What is a Pop Up Tent? And How Do They Work? (REAL Pictures!)

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I started camping with regular tents over a decade ago. However, 4 years ago, I discovered pop up tents, and since then, I’ve bought 7 of them. In this blog post, you’ll find a complete guide to pop up tents, what they are, how they work, and more.

This is a picture of my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent in my yard overnight.
This is a picture of my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent in my yard overnight.

What is a Pop Up Tent?

A pop up tent is a tent that literally pops open the moment you take it out of the carry case. The set up timing for a pop up tent is usually just 15 seconds, and your tent will be fully set up, freestanding and fully functional.

This is a picture of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent popping open as I throw it away from me.
This is a picture of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent popping open as I throw it away from me.

There’s no need for you to fumble with poles, pole sleeves, and confusing instructions, or to fret about putting the rainfly on the wrong way. After all, these poles and rainflies usually come pre-attached, and require no assembly on your part.

However, if it’s a little windy where you’re camping, you might want to stake down and guy out your pop up tent. This will add about a minute to your set up timing.

This is a picture of me guying out my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent with the 2 pre-attached guylines.
This is a picture of me guying out my Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent with the 2 pre-attached guylines.

Camping pop up tents come in a small range of tent capacities – those I’ve bought and tested range from only 1-person to 4-person.

While I’ll be discussing camping pop up tents for the majority of this article, bear in mind that there are other pop up tents for various other uses, such as:

  • Privacy use;
  • Beach use; and
  • Canopies for events.

For example, here’s what a privacy pop up tent looks like. Unlike a camping pop up tent that you can sleep in and that protects you from the elements, the privacy pop up tent is much less heavy duty, and is meant only for changing or bathroom purposes.

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

How Does a Pop Up Tent Work?

While pop up tents are made mainly of similar materials to regular camping tents, they have much thinner poles, which are made only of fiberglass. These thin fiberglass poles can be easily bent and folded, which stores a lot of pole tension.

To prevent the pole tension from causing the tent to pop open, they’re usually held together with an elastic band across the length of the tent.

This is a picture of what the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent looks like when folded up.
This is a picture of what the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent looks like when folded up.

When you release the elastic band or strap, all the stored pole tension will be released, causing the tent to simply pop open, from a small packed size to a fully constructed freestanding tent. Let me show you more pictures in the next section about setting up a pop up tent.

How to Set Up a Pop Up Tent

This is the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent. To set this tent up, first unzip the carry bag, and take the pop up tent out of it.

This is a picture of me taking the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent out of its carry bag. Notice the black strap across it holding the tent together.
This is a picture of me taking the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent out of its carry bag. Notice the black strap across it holding the tent together.

Then, remove the black strap holding the pop up tent together, and immediately toss the entire tent away from yourself. This is to prevent the tent from popping up in your face and hurting 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.

Once you’ve tossed the tent away from you, simply stand around until it pops open completely. This will take about 5-10 seconds or so.

Here are a few pictures of my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent popping up:

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.
This is another picture of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent popping up, 1-2 seconds later.
This is another picture of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent popping up, 1-2 seconds later.

So far, the set up has taken just 15 seconds (or 0.25 minutes).

If you want to, you can stake down and guy out the entire tent, to give it more resistance against wind. For the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, it has 6 stake loops and 2 pre-attached guylines around the entire tent. This will take you an additional 1 minute and 15 seconds.

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.

Related Reading: How to Set Up a Pop Up Tent: 9 Steps (Contains many more details)

If you’re interested in how long each of my 7 pop up tents took me to pop open as well as set up with the stakes and guylines, here are the timings:

  1. Pop up timing: How long it takes the tent to pop up, without staking and guying.
  2. Full set up timing: This is the pop up timing, with full staking down and guying down.
Pop Up Tent Name Pop Up Timing Full Set Up Timing
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent 0.25 minutes 1.5 minutes
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent 0.25 minutes 1.5 minutes
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent 0.5 minutes 2.5 minutes
Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent 1 minute 3 minutes
Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent 1 minute 3.5 minutes
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent 1.25 minutes 2.75 minutes
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent 2 minutes 3.5 minutes

How to Fold Up a Pop Up Tent

Folding up a pop up tent is almost as simple as setting it up. First, remove all the stakes and guylines, then unzip the door. This allows air to be pushed out of the tent as you’re folding it up.

This is a picture of me unzipping the outer green door of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent.
This is a picture of me unzipping the outer green door of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent.

After that, fold all the poles together until your tent looks like a taco. Notice that the air is being pushed out through the door opening as I fold it up:

This is a picture of me picking up my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent to fold the poles together. Notice that I have already unzipped the door and window.
This is a picture of me picking up my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent to fold the poles together. Notice that I have already unzipped the door and window.
This is what the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent will look like when all the poles have been folded together. This is the taco shape.
This is what the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent will look like when all the poles have been folded together. This is the taco shape.

Once your tent looks like a taco, stand it up on one end. With one hand, grip the middle of the taco (where the poles are being held together). With your other hand, reach out as far as possible to the tip of the taco.

This is a picture of me reaching out to one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent to prepare to fold it down.
This is a picture of me reaching out to one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent to prepare to fold it down.

Then, fold the tip of the taco down towards you, while quickly kneeling on the ground at the same time, using one of your knees to press down on that end that you’ve just folded in. 

This is a picture of me folding one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent down.
This is a picture of me folding one end of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent down.
This is a picture of me using my knee to hold the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent down while folding it away.
This is a picture of me using my knee to hold the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent down while folding it away.

The rest of the poles will now form smaller circles, so push them together until your tent folds back to just one single smaller circle.

After you push the smaller circles of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent together, it should form just 1 single smaller circle.
After you push the smaller circles of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent together, it should form just 1 single smaller circle.

Replace the black strap across the length of the tent, to prevent the poles from popping up again. Finally, put the tent back into the carry bag.

Related Reading: How to Fold Up a Pop Up Tent: 9 Steps (Contains many more details)

I admit that for myself, it took some practice to get used to this entire fold up process. I think it took me about 5 tries to finally get good at folding up the tent. But once I got used to it, folding up the tent every single time became super easy.

Here’s how long each of my 7 pop up tents took me to fold up and pack up:

  1. Pack up timing: How long it takes to pack up, without staking.
  2. Full pack up timing: This is the pack up timing, with full staking down and guying down.
Pop Up Tent Name Pack Up Timing Full Pack Up
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent 1 minute 1.75 minutes
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent 1.25 minutes 2 minutes
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent 2 minutes 2.5 minutes
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent 2 minutes 2.5 minutes
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent 2.5 minutes 3 minutes
Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent 2.5 minutes 3 minutes
Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent 3 minutes 3.5 minutes

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

What are the Features of a Pop Up Tent?

Most pop up tents have a combination of most (if not all) of these pre-attached features:

  1. Pre-attached poles,
  2. Pre-attached pole clips,
  3. Pre-attached rainflies, and
  4. Pre-attached guylines.

Since most/all of these features are pre-attached, this drastically reduces the set up timing of pop up tents, since you don’t have to manually attach these features yourself.

These features also decrease the pack up timing, as you can just leave them attached, without having to remove them manually. Let’s go through each one.

Pre-Attached Poles

Every single one of my 7 pop up tents has pre-attached poles. This is the single most important feature of a pop up tent. If a tent doesn’t have pre-attached poles, it cannot be considered a pop up tent.

Pop Up TentPre-Attached Poles?
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick TentYes
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick TentYes
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person TentYes
Fresh and Black 2-Person TentYes
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up TentYes
Fresh and Black 3-Person TentYes
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up TentYes

The poles of pop up tents can be pre-attached in different ways. Some are pre-attached inside long pole sleeves, like the Coleman and Quechua tents:

This is a picture of me gripping one of the fiberglass poles of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. The pole is not visible at all in the picture, it is fully pre-attached to the black pole sleeve.
This is a picture of me gripping one of the fiberglass poles of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. The pole is not visible at all in the picture, it is fully pre-attached to the black pole sleeve.

Other pop up tents have pre-attached poles that are not hidden inside long pole sleeves, but which are instead pre-attached with pole clips. A great example of this is my Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents:

This is what the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the rainfly off.
This is what the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the rainfly off.

There are a couple of benefits to having pre-attached poles:

  • If you hate struggling with long poles and snaggy pole sleeves, pop up tents are one way to ease your pain.
  • This also decreases your set up time from 5-10 minutes (regular tents) to 1-3 minutes (pop up tents).

Related Reading: Do Pop Up Tents have Poles?

Pre-Attached Pole Clips

Pole clips are what attach the tent body to the poles of a tent. For all of my 7 pop up tents, I’ve never had to attach any pole clips manually.

While most of my pop up tents don’t have visible pole clips, you can clearly see them on my Teton Sports Quick Tent above.

This is a picture of me touching one of the pole clips of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent.
This is a picture of me touching one of the pole clips of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent.

And this is how the pole clips are attached to the mesh of the tent body – through this black fabric and single stitching.

This is what the pole clip attachments of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like from the inside of the tent.
This is what the pole clip attachments of the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like from the inside of the tent.

Pre-Attached Rainfly

Most of the popular pop up tents in the market come with pre-attached rainflies. This also decreases the set up timing and pack up timing:

  • When setting up, there’s no need to fumble around and find the right way to place the rainfly across the tent. There’s also no need for frustration in case you put the rainfly on wrongly.
  • When packing up, there’s no need to take the rainfly off, and fold it up properly.

However, bear in mind that not all pop up tents have pre-attached rainflies.

Pop Up TentPre-Attached Rainfly?
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick TentNo
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick TentNo
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person TentYes
Fresh and Black 2-Person TentYes
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up TentYes
Fresh and Black 3-Person TentYes
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up TentYes

A great example of a pop up tent with a pre-attached rainfly is the Quechua 2 Seconds Tents:

This is a picture of me taking the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent out of the carry bag. Notice that there’s a yellow strap across the tent.
This is a picture of me taking the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent out of the carry bag.
This is a picture of me unfolding the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of me unfolding the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.

The rainfly of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent is the white outer covering. Notice that it was attached since I took it out of the carry bag (first picture above), and there’s no need for me to take the time to attach it while unfolding the tent (second picture above).

Another pop up tent that I have, which also comes with a pre-attached rainfly, is the Coleman Pop Up Tent.

This is my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent in my yard, in the rain.
This is my Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent in my yard, in the rain.

The green rainfly on top of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent is pre-attached; I didn’t have to attach it myself manually.

On the other hand, my Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents do not come with pre-attached rainflies. As such, these Quick Tents take an additional 1 minute or so to set up the rainfly. Nevertheless, putting the rainfly on is pretty easy, because the Quick Tents come with these user-friendly buckles for securing the rainfly in place:

To secure the rainfly to the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent, there are these buckles at the 4 corners.
To secure the rainfly to the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent, there are these buckles at the 4 corners.

It also takes an additional 1 minute to take off the rainfly, and fold it up nicely so that it’ll fit back into the carry case.

This is a picture of me rolling up the tent body of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent along with the rainfly to get it back into the carry bag.
This is a picture of me rolling up the tent body of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent along with the rainfly to get it back into the carry bag.

Pre-Attached Guylines

Pre-attached guylines is not a feature specific to pop up tents; during my years of experience of camping, I’ve noticed that many camping tents also come with these pre-attached guylines. Nevertheless, pre-attached guylines also decrease the set up timing.

However, not all my pop up tents come with pre-attached guylines, and this does puzzle me a little:

Pop Up TentPre-Attached Guylines
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick TentYes
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick TentYes
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person TentNo
Fresh and Black 2-Person TentNo
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up TentYes
Fresh and Black 3-Person TentNo
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up TentYes

Specifically, the 2 Seconds Tents that I bought from Decathlon do not come with pre-attached guylines. Instead, the guylines are neatly rolled up and can be found in one of the inside pockets of the carry case.

This is what the guylines of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent look like out of the package. They are not pre-attached to the tent body.
This is what the guylines of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent look like out of the package. They are not pre-attached to the tent body.

However, fret not. Attaching these guylines to the guy-out points of the 2 Seconds Tent body is actually pretty easy, and can be done with a simple knot on your first set up. After that, you can leave the guylines attached, so that subsequent set ups will be much faster.

This is a picture of me attaching one of the provided guylines to one of the guyout points on the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.
This is a picture of me attaching one of the provided guylines to one of the guyout points on the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent.

I recommend using guylines especially in a windy location, as these guylines anchor your tent to the ground more firmly and prevent your tent from blowing away.

Pre-Attached Tensioners

Guylines also usually come with pre-attached tensioners, located somewhere in the middle of the guyline, and which look like this:

This is what the pre-attached tensioner of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent looks like.
This is what the pre-attached tensioner of the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent looks like.

These are for loosening or tightening the guyline. Don’t make your guyline too tight, or it’ll damage or your tent. And don’t make the guyline too loose, or they won’t be sufficient wind protection.

Related Reading: How to Secure Your Pop Up Tent

Related Reading: What Are Pop Up Tents Made Of?

What Makes a Great Pop Up Tent?

Apart from all the pre-attached features above, here are 3 additional qualities to look out for when choosing the best pop up tent for yourself:

  1. Vestibule,
  2. Removable rainfly, and
  3. Rectangular packed size.

Vestibule

A tent’s vestibule is an area outside of the base area of the tent, but is still protected by the rainfly. This space is usually used for footwear or wet gear.

This is a picture of my sneakers inside the vestibule of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.
This is a picture of my sneakers inside the vestibule of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.

I particularly enjoy having vestibules, because I always leave my shoes and flip flops (dry or wet) outside the tent; I never take it into the tent with me. This allows me to keep my tent as clean as possible.

I realized that only my Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents have vestibules, while the rest of my pop-up tents do not. The 1-Person Vista Quick Tent has just 1 vestibule, while the 2-Person Quick Tent has 2 vestibules.

This is what the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the vestibule partially opened.
This is what the Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like with the vestibule partially opened.

Removable Rainfly

Pop up tents with removable rainflies generally have more ventilation than pop up tents with non-removable rainflies. If the rainfly isn’t removable, and there aren’t enough vents in the tent, condensation can form overnight if you seal the entire tent shut, with no airflow from the outside.

This is a picture of me inside my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent at night. I’m zipping up the door.
This is a picture of me inside my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent at night. I’m zipping up the door.

This was exactly what happened to me in my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (not the Fresh and Black version). When I slept in the tent with the door closed, it was a little stuffy at night. Also, when I woke up the next morning, I noticed a few drops of condensation on the roof of the tent.

Here’s the few drops of condensation I found inside the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent after sleeping in it on my own overnight.
Here’s the few drops of condensation I found inside the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent after sleeping in it on my own overnight.

There are many benefits to a removable rainfly:

  • You get a lot more ventilation and breathability.
  • More breathability means a lower likelihood of condensation.
  • You also get to stargaze at night, and enjoy views during the day.
This is a picture of me taking the rainfly off the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.
This is a picture of me taking the rainfly off the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent.

My Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents have completely removable rainflies. When removed, a good two-thirds of the tent is made from mesh.

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.
This is a picture of me lying down inside my Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent, with the rainfly off. It has such a nice view.
This is a picture of me lying down inside my Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent, with the rainfly off. It has such a nice view.

My Coleman Pop Up Tents are also not too bad, because I could take the rainfly off the ceiling mesh, and sweep it to the back:

This is a picture of me lying down inside the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, with the ceiling mesh as well as the door opened.
This is a picture of me lying down inside the Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent, with the ceiling mesh as well as the door opened.

On the other hand, my Quechua 2 Seconds Tents (both the Fresh and Black and Regular versions) do not have removable rainflies. The rainflies are non-removable and full-coverage.

Rectangular Packed Size

There are 2 different packed sizes of a pop up tent. One is circular, and the other is rectangular.

Circular packed sizes tend to be bulkier, more difficult to store in a car, and also more difficult to store at home. This is what a Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent looks like:

This is a picture of me using the strap of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent’s carry bag to carry it.
This is a picture of me using the strap of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent’s carry bag to carry it.

On the other hand, rectangular packed sizes tend to be easier to bring around, sling over your shoulder, and also store at home. These packed sizes tend to be smaller, and is my packed size of choice. Here’s my 2-Person Teton Sports Quick Tent:

This is what the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like when slung over my shoulder with the shoulder strap.
This is what the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent looks like when slung over my shoulder with the shoulder strap.

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

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

How Much Does a Pop Up Tent Cost?

I’ve bought 7 pop up tents over the past few years, and they cost me anywhere between $55 to $130 each. The cost of a pop up tent depends on a couple of factors:

  1. Capacity: The larger the tent capacity, the higher the cost.
  2. Quality: The higher the quality, the higher the cost. Usually, higher quality tents tend to be more comfortable, more feature-rich, and last longer.
This is a picture of me unboxing the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent.
This is a picture of me unboxing the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent.

Here’s roughly how much I paid for each of my 7 pop up tents, from the least expensive to most expensive:

Pop Up TentPrice I Paid
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent$55
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent$80
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent$85
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person Tent$90
Fresh and Black 2-Person Tent$100
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent$120
Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent$130

If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend either the Coleman 2-Person or 4-Person Pop Up Tent (I prefer the 4-person version).

If you can afford to spend a little more, go for either the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black or the Teton Sports Vista Quick Tents. My favorite pick is this Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent:

This is what the cardboard packaging of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent will look like.
This is what the cardboard packaging of the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent will look like.
This is a picture of me taking out the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent from its cardboard packaging.
This is a picture of me taking out the Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent from its cardboard packaging.

Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Worth it? And Should You Buy One?

When Might I Need a Pop Up Tent?

Pop up tents will not be suitable for everyone. For example, if you’re going mountaineering, you can definitely expect a pop up tent to not protect you from the elements. The strong winds may even rip it to shreds.

However, there are a few groups of campers that I’d recommend pop up tents to:

  1. Those who prioritize user-friendliness;
  2. Backyard campers;
  3. Indoor campers; and
  4. Festival or event go-ers.
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.

Prioritizing User-Friendliness

I would recommend pop up tents to campers (especially beginners!) who want a quick set up. There’s no need to fuss over long tangled poles, snaggy pole sleeves, and rainflies that are put on the wrong way (which need to be taken off and set up again). These can be really annoying, I know.

Backyard Camping

Pop up tents are also perfect for backyard camping. Camping in your backyard tends to have less wind, which pop up tents do not fare well in. Also, since pop up tents are rather bulky, it’s great not to have to carry them too far.

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).

Over the past couple of years (pandemic period), I’ve done a lot of backyard camping, and personally love pop up tents for their ease of set up, as well as ease of take down:

Indoor Camping

Another location pop up tents are great for is indoors. Thanks to the easy set up and take down, you can set up camp in no time.

This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent indoors.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black 3-Person Tent indoors.

However, just bear in mind that some pop up tents have a more aggressive “pop up”” motion. Do keep those away from breakables or other valuables.

Festivals and Events

Pop up tents also great for festivals, queuing, standing in line, and other events, because you may need to move every few hours. Since pop up tents are easy to set up and easy to take down, they’re the perfect choice if you have to keep moving.

Also, all pop up tents are also freestanding, so you don’t have to stake them down or guy them out, which saves you a lot of time. This also gives you the option of picking them up easily, and shifting them to a new spot as easily as possible:

This is a picture of me picking up my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent off the ground entirely, and moving it from one spot to another.
This is a picture of me picking up my Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick Tent off the ground entirely, and moving it from one spot to another.

Related Reading: Can You Use Pop Up Tents for Camping?

Related Reading: Can You Backpack with a Pop Up Tent?

Where Can I Buy a Pop Up Tent?

Pop up tents can be found mostly on mass consumer retail sites, like Amazon, Walmart or Decathlon. Since pop up tents are not top of the line kind of tents, you typically won’t find them on sites like REI Co-Op, Backcountry or Moosejaw.

In fact, if you’re wondering, here’s where I bought each of my pop up tents:

Pop Up TentCheck Price
Coleman 2-Person Pop Up TentCheck Amazon
Coleman 4-Person Pop Up TentCheck Amazon
Teton Sports 1-Person Vista Quick TentCheck Amazon
Quechua 2 Seconds 2-Person TentCheck Decathlon
Fresh and Black 2-Person TentCheck Decathlon
Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick TentCheck Amazon
Fresh and Black 3-Person TentCheck Decathlon

Apart from all these 7 pop up tents listed above, you can check out the Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Tent from Decathlon. I don’t have this tent yet, but it’s a huge improvement over the existing 2 Seconds Tent.

Also, Amazon also sells a bunch of other pop up tents from lesser known brands. I didn’t give them a try because I’d rather stick to more conventional brands like Coleman, but you can read their reviews and give them a shot.

What’s the Difference Between a Pop Up Tent and a Regular Tent?

There are many differences between a pop up tent and a regular tent. In fact, in another article that I’ve linked to here, I listed 8 key differences and explained each one of them clearly. However, for this blog post, I’ll just briefly go through the most important 4.

This is a picture of my Coleman 4-Person Carlsbad tent (left), my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (middle), and my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (right) in my yard.
This is a picture of my Coleman 4-Person Carlsbad tent (left), my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent (middle), and my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent (right) in my yard. The Carlsbad is a regular tent, while the Quechua tents are pop up tents.

Easy Set Up

From all my research and testing, I’ve found that pop up tents set up (on average) about 2 to 4 times faster as a regular tent. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s mainly because the poles are pre-attached, and sometimes the rainfly is pre-attached as well.

This is a picture of me unfolding the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent.
This is a picture of me unfolding the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent.

Here’s a quick comparison of how a 2-Person and 4-Person Coleman pop up and regular tents fare against each other. For the regular tent, I’ve chosen the Sundome tent.

I decided to compare between tents of the same brand (Coleman) for more accurate results:

Name of TentFull Set Up Timing
Coleman Pop Up 2-Person Tent1.5 minutes
Coleman Pop Up 4-Person Tent1.5 minutes
Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent7 minutes
Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent9 minutes

Easy Pack Up

Similarly, I’ve also found that pop up tents pack up (on average) about 2-4 times faster than a regular tent. Again, here’s the same table for a quick comparison:

Name of TentFull Pack Up Timing
Coleman Pop Up 2-Person Tent1.75 minutes
Coleman Pop Up 4-Person Tent2 minutes
Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent6 minutes
Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent8 minutes

Packed Size

While pop up tents have a way easier set up and pack up, their packed size is significantly larger. Since the poles of pop up tents cannot be removed like regular tents, there’s a limit to how much they can be bent when folding up.

Name of TentPacked SizePacked Volume
Coleman Sundome 2-Person Tent23 x 8.5 x 6 inches1,173 cubic inches
Coleman Pop Up 2-Person Tent29 x 29 x 3 inches2,523 cubic inches

Specifically, the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent is more than twice as large as the Sundome 2-Person Tent.

This is what the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (left) looks like beside a 2-Person Sundome Tent (center) and a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle (right).
This is what the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (left) looks like beside a 2-Person Sundome Tent (center) and a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle (right).

Durability

Another main con of a pop up tent is that they have less durability than regular tents. Pop up tents are always made of fiberglass (never aluminum or steel). Also, the fiberglass poles are generally very thin. This allows the poles to be as flexible as possible, as they need to be folded up.

This is what the fiberglass poles of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent look like.
This is what the fiberglass poles of the Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent look like.

On the other hand, regular tent poles are much thicker, even if they are sometimes made of fiberglass. Here’s what the Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent’s tent poles look like:

This is a picture of what the Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent's poles look like.
This is a picture of what the Coleman 2-Person Sundome Tent’s poles look like.

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

Pop Up Tents VS. Instant Tents

One quick note I’d like to make here is that while all pop up tents are instant tents, not all instant tents are pop up tents. The main 2 differences are:

  1. The set up motion; and
  2. The pole material and thickness.

Set Up Motion

While both pop up and instant tents have pre-attached poles, pop up tents are usually defined by their classic “pop up” motion, while other instant tents do not have this same “pop up” motion.

In fact, to set up an instant tent, you’d first need to lay the tent body flat on the ground. There will usually be a center hub sticking up perpendicular to the tent body. I’ll use this Coleman 10-Person Instant Tent as an example:

This is a picture of my brother unfolding the Coleman 10-Person Instant Tent, with the central hub still upright (red arrow pointing to the central hub).
This is a picture of my brother unfolding the Coleman 10-Person Instant Tent, with the central hub still upright (red arrow pointing to the central hub).

After that, you’d need to extend the poles until they click into place. Larger tents, like my Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent has horizontal and vertical telescoping poles, while smaller tents, like my Coleman 4-Person Instant Tent has only vertical poles.

Here’s a picture of my brother and I extending the horizontal poles at the top of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Tent:

This is a picture of me pointing to the 2 roof poles at the back of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent that can be extended.
This is a picture of me pointing to the 2 roof poles at the back of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent that can be extended.

And here’s another picture of us extending the vertical poles at the sides of the tent:

This is a picture of my brother extending the steel wall poles of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.
This is a picture of my brother extending the steel wall poles of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent.

For instant tents, you need to extend a few poles before your tent body will be set up. Pop up tents, on the other hand, do not need require this.

Pole Quality

Another significant difference is in the pole quality (material and thickness). Pop up tents tend to be made of thin fiberglass poles, while instant tents tend to be made of thicker steel poles. This increases the sturdiness of instant tents.

This is what one of the telescoping poles of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent looks like.
This is what one of the telescoping poles of the Coleman 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent looks like.

Can You Camp in a Pop Up Tent?

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. 

This is a picture of the Quechua logo on my regular 2 Seconds Tent.
This is a picture of the Quechua logo on my regular 2 Seconds Tent.

For camping, I highly recommend buying pop up tents from outdoor gear brands such as ColemanTeton Sports, and Quechua (from Decathlon).

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

Can I Use My Pop Up Tent in the Rain?

If you buy a pop up tent from a reputable outdoor gear brand, you can absolutely use it in the rain. In fact, these pop up tents can be just as waterproof, if not more waterproof than regular camping tents.

Of all the pop up tents that I have, I found my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tents to be the most waterproof. In fact, I used the regular 2 Seconds tent over a 3-day period of heavy afternoon thunderstorms, where it was raining for about 3 hours a day.

This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent in my yard. This was one of my heaviest rain tests; notice that half my yard has been flooded by the constant rainfall.
This is a picture of my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent in my yard. This was one of my heaviest rain tests; notice that half my yard has been flooded by the constant rainfall.

Apart from a little bit of leaking from the back corner seam, which was just a few drops of water, the rest of the tent body was remarkably dry. And this slight leaking was because the factory seam on my tent had degraded; if I had re-sealed it, my tent would have been completely dry.

This is a picture of some of the floor seams of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. Notice that it’s quite old, and the factory tape looks like it’s loosening and peeling off.
This is a picture of some of the floor seams of my Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent. Notice that it’s quite old, and the factory tape looks like it’s loosening and peeling off.

Here are all the waterproofing features that my Quechua 2 Seconds Tent have:

  • 2000-mm rated PU-coated polyester flysheet
  • Full coverage rainfly
  • 120g/sqm polyethylene groundsheet
  • Bathtub polyethylene flooring
  • Thermobonded taped seams

The more waterproof features your pop up tent has, the better it’ll fare against heavy rain.

Related Reading: Pop Up Tents in Rain – Everything You Need to Know!

Can I Use My Pop Up Tent in Strong Wind?

Pop up tents are not known to be good in wind; these tents are manufactured for their ease of set up and take down, not so much for withstanding strong winds and inclement weather.

To give pop up tents their classic “pop up” motion, pop up tents need to be made of fiberglass poles, which is the most flexible material that tent poles are made of. And not just regular fiberglass poles, but thin fiberglass poles.

This is what one of the poles and the accompanying joints of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent looks like.
This is what one of the poles and the accompanying joints of the Quechua 2 Seconds Fresh and Black Tent looks like.

As such, these thin fiberglass poles are more likely to flex and bow in the wind, as compared to regular camping tents.

Nevertheless, if you fully stake down and guy out your entire pop up tent, it can withstand strong breezes of up to 30 miles per hour.

This is a picture of the front of my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent fully guyed out with the 4 guylines. I was trying to shake it to test how sturdy it is.
This is a picture of the front of my Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent fully guyed out with the 4 guylines. I was trying to shake it to test how sturdy it is.

The best pop up tent that I have for wind is the Quechua 2 Seconds Tent, which is equipped with 4 stake loops and 7 guy-out points, and has been factory tested in wind speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. None of my other pop up tents have this many guylines.

This is what the back of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent looks like when fully guyed out with the 3 guylines.
This is what the back of the Quechua 2 Seconds Pop Up Tent looks like when fully guyed out with the 3 guylines.

Related Reading: Are Pop Up Tents Good in Wind? (What You Need to Know!)

What is the Best Pop Up Tent for Camping?

The Teton Sports 2-Person Vista Quick Tent is the best pop up tent on the market. 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.

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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