The Southern Glamper: A Beginners Guide to Pop Up Camping


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A Beginners Guide to Pop Up Camping

Monday, February 26, 2018

Our pop up camper is packed up like a little jigsaw puzzle with everything fitting snuggly into place.  Setting up involves a series of steps that must be done in just the right sequence for everything to fit together.   Pop up camping can be a lot of work.  But, you can easily enjoy a pop-up camper if you know what you are doing and make smart work of these tasks.  So where should a beginner start?

Set Up

Pop up camping should begin with a level camping spot.  Some campers use the BAL 28050 Light Trailer Tire Leveler.  We actually opted for using Hopkins 08525 Graduated Level and a set of  Camco Heavy Duty Leveling Blocks.
Camco Leveling Blocks come in a pack that stack neatly and hold up well over time.
The graduated levels stick onto the camper and show you if your camper is level.  You can back your tires over the leveling blocks to help level your camper.  This step does make a big difference!  Don't skip it.  Be prepared for a learning curve, and be patient.  If you need to level using blocks or another device, this is going to be done on one side.  The graduated levels will help you to check the levels both front to back and side to side.  Once you are level, unhitch the camper from your tow vehicle.

After unhitching, crank you stabilizer jacks down.  You can adjust the stabilizer jacks to help level from side to side.  It is much easier to level and set everything up before you start to extend your bunk ends.

Now, if you have an awning like we do, you will need to unzip it and allow the legs to swing down before you start cranking the top up.  If you don't have an awning, just skip this step.

Next, crank up the top.  Leave a little slack in your lines for adjusting your door later.

Pull the bunk ends out and attach the bunk end rods into place. The bunk end rods will slide into a metal bracket under the bed and attach to the frame for added support.  There should be 2 rods per bunk end side.  Now, you need to unload all of our gear and boxes that are stored underneath your bunk ends.

Pull the bunk ends out.

Lower the door into the camper frame.  We then crank up the top a little at a time until the door is straight and fastened into place.

Our screen door folds up and attaches to the ceiling.

Pull the canvas outward over the bunks.  If you are using Pop Up Gizmos, which I recommend, you will lay these over the canvas tops and loosely attach with clips.  You can adjust the gizmos later.  Extend the shepherds hooks into the bunk end frames and attach.  Last, fasten your canvas all the way around the bottom of the bunk ends.

Hook Up

Now it is time to connect your electricity and water.  You should have a 30 amp electrical plug that will plug into the campsite electrical hook up.

The city water inlet and grey water outlets have hoses for each.  You will need a clean water drinking hose.  This will attach to your city water inlet.  Most campgrounds a water pressure that will need to be regulated.  Purchase a simple water pressure regulator.  We have also added a Camco TastePURE Inline Water Filter.  Before turning on the water from the exterior of the camper, make sure that your water is off inside.  Otherwise you will have water going like crazy inside!  Trust me!  I know from epxerience here.

The camco water pressure regulator will help at the campsite.
For your grey water, you will need a grey water drain hose and a grey water container.  Walmart readily has 5 and 8-gallon containers from around $30.  However, you can buy larger containers on wheels like the SmartTote2 Portable RV Waste Tote Tank from Thetford.  Consider how much water you will use and how you will transport this container to empty it.

Make It All Home

After you have unhitched, set up and hooked up, it is time to make beds and make your camper home.  This is when I attach my outdoor stove to its spot near my door.  I begin unpacking my food and setting up my camp kitchen.  I also make the beds and set up my outdoor seating.  This can be as elaborate or as simple as you want.

Peggy Sue all fixed up!

Tips to Make Your First Trip Run Smoothly
  1. Do a practice set up at home.
  2. Decide who should do what.  My husband hooks everything up outside while I make everything up inside.  It is the best way to divide our labor.  
  3. Be realistic about what you can do that first day based on the time that you plan to arrive at your spot.  Better yet, maybe plan to arrive a little early (before dark) to allow you time to set up in the daylight.  
If you are just getting started, I have created a Pop Up Camper Beginners Checklist with the essentials of RV gear that you need.  Be sure to check out my Camp Kitchen Checklist and First Camping Checklist.  These are designed to help make that first trip successful.  If you want all three checklists, I placed them in a folder for easy access if you prefer.  Southern Glamper Checklists

Don't get too stressed the first few times.  Expect some bumps in the road along the way.  It is part of the process.  Later you can laugh at your first few mistakes and how you overcame them.  We do.  

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