Pros and Cons of Pop Top Caravans

If you are looking at purchasing a caravan, you may be torn between buying a full-height caravan or a pop-top. Both are great choices but pop-tops are becoming an increasingly popular choice for travellers who want a convenient option for comfort on the road. They have loads of size and layout options. However, like everything, pop-tops have their pros and cons. We guide you through the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide if a pop-top caravan is the right choice for your caravanning adventure.

What Is a Pop Top Caravan?

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A pop-top caravan is basically the same as a hard top caravan but it has an expanding roof that can be raised and lowered. It is the same as a full height caravan apart from the pop top roof. The roof is lowered and secured when the caravan is being towed. It is then lifted when you reach your destination.

Pros Of A Pop Top Caravan

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If you want a compact caravan, pop-tops are the ideal choice. They are more comfortable, easier to tow and manoeuvre. You can stay on the main road or divert into the wilderness with a pop-top caravan and the range of pop-tops available. We examine the many advantages of having a pop-top caravan.

  • Lower height. On average, pop-top caravans are approximately 2 metres high when the roof is down. Hard top caravans usually measure 3 metres in height. The lower height makes the pop-top caravan a comfortable and convenient option. It also allows you to take the caravan to more remote areas than a full-sized caravan.
  • Easy to store. When the roof is not extended, pop-top caravans have a much lower height, which makes them easier to store in a carport or garage.
  • Easier to tow. With their lower height and weight, pop-top caravans are easier to tow than a regular caravan. The low height makes it less wind resistant and easier to manoeuvre when driving.
  • Fuel efficiency. Good fuel economy is not only great for the budget but it means less stops while out on the road. Pop-top caravans use less fuel because their low height and weight cause less wind resistance and drag when being towed. A fuel consumption test compared how much fuel a pop-top and standard caravan use with the same weight, distance and conditions. The results were a noticeable difference in fuel consumption. The pop-top caravan used 2.1 litres less fuel per 100km than the hard top caravan. Considering diesel price is currently around $2.20 per litre, that is a saving of $4.62 per 100km which would add up over a 1000 km journey.
  • Increased airflow and light. The extendable tops on pop-top caravans are mostly made from canvas which increases the amount of light and air able to enter the caravan. In warmer climates, this extra ventilation makes it feel less oppressive than solid roof caravans.
  • More space. When the roof is raised, pop-top caravans often have more height than traditional hard top caravans. The average internal height for standard caravans is 2 to 2.5 metres, but pop-tops can extend to 2.9 metres in height.
  • Good resale value. They depreciate in value less than hardtop caravans according to market research.

Cons Of A Pop Top Caravan

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While there are a large number of pros to owning a pop-top caravan, there are some limitations that may not suit every caravan purchaser.

  • More expensive. Pop-top caravans are generally more expensive to buy than their hard top counterparts. The use of canvas, lifters and the work involved increases the cost of the overall build.
  • Less insulation. Because they don’t have a solid roof, pop-top caravans can be less well insulated than their hard top counterparts. This increased airflow can be great for ventilation but it can also result in less protection from the elements. To avoid the cold in winter time, you can get insulated canvas for some pop-tops.
  • Less storage. The benefit of an extendable roof does come at the sacrifice of overhead storage space. Your caravan wardrobe may also not be as tall as a standard caravan’s wardrobe.
  • Set up time. Raising or lowering the canvas roof of a pop-top caravan takes a little bit of time. It is a simple process but it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure the caravan is parked on a level, stable spot.
  • Potential leaks. If not looked after, a pop-top roof may be affected by leaks. Regular maintenance is crucial to avoid any water damage.
  • Roof cannot support fixtures. Due to the expandable canvas roof, pop top caravans may not be able to support fittings and fixtures like air conditioners and solar panels.

What To Consider When Choosing a Pop Top Caravan

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After weighing up the pros and cons of a pop-top caravan, there are still a few things to consider when making your choice. It is equally important to balance the benefits and drawbacks of a pop-top caravan against your own preferences and personal requirements. Some things to consider are:

  • Storage. When a pop top caravan has the roof lowered, it can be easier to store in a garage or carport. Measure the caravan height with the roof down to make sure it will fit into the designated storage area.
  • Towing vehicle. Even though pop-top caravans can be towed by most vehicles, it is essential to check the towing capacity of your vehicle. There are strict regulations when it comes to towing a caravan. Understanding caravan weight is one of the most important dimensions, particularly as it relates to the tow vehicle. For safety and comfort reasons, it is essential to know how much your vehicle can legally tow and how much you can add to your caravan before it is over the legal weight.
  • How many people it will accommodate. Consider how many people will be travelling and sleeping in the caravan. It is crucial to have a comfortable space for all the occupants, so a larger family may require a quite large caravan. The number of people travelling will also dictate storage requirements.
  • Amenities. Have a list of things that you “must have” and those that are more negotiable. Must haves may be a toilet and shower. Negotiable could be heating or cooling.
  • Destination. Think about where you will be taking the caravan and how long for. If you are planning a long trip off-road, you will want to consider caravans that incorporate these features. Your destination will also determine the climate so features for extreme heat or cold need to be considered with caravan choice.

Pop-top caravans are the ideal choice for those wanting a portable home without having to own a huge car. They are practical and comfortable and can even save you money on long trips. Our extensive guide explains the highs and lows of owning a pop-top caravan and what to consider when making a choice on the right one for you. For further information, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Canterbury Caravans.