Pop-up tents – a useful tool for teaching campcraft admin to novice groups?

‘Pop-up tent’ conjures a variety of images, most of them negative. Abandoned tents in seas of mud bought as part of a ‘festival package’. Discarded in a roadside campsite. Single sheet, lacking a porch and leaky.

Yet, as an outdoor leader, I’ve come to see potential in the pop-up tent. I bought one a couple of years ago to do some garden-based camping and as a play-tent. It was cheaper than buying a dedicated play tent and they have enjoyed having it up in the garden and even in the house. So I already couldn’t complain.

However, as I’ve started to make a bit more use of organized camp sites, whether with the kids or because I am on a job or course where I am camping for one reason or another, I’ve started to use the pop-up tent in preference to my Sierra Designs backpacking tent, bought many years ago in the US for fieldwork.

The pop-up tent offers the chance to make your campcraft skills work for you to save time both setting up, taking down and drying off at home. Yes, the pop-up tent I use is not as waterproof as my backpacking tent but, as I nearly always use a bivvy bag in a tent to keep the sleeping bags dry, this is not a huge issue. My other gear is in dry bags, or a vehicle, so that is all fine too. This means you don’t have the same need for getting wt kit off in a porch. With regards to cooking if it bad weather it is always possible to have filled a couple of big flasks with hot water and use dehydrated meals. Or the decadent luxury of the bar meal. As I sometimes camp with Shadow the dog, this also saves having lots of exciting smells in the tent for him but room for him to curl up. Having only one door also makes getting him in and out easier.

Considering how many of my campcraft skills I use to make the pop-up tent work for me as a base, I also think there are real benefits to using pop-up tents in campcraft training for beginners of all ages. As the tent is easy to pitch, admittedly not always quite to easy to repack (for help, watch this YouTube clip with Gemma), this lets a novice group concentrate on the skills of keeping their tent clean and dry. Those skills can then be transferred and consolidated as they move on to using more conventional tents.


I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

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Al is a Summer Mountain Leader
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Previously on Hills of Hame
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