Camper with pop-up roof vs. flat roof
"A real camper needs this folding thing!" and "Headroom is the be-all and end-all in a camper like this" or "Four of us want to go on holiday in the camper and we need the space." More appearance than reality, I say, the camper with pop-up roof!
So, does the camper really need a pop-up roof?
The ideas of the ideal camper are usually far apart and opinions also differ on the pop-up roof vs. high roof vs. flat roof or even the roof tent on the Bulli. Since I personally consider a high roof on the classic T6 Transporter to be a somewhat unsuccessful cosmetic operation (I'd rather have a Crafter!), I would only like to compare the pop-up roof with the standard roof - as objectively as possible, of course!
I am now assuming that our hypothetical vehicle has a pop-up roof with sleeping function. This means, of course, that four sleeping berths are available. Without wanting to take away the joy of the pro-argument, but who has ever been on the road with four people in the van? When I imagine how packed our camper is with two of us, I don't know how four people could organise themselves with bag and baggage. Once everything is in the camper, the trip will probably still be pleasant. But I wouldn't go on a trip without a cosy awning. By the way, it is more comfortable to sleep in a pop-up roof than in a tent because of the slatted frame and mattress, but the background noise is comparable. Celebrating neighbours on the campsite? Parked at the roadside?
Yes, space is limited in a camper like this, and without a pop-up roof it's especially limited in height. It's nice not to have to pull your head in when putting on your trousers. Mind you, this is only possible on campsites.
Anyone who is on a road trip and may be free standing should be careful. Because any space-altering measure on the vehicle, such as putting up the roof, could be problematic and construed as "wild camping". We ourselves travelled around 45,000 kilometres through world history for 2 years in a camper with a pop-up roof. Conclusion: I can count on one hand the days when we actually put up the pop-up roof...
The indoor climate is definitely improved by the pop-up roof. You have a less oppressive feeling due to the air above your head and since the pop-up roof is like a tent, the ventilation is better. In spring, autumn or winter, however, this tent can of course be your undoing, because there is no insulation. When you switch on the auxiliary heating, you are primarily heating the environment. Therefore, the good indoor climate is more of a seasonal benefit.
If you have a pop-up roof from the factory, the advantage is that the vehicle height fortunately remains below 2.00 m. This is especially important if you want to access underground garages or parking spaces with limited height. This is especially important if you want to drive into underground garages or height-restricted parking spaces. Retrofitted pop-up roofs, however, build up and you have to reckon with a vehicle height of 2.15 m or more.
Cooking standing up
Cooking standing up is definitely more practical than sitting down. However, with the pop-up roof it is more of an illusion that you can really cook standing up. Tragically, the kitchenette is usually too low for that. And to be honest, when we had the option of putting the roof up, we cooked outside at the camping table anyway.
Stealth or rather incognito
Thanks to the camping boom since 2020, there is a veritable hunt for "wild campers". It is all the more unlikely, if you are free standing, to put up the pop-up roof without having to face unpleasant consequences. In the end, the flat roof is simply more inconspicuous and discreet. You simply don't stand out as a camper from afar. Ideally, you should also put "Malermeisterbetrieb Odermatt" on your car and, with the right privacy glazing, there will be no more law enforcement officers knocking on your door at night.
Wind & Weather
In summer, the tendency to thunderstorms is not small, and with a pop-up roof, you get stormy winds and rain smashed against you unconditionally. If the pop-up roof has also become wet, you should make sure to dry it again before retracting it. Otherwise the material will suffer and after a longer period of time mould may even form!
The pop-up roof (unfortunately) does not come without a price, and it is a hefty one at that. Ex works, you have to reckon with a surcharge starting at 8,000 CHF, and the retrofitted roofs range in price up into the five-figure range.
Yes, which is it? Clearly, depending on the target group and usage behaviour, the flat roof and the pop-up roof each have their strengths. For those who prefer camping sites, the pop-up roof offers many positive aspects and has more than a right to exist. However, for those who travel a lot and can do without four sleeping berths, the flat-roof camper is probably just as good, if not better. Personally, I would never buy a camper with a pop-up roof again. If we needed the space, I'd build a roof tent on top of the T6 camper. If we were to be on the road for a longer period of time, I wouldn't want to miss the headroom and space. But then it will be a big van like the Crafter or Sprinter anyway!
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