A tent at night with light shining out of the tent

The Best Pop Up Camping Tent: A Complete Guide

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You show up to the campsite and you’re ready to get started. The coolers and firewood are unloaded along with all your other camping gear. The next step is getting your tent prepped and ready to be pitched. If you have a pop up camping tent it’s only going to take you a matter of seconds, rather than 15-20 intense minutes that often end in arguments or divorce.

All you have to do is release the strap and it pops right up, removing all the stress that comes with fumbling around with tent poles trying to figure out which tent pole goes where meanwhile hoping that you didn’t leave any in the garage at home.

If you have spent enough time camping, pitching your tent is often a pain point. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a campground newbie finding the best pop up tent is going to make setting up camp simple and stress free.

The Best Pop Up Tents

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what to look for in a pop up tent, here are our recommendations for the best pop up tents you can find in 2018.

Zomake Pop Up Tent

  • Set up time: 30 seconds
  • Capacity: 2-3 people
  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Frame: Fiberglass
  • Material: Material is 190TPU polyester and 210D Oxford fabric

The Zomake instant pop up tent is on the larger end of the spectrum with enough room for 2-3 people. While it says that it can fit 3 people, if you’re 6 feet tall then 2 people is going to be the most comfortable.

It’s made for camping and hiking in good weather, while it is weather resistant, heavy rain should be avoided. The tent itself is built with two windows and two doors that provide adequate ventilation in hot weather.

It is made with ANTI-UV and is made of 190 TPU polyester and the bottom is made of 210 Oxford fabric. The tent is built with hooks that you use for added stability, however, high winds and heavy rains it’s not going to be any fun.

Pros:

  • 2 doors
  • Fiberglass frame
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Challenging repack
  • Lacks durability
  • Not good for heavy rain
Sale
ZOMAKE Pop Up Tent
297 Reviews
ZOMAKE Pop Up Tent
  • Seconds Pop Up - Open the package, unstrap the tent, throw it in the air, watch it open itself in seconds. No need to fumble with poles or complicated instructions
  • Ventilation& Blocking Mosquitoes - 2 mesh doors, 2 mesh windows and an extra big mesh roof sky window. With high density mesh net, being air fresh while keeping insects out
  • Tent Size - Open size : Very roomy for 3 adults, could easily fit 4 if needed. Ideal for a family rest. Folding Size: 80 cm in diameter as a disc(With installation instructions)
  • Material - Durable sturdy 190T PU-coated silver ANTI-UV polyester fabric, provide UPF 50+ Sun Protection and no odd smell inside the tent

Coleman Pop Up Tent

  • Set up time: 10-15 seconds
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Weight: 5.8 pounds
  • Frame: Fiberglass
  • Material: Ripstop nylon and 185T 68D Fire and water resistant polyester fly

Don’t close your eyes or you might miss this tent popping into shape, it literally blows open in a matter of seconds. You’ll be involved in multiple campsite conversations about how fast and easy this tent flies up.

It’s a 2 person tent that works that will work for a couple, however, if you have other gear there’s not going to be much room left inside for any cuddles. The tent has one door and two windows with large mesh openings for increased ventilation.

This tent will fold back up, however, it is a challenge on the first couple tries. If you have any questions check out a YouTube video and watch someone fold it back up.

Pros:

  • Roomy
  • Handles light rain
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Flimsy zippers
  • Weak poles
  • Challenge to repack
Sale
Coleman Pop Up Tent
762 Reviews
Coleman Pop Up Tent
  • 4-Person Pop-Up Tent
  • Pre-assembled poles for easy 10-second setup
  • Taped floor seams help keep you dry
  • Multi-position rainfly for the perfect balance of protection and ventilation

theNORTHblu Pop Up Tent

  • Set up time: 30 seconds
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Frame: Fiberglass
  • Material: 190T polyester fabric

The North Blue pop up tent is billed as a 2 person tent and will handle two adults and some of your gear. The manufacturer says that no ground tarp is required, but it’s always a good idea to use one on every camping trip.

The tent is made of durable 190T polyester fabric, with one door and windows for ventilation. While this tent can’t handle heavy rainfall it can handle light rainfall. If you need something that is completely waterproof consider a rainfly or tarp overhead for protection.

With one door that includes a mosquito net, two windows, and large mesh openings there is plenty of airflow. Folding it up is a challenge and that’s a recurring theme with most of the pop up tents that are available.

Pros:

  • Mosquito net
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to take down

Cons:

  • Only light rain
  • Steep walls
  • Weak zippers
Sale
NorthBlu Pop Up Tent
142 Reviews
NorthBlu Pop Up Tent
  • Pop up dimensions: 87" x 60" x 43". Collapsible dimensions fold into the carry bag: 30" diameter
  • EASY SET UP - Folds up in SECONDS and there is no ground tarp needed!
  • DURABLE 190T polyester fabric! Room for TWO sleeping pads!
  • EXCELENT VENTILATION - this tent has 3 ventilation holes and 1 inner side bag. Durable fiberglass poles and hook stakes all INCLUDED!

Abco Tech Pop Up Tent

  • Set up time: 10-15 seconds
  • Capacity: 2 people
  • Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Frame: Fiberglass
  • Material: Ripstop nylon

Abco Tech pop up tent is one of the lighter pop up tents out there at under 4 pounds. It is built to hold two people and you can even throw in a couple small gear bags inside.

As far as weather, just like every other pop up tent, it is only recommended to expose this tent to light rainfall. The tent has double doors with two windows and mesh covers. It can handle a very light rain, however, if you are tall you will get wet if you touch the sides in rainy conditions.

This tent comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer. After spending some time looking into what exactly that guarantee means we couldn’t find a timetable or terms for returns.

Pros:

  • Double doors
  • Easy to set up
  • Pops up in seconds

Cons:

  • Only light rain
  • Rare pole issues
  • Short ceiling
Abco Pop Up Tent
449 Reviews
Abco Pop Up Tent
  • EFFORTLESS CAMPING - Pops open into a read-to-use form (auto-setup) in a blink & proves easy to fold into a compact form - Abco Pop up tent is ideal for casual camping and accommodates 1-2 persons. Like a beautiful spot enroute? Setup your tent instantly!
  • DOUBLE DOORS - With double doors on both left and right side, it's easy to step out from either side. Moreover, a combination of inner zippered screen plus outer zippered nylon layer give an ability to easily switch between high breathability and complete privacy.
  • HIGH BREATHABILITY - Two mesh windows on the front and back add further to the air circulation while the solid nylon flaps over the windows allow for privacy. Not only breathability, you can just open everything and enjoy the surroundings too.
  • CARRY BAG & ACCESSORIES - Comes with a carry bag that's ideal for storage and carrying it along, and in addition, a small bag for accessories to keep them organized - occupies little space in your car trunk or even when stored at home.

FiveJoy Pop Up Tent

  • Set up time: 30 seconds
  • Capacity: 2 person
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Frame: Fiberglass
  • Material: Ripstop nylon

This is the largest pop up tent on the list at four people, and Fivejoy has a two person variation as well. It is on the larger end of pop up tents and will pop up in a matter of seconds.

It is made with water resistant materials, however, anything involving more than a light rain and you’re going to need a rainfly. Without a rainfly water will get inside the tent in rainy weather.

It comes with two large doors for easy access and has two windows with mesh covers for increased ventilation in warm weather. There is a mesh screen on the inside as well, however, there isn’t much use for it.

Pros:

  • Double doors
  • Large windows
  • Fits 4 people

Cons:

  • Only light rain
  • Rare pole issues
  • Zipper issues
FiveJoy Pop Up Tent
152 Reviews
FiveJoy Pop Up Tent
  • EASY and STRESS FREE SET UP - Remove your instant, free-standing tent from the packaging and watch it pop up automatically (you can literally count the seconds this takes!). No need to fumble with tent poles, or bother with complicated instructions. The tent comes in a portable carrying bag so you can easily fold up, pack in, and head off on a new adventure!
  • 👼 LET YOUR KIDS BE KIDS AGAIN - Set up camp in your backyard and have your kids leave their phones in the house. Enjoy a breath of healthy fresh air, and warm sunlight in this cozy outdoor fort. Expand their imagination by playing outside like we did (we won't ask you how long ago that was if you don't).
  • 🍃 THOUGHTFUL DESIGN - Openings on both the left and right sides are covered by a solid nylon flap provides cross ventilation and privacy. Let air in, while keeping the bugs out! DOUBLE DOORS allow total privacy. Keep the area inside the tent clean and organized. Conveniently hang your battery or electric powered lantern from the hang loop and store your car keys or phone in the storage pockets.
  • 🏖️ MULTI PURPOSE- Turn your windows into a rain fly by attaching guy lines to the loops below the window flap and secure them to stakes a short distance from the tent. Guy lines and stakes/ pegs are included. Enjoy protection from the sun on the beach or park. We recommend using a tent tarp beneath the tent, and rainfly overhead.

Benefits of pop up camping tents

The days of fumbling with tent poles for 10 minutes a thing of the past. With pop up tents, there are zero poles to handle and no Rosetta stone of installation instructions to decipher. You can literally unfurl it, stake it down, and your ready to go.

Pop up tents excel in functionality and speed of installation. A pop up tent  can go from the trunk of your car to a standing tent in a matter of seconds. The longest part of setting up your pop up tent is getting the groundsheet in place.

Pop up tents are generally not designed for any more than 4 people, however, they are lightweight and ultra portable. Pop up camping tents weigh under 10 pounds total and fit in the trunk of any car.

Advantages of pop up tents

  • Pops up in seconds
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Compact and portable
  • Super easy to set up
  • Perfect for weekend camping, festivals, and beach camping

7 Steps to perfectly pitch a pop up tent

Pitching a pop up tent is extremely simple, however, if you haven’t done it before there are a few things you want to keep in mind.

1. Get a pop up tent

The first step in setting up a pop up tent is owning or borrowing one. Head down to your outdoor store, order one online, or borrow one from a friend.

2. Find the right location

Location, location, location. Look for a site that’s not in a depression or valley and on a level surface. Most campsites have spaces specifically for your tent that are level and in decent locations. If you’re wild camping, look for somewhere on a flat surface with trees or bushes for extra coverage.

3. Prepare the groundsheet

Whether you use a KOA or prefer dispersed camping, preparing the area where your tent sits is always important. Clear the area of rocks, pine cones, and anything else that has a sharp edge to place the groundsheet. If you don’t have a groundsheet, a tarp or piece of canvas cloth will work just fine.

4. Release the restraining band

This is the fun part. Pop up tents are spring loaded and held in place with a restraining band. As soon as you release the restraining band and let go of the tent it pops open in a matter of seconds.

5. Stake the tent

Now that you have the tent popped up and in place, the next step is to stake it down. Hammer the stakes down at a 45-degree angle facing away from the tent itself.

6. Secure the guy lines

The tent (hopefully) came with guylines that are used to add extra support for the tent in windy conditions. Attach the guylines to the little loops in the outside of the tent and fasten them firmly to the ground or a tree nearby.

7. Give it a tug

Shake the tent around a little and make sure that it’s not going anywhere and that it’s firmly in place. You can literally walk through all 8 steps in under 5 minutes, and under 3 once you have some experience.

A pop up tent in the dark with a light making the tent glow

Photo by Abdullah AlBargan CC BY-ND 2.0

Pop up tent buying guide

Pop up tents are a quick and easy alternative to a standard camping tent. Like any other tent, the challenge is finding a balance in size, price, ease of set up, and durability. Keep the following factors in mind when considering a pop up tent.

Tent pole strength

Since pop up tents have poles that are spring loaded and built into the tent, durability is a reasonable concern. The pop up tents of a time gone by would not last more than a few trips and the poles were notorious for snapping. Modern pop up tents have come a long way, however, the main failure point is always going to be the tent poles and spring mechanism.

Size

Most pop up tents are designed for 2 to 4 adults, however, there are a few larger models available. As pop up tents get larger there are more failure points and repairing the tent poles is not an option.

Weight

Since they really only come in two sizes and the main goal is convenience and speed pop up tents are lightweight by nature. Most standard pop up tents range from 4 to 6 pounds.

Warranty

Warranties are not always included in every purchase. Do your research on which tent you end up choosing and find one that is guaranteed for at least a year. Not having some kind of warranty is a major red flag with any piece of camping gear.

Set up

This is the beauty of pop up tents, they are so simple to set up that even kids can do it with a short lesson. It’s one strap and then you throw it into place, the first time you set up a pop up tent is a fun experience for you and especially the young ones in your life.

Weather resistance

Pop up tents are made to be light and ultra portable, so there are sacrifices made in other areas. A pop up tent is going to be limited to fairly good weather conditions like light rain and wind, anything more than that you want a normal tent.

Ventilation

Pop up tents are limited in size and this can lead to poor ventilation in certain models. Look for a tent with mesh windows and large doors for necessary ventilation.

Durability

They can last for years if they are well maintained. The early pop up tents would only last a season or two of constant use and the tent poles were a common failure point. A well-maintained pop up tent can last for years with standard tent care and maitnance.

Downside of pop up tents

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine when we’re talking about pop up tents, they do have disadvantages. The biggest sacrifice that you have to make with a pop up tent is the space available, they simply are not made for large groups or families.

Another thing that isn’t often talked about is how difficult breaking down a pop up tent can be. They do set up in minutes, however, the break down can be maddening. Have you ever unfolded a city map on a tour and then tried to refold it, that’s what repacking a pop up tent is like on the first try.

Another one of the biggest disadvantages is the stability in bad weather. Sure, they set up in a matter of seconds, however, with high winds and rain, you’re going to be uncomfortable.

The pole structure and spring loaded design of the tent don’t do much in the department of wind resistance, even with it staked down heavy winds will become an issue.

Pop up tents are not made for a wild excursion through the jungle or a trek on the Annapurna trail. They are made for the spontaneous excursion, quick weekend adventure, or festical fun.

Disadvantages pop up tents

  • Unstable in wind
  • Challenging to repack
  • Limited in size
  • Only used in decent weather
  • Not made for cold weather

Conclusion

Pop up tents are best for those times when you just need a stress-free tent to set up in under a minute. You do have to sacrifice the durability and weather resistance that is included with a standard pole tent, however, you make some sacrifices for the extreme convenience of the ease of pitching the tent.

Pop up camping tents are best suited for short excursion and those spur of the moment days where you just want to throw everything in the trunk and go. While they won’t replace your everyday use tents, they will be a nice addition to your spontaneous camping adventures.

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