Can You Backpack with a Pop Up Tent? (Plus REAL Pictures!)

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As someone who bought, owns, and tested 7 different pop up tents, I think I know a little about these tents. In this article, I’m going to show you everything you need to know if you need a pop up tent to go backpacking or hiking with.

You can backpack with a pop up tent, only if you don’t mind taking on added weight and space. That being said, pop up tents are rarely used for backpacking and hiking, mainly because of their large packed sizes. Compared to backpacking tents, pop up tents can be up to twice as large.

This is what the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent looks like slung over my shoulder, when I was using the shoulder strap to carry it around.
This is what the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent looks like slung over my shoulder, when I was using the shoulder strap to carry it around.

Can You Backpack with a Pop Up Tent?

While you can backpack with a pop up tent, most people usually don’t. This is because pop up tents have significantly larger packed sizes than even regular camping tents, not to mention ultralight backpacking tents.

Check out this picture of what a pop up tent (Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent, yellow in color) looks like beside a camping tent (Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent, brown in color), as well as an lightweight backpacking tent (MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent, red in color).

Note: I don’t have any ultralight backpacking tents, but those are even smaller in size.

This is what a Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (pop up tent, left), looks like beside an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent (middle) and an MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent (right).
This is what a Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (pop up tent, left), looks like beside an Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent (middle) and an MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent (right).

The yellow Teton Sports 1-Person pop up tent is simply massive compared to the other 2 tents.

I also took the measurements of all 3 tents, and put them together in this neat table for you to compare:

TentWeightPacked Size
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent5.0 pounds28 x 9 x 5 inches
Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent4.7 pounds18 x 7 x 6 inches
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent2.9 pounds18 x 6 x 6 inches

Essentially, the Teton Sports 1-Person Pop Up Tent is about 67% larger than my Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent (camping tent), and about twice as large as my MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent (lightweight backpacking tent).

While the weight of my 1-person pop up tent is about the same as a regular camping tent, it’s almost twice as heavy as a lightweight backpacking tent.

And that’s not all. My Teton Sports 1-Person Pop Up Tent is my smallest pop up tent, the rest of them are significantly larger, which brings me to the next section.

From bottom to top: Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent, Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent, Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 2-Person Tent, Teton Sports Vista 2-Person Tent, and the Teton Sports Vista 1-Person Tent.
From bottom to top: Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent, Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent, Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 2-Person Tent, Teton Sports Vista 2-Person Tent, and the Teton Sports Vista 1-Person Tent.

Related Reading: 16 Pros and Cons of Pop Up Tents

Which Pop Up Tents Cannot be Taken Backpacking?

Pop up tents that have a circular packed size or shape cannot be taken backpacking. For a tent to be taken on a backpacking trip, it needs to be strapped onto your backpack. And I’ve found that pop up tents with circular packed shapes cannot be strapped on, because they are simply humongous.

Check out this picture below: My Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent is bigger than my backpack, in not just length, but also in width!

This is what my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (green, right) looks like beside my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock Pack (red, left).
This is what my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (green, right) looks like beside my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock Pack (red, left).

And this Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent is already one of my smaller circular pop up tents.

Check out what my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent looks like when I carry it with the provided carry bag strap, it’s way too huge to be a backpacking tent:

This is a picture of me carrying my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent.
This is a picture of me carrying my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent.

Here’s a table of 5 pop up tents with circular packed sizes (these are the pop up tents that I actually bought and tested; there are of course others in the market):

Circular Pop Up TentWeightPacked Size
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent6.6 pounds29 by 29 by 3 inches
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent6.1 pounds26 by 26 by 6 inches
Fresh & Black 2-Person Tent7.9 pounds27 by 27 by 6 inches
Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent9.5 pounds31 by 31 by 8 inches
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent8.2 pounds36 by 36 by 5 inches

If you had planned to buy any of these pop up tents to take backpacking, check the dimensions against your backpack. Chances are, they won’t be able to be strapped on.

Related Reading: Can You Use Pop Up Tents for Camping? (6 Answered Questions!)

What is the Best Pop Up Tent for Backpacking?

If you really absolutely need a pop up tent to take backpacking, I highly recommend checking out either the Teton Sports 1-Person or 2-Person Vista Quick Tents. These pop up tents have regular rectangular packed sizes, which makes it much easier to strap onto the side, top or bottom of your backpack.

This is a picture of both my Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent (behind) and my 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (front) in my yard. Notice that the 2-Person Tent is just slightly longer.
This is a picture of both my Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent (behind) and my 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (front) in my yard. Notice that the 2-Person Tent is just slightly longer.

Here’s a table of info on both the 1-Person and 2-Person Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents, based on my own measurements:

Rectangular Pop Up TentWeightPacked Size
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent5.0 pounds28 x 9 x 5 inches
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent7.0 pounds33 by 8 by 8 inches

This is how much longer the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent is (right) compared to the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (left).
This is how much longer the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent is (right) compared to the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (left).

This regular and rectangular packed size also makes the pop up tent much easier to store after your backpacking trip. Circular pop up tents, on the other hand, are much bulkier and odd-shaped, making them harder to store.

This is a picture of all my best pop up tents (packed up) in my yard. From left to right: Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent (not a pop-up tent, for a size comparison), Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent (black), Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (green), Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (light green), Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent (black), Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent (white).
This is a picture of all my best pop up tents (packed up) in my yard. From left to right: Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent (not a pop-up tent, for a size comparison), Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent (black), Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (green), Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (light green), Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent (black), Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent (white).

Between the 1-Person and 2-Person Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents, I prefer the 2-Person version. The 2-Person version has 3 inches more length, enough width to fit not just 2 regular sleeping pads, but a whole queen mattress inside the tent, it has 7 inches more headroom, 1 extra vestibule, 1 extra door, bigger doors, and lots of cross-ventilation through the 2 doors.

This is what the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the rainfly off. Notice that there’s a lot of mesh in this tent.
This is what the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the rainfly off. Notice that there’s a lot of mesh in this tent.

Related Reading: What is a Pop Up Tent? And How Do They Work?

Can a Pop Up Tent Fit Inside a Backpack?

A pop up tent is unlikely to fit inside a backpack, due to its large packed size. Pop up and instant tents are known to be anywhere between 40% to 50% longer (possibly more) than regular camping tents with a more traditional set up.

This is what my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow, right) looks like beside my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock Pack (red, left). Notice that my Teton Sports tent is longer than my pack.
This is what my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow, right) looks like beside my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock Pack (red, left). Notice that my Teton Sports tent is longer than my pack.

If absolutely needed, you might be able to fit the Teton Sports 1-Person Pop Up Tent (the smallest pop up tent) inside a humongous 70-liter backpack (the biggest possible backpack).

This is a picture of me using the strap of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent to sling it over my shoulder.
This is a picture of me using the strap of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent to sling it over my shoulder.

But even so, the pop up tent will take up the entire length of the backpack. I don’t recommend this, because it will make packing up the rest of your gear more difficult, and the weight distribution may not be ideal for your back.

How Do You Carry a Pop Up Tent with a Backpack?

Because a pop up tent is unlikely to fit inside a backpack, the only option left is to secure it to the outside of the backpack. Most backpacks will come with compression straps at the sides or bottom of the backpack, for attaching a tent or other large items.

This is one of the compression straps on my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock pack.
This is one of the compression straps on my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock pack.

I prefer attaching a pop up tent horizontally across a backpack for better weight distribution. However, if your backpack doesn’t have these horizontal straps, you could also attach the pop up tent to the side of your backpack like this:

This is what my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow, left) looks like strapped to my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock pack (red, right).
This is what my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow, left) looks like strapped to my Alps Mountaineering Red Rock pack (red, right).

Honestly, I won’t ever take this backpacking. When I carried my pack, I had 5 pounds of Teton Sports Tent weight to my extreme left and made the pack not so comfortable to carry.

When Should You Take Pop Up Tents Backpacking?

While I don’t recommend taking pop up tents for backpacking trips, you could still do so if your priority is an easy set up and pack up. Even so, I recommend taking pop up tents backpacking only if:

  1. You can actually spare the extra space;
  2. You don’t mind the weight increase; and
  3. You are going on short backpacking trips.
From left to right: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent (red), Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent (brown), Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (green).
From left to right: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 1-Person Tent (red), Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent (brown), Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent (yellow), Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (green).

While you could get away with taking a pop up tent on a short backpacking trip, I would definitely discourage you to take a pop up tent on longer backpacking trips. For these longer backpacking trips, do spend a little more money to invest in a lightweight backpacking tent. This would be better for your back in the long run.

If you’re still interested in buying a pop up tent, you can check out this blog post where I bought, tested and compared 7 of the best pop up tents in the market.

This is a picture of me with my 7 pop-up tents. From bottom to top: Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent, Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent, Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 2-Person Tent, Teton Sports Vista 2-Person Tent, and the Teton Sports Vista 1-Person Tent.
This is a picture of me with my 7 pop-up tents. From bottom to top: Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent, Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent, Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent, Fresh & Black 2-Person Tent, Teton Sports Vista 2-Person Tent, and the Teton Sports Vista 1-Person Tent.
Pop Up TentFull ReviewCheck Price
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick TentRead ReviewAmazon
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick TentRead ReviewAmazon
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up TentRead ReviewAmazon
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up TentRead ReviewAmazon
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person TentRead ReviewDecathlon
Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 2-Person TentRead ReviewDecathlon
Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person TentRead ReviewDecathlon

All My Resources on Pop Up Tents:

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