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Best Instant Tent (To SAVE Time Camping In 2022)

Best Instant Tent

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In a rush? Our pick for the best instant tent is the CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent.

Love camping, but hate setting up the campsite?

Admit it, pitching your tent is the WORST part of camping. As enjoyable and relaxing as camping is, tent set-up can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Today, we’ll attempt to cure that headache by showing you the top instant tents available. These tents are made to be pitched in less than 10 minutes. Using clever design tricks like pre attached poles and pop up frames, these tents were made with user experience in mind.

Best Instant Tent: Our Top Picks

Best Overall Instant Tents:

Best 1 to 2 Person Instant Tent:

Best 3 to 5 Person Instant Tent:

Best 6 & 8 Person Instant Tent:

Best 9 & 10 Person Instant Tent:

Best 12+ Person Instant Tent:

Still confused? Compare all the best instant tents here.

CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent Tent Size: 6 person | Seasons: 3-season | Weight: 23 lbs | Inside Height: 72 in | Floor: 11 x 9 ft (99 sq ft) | Setup Time: 2 mins


OVERALL SCORE

8.2



  Space & Comfort

9


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

7.5


  Weather Resistance

8


  Ease of Use

10


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

9.2

Core makes an outstanding budget tent, and this tent rises to the top for a reason. It is both an excellent cabin tent with vertical walls which allow easier movement and greater comfort inside the tent. However, it’s also an instant tent – which means its setup is quick and easy – hence the name instant.

The difference between the other CORE tents on this list, is that this tent is made for smaller groups. This 6-person tent says it can fit 2 queen-sized airbeds, but I found it’s quite the squeeze to fit both of them inside.

What sets this tent apart is its ventilation – thanks to multiple windows and floor vents, you should have good airflow throughout your camping trip.

Pros:

  • 2 minute set up and take down in fair weather conditions
  • The expandable carrying case makes it easy to pack the tent after taking it down
  • Great ventilation thanks to windows on both sides and the front door
  • The back wall comes with a big storage area where you can hang your gear
  • Inexpensive cabin tent for beginner buyers

Cons:

  • The floor is pretty thin so you should probably buy a tarp
  • The door zipper can get caught in the flaps running along the door

Best for: people who want a roomy cabin tent with great ventilation at a reasonable price.

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CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

Tent Size: 9 | Weight: 27.62 lbs | Inside Height: 78 in | Floor: 14 x 9 ft (126 sq ft) | Setup Time: 2 mins


OVERALL SCORE

8.2


  Space & Comfort

7.5


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

8


  Weather Resistance

8


  Ease of Use

10


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

9.3

Later on you’ll see options for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 person tents. But here’s the big one – the CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent.

Measuring a whopping 14 by 9 feet, this tent can comfortably sleep 9 people, packs in two separate rooms, and has a wonderful 78 inches of overhead height. This size is for those with a lot of people or a lot of gear. If you’re a family of 4 but you want a lot of personal space, this is the tent for you.

For those with kids, this tent comes with an electrical cord access port, so your little ones can charge their devices right inside the tent.

Even though this is a massive tent, that doesn’t mean the setup has to be a pain. CORE states that setup and teardown take about one minute, and our experience shows this to be very true. The frame opens up and snaps into place super fast and with minimal effort.

Pros:

  • Extremely spacious – fits families of all sizes
  • Lightweight for its size, weighing in at 28 lbs.
  • All four walls open up to provide cool ventilation, while still protecting you from bugs thanks to the mesh windows
  • Detachable room divider gives you privacy when needed
  • Large T-style front doors mean you don’t have to crouch down to enter and exit the tent

Cons:

  • Not designed for harsh weather

Best for: large families that want the privacy of multiple rooms in a tent that assembles rapidly.

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Ozark Trail 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent

Tent Size: 9 | Weight: 40.9 lbs | Inside Height: 84 in | Floor: 14 x 13.5 ft (189 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.8


  Space & Comfort

9


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

9


  Weather Resistance

5

  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

8


  User Reviews

8.7

If you’re planning a camping trip with a larger group of people, you might want to consider this 9 person instant cabin tent from Ozark Trail.

This tent is huge, and you can comfortably fit at least 7 people inside, with plenty of room to spare for your camping gear and supplies. It also features a screen room, which gives you a nice little space to sit back outside, while still being protected from insects.

With a center height of 84”, there’s plenty of headroom too. Even the tallest campers will be able to walk around freely in this spacious Ozark Trail tent.

It’s durable and stable thanks to steel poles and tough polyester fabric. It also comes with a polyester rain fly, which does a great job at keeping you and your stuff dry, even in a heavy downpour.

Due to its size, it is definitely on the heavier side. At just over 40 lbs., it’s quite a heavy load. This isn’t too much of an issue for car campers, but you definitely wouldn’t want to have to carry it further than a short distance.

Pros:

  • Features a screen room for insect-free outdoor chillin’
  • Includes a polyester rain fly that provides great water resistance
  • Well ventilated thanks to multiple mesh windows
  • Polyester fabric and steel poles provide durability and stability
  • Incredibly roomy thanks to its large size and cabin style structure

Cons:

  • A lot heavier than the other tents on this list

Best for: larger groups and families looking for a roomy tent with a screen room.

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Coleman Instant Setup Cabin Tent

Type: Instant, Cabin | Seasons: 3-season | Weight: 42 lbs | Inside Height: 79 in | Floor: 14 x 10 ft (140 sq ft) | Setup Time: 2 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.2


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

7


  Weather Resistance

5


  Ease of Use

9


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

8.3

Dark Room technology is what makes this tent great for summer camping. According to the manufacturer, this tent blocks up to 90% of light that enters the tent. This means that, unless you set an alarm, you might wake up way later than usual.

Since it blocks daylight, Dark Room technology also keeps the tent cool inside. That way, you won’t wake up drenched in sweat after sunrise.

This tent is spacious and can fit four queen air mattresses or ten sleeping bags. With a 6’7’’ center height, most people can comfortably stand up inside.

The tent comes with a room divider, which can give you some privacy when changing clothes, for example.

The great thing about this tent is that pitching takes no more than a minute. All the poles are pre attached, so the only thing left for you to do is to pop it open.

Pros:

  • Thanks to the Dark Room technology, you can sleep way past sunrise without natural light waking you up
  • Pre attached poles allow for a quick setup in under 1 minute
  • It comes with a room divider that gives you some privacy inside the tent
  • Removing the rain fly allows you to enjoy the night sky during dry weather
  • Coleman offers a 1-year limited warranty

Cons:

  •  The tent might leak during a heavy rainstorm

Best for: campers who like to sleep in late on family camping trips.

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CORE 12-Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 12-Person Instant Cabin Tent
Tent Size: 12 person | Seasons: 3-season | Weight: 47.8 lbs | Inside Height: 80 in | Floor: 18 x 10 ft (180 sq ft) | Setup Time: 2 mins


OVERALL SCORE

8.0


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

7.5


  Value

8


  Weather Resistance

6


  Ease of Use

10


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

8.9

CORE makes superb tents, and their 12-person Instant Cabin is no exception!

This tent sets up in under five minutes, making it an excellent choice for a quick camping trip – or a beginner one.

It measures 18’ x 10’ on the inside and comes with all of the poles pre-attached so there’s no need to fumble with mechanics to get it set up. Oh, and it’s also prime for taller people, which is great if you’ve ever had to spend a camping trip in a tent where you keep hitting your head.

If you’re looking for a quick-camping tent that fits as many as twelve people (or gives smaller groups a ton of space) but isn’t a nightmare to set up, then go for CORE.

Pros:

  • Comes with room dividers so you can split it up into at least three separate rooms for privacy
  • It stands up well in winter conditions, thanks to superior design and anchoring
  • This tent promises a quick and instant setup and definitely delivers
  • High center height (80 inches) and fits three queen-size airbeds
  • Electrical ports and ground ventilation make this a tent that suits everyone

Cons:

  • Be careful with the poles. Pre-installed poles mean that you don’t want to drop it on your toes.

Best for: families that want a quick-pitch tent at an affordable price that fit a ton of people.

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Ozark Trail 12-Person, 3-Room Instant Cabin

Ozark Trail 12-Person, 3-Room Instant Cabin
Type: Cabin, Instant, 3-room | Seasons: 3-season | Weight: 55.2 lbs | Inside Height: in | Floor: 8 x 8 ft + 8 x 8 ft + 8 x 8 ft (192 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.0


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

7


  Weather Resistance

5


  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

5


  User Reviews

7.5

This tent is great if you aren’t a veteran camper and only want to have the occasional camping trip. With pre-attached poles in place, all you have to do is assemble – and it can be done a lot quicker than most tents out there. Plus, you can add an air conditioner to the tent, too!

The Ozark Trail 3-Room Instant Cabin Tent measures 16’ x 16’ and weighs in at just under 40lbs when it’s not set up. This one promises an instant setup, and it can be put up a lot quicker than a lot of other tents out there on the market.

Just be careful when setting up, because the poles have to “click” into place. If they aren’t installed properly, you’ll notice when the tent collapses in on itself – which is, I’ll admit, more of a user error than a design problem.

Overall, this was great and contains room dividers if you’d like to split it into three rooms or less.

Pros:

  • Measures 16’ x 16’ on the inside and comes with a porch – massive footprint!
  • Seven windows, three rooms, and two doors make this less of a tent and more of a castle
  • The oversized ground vent allows you to hook up an air-conditioner directly to your tent
  • Pre-attached poles make setup and teardown easy (necessary for a large tent)
  • Ozark Trail tents are generally very affordable, and this is no exception
  • Large windows and multiple rooms allow ample ventilation and personal space, which means you’ll keep cool all night

Cons:

  • Design is not strong against the wind (lots of surface area), so make sure you anchor it to the ground correctly

Best for: families or groups that want to use three rooms for better privacy or alone time.

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TETON Sports Vista Quick Tent

Tent Size: 1 | Weight: 4.6 lbs | Inside Height: 34″ in | Floor: 80 x 37 in (20.55 sq ft) | Setup Time: 1 min


OVERALL SCORE

7.8


  Space & Comfort

6


  Quality & Durability

8


  Value

8


  Weather Resistance

9

  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

6


  User Reviews

9.2

For anyone seeking a smaller, lighter instant tent, TETON Sports Vista is an excellent choice.

It comes in a 1 man and 2 man version. The one man tent weighs in at 5 lbs., while the 2 man option only weighs 6.6 lbs. This makes them suitable for use as a backpacking tent, which is rare when you’re looking at tents with instant setup.

Now, you can definitely find tents of this size that are lighter than these ones are. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find an instant tent that weighs less.

What’s really neat about these is that they’re the perfect size to put over a camping cot. The 1 person tent fits perfectly over a single cot, while the 2 person tent can be mounted over a double cot.

Keep in mind that camping cots are heavy, though, so if you’re going backpacking a sleeping pad will have to do.

The TETON Sports Vista also features a full mesh roof, giving you a jaw dropping view of the night sky. Don’t worry though, it also comes equipped with a rain fly in case the weather turns on you.

Pros:

  • Light enough for backpacking, at 5 lbs. and just over 6.5 lbs.
  • Fits perfectly onto a camping cot, for an incredibly comfortable night outdoors
  • Features a full mesh top, perfect for stargazing
  • Includes a rain fly to keep you dry in a shower
  • Has a gear loft that you can keep your personal items in

Cons:

  • Might not be long enough for taller people

Best for: solo campers and couples looking for a small tent that’s light enough to take backpacking.

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ayamaya Pop Up Tent

Tent Size: 6 | Weight: 10.25 lbs | Inside Height: 53.5 in | Floor: 12.5 x 8.5 ft (106.25 sq ft) | Setup Time: 1 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.6


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

8


  Weather Resistance

7

  Ease of Use

7


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

8.8

Are you looking for a small pop up tent that can accommodate couples and small families?

The ayamaya Pop Up Tent has a quick setup, and seem small, but with a 53.5″ center height is surprisingly spacious .

With windows on either side, plus a waterproof design, you have a pop up tent made for 4-seasons.

Not only that, but the unique Vestibule offers a separate room for gear, shoes, or a dog.

Pros:

  • A 4-season waterproof tent that is built to handle wind and rain
  • The gap between the inner and outer layer become ground vents which can offer additional ventilation during warmer evenings
  • Unique Vestibule offers an extra room within the tent
  • 53.5″ ceiling height offers plenty of headroom and the 12.5 foot interior is great for taller folks

Cons:

  • No net or loop in the center of the tent to hang a light or fan from

Best for: Small families looking for a great pop up tent

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Guide Gear 10′ x 10′ Teepee Tent

Tent Size: 2 | Weight: 13 lbs | Inside Height: 78 in | Floor: 10 x 10 ft (78.54 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.3


  Space & Comfort

9


  Quality & Durability

7


  Value

6


  Weather Resistance

7

  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

5


  User Reviews

8.3

For a more unconventional camping experience, you might be enticed to try this teepee tent from Guide Gear.

This is actually a 4 season tent, meaning that you can use it all year round, even when it gets really cold out.

It has a strong steel center pole and the canopy is made of polyester with a polyurethane coating, which makes it waterproof.

Fair warning: some users have complained about water leakages in heavy rain. To make absolutely sure this doesn’t happen, it’s a good idea to waterproof your tent before you head off on your trip.

This tent has got a center height of 6’6”, which is pretty tall. However, keep in mind that because of its conical shape, the height drops steeply as you move away from the center of the tent.

There are 3 mesh windows and vents at the top of the tent. These, together with the teepee structure, create a fantastic amount of airflow through the tent at all times.

Pros:

  • Very affordable for a 4 season tent
  • Durable polyester canopy with a polyurethane coating for water resistance
  • Boasts a peak height of 6’6”, so most people will be able to stand up straight in the middle
  • The windows, top vents and teepee shape work together to provide outstanding ventilation
  • Steel center pole is strong and stable, so your tent won’t blow over in the wind

Cons:

  • Might leak in heavy rain without additional waterproofing
  • Not lightweight enough for backpacking

Best for: camping couples looking for something a little bit different.

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OT QOMOTOP Instant Tent

OT QOMOTOP Instant TentTent Size: 10 person | Seasons: 3-season | Weight: 30.7 lbs | Inside Height: 76 in | Floor: 14 x 10 (140 sq ft) | Setup Time: 2 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.5


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

5


  Value

7


  Weather Resistance

6


  Ease of Use

10


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

9.3

This tent from Qomotop is a great spring tent. It has a mesh window on each side, as well as a mesh roof and a ground vent along the bottom edges, so there’s plenty of airflow.

Even though this tent is big, the instant design allows you to set it up in under one minute – without any help from your camping friends.

In case of bad weather, you can put the rain fly on. Otherwise, you can enjoy stargazing from the comfort of your sleeping bag.

Both the rain fly and tent seams feature PU taping, which prevents leakage through the needle holes. It also features a PE tube floor with welded corners, so there’s no way that water can get inside.

This tent has some nice extra features. The top storage bag can hold a tablet so you can watch a movie while laying on your air mattress.

There’s also an electrical port cord that can be fully closed when not in use.

Finally, the tent has a room divider for extra privacy.

Pros:

  • Since it has a mesh roof, ground vents and several windows, there’s plenty of airflow
  • Taped seams and welded corners prevent water from leaking
  • Color coding on the rain fly allows you to quickly set the rain fly in case of unexpected rain
  • Top storage bag and side pockets can hold all the things you need close at hand
  • It has a doormat where you can place your muddy shoes

Cons:

  •  Thin fabric makes this tent unsuitable for winter

Best for: campers looking for a fast pitching family camping tent.

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Caddis Rapid 6 Tent

caddis rapid 6 tent

Tent Size: 6 | Weight: 25 lbs 8 oz | Inside Height: 80 in | Floor: 120 in x 120 in (100 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.1


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

6


  Weather Resistance

5


  Ease of Use

9.5


   Intangibles

7


  User Reviews

8.2

The Caddis Rapid 6 is a roomy camping tent with a floor area of 100 sq ft. and a center height of 80”.

Because it’s a cabin tent with near vertical walls, you get a lot of space inside to move around. You won’t even have to hunch over in the slightest (unless you’re a professional basketball player).

Both the canopy and the rain fly of the Caddis Rapid 6 are made of durable polyester taffeta. Aside from being tough, this material also provides excellent water resistance.

It’s also really well ventilated, as the large mesh windows allow air to flow through the tent freely.

It weighs slightly over 25 lbs. so you probably wouldn’t want to take it backpacking. But, for car camping groups of 4-5 people, this tent is a stellar choice.

Pros:

  • Highly durable and water-resistant, thanks to polyester taffeta and steel poles
  • Comes with a rain fly, so you’ll stay dry no matter what the weather is like outside
  • Mesh windows provide great ventilation
  • Cabin style structure gives you a roomy interior that you can walk around in
  • Features a gear loft and side storage compartment for easier organization

Cons:

  • A bit on the pricey side
  • Too heavy for backpackers

Best for: car camping groups of 4-5 looking for a solid and spacious 3 season tent.

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Coleman 4-Person Instant Cabin Tent

Coleman Instant Cabin Tent Tent Size: 4 | Weight: 24 lbs | Inside Height: 59 in | Floor: 8 x 7 ft (56 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.1


  Space & Comfort

8


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

6


  Weather Resistance

6

  Ease of Use

10


   Intangibles

5


  User Reviews

8.1

The Coleman Instant Cabin Tent is a great combination of size, easy instant setup, weather protection, and affordability. Coleman has been making outdoor gear since 1900, and their expertise shines in this tent model.

Available in both a 4 and 6 person version, Coleman offers a size for both camping tandems and outdoors-loving families. The 4 person model fits one queen size bed, and the 6 person fits two queen size beds. Both are constructed with the same high-quality Coleman tent materials and expert design.

When it comes to weather protection, this tent cuts no corners. It features Coleman’s patented WeatherTec system, which means it comes with inverted seams and welded floors to keep water out. The tent’s fabric is Coleman’s proprietary Polyguard 2X double-thick fabric, which means you’ll be camping in this bad boy for years to come.

Pros:

  • Amazing price for such a strong tent
  • Available in 2 sizes: 4 person and 6 person capacity
  • Coleman’s unique, patented WeatherTec system keeps you dry
  • Large enough for 1 or 2 queen-sized beds (depending on the size you get), with six feet of head space
  • 150D polyester seams and Polyguard fabric mean this tent will last for generations

Cons:

  • Might be too heavy for backpackers, but great for car campers

Best for: small families that want a quality cabin-style tent that fits one or two beds.

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Moon Lence Instant 4-5 Person Tent

Tent Size: 5 | Weight: 10.25 lbs | Inside Height: 52.4 in | Floor: 114 x 121 in (95.6 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.1


  Space & Comfort

9


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

8


  Weather Resistance

3

  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

6


  User Reviews

9

This Moon Lence instant tent is dome shaped with fiberglass poles, making it sturdy even when the wind picks up. Fiberglass poles might not be as stable as steel poles, but a dome structure is definitely superior when it comes to stability.

It’s made of polyester with 4 large mesh windows that’ll keep a nice amount of fresh air flowing through your tent.

It weighs in at a little over 10 lbs., which is still too heavy for backpacking if you ask me. However, if you really wanted to take it out into the backcountry, you probably could.

What this tent lacks is water resistance. It does come with a rain fly, but unfortunately it isn’t large enough to keep water out in a shower.

If you want to stay dry when it rains (which, let’s face it, is a pretty damn important thing to worry about) you’ll need to string a tarp up over your tent. If you don’t, you might end up soaking wet, which isn’t much fun.

Pros:

  • 100% polyester fabric makes it highly durable
  • Holds up well in strong winds, thanks to fiberglass poles and dome structure
  • Great ventilation, thanks to 4 large mesh windows
  • An affordable tent that won’t break the bank
  • At just over 10 lbs, it isn’t too heavy

Cons:

  • The rain fly is ineffective, as it doesn’t cover enough of the tent

Best for: campers on a budget that are looking for a great 4 person tent for camping in fine weather.

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Toogh 3-4 Person Hexagon Tent

Toogh 3-4 Person Pop-Up Hexagon Tent

Tent Size: 4 | Weight: 13 lbs | Inside Height: 65 in | Floor: 7.5 x 6.9 ft (52 sq ft) | Setup Time: 5 mins


OVERALL SCORE

7.0


  Space & Comfort

6.5


  Quality & Durability

6


  Value

6


  Weather Resistance

6

  Ease of Use

8


   Intangibles

8


  User Reviews

8.6

When it comes to 3-4 person instant tents, this Hexagon Tent from Toogh is an excellent choice.

This tent’s price tag might be small, but its water protection is on another level. The outside layer is made of a patented 210D fabric that has a HH rating of 3000 mm.

It also has two doors, so you can have great ventilation on hot summer days. Don’t worry about bug bites either – this tent is equipped with a dense mosquito net to keep the blood suckers away.

Although it’s lightweight, this tent comes with two poles to make a small porch. This gives you a covered area in front of your tent where you can take your gear off, out of the sun or rain.

Pros:

  • Lightweight – only 12 lbs. and comes with a great carrying case for compact storage
  • Two entrances mean you can enter from either side or open the doors for a cool breeze
  • Dome style design provides superior stability and aerodynamics against the wind
  • Silver-coated UV layers protect you from the sun without the added weight
  • Available in multiple color schemes to fit your mood and style

Cons:

  • Becomes rather crammed if there are more than 2 people inside

Best for: couples who want a lightweight, instant camping tent they can carry around.

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The Best Instant Tents – Compared

Types Of Instant Tents

different tents lit up at night

There are several different types of instant tents.

The difference between them is their structure.

You’ve got:

  • Dome tents
  • Cabin tents
  • Pop-up tents
  • A-frame tents
  • Teepee tents

Here’s a little bit of information about each of them.

Dome

When I say the word tent, it’s more than likely that the image that pops into your head is that of a dome tent. That’s because dome tents are the most common type of tent you’ll see.

It might shock you to discover that dome tents got their name because they have a shape that – wait for it – resembles a dome.

The poles are curved and cross over at the top of the tent in the center, forming a dome-like structure.

The base can either be a square or a hexagon, depending on whether there are 2 or 3 poles.

Because of their shape, these tents reach their peak height in the middle, with less and less height as you move further away from the middle.

Cabin

Cabin style tents are characterized by a rectangular or square base, and walls that are either vertical or at a slight angle.

This makes the space inside feel much roomier, as you can move around the tent more freely, without having to hunch over. For this reason, cabin tents are a great option for families and larger groups. (And taller people!)

These tents usually come with a room divider, that you can use to divide the space inside as you see fit. They also have taller doors than a dome style tent, making getting in and out easier.

On the downside, a cabin tent isn’t as stable as a dome tent. Cabin tents are excellent in fine weather, but in high winds, they won’t perform as well.

Pop-Up

Another type of instant tent is the pop up tent. These have bendy poles that you can fold and unfold to put the tent up, and take it down.

They’re quicker to set up than any other kind of instant tent. They pop into shape in a matter of a second or two, all by themselves. You literally don’t have to do a thing.

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Many pop up tents can be a real pain in the neck to fold back up and pack away.

They’re also less reliable than other types of tents when it comes to wind and water resistance.

A-Frame

If a dome tent wasn’t the first image of a tent that popped into your head, then chances are it was an A-frame tent.

These tents are characterized by a structure that resembles the letter “A”, or, if you will, a triangle.

A-frame tents used to be far more popular than they are today. The reason for this was the introduction of the fiberglass and aluminum poles used in dome and cabin tents.

You see, the poles used in A-frame tents are heavier, which is why they’ve become less popular.

Still, A-frame tents are still preferred by some, and they have certain advantages over other tent styles. For example, they’re incredibly stable while still being relatively lightweight.

Plus, the issue with heavy poles can be overcome by using your hiking poles to hold the tent up instead. Neat, huh?

Teepee

Instant teepee style tents are rare, but they do exist.

They have a large round or octagonal base, several poles that start at the base of the tent and meet in the center, and a center pole to hold the structure up.

Teepee tents are great because they provide an exceptionally spacious feel. They also have great ventilation, thanks to their conical shape.

What’s The Difference Between Instant Tents & Traditional Tents?

All this talk of instant tents, you might be wondering what the difference is between instant (or inflatable) tents and traditional tents.

Put simply, instant tents are tents designed to be pitched quickly, usually within five minutes or less. The mechanism varies across instant tents, but they all share one thing in common: they’re made for quick set-up.

Traditional tents are built without user experience in mind. They sacrifice ease of setup to provide a (slightly) more sturdy frame. That’s it!

Take a close look at the pictures of the tents listed above. You’ll notice their frames have interlocking poles, or hydraulic systems to help the tent stand up. Features like that are what separate instant tents from traditional tents.

Instant Tents vs. Pop Up Tents – Are They The Same?

Pop up tent gif

At this point, you might be confused. You’ve heard of pop up tents, and instant tents… aren’t they the same thing?

Not really.

As mentioned above, an instant tent is a broad, umbrella term used for any tent that’s built with quick-pitching in mind.

Pop up tents, on the other hand, are a specific type of instant tent that use a specific design. Pop up tents all feature some kind of frame that instantly expands when you take it out of the bag. They “pop” out of the bag, which is where they get their name from.

Instant tents and pop up tents are like squares and rectangles. All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. All pop up tents are instant tents, but not all instant tents are pop up tents.

How To Choose An Instant Tent

Now that you know you want to buy an instant tent, here’s what to look for when you’re shopping around.

There are hundreds of tents out there, and it’s easy to get “analysis paralysis” looking at all your choices. So, here are the traits you should look for in a good instant tent.

An Instant Tent That’s Actually Instant

Although countless tents call themselves “instant,” setup might not be as easy (or instant!) as you’d expect.

Before you buy a tent, check out the reviews and make sure that it’s easy for everyone to set up. It might take the manufacturers 30 seconds to set up, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen so quickly when you’re doing it.

Also, make sure the instructions are simple. Try to see the tent’s instruction manual before purchasing. You don’t want to buy a tent that requires a Ph.D. to pitch.

Find Your Size

Tent shopping can be difficult. To narrow the options down, the first thing you should do is determine how much space you need in your tent.

You don’t want to buy a tent that’s so big you could host a circus in it, but you also don’t want one that starts bursting at the seams when you and your loved ones are all lying down.

As always, we recommend considering the number of people you want to go camping with and going up a size to a tent that accommodates more than that.

If you’re a single guy who might be camping alone, or with one companion (human or canine), you should probably go with a 2-3 person tent.

If you’re a family of 4, with lots of gear, it might be worthwhile to go with a 5 or 6-person tent.

It’s up to you to determine what best suits your needs.

Doesn’t Require A Forklift

Next, you want to make sure that your instant tent is portable.

You don’t want a tent that’s so heavy, you have to get three of your buddies to help you carry it from your car to the campsite.

When companies make instant tents, they’ve got one thing in mind: making it instant!

That means sometimes they don’t take weight into account, and end up giving you a heavy tent.

Be sure to double-check the tent’s size and weight, and confirm it lines up with your needs.

Fits Your Climate

Every camper knows that different climates require different gear.

That’s why it’s important for you to consider your camping climate, and making sure you pick a tent that matches your weather.

If you live in the Sahara Desert, there’s no reason for you to worry about water resistance. You’d be far more concerned with UV resistance.

On the other hand, if you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, and plan on camping all seasons, water-resistance should be your number one priority!

Always take the weather into consideration when you’re looking at tents.

Optimal Price Point

Last but not least, make sure you pick the highest quality tent for your budget. Most people don’t want to spend a boatload on their tent, but if you plan on going camping regularly, it might be wise to invest in a tent that will last you a long time.

Either way, you don’t want to be overcharged. That’s why we chose tents that are priced reasonably, and provide excellent bang for your buck.

FAQ

Instant tents are less common than regular tents, so it’s totally understandable if you’ve got a bunch of questions about what they are exactly and how to use them.

Here are some questions that frequently popped up, answered:

How do you set up an instant tent?

The procedure isn’t always exactly the same, and will vary slightly from tent to tent. Still, it’s basically always the same principle.

Instead of having tent poles that you put together and thread through the canopy, like with a regular tent, an instant tent already has the poles attached to the tent.

As you unfold the poles, the tent rises along with them. Once you pull the poles apart, they lock into place. It’s quite similar to opening an umbrella, just on a larger scale.

If your instant tent is a pop up tent, then it’s even simpler.

With some pop up tents, you throw the tent out into an open space and it unfolds before it hits the ground.

With other tents, you literally just take them out of the bag, et voilà!

It’s up and ready to go, literally instantly. These tents truly live up to their name.

What material do instant tents usually come in?

Most instant tents are made of polyester.

Polyester is a synthetic material that’s known for the following properties:

  • Durability
  • Water resistance
  • UV resistance
  • Quick drying

The poles on an instant tent will usually be made of either steel or fiberglass.

While steel poles are heavier, they’re stronger and more sturdy than fiberglass poles.

On the other hand, steel poles will corrode over time, which is something you don’t have to worry about with fiberglass.

How do you fold a quick pitch tent?

To take your instant tent down, it’s just a matter of unlocking the poles and folding them back up.

You’ll find buttons where the poles interlock, and by pushing them you release the lock. You can then push the poles back down into each other, and fold them in the same way they were folded before you put the tent up.

Again, how they fold back up exactly is going to vary depending on the model.

Here’s an example of a instant tent setup and take down for the Coleman Instant Cabin Tent:

And pop up tents are even easier! Here’s a video that demonstrates just how quick and easy it is to get it back in the bag:

How We Tested, Reviewed, and Rated Instant Tents

We love to test and review gear. You’ll find us testing gear that we already own and love, are purchasing for retail prices (just like you), or items that are sent to us by the manufacturer.

No matter how we procure a product, our goal is to thoroughly test and review each item and rate it against its peers.

Our goal is to remain as unbiased as possible.

We take tedious notes, and compare even the tiniest of details. Everything goes into a spreadsheet for analysis from the dimensions of the product to cost comparisons, user ratings, etc

After hours of testing, reviewing and analyzing 21 instant tents, we graded each tent on a the following metrics:

  • Space and Comfort
  • Quality and Durability
  • Value
  • Weather Resistance
  • Ease of Use
  • Intangibles (unique features and key selling points)
  • User Reviews

Depending upon what you are looking for in a tent, you’ll want to pay more or less attention to each specific item.

Overall Score

All of the above metrics are factored into our algorithm to create an Overall Score. The Overall Score is going to be the best for tents that are top notch in every category accordingly.

Therefore only a tent that provides great all-around value, weather resistance, high quality materials, along with intangibles AND great user reviews will score better than a tent that is specifically made for 4-seasons, but is also extremely expensive.

Or perhaps you are looking for a great tent at a great value? In this case, your tent may not be rated the highest, because it may not be using the best of the best materials, but it will surely have the highest value to price ratio.

So while the Overall Score is important, it is not everything.

Space And Comfort

From family camping to romantic couples camping, this is a huge determining factor as to whether the tent is going to live up to your expectations.

You don’t want to get this one wrong…but if you are a backpacker, you will not care as much for space and comfort, as you would for quality/durability and most of all weight.

We rate space and comfort for each tent within their tent category and size.

Instant tents, vary in size, space and comfort.

For that reason, we grade each tent according to its size, not the type of tent it is. So for a 6 person tent, it is rated in comparison with other 6 person tents, 4 person tents with other 4 tents, etc.

Instant tents come in pretty much every size. What makes an instant tent instant, are the pre-attached telescoping poles.

Quality And Durability

This metric is pretty straightforward. We rate the tents based on their actual materials and the quality of the construction.

We also get feedback from tent owners who put it their tents the test over a long period of time.

Many tents utilize a combination of the same polyester or nylon materials, but their construction can be just as important. This all gets factored into the quality and durability score.

Also factored in the Quality and Durability score is the warranty. While most tents have some sort of Limited warranty, many have Lifetime Limited Warranty’s, but REI for instance, only has a 90 day return policy and warrants only that the product is free from defects at the time of sale.

Value

All tents are not created equally, and not all tents are priced equally either. Ozark for instance produces a great budget tent, while CORE produces an affordable, yet premium quality instant tent:

As you can see in general the price and size go together, but there are some diamonds in the rough.

The CORE 6 Person Instant Tent is priced around $200, yet shines in its overall performance.

Meanwhile, the Moon Lence Instant Tent might be one of the best budget options, but the quality and style differs greatly from the CORE and Ozark.

Weather Resistance

Weather resistance is a simple metric.

Does the tent let in water, or does it not? Does the tent withstand high winds, or collapse onto itself? Does the tent have good ventilation during the summer months or does it get too hot and stuffy? This is what matters to us when we rate a tent for weather resistance.

Clearly the TETON Sports Vista Quick Tent is the most performant weather wise. But that makes sense, since it is a lightweight backpacking tent that needs to be built for any weather condition.

The CORE 9 Person and the CORE 6 Person Instant Tents both rated very well against both wind and rain, despite their cabin-style form. Steel poles help to add sturdiness to these instant tents and that is why they rise above the rest when it comes to weather performance.

But no matter what you do, if you are up against challenging high winds, you’ll need a dome-shaped tent and likely a non-instant tent.

Ease of Use

Instant tents are all easy to use right? Well yes, but that isn’t all that gets factored into this score.

For instance, how much does the tent weigh? How long does it take to pack up? These types of things are getting factored into the ease of use score.

But the great news is that when you buy an instant tent, you are looking at a 5 minute setup tops. Here is the breakdown of setup times by tent size (including the weight of each):

Intangibles

These are the unique features or selling points of each individual tent that give it a leg up on the competition.

Does the tent have two doors? Perhaps the tent has a large vestibule for storing equipment? Is the tent is a two-room tent with a special space for the kiddos or a dog? Maybe the footprint is included in the price?

This ALL gets factored into the intangibles score.

User Ratings

Last, but not least are user reviews!

We can get a lot of great feedback from user reviews, but they aren’t perfect. The average tent owner won’t ever leave a review, so reviews are typically left by users who either have a really favorable or unfavorable experience.

Of course even that is still good information, because if 90% of tent owners leave a positive 5-star review, then that is really saying something. So we blend reviews together from various sources and come up with an average user rating score. Here is how they shake out for instant tents:

All of the instant tents that we reviewed generally had pretty good ratings. And we understand why, between the low price points and the performance you can get out of an $80-$300 dollar tent are quite impressive.

So how do we make sense of it all? We go through and read all of the reviews. We read the good, we read the bad, and then we factor in the quantity of reviews and calculate all of into our final User Rating score.

Our Verdict

To wrap things up, our #1 instant tent recommendation is the CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent. It provides expert weather protection without a complicated setup.

It can be pitched within two minutes (or less) and unlike other instant tents, it doesn’t require a Ph.D. to pack it back up. On top of that, it’s extremely affordable and will last for years. This tent is for camping masters and outdoors newbies alike.

As a cabin style tent, the CORE 6 Person provides excellent bang for your buck, and if you need a bigger tent, the CORE 9 and CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tents rank great as well. If you’re looking for an instant tent, this is hands down the best choice for campers all over the world.