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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:10001: I need the help of some veterans!

We have been tent campers for a few years, but now with three kids (8 year old girl, 6 year old girl and 2 year old boy) we just don't fit into a tent anymore! So we bought a pop up camper, we're taking it out for our first weekend on Aug. 25 and I was hoping for some of your "must haves" and "don't leave home withouts". Ever find anything that you really needed in the pop up that you never needed in the tent?? We go to a fully equipped campground, not in the wilderness so whatever I'm missing I can get, I just always feel better when I'm prepared! :icon_smile_pu_close Thanks guys!!!
 

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For the camper you'll need blocks or similar to level from side to side and some kind of chocking system. THEN level front to back. NOTE: stabilizers only try and prevent movement, they don't hold as much weight as you'd like.

You'll also need a wrench, jack and pump to maintain the air in the trailer tires. Try to keep the tires at max load inflation at all times even in storage. Trailer tires age and rot quickly (on the inside where you can't see it) when not being used, so learn how to read the DOT code to replace them every 5 or 6 years.

Try to keep a set of tools dedicated to the trailer. That way they are always available when needed and less to pack/unpack.

This goes for many other items. Try to keep the trailer stocked with items that are specific for pop up camping - dishes, bedding, other equipment. This minimizes what needs to be loaded or unloaded before or after a trip. Unlike a house, keeping the trailer clean and neat ALL the time is more critical. It's also easier to find things and you reduce attracting undesirables (bugs and animals). Remember that you are now going to where THEY live.

Find a way to keep the battery charged and conditioned. Just because the battery is on a charger, doesn't mean it's not being charged correctly. If it is not a maintenance free battery, then you must also check the water level religiously. Just because the trailer is connected to your vehicle, it's only trickle charged and if the battery has discharged too much while in storage it might not be enough so that you can use it. You'll also need to find out if the popup's converter (when connected to a campground shore power provides 12v and charges the 12v battery) has a smart charger that does not overcharge the battery and conditions it as well. When I had mine, I had an 400 watt inverter installed so if I wasn't on shore power, the battery provided 110v for small items.

When we travelled with our kids when they were that young we left as much electronics at home so that we needed less electricity. For the items you must have (coffee maker, toaster, etc.) know the wattage ratings so that you don't overload your rig's converter system. A popup trailer pretty much uses 15 or 20 amps and that's about it.

After you've loaded it all up, get to some scales and weigh, the vehicle only (while hitched), then both the vehicle and the trailer, then finally just the trailer, and compare these numbers to all the ratings. If any of these are over the weight rating you are considered overweight and could make you liable in an accident regardless of the anticipated fault. This is not as critical with a pop up, but something you should get used to knowing.

Last tip for now. The camper for us was something to sleep in, or dine in especially if the weather was bad. Otherwise plan for most activities to be outdoors especially if the weather is nice. Even though we had a stove and cooler in our unit, we still used our outdoor cooking gear as much as possible. This keeps the popup interior clean and not smelling like food which attracts critters into the rig. It will also last longer and stay looking good and pleasant to sleep in.

If you have any questions about what I've posted please ask. I've hit on a lot of things and some you might not be at all familiar with. Don't be shy about asking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks ARTMART!!
That was so helpful and informative. Never thought of keeping a stash of tools, do have a seperate stash of everything else though... sounds foolish, I bet. ha ha ha
We do most of our fun stuff outside, our campground has a ton of activities for the kids and a really nice beach, but now with the camper, we have the ability to go in the fall where before, it was just too cold. So I'm wondering if we may end up in there slightly more often or not, we'll have to see how that turns out I guess!!Thanks again for all of the info!!

Anyone else have anything they can think of?? I'm looking for anything! Spices? Kitchen tools or gadgets? quirky things? Super fun things? Anything technical that ARTMART might have missed?
 

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I second the things Art has mentioned ,,,
I suggest you get a small hydraulic jack for use in leveling your pop up, esp on the side to side.
a 4ft level is handy as well in case you don't have sight levels on your unit.
I bought 4 adjustable support jacks to use instead of the stabilizers.

no matter how hard you try there will always be something that you will see or want to add once you are there :) its the great experience of camping :)

Have a Great day and a Great time using your Pop Up :)

Carl
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
:rotflmao1:ha ha ha thats what got us the pop up to start with! We went for 10 days in a tent and after walking around every day seeing them, I decided that I had to have one! I know I'll add something, I always do! Thanks Carl!!
 

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Bring a 2x6x12" and a 5/4x6x16" for leveling side to side and some plywood 3/4 thick and about 10" square (4). You put these under your stabilizers for a bigger foot print. Make a block of wood out of 2x6x8 with plywood cut to fit both sides of the 2x6's. Screw the plywood to both sides of the 2x6. This will give a bigger footprint for your tongue jack and give you more height. Sometimes you need the extra height to get the trailer off the hitch.
Back you trailer into where you want it. Check side to side level. Lay board or boards along side the low side tire and pull up. Put the wood where the low side tire was and back up on it. Check level again. Use wood accordingly to get level. Put your chocks in now.
Put the tongue block under the tongue jack and take the trailer off the hitch and pull car away. Level trailer front to back. Lower the front just a bit. Put your rear stabilizers down with the plywood under them. Raise the front of the trailer using the jack, til just above level. Drop your front stabilizers on to the plywood and then lower the trailer down on them.Your trailer should be level and stable. I did mine this way for years. You'll get good at it after a few camping trips.
I kinda went into detail, because I don't know how much experience you have. This being your first pop up. The adjustable jack stands work well also if your stabilizers aren't that good, as cinns mentioned.
Have fun, you will quickly learn some helpful tricks on your own. I'm sure the kids will help you out, with what to bring, when the get a bit older.
 

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I found that having one piece of 1" wood was better than all 2" think wood for leveling. It allows for better granularity of leveling. There's also orange or yellow plastic squares you can buy. But then it can get pretty crazy when you also have to use Chocks too. This prevents the popup from drifting down hill (that can be scary). Whatever you use for stabilizing or jacks for vertical stabilizing does not prevent horizontal movement, if the hill is steep enough, well you get the idea.

With a popup, if not already equipped, you can add a propane catalytic heater (and you might want to buy extra 20# propane bottles to bring along as spares) for cooler weather and a roof mounted A/C for warmer weather. Just remember it's still a tent and insulation is non-existent but we were able to camp in 0 degrees in the Grand Canyon winter and 108 degrees in Carson City, NV. Don't forget to prop open a window or vent when using propane heat!!! I didn't have much luck with an electric heater because their just wasn't enough power. And you must have 110v for A/C or buy a small generator if you camp "off the grid".

If not already installed, get a carbon monoxide detector! You should already have a propane (lpg) detector. LPG detectors are mounted low and CM detectors are mounted high.

It's gonna be fun spending your money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We do have propane heat with 2 tanks and it does have the LPG detector. I have a CO2 detector on my list before we head out in the fall too. We don't have an a/c but I figure it just leaves room for improvement :)
Thanks a million!! You guys are giving me a ton of info that I wouldn't have known about stabilizing it. I'm sure the husband would've figured it out, but knowing ahead of time saves me the stress and the campground the 4 letter words that come with trial and error!

Come on everyone, feel free to throw your two cents in, I never had to think of all this stuff in my tent so every little bit helps!!
 

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If you don't already have them, buy pie irons. As long as you have bread and butter you can put just about anything in them and the kids will always have something to eat. We've used ours constantly for years and they are the one must-have in the camper(in regards to cooking).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Pie Irons!!! Yes!! I was just looking at them the other day, do you use the single or double pie iron? There were mixed reviews on both as to which was better and I couldn't decide.
An electric cooler? I'll have to look into that! We have always done our 10 day trip with the kids (yes, in a tent, 3 kids, 10 days... now you know why I needed something bigger) in mid July and running out of ice in the coolers is a constant problem. Seems like by the time we go home we've spent just as much on more bags of ice as we did on the vacation!!
Thanks guys!! Awesome thoughts and info!!

Keep 'em coming everyone!! I'm gonna have one helluva shopping list this weekend!! :)
 

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Note on the electric cooler - you'll need a 110v power source. When you mentioned a fully equipped campground I hope you meant full hookups (water and electric, except maybe sewer, since I doubt you have a sewer drain on the popup).

If you want to stay somewhere off the grid, then a generator should help.

If the electric cooler uses 12v, then use this with caution! These can drain a battery pretty quick especially if the battery is not being charged by your popup's converter, or solar panels or a generator. The 12v usage is designed for when the vehicle is enroute and the vehicle's engine is charging the battery while enroute, then all you have to worry about is that the trickle charging is working fast enough to keep the battery fresh.
 

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Sorry...was gone camping.....good pie irons have some weight to them so I certainly would suggest buying the single ones..esp since you would prob like the kids to learn to use their own! There are tons of recipes out there but here are a few ideas:

pizza
apple pie
grilled cheese
breakfast sndwiches
smores sandwich
cinnamon rolls

If you want exact recipes for these let me know....it's kinda self-explanatory....two slices of bread buttered on the outside with the items you want inside....we've been successful with grands cinn rolls too but find that if you want to make something with biscuits(like a breakfast sand)then we cut them in half to make them thinner and they cook through better. And of course these only take a few minutes on each side so no raw items....everything must be cooked first(ie breakfast sausage).
 

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Marshmellow sticks! Teddy bears! Good pillows! Camp chairs you can pull up to the campfire!

On our first camping trip we had no clue how dirty kids could get. Within a day, my 5yo went through every outfit she had and was reduced to wearing her dad's Tshirt(and nothing else!) until I could get some laundry done. That's when I learned to bring at least 2 bathing suits for each kid and let them wear them exclusively when it's warm out. And bring double the clothes.
 

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We have camped for many years and the one thing we always have is an inventory list of what is in pup and tv. We added and removed items from list regularly and now think we have the must haves without the never used items. One last thought is a rachet and lug bolt size socket to care in tv just in case. This item inside a towed pop up would be worthless Happy safe camping
 
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