. The A/C matters only because we planned on taking whatever camper we get to FL. Heat matters as we camp in the Fall."

Are you aware of Popup Gizmos? We had 2 Popups and a Roo hybrid. Popup Gizmos lowered the tent end temps by 10 degrees. Google them because PUGs are the #1 hybrid mod.
If you insist on pulling trailer with a short wheelbase Jeep, then your choices are very limited. If you have the Liberty diesel, I think you're fine with the Roo, IF you have a good WDH with integrated sway control and a good brake controller.
Also realize that a single axle trailer will put more tongue weight on the tow vehicle. So check your Jeep's payload capacity sticker. It'll say something like "Occupants and cargo should not exceed xxxxlbs".
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Old 03-23-2019, 12:51 PM   #9
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Whether you are looking at a pop-up or A-frame your bathroom if any will be a wet bath. Meaning when you shower everything in the bathroom gets wet.
We went to a hybrid from a pop-up because of the bathroom. Twice in 2013 the campgrounds we were at the bathrooms weren't working. Waking up to that was not good.
We enjoyed the hybrid for 3 years. We now are in a self contained Trailer. We towed our 7500lb hybrid with a Chevy Avalanche.
We got rid of our hybrid because of sever quality issues.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:05 PM   #10
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Here's the foundation:

Haven't had an A-frame, but have had a canvas side popup, pull trailer 20', pull trailer 30', and 35' motor home.

Traveling cargo included wife, three kids, three dogs, and all their necessary gear and toys.

Here's the history:

The canvas side popup worked just fine for heating and cooling. My camping was in Alabama and coastal Texas. The tow vehicle also had roof-air so the dogs could stay in it instead of the popup.

Benefits of the canvas side popup included it was relatively light with the greatest floor space in light trailers.

The negative of the canvas side popup, or any popup is it takes up to 2 hours to either set up or break camp. Much of the gear is stowed on the floor, so when setting up camp you have to put up the top, unload the trailer, set up the trailer, and then move the gear back into the trailer.

You will do the opposite for breaking camp, with an equal amount of time.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:32 PM   #11
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Although you don't want to hear it.... the pop up is about the only thing that meets your requirements.

As far camping in hot weather, we know people who camp in the hot Houston weather and the a/c works for them. I've been in one and was surprised that is was a cool as our tt. Of course, it was new with brand new canvas.

A lot depends on how much time you spend in that camper. With 4 people, you're going to need enough room to move around when camping and a low profile vehicle to tow behind that Jeep.

Obviously, taking that Jeep along with the family is top priority for you. Going from a tent to a pop up is a step up and should meet your needs.
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Old 03-23-2019, 03:25 PM   #12
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Pop-Up

We have had all of what you have considered. We currently have a 30' V front TT. We had one of the largest Coleman pop-ups made. Really enjoyed when weather was mild, a lot of living space. Got tired of, an hour set-up and another taking down, little tires, plus too small 2 cf. frig. and minimum storage. My A/C worked well in TX up to about 90 degrees. We actually ran a 500 watt heater to keep humidity down and because it would get too cold at night. We camped where it got down in the low 40 degree. While running the same electric heater, we would go thru 2- 20 lb. propane tanks in 3 days.
My suggestion would be go to a 1/2 ton truck and stay w/ your current trailer. You are also slightly limited w/ soft sides at some National Park campsites where there is bear activity. Where we are staying at Glacier and Yellowstone this year, no soft sides allowed. Secondary suggestion would be look at the "High Side" folding tent campers. Many are electric rise, larger frig., and sink etc. does not have to be folded down. These are still over 3500 lb. though, you have a lower profile to tow and more living space. The A-frame is too small for me @6' and my wife carries too much stuff. Same w/ the tear drops, and Casita style.
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Old 03-23-2019, 04:06 PM   #13
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You are also slightly limited w/ soft sides at some National Park campsites where there is bear activity. Where we are staying at Glacier and Yellowstone this year, no soft sides allowed.
Well, there's a lot of misconceptions on this.
Yellowstone has only ONE campground, big enough for a hybrid TT, with a permanent ban on soft-sided trailers. That's Fishing Bridge CG. ALL the other main campgrounds allow them.
As far as I know, same goes for Glacier. When we stayed there, there were no restrictions for soft-sided trailers. The only ones with bear issues, were too small or inaccessible for RVs.
If you were told that at Glacier, please post which campground you are referring to.

We camped at Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Tetons and Yosemite with our hybrid TT. Just had to follow normal bear practices.
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Old 03-23-2019, 04:50 PM   #14
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Go on YouTube and search for slim potatohead, yep that's what he calls himself.

He has an A frame he pulls with a Jeep. Lots of information.
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:09 PM   #15
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How about something like a Hi-Lo?
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:17 PM   #16
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My two cents worth

I laughed when my wife suggested a popup, one trip to Colorado, and I was sold. Toilet and shower take up floor space, but are convenient. The more the door is opened and closed, the hotter and muggier it will be inside. Pets and kids? Door will be wide open (this applies to the unit you now have). I would sell the current unit (Now is the perfect time to sell). buy a popup (used) with A/C and awning. Buy a 2nd "house window unit", hide it from the neighbors if you are easily embarrassed, drag it out at bedtime, plug it into the campground pedestal 15 amp service receptacle with an extension cord, stick the drain hose out the door. Enjoy the vacation!
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:29 PM   #17
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I'd like to punch whoever sold you the Roo in the first place. One conversation and you should have been aware you couldn't tow it safely.

2 choices -

sell it and by a pop up (you won't like an A-Frame)

Keep it and buy a 1/2 ton pickup (my personal favorite)
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:43 PM   #18
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I'm pretty sure that the diesel Liberty, if it has the factory tow package, has a max tow capacity of 5000lbs.
I was surprised but that doesn't factor in the frontal area limitation.
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Old 03-23-2019, 06:40 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
"I had considered pop-ups, but have been told the canvas doesn't keep in the heat and the A/C. The A/C matters only because we planned on taking whatever camper we get to FL. Heat matters as we camp in the Fall."

Are you aware of Popup Gizmos? We had 2 Popups and a Roo hybrid. Popup Gizmos lowered the tent end temps by 10 degrees. Google them because PUGs are the #1 hybrid mod. [...]
Agree with this.

We camped with a large Fleetwood (Coleman) Utah. Slide-out, 2 king size bunks. 3,500 lbs.

I never used the Gizmos, but when camping in CO we go from snowing to 95 F. Furnace + small electric heater kept us toasty. A/C kept us cool (not cold). Nothing wrong at all with canvas.

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Originally Posted by McCormickJim View Post
[...] The negative of the canvas side popup, or any popup is it takes up to 2 hours to either set up or break camp. [...]
While it may have taken you 2 hours to set-up and break down, I don't agree that "any popup" would experience this. We were a family of 6 that camped with a popup. Took no more than 30 minutes to set up. That's from the point where we dropped the hitch to the point where we were sitting around drinking a beer. I cannot fathom how it would have taken us even 1 hour, let alone 2.

We loved our popup. Worked perfect for us.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:21 PM   #20
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A tip for all (TT & Motorized):

When camping in Texas, I carried reflective blankets with me. They make a great sun-reflector if your AC isn't quite cutting it.

UST Survival Blanket/Tarp 2.0 with Windproof and Waterproof Material for Emergency, Camping, Hiking and Outdoors

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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