Full Guide to Pop Top Caravans Australia

Best Pop Top Caravans Australia Guide

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There are many benefits to choosing pop top caravans over regular caravans. A huge advantage is their low profile, which is great for fuel reduction while travelling, plus being easier to store at home. In addition, pop top caravans have a higher interior height than full-sized caravans, making them a great choice for taller people.

In this full guide to pop top caravans Australia we will cover:

  • How pop top caravans work
  • Pop top caravan dimensions
  • Pop top caravan pros and cons
  • Common pop top caravan problems
  • Pop top caravan maintenance
  • Pop top caravan layouts
  • Pop top caravan brands & manufacturers

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What is a Pop Top Caravan?

Pop Top Caravan

A pop top caravan has all of the functions that you’d expect in a normal caravan, except with one major difference – the roof pops up for use, then pops back down again for travel and storage.

How Does a Pop Top Caravan Work?

Here’s the step-by-step process on how to set up a pop top caravan. For a more visual walk through, watch the video below.

Step 1Engage the ‘open’ position on the awning (flick the clip back)
Step 2Release the awning retainer (on the awning arm)
Step 3Loosen the knob at the bottom of both awning arms
Step 4Pull the awning strap to roll the awning out
Step 5Release all 4 roof clips (one on each corner)
Step 6Open the entry door & latch it back
Step 7Grab the 1st roof bar (inside one end of van) and push it up with both hands until it locks into place
Step 8Repeat with the 2nd roof bar inside van
Step 9Clip the safety latches into place on each of the roof bars once in position

▶️ VIDEO: How to set up a pop top caravan ↓

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Pop Top Caravan Dimensions

Pop Top Caravan Dimensions

The average pop top caravan dimensions are 2360mm high x 2470mm wide when it’s popped down and ready for travel.

The travel height of each pop top caravan will vary depending on the wheel size, interior dimensions and whether it’s an on-road or off-road van. Off-road pop top caravans will be higher since they’ve got more clearance underneath the van.

*All dimensions below are averages sourced from multiple caravan companies.

INTERIOR Pop Top Caravan Height:

Below are the average interior pop top caravan heights when popped down (closed) and when popped up (open).

CLOSED Interior Pop Top Caravan Height1620 mm
OPEN Interior Pop Top Caravan Height2015 mm – 2115 mm

TRAVEL Pop Top Caravan Height:

Below are the average closed pop top caravan heights, measuring from the ground to the top of the roof (including the a/c, hatch and antenna).

TRAVEL Pop Top Caravan Height
ON ROAD Pop Top Caravan Travel Height2360 mm – 2575 mm
OFF ROAD Pop Top Caravan Travel Height2518 mm – 2598 mm

WIDTH of a Pop Top Caravan:

Below is the average width of pop top caravans in Australia.

Pop Top Caravan WIDTH2470 mm – 2500 mm

Just to compare, here are the average dimensions of a full-sized caravan…

Full-sized Caravan Dimensions
Internal Height1975 mm – 2030 mm
Travel Height (incl. a/c)2975 mm – 3015 mm
Width (incl. awning)2470mm – 2500 mm
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Pop Top Caravan Pros & Cons

There are many advantages to choosing a pop top caravan, such as enjoying the benefits of a lower profile unit, which is great for storage and maneuverability.

However, there are some disadvantages with pop top caravans that will see you losing out on precious interior storage space, plus having canvas to deal with in bad weather.

Let’s explore the pop top caravan pros and cons so that you can decide which features are the most important for you and your family.

Advantages of Pop Top Caravans

  • Compact – easier to store in a garage, carport or backyard
  • Low profile – handy when trying to move around low-hanging branches & with off-road camping
  • Fuel efficient – less wind resistance & drag = less fuel consumption
  • Lighter – meaning you can have a tow vehicle with a smaller tow rating
  • Extra ventilation – with lots of canvas flaps & fly screens around the pop top section
  • More interior height – pop tops have a higher interior than normal caravans (better for tall people)

Disadvantages with Pop Top Caravans

  • Less storage space – no interior overhead cupboards or shelves
  • Wet canvas in rainy weather – need to dry out the canvas if packing up on a rainy day
  • Limited headspace once popped down – especially annoying if you want to duck in to make lunch on travel days
  • Tricky to lift & lower roof – need a relative amount of strength to be able to push upwards
  • Extra steps for set up & pack up – more tasks involved with setting up and packing down
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Common Pop Top Caravan Problems

Babinda Boulders Campground, Babinda QLD

Roof Can Be Hard to Lift & Lower

Depending on the design of the pop top roof bars (for pushing up the roof), some of them can be awkward to lift.

This may not be a problem for the younger, fitter folk, but for those who don’t have as much strength or height, it can be tricky.

If the gas struts aren’t 100% competent, lifting a heavy roof is no easy task, especially with the addition of air conditioning units, tv aerials and roof hatches.

CauseGas struts not working well enough
SolutionReplace gas struts with good quality, strong ones

Canvas Tucking the Wrong Way

Before lowering the roof, you need to go around and make sure that all of the canvas is tucked inwards.

Sounds like an easy enough task, right?

The problem is that quite often as you start to lower the roof, the canvas tends to push back out with the air pressure. And if you lower the roof and end up with canvas getting caught, you have to lift the roof back up and start all over again with the tucking, folding and lowering.

CauseAir pressure pushing canvas outwards as you lower the roof
SolutionTuck all canvas inwards as best as possible before lowering

Must Dry Out Canvas if You Pack Up in the Wet

Another small annoyance with the pop top caravans is that when you pack the canvas away in wet weather, you’ll need to open it all back up again on a dry day to let everything air out.

This just adds another task to the pack down process.

CauseRainy weather
SolutionOpen up awning & pop up roof to let everything dry out once the weather is fine

Leaking Roof

One of the most common pop top caravan problems is a leaking roof. This is generally caused by a crack somewhere, which needs to be fixed as soon as possible before any major water damage occurs.

CauseAge, weather, collision, tree branches, pressure etc.
SolutionClean the cracked area, then add a flexible rubber coating sealant

Stress Cracks in the Roof

Over time, you may find little stress cracks in the roof (particularly common with fibreglass-roofed Jaycos), which are caused from regular movement and flexing of the caravan.

While they may start out as harmless, they can sometimes lead to actual cracks down the line. It’s best to get onto them and fill them with a flexible rubber coating sealant, which you can find on eBay.

CausePressure, flexing, hitting pot holes & large bumps
SolutionClean the stress crack, then add a flexible rubber coating sealant

Roof Latches Becoming Stiff

Over time, the roof latches can become stiff or hard to use.

The main reasons are generally due to rust or the latch being knocked or overtightened when pulling down the pop top. You can easily get replacement pop top roof latches from Caravan RV Camping.

CauseRust or the latch getting knocked/ overtightened when collapsing
SolutionLubricant for rusty latches, replace bent or distorted latches

Rips, Tears & Loose Stitching on Canvas

Wear and tear over time can cause the canvas to sustain rips, tears and loose or broken stitching. This can happen from accidents or not keeping the canvas and stitching clean and dry when packed away.

Those who are handy with canvas sewing can mend these things as they arise. If not, getting an expert to fix the little issues before they become big issues is highly recommended.

CauseNormal wear & tear + not keeping the canvas clean & dry
SolutionMend any rips, tears and stitching or replace canvas
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How to Take Care of a Pop Top

Pop Top Caravans Australia

Always Dry Out the Canvas

Oftentimes when you’re packing up the caravan to go home or move to the next camp, the pop top canvas and awning can still be wet from rain or condensation. While packing the canvas away wet is not an issue in itself, keeping it packed away while wet is where the problems arise.

Issues caused from consistently wet canvas:

  • Canvas stitching rotting, breaking and disintegrating
  • Mould & mildew growing on canvas

As soon as the weather is clear and you’re able to open the caravan back up to dry it out, make it happen. This means popping the roof back up and rolling out the awning to allow them to air dry.

Maintenance & Re-treating the Canvas

Regularly check over the canvas, gas struts, zippers, grommets, fasteners, latches etc. and replace or fix any issues as soon as possible. Althou

gh the canvas will come with a water resistant coating, you can retreat it every year or so with a flouropolymer or petroleum sealant. Avoid silicone-based products because they may cause the canvas to break down.

Resealing the Windows

Every 12 – 24 months you should reseal around the caravan windows and also redo any other outside seals that are becoming brittle.

How to Reseal the Pop Top Caravan Windows
1. Remove the window from the frame (unscrew, then pop the seal)
2. Scrape off all of the old silicone (must be completely cleaned back to the metal)
3. Put a line of Sikaflex around the clean window frame
4. Fit the window back into its frame
5. Screw back into place

How to Clean Pop Top Canvas

Cleaning pop top canvas is easy. Here are the basics.

  • Brush off dust and dirt
  • Using a bucket, sponge and detergent, wash the canvas as you would a car
  • Leave it open to dry out

How to Clean Mould Off Pop Top Canvas

The best thing to use against mould and mildew is good old vinegar.

How to Clean Mould Off Canvas
1. Mix a bucket of water with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar
2. Use water & vinegar mixture to scrub the mouldy canvas
3. Do not rinse the vinegar off, instead let it air dry in the sun

Despite popular belief, bleach is not the way to combat mould. All bleach does is kill surface mould and bleach the colour so that you think it’s gone. Plus, it increases future mould due to the spores seeing the bleach as an “attack.”

Here are the full guides on dealing with caravan mould and cleaning mould off canvas.

How to Stop Condensation in a Pop Top Caravan

Condensation in a caravan is caused from high levels of moisture in the air, which is trapped inside the van. The warm air touching the cold surfaces turns the water vapour back into a liquid form.

The way to manage condensation in a pop top caravan is by increasing the ventilation and getting the air flowing. Below are some tips for reducing caravan condensation.

How to Stop Condensation in a Pop Top Caravan
• Open up windows & hatches
• Make sure vents are uncovered
• Use exhaust fans when showering & cooking
• Switch on the air con/ diesel heater to dry out the air
• Use moisture absorbers (particularly in the back of cupboards prone to condensation)
• Hang wet towels & clothes outside

Here are over 10 tips for reducing condensation in caravans and campers.

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Pop Top vs Caravan

Gumma Reserve, Macksville NSW

When comparing the pop top vs caravan, they both have their pros and cons. In the end, it really depends on what you’re looking for and which elements are crucial ‘must haves’ and ‘deal breakers’ for you.

Below I’ve rated the pop top vs caravan and chosen which one is the best for each category.

Pop Top CaravanFull Size Caravan
Full-height doors✔️
Overhead storage space✔️
Superior interior air circulation✔️
Extra interior height (for tall people)✔️
Better protection from water & dust ingress✔️
Simpler set up & pack down✔️
Easier to tow✔️
Easier to store✔️
Lower tow weight requirements✔️
Cheaper on fuel✔️
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Pop Top Caravans Australia FAQs

Are pop top caravans good?

Pop top caravans are a great option for those who are looking for a smaller caravan when it comes to storage and towing, yet still want the ability to open it up and expand the living space while in use. The benefit of having a pop top caravan for taller people is in the extra head space that is available compared to a normal caravan.

Are pop top caravans more fuel efficient?

Given their shorter travel height, pop top caravans have a lower wind resistance and drag, which in turn reduces the amount of fuel consumption compared to a full-sized caravan.

Can you use a pop top in the wind?

Yes, you can use a pop top caravan in the wind, however be prepared to be rocked around and not sleep as well with all of the noise and movement. The likelihood of the caravan flipping from the wind is slim to none unless you find yourself in a category 3 cyclone, in which case I wouldn’t want to be camping!

Can you stand up in a pop top caravan?

When the caravan roof is closed, most adults can’t stand up straight inside, however you can still duck inside to get something if you need it. Once the caravan roof is popped up, you will have loads of head space (often even more than a regular caravan).

Can you use a pop top in the rain?

Absolutely! The pop top canvas is heavily water resistant and as long as there are no holes, tears or cracks, you shouldn’t have any leaks.

Can you use a pop top in winter?

Pop tops can be used all year round, even in the winter. The best ways to stay warm in a pop top in the winter is with the use of layered clothing, hot water bottles, cooking inside and switching on the diesel heater (if you have one).

Do pop top caravans leak?

Pop top caravans should not leak unless there is a crack in the roof, cracked seals or canvas that needs mending. Keeping on top of maintenance and repairs will ensure that you never have to worry about your pop top leaking.

Do air cons work in pop top caravans?

Yes, you can get roof-mounted and under-bed mounted air conditioning units for pop top caravans. Keep in mind that if you’ve got a roof-mounted unit, that will add extra weight that needs to be lifted when popping up the roof. Air conditioners in pop tops will only work when plugged into power (240v or an inverter generator).

How do you keep the caravan pop top cool?

The best way to keep the caravan pop top cool in summer is by parking near shade and opening up the windows and vents on the shady side. Keep any windows closed along the sunny side or draw the curtains to keep the heat out. Make use of privacy screens and 12v fans, as well as cooking outside.

 Heating a Van Off-grid →
Keeping a Van Cool →

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Pop Top Caravan Layouts

Jayco Pop Top Caravan
Source: Jayco Caravans

Every brand and caravan model will come with different pop top caravan layouts, so finding the right fit for you is going to require some research.

I recommend wandering through caravan yards in your area and walking in and out of as many different styles as you can to hone in on the exact pop top caravan layout that you’re looking for.

Things to decide on when buying a caravan:

  • What length caravan do you want?
  • What is your tow vehicle (is it suitable for towing a van that size)?
  • How many beds do you need?
  • Do you want an ensuite and/ or washing machine?

To help you with the process of buying a caravan have a read of my tips for buying a caravan.

In addition, I’ve put together a digital Caravan Buyers Guide, where you can tick off tasks as you go, work through your tow set-up and weights, plus more. Check it out below.

Caravan Buyers Guide (15-page)

Caravan Buyers Guide

Take the stress out of buying a caravan with this interactive step-by-step guide!

  • 15-page Guide
  • Checklists to tick off
  • Interactive prompts to fill out
  • STEPS INCLUDE: Budget, Set-up, Towing Weights, PPSR Check, Handover, Hitching Up & more!

To start you off, here are three different pop top caravan layouts.

Expanda Pop Top Caravan with Ensuite

Below is the Jayco Expanda Pop Top with Ensuite. When closed this van is 17ft long, although once you’ve got both beds expanded out, you end up with a length of 26ft.

  • Two Double Beds
  • Top Bunk with Dinette underneath (converts to second bunk)
  • Kitchen
  • Dinette
  • Ensuite
Jayco Expanda Pop Top Caravan
Jayco Expanda Pop Top (17 ft – when closed)

Pop Top Caravan with Queen Bed

Most pop top caravans have a queen bed, however you can often opt for the twin single beds instead if you wish. Below is the Millard Toura Pop Top (16 ft).

  • Queen bed
  • Kitchen
  • Dinette
  • Ensuite
Millard Toura Pop Top
Millard Toura Pop Top (16 ft)

Family Pop Top Caravan with Bunks

For family pop top caravans with bunks, you’re going to be looking at a slightly longer van. Have a look at the layout of the New Age Road Owl Pop Top (18 ft) below.

  • Queen bed
  • Bunks
  • Kitchen
  • Dinette
  • Ensuite
New Age Road Owl Pop Top
New Age Road Owl Pop Top (18 ft)
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31 Pop Top Caravan Brands & Manufacturers

Here I’ve collated a list of brands and manufacturers of pop top caravans Australia. There are more popping up all the time, with many additional manufacturers offering hybrid caravans and campers.

For more complete lists, check out the Caravan Brands Australia Directory and the Off-Road Pop Top Caravans List.

Altitude Campersaltitudecampers.com.au →
Austrack Campersaustrackcampers.com.au →
Australian Off Road (AOR)australianoffroad.com.au →
Avanavan.com.au →
Blue Tongue Campersbluetonguecampers.com.au →
Boss Adventurebossadventure.com.au →
Bushranger Campersbushrangercampers.com.au →
Eagle Camper Trailerseaglecampertrailers.com.au →
Exodus Off Road Camperscompletecampsite.com.au →
EzyTrail Campersezytrailcampertrailers.com.au →
Fantasy Caravanfantasycaravan.com.au →
Far Horizon Campersfarhorizoncampers.com →
Goldstream RVgoldstreamrv.com.au →
Golf Caravansgolfcaravans.com.au →
Jawa Campersjawacampers.com.au →
Jaycojayco.com.au →
K9 Vansk9vans.com.au →
Lifestyle Camperslifestylecampers.com.au →
Malibu Caravansmalibucaravans.com.au →
Market Direct (MDC)marketdirect.com.au →
Mars Campersmarscampers.com.au →
Maverick Campersmaverickcampers.com.au →
Millard Caravansmillardcaravans.com.au →
New Age Caravansnewagecaravans.com.au →
Opus Camperopuscamper.com.au →
Paramount Caravansparamountcaravans.com.au →
Prime Campersprimecampers.com.au →
Rhino Max Campersrhinomaxcampers.com.au →
Star Vision Campers & Caravansstarvision.com.au →
Stoney Creek Campersstoneycreekcampers.com.au →
Van Glass vanglassrv.com.au →
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The Pop Top Caravans Spreadsheet

Fast-track your caravan research with the Pop Top Caravan Spreadsheet ↓

Use the pre-filled selection of 250+ different models across 50 caravan manufacturers to narrow down your search. Specify your desired weights, dimensions, number of berths, bathroom, tank size and solar power to get a shortlist with contact info and prices.

Pop Top Caravans Spreadsheet

Australian Made Caravans →
Directory of Caravan Brands →
What is a Hybrid Caravan? →

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2 thoughts on “Best Pop Top Caravans Australia Guide”

  1. Hi Emma, I really like your reviews. Great information, well researched and well presented. I see so much misinformation from people who think that they know but dont. Your diesel heater instructions etc are the very best I have seen and have gotten me way out of trouble. Thanks very much.

    1. Thanks for your honest feedback, Michael. After living the lifestyle full-time for years, I’m glad to be able to pass on what I’ve learnt and help others out along the way. When I first got started there was almost nothing available on the internet around caravanning. Now it’s being flooded with stuff, some of it helpful… some of it just spammy fluff. Safe travels.

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