How to find the value of a pop up camper: practical notes, guidelines, value explanation and more.....
Regardless of how much someone asks or wants to pay for a pop-up camper, as everything else in this world – Pop-Up Campers have their quite well defined market value.
Popup camper values are established based on several factors.
Some factors are objective representing well defined and known fixed costs, others represent changing trends and market conditions.
And finally there is a set of more or less subjective factors reflecting the human nature behind each buying/selling transaction.
The factors determining popup camper values can be summarized as follows:
Did you ever think of going on vacation with a tent and coming back hauling a pop-up camper bought in one of those lower cost areas? And the best is to do it in an “As usual” manner which means first of all enjoying your vacations time.
And then well – if you come across a “jewel” you are the winner. Keep in mind that the best deals are happening when you really do not look for them.
And the opposite – usually the worst deal you make when you are already tired of checking countless campers making your final choice out of desperation rather than as an educated decision.
Of course before you go to check any camper there is some home work to do that can be summarized by these words:
Get Educated! - understand the Popup Camper Value
Your education includes:
At first it seems a trivial question, but the often forgotten fact is that there is a different set of requirements for the pop-up camper that you will haul along nicely paved highways and park for a night on fully equipped campgrounds.
Quite different requirements will be for pop-up campers used in rustic areas, on gravel or dirt roads, going for fishing etc…
Last thing you want to happen is to buy the camper with the GVWR exceeding hauling capabilities of your car!
fastest way to get educated is to visit one of the RV shows in your
area. Although it may be an exhausting experience, it is the best way to
quickly figure out:
- what is available on the market
- what are current industry standards and trends
- what do you really need,
- what you may like to have and
- what you definitely do not want!
It does not mean that you have to buy the new camper. It is only an educational trip to get the “feeling” and touch (not fully possible in the virtual world of Internet).
Most likely you will also find there seemingly “tireless” representatives ready to answer most of your questions.
This may not be the case when visiting the local dealer, who usually is able to quickly distinguish the buyer from the “hungry of information visitor” who anyhow will end-up buying his dream pop-up camper someplace else.
But still, it is one of your options especially if you are targeting used models.
Usually the Kelly Blue Book is considered as the first choice, but frankly in the case of campers KBB’s Travel Trailer Guide is not available online so your only choice is the library, credit union, bookstore, Amazon, subscription or friends!
Better choice for campers is the National
Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) publishing the relevant
information online and available 24/7!
NADA's RV Appraisal Guide
Covers 15 Years of Prices (1998-2012) for Truck Campers, Camping Trailers, Motor Homes, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, Park Models and Heavy-Duty Tow Vehicles including Used Wholesale, Retail, and Suggested List Prices;
Includes Easy-to-Use Mileage Tables, Optional Equipment Sections, Freight Chart Schedules and More!
Updated 3 Times per Year (Jan. - May - Sept.)
Covers 20 Years of Used Wholesale, Retail and Suggested List Prices From 1978-1997 Plus an Optional Equipment Section.
Covers Truck Campers and Camping Trailers, Motor Homes, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels and Park Models.
Updated Annually in January.
Click on any of the pictures above to open the relevant page of the NADA's website.
Once on the home page proceed as follows:
You will get the estimated value of the basic model (Suggested List Price, Low Retail and Average Retail values as well as listed expected cost of optional amenities.
And one more very useful feature – if you found your favorite camper and know its VIN number you can check on NADA’s website for reported technical problems using the RV History Reports window (top-left).
The prices shown on NADA website are Selling Prices (trade-in prices you have to negotiate with the dealer).
Suggested List Price reflects the value of the brand new camper and usually it is provided by the manufacturer.
Low Retail Value represents units with an extensive wear & tear conditions. These may require a lot of extra work ($$$) to bring them back to the level of your comfort.
Average Retail Value represents units in good condition without visible defects. They are expected to be clean, all equipment operational and sometimes may even have a limited warranty and/or valid safety inspection.
Although I do not suggest to buy pop-up campers online for the reasons outlined below, this is still a good source of valuable information about seasonal and regional market value fluctuations.
Before we go farther, you may want to see the process of setting-up and folding the pop-up camper presented by American RV Center (Evansville, Indiana).
Walk-throughdemonstration of the setup and use of
a Popup Folding Tent Camper. Example unit is a 2011 Rockwood Freedom
2270 from American RV Center in Evansville, Indiana. Covers leveling,
chocking, utilities, electrical, water systems, crank up, and more
make it clear - there is nothing wrong with buying even valuable items
on Ebay and Amazon. The problem with folding campers is that you really
must see them open and folded, touch them and literally sniff inside.
Photos, even the best (and honest) cannot reveal the whole story.
Keep in mind this old saying: If you buy the cat in the bag, you can only pay for the bag!
Camper Value Calculation
It is not always necessary to buy a brand new camper to get the most out of your vacations. Especially if you are new to camping, then you would be better off with a used camper. When you gain more experience and get proficient with the different models available, then you can purchase your own new camper. Until then, you can learn the necessary skills of using and maintaining a used camper. One of the main problems that most people face with used campers is getting the Camper value calculation right for the vehicle.
As opposed to new vehicles where the price of each model is more or less known, the prices of used vehicles are much more difficult to compute. Most newcomers would want to go by the figures mentioned in the “Blue Book” or the “Nada” guides. Although these guides are good for motor vehicles, they may not accurately evaluate the value of a used camper.
Since the camper has the vehicle unit as well as the living quarters as separate entities, both need to be evaluated separately. While most guides focus on the vehicle part, they may not give an accurate estimation of the living quarters in a camper.
One way to make a correct Camper value calculation would be to compare the model with similar models in the same category. As long as they have similar fittings, amenities and features, it is reasonable to equate the costs of both models to a certain extent.
If you know the value of the used vehicle to a certain degree of
certainty, then you would be in a better position to decide when you are
faced with a model in good condition. You can also look of good models
in auctions conducted in different places. For more information, visit
Bruce Lambert, CO
How to find camper values online
Whenever you’re in need of sources that can help you determine the value of your camper or of pop-up campers you want to purchase, you will find a lot of online sources of information that estimate trailer prices or compare them.
Even though you cannot reach a conclusion based on these sources exclusively, they can still prove to be of much help.
There are several basic criteria which determine the camper values: