Stop Before You Modify Your Pop Up

Before you start to modify your pop up camper, think about how you want your camper to function at the campground.  Can you live with those changes permanently?
Nearly once a week, I see a question in social media groups asking about pop up camper modifications.  People poll for advice about what they should or should not remove from the interior of a pop-up camper.  Everyone has their own opinion and experience with these renovations.  And, I have my own thoughts.  If you are about to gut a pop-up camper, stop before you get started and really think through to that first camping trip.  How do you want your camper to function?
The point of having a pop-up camper is having something that is a step up from a tent.  After all, it is a tent trailer.  They are basic in their list of amenities.  And this is part of their appeal to many buyers.

You can also renovate the space beyond the basics or to even a more basic fit.  It all depends on the user.   But, before you start ripping apart your interior, think it through.   Before each modification, ask yourself if this is something you are willing to part with permanently.  I'm not saying any of these choices are wrong.  But I am saying, "Stop before you mod and think it through thoroughly!"  You can't go back.  And it may also hurt your chances of selling if you ever plan to do that.

I'm not giving up that tiny pop up camper sink no matter how small because I need the basic plumbing features, and they make sense.

1.  The Kitchen Sink

A pop-up camper sink may be small, but it does work and it can be expanded to provide you with enough width and space to wash dishes adequately.  I created a dishwashing station that works well.  Having basic plumbing is something that I want and need on camping trips.  I don't want to do dishes outside on a picnic table.  

Initially, it may seem like you are making better use of your space by not having a sink.  But, you will always have a designated space out of the elements to wash dishes that connects to a real water source.

If you give up your kitchen sink, be prepared to have a fully functioning outdoor kitchen of sorts.  These types of setups are available.  Consider where you are going to be draining your grey water.  Some campgrounds do offer dishwashing stations for campers that do have full kitchens you could use those.  But you need to have a plan worked out for washing your dishes and disposing of your dirty water if you get rid of your sink.  It is for these reasons that I am not willing to get rid of my pop up camper sink no matter how small.

This is my stove and where it can fit and was used by the original owner.

I prefer to cook outdoors.  My stove hooks onto the outside of my pop up camper.

I use a folding pantry as my prep station beside my stove for cooking outdoors.

2.  Carefully Consider Your Stove Placement

I'm not going to cook inside my camper.  That space is far too small for me to gunk it up with food particles and grease.  I don't know that you could ever get the smell out.  And, I like cooking outdoors.  My little two burner stove hooks onto the side of my camper.  While it could rest on my counter top, I opt for it to be used outside all of the time.

Cooking inside of a pop-up camper is also a bad idea for the canvas.  The grease and food can encourage mold growth inside that will damage the canvas over time.  Cooking outside is just better all the way around.

Since I have an awning, I am protected from the elements.  I create an outdoor kitchen by having a folding pantry next to my two burner stove with my cooking essentials inside of it for easy access.  An outdoor kitchen it a good option for pop-ups.

We have had many mornings eating inside of our camper because it is cold outside.  

Having a table that we can set up and take down makes sense.  It doesn't always stay in this place, but I like having it available.

3.  Removing Your Table

We added a table to our camper.  The original one was missing, and we felt like we wanted one.  It is something we use on almost every trip.  It is where we eat when it is raining or cold.  It is a welcome place to play a game or put a puzzle together.  I don't keep our table put up all of the time.  But, it is an option that we have as we need it.  I think it is an item that is good to have on hand!  You will use it more than you think.   If you can fold and store your table, I would keep it rather than ditching it.  This has been a practical tool.

Let's be real here.  This is my storage in my actual camper.  I'm not giving up any storage.

4.  Consider Storage Options Carefully

I have seen people turning cabinets into storage units for cassette toilets and more.  Choose wisely, my friends.  If you have a larger pop-up, you might can spare some cabinet space.  I literally have zero cabinet space to spare!  And I NOT giving it up to put a potty in.  And I also have a porta potty on my floor and do not care.  If you have children that need a potty in the middle of the night, you will not care either.  I'm trying to figure out a way to conceal my porta potty in some cute way.  But in the meantime, I'm not giving up my storage space.  I need storage more than floor space!

5.  Your Refridgerator

This is a hard argument to make in a pop-up camper.  We decided to keep our fridge.  I like having an actual working refrigerator in our pop up.  However, lots of campers would rather have more storage space and just use coolers.  Given the size of the actual refrigerator that fits in a pop-up camper, this could go either way.  (see the point above)  A well built roto-molded cooler that is large would act just like a big fridge and sit outside, and this is what a lot of pop up camper prefer.  If you camp for longer periods of time, you might think this works better for you.

Our pop up camper refrigerator.

If you are making a decision here, consider if your refrigerator actually works.  A working fridge might be fine to keep for a while.  Replacing a three-way fridge is very costly.  You could by a premium brand cooler for this cost and have the storage space in your camper.  Weigh out the cost of replacing your fridge versus a cooler and the size.  I know that you will be using ice and all that jazz but our tiny fridge does not hold a lot.  My main argument for having a fridge is that we don't camp for long periods of time.

We have really enjoyed making Peggy Sue our own.  If you want to see our favorite modifications that we have made to our pop up camper, check them out!  I'd love to hear some of your favorite pop up camper remodel projects.  There are some many creative DIY enthusiasts out there!  

Until next time...

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  1. Great article. As we camp with family usually (daughters, grand-kids, and my sister) our camper is really for sleeping (it's tiny inside too) so we opted for a shower tent for our port-a-potty and we have it right outside for convenience. We prefer to be away from the bathrooms due to the foot traffic, so it works for us. We have tent camped for years but are new to pop-up camping (only 2 camping trips under our belt) so I haven't used the sink yet, but also prefer to cook outside so was thinking about removing our stove for the needed counter space(will keep for resale). I really love being outside and with the awning, even in the rain and through our cool Virginia autumns, you can still cook and eat comfortably.

    1. Thanks Lisa! Being outside is the best! I'm considering a porta potty tent for outdoors at some point. I know that it would be nice to have this outside and not in our floor. But, I just haven't made the change yet. Has it worked well for you so far?

  2. I agree, it is totally up to you, the owner of the camler, on what you would use it not. I, myself,took my sink and stove out. I would have to replace tank and tubing on sink. All molded. And not sure on if faucet worked. As far as stkve, saved for resale value, if and when I do. But I personally cook on fire for my meals, and have one burner electric burner for inconvenient times

    1. Totally makes sense in your case. I hope you enjoy a wonderful camping season!

  3. We have had a popup camper for 13yrs. The best thing I ever did was take out the sink, stove top & furnace. I removed our cabinet doors below the sink & put our microwave in there so it looks built in
    It stays in even after we fold it down. We put our 4ft refrigerator on top the counter where our stovetop was. I have extra storage in the space where our furnace was. I only cook with an electric griddle and a single hot plate which i have on a foldable table right outside of the camper door. I cook eggs, bacon, hash browns, hamburgers, chicken, toast, ect....on the griddle. It makes for easy clean up when the griddle is hot. I boil rice, potatoes, soup, tea, ect on the hot plate. We never camp when its cold so we do not miss the furnace. We take our empty detergent jug w/spout, fill it with water, set it on the end of picnic table with soap pump bottle next to it for hand washing. This setup works perfectly for us.

    1. Thanks for a great comment! It really does all come down to how you use your camper and what you love to use while camping. Thanks for sharing! Happy camping!


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