Owners rave about how fast and easy it is to set up—in as little as 5 seconds. Fits up to 4 people and does a better job than most at keeping the interior dry. Material has a durable feel.
Challenging but not impossible to return to its carrying bag. Door zipper occasionally sticks, malfunctions, or breaks.
Reinforced stitching at seams helps prevent tears and rips. Doors on both the left and right make it easy to get in and out. Two mesh windows for air circulation. Includes both a carrying bag and another for other gear at a budget-friendly price point.
Can be tricky to take down and fold.
Extremely versatile and user-friendly thanks to a design that makes it easy to set up, spacious enough for up to 4 people, and lightweight to carry.
Challenging to returning it to the carrying bag. May not protect interior from water in extreme conditions. Some reports of threads and seams coming loose.
Tops our list as the most spacious model we considered that is also easy to set up and take down. Fits up to 9 people and can be assembled in 60 seconds. Comes with a room divider and carrying bag.
Priciest model on our list. Not practical for all users and some durability concerns have been reported.
Takes as little as 20 seconds to set up. Made of durable, water-resistant polyester. Offers a large front door and rear vents for cross ventilation. Also boasts mesh windows on both sides. Has an e-port to accommodate a power cord. Suitable for year-round use.
Difficult to pack up. Some users found that moisture can seep in through the bottom of the tent.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you like the idea of setting up a tent in the great outdoors but don't have much in the way of camping know-how, a pop-up tent is the ideal choice. Just shake it out and it pops into shape, then you peg it down and you're ready to camp. This way, you could be making s'mores and telling ghost stories minutes after your arrival rather than wrestling with a tent for hours.
Perhaps you’ve decided you definitely want to buy a pop-up tent, but which one? First, you need to choose between true pop-up tents and instant tents (which are considered types of pop-up tents). Then you'll need to decide on the size and capacity, as well as more basic considerations like color and built-in storage options.
Pop-up tents: True pop-up tents literally pop open as soon as you get them out of the bag and give them a shake. All the poles are already in place and don't need to be connected or extended. If you want the quickest and easiest tent to pitch, choose a true pop-up tent.
The downside of these tents is that they have a few flaws and quirks. Since they need to be simple in design to pop open the way they do, they rarely have porches or compartments for storing gear, plus they're not the best at keeping out the rain.
Instant tents: These tents belong under the pop-up tent category but don't pop open. The tent poles are all in place, but you need to attach the separate pole joints together to give the tent its structure. While this isn't completely instant like a true pop-up tent, it’s extremely simple and shouldn't take one person more than a minute or two. Instant tents are often available in large sizes as well as small, and they tend to be more practical in terms of storage and waterproofing.
All tents list the number of people they fit, but be cautious when using this information since it indicates the absolute maximum capacity. For example, a four-person tent might fit four adults if they sleep shoulder to shoulder with little or no gear in the tent, but it won't be particularly comfortable.
If you want a little more space for gear or want to sleep on inflatable pads, we'd recommend choosing a tent with a capacity of twice what you need. If four people will be sleeping in the same tent, choose an eight-person tent. It's worth noting that true pop-up tents tend to be fairly compact. Two-person and four-person options are the most common. Instant tents can be larger, holding up to a dozen people.
True pop-up tents tend to be water resistant rather than waterproof. They might keep you dry if there's a light drizzle, but they won't keep out even a moderate amount of rain. As such, we'd only recommend using a true pop-up tent if you're relatively sure that there won't be any rain. Instant tents, on the other hand, are usually fully waterproof and may even have a separate rain fly to improve their water resistance.
Under normal conditions, the color of your tent isn't too important, but if you have several color options to choose from, you might as well pick your preferred hue. If you're taking your pop-up tent to a festival, you'll thank yourself for choosing a distinctive color or print that will make your tent stand out in the sea of tents at the campsite.
Pop-up tents tend to be relatively lightweight, which is a bonus if you need to lug your camping gear a fair distance from your car. Of course, the larger the tent, the heavier and bulkier it will be.
Storage: It's extremely useful to have side pockets or other built-in storage in your pop-up tent. Storing some of your gear off the ground gives you more floor space in the tent.
Ventilation: Make sure your pop-up tent has some ventilation, such as mesh panels, so the interior doesn’t get too hot or condensation doesn’t form inside.
Air mattress: Coleman QuickBed Single High Airbed Mattress
If you want to camp in comfort, pack an air mattress. This twin-size model is perfect for solo campers and can be pumped up using a manual or battery-powered pump. Avoid air mattresses with built-in pumps unless you'll have access to a power outlet.
Sleeping bag: MalloMe Camping Sleeping Bag
Pop-up tents are best used in warmer months since they're poorly insulated, so a lightweight to medium-weight sleeping bag, such as this one from MalloMe, is ideal.
Camping stove: Esbit Lightweight Camping Stove and Cook Set
If you want to cook some basic meals or even just make coffee on your camping trip, you need a stove. If you’re using your pop-up tent for festivals or short camping trips, you probably want to pack light. A stove that uses solid fuel, like this one from Esbit, tends to be the most compact and lightweight option.
Inexpensive: Small, basic pop-up tents cost as little as $30 to $60. These usually have a capacity of two people and aren't completely waterproof.
Mid-range: These pop-up tents cost around $60 to $150. This range includes a mix of larger true pop-up tents and some small and midsize instant tents.
Expensive: High-end pop-up tents cost $150 to $300. In this price range, you'll generally find large instant tents that sleep up to a dozen people from well-known brands.
Q. Is pitching a pop-up tent completely foolproof?
A. If you have no clue about camping, you might be concerned that you won't have much luck even with a pop-up tent. You needn't worry. Pop-up tents are extremely easy to pitch, so even a novice camper can manage it. True pop-up tents are the easiest to pitch but not always the most practical. Instant tents require a little more effort but are still simple enough for first-timers.
Q. Can I use a pop-up tent for family camping trips?
A. Of course, you can use a pop-up tent for family camping trips, but it isn’t always the most practical choice. True pop-up tents tend to be fairly small, so you won't be able to fit the whole family and all your gear in one tent. If your kids are old enough to sleep in their own tent, however, you could buy two or three pop-up tents for your trip. Instant tents are often available in larger sizes, which makes them better suited for family getaways. Plus, they tend to be more effective at keeping out rain than true pop-up tents, which may or may not be an issue on your trip, depending on where you're camping and at what time of year.
Q. My kids want to have a play tent for the backyard. Is a pop-up tent a decent choice?
A. Yes, pop-up tents are excellent for this kind of use since they're so quick and easy to set up and take down. In fact, your kids can probably do it themselves, though younger children will need help with the tent pegs.