Dome Tent vs Pop-Up Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing a dome tent vs pop-up tents, they each offer similar entry-level options great for beginner campers but are pop-up’s ease worth the maintenance difficulty and size limit?

We’ve broken down the major similarities and differences of common tent types to help you make the right decision for your next outdoor adventure!

Dome Tent vs Pop-Up Tent

First, let’s break down each type of tent:

Dome Tent

dome tent vs a-frame tent

One of the most common tent types, the dome tent is distinguished by having two crossed poles anchored in the four corners to form the tent frame.

Pop-Up

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A newer tent category with fewer offerings than most other types of tents, pop-up tents are specifically designed for the easiest set-up possible. The poles are integrated directly within the tent frame and fabric.

Major Differences

The biggest difference between dome tent vs pop-up tents is their setup. Dome tents have two or more poles that intersect to create the dome design. They are frequently large enough to stand in and can come in large sizes up to about 8 people. Pop-up tents have all of their poles integrated within the fabric of the tent and usually just need a quick shake out or quick push of some expandable sections to go from bag to tent quickly.

Pop-Up tents also typically have an oval footprint that allows the frame to hold up better than a rectangle or square like dome tents have. This does limit their overall space and most pop-up designs cap out at about 4 people. Pop-ups also do not have the same type of vestibule option that a dome tent may allow for a bit more gear space or a dry location for shoes outside the tent.

Dome tents have a two-layer design to repel rain while most pop-up tents have a limited two-layer or single-layer rain protection that may not offer the same level of protection.

Given their entire mission is easy set-up, pop-ups are significantly easier to put up than any dome tent. Dome tents aren’t difficult to assemble but a pop-up can take literally seconds.

Best Uses For Dome & Pop-Up Tents

Each of these types of tents is good for most car-camping situations but the dome tent is going to usually offer an easier and more convenient experience for other types of camping! Pop-Up tent lower capacities mean most can’t hold more than 3 to 4 people so dome tents may be the better choice. For backpacking, pop-up tents may fold up into a large or bulky design that is harder to carry than the bundles dome tents break down into.

Dome

Pop-Up

Family Camping


Car Camping


Backpacking

Feature Comparison | Dome Tent vs Pop-Up Tent

Outside of ease of setup and general portability, dome tents take the crown having higher possible capacity, longer lifespan with easier maintenance, and lower cost!

Product

Dome Tent

Pop-Up

Sturdiness

Capacity

Cost

Portability

Lifespan

Want more?

Check out our infographic and larger article covering the ten most common tent types or use our tent finding tool to quickly find the tents that suit your needs!

About the Author

Photo of author

Robbie

Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over two hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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