Tear drop vs pop up

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Tear drop vs pop up

Postby nuyork212 » Fri May 24, 2013 7:30 am

ok folks

I am looking into a tear drop or equivalent trailer..... Wife just mention maybe we should look at pop ups....I know there re some nice pop ups but not to crazy with the canvas.....

What do u think?
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby les45 » Fri May 24, 2013 8:25 am

It's all a matter of personal taste. Popups are bigger and require more time to set up and take down (and if they get wet, you have to set up again and dry them out when you get home). However, they have more space, headroom, and amenities. Teardrops are as much or as little as you want to make of them. Some people add enough stuff that their set up is almost as much as a pop up while some just park and enjoy. The space factor is the one that probably affects most people. If you are a little claustrophobic they may not work for you. You might want to try renting or borrowing some different types of units before you decide.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby jstrubberg » Fri May 24, 2013 8:26 am

Three things I really disliked about camping in a pop up...

1. The noise. Canvas lets all the campground noise right through. Makes it hard to sleep.

2. Packing. You would think you had more room to pack in a pop up. The problem is you have to keep everything below the body line so the camper can fold down properly. The truth is there's almost no extra storage space in a pop up.

3. Set up time. If you are staying in place for a few days, it's not that big a deal. Most of our travel tends to be one night, move on. Setting up and tearing down the pop up gets old quick.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby Corwin C » Fri May 24, 2013 8:27 am

One factor is that in some areas soft sided campers are not allowed (Yellowstone for example) because of the bear issue. If you plan on going to these places you may want to consider the teardrop.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby Oldragbaggers » Fri May 24, 2013 8:46 am

Hard question to answer, but maybe just some things to consider.....

I know there are many people on this forum who were former pop up owners and went to a teardrop or tiny travel trailer to get away from the hassle of dealing with the canvas. I also have friends with children that camp a lot, were former tent campers, and think their pop up is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

We camped in them a lot when I was a kid. I wasn't really responsible for the set up, but it always seemed to be a big deal. And then if the canvas happens to be wet when you have to put it away, you'll need to open it back up again and dry it out once you get home or you'll have a mildewy mess. I have heard of raising winches failing, of owners having near misses with them closing on their fingers/hands, and other such horror stories. Don't know if those are very isolated/rare incidences, but the way Murphy's Law operates in my life, I would be the one.....

One disadvantage of pop ups is the lack of sound proofing. You will hear every sound your camping neighbors make through those canvas walls and vice versa. If you camp in isolated areas away from the masses this may not be an issue for you. Maybe you are the kind of person who can easily tune that stuff out. I can, but my husband cannot. A teardrop, especially if it is insulated, will definitely be quieter for those private conversations, or.....

Do you want to camp in all seasons, or at least 3 extended seasons, or are you strictly in it for the fair weather? Back in the day when I camped in pop ups they didn't have heat and air conditioning, so I can't speak to how well those systems work in modern day pop ups, but heating or cooling a tiny teardrop, especially if it's insulated, will be a simple matter. The downside to the teardrop in inclement weather is that there is not much room inside to stay out of the weather, but most people deal with that by using pop up canopies with side walls or something similar. (In that regard you're still dealing with canvas (or rip stop nylon) which needs to be set up and broken down.)

For us a pop up wasn't really feasible because one of the primary uses of our trailer will be for traveling which means frequent nightly stops. I knew I didn't want to deal with all that set up/break down mess under those circumstances. And also for bicycling tours, where we'll just want to park, jump on our bikes and go. We needed something we could just open the door and fall into bed after a day on the road, and simply close it back up and get back on the road again in the morning.

I think that pop ups are very well suited to families with kids that want to be able to camp off the ground, not spend a boat load of money on a trailer, and for the most part like to set up camp and stay put for awhile before they have to break it all down again. If you are currently a tent camper a pop up will likely be a huge improvement since you're already dealing with canvas and pop ups have a lot more of the "comforts of home."

As with everything there are many factors involved that only you can determine. What is your planned use (how, where, when do you camp), how many people must you accommodate, what is your budget, do you want to be camping NOW or are you willing to delay that for the time it takes to build your trailer?

The pop up definitely offers advantages when it comes to interior space while still being lightweight and towable by a smaller vehicle. I looked at pop ups at the RV show last year that opened to 20' long, slept 6 or more people, had inside showers, and features that would rival a nice travel trailer. To be honest, if I were more into long term camping where you just drive to the campground, set up and stay put for awhile and then break down and drive home, I would have been very tempted. Some of the offroad models were extremely cool with gear decks to hold your ATV or bikes or whatever. Very nice. Just not right for our intended use.

If you can't decide, perhaps you could try to find a very inexpensive pop up, camp in it for awhile, and if you decide it's not for you tear it apart and use the frame and whatever parts you can salvage to build your teardrop.

Whatever you decide, getting out there is the goal, so good luck and have fun camping!!!
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby nevadatear » Fri May 24, 2013 10:06 am

We have good friends who bought a pop up, as did my son. Each lasted two years before trading in, for all the hassle reasons listed above. One went to a hybrid, another to a hardsided aliner type pop up. We had one for about 4 years. Hated the hassle. Many ways worse than a tent. Couldn't store anything in it.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby Shadow Catcher » Fri May 24, 2013 11:26 am

I have tent camped for the better part of 60 years and insulation against cold, heat and neighbors figured largely, and we know about wet tent take down and stowing flapping canvas during high wind or a storm means little sleep. One of the things with our tear is we have more storage in cupboards etc. which you do not get with a trailer sandwich that can be collapsed.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby eamarquardt » Fri May 24, 2013 11:34 am

"I concur Doctor".


Tent trailer = hotter than ambient temperatures during the day and just as cold as ambient temperatures at night.

Go Teardrop.


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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby ParTaxer » Fri May 24, 2013 12:08 pm

I actually had my daughter, age 3, fall out of the pop up in the middle of the night. All because I missed one loop underneath. She was fine but the campground was wide awake. You can bet that I didn't miss a loop again. If I had a family, I would look strongly at a pop up. If you are a single or couple, like myself, I would go to a teardrop.

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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby nuyork212 » Fri May 24, 2013 12:52 pm

Thanks everyone. Great info. We are going to look around but it's a no for me.
Hopefully after I pass this info to the wife she will agree.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby doug hodder » Fri May 24, 2013 5:22 pm

Been there....done that...wouldn't do it again....Doug
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby slowcowboy » Fri May 24, 2013 7:22 pm

bought a old one and towed it home for the axle to the teardrop I was building. defintly a lot heavy than a tiny teardrop!!!!!!!!!!!

and bottoms out on holes in my offroad driveway!!!!!!!!!!!

and yea I got it cheap becuase I had to use a bar to pry the roof up winches broke.

I have no regreats destroying it for parts to my teardrop!

it was definltly a heavy trailer!

Plans. there was supposed to be plans to be followed when I built this thing. Opps! AH, gee, tum,tee tum. I think I forgot about the plans 2 years ago. ------Tow vehicles, 1995 ford explore, 1994 ford ranger, 1993 ford F-150, 2009 4x9 Off road teardrop, on harbor freight greatly modified frame.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby prohandyman » Fri May 24, 2013 7:47 pm

One more person not in favor of pop ups! I have tore down 11 pop ups for the frame and other components. Guess where most have failed during their lifetime ( which seems relatively short)?
Along the front edge where the top meets the body. Apparently the simple seal system on most brands fails along the front edge, allowing water to blow in as they are towed. Then, the rotten wood gives way where the cable system attaches and pulls out of the wood.
The second most common means of failure in my opinion is owners forget to unlatch the "over-center" buckles that hold the top down tight. If you have ever used these you know what I mean ...since they are mounted vertically they fall back down after you walk away. Then...they start to crank up the top, and guess what...they break the cable because the latches are still down and they wind the crank hard thinking wow, this is heavy. That's what I have found on about half my teardowns.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby Bogo » Sat May 25, 2013 5:15 am

Corwin C wrote:One factor is that in some areas soft sided campers are not allowed (Yellowstone for example) because of the bear issue. If you plan on going to these places you may want to consider the teardrop.

Only in specific campgrounds. Most campgrounds in the Yellowstone area allow soft sides and tents. The exception inside Yellowstone National Park, Fishing Bridge campground, occurs in high bear traffic area. The original site of the campground had a bear travel path right through it. You can find the old campground remnants on some images (GPS: 44.562298, -110.371014). There is also a national forest campground, Soda Butte Campground, east of Cooke City that was hard side only for a couple years due to a predatory bear attack. Looks like they have lifted that restriction. There may be others in the area, but inside Yellowstone it is only Fishing Bridge that has a hard side only restriction. Fishing Bridge is also the only campgrounds in YNP with electrical hookups. If you do go with a pop up tent camper. When you go to places like Yellowstone, you want to keep your food in the bear boxes, or in your locked car. The tent wall provide no protection against a bear coming through the walls to get to the food in the frig.

I myself am designing a hard sided pop up TTT. I'm working on ideas to make it as small as reasonable and still have at least a double or queen bed in it. It'll also have a permanently setup bathroom and shower and space for two 12VDC Engel style compressor based coolers. I'm playing with design ideas to see how light and streamlined I can get it and still be able to make it myself and have it robust.

These are a couple sketches of ideas. I made them to help visualize the designs, and to hopefully help me better figure out how to refine them.

#1 Top lifts up, but the front lifts 3.5' and the rear only lifts 2.5'. The rear is where the bed is and doesn't need as much height so it loses it to streamlining. The bathroom with shower needs full height so it is at the front. the top's curve allows the kitchen area to mostly be full height.

Top down:
Model is 5' 7" to show size.

Top removed to show inside, and cut away:
Floor in the kitchen area is the shower pan floor.

#2: Three tier pop up that was designed to make a pop up that had full standing height inside, but be able to be collapsed down to 4' or under. With the off road tires it is 50" tall, but changing the tires to more normal ones it would be under 4' tall.

Both pop up TTTs have basements to house tanks, heating, water heater, batter bank, etc.. For cabinets, etc. I'm planning on using shelf brackets to allow them to be taken off the wall, and stores under the bed for travel. For #1 it would be for overhead cabinets. For #2 it would be used for holding the kitchen counter, shelves, cabinets, stove top, microwave oven, etc.. This is because the fixed part of the body is much shorter, and not as tall as a standard counter top height. From the floor to the top of the fixed part of the wall is only as high as a platform bed.

On the top tier, both designs have areas in front and behind the cabin zone for streamlining. They can be used for storage or utilities and made so they can be accessed from inside. When the top is up they will be nearly impossible to access from the outside.

My design ideas have progressed beyond these. I'm combining the two designs and compacting.
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Re: Tear drop vs pop up

Postby sabrown82 » Sat May 25, 2013 7:58 am

There seems to be a lot of negativity toward popups in this thread. I think I'll be taking a slightly different side!

I come from a camping family. The first summer of my life was spent tent camping with my parents and my cousins. We had a tent for quite some time until we got the "yogi bear" pop-up (a very old pop-up with a yogi bear sticker on the door). We eventually upgraded to a brand new Fleetwood pop-up and that's how I remember camping for most of my life.

If you're used to tent camping, the setup of a pop-up really doesn't take much longer (if at all) than setting up your tenting campsite. If you're intending on having children (or already have children), there is plenty of space for them built in. Ours had two full size beds and one table which converted to a bed and could fit two children if need be. We frequently took other people who had no camping gear with us.. (cousins, aunts, my grandmother). It allowed them to enjoy camping with us without having to make the investment.

Ours also had a sink and kitchen area with a few storage cupboards. Storage was also located under the seat benches for the table and through side compartments on the camper. We had no problems storing what we needed for our travels. Our pop-up even had a heater for those cold Columbus Day Weekend camping trips!

As for noise, again, if you are used to tent camping, then you are used to the noise. Some of those noises are actually pretty nice, too. We go camping at Dolly Copp park in New Hampshire every year and purposely choose a site close to a brook so that we can hear the sound of running water as we go to sleep. I love to hear the bugs, the wind blowing through the trees, and any other night sounds the great outdoors provide. I suppose you could close yourself up in your teardrop like a coffin and protect yourself from the noises of the neighbors, but odds are you'll have your windows open and your fan running while you're sleeping.

In terms of failure in equipment, well a pop-up is just like any other piece of equipment. If you don't maintain it, it will fall apart. We had our pop-up starting around when I was 8 or 9ish, my parents stopped using it around when I turned 20ish. They gave it to my cousin for his family when I was around 25. That's when the top canvas had to be replaced. Everything else is still in good working order. Maybe they got lucky? Or maybe they just took really good care of it over time.

I think the biggest difference between a pop-up and a teardrop is the size of accommodation. Do you want something only for you and your wife? Or do you want something where you can bring lots of people along? The second consideration is setup. Are you of an age/condition where you don't mind setting up a campsite?

Good luck! :thumbsup:
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