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Teardrop Trailer vs. Pop Up Camper: Which Is Right for You?

When road trips beckon, many people start looking at towable alternatives to tents. Like most travelers, we love tent camping, but when it comes down to it, tents simply aren’t as comfortable or as practical for extended journeys as small campers!

Two popular choices that camping enthusiasts must decide between are teardrop trailers and pop up campers. Both provide unique benefits but also come with their own disadvantages. Understanding the differences between these two types of trailers can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your travel and camping needs.


Teardrop trailers are small, streamlined travel trailers known for their iconic teardrop shape. They generally include sleeping space for two, outdoor kitchen facilities, and some internal and external storage solutions, providing a cozy yet practical way to enjoy life on the road.

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Pros of Teardrop Trailers

Iconic Aesthetic:

The unique and charming appearance of teardrop trailers often appeals to those looking for something a bit different from traditional camping options. These trailers have been helping American travelers get off the beaten path since the 1930s and are instantly recognizable at campgrounds around the nation.

Aerodynamic Shape:

The teardrop shape is not just for looks; it also contributes to better fuel efficiency and a quieter towing experience due to its aerodynamic design.

Sturdy and Secure:

Built with hard-sided walls, teardrop trailers provide solid protection from weather and more security compared to soft-sided pop up campers.
Timberleaf Trailers are all built with .040” anodized aluminum skins, R-7 rigid foam insulation, and Baltic Birch plywood interiors, providing a durable and long lasting structure which protects against the worst that mother nature can dish out.

Convenient Set Up:

Teardrop trailers generally require no set-up time at the campsite, allowing you to arrive, drop your trailer, and start enjoying your time in nature! When it’s time to pack up the process is just as easy in the reverse. Teardrop trailers are lightweight and maneuverable, so can be effortlessly connected to your tow vehicle and made ready to depart in just minutes.

Lightweight and Easy to Tow:

Teardrop trailers are among the lightest trailers on the market and most can be towed by a typical sedan or small SUV. At Timberleaf Trailers our smallest trailer, the Kestrel, weighs just 860 pounds and is easily towable even by non-traditional tow-rigs such as the Toyota Prius!

While not a universal feature of teardrops – Timberleaf Trailers take ease-of-towing to the next level with our optional off-road package. While most trailer companies’ off-road packages end at knobby tires and a lift kit, we go further with a heavy-duty off-road suspension and a Max-Coupler Articulating Hitch the steep hills and off-camber terrain found on overland adventures.

Cons of Teardrop Trailers

More Expensive:

Typically, teardrop trailers cost more than pop up campers due to their solid construction and features. This extra cost is usually offset by a longer-service life and better build quality, but is still a factor worth considering.

Small Size Means Less Space:

The compact nature of teardrop trailers means less interior space and storage space, potentially limiting comfort during extended trips. The interior of a teardrop camper is primarily intended as a sleeping area, and is best suited for two people.

Larger groups or people who are intending to use their interiors as a dinette may want to consider alternatives.

What are Pop Up Campers?

Pop up campers, sometimes called tent trailers, are collapsible travel trailers that expand into a larger living space at the campsite. They combine some features of traditional trailers with the feel of tent camping. Oftentimes pop up trailers not only expand upwards, but expand outwards as well, creating more floor space as they deploy.

Pros of Pop Up Campers


For a given size, pop up trailers are more affordable than teardrop trailers and offer a budget-friendly camping option.

Can be Lightweight and Easy to Tow:

Many pop up campers are designed to be lightweight, allowing for easy towing by a wide range of vehicles. However, many common pop up trailers, such as the popular Jayco Jay series, have a base weight of 1600 pounds and can easily exceed 2300 pounds when optioned out.

If tow weight isn’t a problem for your vehicle, pop up trailers do offer the real advantage of allowing you to easily see behind you while traveling on the open road.

More of the Comforts of Home:

With more interior space, pop up trailers can make it feel like you never left home. Unlike teardrop interiors which are for sleeping, pop up camping trailers have plenty of interior headroom and are more akin to traditional motorhomes. The kitchen area is generally located inside, and there are often interior seating areas and televisions.

Similar to how bigger RVs have slide out sections for additional space, larger pop up trailers have sections that fold out to create additional sleeping areas.

Compact and Stores Easily:

When collapsed, pop up campers take up minimal space, both in terms of footprint and height, making storage more convenient.

Cons of Pop Up Campers

Tedious Take Down Process:

Setting up and taking down a pop up camper can be time-consuming and may require some practice. It’s important not to rush the process as doing so can damage the fabric walls and collapsible supports.

Exposure to the Elements:

Soft fabric and seams can expose occupants to the weather and do not provide the same insulation or protection as hard-sided teardrop trailers. Higher quality pop ups are well waterproofed, but this protection may fade over time.

As pop ups do not offer any insulation, they are not well suited for camping in areas where cold weather is a possibility. Some models offer air conditioning – but this is obviously only an option when you have access to hookups and not a viable option if you are planning on boondocking in the wilderness.

Limited Access While Traveling:

The interior of a collapsed pop up camper is generally inaccessible during travel, limiting convenience on the road. Be sure to keep any gear or supplies that you may need in your tow vehicle or access will be a hassle!

Require Lots of Maintenance in Order to Last:

The fabric and moving parts of pop up campers demand regular care and maintenance to prevent issues like mold growth, leaks, and tears. As long as this maintenance is performed, pop up camper trailers can provide years of reliable service – but failure to do so will vastly shorten their lifespan.

Choosing the Right Option: Teardrop Trailer or Pop Up Camper?

When deciding between a teardrop trailer and a pop up camper, consider factors like budget, comfort, convenience, and how you plan to use the trailer. If you value a quick setup, a sturdy structure, and a timeless aesthetic, a teardrop trailer is your ideal choice. On the other hand, if cost-effectiveness, expandable living space, and ease of storage are your priorities, a pop up camper could be the way to go.

In the end, the right choice will depend on your unique preferences and needs, ensuring that your camping experiences are as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.

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