Frequently Asked Questions
There are some questions we just see over and over again, so, to help our users as best we can, we have put together a compilation of the most common questions, for your information.
(1) How Do I Tell How Old My Pennine Camper Is?
Traditionally, the most common question that arises, it is a relatively simply one to answer.
All Pennine folding campers left the factory with an identification plate on the A frame, on the right hand side (looking at the camper from the front) situated between the towing hitch and the gas locker. This plate contains two numbers; the top number is the maximum gross weight of the camper. The lower number is the serial number. The serial number is divided into two components. The first element is an up to four digit number, then there is a space, and then a second, two digit, number. The second, two digit number represents the year of manufacture.
(2) I'm Thinking Of Buying My First Folding Camper. What Should I Be Looking For?
Another hugely common question. There is no quick answer to this, so we have written a Used Camper Buyers Guide to assist potential purchasers with that first venture into the world of folding campers. The guide can be viewed here; Used Camper Buyers Guide.
(3) What Weight Of Camper Can My Car Reasonably Be Expected To Tow?
The performance of any given car will, of course, depend on its engine size, braking ability, suspension, gearing, transmission, fuel etc. All vehicles will have a maximum authorised towing capacity, for both braked and unbraked trailers. Much is made of the Caravan Club guidelines suggesting that no braked trailer (which all folding campers are) should exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle. They also suggest that this figure should be no more than 50% for unbraked trailers. Although this guideline has been adopted by the vast majority of the automotive and caravan industries, it is worth mentioning that (a) this guideline has no basis in law. It is simply a recommendation, (b) it has never been updated, in order to take account of improvements in technology, and (c) it only, really, applies to caravans, which have their own unique towing characteristics. It does not, in fact, relate to the vast majority of trailers, including folding campers, which are far less vulnerable to cross winds, overtaking HGVs and snaking than the average caravan.

For this reason, kerb weight can be totally ignored, when towing a folding camper. The only relevant figure required, from both a safety and legal perspective, is the authorised towing capacity of the towing vehicle. This will be shown on a plate on the vehicle, and should, also, be shown on the V5 document, and, possibly, the vehicle handbook. Once you have established your vehicle's towing capacity, you can take a look at The Folding Camper & Trailer Tent Definitive Guide to match this with the maximum gross weight of a large selection of folding campers and trailer tents.
(4) What Is The Difference Between A Folding Camper And A Trailer Tent?
If you want to know the detailed legal requirements, you can check them out in our recent blog article on UK Towing Legislation.
It's a common misconception that folding campers and trailer tents are, actually, the same thing. This is not, in fact, the case (although they are, often, very difficult to tell apart, when folded).
(5) Do Camp Sites Treat Folding Campers As Tents Or Caravans?
One of the key differences is that the kitchen in a folding camper is an integral part of the main trailer, whereas the kitchen in a trailer tent is normally free standing, and is situated in the awning area of the tent. Folding campers are, generally, much better equiped, and they are, basically, a caravan base (with kitchen, cupboards, seating, and, even, a toilet / washroom in higher spec. models) with a canvas top. The most you will usually find in a trailer tent is two double beds, and, maybe, a couple of bench type seats. the remainder of the accomodation is situated within the awning part of the unit.
A simple distinction could, therefore, be that a folding camper is fully self contained within the trailer unit itself, and can be utilised with, or without, the optional awning extension. A trailer tent, on the other hand, relies on the awning area for its main living accomodation, and would not, normally, be used without it.
For more information on this question, take a look at our blog article; Folding Campers: What's It All About? If you want an in depth explanation of all of the various options, feel free to check out another article; Choosing A Folding Camper Or Trailer Tent. What Are The Options?
The simple answer is; 'both'.
The Caravan Club treat them in the same way as Caravans, meaning that folding camper owners can both join the club, and use all of the club sites.
Also, there are a lot of camp sites out there that will take tents and motor homes, but are not licensed for caravans. These sites all treat folding campers as trailer tents and allow them on, as well. It's in the best interests of a site to be a little flexible, as it's all extra business for them, and we have yet to find a site that doesn't take folding campers.
(6) How Do We Set Up The Awning With Our Folding Camper?
This is yet another very common question. The basic setup of a folding camper is pretty straightforward, even for a first timer. The awning, however, can be a very different matter and, for many, is a pretty daunting task. Some have colour coded poles, but many do not. To try and make this task a little less complicated, we have put together the 10 step; 10 Step Guide To Setting Up A Pennine Awning.
For those who prefer more comprehensive guidance, we have, now, also introduced the Detailed Pictorial Guide To Setting Up a Pennine Awning.
(7) I've Only Recently Passed My Driving Test. What Am I Legally Allowed To Tow?
By far the most popular question we have ever dealt with. When our article was produced on the Blue Sky blog, in September 2014, it received well over 5,000 views in the first 48 hours alone, more than any other article we have ever produced. Since then, we have refined it and included a number of helpful examples, videos and links, to really help you to get to the bottom of this popular question. To take a look at the full feature, check out our article; Towing With A Car In The UK. Just What Are The Current Laws? As a further extension to this article, we have now, also, introduced The Definitive Guide To Towing In The UK, in a downloadable pdf format.
(8) What Do I Need To Do About Waterproofing My Folding Camper?
We very often get asked about waterproofing the canvas of a folding camper, using propietory products, such as Fabsil.
With respect to waterproofing, generally, the advice has to be; "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Waterproofing solution should only be applied when the canvas is leaking profusely, and cannot be remedied using any other means.
The cotton fibres in the fabric expand and contract, depending on their moisture content. As the fabric becomes soaked, it begins to swell, thereby plugging any microscopic holes in the canvas, and preventing water ingress, just like the wooden slats of a water barrel expand, and fill the gaps, in order to retain the liquid inside. Water proofing solution plugs those holes in much the same way as the fibres do. Unfortunately, in doing so, it coats the cotton fibres, making them rigid, and preventing them from expanding when they become wet. This means that we have, effectively, removed the natural waterproofing qualities of the canvas. Once we have done this, it is only the water proofing solution that is keeping the moisture out. As the canvas flexes and moves, and is exposed to the elements, the water proof layer breaks down, and, as we have now destroyed the canvas' own ability to keep water out, we begin to notice leaks appearing, once again. As a result, we find ourselves constantly re applying the solution, on a regular basis.
So. What is the best procedure when we spot a leak? Well. Most campers with non acrylic canvases will dry out, when placed in storage, for any period of time, and some will contract enough to allow water to start seeping in. The best procedure is to set the camper up, and lightly spray it with a hose, until reasonably wet, allow it to dry a little, and then repeat, using a little more water each time. A normal canvas should self repair as it becomes saturated, and the leaks should disappear. On those rare occasions when it doesn't, then you may wish to consider the application of the likes of Fabsil, which can be either painted or sprayed onto the canvas.
If you would like a slightly more detailed explanation of this, you can find it in our recent article; How And When Should We Water Proof A Folding Camper?
(9) Do I Need To Insure My Folding Camper?
The simple answer is; 'No. You don't have to, by law, but it is highly recommended. This recent article explains why; Do We Need To Insure Our Folding Campers?
(10) Do I Need A TV Licence For My Folding Camper?
A folding camper is classed in the same way as a touring caravan, and is covered by our TV licence at home, so there is no need for a separate TV licence for the camper. Static caravans and mobile homes are required to have a separate lcence, but ONLY if the TV there is likely to be watched at the same time as the one at home. (Good luck to the authorities in trying to police that one)!
For any touring caravan or folding camper, however, there is no need for a separate TV licence, even if the TV is also on at home.
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