There’s nothing more peaceful than spending time in the great outdoors. Being surrounded by the serenity of nature and all of her majesty is certainly awe-inspiring. Whether it’s camping or spending a day at the beach, being outside is great; however, there are times when you do need some shelter. That’s when a pop up tent comes in handy. As the name suggests, a pop up tent is a tent that literally pops up. You pull it out of its carry case and it’s ready to assemble. There’s no challenging poles or directions to struggle with. In a matter of minutes, you have shelter from sun, rain and even wind.
While a pop up tent can certainly be an asset, there are tons to choose from, so finding the one that will best fit your needs can be a bit of a challenge. To help you make the best choice, we put together this buyer’s guide, filled with useful information that you can use to find the best pop up tent to suit your needs.
Types of Pop Up Tents
There are several different types of pop up tents, and what generally differentiates one type from another is the design and the size. Most pop up tents have a single skin, or one layer of fabric. This makes them thin and easy to ‘pop up.’ Because of the single layer of fabric, pop up tents are considered to be suitable for sleeping, as they do not provide an adequate amount of protection from the elements. They are, however, suitable for providing protection for short periods of time.
Pop up tents can come in a variety of sizes, accommodating 1 to as many as 12 people. The following pop up tent designs are the most common:
- Tunnel Pop Up Tents – This type of pop up tent is shaped like a cylindrical tunnel
- Dome Pop Up Tents – As the name suggests, a dome pop up tent is designed in the shape of a dome
- Multipurpose Pop Up Tents – These pop up tents can be used in a variety of settings, including the woods or on the beach; however, they are not suitable for sleeping.
- Royal Day Room Pop Up Tents – These pop up tents provide extra space, or a ‘living quarters.’ Many people use them to provide privacy for an outhouse while camping, for example. They are not suitable for sleeping.
- Shade Shelter Pop Up Tents – The skin of a shade shelter pop up tent features UV protection, making them a great choice to provide shade on the beach or in any other sunny location.
- Play Tents – These pop up tents are small in size and are often used as a play space for children. They can be used either indoors or outdoors.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pop Up Tent
Before you purchase a pop up tent, there are some factors that you are going to want to take into consideration to ensure that the choice you make will best suit your needs. We think that the following factors are the most important to consider when buying a pop up tent.
What size do you need? When determining the size that you need, make sure you think about how many people you plan on accommodating, or how much extra room you are going to want. Pop up tents can range in size from small to extra large. The smallest tents are meant to accommodate 1 person comfortable. The largest tents can accommodate 8 or more people. In addition to thinking about how many people you want to have room for, you should also think about the items that you plan on storing underneath the tent; coolers, chairs, etc, as these items will take up extra room.
What shape tent do you think will best suit your needs? If you are going to be using it on a camping trip to provide added protection in front of our RV, a dome pop up tent may be a good shape for you. However, if you are going to be using the tent while you are on a windy beach, a tunnel pop up tent may be a better option.
In order to make sure the pop up tent doesn’t fly away in the wind, you are going to want to secure it with anchors. The space you plan on using your pop up tent the most will have an impact on the type of anchorage and support the tent should have. For instance, if you are going to be using it on a sandy, windy beach, you are going to want more tie downs and longer stakes. You should also think about how you are going to secure the stakes in the ground. If you are going to be using the pop up tent in a location that has hard ground, a mallet will help you rive the stakes into the ground to get a more secure anchorage.
Level of Protection
How much and what type of protection do you want the pop up tent to provide for you. Are you going to be using it to protect you from the wind and rain on the playing fields while your kids are playing soccer? Will you be using it to create shade from the sun on the beach? Will it be used to provide a space for privacy while you are camping? The type of protection you want the pop up tent to provide will impact the type of material you choose. For instance, a tent that offers more opaque panels and has a zipper panel that acts as a door of sorts would be ideal for privacy, while a pop up tent that has sides that can be rolled up and has a solid cover over top would with a UV protected fabric would be a great choice for the beach.
How much are you looking to spend on your pop up tent? These tents vary in price from around $50 to upwards of $200 or more. Think about how much you want to spend before you start shopping so that you can find something that works with your budget. Generally, the larger the pop up tent and the more features if offers, the more expensive it will be.
Pop Up Tent Features
Pop up tents can boast a number of features. These features are intended to improve your experience with using your pop up tent, but if you don’t need certain features, there’s no sense to pay extra for them.
All pop up tents feature a front entrance that can be zipped when you want to close it, or can be unzipped and rolled up when you want to open it up. Some pop up tents also feature side entrances. These extra entrances can make it easier to access the tent, especially for larger structures. If you intend on using your pop up tent with other tents, side entrances can make it easier to connect them.
Pop up tents can also feature windows. These are an excellent feature if you want to be protected on the inside, but you still want to be able to look out with ease. Windows are similar to doors in that they can be zipped up, or unzipped and rolled up; however, they also feature mesh screen to keep insects out, and they don’t come down to the bottom of the tent.
If you want to enjoy good ventilation in your pop up tent, look for one that has air vents. Air vents are located on the ceiling of the tent and are similar to windows in that they can be zipped opened and closed. When opened, the vents will allow hot air that rises to the top of the tent to filter out.
Built In Tarp
To prevent the bottom of your pop up tent from getting wet, you will need to lay a tarp underneath it before setting it up. You can forego this step and having to buy an extra piece by purchasing a pop up tent that has a tarp built into it. With this feature, you just have to set up your tent and it will be protected from moisture on the ground.
If you want to have a spot to conveniently tuck away your shoes, your sunglasses, sunscreen or any other small item that you want to have on hand and not lose, look for a pop up tent that features storage pockets. These pockets are built right into the interior of the tent, and they are the ideal storage spot for things like cell phones, sunglasses, keys and other small items that you want to keep tabs on.
Best Pop Up Tent Brands
We found that there are dozens of pop up tent brands to choose from. Being that there are so many, finding the best brand to meet your needs can be daunting. To help you sort through all of the brands, we did some extensive research and tested several of the brands that are available to find the pop up tents that offered the above features and met the above considerations. We found that the following pop up tents brands are the best of the best.
Coleman has been a leading manufacturer of camping products for generations. Their pop up tents are constructed of high quality fabrics and excellent craftsmanship, which means that they will last you a long time. We also liked that Coleman offered a wide range of pop up tents to meet various needs.
Genji is another well known name in the outdoor equipment industry. This company manufactures several high quality pop up tents that are designed for a variety of uses. We like that their pop up tents offer excellent stability and that they are made of UV resistant, flame retardant, fully waterproof fabrics.
Another great pop up tent brand is Frostfire. This company manufactures several pop up tents that are lightweight, offer plenty of space, and boast a wide range of features. What really impressed us was how truly quick and easy it was to set up the all of the Frostfire pop up tents that we tested. Some of them were set up in as little as three seconds!
Sandalwood also manufactures high quality pop up tents. Their products offer an array of features, including screen blocks, UV and water resistant fabrics, welded floors with inverted seams that help to keep water out. We were also impressed with out quick and easy it was to set up the Sandalwood pop up tents, and how quick and easy it was to disassemble them.