Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about pop top caravans. Now I must admit, I wasn’t really familiar with them, so I decided to do a bit of research. Here is what I discovered…
What are pop top caravans?
A pop top caravan is much like a conventional caravan except for one major difference, yes you’ve guessed it – the roof!
Pop top caravans have a roof that lifts up to increase the headroom of the caravan; some pop tops are rigid, and unfold much like a folding caravan, whereas other pop tops are made of fabric such as canvas, similar to an elevating roof on a VW camper.
The pop top caravan is not a new idea – they are not as pop-ular as they once were, but they do provide a certain appeal to campers who are looking for something a bit different.
What do I see as the advantages of a pop top caravan?
- There is less drag/wind resistance when towing a pop top caravan due to the low roof height, this is good for fuel consumption and stability.
- Pop top caravans are usually pretty compact, meaning that they can be towed with a smaller car.
- If the sides of pop top are made of fabric, then this can increase the amount of light entering the caravan making it feel more spacious.
- Another advantage of a pop top caravan is that they can be stored in a garage or under a carport due to their low height.
- A well looked after used pop top caravan can fetch good money, they seem to depreciate in value less than a conventional caravan.
What do I see as the disadvantages of a pop top caravan?
- They can be more expensive than a conventional caravan (both new and secondhand).
- Even with the roof fully elevated, maximum headroom doesn’t extend to cover the entire length of the caravan – banged heads anyone?
- I should imagine that the fabric sides on a pop top would be a potential weak spot for tears or water penetration.
- Being a light sleeper, I would be concerned about the fabric sides flapping around in high winds and keeping me awake.
- Again, with a fabric sided pop top – in strong winds, you may have to lower the roof which is going to restrict your headroom, not ideal!
- And what about the issue of packing away and storing the caravan if the fabric sides of the roof are damp? If not fully dry then surely mold and mildew will start to form and spread?
- One last thing… if it gets a little chilly and you put the heating on – is the heat going to escape more easily through the fabric sides of the roof?
These are just a few potential issues I can see, but bear in mind that they’re not based on personal experience. So if you have a pop top caravan then please let me know your views, (pros and cons) by leaving a comment.
Well, I now know a lot more about pop top caravans. But looking at my pros and cons list, I see that I’ve pointed out more disadvantages than advantages. Now, of course, that’s just my opinion, you may have a pop top caravan and absolutely love it, but I’m not really sold on the idea (especially the fabric-sided pop tops). For the benefits of a slight reduction in height, I don’t think that paying the higher price and having the concerns I’ve pointed out is really worth it. I think I’d rather buy a small lightweight full height caravan instead.
If you want more info about pop top caravans, then I have gathered some resources:
Based in France, Trigano’s Silver range of pop top caravans offer an automatic roof-raising system on all of their 2017 Silver range of caravans. Trigano’s range of pop top caravans start with the 2 berth Mini 270, which has been designed with the outdoor adventurer in mind. The Mini 270 has a fridge, two ring gas hob, and storage cupboards. There is also a Mini 270 motorcycle carrier version with a large rear access door.
At the other end of the Silver range is the 3 berth Silver premium 450LJ caravan, featuring a toilet, shower, and U-shaped living room. The beds can be configured into two single beds, or one double and one single.
2015 Trigano Silver 440 Premium
Known for their excellent build quality, Eriba, a German company, have been building caravans for many years. The Eriba’s 2 & 3 berth touring range of caravans come in 10 model variations. The unique body shape of the Eriba has been influenced by aircraft construction making it a very robust caravan. With the pop top fully extended, headroom is 1.95m. The Eriba has external storage lockers as well as an insulated locker for two 5Kg gas bottles.
The Trentino pear wood interior looks very classy, and thoughtfully positioned LED lighting in the overhead lockers also adds another touch of quality to this very well thought out pop top caravan. There is ample storage space especially under the seating/bed area which is ideal for larger items. There is also a fitted wardrobe and a handy coat rack.
The Practical Caravan Eriba Touring Troll 542 review
Based in the UK, the multi-award-winning Freedom caravans, have over forty years of experience in caravan design and manufacturing. All of the 2 & 3 berth Freedom range of caravans are built using a one-piece fiberglass monocoque shell design, this offers many benefits, the biggest being that the caravan cannot suffer from damp issues like a conventionally built caravan because there are no seams (where the sides are joined to the roof for instance). Freedom expects all their caravans to remain dry inside for a least 25 years! Now that’s impressive. The Microlite which is Freedom’s smallest caravan weighs in at just 580kg and can be towed by almost any car.
NEC Spring 2013 – REVIEW Freedom Microlite
3 Used pop top caravans you can buy for under £5000
- Year – 2012
- Berth – 3
- Weight (MRO) – 580Kg
- Weight (MTPLM) – 680Kg
- Length including towing hitch – 4 m
- Width – 1.94 m
- Overall height – 2.21 m
- Maximum headroom – 1.88 m
Eriba Puck L
- Year – 1997
- Berth – 2
- Weight (MRO) – 579Kg
- Weight (MTPLM) – 696Kg
- Length including towing hitch – 4.55 m
- Width – 1.8 m
- Overall height – 2.03 m
- Maximum headroom – 1.85 m
Rapido Club 32
- Year – 1991
- Berth – 3
- Weight (MRO) – 600Kg
- Weight (MTPLM) – 750Kg
- Length including towing hitch – 4.40 m
- Width – 2 m
- Overall – 1.98 m
Used pop top caravan dealers
Campers and leisure