The best pop-up tent

Tents

A built-in groundsheet is a feature of pop-up tents, simplifying the pitching process while also keeping out bugs and minimizing drafts.

Which pop-up tent is best?

Camping is great fun, but setting up your tent can be a hassle, especially if you’re inexperienced, arrive at the campsite after dark, or simply don’t have much time. Pop-up tents take just seconds to pitch and peg down, and you’re free to enjoy your getaway.

This guide contains all the information you’ll need to choose your perfect pop-up tent. We’ve also included a few of our favorites at the end, such as the Coleman Four-Person Pop-Up Tent, which features taped seams and a rainfly to keep water out. 

Considerations when choosing pop-up tents

Instant tents vs. pop-up tents

Instant tents fall into the pop-up tent category, although they don’t technically pop up. What’s the difference between the two?

A true pop-up tent has all its poles built-in and fully in place. It can be bent in such a way as to fold the tent flat and fit in its storage bag. When you open the bag and remove the tent, it automatically pops up into a full-size tent ready to peg down and sleep in. These tents are the easiest to pitch but have some constraints — they’re usually on the small side and may not keep the elements out entirely.

An instant tent doesn’t pop up when you remove it from its bag, but it does have built-in poles. These poles separate in places so you can pack the tent down, but it does mean you need to attach the poles together in order to pitch the tent. Depending on the tent size, this can take anywhere between one and five minutes, so it’s still a quick process.

Size

All pop-up tents list their sizes in terms of how many people they can fit inside. Pop-up tents range in size from two-person up to 12-person, though it’s rare to find a true pop-up tent that sleeps more than four people — instant tents are the ones more likely to have larger options. It’s worth noting, however, that the listed capacity is the maximum. For example, a six-person tent fits six adults shoulder to shoulder, but if you want a little more room or to sleep on air beds, it probably sleeps three people comfortably with a little room for gear.

Pop-up tents features

Ventilation

Make sure your chosen pop-up tent has some ventilation — such as roll-up or pop-out windows lined with mesh — to keep you comfortable on hot days.

Storage

Want to keep your tent tidy? Storage pockets on the inside walls of the tent can hold some of your belongings, freeing up floor space.

Pop-up tents price

You can find some small, basic pop-up tents for less than $50, but high-end models can cost $300 or more.

Pop-up tents FAQ

Q. Are pop-up tents waterproof?

A. This depends on the model you choose. True pop-up tents generally aren’t designed for camping in extreme weather, so they may be water-resistant but are rarely 100% waterproof. That said, some high-end models are fully waterproof. Instant tents are more likely to be completely waterproof since they’re halfway between true pop-up tents and standard tents, but always double-check before buying if you require a tent to keep out heavy rain.

Q. Are pop-up tents suitable for experienced campers?

A. Pop-up tents are often considered an option for inexperienced campers only, but there’s no reason why an experienced camper can’t use one. They may not be right if you’re camping on a mountain ridge or in the middle of winter, but for a quick overnight trip in good weather, even experienced campers can enjoy the benefits of a pop-up tent.

Pop-up tents we recommend

Best of the best

Coleman Four-Person Pop-Up Tent

Coleman Four-Person Pop-Up Tent

Our take: A true pop-up tent that takes mere seconds to pitch and sleeps two comfortably or four at a push.

What we like: Taped seams and rainfly make this tent actually waterproof rather than water-resistant like most similar models. Well-ventilated. Built-in storage pockets.

What we dislike: Tricky to pack away.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

AbcoSport’s Pop-Up Tent

AbcoSport’s Pop-Up Tent

Our take: This highly affordable pop-up tent is perfect for a single camper, though it can fit two if you don’t mind getting close and giving up storage space.

What we like: Extremely easy to pitch. Lightweight and compact. One door on each side for easier access. Plenty of ventilation.

What we dislike: Not 100% waterproof.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

CORE’s 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE’s 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent

Our take: Sleeps up to nine but fits just two queen beds, which cuts the capacity to four if you want to sleep in style.

What we like: Tall center height of six and a half feet. Central room divider. Fully waterproof. Well ventilated. Takes less than five minutes to set up.

What we dislike: Not great at retaining heat due to high ceilings so better for warm weather camping.

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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