We’ve all been there. Getting to the campsite after the sun has gone down and having to fight with a mess of poles and fabric to get the tent up, not being able to see what you’re doing. Even in daylight, setting up a tent can be one of the most frustrating parts of camping.
Enter the Pop-Up Tent. The Best Pop-Up Tents provide all the same sheltering qualities as a traditional tent, but utilize innovative internal pole structures that allow them to ‘POP’ up into place with little more than a flick of the wrist. Simply toss the folded package in the air, and boom! You’ve got a tent.
Because gear manufacturers have essentially eliminated the most frustrating part of getting your campsite setup, it is perhaps no surprise that pop-up tents have become so popular in recent years. Because of that it can be hard to choose the best pop-up tent for you.
We’re counting down the 8 Best Pop-Up Tents on the market, taking a look at construction material, size & weight, and ease of use along the way.
The 8 Best Pop Up Tents for Outdoor Activities in 2019
Best Hunting Pop Up
Coleman 60 SECOND CABIN Tent
Rain Fly: Sold Separately
Outdoor industry giants COLEMAN have been making tents for years, but this is perhaps the first time they’ve come up with one that sets up in less than sixty seconds, therefore eliminating what was surely the most annoying part of camping: setting up the darn tent.
Now the Coleman 60 SECOND is no backpacking tent. It’s more appropriate for multi day campgrounds or even the occasional music festival, but it is far too bulky and heavy to lug around in a backpack. But this is one of the drawbacks of pop-up tents in general. They are going to be a little bit heavier, so we really can’t fault Coleman for this one.
What we can fault them for is that the 60 SECOND is not exactly a sea worthy vessel, so to speak. The seams along the roof and floor will leak when exposed to heavy rain or groundwater for an extended period of time. They do fine with shorter bouts of precipitation, but anything more than a good half hour and you are likely to see some seepage.
The fix here is simple, but not free. First, remember to buy the rain fly, as this model does not come with one. Second, pick up some seam-seal at your local outdoor supply store and give the tent a good once over before you take it out into the wild.
Best Beach-Going Pop Up
ZOMAKE Pop Up Sun Shelter
Rain Fly: None
The ZOMAKE pop-up sun shelter is our official best beach-going pick for a couple of reasons. The first is the mesh screened skylight, a feature still not available on most traditional tents that allows you to lie beneath a shimmering sky full of stars without having to worry about any bugs getting in.
The second is how open and breezy this thing is when it is fully set up. With mesh windows on all sizes, you won’t feel cut off from the world, even if you need to take a break from the sand flies or mosquitos. If too much sun is getting in you can zip the windows completely shut with the nylon flaps and have a bit more privacy.
In terms of setup, this thing is almost instantaneous. Once you take it out of the bag it pretty much does the rest of the work all by itself. For the impromptu beach party or tailgating event, this is certainly the best option on the market.
Break down, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated. I am not going to lie, it took me a while to figure out how to get this thing back in its case. It was a lot of trial and error and me cursing to myself, but that’s only because I didn’t watch the handy YouTube video beforehand. If you decide to go with the ZOMAKE Pop Up, it wouldn’t hurt to practice folding it back up a few times before you take it out for a day on the sand.
The stitching on the ZOMAKE is about what you would expect from a pop-up in this price range, so I would expect that heavy use and/or the destructive nature of multiple children might cause some wear and tear.
Best Pop Up Tent to Keep in Your Car
Coleman GALIANO 4-Person Pop-Up Tent
Rain Fly: Included
Unlike the 60 SECOND model, Coleman’s 4-man pop up features an included rainfly and reinforced seams, meaning it can take more of a beating when it comes to inclement weather. It sets up in about the same amount of time, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice the ease and quickness of a pop-up.
It is surprising to us that this tent is selling for as low as it is (~$65). That seems like a steal considering it’s about the same price as the 60 SECOND but offers even more protection against the weather.
Also present is a mesh skylight, which you might know by now happens to be my favorite feature when it comes to tents, as there is simply nothing like falling asleep beneath the stars. Unfortunately the skylight is positioned in a way that it can’t be fully utilized by all four people in the tent (if you were to fill it to capacity).
While we’re on the subject, it might be a bit of a stretch to call this a 4-Person tent. If it was 2 adults and 2 children then maybe, but four adults would have a hard time fitting into this thing with all their sleeping gear. In reality, I think this is the perfect sized tent for a 2 person camping trip because you would have plenty of space left over for your gear without everything getting cluttered.
The carrying strap is a bit small; it would be helpful to add a shoulder strap to the carrying case to make it easier to lug to and from the campsite, but this is a minor issue.
Best Pop Up for Stretching Your Legs
Oileus Pop Up Tent
Rain Fly: Included
Equipment manufacturer OILEUS makes a little bit of everything, from Footbaths to 4K Cameras. It may be a surprise then to find out that not only do they also make a fast-pitch pop up tent, but it’s actually one of the most functional pop-up tents in its class, and for about the same price as some of the more recognizable outdoor brands out there.
What we like: the Oileus pop-up tent is perhaps the tallest pop-up tent that we had the pleasure of looking at. This can make a big difference in your camping trip as having the room to stand up makes your tent that much more livable. It’s also long enough that all of the occupants can have enough space to wiggle around some in the night. It’s advertised as being able to support 4-6 people, but in our opinion 6 would be a bit of a stretch.
4 people? Very comfortable. 5 people? A tight fit. 6 People? Nah. Not going to happen.
The whole thing folds up into a very nice little circle. This would be a piece of cake to store in the back of even the most crowded SUV. But we found two flaws with the Oileus tent:
First, the floor of this tent is the same vinyl material as the walls and roofs, meaning that it’s too thin and flimsy to offer any moisture protection, and could be vulnerable to tearing by sharp rocks and thorns. The easy solution to this is to utilize a heavy-duty tarp as your footprint, but that will add more weight to the equation, which isn’t ideal for every camper.
Secondly, the window rain covers are only accessible from the outside of the tent. So it’s entirely possible that you fall asleep beneath the stars only to wake up beneath a sudden rainstorm. In this case you will have to get out of the tent to close them back up, and quite possibly dampen your socks in the process!
Best Value Pop Up
G4Free Swift Open 2-3 Person Pop Up
Rain Fly: None
You aren’t going to find a more affordable pop-up shelter on the market, so you can stop looking. The G4Free Swift Open tent offers 100% of the convenience and speed of a pop up tent without the increased price. Sure, there will be some tradeoffs in terms of overall quality (we’ll get to that shortly) but sometimes you just need a good, affordable tent to get you through your next adventure.
Online retailers are advertising this as a backpacking tent, but we think that’s a bit off the mark. It is true that it’s relative lightness (~4.5 lbs) puts it well within range of other backpacking tents, but it simply doesn’t have the durability or element resistance that is necessary for that kind of use.
WATCH: How to Break Down Your G4Free Pop Up Tent.
For one, this tent is only water resistant, meaning that even a short storm has the capability of introducing a bit of water to your home-away-from-home. A full on rain storm would leave you completely soaked. Seeing as how there is no rainfly available, the G4Free Swift Open might be better suited for other applications.
Like a hot day in the park or a beachside BBQ, when all you really need is to get out of the sun for a quick nap. It folds down small enough that it will fit well in your vehicle, giving you the capability of an instant shelter wherever you go.
And don’t get us wrong: you could totally spend the night in this thing. Just keep an eye on them rainclouds.
Best Pop Up for Music Festivals
HUI LINGYANG Outdoor 4-Person Dome Tent
Rain Fly: None
There is not a whole lot of information available about the tentmaker HUI LINGYANG, except that they have a few different tents that very recently hit the market and have been garnering a lot of attention amongst the outdoor community for their style and ease of use. We got our hold on the green 4-person model and were able to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
First things first: this is not a rugged adventure tent. It simply is not designed to handle any kind of bad weather, from strong wind to constant rain. It’s more of a tent that you can rely on for an immediate, simple shelter when you need one, such as a warm summer night beneath the stars or a three day stint at your favorite music festival.
WATCH: The HUI LINGYANG Pop-Up Tent in Action
Our favorite thing about the HUI LINGYANG tent is the size of its floor. It is both long enough and wide enough to fit a queen size inflatable mattress, which is a really good thing for those of us that like to camp in comfort when the opportunity presents itself. A lot of the other pop-up tents out there are too narrow to support a queen size mattress or even a double size mattress, forcing us to go the old school route of thin and narrow sleeping pads.
The biggest drawback to this tent aside from the lack of waterproofing is probably the breakdown process. Even if you are familiar with how the process goes it can be difficult to get it closed with any less than two people. The setup is far easier and quicker than the breakdown, but I have found this to be the case with most camping equipment.
Best All-Around Pop Up
EasyGo Products MINUTO
Rain Fly: None
There is no other way to say it the MINUTO by EasyGo Products is just a great little tent, perfect for following you to any park, beach, or mountain campsite. I don’t know what it is, I just LOVE setting this thing up by pitching it into the air. Then POP! The tent is setup. Breakdown is a bit more complicated, but after doing it a few times I’ve got it down to about 30 seconds.
Like most of the pop-up tents in this class, the MINUTO is not waterproof and is only somewhat water resistant. This means that you are going to want to check the weather before you decide to haul this thing deep into the Rocky Mountains. There is also no rainfly available meaning that the only way to make it work in bad weather is to string a tarp up over it, something that is possible but something of a hassle.
The MINUTO suffers from one major flaw, and that is the zippers. They just don’t seem to work that well and are often getting caught in the fabric or getting stuck altogether for no visible reason. This makes it hard to get in and out again and do it quickly, so if it’s bug protection you are looking for this might not be the best option.
The included stakes are also too pliable for effective use; we recommend investing in a set of titanium tent stakes to make sure that they last.
Best 2-Person Pop-Up
VITCHELO 2 Person Ultralight
Rain Fly: Available for Extra
Newcomers to the outdoor gear scene, VITCHELO has managed to create a product that is both affordable and functional, and is selling well on a number of online retailers to mixed reviews.
While this is certainly not the most durable tent that we took a look at, it had all the function and ease of use than the rest of our tents on the list. To sum it up: it’s a fast-pitch shelter designed for low to moderate outdoor use in ideal conditions.
Some sites are advertising this product as waterproof, and that is incorrect. The manufacturer themselves admit that the fabric is only water resistant, meaning that it will keep you dry only long enough to pull the car around and start packing up.
However this has everything you need for a good day or two on the beach, and in warm and dry summer conditions you will have no problems spending multiple nights in it.
What makes a great Pop Up Tent?
For the most part, pop-up tents are made of the very same fabrics and materials as more traditional tents. The only difference is the way the internal metal or fiberglass support poles are shaped and installed.
With some exceptions, pop-up tents are made of polyester or vinyl, and synthetic materials are more adept at providing weatherproofing qualities like water resistance and wind resistance while still being lightweight and easy to pack.
Pop-up tents also feature zippered mesh in the construction of their windows, allowing light to get in but keeping the bugs out.
Size & Weight
Just like regular tents, pop-up shelters and tents come in a number of different sizes, accommodating anywhere from 2 to 10 people depending on the specific circumstances. Selecting the right size for you is all about considering how many people will be using it and how much stuff they will be bringing along with them.
Unless you are looking for a test for long distance hiking, chances are that the weight of the tent itself is not a matter of great concern. If that’s the case, then it is our recommendation to always select a tent that is a bit bigger than the one you think you need.
For instance, a 2-person tent might not have enough room for 2 people to be completely comfortable. When you factor in backpacks, clothes, shoes, coolers, and anything else you might want to keep out of the elements, space starts to become an issue real quick.
A 4-person tent on the other hand would be capable of holding all your stuff without the space feeling cramped or cluttered.
Ease of Use
The reason why we love pop-up tents so much is not only because they are SO MUCH FUN to throw up in the air and watch pop into place, they also eliminate the need to navigate a tangle of clanking tent poles just to get your shelter setup.
Once the tent is popped-up, you will have to utilize a good set of tent stakes to keep it from moving around. Most tents on the market come with their own tent stakes, but they are rarely as strong as the ones you can find separately online or at your local outdoors store. When it comes to tent stakes, we recommend titanium.
Breakdown is another issue entirely. Because pop-up shelters are designed to be compacted back into their carrying case, they need to be folded up in a very particular way or else they will not fit back into their carrying case. It is usually possible to find instructional videos on YouTube for this purpose, but we also recommend practicing the setup and breakdown a few times before embarking on your outdoor adventure.
These were some really exciting products to take a look at, and to be completely honest we had a lot of fun doing it. The best pop-up tents for outdoor activities in 2019 are perfect for most outdoor excursions and provide quick and easy shelter whenever and wherever you need it.
For our money it doesn’t get better than the COLEMAN GALIANO IV in terms of all-around performance. With the rainfly attached it can hold up to more serious weather conditions than the other pop-ups that we looked at, and is a bit sturdier.
It is however the most expensive tent on the list, so campers who are looking for a little more bang for their buck should go with the G4FREE SWIFT OPEN.
Before you buy, be sure to check out our guide on how to select the best pop-up tent for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What Size Pop-Up Do I Need?
A: The dimensions of your pop-up should match the needs of your adventure, that is to say, big enough for everyone who is sleeping inside of it in addition to a little extra room to account for people’s gear and personal belongings.
For instance, a 4 person group with their gear in tow will not fit into a 4 person tent, but might fit very well in a 6 man tent.
Similarly, a 2 person group would do better with a 3-4 person tent
- Q: Are Pop-Up Tents Flame Resistant?
A: Most outdoor products sold in the US, especially tents and shelters, are subject to certain regulations regarding the fire resistant properties. The current standards are known as CPAI-84 and have been in place for some time to help protect consumers against dangerous fires.
Having said that, fire resistance will vary from product to product so be sure to check manufacturer’s specifications before you buy.
- Q: How Difficult are Pop-Up Tents to Break Down?
A: While pop-up tents go up in a snap of the fingers, folding them up and packing them back into their carrying case can be a bit of a chore if you are not familiar with what you are doing.
Fortunately these tents are designed to be folded down in a specific way, meaning that it only takes a little self-education to become a pro.
There are hundreds of YouTube videos out there that feature the correct way to break down your specific pop-up tent. We recommend trying it a few times in the comfort of your own home before doing it out in the woods in the dark!
- Q: Are pop up tents waterproof?
A: It varies from product to product.
It is true that the majority of pop-up tents that we looked at were not 100% waterproof. This is because waterproof fabric is not only expensive and heavy, but it doesn’t breathe well, which can make for a very clammy evening in the tent.
In addition, most of these pop-up tents are designed for clear conditions like sunny days and cloudless nights.
Some models however, like the COLEMAN GALIANO IV offer a rainfly (sometimes sold separately) that allows your tent to become a bit more weatherproof.
If you are going to be staying in one place for more than a day or two, you can also consider building a tarp cover to keep your tent completely dry without cutting off access to fresh air.