If you've ever found yourself staring at a pile of pegs, poles and material, longing for a tent that would magically put itself up, so you can get on with enjoying yourself, then read on…what you're looking for is the best pop up tent.
One of the annoying things about camping is the effort of setting up a tent in the first place. If you're new to camping, it can be confusing, and the time investment is a bit of a pain on short weekend getaways where time is limited, or when you're touring around and have to erect and drop your tent multiple times, or generally any event where you want maximum enjoyment, minimum faff. Many of today's best festival tents are pop-up options, for example.
As the name implies, the pop-up tent explodes into a full-size shelter in a jiffy, just needing a few pegs and maybe a guyline before you're free to explore the main stage, fire up the BBQ, or just soak up the tranquility of the outdoors. Today's best pop up tents are a far cry from those of a few years ago. The success of the format means that all the major manufacturers are now involved, meaning today's options are more weatherproof, longer lasting and more durable. Some even boast features you'd expect on a standard premium tent, such as blackout material, proper ventilation, good weatherproofing and improved wind resistance.
That said, if you're heading on a multi-day trip and feel up to wrangling a few poles, a proper, non-pop version would always be our recommendation. Head to our general best tent guide for our top picks, or if you're wanting a pop up tent to take to the seaside, we also have a dedicated guide to the best beach tents.
The key to choosing the best pop-up tent is to aim for that quality section of the market – with a few exceptions – where you'll get a decent shelter that'll serve you well for years to come. Size is also a vital consideration, as well as weight if you plan to travel far with your popup, but for longer hiking trips you'll be best served with a dedicated (and frankly more packable) backpacking tent.
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The best pop up tent 2022
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If your expectation from the best pop up tent is that it should be easy to put up and just as easy to take down again when you're done, you could easily be disappointed by many models that go up without too much trouble then turn out to be a nightmare to pack away. Not so the Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black, as T3's expert reviewer found out – it's a cinch to to both put up and take down. Erecting it's a simple matter of pegging out the four corners, then pulling on two red drawcords until they click into place, and thanks to some kind of interior witchcraft you're mostly done; all that remains (if you want) is to put in a couple more pegs to add a porch area, and add extra guy ropes if you feel the need for additional stability. Taking it all down again is slightly more involved, but still a whole lot easier than wrestling the average popup tent back into its bag.
The all-in-one design means you can just as easily put it up in the rain without the interior getting soaked, or even move it around once it's pitched. And there's more to this tent than foolproof pitching; it's really well made, with two layers to avoid condensation issues, a blackout layer that'll keep things dark even in broad daylight, and plenty of room for two people inside (note, there's also a 3-person version (opens in new tab)). It's also great value, and while – as with pretty much any popup tent – it probably won't last as long as a poled version, we're sure you'll get a lot of use out of it. Find out more in our Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black popup tent review.
For a roomier alternative to the Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black, try the Quechua 2 Seconds 3XL. In many ways a stroke of genius, the 3XL is a titan in the world of popup tents, mainly because it is really quite huge in comparison to the standard two-man popup. However, young families, couples on a multi-day camping trip and festival goers alike will appreciate that extra slice of space enormously. As with smaller popup tents, this springs open in just a few seconds, and while there is a bit of technique involved (clue: the first clip is at the back of the inside of the tent), getting it back in the bag is relatively rapid too.
Other good news is that this popup tent blocks sunlight surprisingly effectively, making it dark enough to need a head torch inside even in midday sun. This means you’ll get a lie-in if you want one, and keeps the interior several degrees cooler even in full sun. The side vents also help keep temperatures down, and combat condensation at night, although the double-skin design deals with this well anyway. Decathlon own-brand Quechua has been making pop up tents for years, so it’s no surprise that this offering is relatively sophisticated, especially considering the reasonable price. Overall, if you’re looking for a slightly-larger-than usual tent, this is an excellent choice.
The Coleman Galiano 2 FastPitch pop up tent in 2-man format is a classic popup tent, almost entirely self-contained and pitched incredibly fast. Indeed, Coleman is being conservative with the official sub-minute pitching time: you literally remove the strap and pop, there’s a tent. At a relatively light 2.5kg this is one for longer haul journeys, although of course the packed-down disc-shape isn’t ideal for windy conditions (and there are only two guylines, which means the pitched version might struggle with very windy weather, too). There’s a little treat in store for clear nights, in that the whole roof section can be rolled back to give a view of the stars, or part-way back for better ventilation. A dual-skin door is designed to also allow air to circulate, and all these are covered with mesh to prevent unwanted biting insect visitors. If you’re looking for popup simplicity with reliable build quality (and star-gazing extras) the Coleman Galiano 2 is well worth a look. Need something bigger? It's also available as a 4-person tent.
The Regatta Malawi is ideal for the kids, as it's compact enough to be pitched in your garden when you're back from a camping holiday, giving the little ones their own space to play, read and chill outside. There’s a solid spec list here and at a good price too. In fact, the flysheet is better rated than many of the pop up tents listed here, with a 3000mm hydrostatic head (although a few reviewers say it's not reliably waterproof, while an integrated groundsheet is included in the price. Although the two-man capacity is comparable with many of its peers, the Regatta Malawi comes in at nearly a kilo lighter than many pop up tents, despite having similar specs in every other department. Internal pockets, lantern hanging points, plenty of mesh-lined vents and bright guylines make this a perfect choice for busy campsites too, with the funky colour scheme giving you another recognisable feature to help your tent stand out.
If you want something cheap that does the job, the Trespass Swift2 popup tent is well worth a look. There aren't many bells and whistles here, but it does have all the key things we'd look for in a popup tent: it's waterproof to 2000mm with taped seams, comes with a handy carry bag, and – of course – takes seconds to put up. There are a range of colours and patterns to choose from, and a welcome addition is the inclusion of a mesh door, which provides a handy bug barrier when you don't want to have the full door zipped up. This is not only a great feature if the weather does turn out for you and the nights are warm, but also provides welcome airflow through the tent to prevent condensation, which can be an issue in single-layer tents like this.
This Air Seconds really stands out in this company as it’s the only tent here with ‘air poles’. Which technically means it's really an inflatable tent. But we're including it our best pop up tent guide in case you hadn't considered this option. The pitching time is slightly longer than the fibreglass-poled ‘classic’ pop ups. However, peg this out, attach a pump, and within seconds you’ll have a substantial and robust weekend palace to admire. Decathlon rates this tent up to force 7 winds, which is robust indeed, and other neat touches like the basin-style groundsheet are designed to keep the weather firmly outside, which is where you want it.
It’s not light, of course, so this is a car-camping only proposition, but the living space is vast and decently high – plenty for four adults (two per bedroom), or a family. As with other Decathlon tents, this has Fresh and Black lining baked in, so the kids might just make it to 6am before demanding breakfast, and it’ll keep noonday sunshine temperatures down as well. Although you’ll need a separate pump to inflate this beast, it does offer the essence of a popup (fast, no hassle erection) combined with the space of a proper family tent, and at a reasonable price point too.
The Coleman Instant tourer pitches super-fast, but is a very different beast to the other popups here. Rather than relying on delicate fibreglass poles, the Instant Tourer has an unusual ‘spider’ arrangement of steel poles, which adds to durability but also weight. The poles are already attached to the flysheet and inner, so pitching is still a very rapid business, taking less than a minute. As well as a robust steel frame, the poles also give you a much taller than usual tent, up to 162cm high, so shorter folk will be able to stand up fully inside, a little touch of luxury in a fast-pitching tent. The steep sides also give more usable space than flatter designs, although the height will catch the wind more in exposed situations. Finally, the fully integrated groundsheet and taped seams should keep everything dry and cosy for the four people sleeping inside with plenty of room to spare. A worthy contender in our best pop up tent roundup.
How we tested the best pop up tents
When reviewing the best pop up tents – such as the Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black featured above – T3's team of outdoor experts will take them out overnight and field test them thoroughly in a range of alfresco scenarios, pitching the tent several times and packing it away to assess how easy this process is, as well as analysing how the product has performed at its primary job: providing shelter. Extended reviews are added when this has taken place. On occasions when such testing is still underway, or if we are still in the process of sourcing access to the product, the featured tents have been thoroughly researched.
How to choose the best pop up tent
Better materials, proper construction methods and rigorous testing means that the best pop up tents now stand up better in bad weather. Most of them also pitch so fast, you’ll feel like you’re in the Matrix. While speed is the biggest advantage with a pop up tent, there are still some pitfalls to watch out for…
Dimensions Choosing the right size of instant tent is key, as the increased bulk of a four-man pop up tent over a two-man is considerable. Also bear in mind that the best pop up tents tend to pack down into a large disc, which is fine for lugging back to the carpark from the festival, but unsuitable for longer walks, especially in any kind of wind.
Limitations Although many of the newest pop up tents are rigorously tested to resist wind, the fact that they’re based on flexible fibreglass poles does mean they’re at a disadvantage in full-on conditions, especially high winds. In short, pop-up tents are only really suitable as fair-weather shelters.
Price Finally, cost is a decent indicator of quality. So although we’ve got a wide range to suit all tastes and budgets, the cheapest pop up tents are best restricted to sun shelters on the beach or play tents for the garden, rather than serious all-weather protection tents.