After a year of intense shopping and finally from personal experience I absolutely love the tent pop up trailers. I find the 10-foot box is great (average size) where the 8-foot box was a little too small for us, but could be awesome for an elderly couple or beginners. There are also 12 and 14-foot box trailer sizes, which I can see us totally moving up to eventually. Our research and search for a great buy didn't come so easily. We not only paid attention to safety, quality and durability but also the trailer size and affordability. Having two small kids we had to pay attention to safety first but also our budget.
There are many hard top pop up campers that remain fairly large with few cubicles to extend. Those however I find create an extra expense to pull behind your vehicle, not to mention you need a larger vehicle like a V8 to pull one of those. They are not only larger and more expensive to pull, they will also cost more to store over winters. With the gas prices always fluctuating and increasing we wanted something foldable and light weight and a unit that once folded could fit into our garage to save on storage fees. I think the pop up tent campers are a way to go. It is however only a personal preference.
While shopping for the tent trailer we have come across a few brands that lacked the safety features, which were very important to us. One of these features is the security of the pull out beds sides remaining in place. Many newer campers have a Velcro type under fold on all three sides and a bungee cord for additional safety, where some other campers use only the bungee cord. In many studied and personal friend cases, children have fallen out of the beds in the middle of the night or while going to bed during some silly kid fun with only the bungee cord trailer styles. The Velcro ensures all 3 sides are firmly in place with no chance of falling out. Many models are now quickly changing these safety features.
Another issue while we were shopping was the smell inside the camper when the unit was close to and over 10 years old or so. The smell of mold and mildew is very strong and noticeable and therefore it was present and evident. Tent trailers are prone to mold due to the canvas tent structure of the camper. It is hard to remove the smell of mold and we have found many folks camouflaging the smell with mothballs, so be on a look out when purchasing an older model. This is the only way to cover up the smell of mold as the mothballs are pungent and strong.
We have purchased a Rockwood 10 foot box camper, slightly used as it was 3 years old and are quite satisfied. Being only 3 years old it was in excellent shape, very clean slightly used. The unit can run on 3 separate things such as propane, battery and electrical when reserving electrical sites. There is ample of space inside for sleeping with one queen and two double beds for our family of four. The camper has plenty of storage and cupboards and lots of counter space. It has a sink with a huge 25-gallon water tank, furnace, 3-way fridge, luxury heated beds and fold down bench seat with a table that turns into a double bed (this one not heated). It has fans for each end of the beds and plenty of electrical outlets. There is an attachment for indoor or outdoor propane stove cook top, which I strongly suggest using only outside. The smell vapours and grease of cooked food can quickly get into the fabrics and will always remain.
We have used out tent trailer all summer and we are absolutely in love with it. Moving up from a tent while always blowing up our mattresses to sleep on, bringing the gear up from the basement and then back again after use was a chore on it's own. Having the tent trailer is like moving from a cheap motel to a first class hotel. We are now packed and ready to go within an hour taking our clothes and food. I love it.
Once the camper is folded down while the small access door still remains open, there is a ton of storage inside it to place all additional items needed. Our pots and dishes, sleeping bags, lawn chairs, additional secondary barbecue, fishing rods and tackle, pillows and extra blankets all remain in the trailer and there is still more storage space. It not only creates for a quicker pack-n'-go weekends, it also created additional space in our basement where all the camping gear used to be stored. This is also a huge bonus.
After feeling and experiencing first hand our tent popup trailer I can with confidence and assurance say I don't think I will ever use our tent again.