Do you know what the most frustrating part of any camp trip is?
That’s right – setting up the tent.
Instant tents solve this problem.
Choosing one of the best instant tents for camping might just be the secret ingredient to make your next camping trip a resounding success.
Read on to find out how to choose the best family instant tent and check out our reviews of the best instant tents for camping this year.
- Top 15 Best Instant Tents Reviewed 2020
- Core 4 Person Instant Dome Tent
- Ozark Trail 6 Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent
- Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Set Up
- Ozark Trail 11 Person 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent
- Coleman Tenaya Lake Lighten Fast Pitch Cabin Tent
- Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent
- Lightspeed Outdoors Instant Mammoth 4 Person Tent
- Oztent 30 Second Expedition Tent
- Coleman Elite Montana Tent with Easy Set Up
- Coleman 4 Person Pop Up Tent
- Toogh 3-4 Person Pop Up Camping Tent
- Malamoo Mega 3 Second 4 Person Waterproof Tent
- HuiLingYang Outdoor Instant 4 Person Pop Up Tent
- Oileus Pop Up Family Camping Tent
- Dohiker 3-4 Person Pop Up Tent
- How to Choose the Best Instant Tents for Camping
Top 15 Best Instant Tents Reviewed 2020
Core 4 Person Instant Dome Tent
Review: For a truly care-free camp set up, this tent takes a ridiculous 30 seconds to whip into place making it ideal for small families with small children.
- Takes just 30 seconds to set up.
- Comfortably sleeps 4 people or a large queen mattress.
- Core H20 Block Technology for waterproofing.
- Very good value for money.
- Some issues with the door zipper getting stuck in the rain flap.
Ozark Trail 6 Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent
Review: If you like a few extra hours of shut-eye on your summer camping trips, this is the tent for you.
This cabin-style tent uses Dark Rest technology which blocks out the light keeping the interior dark once the sun come up.
- 60 second set up.
- Multiple skylights with Dark Rest Panels allow for customized lighting.
- Comfortably sleeps 6 people.
- Stands up well to wind and rain.
- May get a little stuffy inside with all the windows closed.
Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Set Up
Review: This is a large cabin style tent with an instant set up making it another great choice for families.
Unfortunately, the built-in rainfly isn’t really adequate and an additional rain fly is sold separately, but aside from this, there’s not much to fault.
- Sets up in 60 seconds.
- Extremely durable Polyguard material.
- Spacious interior with plenty of standing room.
- Comes in 4, 6 or 10 person sizes.
- May require seam sealing for optimum waterproofing.
- The integrated rainfly is not weatherproof in heavy rain.
Ozark Trail 11 Person 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent
Review: This is as big as it gets in the instant tent world, so this is the tent you’ll want for large groups of up to 11 people.
- Huge 14’ x 14’ dimensions.
- Easy, smooth set up in 2 minutes.
- Room dividers create 3 private areas.
- Large mesh windows provide plenty of ventilation.
- Doesn’t have a bathtub floor.
Coleman Tenaya Lake Lighten Fast Pitch Cabin Tent
Review: This large 13’ x 7’ cabin tent is ideal for families, being equipped with so many extra features you’ll be hard pressed to find fault with it.
- Sets up in 8 minutes.
- Room divider for privacy.
- Comes with a built-in closet and LED lighting.
- May not be the best suited tent for windy conditions.
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent
Review: Another excellent cabin style tent with impressively easy set up for such a large tent. It can even double as a stargazing tent due its huge mesh windows and mesh ceiling.
- 60 second set up.
- Core H2O Block Technology and excellent ventilation.
- Adjustable rainfly stays taut and copes well with the weather.
- Room divider provides 2 living areas.
- No awning means rain can get inside when you enter and exit the tent.
Lightspeed Outdoors Instant Mammoth 4 Person Tent
Review: This is an instant tent from a lesser known brand but which still deserves a place on this list for its genius umbrella style set up and durable materials.
- Sets up in a matter of minutes.
- Bathtub floor and 2000mm rated PU coated polyester fabric.
- Has an integrated vestibule for gear storage.
- No-see-um mesh is effective at keeping out insects.
- Single wall design will attract a little condensation in wet weather.
Oztent 30 Second Expedition Tent
Review: If you’re looking for a heavy duty instant tent that will last a lifetime, this 4 man deal is your tent.
Made of seriously tough ripstop polyester and cotton canvas, it will cope with a lot.
- 30 seconds to erect by one person.
- Heat-sealed PVC groundsheet and durable canvas outer is very weather-proof.
- 6’2” standing height inside.
- Comes with a large awning.
Coleman Elite Montana Tent with Easy Set Up
Review: This isn’t strictly speaking an instant tent, but it has been designed with easy set up in mind with continuous pole sleeves.
The whole setup should take less than 15 minutes for one person, which is still impressive given its size.
- Sleeps 8 people but is ideal for family of 4 or 5 with a decent living area in the middle.
- Extended awning over the entrance way prevents rain from getting in at the same time as you.
- Windows are designed so that they can be kept open when it rains for ventilation.
- Not strictly instant set up.
Coleman 4 Person Pop Up Tent
Review: This is as instant as it gets in the tent world. You do have to accept some compromises with a truly pop up tent, but this tent is surprisingly durable and weather-proof.
- Incredibly fast 10 second set up.
- Copes well with the weather.
- 2 interior storage pockets.
- No bathtub floor.
- Uses some chemicals for flame retardant purposes which are not very safe for humans.
Toogh 3-4 Person Pop Up Camping Tent
Review: This is an excellent quality 3-4 person tent that is easy to set up and reliable in variable weather conditions.
- 60 seconds to put up and take down.
- Silicon coated 210D Oxford fabric is durable and waterproof.
- 5’5” ceiling height is just tall enough to stand (for shorter people).
- 2 entrances are very convenient.
- Has a large awning.
- Probably more suited to 3 people with stuff than 4.
Malamoo Mega 3 Second 4 Person Waterproof Tent
Review: This is just about the only true pop up tent on the market that truly rivals conventional set ups in durability and weather-proofing.
It’s completely waterproof and a reliable tent for family camping trips
- 3 seconds to pop up.
- Waterproof, built-in rainfly.
- Includes vestibule which is less common in pop up tents.
- You’ll likely experience a bit of condensation when it rains, but this is almost unavoidable with single walled tents.
HuiLingYang Outdoor Instant 4 Person Pop Up Tent
Review: This is another excellent pop up option that takes seconds to erect but leaves you feeling secure and protected from the elements.
- Made of durable PU coated polyester for waterproofing.
- Pops up in seconds.
- Comes in a range of colors.
- Not designed for heavy rain.
- The windows open from the outside which doesn’t make much sense.
Oileus Pop Up Family Camping Tent
Review: This is another 4 person pop up tent worth considering for small groups on fair weather camping trip.
- Spacious interior is very comfortable for sitting.
- Pops up in seconds as soon as it’s untied.
- Comes with PU taped seams for weatherproofing.
- Large mesh windows and roof for sky view.
- Not likely to cope with high winds and rain (it’s water resistant but not waterproof).
Dohiker 3-4 Person Pop Up Tent
Review: This pop up tent is designed with UV protection in mind but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for a fair weather camping trip.
- Pops up instantly.
- Big enough for 2 adults and 2 kids.
- Extremely easy to use despite its budget price.
- Could double as a play area for kids inside the house or garden.
- Not designed for rain.
How to Choose the Best Instant Tents for Camping
So, to begin with, what exactly is an instant tent?
You’ve come to the right place!
Many tents listed as “instant” in some articles are actually no different from a conventional tent, taking anywhere upwards of 10 minutes to set up.
This isn’t instant, is it?
An instant tent should take no more than a minute to erect and require no assembling of poles.
An instant tent, is a tent where the poles come already connected to the tent body, and are folded in a way that allows them to snap easily into place as the tent is erected, without you needing to know which one goes where.
Some instant tents are even classified as pop up tents which means they literally pop up as soon as you unleash them into the air.
I think so.
So, what should you look for when choosing the best family instant tent?
There are a few important things to consider.
Cabin vs Dome
Dome style tents are typically smaller and better suited to families that don’t have heaps of stuff, or smaller units of 3 or 4 people.
They are usually more affordable and will cope better with wind than a cabin tent.
Cabin tents can be absolutely massive. So if you tend to take a lot of stuff with you or you’re a group of 4 or more, a cabin tent is the way to go.
Cabin tents also allow you to stand up inside while most dome tents won’t be tall enough for you to do that.
Single Walled vs Double Walled
The vast majority of instant tents are single-walled which poses some interesting problems that most people don’t think about.
Single-walled designs are usually kept for heavy duty winter tents in the conventional tent world because they don’t tend to cope well with condensation.
If you’re in a single-walled instant tent and it rains or the temperature drops significantly overnight, you’ll need to do your very best to maximize ventilation or you’ll have your family members’ breath dripping on you in the form of condensation by morning.
In saying this, some instant tents do come with a separate rain fly or allow you to purchase one separately.
On the same note, instant tents don’t tend to be as waterproof as conventional tents.
This is particularly the case with tents that don’t come with a separate rain fly. (They usually say the rain fly is integrated which basically means the material of the tent body is waterproof.)
If you can’t buy a rain fly for the tent you want, at the very least make sure you seal the seams before you go camping in the rain.
Regardless, some pop up tents just aren’t designed for the rain and you probably shouldn’t be wasting your money on anything that isn’t designed to be durable and provide you with multiple seasons of use.
The hinges of some instant tents can lead to weak points which in the worst case scenario could result in the tent collapsing in on itself.
Making sure the tent you purchase comes with plenty of guy line attachments (and the ropes themselves are useful too!), will help to keep your tent stable and safe in the wind.
Strength of the Poles
This is also pretty important, unless you don’t mind your poles snapping in the wind and your tent landing in your face.
Look for well-made, strong poles with sturdy hinges (if there are hinges).
This depends on the size of your car, how far you’ll have to carry the tent from the car to your campsite, and how much other gear you’ll be bringing.
Instant tents aren’t compatible with backpacking.
Instant tents don’t tend to pack down as small as conventional tents so be aware of this when browsing the options. Pop up tents often pack flat, but wide.
What is an Instant Tent?
An instant tent is usually a tent where the pole structure comes already attached to the tent body so all you have to do it open it up.
Is an Instant Tent the Same as a Pop Up Tent?
No. Pop up tents literally spring themselves into shape as soon as they’re removed from their restraints. Instant tents require some lifting into position.
Pop up tents tend to be lower quality than instant tents in terms of their ability to cope with weather and their long term durability.
What is the Best Brand of Instant Tent?
Many of the best camping tent brands offer instant tent options but the most popular instant tent brands on the market are currently Coleman and Core.
Are Instant Tents Waterproof?
The good quality ones are, yes. But as with everything, you get what you pay for.
The cheaper instant tents will almost certainly not be waterproof, or if they are to begin with, they won’t stay that way.
If after reading all this, instant tents aren’t quite cutting it for you but you don’t love the conventional pole style tents, why not try inflatable tents?
Check out our article on the best inflatable tents for more info.
So there you have it, a rundown on the best instant tents for camping and how to choose the one most suited to your needs.
Instant tents are one of those things that you either love or hate, so don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and comment below!
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