Pop-up tent campers come with a long list of advantages, such as being easy to tow with a wide range of vehicles and being more affordable than a hard-sided trailer. Pop-up campers come in fabrics that include vinyl, canvas, or a combination of both. Canvas offers a classic look, vinyl has a more space-age appearance and each comes with features that make it well-suited for different camping conditions.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
If wet weather frequently visits the climate where you camp, a vinyl-sided pop-up trailer will resist a good soaking better than one made with cotton canvas. Canvas tent trailers get treated to promote water resistance, but merely touching wet canvas causes skin oils to compromise the waterproofing. Vinyl sheds water better, dries more quickly and resists mildew better than canvas. Vinyl also holds moisture inside the tent during damp weather, so be sure to crack one of the windows open to prevent condensation buildup.
In Cold Weather
While you don't have to worry about canvas cracking from the cold, vinyl resists cracking down to -20 degrees F. Vinyl does, however, become stiff when weather gets below freezing, making it harder to fold than dry canvas. Running your heater inside the tent while you're packing up ensures the walls remain pliable. You can wipe away moisture on the outside of the tent with a cloth as you fold up the unit. On wintry days, moisture trapped in a canvas tent freezes, stiffening the fabric. Running your heater melts the ice and makes it pliable, but you'll still find yourself packing away a wet tent. When you arrive home, you'll need to open your tent to let it dry completely, something not easily done during winter weather unless you have a large garage.
Money for Material
Pop-up camping trailers with canvas or canvas-and-vinyl construction are usually less expensive than vinyl. Replacement vinyl material for repairing tears runs a couple of dollars more per yard than cotton canvas. While it's easy to think that canvas is easily sewn over the top of a tear on a canvas tent, doing so can actually compromise the material's integrity and water resistance. Whether repairing canvas or vinyl, it's important to use special adhesive designed for each fabric to prevent damage.
Keeping It Clean
Cleaning vinyl is easy to do with a mild liquid detergent, water and a sponge. For stained or extra-dirty spots, prevent cracking or peeling by using vinyl cleaner or cleaning products that state on their label that they are vinyl-safe. Clean the interior side of the vinyl with mild liquid detergent and a sponge or soft-bristled brush. Don't use a scrub brush on the exterior side of the vinyl; it will compromise the fabric's integrity. Using mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush also works well for cleaning canvas, followed by a rinse with clear water. Dry completely before repacking the tent.