The Complete Guide to Portable Bird Hides for Photographers & Birdwatchers

You can start watching and photographing birds for free or at a very low cost. All you need are your eyes or a simple pair of binoculars, which are usually relatively affordable. However, you might be somewhat limited in terms of what birds you see. Birds are naturally observant of movement and predators, so if they spot you, they’ll likely steer clear of the area. A pop up bird hide, on the other hand, can keep you hidden so you can see and photograph the birds (and other wildlife!) of your dreams.


Still, if you’ve never purchased portable bird hides before, it can be confusing to know where to start! What type is best? What features matter most? Is a wildlife hide the same as a photography hide? Will either double as a bird watching hide? This guide will answer all of these questions and more.

What Is a Pop Up Bird Hide?

A pop up bird hide is just what it sounds like! It’s a small, lightweight hut that packs down for easy transportation, but pops up into a structure. Most are a camouflage hide and have enough space inside to cover yourself, a chair, a tripod, and your camera. There are many types of portable bird hides. Some don’t pop up and are more of a bag. Others are more of a net that you can set up against a background, like a hedge.

If you’re totally new to birdwatching, be sure to check out our article on how to start birdwatching. We make it fast and easy for you to get started on your birdwatching journey!

Also see: Garden bird photography

Why Use a Camouflage Hide?

A camouflage hide can come in handy for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they allow you to disappear into nature, keeping you well hidden. This permits you to witness nature as it really is without human disturbances. Without a bird hide, birds are more likely to notice your presence and any movement, which often leads to them flying away or avoiding the area completely.


A bird watching hide also protects you from the elements. Many hides are weatherproof, which means you’ll be more comfortable as you watch. If you are photographing birds, you can position your camera and tripod so that they aren’t visible to the birds. The hide will keep your lens and camera dry, as well as aid in getting the perfect lighting.

What to Look for in a Bird Watching Hide

The ideal bird watching hide varies from person to person, as it depends on what you value most. For example, a photographer will likely value a smaller hide with more viewports. Meanwhile, a birdwatcher might prefer portable bird hides with enough room for two chairs so their friend can tag along.


With that said, there are a few things you’ll want to consider as you shop:


  • Material: The best portable bird hides are made with breathable performance material that’s lightweight and waterproof while also being comfortable enough to remain under for hours.
  • Shape: Bird hides can be in a bag form, meaning they lay over you, or a pop up form, meaning they create a tent over you. It’s worth noting that bag hides (also referred to as body blinds) don’t offer circulation, so if you plan to bird watch on a sunny day, you might get uncomfortable and hot, which isn’t the case in a pop up bird hide.
  • Ease of use: If you do opt for a pop up bird hide, be sure to get one with easy assembly. You don’t want to be stuck struggling to extend poles.
  • Viewports: Some portable bird hides offer multiple viewports through which you can look at birds in different directions, while others are limited to one main viewpoint. Consider where you intend to set up the hide and whether you’ll need a 360 view before making a choice.
  • Size: Some bird hides are big enough to fit two people, while others have space for just one person and a camera. Be sure to choose the right size for your needs.

Tips for Portable Bird Hides

If you’re using a pop up bird hide, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your experience. Since they don’t offer the mobility of a body blind or bag hide, they require more planning. You’ll need to scope out your location to determine the best spot to set up your wildlife hide. Make sure your viewports are facing the correct direction before putting down any stakes. You might also consider bringing your own extra-long tent pegs to ensure that the bird hide is properly anchored down.


Once in place, consider leaving the bird hide in place for several days. By letting it sit ahead of time, you give the birds a chance to get used to its presence. That way, when you’re ready to watch or photograph them, the birds won’t be scared by the presence of the new, large structure.


You’ll also find that bringing a regular camping chair rather than a stool is ideal – the proper chair offers the back support you need when sitting in place for hours. If you’re in a muddy area, you can even bring small wood blocks to put the feet of the chair on to avoid sinking into the ground.


If you’re using a body blind that doesn’t pop up into a structure, be sure to dress accordingly. These hides will allow you to move around and get the best shot, but they can also get hot and uncomfortable on a bright day. Likewise, be sure to dress warmly on cold days. Bringing hand warmers or cardboard to put under your feet can ensure you don’t have to cut a birdwatching session short.


See also: How to identify a hawk 

Photography Hide FAQs

Are a photography hide and wildlife hide the same thing?

Yes, a photography hide and wildlife hide are the same! The same can be said for a bird watching hide – they’re all just camouflage bags or structures meant to allow you to go undetected in nature amongst animals.

Are pop up bird hides the same as body blinds? What’s better?

A body blind is essentially a bag that goes over your body, while a pop up bird hide creates a small shelter that you can sit under. Neither is necessarily better, rather it depends on your purpose and duration.

Also see:
Best focal length for bird photography

The Best Portable Bird Hides

There are plenty of great portable bird hides on the market, so it can be hard to know what’s best for you. That’s why Birda has chosen our top five, as well as provided pros and cons for other popular wildlife hide options.

1. The Simon King Ultimate Wildlife Hide


  • Windows on all four sides
  • Ground-level dual window camera port
  • Mesh panels for breathability
  • Polyester with waterproof finish
  • Base corner flaps to fill with rocks and hold the tent down
  • Fits 2 people


  • Not 100% waterproof in heavy rain

2. Thunderbay Spur Colletor 2 Person Hunting Blind


  • Large mesh windows with a 270° view and a silent sliding system to avoid scaring away birds
  • Fits up to 2 people
  • Includes stakes, ropes, and a carrying bag
  • Black interior PU, polyester exterior, and fiberglass frame are durable and water-resistant
  • Affordable at just £75.65.


  • Users report difficulty with set-up and take-down

3. Nitehawk Pop-Up Hunting Hide with Chair


  • Fast set up in under one minute
  • Includes camping chair
  • Comfortably fits one person and camera equipment
  • Made of lightweight polyester
  • Two zippered holes for camera or ventilation


  • Not waterproof

4. Wildlife Photography Shop Wildlife Watching Hide


  • Compact and easy to transport bag hide
  • Lightweight at just 660 grams
  • No setup – just throw over yourself
  • Best for traveling


  • Not waterproof

5. Stealth Gear Two Man Chair Hide


  • Space for 2 people
  • Includes 2 foldable chairs
  • Waterproof polyester
  • Six windows for 360° view
  • Includes a carrying backpack


  • Heavier than most at 17 pounds for blind and chairs
  • On the pricier side at over £200

Popular Camouflage Hide Options

While the following didn’t quite make Birda’s cut for the top 5 options, they deserve an honorable mention.


Walimex Pop-Up Camouflage Tent


  • Fast pop-up set-up
  • Lightweight at just .55 pounds
  • Water-repellant
  • Space for one person


  • Only two concealed windows for viewing
  • No chair included
  • Users report difficulty in folding down again after assembling


Jack Pyke Clearview Hide Net


  • Super lightweight at 410 grams
  • See-through nylon so you have a clear view
  • Affordable at £35.95


  • As a net, you must set this up against a dark background, like a bush, to avoid light coming through and exposing your position
  • No clips, poles, or holes – this is a simple net


BushWear TP Hide


  • Waterproof
  • Easy pop-up assembly
  • Fits up to 2 people
  • 3 windows, one on each side
  • Includes 10 pegs, a guy line, and a carry bag


  • No chair included
  • Users report difficulty in folding down again after assembling


Nitehawk Clear View Camo Hunting Hide Net


  • Easily see through the net while remaining camouflaged
  • Lightweight and compact, easy to transport
  • The soft, silent polyester mesh ensures you won’t scare off any wildlife with noise
  • Fits up to two people


  • Must set up next to a dark background, like a hedge, for full camouflage
  • Simple net – not a pop-up structure with pegs


Ameristep Doghouse Blind


  • Fits up to 2 people and 2 chairs
  • Includes backpack carrying case, stakes, and tie-downs
  • Includes 1-year warranty
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to assemble


  • Not waterproof


Rhino Blinds R180 3 Person See Through Hunting Ground Blind


  • Spacious and fits up to 3 people
  • Two full panels of see-through mesh
  • Adjustable panels add more viewing options
  • Silent zippers
  • 1-year warranty
  • Includes tie-down stakes, brush loops, and ropes


  • Pricey at £210.16
  • Not waterproof


Ameristep Tent Chair Blind


  • Options for 1 or 2 people
  • Lightweight yet durable custom material
  • Blocks shadows and scents
  • Windows on each side
  • Includes chair


  • Water-resistant but not waterproof


Ultimately, choosing the right hide comes down to your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for a photography hide or a birdwatching hide, choosing one of the above portable bird hides will surely take your hobby to the next level! For more on hides, be sure to check out our article on the top bird hides in Cape Town.

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