There’s no doubt in my mind that camping is one of the best things you can do to relax and have fun, whether on your own, with friends, or with family. It definitely is my favorite thing to do – after loving my family, of course!
But through my many years of sleeping in the wilderness, I’ve discovered the one thing people often struggle with: setting up a tent. Yes, it’s true; you can end up spending hours trying to figure out how to set up a tent, especially if you’re new.
Luckily, companies have started to develop what is known as the “pop-up” tent, or the “instant” tent, and taking the time to find the best pop up tent will save you from the struggles of setting up your tent.
Whether you’re camping on the beach or in the forests, I’ve got you covered with my list of the top five best pop up tents that you can easily find on Amazon.
What Is A Pop Up Tent?
By definition, a pop up tent is a small, portable tent that is easy to assemble, especially one with a collapsible frame that springs into a functional position. At least, that’s what TheFreeDictionary.com says.
Simply put, it is exactly what the name suggests; a tent that “pops up” into place, without having to assemble multiple poles and all those things associated with a traditional tent.
Why Use A Pop Up Tent?
Of course, the most obvious reason to use a pop up tent is how it basically “pops up” and sets up in an instant. Usually, it only takes a few seconds to a minute to get it up, making it a favored choice for beginner hikers.
Generally, most pop up tents (especially the single and double tents) are really lightweight and compact, which is great for people who can’t carry a traditional tent around when backpacking.
Pop ups are also a favorite among people going to the beach or attending concerts and festivals since they set up quickly, are generally lightweight, and portable.
Sometimes, however, the disassembly of these kinds of tents can be quite deceptive. While setup usually takes a few seconds, disassembly can take a bit longer and pose a pretty tough challenge for you.
You will most likely have to refer to the manual and take the time to learn about how to actually get it down. But with the right mindset and just a little bit of patience, it can be done.
When Choosing A Pop Up Tent
There are a few things to ask yourself and some factors to consider when selecting your pop up tent. Let’s go through some of them.
First of all, ask yourself how many people are going to sleep inside the tent. Most tents come in sizes good for 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9 people.
But don’t just think about how many people will be sleeping inside, also consider what you will be putting inside. Do you only have a little gear? Or are you planning to put an air mattress, an ice chest, portable fan, etc. inside?
Remember to give some allowance for each of these things, and you will be able to breathe while inside your tent!
Next, you need to think about what you are using it for. Are you backpacking or car camping? Car camping will allow you to get a larger tent, since you can store it inside your car for about 99% of the trip.
But for backpacking, go for a smaller tent that’s just right for you so it won’t take up too much space and you won’t have too much trouble carrying it with you. Usually with backpacking, each individual carries their own things anyway.
It’s important to note that pop up tents don’t do so well in very windy conditions, so if you’re hiking up a high mountain that’s expected to be windy, make sure your pop up tent can be pegged down to the ground.
This is loosely tied to what you will be using your tent for. Pop up tents are made of various materials like cotton, nylon, felt, and polyester. Usually, the most common material to use is nylon and polyester.
Some pop ups can be treated with waterproofing, so these would be good for camping in the forest or during unpredictable seasons.
Other tents have a UV protected coat on their fabrics to provide extra protection from the harmful rays of the sun. These type of pop ups are great for beach use or during festivals and concerts.
Bonus features aren’t a must, but they do give you more value for your money. Check to see if your tent has some nifty little features like storage pockets on the inside, hang loops for lanterns, dividers, rain fly, etc.
One of the things I like to look for in a tent (both pop up and traditional) is a skylight or a mesh roof. Not only does this help with ventilation, but it also gives my family and I the chance to stargaze at night.
Another thing that is important to look for as a “bonus feature” of pop up tents, is pegs because not all of them can be pegged down. Having this option is great, especially when it starts to get really windy out of nowhere.
Some pop up tents may even come with a rainfly and guy line like in traditional tents. While this may add an extra minute or two in setting up, it will give your tent the added support and protection it may need.
Top Five Picks
Since there are so many different pop up tents that you can find, even on Amazon alone, I’m going to help you out a bit. Here are my top five picks that you can read about and choose from!
1. Pacific Breeze Easy Up Beach Tent Deluxe XL
The name of this tent alone makes you want to head out to the beach. This instant beach tent is a well-ventilated tent that sets up really quickly and can fit around 2 to 4 people inside.
The frame is lightweight and sturdy, while the rest of the tent is breathable because the frame is made of fiberglass, and the tent fabric is made of thin but water resistant polyester. It is also coated with UPF50+ sun protection.
When folded down, its dimensions are 38” (L) x 6” (W) x 6” (H) and it comes with a carry case.
It has internal storage pockets where you can place small items like a tiny broom and dustpan to brush away sand from the inside, as well as hooks for hanging.
- Dimensions: 95” (L) x 52” (H) x 51” (W)
- Weight: 6.5lbs
- Extra sun protection
- Incredibly simple to set up and take down
- Relatively friendly price for its size
- Portable – good for beach use, picnics, and festivals
- Not suitable for use in camping/overnight trips
- It gets kind of hot inside after a while
- Cannot withstand strong winds
2. Genji Sports Instant Beach Star Tent
This instant tent from Genji Sports has an automatic pole system, which will allow you to set it up and fold it away in a matter of seconds. Even if you’re on your own, you can easily set it up without too much trouble.
It’s quite small so only about two people with minimal gear can fit inside, however, one wall is completely open and there is a large window on the back so you have good ventilation while you’re inside.
It is made with a durable, UV50+ protective coated Nylon so you get extra protection from the sun. The frames are fiberglass so it is lightweight, while the floor is made of waterproof polyethylene (PE).
- Dimensions: 84” (L) x 48” (W) x 53” (H)
- Weight: 4.5lbs
- Comes with pegs and a carry bag
- Great for beach use, picnics, festivals
- Friendly price
- Not ideal for overnight use/camping
- Not very durable
3. Coleman 4 Person Instant Tent
Coleman is the brand known to many, creating various outdoor gear ranging from ice boxes all the way to tents.
The Coleman 4-Person Instant Tent makes use of an “extend and secure” design to make setting up the tent really simple. The poles are pre-assembled inside the tent, then all you do is extend and secure.
It is a nice fit for 4 people and is large enough to fit a queen-sized air mattress if you want that extra touch of comfort.
The tent also makes use of Coleman’s WeatherTec welded floor system, so you stay dry even if the ground becomes moist and saturated. The seams are taped as well for that extra protection from the rain.
- Dimensions: 8ft x 7ft footprint, 4’10” center height
- Weight: 19lbs
- You won’t ever lose your poles
- Friendly price for the size
- Not as easy to set up as the others
- Heavy and large – not ideal for backpacking or long hikes
- Hard to put it back inside the bag
4. CORE Equipment 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent
I have to start this by saying – this tent is huge: 14 feet by 9 feet to be exact. It is perfect for all of you with large families, lots of gear and equipment, or if you just want a lot of space.
Even the center height is high at 6.5 feet, so everything about this tent screams space. But a large tent will come at a cost; and weighs a hefty 36.5 pounds, so this isn’t a tent for backpacking.
There are large windows on the side of the tent and a mesh ceiling, allowing for proper ventilation and natural lighting inside the tent. You can add a rain fly if you wish for those rainy days or if you want shade.
It even has an electrical cord access port for your devices. The tent also has dividers for privacy and wall storage for organization. As an added bonus, it comes with a rainfly, tent stakes, and a carry bag.
For a tent this size, it’s pretty amazing that it still remains quick and easy to set up, taking around a minute or so.
- Dimensions: 14 feet x 9 feet footprint, 6.5 feet height
- Weight: 36.5lbs
- Water repellent fabric with sealed seams and fully taped rainfly
- Pre-assembled frames
- HUGE – can fit two queen-sized mattresses
- Has a room divider
- Simple, uncomplicated to set up
- Expensive (though quite reasonable for its size)
- Heavy – not at all good for backpacking
- Takes a bit longer to set up than other pop up tents
- It can get pretty hot unless you open up all the panels
5. Gazelle 22272 T4 Pop up Portable Camping
The Gazelle Pop Up tent is a highly ventilated tent that has large windows on both sides, a skylight, and two doors so you won’t feel trapped, even if three to four of you sleep inside.
It comes in three colors: blue, green, and light blue to fit your personal preferences.
Its poles are made of fiberglass making it lightweight and sturdy at the same time. The tent weighs only about 4.4 pounds and it comes with a carry bag so you can easily transport it. It folds down to a 31” diameter circle.
- Friendly price
- Completely closed (can be used for camping or overnight use)
- Good enough space for 2 to 3 people
- Not waterproof or water resistant
- Material is thin
The Verdict ?
Pop up tents are the most convenient tent types that you can get.
While they all are slightly similar with the differences usually being in the way they set up, I would have to say my favorite is the CORE Equipment Instant 9 Person Cabin for family use and the Pacific Breeze Deluxe XL for day use.
The CORE 9 is great because it’s incredibly huge – I can’t state that enough. There are times when my family goes on a long trip that can last 5 to 7 days. So even if there are just 4 of us, we have a lot of space for all of our things.
The Pacific Breeze XL is my choice for day/multi-purpose use because of its protective layer and water resistant material. This would be perfect to use on the beach, during picnics, or festivals. It’s really lightweight as well for its size.
Which one is your favorite? I’d like to know in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this article with anyone you know looking for a pop up tent!
Until next time!
Last update on 2020-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API