If your least favorite part of camping is a tent setup, pop-up tents are perfect for you. Unlike traditional models, the best pop-up tents are fully automatic and open completely on their own. Besides saving you a lot of energy (and nerves), it’s also a much faster method so you’ll have more time for your favorite activities.
In addition to the instant setup feature, pop-up tents are also lightweight and affordable which makes them very attractive to a large number of campers. Considering their rising popularity, this article takes a look at ten of the best pop-up tents on the market. Hopefully, this will help you find a reliable tent whether you need a small compact model or an extra-large family one.
How To Choose A Pop Up Tent – Buying Guide
Size is perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a tent. To this, manufacturers will almost always specify the tent capacity (the number of people who can fit inside). However, be sure to also keep in mind the occupant size — a 3-person tent will be fine for average people, but won’t do a good job if you’re over 6ft tall.
Additionally, if you’re bringing a lot of equipment, you’ll need to shop bigger. This is also true if you plan to spend time inside during the day because you’ll need additional space for maneuvering. Getting a larger pop-up tent for camping is almost always a good idea, but don’t go overboard with this or the tent can become too large and heavy to carry.
A big advantage of pop-ups is that they tend to weigh less than their traditional counterparts, which is very handy when you need to carry it down to the campsite. If the site is nearby, then the overall weight won’t be such an issue, however, if you need to carry the tent further, you should consider getting a lighter one. Compact automatic pop-up tents usually weigh around 5lbs, while larger tents (for 6 to 10 people) can be significantly heavier.
This is closely related to the weight, but it’s not just the weight itself that determines it — you also need to consider the product size when it’s folded and packed. When packed, most tents that pop up resemble a pancake with a diameter from 35 to 40 inches. Alternatively, umbrella tents packed in tube-like bags are even more convenient to carry.
There are several types of pop-ups available, but two of them are most common — spring-loaded and umbrella style. Spring-loaded tents have bent elastic poles that extend on their own once you take the tent out of the bag. On the other hand, umbrella tents have joints that lock into place once you start lifting the center.
Related Post: Types of Tents
Quick and effortless assembly is the biggest upside of having a pop-up tent — there’s no need for connecting the poles or any heavy lifting. Traditional camping tents are certainly reliable, but as we mentioned earlier, the assembly process can be very complicated.
If you get camping tents that pop up, the job will be done in no time whether it’s a spring-loaded or umbrella model. However, whichever type you buy, make sure to try opening and closing it in your backyard a few times so you can get the hang of how the tent works.
When talking about the design, we usually mean doors and windows — their number, type, and positioning. Pop-up tents have either one or two doors, except for beach tents that have entire sides open. The best pop-up camping tents have doors on two opposite sides which makes entry and exit a lot easier.
Windows are also an important feature of your new tent, as they allow the air to circulate and keep you comfortable inside. It’s even better if doors and windows come with mesh screens to keep the insects out.
Most of these pop-up tents are shaped either like a dome or a cabin because these are the best choices for quick setup and packing. Domes are more popular for small pop-up tents, as they offer excellent stability and wind resistance.
On the other hand, cabin tents are often large and resemble a normal living space. Taller ceilings and vertical walls make the space more usable and provide a higher comfort level. However, they can be a bit heavier and require more time to put up.
Related Review: Cabin Tents
The poles of a tent that pops up need to be lightweight and flexible, so they are usually made from either fiberglass or aluminum. Aluminum is lighter and more rigid but also costs more. On the other hand, fiberglass offers better flexibility for a much lower price, which is why most pop-up tents use this material.
As for the fabric, the usual choices are canvas, nylon, or polyester. Canvas is excellent and very durable, but it can be quite heavy. In comparison, nylon and polyester are lighter but less durable. When choosing, look for a fabric with a high Denier rating and preferably some type of protective coating (PU or anti-UV).
Related Review: Canvas Tent
Weather Protection and Waterproofing
Before buying a tent, you need to think about the conditions you’ll be camping in. It makes a difference whether you’ll be camping in the summer or late autumn and whether you’ll be staying in an organized camp or venture into the wilderness.
Unless you’ll only be taking your new instant tent pop up to the beach on sunny days, it needs to be water-resistant. Unfortunately, certain sacrifices were made when designing pop-up tents, so most of them can only withstand light rain and shouldn’t be used in heavy rainfall or winter.
With lightweight tents like these, water protection is not the only thing you need to think about. Due to their low weight, wind can pick them up and blow them away. Furthermore, tents with weak frames are prone to bending if exposed to strong winds. To prevent this, the best pop-up tents will include stakes and guylines in the package.
Breathability and Ventilation
For practical reasons, easy pop-up tents need to allow air to come inside. You’ll feel more comfortable when sleeping and the air circulation will prevent condensation on tent walls and gear. Unfortunately, water-resistant materials aren’t very breathable on their own.
To give you better protection, some pop-up tents have two wall layers — a rainfly for keeping the water out and a separate mesh wall underneath. However, most models only have a single breathable wall layer that provides a very pleasant stay but not much protection.
Even though they aren’t necessary from a functionality standpoint, additional features can make your tent a lot more enjoyable. Here are some of the most common additions available on pop-up tents.
Pockets: They are great for extra storage, organizing gear, and keeping small valuables at hand. Pockets are usually placed on sidewalls and made from mesh. In addition to pockets, some models feature overhead mesh lofts.
Weight Bags: Designed as outer pockets, these are used for weighing down your tent. You can fill them with sand or rocks to keep the tent from getting picked up in the wind.
Vestibule: This is an extended flap in front of the door that provides additional protection and serves as a cover for your gear (if you leave it outside). A good addition to the vestibule is a mud mat that gives you a convenient place for keeping your shoes instead of taking them inside.
Rainfly: A feature that is standard on higher-end tents and provides weather protection. It’s another layer on top of the tent, with full or partial coverage. It should be made of durable coated materials that are waterproof and provide UV protection.
Electric Port: Usually found in the lower corners of some tents, E-ports allow you to easily get an extension cord inside the tent so you can use electricity for your devices.
Hanging Loops: Located on the ceiling, hanging loops provide a secure and convenient place for attaching lanterns and flashlights when you need extra light inside the tent.
Room Dividers: Large tent models (like the CORE Instant Cabin) come with zippered fabric dividers inside that allow you to create separate rooms that give more privacy to the occupants.
Q: What is a Pop-up Tent?
Q: What is the Difference Between a Conventional Tent and an Instant Tent?
The main difference lies in the setup process. As you’ve had the chance to see, pop-up tents do all the work on their own, while conventional tents require assembly and a certain amount of skill. Besides, pop-up models are usually smaller and lighter which makes them more portable.
Q: Are There Some Safety Considerations When Using an Instant Tent for Camping?
The main consideration is the weather. Instant tents aren’t particularly resistant to heavy rain and strong winds, so try to use them in calm and sunny conditions. To improve stability in the wind, always use stakes and guy lines if possible.
Q: How do Pop-up Tents Work?
A pop-up tent usually features a spring-loaded frame that takes the extended shape on its own when you remove the strap. The alternative is an umbrella pop-up camp tent with joints that automatically snap into place when you start lifting the tent.
Q: How do I Erect My Pop-up Tent?
Most pop-up tents only require the strap to be removed, and they do the rest on their own. However, if you buy the umbrella type, you have to lift the central part until the joints lock into place. Regardless of the type, we advise that you use stakes and secure the tent to the ground.
Q: How do I Fold My Pop-up Tent?
This depends on the tent design and you should always check the manual and instruction videos for the easiest way to do it. In most cases, the top edges are brought together, and then one side is rolled inside until the tent becomes a circle again.
Q: How do I Know the Waterproof Rating on My Pop-up Tent?
You can usually get that information from the tent manufacturer. If it’s not specified on the label, you can contact them to check. Broadly speaking, a tent needs at least a 1,000mm rating to be considered waterproof.
Globo Surf Overview
Getting a pop-up tent is one of the best decisions to make if you want convenience when camping. Thanks to their automatic design, you’ll no longer have to hassle with complicated assembly. We hope that our reviews and guide helped you find the best pop-up tent that will make every camping adventure a little bit more pleasant.
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Have you tried a pop-up tent that made it onto our list? Which one? Is it easy to set up and fold back? Is it durable? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.