Best Pop Up Tent To Take The Sting Out Of Setting Up Camp

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Breaking down camp is always a bummer. Why drag it out? The best pop up tents go from packed to pitched and back fast for lightning-speed getaways.
Best Pop Up Tents - Introduction
The Gazelle T4 Hub Tent: Out pick for the best pop up tent overall. 

As much as we love roughing it, there’s just something special about car camping with all the little conveniences. Cozy outdoor furniture… A powerful camp stove… Maybe even a little projector for movies after dark… Why not have a tent that’s just as convenient?

That’s where the best pop up tents come into play: With fast-deploying frames that can be fully pitched in a few short minutes, these unique shelters turn the most painstaking part of camping into one of the most enjoyable. 

There are tons of options and designs out there for pop up tents, and after analyzing and testing all of the most popular shelters on the market, we found the Gazelle T4 was the best pop up tent overall. After 3 weeks of extensive testing in Greece, we found that its innovative pop-out hub design is quicker and more convenient than anything else we’ve seen, and delivers the goods without sacrificing interior space. 

The T4 won’t be everyone’s first pick though, which is why we’ve also included several of our favorite alternatives in the list below for every kind of camper. Whether you’re looking for more room for the whole family, something more compact for easy transportation, or something budget-friendly that still nails the necessities, we’ve got a tent down below that’ll fit the bill. 

Of course if you’re new to pop up tents and aren’t quite sure where to begin your search, make sure to check out our buyer’s guide down at the bottom of this article. There we’ll cover all the main features to look for in a good pop up to help you choose the perfect model for your next outing. 

Ready to get popping? Let’s dive in.

TentOverview
Gazelle T4: Best Pop Up Tent OverallA unique shelter that uses spring-loaded hubs for insanely quick pitches. Fast and convenient without sacrificing living space or material quality. See Review
Zempire Evo V2: Highest Overall QualityBulletproof tent that goes up in under five minutes thanks to its unique inflatable frame design. Three separate rooms for sleeping, living, and storage. See Review
Caddis Rapid 4: Best On A BudgetGoes up fast using pre-attached telescoping steel poles. Durable, weatherproof, spacious, and affordable. See Review
Gazelle T3XA more compact version of the popular Gazelle T4 with all the same features. Packs down small enough to fit in the trunk of most compact cars. See Review
Coleman Pop-up Camping TentSpring-loaded design goes from packed to pitched in five seconds flat. Outrageously convenient and budget-friendly. See Review
Gazelle T4 Plus: Best Pop Up Tent With A Screen RoomA classic Gazelle pop-out tent with the addition of a spacious screen room. Screen room can be fully sealed for extra sleeping space when needed. See Review

Best Pop Up Tents

Gazelle T4 Hub Tent: Best Pop Up Tent Overall

Best Pop Up Tents - Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

Specs:
– Weight: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
– Packed size: 68” x 9” x 9” (173cm x 23cm x 23cm)
– Floor size: 94” x 94” (239cm x 239cm)
– Peak height: 78” (198cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 4
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

It’s not every day you see a completely new and innovative design, but that’s just what Gazelle has done with the popular Gazelle T4 Hub shelter, our choice for the best pop up tent overall. There’s nothing else out there that offers the combination of space, livability, and easy pitching of the Gazelle, and once you’ve tried a hub-style tent, we’ll wager you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one. 

Gazelle’s innovation is simple: Rather than using a traditional collapsible pole design, both the ceiling and all four of its walls are supported by four burly spring-loaded fiberglass poles, which intersect at a central hub. Simply grab a hold of the handle on each wall, give it a pull, and it pops out fully tensioned and ready to go. 

This design gives each panel of the tent a convex shape, maximizing interior space by pulling each wall out beyond vertical. This translates to an impressively roomy four-person shelter with an above-average peak height of six and a half feet! Despite its large size, the T4’s fast-deploying hub system goes from packed to pitched in about two minutes, then all that’s left are the guylines. 

What we love even more than this innovative design is that Gazelle builds the T4 out of some of the toughest fabrics out there. We’re talking thick 210D polyester in the canopy and fly, as well as a full 300D polyester oxford fabric in the floor of the tent. Tough YKK zippers, tons of interior storage, and outstanding ventilation courtesy of 6 adjustable windows round out this already impressive package for a tent that’s as easy to live with as it is to pitch. 

Of course no tent is perfect, and our main complaint with the T4 (and all of Gazelle’s hub tents) is that they have to use flexible fiberglass poles to make the spring-loaded hub design work. The poles look and feel substantial, but we’re always a bit weary when dealing with fiberglass in heavy winds. We’ll also note that there’s no exterior storage on offer with the T4, but since the tent is only intended for car camping duty, we typically delegate that duty to our vehicle anyways, so it’s a minor nitpick on an otherwise excellent shelter. Read our full test and review of the Gazelle T4 Hub… 

Pros:Cons:
– Innovative pop out hub design deploys in minutes
– Spacious interior and tall ceilings
– Rugged fabrics throughout
– Fiberglass frame
– No exterior storage



Zempire EVO V2: Highest Overall Quality 

Best Pop Up Tents - Zempire EVO V2

Specs:
– Weight: 59 lbs (26.8 kg)
– Packed size: 28” x 18” x 18” (71cm x 46cm x 46cm)
– Floor size: 212” x 118” (538cm x 300cm) 
– Peak height: 79” (201 cm)
– Number of compartments: 4
– Occupancy: 4
– Shape: Tunnel
– Best for: Three season car camping
– Price: $$$

There are premium tents, and then there’s the Zempire EVO V2. Impossibly spacious, feature-rich, and built to weather all manner of use and abuse, the EVO V2 is a glamper’s paradise that also happens to pop up without assembling a single tent pole. 

That’s because the Zempire EVO V2 uses an innovative airframe design rather than a traditional metal or fiberglass pole system, which can be pumped up in under 2 minutes yet feels as sturdy and rigid as anything else on the market. That’s a two-minute setup (not counting guylines, of course) for a three-room tent with a massive 126-square-foot floor plan, mind you, making the Evo V2 the fastest pitching tent per square foot that money can buy. 

Speaking of three rooms, our favorite feature of the Zempire (apart from its inflatable frame) is its luxurious layout. In the rear of the tent you’ll find the sleeping area, which sports room for four campers with an optional divider to split the room in two for added privacy. Outside the bedroom there’s a standalone 50 square-foot living area, which then leads out to the open screen room section for even more living space. 

We could write a novella on all the Zempire’s outstanding livability features, but for now you’ll just have to take our word that this tent is robust and impressive in every sense of the word. Unfortunately the Zempire’s grandeur is also the root of our main issue with the shelter: Its premium price tag. The only other issue we’ve found with the Zempire EVO V2 is due to its considerable size (front to back the EVO measures a full 18 feet long), there are some campground tent spots that it simply won’t fit into. Still, if you want the best in the business and have the money to spend, the Zempire EVO V2 is sure to be the envy of the entire campground. 

Pros:Cons:
– Innovative air beam frame goes up fast
– Separate bedroom, living room, and screen room
– Bulletproof materials are built to last
– Very expensive for a 4P tent
– Too large for some campgrounds



Caddis Rapid 4: Best Pop Up Tent On A Budget

Best Pop Up Tents - Caddis Rapid 4

Specs:
– Weight: 20.5 lbs (9.3 kg)
– Packed size: 50: x 9” x 9” (127cm x 23cm x 23cm)
– Floor size: 96” x 96” (244cm x 244cm)
– Peak height: 80” (203 cm)
– Number of compartments:
– Occupancy: 4 (6 person also available)
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three season car camping
– Price: $

The Caddis Rapid 4 takes the instant pop up tent to new heights quite literally with easy telescoping poles that expand the ceiling to nearly seven feet! Combined with its roomy floor plan and near vertical walls, we found the Caddis to be a true stand-up height shelter with room left over to walk around inside during our recent field test. 

We love that Caddis specs the Rapid 4 with highly durable materials throughout, which isn’t always the case with similar instant cabin tents, especially at this price. Our testers were impressed by the Rapid’s all-steel frame, impressively thick 190-denier polyester fabric in both the canopy and rainfly, and even more robust 210-denier polyester fabric in the bathtub-style floor. 

The perks don’t stop there though, and we’re also big fans of the Rapid’s reliable weatherproofing treatment: Between its well-taped seams, lengthy rainfly, and six different guyline attachments, this shelter is ready to handle wind and rain in equal measure, and also boasts above average ventilation thanks to its doublewall design, all-mesh ceilings, and zippable mesh windows on each of its four walls.

In fact the only real downside to the Caddis Rapid 4 we’ve found is that it costs about $100 more than its main competitor, the Coleman Instant Cabin. As far as we’re concerned it’s worth every penny, and between the upgraded materials, improved weatherproofing, and additional ventilation, there’s no question where your money’s going. It’s hard to put a price on reliability, but $100 for genuine comfort and peace of mind sounds like a great deal to us. 

Pros:Cons:
– Tallest ceilings we’ve seen on a 4 person model
– Surprisingly high quality and weatherproof for the price
– Affordable
– Costs a bit more than the competition



Gazelle T3X

Best Pop Up Tents - Gazelle T3X

Specs:
– Weight: 28 lbs (12.7 kg)
– Packed size: 57” x 10” x 10” (145cm x 25cm x 25cm)
– Floor size: 82” x 76” (208cm x 193cm)
– Peak height: 68” (173cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 3
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three-season car camping
– Price: $$

Think of the Gazelle T3X as a little brother to the T4 above: It inherits all the genes that make the T4 a standout pick, but packs them into a more compact frame for easier storage and transportation inside your vehicle. 

When we say everything, we mean everything: The T3X gets the same rugged 200D oxford polyester shell and rainfly, and the same 300D oxford polyester floor, both of which are rated to the same 2,000mm of waterproofing. The premium YKK zippers are still here as well, as is the removable bathtub floor, double door layout, six adjustable windows, and you’re even getting the same outstanding amount of interior storage with 6 pockets total spread throughout its four walls. 

In fact the only major difference here is the T3X’s dimensions. Gazelle shaved a full 10 inches off the T3X’s packed size, which makes it much easier to fit in the trunk of your average sedan. At just 57 inches long, we found that the T3X slots easily into the trunk or hatch of most any compact car out there, which means you don’t need a truck, SUV, or roof rack to enjoy a premium car camping experience. 

Drawbacks here are the same as the T4, chief among them being that the frame is still all-fiberglass out of necessity to accommodate the T3X’s pop-out hub design. We’ll also note that as a 3-person model, you’ll sacrifice a bit of space as well: Total floor space is down by 18 square feet, and peak height is now a touch under “stand up” height at 5-foot-eight inches total. It’s not all bad news though as the price is also comparatively lower, and as a shelter for two with room to spare for camping gear, the Gazelle T3X is easily one of the best pop-up tents money can buy. 

Pros:Cons:
– Durable fabrics throughout
– Pop out panel construction among the fastest and easiest to pitch
– Trunk friendly for the smallest of cars
– Fiberglass frame
– Not as spacious as the Gazelle T4



Coleman Pop-Up Camping Tent

Best Pop Up Tents - Coleman Pop-Up Camping Tent

Specs:
– Weight: 5.9 lbs (2.7 kg)
– Packed size: 29” x 29” x 4” (74cm x 74cm x 10cm)
– Floor size: 90” x 53” (229cm x 135cm)
– Peak height: 35” (89cm)
– Number of compartments: 1
– Occupancy: 2 (4P also available)
– Shape: Dome
– Best for: Three season car camping
– Price: $

The Coleman Pop-Up Camping Tent is a pop up tent in the truest sense of the word: Simply release the tension from its storage strap, and watch it spring to life, from bag to fully pitched in all of five seconds. 

Truth be told there’s no better tent out there for campers who hate pitching and breaking down their tents, making them a common sight in our local campgrounds. Coleman even designed the Pop-Up with a pre-attached rain fly, which can be left clipped onto the tent when it’s time to break camp and fold the tent back up. 

It’s the ideal shelter for quick overnight stops when you don’t feel like setting up a full camp, makes a great secondary tent for children to enjoy, and also happens to function as an ideal portable sun-shade for beach days thanks to its compact lay-flat design and six available guy-out points. 

While we’ll note that Coleman did make an effort to properly weatherproof the pop-up tent, fitting it with a partial coverage rainfly and taped seams along the floor, there’s simply no denying that this isn’t the sort of shelter you’d want in a serious rainstorm. Even with all six guylines fully tensioned, the flexible frame and relatively simple fabrics of the Coleman Pop-Up Camping Tent simply aren’t meant to weather heavy rain or strong winds. It still makes a great shelter for fair weather car camping, and an excellent secondary tent that can’t be beaten for convenience though, so considering the fact that it packs down small and comes in well under $100, it’s a fun little shelter to bring along on any number of outdoor excursions. 

Pros:Cons:
– Under $100Folds flat for easy storage
– Goes up in seconds
– Not built for bad weather
– Not particularly durable



Gazelle T4 Plus: Best Pop Up Tent With A Screen Room

Best Pop Up Tents - Gazelle T4 Plus

Specs:
– Weight: 58 lbs (26.3 kg)
– Packed size: 68” x 13” x 13” (173cm x 33cm x 33cm)
– Floor size: 168” x 94” (427cm x 239cm)
– Peak height: 78” (198cm)
– Number of compartments: 2
– Occupancy: 8
– Shape: Cabin
– Best for: Three season car camping
– Price: $$$

Loving Gazelle’s sweet pop-up design but looking for a little more room to spread out? Look no further than the Gazelle T4 Plus

With room for eight sleepers or four with a bonus room for extra gear storage or living space, the T4 plus is a plus-sized cabin tent that goes up faster than most traditional two-man domes. We love that campers have a choice in how they utilize the extra space, as Gazelle designed the screen room to be completely waterproof when zipped up, making it a safe space for an extra mattress or two to spend a weekend when called upon. 

Aside from the screenroom, much of the T4 Plus is identical to the original T4 including the extra thick materials, stand-up height ceilings, and oodles of interior storage space. The other major difference we love about the T4 Plus is that its rainfly extends down to the ground on either side of the shelter. This provides improved rain protection plus two large covered exterior storage areas that work great for bikes, firewood, backpacks, or anything else you want to keep out of direct rainfall. 

On its face, the Gazelle T4 Plus checks all our boxes for a roomy pop up tent, but we’ve found a few reports of quality control issues you’ll want to be aware of. First, the metal hubs responsible for holding the tension on the side and roof panels are made of cast metal, which isn’t particularly strong and may be prone to failure. Second, there have been a few issues reported concerning stitching areas in critical points of the tent like hug attachments and windows. Most Gazelle tents are problem-free and built to last, but we recommend setting yours up and giving it a thorough once-over upon arrival to ensure there are no factory defects. 

Pros:Cons:
– Convenient pop-out hub design
– Tons of interior space with convertible screen room
– Versatile rainfly that doubles as covered exterior storage
– Heavy/bulky
– Some quality control concerns



Buyers Guide to the Best Pop Up Tents

While each of the tents above brings something unique to the table, we believe there are a few common factors that make any pop up tent worth buying. Whether you’re considering a tent from the list above or another shelter that didn’t make our list, here are the main metrics we look at when evaluating a pop up tent. 

Ease Of Set-up

If you’re looking for the best pop up tent out there, chances are ease of set-up is high on your list of priorities. For that reason we give this metric extra weight when evaluating a pop-up tent, and the faster and easier a tent is to pitch, the better it scores. 

You’ll typically find pop up tents in one of three varieties: Hub-style tents, instant cabin tents, and collapsible tents. Each has its own pros and cons, so we’ll cover each here briefly.

Best Pop Up Tents - Ease of Set Up
Hub tents like the Gazelle T3X seen here can be fully pitched in about two minutes… Talk about convenience…

Hub style tents have grown in popularity over the years, largely due to their fantastic combination of easy set-up and above-average livability. These tents use a central hub along each panel of the tent’s walls and ceiling, which are spring loaded using fiberglass poles. Pitching them is as easy as simply “popping out” each panel, then setting up your rainfly.

Hub designs pitch faster than even the best instant cabins, but still maintain enough structural integrity to offer large floor plans and very tall ceilings. Their main drawback is their high-tension design, so make sure to look over the quality of their metal hubs and the stitching in their high-stress areas carefully. 

Instant cabins are arguably the most popular type of pop up tent, which we chalk up to their combination of living space and affordability. Most instant cabin tents use folding poles attached to hubs along the room, so all you need to do to pitch them is unfold them, then extend their legs, similar to an easy-up or beach cabana. 

Instant cabins typically use telescoping steel frames built around plastic hinges, which makes them reasonably durable without adding any undue cost. These tents are tall and spacious, but don’t always hold up well to strong winds due to their near-vertical walls and minimal rainfly coverage. 

Collapsible tents are another popular option because they use folding, spring-loaded frames that automatically unfold into their full size when unstrapped. Although their flexible frames and minimal weatherproofing typically lend them more to recreational use than serious all-weather camping, they can’t be beaten in terms of speed or convenience. 

Collapsible tents typically aren’t too large as their flexible frames struggle to maintain integrity as they grow in size, but these little tents make great secondary shelters or play places for children, and their lay flat design means you’ll always have room to throw one in the car with the rest of your gear. 

Space and Comfort

Most pop up tents are car camping tents, which means there’s no reason space and comfort can’t be top-notch. As is the case with any good camping tent, we look for the roomiest floor plan possible as well as ceilings with peak heights over six feet for optimal livability. 

Collapsible tents are the only exception to the rule here, as their compact sizes and minimalist rainflys don’t lend themselves to plus-sized dimensions. Again, these tents are typically only for fair-weather camping though, so we generally don’t recommend relying solely on a collapsible tent for proper camp duty. 

Best Pop Up Tents - Space and Comfort
When it comes to living space and creature comforts, the Zempire EVO V2 takes top honors.

Aside from interior space, the other major comfort factor we look for in a pop up tent is ventilation. Well-ventilated tents keep fresh air circulating freely rain or shine, which also helps to limit condensation when the windows are closed on cold or rainy days. Generally speaking pop up tents with double-wall designs (a canopy plus a standalone rainfly) fare better in this metric, as do those with windows that can be left open rain or shine. 

Weather Resistance

A full-coverage rainfly is a bit of a rarity on a pop up tent, which means both the design of the rainfly and the quality of the canopy beneath are of utmost importance for proper  weather resistance. We recommend looking for tents with highly waterproof fabric, ideally with a rating of 2,000mm or higher using a hydrostatic head test. 

In addition to waterproof fabrics, the other main factor to look for here is seam taping. Because these tents use less than full-coverage rainflys, we prefer our pop up tents to use taped and/or sealed seams throughout the canopy and floor. Any unsealed seams in the tent are prone to leak, and the fewer we have to manually seal with liquid seam sealer, the better. 

Best Pop Up Tents - Weather Resistance
The extended rainfly of the Gazelle T4 Plus seen here adds rain protection while also creating a storage space for firewood and extra gear.

Aside from rain, the other main concern here is wind resistance, which historically isn’t a highlight of pop up tents. Whether that’s due to the tension-dependent designs of a hub tent or the tall and steep walls of an instant cabin, for one reason or another most pop ups aren’t the kind of thing you’ll want to depend on for winds in excess of 30mph or so. 

It’s the price we pay for convenience, but all isn’t lost here either. If you’re expecting windy days ahead, we recommend looking for a tent with as many solid guy-out points as possible. The bare minimum here is four (one for each corner of the tent), but additional guylines add strength while also improving ventilation on double-wall designs, so it’s better to have more than you need when given a choice. 

Durability

Durability ultimately decides a pop up tent’s longevity, and if you’re considering dropping some serious money on a good one, this isn’t a metric you should overlook. We evaluate the durability of a pop up tent by looking at three main factors: Fabric thickness, frame material, and stitching. 

Fabric thickness should be fairly self-explanatory: Thicker fabrics in the canopy, fly, and floor hold up better to stress and abrasion, and therefore tend to last longer than thinner materials. Fabric thickness is typically referenced with a denier rating (100D, 200D, etc.), so we recommend looking for the highest denier ratings possible, especially in the floor of your tent as this is the most highly trafficked and abrasion-prone portion of any shelter.

Best Pop Up Tents - Durability
The Gazelle T4 uses fiberglass poles like this one in the rainfly, but keeps them relatively short for extra strength.

As far as frame material goes, our usual rules apply here: We prefer to see a metal frame on any good camping tent. Aluminum poles are our preference, but painted or powder coated steel is a fair compromise that’s reasonably durable yet affordable. Fiberglass poles are also common in pop up tents, especially in hub-style tents which require flexible frames to maintain spring tension in the walls and ceiling. Fiberglass poles are generally more prone to breaking under heavy stress, so we recommend looking for the widest diameter poles you can find to ensure maximum longevity for your tent. 

Lastly, we come to stitching. Stitching is important because even if the fabric and frame of a tent are rock solid, it’s stitching that holds the whole show together. We recommend looking for double or triple stitching in high-stress areas like corners, hub attachments, and pole guides. You should also give the stitching of your pop up tent a close inspection upon delivery to ensure there are no loose threads or overruns in the zippers or mesh that could cause issues down the road.

Weight and Packed Size

Most pop up tents use pre-attached poles and hubs for easier pitching, which typically translates to a bulkier-than-average shelter. The good news is that these tents are almost exclusively intended for car camping use, which means neither weight nor packed size should be a major issue.

Best Pop Up Tents - Weight and Packed Size
Instant tents like the Coleman Pop-Up Camping Tent may not be the most robust, but they’re by far the lightest and most compact option out there. 

As is the case with any camping tent, we generally recommend buying the largest and tallest tent you can afford for best results: Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. The one caveat we’ll mention here is that some pop-up tents can be particularly long when packed away, so we recommend measuring the storage limits of your vehicle before pulling the trigger on a given model. 

Value

The value of any tent will always be subjective depending on the end user, but we consider pop up tents to be large, easy-to-use camping tents first and foremost, and value them as such when evaluating a given model. For that reason, tents that combine above-average living space with above-average material quality tend to score best here, while outright price takes a backseat. 

Best Pop Up Tents - Value
The Gazelle T4 Plus may cost a few dollars extra, but between its plus sized living quarters and super tough fabrics, it’s an investment worth considering.

Granted, some pop up tents are prohibitively expensive for all but the most well-heeled among us, but personally we’d rather spend an extra $100 here and there on a pop-up tent that’s built to last. There are plenty of options out there that are both comfortable and affordable, but do your homework when researching their material quality, particularly when it comes to their poles and hubs, as both are known failure points on cheaper models. 

The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict

Best Pop Up Tents - TWA Verdict
The Gazelle T4: Our choice for the best pop up tent overall. 

Using the metrics described above, we determined that the Gazelle T4 was the best pop up tent overall. We love the Gazelle’s unparalleled combination of easy pitching and outstanding interior space, both of which are owed to its unique tension hub design. 

Of course if you’re looking for the best tent money can buy both in terms of interior space and outright quality, the Zempire EVO V2 simply can’t be beaten. With a three room floor plan, bulletproof materials, and an innovative inflatable design that pitches in under two minutes, the EVO V2 lacks nothing in terms of quality or convenience, assuming you’ve got the coin to buy one yourself. 

Of course livability and ease of use don’t have to be expensive, which is why we chose the Caddis Rapid 4 as our favorite pop up tent on a budget. The Caddis brings upgraded quality and weatherproofing to a classic four-person cabin design, and does it all at a price that we feel is more than fair. 

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