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I’ve used pop up tents for many years now (~4 years) and have quite a bit of experience when it comes to their durability. After all, I’d like them to last for as long as possible. Here’s what I found, and I’ll share everything I know with you.
Pop up tents can last for 3 to 7 years, mainly depending on how often you pop it open and fold it up. Their thin fiberglass poles and high pole tension make their lifespan a little shorter than regular tents. Nevertheless, with proper care, you can go on many camping trips with a pop up tent.
Are Pop Up Tents Durable?
Pop up tents tend to be a little less durable than regular camping tents. While pop up tents are usually made mostly of the same materials as regular camping tents, the poles of pop up tents tend to be a lot thinner than regular tents.
Let me explain and show this to you using my 7 pop up tents.
All my 7 pop up tents have flooring made of either polyethylene (Quechua 2 Seconds Tent) or polyester (Teton Sports Vista Quick Tent and Coleman Pop Up Tent). This is comparable to my regular camping tents, most of which are also made of polyethylene.
As such, the durability of the flooring of pop up tents is pretty good. I generally prefer polyethylene floorings, because they usually feel more rugged, are thicker, and more water resistant.
All 7 of my pop up tents have tent bodies made of polyester. However, the durability of the tent body’s polyester will depend on the Denier rating. Generally, the higher the Denier rating, the thicker and more durable the polyester.
For example, my Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents are made of 75D Polyester Taffeta, which is more durable and thicker than my Coleman Pop Up Tents, which are made of 68D Polyester.
Most of my inexpensive camping tents also have the same tent body build, and I found that they’re generally made of between 68D to 75D Polyester as well.
This is where things get interesting. Regular camping tents have poles that are generally made of fiberglass, aluminum, or steel. Fiberglass is the least durable and most prone to breaking, while aluminum and steel (being metals) are much more durable. Also, the thicker the tent poles, the more durable they are likely to be.
Over the past few years of camping, I’ve found that my more durable camping tents tend to have poles made of steel, which are thick.
In contrast, camping pop up tents are always made of fiberglass (never aluminum or steel). Also, the fiberglass poles are generally very thin.
As pop up tents need to be folded down easily, the poles need to be as flexible as possible. As such, they need to be made of the most flexible material, which is fiberglass. Also, the thinner the fiberglass pole, the more flexible it will be.
These thin fiberglass poles are usually the first thing to break in a pop up tent. This gives pop up tents slightly less durability than regular camping tents.
Related Reading: What Are Pop Up Tents Made Of?
Related Reading: Do Pop Up Tents Have Poles?
How Long Do Pop Up Tents Last?
Pop up tents can usually last anywhere between 3 to 7 years, while regular camping tents tend to last longer, anywhere between 5 to 10 years. Pop up tents don’t last as long, because of their thin fiberglass poles, and the tension of these poles.
Thin Fiberglass Poles
In the previous point above, I already discussed why pop up tents need to be made of fiberglass, and also why these fiberglass poles need to be thin. As a result, pop up tent poles tend to be less durable than regular tent poles.
Here’s another picture of how thin my pop up tent poles are:
Pop up tents are so easy to set up. All you have to do is just take it out of the carry bag, and fling it away from you. Then, simply watch it as it pops open.
Do you know what gives pop up tents their iconic “pop up” motion? It’s pole tension.
When you pack up a pop up tent, you have to fold it up. When you fold the poles up, the poles store a lot of tension, which is why you have to hold the poles together which a strap. This strap stops the poles from popping up:
However, this means that at any time when the poles are stored, there’s already a lot of tension on them. It also means that the poles have to be subjected to an enormous release of pole tension when popping up, which can take its toll on the poles:
Pop Up Tent Lifespan
As such, pop up tents tend to have a shorter lifespan than regular camping tents without the pop-up poles.
A couple of my camping tents (not pop up) have been with me for over 5 years, and are still going strong. My oldest pop up tent (the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black) has been with me for about 4 years, and on my last use of it, one of the poles popped out of the joint.
This is probably because there was too much pole tension for the joints. Thankfully though, I was able to fix it, by simply popping it back into the joint. So, my tent is definitely still usable, but I think it’s only a matter of time before it starts giving way.
Related Reading: What is a Pop Up Tent, and How Does it Work?
Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Worth It? And, Should You Buy One?
What is the Most Durable Pop Up Tent?
The most durable pop up tent is the Teton Sports Vista Quick Tent. Instead of employing the typical “pop up” motion to set up the tent, the set up is more akin to that of opening an umbrella. This reduces pole tension, making it more durable than most pop up tents.
To set up the Teton Sports Quick Tent, first take the tent out of the carry bag, and lay it flat on the ground, except for the black central hub that will stick out perpendicularly to the tent. Notice that this Quick Tent doesn’t “pop up” at all:
Then, simply grab the center hub, and lift it off the ground using the drawstrings. With one hand, grab the drawstrings, and with the other hand, press down on the hub. This will make the Teton Sports Quick Tent pop up like an umbrella:
Because the poles of the Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents don’t have to be quite so flexible, I noticed that they’re a little bit thicker than the fiberglass poles of the other pop up tents that I have. Check out what it looks like:
Since the poles of the Quick Tent are a little thicker, and are subject to less pole tension, I find that they’re more durable than most pop up tents.
In contrast, most pop up tents tend to have lots of pole tension. Just look at how I needed to fold up my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent:
When you look at how the poles have to be twisted to form the Figure-8 shape, you can just imagine how much tension there is.
What Affects the Lifespan of a Pop Up Tent?
The number of times you pop open and fold up your pop up tent is the biggest determining factor of how long your pop up tent will last. The more you pop open and fold up your tent, the faster it’ll wear out.
Each time you pop open your pop up tent, bear in mind that the tent poles are subjected to an enormous release of pole tension, which most definitely will take its toll on your tent poles. The more you pop it open, the more pole tension the poles are subjected to.
On top of that, each time that you pop your tent up, you’d have to fold it down as well. When folding down your pop up tent, your tent poles need to be folded down enough to be able to fit back into the carry bag.
Considering that your pop up tent has a capacity of at least 2-4 people, and needs to be able to fit back into a small carry bag, imagine how much tension there is on the poles each time you fold it back down.
Related Reading: How to Set Up a Pop Up Tent – 9 Steps
Related Reading: How to Fold Up a Pop Up Tent – 9 Steps
Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Easy to Set Up and Fold Up?
How to Make Your Pop Up Tent Last Longer
To make your pop up tent last longer, buy a tent that has as little pop up motion as possible. Always choose a higher quality tent with a longer manufacturer’s warranty, and protect your tent from the elements as much as possible.
Let’s go through each of these points.
Less Pop Up Tension
As I mentioned in this entire post, the more tension your tent poles are subjected to, the faster your pop up tent will wear out. As such, I highly recommend pop up tents with less of a “pop up” motion, which will subject your tent to less pop up tension.
This is why I recommended the Teton Sports Vista Quick Tent as the most durable pop up tent I have. Instead of a pop-up spring motion from the pole tension, you have to manually pop the poles up yourself using the umbrella-type mechanism at the top of the tent.
Buy Quality Tents
Another tip is to buy higher quality tents than lower quality tents. I found that lower quality pop up tents tend to have more pop up motion (the point I mentioned above), and higher quality pop up tents tend to have more of a smooth, guided set up, with less pop up motion.
Also, the higher quality your pop up tent, the thicker and more rugged the materials used will be, the design and construction will also be higher quality, and generally, the longer your pop up tent will last.
I found that my Teton Sports Quick Tents were the highest quality tents I had, followed very closely by the Quechua 2 Seconds Tents, and my Coleman Pop Up Tents were the least high quality.
In fact, here’s how I rated my pop up tents. There’s a column on “Quality” (third column from the right):
Generally, a manufacturer’s warranty is indicative of how long they think the pop up tent will last. The longer the manufacturer’s warranty, the higher quality the pop up tent tends to be.
While I didn’t take into account the warranty when I rated my pop up tents (ratings in the picture above), the info I found on the manufacturer’s warranty seems to back up my opinion on the quality of my pop up tents:
|Pop Up Tent||Length of Warranty|
|Teton Sports Vista Quick Tent||Lifetime Warranty|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Tent||3 Years|
|Quechua Fresh and Black 2 Seconds Tent||2 Years|
|Coleman Pop Up Tent||1 Year|
Protect from Elements
To protect your pop up tent from the elements, you can do the following things:
- Don’t use your pop up tent in heavy winds.
- Protect your pop up tent from UV rays, by covering it up.
Since pop up tents are made of thin fiberglass poles, they don’t fare well in heavy winds. Using your pop up tent in heavy wind will cause the tent poles to flex and bend, sometimes permanently. As such, check the wind conditions before camping with a pop up tent.
Also, cover your tent up with a tarp or a canopy. This means that the UV rays will fall on your tarp or canopy, instead of your pop up tent. Alternatively, you may want to camp in more shaded areas, rather than straight out in the sun.
Just bear in mind that UV rays from the sun can be extremely harmful to your tent, as it degrades your tent’s fabric and also the fiberglass poles.
Treat Your Pop Up Tent with Care
In general, if you want your pop up tent to last for longer, just treat it with as much care as possible.
When camping, not only cover it with a tarp to protect from harmful UV rays, but you can also lay a tarp at the bottom of your tent. Also, try to avoid rocky areas which can pierce the bottom of your tent.
When cleaning your tent, wash or wipe off as much mud and debris as possible. Since you can pick your pop up tent up from the ground, use this advantage to shake out as much dirt as possible through the open door.
Before keeping up your pop up tent, do dry it completely before putting it back. Keeping your pop up tent up when it’s wet may result in mold or mildew.
When Should You Replace Your Pop Up Tent?
You should replace your pop up tent when any of the poles have been broken, or when the fabric has degraded to a point beyond repair.
Broken poles are the single biggest reason for getting your pop up tent replaced. Since the thin fiberglass poles are the weakest part of a pop up tent, you can expect them to be the first thing that breaks.
Unfortunately, unlike regular tents where a broken pole can be easily replaced with another pole, pop up tents usually have poles that are embedded within extremely long pole sleeves, making it ridiculously difficult to replace with another pole. Also, pop up tents tend not to have replacement poles.
Because of all the pole tension that pop up tents have, it can be extremely dangerous if the broken poles hit you in the face. Many pop up tents with a more aggressive “pop up” motion can already hurt when the tent hits you in the face (trust me, I know from experience), not to mention when the broken pole hits you in the face.
Another smaller reason that you may want to replace your pop up tent is when the fabric degrades beyond a point of repair.
For example, my Quechua Fresh and Black 2 Seconds Tent has been with me for many years, but the fabric has degraded to a point where every time I touch the fabric, some of the blackout fabric will flake off on my hands, which makes it a huge inconvenience.
Nevertheless, pop up tents still have their place in the camping world, despite their slightly lower durability. Its still a wonderful option for people who camp indoors, or in their backyards, and especially for those who prioritize user-friendliness.
|Pop Up Tent||Full Review||Check Price|
|Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent||Read Review||Amazon|
|Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent||Read Review||Amazon|
|Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent||Read Review||Amazon|
|Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent||Read Review||Amazon|
|Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
|Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent||Read Review||Decathlon|
All My Pop Up Tent Resources: