If you and your family have outgrown tent camping but don’t want to invest in a full-size RV or have the ability to tow a fifth-wheel, a pop up camper offers a versatile middle ground. Pop up campers offer many of the same comforts as an RV but can be towed by a standard SUV or pickup truck thanks to their small size and low weight.
Most pop up campers save weight with reduced amenities, including bathrooms and water systems. Thankfully some in the industry have been bucking the norm with wet pop up campers that offer toilets, showers, and sinks that you can use anywhere thanks to an onboard freshwater and wastewater storage system.
Choosing a pop up camper with a bathroom requires a good understanding of the different types of bathrooms available, especially since the compact size of these RVs typically forces some compromises in the bathroom design.
Have no fear! We will help you understand how pop up camper bathrooms differ in their amenities and use, the extra considerations that come with having a wet pop up camper and highlight four of the best pop up campers with bathrooms on the market today.
PS... I would highly suggest renting one first before you make any purchase to fully understand the functionality in person. Check out how to find the best Pop Up Camper to rent here.
Types of Pop Up Camper Bathrooms
In order to fit a bathroom into a pop up camper while keeping the size and weight of the trailer to a minimum, many pop up camper bathrooms are designed to fit as much into a small space as possible and make some compromises. Check out the main differences in pop up camper bathroom designs and highlight the pros and cons of each style.
Wet vs. Dry Bathrooms
The most common compromise is that pop up camper bathrooms are wet – the entire bathroom serves as the shower stall, with the toilet essentially inside the shower. In this case, the toilet itself is waterproof and has an overhanging cover to keep the seat from being soaked when you turn on the shower. If the bathroom is an enclosed room rather than simply closed off with a curtain, the walls of a wet bathroom will typically also be waterproofed.
In a wet bathroom, you won’t be able to leave any toiletries, potentially including toilet paper, inside the bathroom without them becoming soaked by the shower. Often, wet bathrooms have a cover that doubles as countertop space when you are not using the bathroom.
A dry bathroom is more like the typical household bathroom, with a toilet next to a curtained- or walled-off shower. Dry bathrooms take up significantly more space than wet bathrooms, but don’t expect them to be roomy – the shower, sink, and toilet are typically as close together as physically possible in dry pop up camper bathrooms.
In this case, it is significantly easier to wipe down the shower stall since there are no other fixtures inside of it. It is also possible to keep toiletries inside the bathroom without them getting wet, although there will not be much, if any, counter space.
Curtained vs. Fully Enclosed Bathrooms
Walls take up space, and space is at a high premium in pop up campers. That means that many pop up campers, whether wet or dry, are not actually enclosed by walls within the pop up camper but rather set off and made private with just a heavy, waterproof curtain. These curtained bathrooms are designed so that the waterproof shower floor is simply a square in the overall floor space of the camper, as is the toilet. Many curtained bathrooms can also be covered when not in use to increase the amount of available counter space.
Fully enclosed bathrooms are more like the typical bathroom that you would find in a large RV or at home, with a set of walls setting the bathroom off from the rest of the pop up camper’s space. In wet fully enclosed bathrooms, the walls are typically waterproofed to handle spray from the shower. To save space and increase the adaptability of the pop up camper, some fully enclosed bathrooms use foldable walls that can be put up when you need the bathroom and taken down afterwards.
Pop Up Camper Design and Layout
The optimal design of the floor of your pop up camper – that is, where exactly the bathroom should be placed – depends largely on personal preference. However, it is worth noting that the number of options you’ll have for floor plans is far greater for wet, curtained bathrooms than for dry or fully enclosed bathrooms, since the former allow the bathroom to be placed nearly anywhere on the floor.
What Comes with Having a Wet Camper
While there are certainly advantages to having a toilet and shower inside your pop up camper, it’s important to realize that there are a number of additional considerations that come with having a wet camper with water storage and piping.
The first thing to note is that even in a pop up camper with a fully enclosed, dry bathroom, you won’t be able to take a long and luxurious shower. Most wet pop up campers have relatively minimalist freshwater storage tanks, with 20 to 25 gallons representing an upper limit on tank sizes for many manufacturers. Compare that to the 25 gallons of water that the average home shower uses, and you can see the problem.
The solution is a Navy shower, which involves turning the water off while soaping up and then turning it on for the minimum amount of time possible to rinse off. This is a good solution for keeping clean on extended trips, but it’s important not to go into your pop up camper experience expecting a long shower at the end of each day.
Thankfully, if you are staying at an RV campground with water hookups, you’ll have access to unlimited water volume and can take as long a shower as you would like.
Most pop up campers that have water storage also have a water heater onboard, although these can vary widely in design, speed, and convenience. The most convenient water heaters run on propane and have an electric ignition to make them easy, but in any case you’ll likely need to make a few trips to the outside of your pop up camper to turn the heater on and off before and after your shower.
Having a toilet in your pop up toilet can be a huge benefit if you’re tired of driving miles through the backcountry to arrive at a smelly vault toilet or outhouse. However, it’s important to remember that any waste in the pop up camper toilet will eventually need to be cleaned out – possibly during your trip if the toilet sees a lot of use.
Cleaning out the waste bins of most pop up camper toilets is designed to be simple and sanitary, so typically you can empty the waste bin into a vault or flush toilet. If you expect to clean out the toilet during your trip, be sure to carry extra odor-trapping chemical mix with you to refill the waste bin before using the toilet again.
Four Best Pop Up Campers with Bathrooms
1) Rockwood High Wall Series HW276 Folding Pop Up Camper
The Rockwood High Wall HW276 pop up camper features two beds and a couch to sleep up to six people and has a wet, curtained bathroom for using the toilet and showering. The bathroom is located in the corner of the camper to provide extra privacy and the toilet can be covered with a countertop cover when the bathroom is not being used. The camper includes a 20-gallon freshwater storage tank and 24 gallons of total storage for grey and black water, as well as an onboard six-gallon propane water heater for hot showers.
2) Clipper Camping Trailers 1285SST Classic Folding Pop Up Camper
The Clipper 1285SST camping trailer from Clipper features a compact, wet bathroom that is curtained to provide privacy while maximizing usable space within the camper. The curtain can be tied off out of the way and the toilet covered with a countertop when not in use. The camper features a large 23-gallon water tank as well as a six-gallon propane water heater. The bathroom is right next to the camper entrance rather than other fixtures, which can provide a little bit of extra space to move around when taking a shower.
3) Rockwood Premiere 2716G Folding Pop Up Camper
The Rockwood Premiere 2761G pop up camper from Rockwood includes one of the more fully featured bathrooms you’ll find on pop up campers. The bathroom is wet and curtained rather than fully enclosed, but the area allotted for the toilet is relatively spacious. The shower floor is designed as a relatively high-walled basin that does an excellent job of keeping water in, although it can make it difficult to move around. The entire area can be covered by a countertop when not in use. In addition, this pop up camper has a massive water tank capacity of 26 gallons – enough for one long shower!
4) Somerset Utah Pop Up Camper
The Somerset Utah pop up camper features two king-size beds and a slide-out bed to sleep up to five people, plus includes a curtained toilet. In contrast to other pop up campers with a bathroom, this model does not have a shower (although a shower option is available), dramatically reducing the amount of water that the camper needs to store. The toilet has a countertop cover when not in use to increase the usable space available in the camper.
Pop Up Campers with Bathrooms Are Worth a Try
Having a bathroom on board your pop up camper can offer you the convenience and cleanliness of having a toilet, sink, and shower when you need it. However, it’s important to recognize that pop up camper bathrooms often differ from traditional bathrooms to save on space and that having a wet camper comes with additional things to think about while on the road. Be sure to check out a camper in person, and ideally rent one before you make a major purchase (link)!