Best pop up tent 2020: Instant tents for faff-free camping

These pop up tents for the beach, campsite and festivals are cheap and easy to pitch

best popup tent: Coleman Galiano 2 FastPitch pop up tent
(Image credit: Coleman)

Welcome to T3's official guide to the best popup tents available right now. One of the big setbacks of camping is the effort of setting up camp in the first place, especially on a short weekend getaway where time is limited, if you're touring around and need to set up and take down your tent multiple times, or at a festival where you want maximum enjoyment, minimum faff. This is where investing in one of the best popup tents is worth its weight in gold.

These are designed for speed – for all-rounders, check out our guide to the best tents overall. As the name implies, the popup tent explodes into a full-size tent 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 after a busy week. Just don't forget to unroll your camping mat and sleeping bag before heading off though, they'll both reward you by making themselves much comfier and easier to sleep on and in while you're away. 

Although the early days of popup tents were all about speed and little about durability, the success of the format meant that all the major manufacturers got involved, making popup tents that are weatherproof, long lasting and also quick to pitch. The quality popup tents of today have many of the features you'd expect on a standard premium tent, such as blackout material, proper ventilation, good weatherproofing and improved wind resistance.  

The key to choosing the best popup tent is to aim for that quality section of the market – with a few exceptions – where you'll get a quality 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

Best pop up tents: our expert pick

  • Pop up tents are at their best when they offer a decent amount of space to sleep and store gear, and have some form of airflow control or ventilation, coupled with a way to stop the early morning sun from waking you up at 6am and baking your tent instantly.
  • That's why our pick for the best pop up tent is the Quechua 3-man pop-up blackout tent – 2 seconds 3XL. This tent is larger than average, and boasts impressive blackout qualities, super-speedy pitching and good ventilation, all for a reasonable price.

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 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…

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. 

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, be wary of winter use. 

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. 

The best popup tents to buy now

best popup tent: Quechua pop-up 3XL

(Image credit: Quechua)

1. Quechua 3-man pop-up blackout tent – 2 seconds 3XL

The best popup tent overall

Specifications
Size: 3 person
Weight: 5.3kg
Pitch time: 2 seconds
Reasons to buy
+Roomier than the average popup tent +Fast and effective+Very dark inside

The best popup tent right now is 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 only real downside is a slightly higher price point than a 2-man popup, and a slightly bigger folded size. And if that's a deal-breaker, you could always go for the 2-man version.

best popup tent: Coleman Galiano 2 FastPitch pop up tent

(Image credit: Coleman)

2. Coleman Galiano 2 FastPitch pop up tent

The best pop up tent for all-round camping

Specifications
Size: 2 person (4 person also available)
Weight: 2.5kg
Pitch time: Under a minute
Reasons to buy
+Robust build +Great ventilation+Roof can be rolled back for stargazing

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. 

Once safely pitched, 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.

Best pop up tent: Regatta Malawi

(Image credit: Press)

3. Regatta Malawi Instant Tent

This best pop up tent for kids doubles as a garden hide-out

Specifications
Size: 2 person
Weight: 2.5kg
Pitch time: 1 minute
Reasons to buy
+No frills simplicity+Funky color scheme

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, 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.

Best pop up tent: Vango Dart 300DS in blue

(Image credit: Press)

4. Vango Dart 300DS Pop Up Tent

A robust pop up tent that withstands high winds

Specifications
Size: 3 person
Weight: 3.33kg
Pitch time: 1 minute
Reasons to buy
+Robust+Strong specs

The Vango Dart is a grown-up pop up tent for campers and festival goers. Although it still pitches in seconds (the minute pitch time includes pegging the fly out, making tea and having a game of snap), you’re getting some of the same specs you’d expect in a ‘proper’ tent. This makes it an ideal choice for the quick weekend campsite trip, or indeed a super-budget alternative for summer getaways.

Up front you've got high-end attributes such as taped seams, a 3000 hydrostatic head Vango Protex 70 denier polyester flysheet. The darker tent keeps morning light at bay and is coupled with an integrated groundsheet to protect you from the bare earth. Finer points  include condensation-shifting vents, lantern hanging points, reflective tabs on the peg-out points, and hi-vis guylines so that other people don't trip over your tent. 

best popup tent: Quechua Air Seconds 4.2 Fresh and Black popup tent

(Image credit: Quechua)

5. Quechua Air Seconds 4.2 Fresh and Black popup tent

The best pop up tent for family camping

Specifications
Size: 4 person
Weight: 17.9kg
Pitch time: 5 minutes
Reasons to buy
+Massive space+Very robust

This Airseconds really stands out in this company as it’s the only tent here with ‘air poles’, so erection time is a little 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 5.9 m²  living space is vast and decently high (1.95m)- 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. Check out the competition in our guide to the best family tents.

Best pop up tent: Coleman Instant Tourer in Olive

(Image credit: Press)

6. Coleman Tourer Instant Tent

The best pop up tent for all-weather touring

Specifications
Size: 4 person
Weight: 7.4kg
Pitch time: 1 minute
Reasons to buy
+Steel poles+Large internal area

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 for the best pop up tent crown.

Best pop up tent: Amazon Basics Pop-up Tent in dark and light blue

(Image credit: Press)

7. Amazon Basics Pop Up Tent

The best pop up tent for the beach

Specifications
Size: 2 person
Weight: 0.89kg
Pitch time: 1 minute
Reasons to buy
+Very very cheap+Minimalist

This astonishingly wallet-friendly pop up tent for the beach is perfect for the job in hand (although for some alternatives, head to our guide to the best beach tents). In other words, for keeping the sun at bay on hot summer beach days, and as storage space for towels, books, picnics and the like if the rain kicks in. There’s ventilation via a large mesh window, and extended floor at the front means you can stretch out in comfort. The basics tent comes with bag and pegs, but in a considered nod to the makeup of most UK beaches (ie, rocky), there’s a fillable sandbag bag to weigh down the structure and prevent the sea breeze whisking it all offshore. If you’re looking for a pop up tent for the beach and nothing else, this is ideal.