If you’re looking to join the camping and caravanning world and buy your own unit, you’ve probably heard of folding campers. Folding campers aren’t as popular as caravans or plain old tents, but they’re still brilliant. After years of owning my own folding camper and learning all there is to know about them, I decided to answer the question what is a folding camper?
What is a folding camper? A folding camper is a cross between a caravan and a tent. It has all the luxuries of a caravan, but you’re still sleeping under a canvas.
Essentially, a folding camper is the best of both worlds if you want the comfort of a caravan with the joys of ‘real’ camping under canvas. Keep reading to find out how a folding camper works, what’s inside a folding camper, and some of the advantages of this camping unit.
What Is A Folding Camper And How Does One Work?
A folding camper takes the best bit of camping in a tent and combines it with the undeniable luxuries of a caravan. As far as I’m concerned, and many others, this results in the perfect camping unit. A folding camper truly offers the best of both worlds!
Trailer tents and folding campers are often mixed up by casual observers. Trailer tents and folding campers are similar in appearance, which is likely the main reason for the confusion. However, there are some key differences between the two. The primary difference is a trailer tent pulls out and pegs into the ground, whereas a folding camper doesn’t. Bedroom areas fold out from the trailer unit and remain off the ground. There are smaller differences too, such as folding campers having more utilities.
So, onto the question of how folding campers actually work. As I briefly mentioned above, folding campers fold out. Erecting the main body of a folding camper takes around 15 to 20 minutes, even if you’re erecting it alone. This video demonstrates an individual erecting a folding camper, which perfectly shows how a folding camper works.
The above video also demonstrates the individual erecting the awning, which you may or may not use depending on your requirements. If you use the awning, you’ll have more room with which you can enjoy your holiday. If you’re travelling with family, erecting the awning is always a good idea. If you’re just enjoying a weekend away alone or with a partner, the base unit alone is likely comfortable and spacious enough.
Now you know what a folding camper is and how one works. Next, I’m going to talk through what you’ll find in a typical folding camper to give you a good idea of what to expect in yours.
What’s Inside A Typical Folding Camper?
The contents of a folding camper will likely impact whether you decide to purchase one or not. A folding camper is a self-contained unit, similar to a caravan. You can use your folding camper without having to put up the awning, because everything you need is inside the main unit.
Here are the key utilities that you’ll discover in the majority of folding campers:
- Wash room with cassette toilet
In addition to the above, some folding campers come with external showers and a form of central heating. You won’t find these with most folding campers, though, so don’t expect folding campers to include them unless you see otherwise.
As you may already know, all folding campers come with electric, gas and water systems built in. These systems afford owners a luxury that you wouldn’t get in even the most expensive of tents, while providing the pleasure of getting to sleep under a canvas.
All folding campers come with cooking facilities such as the oven and hob. You’ll also find a fridge in most units. While the fridge isn’t exactly the most spacious, you also have plenty of cupboard space available for storing food. These cupboards are plentiful, so you’ll have storage for all your cutlery and crockery too.
Most folding campers, particularly the larger ones, have a wash room with a cassette toilet. While the wash room in the folding camper is nothing to write home about, it’s yet another essential that you wouldn’t have in a normal tent or trailer tent.
Alongside the facilities I’ve listed above, you’ll also have space for sitting and relaxing. While folding campers don’t include a TV or radio as standard, you will have plenty of space to bring and set up your own. There’s no chance you’ll get bored when staying in your folding camper!
Because of all the facilities contained inside a folding camper, you’ll have a great deal of caravan and camping sites available to you. Most caravan-only sites will accept folding campers because they contain virtually every facility that a caravan does. In the same respect, many tent-only sites will accept folding campers too. Just be cautioned that you might not be able to make use of your water, electric and gas systems if stopping on a tent-only site.
Now I’m going to take a look at some of the main advantages of folding campers when compared with caravans and tents.
Folding Camper Advantages
Folding campers have numerous advantages over alternative forms of camping. There’s so many that talking through them all requires a dedicated post (which I’ve written here!) so I’ll just talk through the main advantages:
- Quick Setup
- All Caravan Utilities, Under A Canvas
- Small Size When Folded
- Easy To Tow
Folding campers are way more luxurious than tents; they contain better facilities and offer a much more comfortable camping experience. However, a folding camper can be set up and ready to enjoy in a fraction of the time that it takes to set up a tent.
As I mentioned before, it takes around 15 – 30 minutes to set up a folding camper. And that’s for one person! If more than one person is working to set up the camper, you can be done with the kettle boiling in as little as 10 minutes.
The fact that a folding camper can be set up so quickly can make a massive difference to how you holiday, if you let it. For example, a spontaneous weekend trip might not be worth it in a tent. However, with a folding camper, the quick setup means you can finally enjoy those spontaneous weekends!
All The Caravan Facilities, Under A Canvas
A folding camper combines the best features of caravans and tents. It’s a hybrid unit that affords owners the best of both worlds.
If you love camping under a canvas from time to time but miss the luxuries of a caravan, that’s where a folding camper comes in. A folding camper has all the facilities that you’ll find in a caravan, but you still get all the pleasure of camping under a canvas.
A folding camper is also better for camping all year round because it has electric systems built-in. This means you can use fan heaters and oil-filled radiators to keep warm, even when it’s the middle of winter. You wouldn’t be able to do that in even the most expensive of tents!
Small Size When Folded
When folded, a folding camper is fairly small. Although there is no one size, most folding campers are small enough to be stored in a domestic garage when folded away. When you look at other camping units, such as a caravan, you can see why this is such a big advantage.
Storage space can be relatively expensive, depending on where you look. If you’re only going to use your unit once or twice a year, do you really want to be paying for storage? You can store a folding camper on most drives and in most garages, meaning you don’t have to worry about the safety of it or fork out for storage.
Easy To Tow
If you’re anything like me, you hate the thought of having to tow anything. I’m not a big fan of towing, which initially put me off purchasing a folding camper. However, it turns out that folding campers are pretty easy to tow!
Folding campers are lighter and smaller than caravans, which means greater visibility and easier control when towing. You can usually see over the top of your folding camper, meaning you have great rear visibility. For me, this took away many of the fears I had about towing.
When compared with caravans again, a folding camper is more stable on the road and its easier to maneuver your vehicle when towing one. For inexperienced towers or drivers who simply don’t like the idea of towing, this is a major benefit.