Most of us enjoy spending time outdoors in one way or another. Those of us who are camping enthusiasts often wish that preparation and setup go as quickly as possible, so we have more time to enjoy ourselves. This includes tents too. Most people still use conventional tents in one way or another, and some of us encounter problems when setting it up and taking it down. Or we just wish we can set it up faster.
For this reason, pop up tents were developed. They are automatic, and pitch on their own when you remove the strap around them. In addition to this, they are usually very compact and light, which makes them very practical to use. You can take them camping, or your children can play in them at home. The best pop up tents are usually inexpensive, and all these things combined make them an excellent choice for many.
We have selected and reviewed some fantastic products, so you can get a more detailed look at the features and figure out what suits you. Finding the best pop up tent depends on several factors, but mostly on how you intend to use it. For this reason, we have also compiled a buying guide to give you more information about specific features, and help you make the best decision.
How To Choose A Pop Up Tent – Buying Guide
Pop up tents were designed to make camping easier by enabling you to have a tent ready in under a minute. While the function is pretty straightforward, certain differences exist between products which can make the camping experience better and more comfortable for you. These include tent size, weight, build quality, and ease of operation among other things.
The tent needs to be sufficiently large to accommodate the number of people you plan on having inside. It also needs to show durability, and not fall apart after just one season. And you need to be able to handle the tent without difficulty, otherwise, it beats the purpose of having an automatic tent in the first place. Take a closer look as we discuss these and other important features in more detail.
This is perhaps the most important thing you need to consider if you want to fully enjoy your tent. Pop up tents are usually smaller than traditional ones. They are also considerably lighter too. There is a wide range of products available, and you can choose a tent which can accommodate just you, or one which has room for 10 people if you want to camp with friends and family.
Manufacturers will almost always specify tent capacity (number of people who can fit inside). Keep in mind this also depends on occupant size – a 3-person tent will be fine for average people, but won’t do the job if you’re over 6ft tall. If you’ll going to bring a lot of equipment with you and need additional space you need to shop bigger. This is also true if you plan to spend time inside during the day, because you need additional space for maneuvering.
Getting a larger tent is almost always a good idea. Buying the one which can house 1 or 2 people more than your actual number will be a good solution for additional comfort and storage space. But don’t go overboard with this – otherwise, a tent can become too large and heavy to carry, and a hassle to set up on your own.
An additional plus of pop-ups is that they weigh less than their traditional counterparts. This is thanks to materials used for making the poles and body, which we’ll discuss further on. It is very handy when you need to carry it down to the campsite. If the site is nearby, then the overall weight is not such a big issue. However, if you plan to carry it further it can become a burden, and you should consider buying a lighter one. Compact automatic pop up tents usually weigh around 5 lbs. Larger tents for 6 to 10 people will be sufficiently heavier.
This is closely related to the weight, and it goes without saying the tent needs to be easily portable. But it’s not just the weight that determines portability. You also need to consider the product size when it’s folded and closed. Most are conveniently sized, but some are too large and difficult to hold. When packed, most pop up tents resemble a pancake in shape. They come in similarly shaped bags, which usually have handles for easier carrying. The alternative is a tube-like bag if your new tent folds differently (usually for umbrella tents). These bags have a shoulder strap, which seems even more convenient.
There are several types of pop-ups available, but three of them are most common. The type most people think about when you talk about these pop-up tents is the spring-loaded system. The poles are already attached to the material and loaded to return into their original opened state. Exactly this happens when you remove the safety strap – the pole system extends and you get a tent immediately.
The alternative is an umbrella type tent, which features a system of joints. You start opening it and the joints pop and lock into place. This is also a great solution since it’s extremely easy to open and close the tent, even without particular instructions. It is also stitched together with a tent body so you won’t have to do anything.
Finally, some pop-up tents require you to put the pre-assembled poles into position. They are already assembled, and you need to put them through several loops and attach them on both ends, so they remain in that position and keep the tent upright. Don’t be put off by this, it’s also done very quickly so you won’t be wasting time and energy.
Quick and effortless assembly is another upside of having a pop-up tent. You don’t need to connect the poles or do the unnecessary heavy lifting. Traditional camping tents are certainly very reliable, but as we mentioned earlier, the assembly process can become very complicated. By getting a pop-up tent, you will get the job done in no time. Usually, it’s as simple as removing the strap which holds it in place.
Other methods we mentioned in the previous paragraph are also an option. Whichever type and model of tent you buy, it’s not a bad idea to try it out in your back yard (or living room if it’s very large). This way you can get the hang of how the tent works, and practice folding it several times.
Depending on the manufacturer and tent model, it will have a different design which may be more or less suitable for your needs. When talking about design, we usually mean doors and windows – their number, type, and positioning. Of course, your tent has a door, you need a way to get inside. But some models, like the beach pop-up tents we reviewed earlier, just have one large opening on one side – there is no door you can close.
On the other hand, some pop-up tents feature two or more doors. This can be extremely handy if several people are sleeping in a tent. It allows you to leave the tent more easily (without stepping on anyone) if you need to go out and stretch your legs or use the bathroom.
Windows are also an important feature to have in your new tent. They allow the air to circulate and keep you comfortable inside on a hot summer night. The best pop up camping tents will have a mesh on the windows and doors so all the annoying insects can remain outside instead of disturbing your sleep. They will also have another flap made from the same material as the tent, to give you weather protection, privacy, and prevent light from coming in.
When it comes to shape, most of these pop-up tents are shaped either like a dome or a cabin. It’s because these are probably the best choices for quick setup and packing. Dome is more popular for smaller pop up tents. It offers excellent stability and wind resistance, and the frame is more durable. On the other hand, cabin tents are large and resemble a normal living space. Ceilings are taller and you generally have more comfort. However, they can require more time to put up and be a bit heavier. Other shapes exist too – ridge (A-frame), tunnel, and geodesic among others, but these are more common among other tent types.
This determines the overall durability of your tent, as well as weather resistance. Poles on the pop-up tent need to be lightweight, so they are usually made from either fiberglass or aluminum. Aluminum is stronger and harder to damage, but it’s also more expensive. On the other hand, fiberglass offers the same flexibility for a much lower price. This is why most pop up tents have a frame made from this material.
When it comes to the body, it can be made from canvas, nylon, polyester or some kind of combination of these materials. Canvas is excellent and usually durable, but it can be quite heavy. When compared, nylon and polyester are lighter but not as durable. However, manufacturers make certain tweaks so the properties of these materials become much better. In most cases, a tent floor is made from a stronger material, making it more resistant to wear and tear,
Whichever material you choose, you should expect it to last for a couple of years at least. Some manufacturers will give you a warranty on their product, and this can be sometimes a good indicator that it has a certain amount of quality. In any case, you should take care of your tent. Don’t leave it exposed for too long when not in use. Before packing, remove debris and mud, and wipe it down if it got dirty. Also, when you choose a camping spot, you should clear the area where you’re placing the tent – avoid sharp branches and rocks because they can puncture the floor.
Weather Protection and Waterproofing
Before buying, you need to think about the conditions you’ll be camping in. It makes a difference if you’ll be camping during summer or late autumn, and whether you’ll be staying in an organized camp or venture into wilderness. Unless you’ll only be taking your new tent to the beach, it’s good if the tent is water resistant. Every fabric has a waterproof rating, especially the rainfly which comes included with almost all pop up tents.
Certain sacrifices had to be made when designing pop up tents, so they are not the best solution for heavy rainfall and winter. They will however perform quite nicely in most situations. In addition to fabric, your tent needs to have leak-proof zippers and seams. If you notice a problem, you can get a seam sealer and apply it yourself to improve tent performance. It’s also a good idea to get a tent footprint or a simple tarp and put it underneath – this way you’ll be sure the floor remains dry. As a bonus, tent won’t get muddy so you’ll have less work to do when it’s time to pack.
Water is not the only thing you need to think about. Because they are so lightweight, wind can cause problems and blow your tent away. Tents with a weaker frames will also bend if exposed to strong winds. To prevent chasing your tent, you should stake it down. Among other things, the best pop-up tents will include stakes in the package. If not, you can buy tent stakes on your own. In addition, most pop up tents of this kind won’t retain heat very well. Think about this when packing, it’s not a bad idea to bring a thicker sleeping pad, a blanket or a jacket.
On the other hand, you may find yourself in a situation where too much sunlight ends up in the tent. Some materials were designed to block out the light so you can get a proper rest. It’s also a big plus if the material has a special layer which absorbs UV rays and gives you protection inside. This is a great feature if you’re camping on the beach and your kids are playing inside.
Breathability and Ventilation
Your tent needs to allow air to come inside, for practical reasons. You will feel more comfortable when sleeping, and also the air circulation will prevent condensation from forming on tent walls and making your stuff wet when if the temperature difference is too big. In most cases, water resistant materials won’t be very breathable on their own.
For this reason, most pop-up tents have a rainfly which is used for cover and keeping the water out. The walls however, feature doors and windows with mesh. Some pop up tents also have special air vents near the floor or mesh ceilings. This additional ventilation makes it pleasant to stay inside, and combined with the rainfly you get the best out of both.
Many additional features are available on different pop-up tents, and these can make your experience better without you even realizing you needed it. Let’s start off with pockets – they can be located inside or outside. Inside pockets are made from mesh, and you can use them to store small valuables and always keep them at hand. In addition to pockets, some feature a mesh loft, so you can use the overhead space too. Outside pockets are made from tougher materials and you fill them with sand or stone so they weigh down the tent.
It’s very useful if your tent has a vestibule, especially in rainy conditions. It’s an extended flap in front of the door which can give you additional protection, but also serve as a cover for your gear if you leave it outside. A good combination with the vestibule is a mud mat, also located in front of the door. You can take your shoes off easily and place them on it instead of taking them inside.
We already mentioned the rainfly, which is more than useful to have. It’s basically another layer on top of your tent, which gives you full or partial coverage. One more thing we mentioned is the UV protection. Not every tent has it, so be sure to look for it if you’re going to the beach.
Other features include an electric port, hanging loops and room dividers. Electric ports are zippered openings you can use to bring a power cord inside the tent. This is very useful if you’re on an organized camping site. Hanging loops are located on the ceiling, and you use them to hang a camping light. Finally, large pop up tents have room dividers, which create separate spaces inside to give people more privacy.
Q: What Is A Pop-up Tent?
It’s a type of tent designed to be set up quickly, in under a minute. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and doesn’t require any complicated assembly or traditional pitching.
Q: What Is The Difference Between A Conventional Tent And An Instant Tent?
As you’ve had the opportunity to see, you don’t require any effort to set up a pop-up tent. While conventional tents require assembly and a certain amount of skill, this is much faster and easier. In addition, it’s smaller and lighter which makes it better to take with you on any trip. It’s a great camping solution for many casual campers who don’t have some specific expectations.
Q: Are There Some Safety Considerations When Using An Instant Tent For Camping?
It’s always smart to check the weather forecast before you go camping. This way you can avoid going if the weather is going to be very rough, or at least be prepared and know what to do. As for safety considerations, they are pretty much similar as with other tents.
You need to stay safe during thunderstorms. If you don’t have anywhere to hide when it starts, avoid open areas, especially at a high altitude. Also avoid staying next to the tallest trees. On the other hand, don’t set up your tent in the lowest areas because it can become flooded if there’s a heavy rainfall and you’ll find yourself in trouble.
It’s also good to think about wind and avoid open areas with no protection. If possible, always use stakes and guylines. Finally, some materials are more flammable than others. You need to be careful not to have open flame near your tent if your operating a fire starter or a grill.
Q: How Do Pop-up Tents Work?
As we discussed earlier in the text, there are different systems. However, the most common one features a spring-loaded frame which takes the desired shape when you remove the strap. Others have joints which are already connected, and automatically snap into place when you start to open them.
Q: How Do I Erect My Pop-up Tent?
You will almost always get an instruction manual from the manufacturer, explaining the best way to open and close your tent. Most will require the mentioned strap to be removed, and the tent does everything else on its own. With the umbrella type, you usually have to lift the central part up until the joints take their place. As you saw earlier, some need you to put the poles through loops an attach them so the tent can take its shape. Be sure to anchor the tent to the ground with stakes.
Q: How Do I Fold My Pop-up Tent?
While this is presented as one of the downsides of these tents, it doesn’t need to be. Check the mentioned instruction manual to learn how to do it properly. If it lacks explanations, there are many videos online explaining this process step by step. It’s not difficult to do, but the steps need to be exact, otherwise you’ll only get frustrated. Usually top edges are brought together and while in that position one side is rolled inside until the tent becomes a circle again, but this depends on the model and manufacturer. Don’t forget to put the strap back on when you’re done folding, otherwise it will open again while you’re putting it into the bag.
Q: How Do I Know The Waterproof Rating On My Pop-up Tent?
This is sometimes specified on the label by the manufacturer. If not, you can contact them to check. It varies from one product to another. The fabric should prevent the water from going through, either with its own structure or with help of a special layer applied on top. Hydrostatic Head rating shows how waterproof something is. It’s generally said that something needs to have at least a 1000mm rating to be considered waterproof. As we said, seams and zippers also contribute to water resistance. If this is something very important to you, you can apply a water repellant to additionally waterproof your tent.
Globo Surf Overview
A pop tent is an excellent product, useful in many situations. You can use it on your own, or buy one which can accommodate your whole family in a matter of minutes. The setup is automated, so you don’t need to trouble yourself with pitching. It’s a great choice for camps, woods, beaches and festivals. However, it does have some limitations in terms of weather resistance and strength. It’s important to be aware of everything, and we hope you have enough information after reading the buying guide. This way you can choose the best instant tent for camping and be happy for years to come.
More Camping Reviews:
- Pocket Knife
- Camping Chair
- Camping Grill
- Portable Grill
- Portable Generator
- Night Vision Binoculars
- Emergency Radio
- Camping Mattress
- Pop Up Canopy
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.