Best pop up tent 2022: instant tents for stress-free camping

Best pop up tent 2022: instant tents for stress-free camping

Welcome to T3’s official guide to the best pop up tents available right now. One of the annoying things about camping is the effort of setting up a tent in the first place. If you’re new to camping, it can be confusing, and the time investment is a bit of a pain on short weekend getaways where time is limited, if you’re touring around and need to set up and take down your tent multiple times, or generally any event where you want maximum enjoyment, minimum faff. Many of today’s best festival tents are pop-up options, for example.

As the name implies, the popup tent explodes into a full-size tent in a jiffy, just needing a few pegs and maybe a guyline before you’re free to explore the main stage, fire up the BBQ, or just soak up the tranquility of the outdoors. Today’s best pop up tents are a far cry from those of a few years ago. The success of the format means that all the major manufacturers are now involved, meaning today’s options are more weatherproof, longer lasting and more durable. Some even boast features you’d expect on a standard premium tent, such as blackout material, proper ventilation, good weatherproofing and improved wind resistance.  

That said, if you’re heading on a multi-day trip and feel up to wrangling a few poles, a proper, non-pop version would always be our recommendation. Head to our general best tent guide for our top picks, or if you’re wanting a pop up tent to take to the seaside, we also have a dedicated guide to the best beach tents.

The key to choosing the best popup tent is to aim for that quality section of the market – with a few exceptions – where you’ll get a decent shelter that’ll serve you well for years to come. Size is also a vital consideration, as well as weight if you plan to travel far with your popup, but for longer hiking trips you’ll be best served with a dedicated (and frankly more packable) backpacking tent. 

  • Sleep tight with one of the best camping beds
  • Light your pitch with one of the best camping lanterns
  • Check out the best camping cookware sets

The best pop up tent 2021 

The best popup tent right now is the Quechua 2 seconds 3XL. In many ways a stroke of genius, the 3XL is a titan in the world of popup tents, mainly because it is really quite huge in comparison to the standard two-man popup. However, young families, couples on a multi-day camping trip and festival goers alike will appreciate that extra slice of space enormously. As with smaller popup tents, this springs open in just a few seconds, and while there is a bit of technique involved (clue: the first clip is at the back of the inside of the tent), getting it back in the bag is relatively rapid too. 

Other good news is that this popup tent blocks sunlight surprisingly effectively, making it dark enough to need a head torch inside even in midday sun. This means you’ll get a lie-in if you want one, and keeps the interior several degrees cooler even in full sun. The side vents also help keep temperatures down, and combat condensation at night, although the double-skin design deals with this well anyway. 

Decathlon own-brand Quechua has been making pop up tents for years, so it’s no surprise that this offering is relatively sophisticated, especially considering the reasonable price. Overall, if you’re looking for a slightly-larger-than usual tent, this is an excellent choice, the only real downside is a slightly higher price point than a 2-man popup, and a slightly bigger folded size. And if that’s a deal-breaker, you could always go for the 2-man version.

The Coleman Galiano 2 FastPitch pop up tent in 2-man format is a classic popup tent, almost entirely self-contained and pitched incredibly fast. Indeed, Coleman is being conservative with the official sub-minute pitching time: you literally remove the strap and pop, there’s a tent. At a relatively light 2.5kg this is one for longer haul journeys, although of course the packed-down disc-shape isn’t ideal for windy conditions. 

Once safely pitched, there’s a little treat in store for clear nights, in that the whole roof section can be rolled back to give a view of the stars, or part-way back for better ventilation. A dual-skin door is designed to also allow air to circulate, and all these are covered with mesh to prevent unwanted biting insect visitors. If you’re looking for popup simplicity with reliable build quality (and star-gazing extras) the Coleman Galiano 2 is well worth a look.

Need something bigger? It’s also available as a 4-person tent.

The Regatta Malawi is ideal for the kids, as it’s compact enough to be pitched in your garden when you’re back from a camping holiday, giving the little ones their own space to play, read and chill outside. There’s a solid spec list here and at a good price too. In fact, the flysheet is better rated than many of the pop up tents listed here, with a 3000mm hydrostatic head, while an integrated groundsheet is included in the price.

Although the two-man capacity is comparable with many of its peers, the Regatta Malawi comes in at nearly a kilo lighter than many pop up tents, despite having similar specs in every other department. Internal pockets, lantern hanging points, plenty of mesh-lined vents and bright guylines make this a perfect choice for busy campsites too, with the funky colour scheme giving you another recognisable feature to help your tent stand out.

The Vango Dart is a grown-up pop up tent for campers and festival goers. Although it still pitches in seconds (the minute pitch time includes pegging the fly out, making tea and having a game of snap), you’re getting some of the same specs you’d expect in a ‘proper’ tent. This makes it an ideal choice for the quick weekend campsite trip, or indeed a super-budget alternative for summer getaways.

Up front you’ve got high-end attributes such as taped seams, a 3000 hydrostatic head Vango Protex 70 denier polyester flysheet. The darker tent keeps morning light at bay and is coupled with an integrated groundsheet to protect you from the bare earth. Finer points  include condensation-shifting vents, lantern hanging points, reflective tabs on the peg-out points, and hi-vis guylines so that other people don’t trip over your tent. 

If you want something cheap that does the job, the Trespass Swift2 popup tent is well worth a look. There aren’t many bells and whistles here, but it does have all the key things we’d look for in a popup tent: it’s waterproof to 2000mm with taped seams, comes with a handy carry bag, and – of course – takes seconds to put up. There are a range of colours and patterns to choose from, and a welcome addition is the inclusion of a mesh door, which provides a handy bug barrier when you don’t want to have the full door zipped up. This is not only a great feature if the weather does turn out for you and the nights are warm, but also provides welcome airflow through the tent to prevent condensation, which can be an issue in single-layer tents like this.

This Airseconds really stands out in this company as it’s the only tent here with ‘air poles’, so erection time is a little longer than the fibreglass-poled ‘classic’ pop ups. However, peg this out, attach a pump, and within seconds you’ll have a substantial and robust weekend palace to admire. Decathlon rates this tent up to force 7 winds, which is robust indeed, and other neat touches like the basin-style groundsheet are designed to keep the weather firmly outside, which is where you want it. 

It’s not light, of course, so this is a car-camping only proposition, but the 5.9 m²  living space is vast and decently high (1.95m)- plenty for four adults (two per bedroom), or a family. As with other Decathlon tents, this has Fresh and Black lining baked in, so the kids might just make it to 6am before demanding breakfast, and it’ll keep noonday sunshine temperatures down as well. Although you’ll need a separate pump to inflate this beast, it does offer the essence of a popup (fast, no hassle erection) combined with the space of a proper family tent, and at a reasonable price point too. 

The Coleman Instant tourer pitches super-fast, but is a very different beast to the other popups here. Rather than relying on delicate fibreglass poles, the Instant Tourer has an unusual ‘spider’ arrangement of steel poles, which adds to durability but also weight. The poles are already attached to the flysheet and inner, so pitching is still a very rapid business, taking less than a minute. As well as a robust steel frame, the poles also give you a much taller than usual tent, up to 162cm high, so shorter folk will be able to stand up fully inside, a little touch of luxury in a fast-pitching tent. The steep sides also give more usable space than flatter designs, although the height will catch the wind more in exposed situations. Finally, the fully integrated groundsheet and taped seams should keep everything dry and cosy for the four people sleeping inside with plenty of room to spare. A worthy contender in our best pop up tent roundup.

This astonishingly wallet-friendly pop up tent for the beach is perfect for the job in hand (although for some alternatives, head to our guide to the best beach tents). In other words, for keeping the sun at bay on hot summer beach days, and as storage space for towels, books, picnics and the like if the rain kicks in. There’s ventilation via a large mesh window, and extended floor at the front means you can stretch out in comfort. The basics tent comes with bag and pegs, but in a considered nod to the makeup of most UK beaches (ie, rocky), there’s a fillable sandbag bag to weigh down the structure and prevent the sea breeze whisking it all offshore. If you’re looking for a pop up tent for the beach and nothing else, this is ideal.

How to choose the best pop up tent

Better materials, proper construction methods and rigorous testing means that the best pop up tents now stand up in bad weather. Most of them also pitch so fast, you’ll feel like you’re in the Matrix. While speed is the biggest advantage with a pop up tent, there are still some pitfalls to watch out for…

Choosing the right size of instant tent is key, as the increased bulk of a four-man pop up tent over a two-man is considerable. Also bear in mind that the best pop up tents tend to pack down into a large disc, which is fine for lugging back to the carpark from the festival, but unsuitable for longer walks, especially in any kind of wind. 

Although many of the newest pop up tents are rigorously tested to resist wind, the fact that they’re based on flexible fibreglass poles does mean they’re at a disadvantage in full-on conditions, especially high winds. In short, be wary of winter use. 

Finally, cost is a decent indicator of quality. So although we’ve got a wide range to suit all tastes and budgets, the cheapest pop up tents are best restricted to sun shelters on the beach or play tents for the garden, rather than serious all-weather protection tents. 

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