Folding Camper Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking into purchasing a folding camper, possibly for the first time? Purchasing a folding camper is very exciting, but it’s important to go into the experience knowing what to keep an eye out for. This is particularly important when purchasing a second-hand folding camper.

When the holiday season comes to a close, there are a lot of owners wanting to move on their folding campers. There are several reasons for this, such as not wanting the hassle of storing the camper through the Winter. At this time, you can often get a bargain second hand folding camper. However, how do you make sure you’re getting a genuinely good deal and not a dud?

With my folding camper buyer’s guide, aimed primarily at people looking at the second-hand market, you’ll have the information you need to hopefully avoid purchasing an unreliable folding camper. I’ve put together this guide based on discussions with other folding camper owners and sellers, as well as my own experiences. I hope the advice contained within helps you with your folding camper purchase!

How Much Do Folding Campers Cost?

It’s very difficult to answer the question of how much do folding campers cost. It really depends on the model you’re looking for, the age of models you’re looking at, and when you’re looking to purchase a folding camper. If you’re buying from a private seller on a website such as Preloved or eBay, the lines become even more blurred as people set their own prices based on sometimes limited market research.

If you were purchasing a car, you’d probably have a good idea of what you should be spending. Similarly, people privately selling cars will often price their cars fairly after assessing the market and deciding how much they can request for their vehicle. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to folding campers.

The folding camper market is very interesting because prices can differ greatly for the same unit. For example, someone may sell a 2004 folding camper for £1,500, where another person is selling theirs for £4,000. This is because most folding camper owners fail to understand how much their folding camper is really worth. Often, this will work to a buyer’s benefit. You could end up purchasing a real bargain of a folding camper that has nothing wrong with it. However, you could also end up buying a cheaply priced dud that’s laden with issues. How do you differentiate between a dud and a bargain? Hopefully, my guide will help you.

Purchasing Second-Hand? Things To Look Out For

For the most part, you won’t have any issues when purchasing a folding camper second-hand from a private seller. However, there will always be people selling folding campers taking advantage of those who don’t have knowledge of problems that can plague folding campers.

If you are purchasing a second-hand folding camper from a dealer or a private seller, here are some things to look out for.

Mildew And Canvas Stains In General

With the a lot of older folding campers, canvas staining is a prevalent issue and very difficult to avoid. Fortunately, most canvas stains are easy to spot so you shouldn’t have a problem noticing them when you are looking at folding campers.

Packing a folding camper away while its damp is what causes the canvas to become stained. A camper is folded away very compact, with no way for moisture to escape. Even the smallest damp patch can result in bad staining if owners don’t take the time to air their folding camper when they get back home after their trip.

You will notice mildew and other stains very quickly for the most part when you are looking in a folding camper. However, stains can sometimes be hidden so it’s important to have a good look around. For example, canvas stains can easily be hidden by curtains.

For the most part, canvas stains are nothing to worry about. The damage is cosmetic rather than anything that impacts the integrity of the camper. However, if you purchase a folding camper with canvas staining, just remember that it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to remove the staining. There are several businesses selling cleaning products designed to clean a folding camper canvas. Don’t be swayed into purchasing a camper with a stained canvas with these products in mind, however. These products might slightly improve the appearance of the staining, but they’ll never remove the staining altogether. Therefore if you really cannot cope with the stained canvas, don’t purchase the camper!

On top of checking for stains on the folding camper canvas, keep an eye out for other damage such as canvas tears. While staining is simply unpleasant to look at, canvas tears could mean replacing the entire canvas. Replacing the canvas of an older second hand folding camper might actually be more expensive than purchasing another folding camper!

Take A Good Look At The Body Of The Folding Camper

Most folding campers are built to last – that’s why they hold their value really well, and folding campers from the 1990s are still reliable to this day. Unfortunately, virtually every folding camper has a weakness that most owners are likely aware of: water ingress. Water ingress is like kryptonite to folding campers and can cause severe damage.

Folding campers are built to last, but check out the body for any signs of water ingress. © Pennine Outdoor Leisure

Even slight water ingress can cause serious damage to a folding camper. Some folding campers are rendered beyond repair because of slight water ingress and damp development throughout.

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to notice the damage associated with water ingress. Take a look at all the places that water could easily gain access, for example around doors and the places where the number plates are fitted. Does the structure internally and externally of the folding camper feel somewhat spongy? Does the door not shut as firmly as it should? If you notice either of these problems, they could be signs of far more serious damage.

As I said earlier, folding campers are resilient for the most part. Pretty much the only thing you have to worry about is water ingress. On the cosmetic side of things, just keep an eye out for any signs of damage externally. While a dent or scrape might not seem like a big deal, it might impact your ability to resell the folding camper for a good figure in the future.

See Demonstrations Of The Gas, Electric And Water Systems

The gas, electric and water systems in a folding camper are pretty much essential for enjoying your travels. If you are buying a folding camper second-hand from a private seller, you should always ask for a demonstration of these systems. This is particularly important if you are looking at an older folding camper, as you want to make sure all the systems are still working as they should.

Folding campers contain sinks, a kitchen area, sockets and sometimes a toilet. That’s why you should always get a demonstration of the electric, gas and water systems! © Pennine Outdoor Leisure

The current owner of the folding camper you’re looking at will likely be more than happy to demonstrate these systems working correctly. Checking that the systems work correctly is fairly easy. For example, take a phone charger and test out all the sockets in the camper to make sure they’re working right. To test the water system, use the sink to check that it’s working as it should. To test the gas system, ask the owner to light the hob and grill.

If the owner isn’t willing to demonstrate any of these essential systems to you, it’s probably best to look elsewhere and purchase another folding camper. While the current owner might just be lazy, it’s not worth the risk. If any of the systems are malfunctioning, repairs could be very costly. Most sellers will understand why you want these systems demonstrated, so they shouldn’t hesitate to show you that everything works.

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