How to Choose the Right Instant Camping Tents
Instant tents come with all kinds of features, some of which you may not even realize you need. If you’re an experienced camper, you’ll probably already know what you’re looking for, so by all means, skip to the next section. However, if you’re a newbie, this information will come in handy.
There are a lot of different tent brands & types, a lot more than we’ll include in this guide. For our purposes, we will discuss three of the most popular types of instant tents. Then keep reading to find out about some of the more popular and/or essential features.
If space is your number one priority, then cabin tents would be your go-to category. These tents usually come with four almost vertical walls and allow you to use the maximum floor space possible. You can easily stand and walk in them. Unfortunately, they tend to be heavy, so they aren’t practical for backpacking.
Dome tents are named so because the top of the tent is usually in a dome shape, which also means the tent would be round, hexagonal, or some other similar type of form. This can sometimes minimize the amount of usable floor space, but they can still be roomy. Dome tents are good in snow since the snow can’t collect on the top.
Pop Up Tents
A pop-up tent is a lightweight type of instant tent–they pop up off the ground. Sometimes they can have automatic lifts or some type of pole you pull on to get them going. Cabin tents are usually not pop up tents, but there are a lot of dome tents that are pop up tents.
Ease of Use
The ideal instant tent is, well, basically instant. You’ll want a tent that doesn’t take a long time to set up and only takes one or two people to do it. Easy instructions are a plus, and preattached poles make setting up a tent a snap (pun intended). Don’t forget about taking the shelter down. It is good to get a tent that folds back up as quickly as it unfolded.
The dimensions of a tent are critical. First, you’ll want to make sure it’s big enough for however many people are in your group. In general, how many people a manufacturer claims the tent will house, that typically means it’s suitable for one to two less than that number unless you want to be sleeping on top of each other. If you’re going to have gear or furniture in the tent, you’ll want to account for that space also. You’ll also want to determine whether or not you want to be able to stand up in the tent since some tents are tall and some aren’t.
Without proper ventilation, your tent could be sweltering hot in spring or summer. It could be unbearable. Most tents have ventilation, but the amount, size, and location of ventilation ports can vary. Ground vents are great because it allows cool air to come in at ground level and the hot air to rise to the top of the tent and out of a top vent.
Doors and Windows
Some tents have one entry, some have more. The number of doors is a personal preference although if there are a lot of people in the tent, having an extra door means you don’t have to crawl over each other to get out of the tent. Having mesh-covered windows can also provide you with extra ventilation.
You want to have a rainfly for your tent if you’re going to be camping in damp or wet conditions. Some tents come with them, and some don’t, but a rain fly is vital to keep your tent and subsequently, you dry during a rainstorm. This is especially important if your tent doesn’t have the best seams. In general, the bigger the rainfly, the better protection you have.
When we mention seasons, we aren’t talking about spring, summer, etc. Not exactly. A tent can be rated from one to five seasons, and this is a rating that helps you to determine what type of weather and/or conditions the tent can withstand.
The majority of practical instant tents will be two or three-season tents, which means they can stand up to some moderate wind and rain. Anything higher than that is more suitable for stormy, cold, or monsoonal type conditions.
Top 6 Best Instant Tents – Results
CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent
Best Instant TentSaleCORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent (Wine)
- Instant 60 Second Setup; Sleeps 6 people; Fits two queen air mattresses;…
- CORE H20 Block Technology and adjustable ground vent
- Features gear loft with lantern hook and large wall orgnaizer to keep items…
- Includes rain fly, tent stakes, and carry bag
- 1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: We strive for total satisfaction with all of our…
When we checked out this tent, we were pleased with the ease of set up. The preattached poles are telescopic – extend and snap into place. It does take some muscle strength to snap the poles, but at least you know they aren’t flimsy.
This is an excellent three-season tent with a breathable mesh ceiling and ground ventilation, so it is great for keeping you cool in warm weather. The included rainfly is minimal but is good enough to keep you completely dry in a downpour, especially when paired with the water-resistant fabric, zipper covers, and sealed seams.
At 11′ x 9′ it’s roomy, but we still wouldn’t put more than four people in it.
- It has a lantern hook up top.
- It’s stylish and visually pleasing.
- The tent has excellent ground ventilation.
- It’s almost impossible to get it folded back down good enough to go into the provided bag.
- The floor is made of a thin blue tarp-like material that could tear when you try to fold it back down.Bottom-Line: This is a great, high-quality, durable tent that is good for most camping situations, but you may have to put in some extra effort to take it down.
Toogh 3-4 Person Pop Up Camping TentSaleToogh 3-4 Person Backpacking Tents Hexagon Waterproof Dome Automatic Pop-Up Outdoor Sports Tent Camping Sun Shelters, Dark Brown
- The tent is Super easy to set up and take down in only 60 seconds Simply…
- Ultralight tent with extremely dense mosquito net, provides better…
- 【Six Angles Design More Stable in the Windy and Rainy Weather According…
- 【 package including】1 tent, 1 rainfly, 14 aluminum ground nails, 8…
- 【The Tough Advantage 】 Tough is a registered trademark protected by US…
This is a rugged-looking dome tent that is pretty rugged. It is made of an impressive 210D oxford fabric, and the floor has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm, so there is no question about the durability of the tent.
When it comes to set up, we can honestly say that it is simple to set up and can easily be set up by one person. It’s almost like unfolding a big deflated balloon and using the automatic lift on the top to do the rest. There are a few extra steps for set up than the Core 6 Person tent (we talking just a few extra seconds added to set up time). However, taking down this tent is much more efficient than the Core. We’re talking a significantly easier breakdown time.
Other great features are two doors, thick mesh over vents to keep out bugs, and the door doubling as a canopy. The size is not as ideal as we’d like–at it’s widest points it’s about 8.6′ x 6.8′ and a lot of floor space is taken up by the corners. It’s only 5.5 feet tall, so most men wouldn’t be able to stand in it.
- It’s so easy to set up and break down that kids can do it.
- The tent has a bar for rolling up the door, so it’s not in the way while you enter and exit.
- It comes in more than one color.
- The hexagon shape can prevent full use of the floor space, so having more than three adults in it will probably be uncomfortable.
- The rainfly is TINY, almost laughable.Bottom-Line: This is a long-lasting tent with excellent features, but it’s not great for heavy rain or wind.
Coleman Cabin TentSaleColeman 4-Person Cabin Tent with Instant Setup | Cabin Tent for Camping Sets Up in 60 Seconds
- Instant tent sets up in just 1 minute; Spacious interior has room for 1…
- WeatherTec system with patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep…
- Rugged Polyguard 2X double thick fabric for reliable, long lasting use; Pre…
- Integrated Vented Rainfly Improves Airflow Without Any Extra Assembly…
- Measures 8 x 7 feet with 4 foot 11 inch center height
Coleman is a trusted name that has been around for a very long time. Many of their products are made in the U.S., but unfortunately, this three-season tent is not one of them. Despite that, this is a really good quality tent.
If you’re going to be in a windy area, the Coleman Cabin Tent is a smart choice. It’s one of the sturdiest on the market. As far as quick set up tents go, this isn’t the fastest to set up, but it doesn’t take a long time by any means. It has easy, preattached telescopic poles that you extend and click into place. Getting it out of the packaging is what will take the longest.
This tent comes in a 4-person, 6-person, or 8-person size, and each one allows you the maximum use of floor space. The 4-person tent is not quite five feet tall so you can’t stand in it, but the 6- and 8-person tent is a little over six feet tall.
- This tent is a champ at standing up to heavy wind up to 35mph.
- If you have the rainfly secured with guy lines, you may not even need the guy lines on the tent. It’s that sturdy.
- The floor is very wrinkly and a little on the thin side, although not as thin as the Core or the Toogh.
- Not a lot of storage–it only has two small storage pockets on either side.Bottom-Line: Coleman is a name you can trust. You are sure to get a great tent when you purchase a Coleman.
Ozark Trail 6 Person Dark Rest
This Ozark Trail tent is very similar to the Coleman 6 Person Cabin Tent in size and functionality. The most significant difference is that the Ozark is a dark rest tent. It also happens to have more room being that the floor space is 10′ x 9′.
While it doesn’t block out 100 percent of light, it does an outstanding job of keeping most of the light out. Keep in mind that these type of tents also tend to hold in the heat, but it also comes with large windows for optional ventilation. While the Coleman is sturdier than the Ozark, the Ozark may be a better value. With the Ozark, you get a great, three-season quick pitch tent that has much better storage options than the Coleman Cabin Tent.
- Has built-in skylights for stargazing.
- Better storage options with a gear loft and a large mesh wall organizer.
- It has steel metal bars for extra durability.
- The steel frame makes the tent heavier than other comparable tents.
- Seams tend to have holes so you may want to weatherproof your tent in advance.Bottom-Line: For daytime sleepers, this is a tremendous dark rest tent that has a lot of features that some of the best tents don’t even have.
Coleman Tenaya LakeSaleColeman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent with Cabinets, 6-Person
- 6-person cabin tent features built-in closet with shelves and hanger bar to…
- Fast Pitch design sets up in about 8 minutes. Illumiline reflective guy…
- Spacious 8-person design with room divider included for privacy
- WeatherTec system and rainfly keep tent interior dry and comfortable
- Measures 13 x 9 feet with two 2- x 2-foot closet; accommodates 2…
The Coleman Tenaya Lake tent is like the five-star hotel of cabin tents. It’s an eight-person tent and has ample space for all eight people. The tent has two built-in closets with mesh shelves as well as mesh pockets for small-item storage. We love the fact that it has a privacy screen in the middle. Even if you zip the privacy screen, you’ll still have a good bit of space to maneuver around. The tent has a 6’8″ center height, one of the tallest tents available. It also features a 13’x9′ floor space which gives plenty of room for people and gear if needed.
There is one reason we didn’t name this tent as the best–the amount of time it takes to set it up. This is considered a fast-pitch tent, but it’s only going to be fast if you know exactly what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s a conglomerate of confusing poles, color-coded bands, and instructions that aren’t the best. Besides this, it’s a great tent.
- Space, space, and more space. Having ample storage also helps to give it more space.
- The storage case has wheels.
- Illuminated guy lines keep you from tripping over them in the dark.
- It’s heavy, so it’s only suitable for car trips.
- The rainfly has a slight flaw. The way it’s designed, water will run from it and drip onto the door. This means that if you happen to open the door, water might drop down on your head from the rain fly.Bottom-Line: If you don’t mind fumbling with some poles, this is an excellent tent for a large group of people who need lots of space.
Oztent 30 Second Expedition TentOztent 30 Second Expedition 2-3 Person Tent (38 Lb) 6.6 ft(W) x 6.6 ft(D) x 6.6 ft(H) + 6.6 ft(Awning)
- Internal frame designed for quick set up & take down
- double stiched & heat taped seams, attached guy ropes with storage pockets
- 6.6 ft attached awning
- PVC bathtub style floor
- Material is a Poly Ripstop Canvas Blend & 100% waterproof Guaranteed!
If you need an expedition tent for some heavy-duty weather situations, but you want something straightforward to set up, this award-winning tent fits that bill perfectly. Similar to a pop-up book, you grab a bar, lift and it just pops right up into place. It doesn’t get any easier than that unless you can find a self-erecting tent.
The Oztent 30 Second Expedition Tent is a perfectly square tent that stands 6’6″ tall so you can move around with ease. It’s highly durable, and we were impressed with the heat-sealed PVC floor. You won’t have to worry about floor holes with this tent. With 507 sq. ft. of floor space, it’s great for two or possibly three people.
- Thick wall and floor material make it great for harsher weather.
- It has a dual-zippered door with elastic straps that can be used to secure the door while open.
- It’s one of the easiest tents on the market to set up and takedown.
- It’s a pretty heavy tent, weighing almost 40lbs.
- Since it’s a square design, snow can collect on the top and cause it to sing in the middle.Bottom-Line: This tent would be overkill in typical situations, but if you require a good expedition tent that can stand up to almost any kind of weather, you can save yourself some hassle with this easy pitch tent.