While traditional tent camping can be rough on your body, so-called glamping can be expensive. While traveling the country in an RV might not be considered glamping, you might still find it expensive. Still, if you want to camp but do not want to take out a second mortgage on your home, a popup camper might be a pretty good solution. For instance, they are lightweight, which makes for easy towing, and they compress and extend into fairly roomy quarters. In terms of camping quarters, however, since they exist somewhere between a tent and an RV, the following considerations apply.
To be or not to be?
Of course, the question should probably be “to HVAC or to not HVAC”. Borrowing this line from Shakespeare might be over-dramatizing things a bit, but fluctuating spring, summer, and fall temperatures might very well make heating and air conditioning a requirement. In fact, anyone who does not have either (especially air conditioning) might really feel like dying. That is the thing with popups. Some have heating and air conditioning. Some do not.
To determine if the one you want to buy has HVAC capabilities, examine the popup ceiling when it is fully compressed. The air conditioner will be attached to the ceiling. Inspect the connections. If it is there, you have it. Of course, as with any air conditioner, the freon will need to be replaced.
If your camper does not have air conditioning, a pop-up air conditioner will cost about the same as a small window air-conditioner unit. It can be self installed, and you will be on your way to cool-breeze evenings.
Heating is less of an issue, but nights can get chilly. Some air conditioners come with heating capability. Others come with an installed propane furnace. For propane furnaces, simply inspect the connectors and clean the vents. If yours does not have propane heating, consider the alternatives.
Insulation will not heat your camper, but it will keep the existing heat inside, which is the point. Window insulation consists of plastic winter-treatment lining. You can simply apply it over the existing windows. Additionally, since it folds and unfolds without tearing, you can also apply it to the walls. It will compress and expand along with the camper.
A portable heater will heat the camper fairly well, but you must make sure of two things. First, if you are using an electric portable heater, ensure it is a ceramic radiator heater. These are the most fire-safe types of heaters, and they provide a nice, steady heat. If you opt for a portable propane heater, ensure it is usable for indoors. Regardless of the type of heater, ensure it has a tip-over kill-switch that turns the unit off should it fall over.
Perhaps more than anything, camping involves dirt. That is one of the allures about camping–getting back in touch with nature. Still, since you are a modern-day human searching for a camper on wheels, with doors and windows to keep nature at bay (not to mention the comfy mattress, so you do not have to sleep on the ground), you obviously enjoy getting in touch with nature on your own terms–in which case, you will want a shower.
That said, pop-up campers do not come with showers. As a solution, you will need to purchase a tent capable of housing a portable shower. The tent is for room and privacy. The portable shower will hang inside. Ensure the floor is a cup design that drains the water toward a drain. Many camper exteriors have hooks on which to hang the shower head, so you can place your tent right up against the camper.
If you prefer to use yours, with total privacy, you will need to purchase a portable toilet as well. Of course, you will have to understand that privacy–depending on your particular needs–is relative. For instance, even in a fully insulated, private bathroom stall, others around you might end up knowing your business.
For serious business, it might be best to head for the campsite’s bathroom. However, for convenient relief, a portable toilet, equipped with chemical sanitizer for smell, can be installed right beside your portable shower. Once installed, alongside your pop-up, you have all the (primitive) conveniences of home.