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

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I’ve bought and used many pop up tents in many different locations – indoor camping, backyard camping, regular camping, and even wild camping. Here’s what I’ve learned about using pop up tents while camping.

Pop up tents can be used for camping, as long as it’s sold by a reputable outdoor gear brand. While pop up tents can be used at campsites, and even for wild camping, it is not recommended to use such tents in particularly windy and stormy camping locations.

This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent beside a lake.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent beside a lake.

Can You Camp in a Pop Up Tent?

As a general rule, pop up tents can be used for camping, as long as they are marketed as a camping tent, and are sold by reputable brands that specialize in outdoor gear. These pop up tents are easy to use, and usually have sufficient base area, protection, ventilation and features.

While all pop up tents are easy to use, not all of them are suitable for camping. There are many pop up tents available on the market for a myriad of uses, such as:

  1. Camping;
  2. Beach use;
  3. Privacy use;
  4. Canopy use.

As such, for camping in a pop up tent, I highly recommend buying these pop up tents from reputable outdoor gear brands, such as Coleman, Teton Sports, and Quechua (from Decathlon). These tents tend to have sufficient base area for sleeping. For example, my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent has enough base area for 2 regular sleeping pads put together:

This is what 2 regular pads or a double pad will look like inside the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is what 2 regular pads or a double pad will look like inside the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.

This 2 Seconds Tent even comes with 2 large vents, 1 on each length of the tent, which can be guyed out and kept open in the rain for ventilation. This reduces the likelihood of condensation inside the tent.

This is the side vent of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent in the rain.
This is the side vent of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent in the rain.

On top of that, these camping pop up tents also have many waterproof features, such as taped seams, a bathtub flooring, fabrics with hydrostatic head ratings, and more. They are able to withstand a moderate amount of rainfall without leaking, and can be used in the rain.

This is a picture of both my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (left) and my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (right) in the rain.
This is a picture of both my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (left) and my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (right) in the rain.

On the other hand, pop up tents that are meant for other uses may not have sufficient protection, ventilation and other features that camping pop up tents have. For example, here’s what a privacy pop up tent looks like:

This is a picture of me in a privacy pop up tent.
This is a picture of me in a privacy pop up tent.

Notice that the pop up privacy tent is vertical in shape (so it cannot be slept in), it has no flooring (not enough rain protection), and is also less durable than camping pop up tents. The fabric is thinner and lower quality, and so are the poles.

Beach pop up tents and pop up canopies also suffer from the same problem. Beach pop up tents are generally not as hardy as camping pop up tents, and pop up canopies are not meant for sleeping in (they’re more for events and parties, etc.).

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

Related Reading: 13 Qualities for Choosing the Best Camping Pop Up Tent

Is a Pop Up Tent Better Than a Normal Tent for Camping?

Camping pop up tents set up and pack up much more easily than normal tents with a traditional pole set up, but generally are not as sturdy for camping in windy conditions, and pack down to a much larger packed size.

This is a picture of me slinging the packed-up Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent over my shoulder.
This is a picture of me slinging the packed-up Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent over my shoulder.

There are many pros and cons to buying a pop up tent over a normal tent with a traditional pole set up.

The biggest pro is, of course, the much easier set up and pack up process. Here’s how long each of my 7 pop up tents takes to set up, as well as to pack up. These timings include the full stake down and guy out of each pop up tent:

Pop Up Tent Name Full Set Up Full Pack Up
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent 1.5 minutes 1.75 minutes
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent 1.5 minutes 2 minutes
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent 2.5 minutes 2.5 minutes
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent 2.75 minutes 2.5 minutes
Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent 3 minutes 3 minutes
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent 3.5 minutes 3 minutes
Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent 3.5 minutes 3.5 minutes

Related Reading: How to Set Up a Pop Up Tent, and How to Fold Up a Pop Up Tent

In contrast, normal tents with a more traditional pole set up (where you have to sleeve the poles yourself) and the same tent capacity can take twice to three times as long to set up.

However, because the poles of pop up tents are pre-attached, there’s a limit to how much they can be folded, since they cannot be removed. This results in the significantly larger packed size (can be 40-50% larger) that pop up tents have, compared to normal tents.

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).

Also, to be packed up and folded in a certain way, pop up tents need to have super flexible poles. To manufacture super flexible poles, these poles have to be made of fiberglass (the most flexible tent pole material), which are thin (and thus can be easily folded). This results in pop up tents bending and flexing more in wind than regular tents with thicker poles.

This is how thick the poles of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent are.
This is how thick the poles of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent are.

As for the rest of the camping-specific features, like weather protection and ventilation, camping pop up tents can be just as waterproof, UV-protected, well-ventilated and as comfortable and feature-rich as regular camping tents.

Related Reading: Pop Up Tents VS. Regular Tents – 8 Key Differences to Know

Related Reading: 16 Pros and Cons of Pop Up Tents

When Should You Use a Pop Up Tent for Camping?

Based on the pros and cons of pop up tents compared to regular camping tents above, I would recommend using pop up tents for camping, if you fall into one of the below categories:

  1. If an easy set up and pack up is what you’re after;
  2. If you’re car/backyard/indoor camping, and don’t mind the significantly larger packed size;
  3. If you’re not camping in particularly windy and stormy locations.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent in my yard at night.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent in my yard at night.

For me personally, I use pop up tents most often when I’m indoor or backyard camping. There’s no wind to blow over and destroy my tent, and it’s the most convenient set up, especially when I have to set up multiple tents for many people:

This is my Coleman 4-Person Carlsbad Dome Tent (left), Quechua 2 Seconds Regular Tent (middle), and my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (right).
This is my Coleman 4-Person Carlsbad Dome Tent (left), Quechua 2 Seconds Regular Tent (middle), and my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (right).

Because apparently, my friends and family seem to think I’m the best at setting tents up, so I’ve gotta get all the leg work done. Not that I mind, of course.

See those 3 tents in the picture above? I set all of them up myself. The 2 Quechua Pop Up Tents in the background took me just 2-3 minutes to unfold and pop open (for both!), while the Coleman Carlsbad Tent in the foreground took me 3 times at long (about 9 minutes). I didn’t bother to stake down and guy out the tents though.

Are Pop Up Tents Good for Wild Camping?

Pop up tents can be used for wild camping, as long as you’re not camping in a particularly windy location. While wild camping on a very windy beach may break your pop up tent, wild camping near a quiet lake with gentle breezes will be perfectly fine.

Where I live, there’s not a whole lot of designated campsites, and you’d have to apply for permits to camp at these designated campsites. Because that can sometimes be a hassle, I’ve found myself wild camping on quite a few occasions over the last few years. And on some of these occasions, I brought along my pop up tents.

This is a picture of me standing beside my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of me standing beside my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent beside a quiet lake.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent beside a quiet lake.

I found that my pop up tents were able to stand up to light breezes, which I experienced while camping in my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent near a fairly quiet lake. There wasn’t a whole lot of wind, and when there was wind, it was nothing more than a light to moderate breeze (not even a strong breeze of 30 mph).

Of course, since you’ll likely encounter some breeze and wind while camping, I highly recommend staking out the entire pop up tent, with every available stake loop on the tent.

This is a picture of one of the stake loops on the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of one of the stake loops on the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.

Also, I highly recommend using as many guylines as possible to attach to each of the guy-out points on your pop up tent. The more guylines you use, the more wind your pop up tent will be able to take (up to strong breezes of 30 mph, of course):

This is a picture of me guying out the back of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of me guying out the back of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. Notice that 2 guylines at the front have already been guyed out.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. Notice that 2 guylines at the front have already been guyed out.

And of course, do stay away from very windy places, like land near large ocean bodies. There’s a lot of ocean and sea breeze in these areas, which your pop up tent may not be suitable for, due to the thickness and material of its tent poles.

Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Good in Wind?

Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Good in Rain?

How Do You Set Up a Pop Up Tent for Camping?

Setting up a pop up tent for camping is as simple as just taking the pop up tent out of the carry case, removing the strap holding the pop up tent together, and just tossing it away from you:

This is a picture of me tossing the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent away from me.
This is a picture of me tossing the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent away from me.

Due to the tension of the poles being folded over each other, the pop up tent will simply spring open, like this:

This is a picture of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent popping up.
This is a picture of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent popping up.

After that, if you want to, you can use the provided steel stakes to stake down the tent body. There will be stake loops on the tent body for you to drive a stake through. Also, you could guy out all the guylines for additional support against the wind.

Each side of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent has 3 stake loops for staking down the tent body, and 1 guyline for guying out the tent.
Each side of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent has 3 stake loops for staking down the tent body, and 1 guyline for guying out the tent.

Not all pop up tents have the same set up process though. Some pop up tents have a much more guided set up, which results in more steps and a little more time taken to pop the tent up. However, the above “pop up” process is the most common set up for pop up tents.

Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Easy to Set Up and Fold Up?

Related Reading: How to Set Up a Pop Up Tent – 9 Steps

Related Reading: How to Fold Up a Pop Up Tent – 9 Steps

What is the Best Pop Up Tent for Camping?

The Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent is the best pop up tent for camping. It can be set up and taken down in 3 minutes, it has a generous base area, 2 doors, 2 vestibules, many storage options, a completely removable rainfly, it’s high quality and also lifetime warrantied.

This is a picture of me using a tape measure to measure the base dimensions of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.
This is a picture of me using a tape measure to measure the base dimensions of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.

This is why, over the past few years of testing 7 different pop up tents, I’ve liked the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent a little more than the others. That doesn’t mean that the other aren’t good though.

In fact, while the Teton Sports Quick Tent does fantastic in most categories, for windy and stormy locations, I’d pick the Quechua 2 Seconds Tents instead. They’re a lot more waterproof, as well as sturdy in wind up to 30mph.

This is my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent sitting in a partially flooded yard.
This is my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent sitting in a partially flooded yard.
Pop Up Tent Recommendation Score Price
Teton Small
BEST OVERALL
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent 
  • Full set up: 3.5 minutes (includes staking)
  • Full pack up: 3 minutes
  • Peak height: 40 inches
  • Base area: 44.3 square feet
  • Mesh: No-see-um
  • Removable rainfly
  • 2 large doors
  • 2 vestibules
  • 2 pockets, 1 gear loft
  • Fits a queen-sized mattress
8.7
8.7 / 10
Fresh and Black 3P Small
MOST STORMPROOF
Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh & Black 3-Person Tent 
  • Full set up: 3 minutes (includes staking)
  • Full pack up: 3 minutes
  • Peak height: 39 inches
  • Base area: 42.8 square feet
  • Blackout feature: SPF 50+ UV protection
  • Full-coverage rainfly (2,000mm)
  • 7 guy-out points
  • Well-ventilated (2 large vents)
8.4
8.4 / 10
coleman small
BEST BUDGET PICK
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent 
  • Full set up: 1.5 minutes (includes staking)
  • Full pack up: 2 minutes
  • Pops up in 15 seconds
  • Peak height: 39 inches
  • Base area: 60.6 square feet
  • Fits a queen-sized mattress
  • Inexpensive
7.5
7.5 / 10

I actually wrote an entire blog post on how I bought, tested and reviewed the 7 best pop up tents on the market, including recommendations of each one. Click this link to check it out.

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 Pop Up Tent Resources:

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