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Key Takeaways

  • It's essential to check the specific towing capacity of your car.
  • Safety is a priority when towing a camper.
  • Research and preparation are necessary before purchasing and towing a pop-up camper.

Explore the feasibility of towing a pop-up camper using your car. Is it a viable option? Let's delve into the details and uncover the possibilities!

Yes, you can tow a pop-up camper with a car. It's a viable option for many, offering convenience, flexibility, and cost savings. However, it's crucial to ensure your car's towing capacity matches the camper's weight and that safety precautions are followed to enjoy worry-free travels.

With years of hands-on experience and a deep passion for camping, I've become a trusted expert in the world of pop-up campers. My insights and opinions are grounded in real-world adventures, ensuring you get the most reliable advice for your journeys.



Can You Tow A Pop-Up Camper With A Car?

Pop-up campers, known for their collapsible design, which allows for easy towing and storage, can typically be towed by a variety of vehicles, including many sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks. This capability offers flexibility to car owners wishing to explore camping without the need to invest in a larger tow vehicle.

However, not all cars are suitable for towing a camper, and it's vital to understand your vehicle's towing capacity and the weight of the pop-up camper you intend to tow. Matching your car with the right camper ensures safety and prevents damage to your vehicle.

How to Tow a Pop-Up Camper with a Car

Towing a pop-up camper with a car is feasible, provided you adhere to certain guidelines. Evidence of your car’s towing capacity and equipping it with the correct hitch are keys to a smooth journey. Understanding the importance of weight balance, brake control, and safe driving techniques ensures a successful tow and a memorable adventure.

Check Towing Capacity

Before attempting to tow, it’s crucial to know your car's limits. Locate your car’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) in the owner’s manual. Your car’s towing capacity should exceed the Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW) of the pop-up camper.

Key Specifications:

  • Manufacturer: Refer to the vehicle’s user manual
  • GVWR/GAWR: Listed in your car specifications
  • Trailer Weight/UVW: Obtain from the camper’s specifications

Hitch Installation

A proper hitch is essential for connecting your car to the pop-up camper. Match the hitch class to the weight of your camper and car tow rating. Common options include bumper, pintle, and weight distribution hitches.

Hitch Types & Ratings:

  • Bumper Hitch: For lighter loads below 2000 lbs
  • Pintle Hitch: For heavy-duty towing
  • Weight Distribution Hitch: Distributes weight evenly for better control

Balance Weight

Good weight distribution is non-negotiable for towing safety. Cargo carrying capacity should not be exceeded, and tongue weight—a measure of the trailer’s downward force on the hitch—should be 10-15% of the trailer’s total weight.

Essential Metrics:

  • Total Weight: Considering both vehicle and cargo
  • Tongue Weight: 10-15% of total trailer load

Brake Controller

A brake controller is necessary for trailers with a weight above 1,000 lbs. It allows your car to signal the camper’s brakes, ensuring that both your vehicle and the camper stop in tandem.

Safety Chains

These are a second line of defense if the hitch fails. Cross chains beneath the hitch and attach them securely, allowing enough slack for turns.

Secure Cargo

Keep the cargo evenly distributed and secure within the camper. Proper storage prevents shifting that can lead to imbalanced weight during transit.

Storage Tips:

  • Heavy items low and in the center
  • Light items on top or in cabinets

Slow, Steady Driving

Acceleration, deceleration, and maneuvers should be more gradual when towing a camper. Fast movements can unsettle the camper, leading to sway or other hazardous situations.

Recommended Approach:

  • Gentle on gas and brake pedals
  • Allow increased time and distance for all movements

Practice Turns

Take wider turns to accommodate the additional length of your camper, and use mirrors to keep an eye on clearance and movement.

Best Practices:

  • Use of side mirrors
  • Consideration for the camper’s swing-out

Maintain Distance

Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the traffic ahead. With added weight, braking distance increases, making tailgating a risky move.

Regular Maintenance

Ensure your vehicle and camper are well-maintained. This includes checking tires, lights, brakes, and the hitch before each trip.

Maintenance Checklist:

  • Tire pressure and tread
  • Brake functionality
  • Light operability

Best Cars That Can Tow a Pop-Up Camper

Choosing the right car to tow a pop-up camper is crucial for a smooth and safe journey. It's not just about hitching and going; you need a vehicle that comfortably handles the weight and provides a stable towing experience.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback, known for its ruggedness, is a perfect ally for towing pop-up campers. Its all-wheel-drive system gives it an edge in various driving conditions, ensuring stability when you're hauling extra weight.

Specification Detail
Engine 2.5L or Optional 3.6L V6
Transmission CVT Automatic
Drivetrain All-Wheel Drive
Towing Capacity Up to 3,000 lbs


  • Exceptional all-wheel-drive system.
  • High ground clearance for varied terrains.


  • Towing capacity may be limited for larger campers.

Volvo S60

The Volvo S60 sedan combines both for those who value style and functionality. It surprises many with its hidden strength and capability to tow pop-up campers, cocooning passengers in luxury all the while.

Specification Detail
Engine 2.0L Turbocharged
Transmission 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
Drivetrain Front-Wheel Drive / All-Wheel Drive (Optional)
Towing Capacity Up to 2,000 lbs


  • Elegant and comfortable ride.
  • Volvo's reputation for safety.


  • Lower towing capacity compared to others in this list.

Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion is more than just a family sedan; it’s also well-equipped to tow your pop-up camper to your favorite destinations.

Specification Detail
Engine 2.5L I4 or Optional 2.0L Turbocharged I4
Transmission 6-speed Automatic Transmission
Drivetrain Front-Wheel Drive / All-Wheel Drive (Optional)
Towing Capacity Up to 2,000 lbs


  • Good balance between power and efficiency.
  • Multiple engine options for varied needs.


  • May require an aftermarket hitch for optimal towing.

Buick Verano

Don't overlook the Buick Verano when considering vehicles for towing your camper. This compact sedan offers a smooth towing experience with enough power for small to medium-sized pop-up campers.

Specification Detail
Engine 2.4L I4
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
Drivetrain Front-Wheel Drive
Towing Capacity Up to 1,000 lbs


  • Quiet, refined interior.
  • Premium features at a non-premium price.


  • Limited towing capacity restricts camper size.

Chevrolet Impala

Need a bit more muscle for your towing adventures? With its robust V6 engine and comfortable ride, the Chevrolet Impala is a solid choice for pulling pop-up campers without breaking a sweat.

Specification Detail
Engine 2.5L I4 or Optional 3.6L V6
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
Drivetrain Front-Wheel Drive
Towing Capacity Up to 2,000 lbs


  • Powerful engine options.
  • Spacious and comfortable seating.


  • Fuel efficiency may decrease noticeably when towing.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pop-Up Camper

Before venturing into the realm of pop-up campers, potential buyers need to take stock of several crucial considerations. From towing capabilities to amenities, understanding what’s at stake will ensure a happy camper.

Towing Capacity and Vehicle Compatibility

Is your car up to the task? Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for its towing capacity. A car's capacity to tow a pop-up camper is not just about weight; it involves understanding torque, power, and the overall capability of your vehicle.

  • Towing Capacity: Know your car’s max towing capacity.
  • Hitch Rating: Ensure the hitch is adequate for the camper's weight.
  • Vehicle Size: Larger vehicles like an SUV or a minivan have better towing capabilities.

Camper Weight and Storage

Pop-up campers are attractive for their lightweight design, making them often synonymous with the term "tent on wheels". Consider these weights:

Weight Type Description
Dry Weight The camper's weight without belongings or fluids.
Curb Weight The weight of your vehicle without passengers or cargo.
CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity) Weight of passengers, personal belongings, and the camper's water tanks and fridge, minus the dry weight.

Camper Amenities and Options

Pop-up campers range from basic models to those decked out with various amenities. Here’s a quick peek:

  • Basic Amenities: Think beds, a small kitchenette, and sometimes a dining area.
  • Additional Comforts: Options might include bathrooms, a shower, and a heater.

Towing Tools and Skills Required

Considering a pop-up camper also means considering the tools and skills required for safe towing. This includes understanding hitch systems and having basic proficiency in maneuvering a trailer.

Economical and Practical Considerations

Pop-up campers are often more affordable than their larger RV or motorhome counterparts and can offer an economically friendly entry into the world of recreational vehicles.


  • More affordable than larger RVs.
  • Can be towed by many cars, SUVs, and minivans.


  • Limited storage and living space.
  • Some models lack bathrooms and advanced amenities.

Lifestyle Fit

Consider how a pop-up camper fits into your lifestyle and travel plans. Are you an outdoorsy type who prefers the simplicity of tent trailers?

Lifestyle Aspect Consideration
Frequency of Use How often you'll be traveling
Type of Camping Preferences regarding comfort and exposure to the elements.
Travel Companions Space and privacy for everyone joining your adventures.

Renting Before Buying

Renting a pop-up camper before purchasing can provide first-hand experience with the handling and convenience of such a vehicle. Websites like Outdoorsy offer rental options to test the waters.

Frequently Asked Questions

When considering towing a pop-up camper with a car, there are specific details to be aware of. This section addresses weight limits, safety tips, vehicle capability, speed considerations, and what to check when purchasing a used camper.

What are the weight limits for towing a pop-up camper with a regular car?

Every vehicle has a towing capacity determined by the manufacturer. It's essential to know this limit to ensure safe towing.

  • Most regular cars can tow between 1,000 to 3,500 pounds.
  • Checking the owner's manual or manufacturer's website is a surefire way to get accurate information.

What are some essential tips for safely towing a pop-up camper behind my vehicle?

Safety is paramount when towing, so here are some vital tips:

  • Ensure the camper is correctly hitched to the tow vehicle.
  • Balance the camper's load to prevent sway.

How do I determine if my 4-cylinder car has enough power to tow a small pop-up camper?

Towing capacity isn't just about weight; the engine's power is crucial too.

  • Check the car's manual for towing capacity specifications.
  • A vehicle's torque is also an indicator of its towing potential.

Are there any special considerations for driving speed when towing a pop-up camper?

Maintaining control over the vehicle and camper is key, and speed plays a big role.

  • Drive at a moderate speed that allows for quick and safe reactions.
  • Adhere to speed limits designated for vehicles towing trailers.

What should I look for when buying a used pop-up camper to ensure it's suitable for my car?

Knowing what to inspect in a used camper can save future headaches.

  • Assess the camper's weight and condition, including tires and brakes.
  • Verify that the camper's weight is within your car's towing capacity.