The 10 Best Pop Up Tents
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. The Great Outdoors. Fresh air, inspiring views, and frustrating hours trying to get that shelter put together. Enjoy the trip from the moment you arrive by taking one of these pop-up tents, instead. They go up in mere seconds, accommodate various sizes of group, and can provide reliable coverage wherever you roam, whether it be the backyard, the beach or the Black Mountains. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
December 11, 2020:
During this round of updates, we chose to remove the Sunba Youth 3-Person in favor of the Abco Instant. This new arrival has two generously-sized openings and small mesh windows that allow air to move through the tent to prevent it from becoming stuffy. Its roll-down shades can provide privacy when needed and the pegs and guy lines help to keep it firmly in place. As well as being ideal for beachgoers, this one is also suitable for overnight excursions; though only in fair weather as it doesn't hold up well to heavy rain. Another option for creating shade at the beach, sports matches, or anywhere you like, is the Pacific Breeze XL, which we swapped in for the Pacific Breeze Easy-Up. The spacious nature of this tent caught our eye, as well as its elongated floor; which extends far beyond the entryway. This is a great shelter to put your beach chair, or lounger in while lessening the effect of the sun on your skin.
For those who only require a decent place to change clothes, or perhaps the seclusion of an enclosed WC, we retained the WolfWise Privacy Upgrade. Following a review of rival models, we still preferred this selection as it's one of the most spacious enclosures of this style and it's unlikely that those on the outside will see any shadows of what's happening on the inside.
The Quechua 2-Man moved aside to make room for the Quechua Dark Interior, which is a great choice for those wishing to spend a few nights out in the wilderness. It's robust enough to handle rain and moderate winds, and it is capable of blocking out sunlight, even in the middle of the day; so there shouldn't be any rush to get out of the tent at dawn when many tents become unbearable. Like most pop-up tents, it folds back into a disc shape; which can be a bit cumbersome for carrying on long hiking trips, especially alongside all of your other camping paraphernalia; such as dishes, stoves, sleeping mats, etc.
Another addition to our list comes in the form of the Teton Sports Vista, which is sold in one- or two-person models. We like the shape and sturdiness of this selection, as well as the fact that its mesh ceiling provides an unobstructed view of the stars; obviously, in the morning, this same feature shifts to zero sun protection as you wake. An intriguing aspect though, is that this can be attached to a single or double cot from the same company. This allows those who dislike camping on the ground to elevate themselves while still having the protection provided by the tent walls. It's worth noting, however, that in this setup it's advisable to purchase an extended fly cover that reaches the floor in order to safeguard yourself against wet weather. All of these additions will add up, so you'll need to decide what your comfort is worth.
April 12, 2019:
Over concerns about long-term durability, we have decided to remove the Lucky Bums Quick and Portable and the Hui Lingyang Outdoor Dome. Not to worry, though, as there are more than enough options that offer usability and strength. We still think that leaders in these areas are the Pacific Breeze Easy-Up, great for the beach, park, or back yard, and the Core 9-Person Instant Cabin, best for car camping. We say car camping as this model is on the heavier side at over 30 pounds, so you probably won't want to carry it too far. Lighter, although smaller, alternatives include the Coleman Pop-Up and the Quechua 2-Man. We also decided to add the AbcCanopy Commercial for those who need an outdoor shelter at sales venues (such as craft fairs) or sporting events. It probably won't keep you dry in a torrential downpour, but for a drizzle or even to cut down on sun exposure, it's fine. Plus, it comes in a stunning array of colors and even has banner loops so you can advertise easily enough.
The days of nailing stakes into the ground and assembling poles are a thing of the past.
The pop up tent is a style of tent used primarily for recreational camping. They come in many shapes and sizes, however, most consumers expect a lightweight, easy-to-use, compact tent. They eliminate the process of setting up or pitching your tent; a pop up tent is spring-loaded, so you can assemble it in a matter of seconds. The days of nailing stakes into the ground and assembling poles are a thing of the past. This feature alone makes it an attractive option for the no frills camper.
Before you buy a pop up tent, or any tent for that matter, please take this important factor into account: the manufacturer accurately represents the number of people that can fit in a tent. If the manufacturer lists that a tent fits four people; they are assuming each person is of average height with no gear or sleeping cots. Most campers will simply buy a four-person tent for two campers, and a two-person tent for one camper, exclusively for this reason. Also keep in mind the material used for the tent. Most tents consist of nylon, canvas, or polyester. Campers will want to ensure that regardless of the material they will stay dry in a rainproof tent.
If you are interested in a pop up tent, please make sure to clarify with the retailer that it is indeed a pop up tent and not a pop up canopy. A canopy is something seen more often at farmers markets that resembles a gazebo with open sides. While these have their uses, they are not appropriate for camping.
Pop Up Tent Pros And Cons
The advantages of the pop up tent are numerous. The most obvious being that it simply "pops up," and the setup time for the tent has been shaved down to mere seconds. How is that possible? It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, most of the models are tightly compacted down, (think of a vinyl snake in the peanut brittle can prank). When you release that tension, spring-loaded poles allow the frame to naturally expand to its impressive shape. The lid of the peanut brittle can, as per my analogy, is replaced by a band or strap which holds the compact shape of the pop up tent.
If you chose to fit the suggested number of campers in a tent, you will lack private space.
Another advantage is that the pop up tent is lightweight. Most pop ups weigh only a few pounds and fit snugly into backpacks, making them perfect for the traveler who cannot lug a dome tent on his or her back. Most are specifically designed to fit into backpacks while many others simply come with their own compact bag that slings conveniently over the shoulder.
Also, the price point is attractive; most are quite affordable and a smaller investment than a tent that is harder to assemble.
There are a few trouble areas that I must address. The disassembly of the tent can be deceptive. While it may take only seconds to spring to life, putting it back into its compact shape may force you to wrestle the tent like an crocodile hunter. There is a learning curve to it, and most campers with patience will be able to disassemble much more quickly after several attempts.
Most campers, rightly so, fear the stability of the pop up tent. High winds are the biggest enemy. The guy lines, if provided, do not offer the same stability as a dome tent and they are more likely to blow over.
Lastly, the pop up tent is rarely spacious. Models that list two people usually mean one person with supplies or a cot. If you chose to fit the suggested number of campers in a tent, you will lack private space.
A Brief History of the Tent
The tent is a staple of life. The Bible alludes to food, water, and shelter as far back as Genesis. The uses of the tent are various: shelter, military operations, camping, and protest movements. They range from the accommodation of one person to several thousands, i.e. the circus tent. They are also used in emergency situations such as natural disasters.
Keep in mind that a tent is shelter, which is essential to life.
The materials used in tents have progressed over time. Animal hides were once (and in some cases still) a viable option for tents, however, most squeamish campers today will opt for lightweight fabric blends of nylon and polyester. The supportive poles for tents were made of wood until the 1960's when steel poles emerged and changed the make up of tents.
As early as the 1970's, the first models of backpack-portable tents, the ancestors of the modern day pop up tent, appeared on the market.
Recreational camping with the tent dates back to the mid 19th century. The emergence and protection of national parks in America helped encourage campers to travel, alongside promises of gold rushes out west that enticed settlers to set up temporary, portable homes.
Keep in mind that a tent is shelter, which is essential to life. When you chose your tent consider the durability, cost, and efficiency.