If you are a newbie at camping, you may wonder: which is best, a pop-up tent or a regular tent? And what exactly are the differences? Even pros at camping may wonder the exact same thing.
Technology changes a lot, and the same is true with camping gear.
But back to tents. Today you’ll learn everything you need to know about regular tents and pop-up tents so you’ll know the similarities and differences. Plus, you’ll know which one is best for you.
What Is a Regular Tent?
A regular tent needs a person – that’s most likely you – to set it up. The setting up and tearing down of a regular tent involves more than just one step. Due to this, there are a wide range of regular tents.
Some types of regular tents are the rigid or A-frame tent, dome tent, tunnel tent, geodesic tent, cabin tent, pyramid tent, multi-room tent, and more.
Pros of a Regular Tent
- Get a variety of tent styles and features to choose from
- Can interchange parts when something breaks
- More wind and water-resistant (compared to a pop-up tent)
- Depending on the type of tent, can be extreme weatherproof
- Can be folded and stored in a relatively small space
Cons of a Regular Tent
- Takes effort, time, and know-how to set up
- An incorrectly set up tent compromises the structural integrity, possibly leading to injuries
- Higher chance of human error in set up
What Is a Pop-up Tent?
A pop-up tent is also called an instant tent or self-erecting tent. These tents come with all the supports attached to the body material of the tent.
Set up is easy, and all the hard work is already taken care of. Essentially, the tent sets up itself (with some help from you).
All you need to do is twist the tent a certain way, and voilà! The tent pops up in place and is ready to use. This can take as little as 10 seconds. Awesome, right?
The magic is in the frame. Spring-loaded or flexible poles are stitched into the material of the tent. When the pop-up tent is folded, these poles are contained via a strap.
When you want to set up the instant tent, unhook the strap. The frames pop into place and the tent’s set up.
Most pop-up tents are for one or two people; however, if you have the budget, instant tents for larger families are available.
Pros of a Pop-up Tent
- Beginner and kid-friendly
- Quick and easy set up and tear down (in as little as 10 seconds)
- Provides instant shelter
- Just as roomy as a regular tent, depending on the type and size of the regular tent
Cons of a Pop-up Tent
- Tear down can be tricky the first time or two
- Not as durable or weatherproof as regular tents
- Still need to be staked into place, much like its regular tent counterpart
- If a part breaks, it may not be easy to replace it
Regular Tent vs Pop-up Tent Comparison
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of pop-up tents vs regular tents.
Time to Set up and Tear Down
A pop-up tent sets up in as little as 10 seconds; however, if it is your first time using an instant tent, it can take a bit longer. It’s recommended to try out the pop-up tent before your camping trip so you are comfortable using it in terms of setting it up and taking it down.
On the other hand, a regular tent set up can take anything from 10-15 minutes. Bargain on it taking more time if you are a newbie or if your tent set up is a bit more complicated.
For normal weather conditions, the fabric that regular tents and pop-up tents are made from are pretty similar. However, in extreme weather conditions, regular tents hold up much better.
Most pop-up tents are made from polyester, which isn’t as breathable as the nylon or canvas of regular tents. As such, instant tents build up excess condensation.
Aside from the fabric, the flexible poles that are part of instant tents are generally not made from the most durable materials on the market since these need to be lightweight. You can’t simply fix one of these poles if they break, and most often, you need to replace the whole pop-up tent.
On the other hand, you can quite easily replace any broken parts of a regular tent as it isn’t a one-in-all design.
The wind resistance of a regular tent depends on various factors, from the kind of season tent, the size, and whether it is fixed or not. In general, however, regular tents can be quite wind resistant.
Pop-up tents aren’t as windproof since the flexible poles will move with the wind.
Most instant tents are quite water-resistant, however, they most often are not waterproof unless they come in a double fabric layer and have taped seams.
Regular tents can be either water-resistant or waterproof depending on the material used in their construction. As a rule, a regular tent is better for extreme weather conditions, provided it is made to stand those.
Most instant tents are 1-2 person sleepers; however, there are a few that fit 4 or 6 people. Regular tents come in a wide variety of sizes, from 1 person tents to multi-room tents to house whole families up to 10 people.
Easy to Carry
Regular tents “break apart” into its various separate components, meaning it can fold to a small size. This makes it easy to carry and store a regular tent.
Instant tents do fold down, but they don’t fit in a small bag. Instead, an instant tent folds down to a flat-ish oval or circle, and this can be awkward to carry around.
Most instant tents weigh between 1-3 pounds. A 2-sleeper regular tent can weigh as little as 4 pounds and a 6-sleeper can weigh 20 pounds, but the overall weight depends on the type of tent.
The cost of a pop-up tent ranges between $25-$200 / £20 – £150 or more. A one-person regular tent can cost as little as $25 / £20, but this depends on the season rating, durability, how lightweight it is, and other factors. Fancy tents can set you back $700 / £530 or more.
Pop-up Tent vs Regular Tent FAQs
What Is The Easiest Tent To Put Up?
A pop-up or instant tent is the easiest and quickest type of tent to put up. It takes as little as 10 seconds or as long as a minute to set up a pop-up tent, while a regular tent can take between 10-15 minutes or longer depending on how proficient you are and the kind of tent.
Do Pop Up Tents Work?
Yes, pop-up tents work. They are lightweight, fairly durable, and set up quickly. As a result, they provide instant shelter and are beginner and kid-friendly.
Are Pop Up Tents Waterproof?
Most pop-up tents on the market are water-resistant or splash proof because they are made from thin materials. As such, they aren’t waterproof. But if you are looking for a more waterproof instant tent, ensure the pop-up has double layers and coat it in a waterproof layer.
Final Thoughts on a Regular Tent vs Pop Up Tent
Both pop-up and regular tents are great options for camping. They provide shelter and come in various sizes. The key differences come in with how wind and water-resistant the tent is, the cost, the durability, how easy the tent sets up and tears down, and the weight.
If you are a beginner and want a cost-friendly tent, then opt for a pop-up—provided you aren’t camping during extreme weather conditions. If you want more options in terms of size, style, and features, then a regular tent is better.