PopUp Gizmos

000 PUGsOne of the challenges with a tent trailer is camping in the heat. The ends of these campers (bunks) are basically tents. The tent material doesn’t insulate and the inside of the camper can get extremely hot.

One method to somewhat mitigate the heat is covering the top of each bunk with a reflective material. Some campers try to rig up their solution using a “solar blanket” that is carried by most sporting goods stores. The problem with these off-the-shelf solutions is the need to trim the blanket and figure out a way to keep it from blowing off the tenting in windy conditions

Several years ago a company named PopUp Gizmos (http://www.popupgizmos.com/) came up with a solution. A heavy laminated cover, with sewn reinforced edges, cut exactly to the size of most popular tent trailers. Affectionately known as PUGs by pup up owners in the know, they are quite popular. Until a few years ago, PopUp Gizmos made two versions of their PUGs:

  • Standard: One edge was secured at the back of the tent roof where it tucked between the outer frame of the roof and the tent. Once the roof was raise and the camper was set up, the cover was secured at this junction. Mini-binders, similar to those found in stationary stores to clip a stack of papers together, were placed along the remaining three edges for the PUG. But it in wind, the 3 edges of the PUG came loose.
  • High Wind Version: The forward edge of the PUG had a draw cord that was secured to the camper body. These worked much better in wind. See below.

001 PUGsAbove: High Wind Version. The back of the cover is tucked under the roof. Along each side are mini-binders. If you closely you can see the cord at the front of the PUG running down the side of the tent fabric.

003 PUGsAbove: Another view of the PUG.

We were happy with our High Wind PUG most of the time, however in really windy weather the clips and front cord could not hold it down.


004 PUGsAbove: The wind is starting to pick up and you can see the PUG is starting to lift away from the tenting.

But most of the time the PUGs stayed put on our 1992 Starcraft Meteorite. We were thrilled with the protection they provided from the sun, not to mention they kept the top of the tenting material clean.

When we purchased our 2006 Fleetwood Niagara tent trailer, we immediately ordered a set of PUGs.


005 PUGsAbove: Niagara with the High Wind PUGs.

We live and camp often in the desert, which is windier than most places. Soon we became unhappy with our PUGs. Since the surface area of the Niagara tent roof was nearly twice as large as our old camper, the lift created by the wind was significantly greater. Bottom line was the PUGs weren’t doing well in the wind.

Super High Wind Version

I contacted the owner of PopUp Gizmos (Bob Pitney) to see if he was willing to make me a custom set of PUGs. I had a design in mind, which included several cords running across the top of the PUG, secured by fabric covering. The cords would be connected under the bunk platform. The first prototype was sent out. With a little feedback, Bob sent me a second set that was perfect.


006 PUGsAbove: First prototype. There was too much length from the front of the PUG to the first cross-over cord. I asked Bob to add another cord half way to the front from the first cross over.

008 PUGsAbove: First Prototype. The rear cord is at the top of the cover, and over a period of time the wind and cord pull the end down out of the bunk end. We need to move the cord 3” – 4” from the rear end of the cover, so it stays securely under the bunk end. Here is the picture after a night of sustain winds around 20 – 30 mph. Gusts were higher. Note I did not use mini binder clips… just the cords.

007 PUGsAbove: As a comparison in the same wind storm is the old High Wind version. Even though it is close to the garage and partially protected from the wind by the house, it did not fare as well as the prototype.

008a PUGsAbove: Securing the cross over cords on the prototype.

Testing of the Final Version

After some testing by me and Bob, himself, it was obvious that the design was winner. You can now buy this PUG from PopUp Gizmos. They are called the Super High Wind PUG. Note: I do not receive any financial compensation for the sale of PUGs.

Below are several pictures of my PUGs, should a potential buyer be interested. Also, the service from PopUp Gizmos is outstanding, which is why I asked Bob to build the customer version in the beginning. Below the pictures are a couple of final thoughts and some limitation to PUGS.

009 PUGs 010 PUGs 011 PUGs 013 PUGs 014 PUGs 015 PUGs 018 PUGs 019 PUGS 020 PUGs 021 PUGs 022 PUGs

Final Thoughts

  • Some people feel that in cold weather turning PUGs upside down will reflect heat back into the camper and keep it warmer. My tests do not confirm this.
  • How long do they last? Well the PUGs are made from a laminated material and in a lot of sunlight they will deteriorate over time. We get 100-200 nights out of a set of PUGs. Far more use than the average owner, plus we spend a lot of time in the sun-intensive desert.

030 PUGs

Above: Testing PUGs upside down in cold weather. By the way, if you look closely you will see the tent windows are Reflectix inserts. This will help keep your tent trailer warm in winter and even cooler in extreme heat. I did my testing with and without the Reflectix inserts. Testing was done over a two week period at Lake Mead in December where night time temperatures dropped just below freezing.