The 10 Best Pop Up Tents

Updated July 02, 2018 by Chase Brush

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We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Aaah, the great outdoors. Fresh air. Great 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 and can provide reliable coverage wherever you may roam, whether it be the backyard or the beach or the Black Mountains. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best pop up tent on Amazon.

10. WolfWise Privacy Upgrade

9. Lucky Bums Quick and Portable

8. Sunba Youth 3-Person

7. Core 9-Person Instant Cabin

6. Zomake Automatic

5. FreeLand Canopy

4. Coleman Pop-Up

3. Pacific Breeze Easy-Up

2. Coleman Instant 4-Person

1. Hui Lingyang Outdoor Dome

Gimme Shelter

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.

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.

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.


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Last updated on July 02, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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