This isn’t a new post, but I’ve been hearing from quite a few readers who aren’t quite sure how to level a pop up camper. Since it has been a while since I posted about this, I thought it might be a good time for a refresher. Remember, leveling your camper is a pretty important step. A little prep work before you leave the house (buy a BAL Leveler!) will save you headaches at camp. 😉
HOW TO LEVEL A POP UP CAMPER
There are a few questions I get asked over and over, and one of them is how to properly level a pop up camper. Keep in mind that each pop up camper is a little different, and you should always refer to your user’s manual for specific information on setting up your folding trailer. After reading through our Coleman user’s manual, we came up with the best way to set up and level our pop up. I thought I’d share that with you, as many of these processes are pretty universal and work for most PUPs.
There are several reasons you want your pop up camper to be as level as possible. The first, and most obvious one, is comfort. It’s a whole lot easier to sleep, eat, and cook on a level surface, but there are other equally important reasons a level camper is a must. If your pop up has a 3-way fridge, you’ll need your camper level for it to operate efficiently. In fact, if you operate your fridge off level for extended periods of time, you could cause serious damage to your system. You can also have problems with the fit of your door and cause unnecessary stress on the frame of the camper if you don’t take the time to properly level the trailer before you use it.
So just how do you make sure your camper is perfectly level when you set it up? In the beginning, I stressed about that a lot. I may have made Mr. TypeTwoFun a little crazy about it. Here’s what we discovered… Depending on where we placed the level, we got a different reading. We parked the camper in a nearly level area to take our readings–for us, this was our garage. The reading from the bumper was completely different from the reading on the tongue. After studying up on this, we realized that the camper didn’t have to be perfectly level, just as nearly so as possible. We decided that since it was most important for us to have the door and fridge working properly, we would take our readings from there. We set set a 2 foot carpenter’s level just inside the door, and one on the top of the fridge. We adjusted the camper until we got level front to back readings on those, which thankfully wasn’t too hard. Then we turned the levels sideways to level the camper side to side.
Once we were satisfied with our leveling job, we added these Hopkins graduated levels to the front and side of the camper. Now when we set up camp, we don’t need to bring the 2 foot level along with us. We can just use these mini levels to make sure we are spot on.
The level on the front of our camper gives us our side to side reading, and the one on the side helps us level the trailer front to back. This makes it so much easier to set up the camper once we get to our campsite. When we arrive at camp, the first thing we do is get out and walk the site to determine where we want to park the camper.
Sometimes, we get an awesome campsite that is pretty near level and there isn’t much work to do. Typically, though, we have to do quite a bit of leveling, especially side to side. One thing that has made this process so much easier is our BAL Leveler. This thing is the bomb! All we have to do is pull into our site, unhitch the trailer, and slide this baby under the low tire.
Our BAL Leveler serves as a chock for that tire, but it is always a good idea to chock the other tire, too. This prevents the camper from moving while you are camped. We typically use a small piece of pine 2×4 or a large rock, but if you want to get fancy, you can purchase wheel chocks like these. We’ve had our eye on these chocks for a while, as sometimes (especially when we forget our 2×4) there isn’t a rock in sight when we pull up to our site.
Once you’ve got the trailer wheels chocked and the BAL Leveler slid under the low tire, you just use the wrench to crank the leveler to the desired height. Keep an eye on your side to side level, and once you hit zero, you’re done. That’s it! If you don’t want (or can’t afford) to purchase a BAL Leveler, there are other leveling methods you can use– like Lynx Leveling Blocks or a system of 2×4’s cut at varying lengths, but in our opinion, the BAL Leveler is well worth the cost.
We keep our BAL Leveler just inside the door of the PUP. To protect it from the elements–and to protect the inside of the camper from its metal edges–we store it in a 20″x 20″ pizza delivery bag. It fits perfectly and provides a little bit of padding, too. You can find these on Amazon here or on eBay from various sellers. I highly recommend one for your BAL Leveler. We only picked one up a few months ago, and I wish we would have purchased it in the beginning.
Now that you’ve got the camper level side to side, you can use the tongue jack to make sure you are level front to back. This is a shot of our tongue jack, and yes, it has a wheel. We have never had a problem with it rolling. If you are really nervous about that, you can always set it on wheel dock like this one. When we are all level, we raise the roof.
Our manual specifically says to raise the roof before we put down the stabilizers. Putting down the stabilizer jacks before you raise the roof can put undue stress on the trailer frame and lift system and cause premature wear. We always remember “UP-DOWN” when we set up and take down the camper. The roof goes UP, then the stabilizers go DOWN. Once we are folding the trailer up, the stabilizers go UP, then the roof goes DOWN. It makes it easy for us to remember the order.
We raise the roof until the fabric is pretty taut. We’ve gotten a feel for how we like it, so we know how our canvas should look and feel when the camper roof is high enough.
Then we lower our stabilizer jacks. We like to use a flat piece of plywood to prevent the feet of the jack from sinking. You may or may not need to do this, depending on the terrain. Remember, these are stabilizers and are made to stabilize the camper once it is level. Your stabilizer jacks should NEVER be used to level the camper. We crank them down until they touch the ground, and then make sure they are snug. Don’t over tighten the stabilizers, though. It can cause the trailer be off level, and you’ll have problems with your door and fridge. At this point, we make sure to check our levels to ensure we haven’t tightened the stabilizer jacks too much. If we are still level, we’re good.
Once we’ve got the stabilizer jacks down, we can pull out the beds, put down the door, and finish our set up. We have always taken just a few extra minutes in the beginning to make sure we are level and well stabilized, and it has made all the difference. Our camper always feels stable and secure, and we’ve never had a problem with the door or fridge… knock on wood. 😉
Do you do things differently? What method do you use to level a pop up camper? We’d love to hear from you! Sound off in the comments below.
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