Which pop-up camping tent is best?

If the last thing you want to do when you arrive at a campground is spend hours attempting to pitch a complicated tent, you might be interested in pop-up camping tents. Taking just moments to set up, they’re great for new campers and people who want to get straight to the fun. 

It pays to do your research, as some pop-up tents are great but others aren’t fit for purpose. The Core Nine-person Instant Cabin Tent is an excellent choice for families and large groups. 

What to know before you buy a pop-up camping tent

Pop-up vs. instant

True pop-up tents literally pop into shape as soon as you remove them from their storage bag and give them a shake. These are the quickest and easiest to set up, but they are constrained by size and shape. They all have a similar elongated dome shape and are rarely available in sizes larger than six-person, though two- and four-person pop-up tents are more common. 

You’ll also see instant tents sometimes described as pop-up tents, though they’re slightly different. Instant tents have their poles already in place, so all you need to do is snap them together at the joins. This takes about 60 seconds. Instant tents are found in larger sizes and a wider range of shapes than classic pop-up tents. 

Size

Tent size is expressed by the number of people a tent can fit. However, this is the absolute maximum a tent can fit and doesn’t allow for air mattresses, space between campers and room for luggage. As such, you’ll be more comfortable if you buy a tent that lists twice the capacity that you really need. For instance, if you need to sleep two people, get a four-person tent and so on. 

Waterproofing

Consider how effectively waterproof your chosen pop-up camping tent is. The trouble with some pop-up tents is they’re designed for casual fair weather camping, so if you get caught in more than a light drizzle, you may end up getting wet. This is a particular issue with true pop-up tents, as they often have single skins and no separate rainfly. However, you can find some better suited to rain than others. Look for features such as inverted or taped seams, zipper cuffs and waterproof floors. 

What to look for in a quality pop-up camping tent

Ventilation

It can get hot sleeping in a tent, especially during late spring, summer and early fall. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it can also cause condensation to build up inside the tent and drip on you when enough collects. Ventilation is important to avoid these issues.

Storage pockets

Some tents have storage pockets built into the walls. These let you store some of your belongings without taking up valuable floor space. 

Easy to pack down

You can find yourself wrestling with a pop-up tent when you need to fold it back down to fit in its case. This is more of a problem with true pop-up tents, rather than instant tents, as there’s usually a knack to folding them down. Practice before your camping trip so you know what you’re doing. 

How much you can expect to spend on a pop-up camping tent

You can spend anything from $50 on a small, basic pop-up tent to $500 on a large instant tent that’s durably built. 

Pop-up camping tent FAQ

Are pop-up tents better than normal tents? 

A. This depends on what you mean by “better.” Pop-up tents are certainly quicker and easier to set up than regular tents, which is a huge advantage for inexperienced campers, festival-goers who want to get to the action more quickly and anyone who has to pitch their tent while simultaneously watching kids. That said, pop-up and instant tents are often designed for casual campers, so you can’t often find options that are as durable or capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions as high-end standard tents. 

How do you secure a pop-up tent? 

A. Once you’ve popped up your tent or clipped together the poles, you still need to secure it like you would a regular tent. It will come with tent pegs that you use to peg down the tent at certain points around the perimeter. You should also peg down the guy ropes to make it more secure. You’ll need a rubber camping mallet to secure the pegs in place. 

What are the best pop-up camping tents to buy?

Top pop-up camping tent

Core Nine-person Instant Cabin Tent

Core Nine-person Instant Cabin Tent

What you need to know: A perfect choice for family camping, this tent sleeps up to nine people — though four to five comfortably. 

What you’ll love: Thanks to the room divider, you can create two sleeping compartments or one sleeping and one living compartment. It features plenty of ventilation to avoid condensation and overheating. The internal wall pockets are handy for storage. 

What you should consider: It’s an instant tent rather than a true pop-up tent, though it only takes around 60 seconds to set up. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pop-up camping tent for the money

Wakeman Sunchaser Two-person Pop-Up Tent

Wakeman Sunchaser Two-person Pop-Up Tent

What you need to know: Casual campers will love this affordable pop-up tent. 

What you’ll love: It pops up instantly, so all you need to do is peg it down. It’s small and light when packed down, making it easy to carry to your chosen camping spot. 

What you should consider: This tent is small and best suited to festivals or other short camping trips. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

What you need to know: This reliable pop-up tent is made by a trusted camping brand. 

What you’ll love: You can choose between two-person and four-person versions. It keeps rain out surprisingly well, considering similar tents can be hit-or-miss in this department. Setting it up and packing it away is a breeze. 

What you should consider: The two-person tent is really only big enough for one. It gets hot inside. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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