Tired of staying at crowded campgrounds? Want to enjoy scenic areas off the beaten path? Not ready to depend just on your vehicle and a tent?
Then an off road pop up camper is the way to go!
They’re light, nimble, and can provide sleeping space for several people. But don’t think you can take just any pop up camper off-road. You need one that’s designed to handle the extra bumps, ruts, steep inclines, and random bears you’ll find on 4×4 trails.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the best off road pop up campers. Plus, we’ll go over a few things you need to consider before buying one and driving out into the backcountry.
What Is an Off-Road Pop-Up Camper?
An off-road pop up camper (or tent trailer) is similar to a normal pop up camper, but with an extra-rugged construction, increased ground clearance, and other features that make it more suitable for off-the-grid camping.
An off road pop-up camper is kinda like a normal pop up’s smaller but more muscular little brother that’s always walking around in combat boots and cargo pants. 😜
Pros and Cons of Off-Road Pop-Up Campers?
Here are some of the benefits of an off-road tent trailer.
- Extra space for camping gear. Carrying extra food, water, and overlanding gear can put a real strain on your off-road vehicle, especially when on rough roads. But a pop up trailer gives you some extra cargo space. This is especially nice when you’re planning long trips away from civilization.
- More rugged construction. An off road pop up’s rugged construction means it’ll likely hold up better over time. So if you simply want a more durable and long-lasting pop up even if you only hit rough roads 10% of the time, an off-road pop up is the way to go.
- Go anywhere your vehicle can. The best off-road pop up campers can go anywhere your 4×4 vehicle can. So when you’re staring up a steep, rutted forest trail in your overlanding vehicle, you know you can charge ahead with confidence and your pop up can keep up.
(Hey, that rhymes!🤪)
Yeah, off-road pop-ups are pretty cool! But they do have some cons you should be aware of.
- Usually more expensive. Their rugged construction, beefed-up suspension, and improved durability doesn’t come cheap.
- Usually not as comfortable as normal tent trailers. Off-road popups are usually smaller, more utilitarian, and not as comfort-focused as traditional pop-ups.
So as you decide which of the off road pop up campers on the list to buy, here are some features you need to consider.
Off Road Pop Up Features to Look For
Here are 5 features you should look at that can help you decide which is the best off-road pop up camper for you.
Some off-road trailers have a through-axle with leaf spring suspension. This is simple and inexpensive but the axle is a vulnerable area. Many off-road trailers that are made for highly technical trails have types of independent suspension that eliminate that vulnerability and provide a better ride.
You’re going off-road right? Then your pop-up trailer needs off-road tires too. They’ll handle extra cargo weight going over bumps and trees roots with less slippage or chances of blowing a tire.
- Ground Clearance
In addition to the overall ground clearance, you should also consider the approach and departure angles. Better angles will help you get through more extreme terrain without dragging the front or rear of your camper.
Towing a trailer on flat, paved roads is hard enough. Doing that on rough, steep trails is even harder. So be sure to double-check the towing capacity of your vehicle while factoring in all the camping gear you’ll be carrying in it as well.
- Extra Storage
If you want to use your off road pop up camper to carry extra camping gear, be sure to check the total GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and the CCC (Cargo Carrying Capacity). That way you’ll know how much extra you can safely carry in it. Plus, some off-road pop ups have special racks or tie-downs for strapping on gear.
As you weigh each of these features, consider your off-grid camping style.
- Do you really need a pop up that can handle technical 4×4 trails?
- Or will you be staying mostly on relatively smooth dirt roads and trails?
- What’s most important to you: a comfortable place to sleep, extra cargo room, or other comfort features like a galley and a bathroom?
Questions like those will help you make the right choice and ensure you get the most out of your time in the wild.
Ok, so enough with the dreary details…let’s get to the list!
Here it is.
The 7 Top Off-Road Popup Campers
Please keep in mind that these campers aren’t organized from best to worst, cheapest to most expensive, or prettiest to ugliest. Consider the factors I mentioned above and choose the best one for your off-road camping adventures.
*If you’re starting to get into off-road camping or overlanding, don’t miss my article: How to Start Overlanding | Overland Camping for Beginners.
Let’s get started with a few off-road pop-up campers from Opus. With articulating Lock’N’Roll hitches, durable steel chassis, and independent off-road suspension, these pop-ups are ready to hit the trails.
Plus, the OP LITE, 2, and 4 feature OPUS’ unique inflation system that sets up your pop-up in just 90 seconds!
Best For: Couples who want a comfy off-grid basecamp that’s easy to tow.
The Opus LITE is a great first off-road pop up camper for a couple who want to go anywhere and don’t have a monster vehicle. It’s rugged, versatile, lightweight, and still has everything you need for off-grid camping and overlanding.
Although it only has a dry weight of just 2380 lbs, the OP LITE has a queen size bed, large dinette, a single 100Ah battery, sink with onboard water tank, and a 4-burner cooktop. And despite its small size, you won’t feel claustrophobic thanks to its tall 8-foot ceilings.
Check out the Opus LITE official video tour.
But if you might bring some friends or your kids along, the OP2 and OP4 might be the better option.
Best For: Families or groups traveling together who need extra sleeping and cargo space.
Don’t get confused with the numbers in the model names. The Opus OP2 sleeps up to 4 people between a bed and convertible dinette. The OP4 sleeps up to 6 people between 2 beds and the convertible dinette. They’re almost the exact same except for the extra sleeping capacity.
Their rough and rugged all-terrain chassis, off-road tires, and beefy independent suspension let the OP2 and OP4 go just about anywhere. And like the OP LITE, the OP2 and OP4 have a 4-burner stainless steel cooktop, 12V cooler, sink, and onboard water tanks.
But these aren’t just the OP LITE with extra beds. The OP2 and OP4 are definitely the beefy older brothers to the LITE. They’ve got a thicker canvas tent, cargo racks, double 100Ah batteries, and larger water tanks.
Watch an OP2 unboxing video.
Watch an OP4 video and see why it was one of the finalists for the 2021 Camper Trailer of the Year!
Best For: Those who want luxury and comfort in the middle of nowhere.
The OPUS OP15 is the big daddy of the off-road pop-up campers. And really…I’m kinda stretching it to call it a popup, ‘cause it’s not your normal pop up. Let’s call it a popup hybrid because it just has a pop-up roof for added headroom and an extendable room at the back.
If you want to go anywhere but still want to feel like you’re camping in a normal RV, the OP15 is for you. It’s just 15 feet long (without with extendable room pullout) and weighs in at about 5,000 pounds.
OPUS has really tried to maximize the interior space and comforts by keeping the kitchen outside, similar to the other OPUS pop-up trailers. That means that inside this off-road pop-up you’ve got a king bed, bunk beds, dining area, pantry storage, and even a wetbath with a shower, sink, and toilet!
And as for other comforts you don’t normally find in off-road pop-up campers, the OP15 comes fully loaded with on-demand hot water, 13,500BTU AC unit, 4-speaker entertainment system, HD TV, and a retractable awning.
Watch the official OPUS Campers USA OP15 video.
The OPUS off-road pop-ups should definitely be towards the top of your list. But what if you don’t need something with as many bells and whistles?
Try this next one!
Best For: Couples or families with a young kid or two who venture off the beaten path…but not too far off.
The Sylvansport Go isn’t the most rugged of our off-road pop-ups. Sure, it’s more rugged than most normal pop-ups, so…let’s call it a “soft-roader”.
But what it lacks in extreme 4×4 capabilities, it makes up for with its versatile practicality. This pop-up is perfect for families with smaller SUVs and crossovers who need some extra storage space for bulky outdoor toys.
Need to haul some kayaks? The GO can do it.
What about some bikes? No problem!
But what about DIRT bikes? Yup 👍, the GO can haul ‘em.
The GO can even haul most 4-wheelers! It’s got a unique gear deck with an adjustable height that you can adapt to what you’re hauling. Then, when it’s time to set up camp, open the tent pod and you’ve got sleeping space for four.
Check out this Sylvansport Go setup and tour video.
Best For: Extreme off-roading.
The TenTrax Ascend is the smallest of the off-road pop-up campers. It’s a few feet long and has a dry weight of just 600 lbs. It might be small on size but it’s big on attitude.
If you’re looking for an off-road pop-up that can follow your muddy Jeep through Moab, the Rubicon, and pretty much anywhere else on dry land, this is the one for you. It comes standard with a durable steel frame, fiberglass body, and 31” all-terrain tires.
The Ascend also has 35 cu. ft. of sealed storage for extra gear. Plus, it’s got a built-in pop-up tent for when it’s time to get some rest.
And for those of us on a budget, you’ll love that this is also one of the cheapest off-road pop-up campers on the list with a starting MSRP of $7,995.
Watch the official Ascend demo video.
Looking for a more “normal” pop-up trailer that’s adventure-ready? Check out this next one.
Source: Forest River
Best For: Families who want a normal pop-up with a bit of added durability for smooth dirt roads.
Forest River offers several floor plans with the Sports Enthusiast, some that even include a pullout dinette and a wet bath.
Just be realistic with what you expect out of the Sports Enthusiast when it comes to its off-road capabilities. The Sports package does add:
- Beefier tires and a little extra ground clearance
- Diamond plate accents for some extra protection from flying gravel
- Roof bars for extra gear-hauling
- 100w solar panel and 1000w inverter with the ability to add more solar panels.
Just don’t expect this pop-up to go everywhere the OPUS OP4 can. But it is a nice, budget-friendly option if you spend a lot of time on smooth dirt/gravel roads.
Source: Forest River
Source: Black Series
Best For: If you want something with serious off-road capabilities but don’t need all the bells and whistles of the OPUS pop-ups.
Black Series makes a really nice range of off-road trailers—from tiny cargo trailers to huge dual-axle campers. The Dominator is one of their simplest off-road pop-up campers.
With its rugged construction, polyblock hitch, and custom independent suspension, this guy can handle some rough 4×4 trails. Its exterior is super functional and similar to the OP2/4 with slideouts for a stainless steel sink, a 3-burner stove, and a place for a 12V cooler.
However, you won’t find some of the fancier features like you would on the OPUS—speakers, 90-second setup with the OPUS AIR system, etc. But you also won’t find the higher price tag.
Source: Black Series
Check out the Official Dominator video tour.
You did it! You made it to the end of the list! 🍻
Here are a few questions you might still have about off-road popup campers.
Off Road Pop Up Camper FAQs
Why are off road trailers so expensive?
For the same reasons off-road vehicles are more expensive than regular cars. They’re overbuilt to handle the rigors of 4×4 trails. The price of all that extra steel, beefy suspension, and all-terrain tires quickly adds up. But it’s worth it, because you need a trailer you can rely on no matter what.
What other options are there for off road camper trailers?
Here are a few other options if you don’t necessarily need a pop-up.
TAXA Camper Trailers: They have some really cool options from small overlanding trailers with rooftop tents to larger trailers with sleeping space for several people.
Oregon Trailer DO-Drop Alpha: This is a seriously capable off-road teardrop trailer. Plus, they have several other options on their site as well.
Smittybilt SCOUT Trailer: Get this trailer shipped to you, put it together and you’ve got an extremely capable off-road cargo trailer. Throw a roof-top tent on the top and it’s almost a pop-up.
*Check out my review of some of the best roof-top tents to add to your off-road trailer.
Which is the best pop up camper for extreme off roading?
It’s hard to beat the off-road capabilities of the TenTrax Ascend. But if you need a pop-up camper with a little more space and gear storage, then go with the OPUS OP2/4.
Which Is the Best Off-Road Pop Up Trailer for You?
Are you gonna go with the luxurious, yet capable OP15 off-road pop up camper? Maybe that one’s a little overkill. Then why not the extremely versatile Sylvansport GO?
Whichever you choose, don’t forget to consider:
- How far off-road you’ll be going
- How much extra cargo you need it to carry
- And if you want to use your camper as a galley and living area
Just make sure to get out there and have a crazy good time outdoors!👏👏😊
Don’t forget to check out my other RV, overlanding, and camping articles like:
- 10 Best off road camper trailers under $10,000 | Video Tours!
- What is Overlanding? Get Ready to Go Overland Camping!
- 11 Best Travel Trailers Under 5000 lbs (2021) Video Tours, Pics + Floor Plans!
- Your Overland Camping Kitchen – The Guide to What You Need and What You Don’t
- RV Airskirts Review – Reusable, Compact and Easier to Set Up than Foamboards! - October 25, 2021
- 11 Best RV Covers for Winter | Video Reviews + Buyer’s Guide - October 20, 2021
- 8 Best Travel Trailers Under 1500 lbs (2021) Video Tours + Pics - October 19, 2021