The Best Instant Tent For You – No More Battles With Pegs And Poles

Introduction

Do you want to try camping but you think you’ll never be able to pitch a tent? Or maybe you’re looking for a quick and easy alternative to your regular tent. Here’s a guide to buying the best instant tent that will help solve all your tent building problems!

**You'll find our more detailed reviews below, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Buyer’s Guide

Before you decide which instant tent to buy, you need to think about whether an instant tent is suitable for your desired style of camping. What are the advantage and disadvantages of camping with an instant tent?

The obvious advantage is that instant tents are extremely easy to pitch. With some models, you only need to open the bag and they literally pop up by themselves in a matter of seconds. For others, usually versions for more people, they need a little more work but are still ready in minutes.

The other advantage of instant tents is that they are easy to move. If you need to shift your tent about, they are easy to just pick up and carry to a new location.

However, there are a few disadvantages. They are often more difficult to pack away than regular tents, they can be heavier and often they don’t pack down as small as regular tents. This means they are suitable for car camping but not backpacking and usually are not suitable for cold weather.

If you still think an instant tent would be a good idea, here are some of the things you should consider:

Style

Pop Up Tent On White Background

Pop Up Tent

Instant Tent In White Background

Instant Tent with poles

There are basically two styles of instant tent, a “pop-up” style and one that uses an articulated frame. The former are smaller tents and require no setup, they simply pop out of the bag and assemble themselves.

The second kind takes a few minutes longer to attach the poles.


Ease Of Assembly And Packing Away

With instant tents, ease of assembly should be a given but how easy they are to pack away is another question. In my opinion, the convenience of the easy setup is negated if it is a pain to put away and I’d rather have a regular tent that I don’t have to mess around with when taking it down.


Size When Packed Away

theNORTHblu2 person Pop Up Tent

theNORTHblu 2-person Pop Up Tent - Via Amazon.com

Some regular tents can pack down very small but most instant tents lose this ability as the poles need to remain in place. You should consider how important the size is to you. If you will be transporting it in a car with plenty of space, perhaps it won’t be such an issue.


Weight

I mentioned that instant tents are often heavier than their regular counterparts. As with size, this may not be an issue for you, but if you think it’s important, you should take note of how much the tent weighs.


Rainfly And Waterproof Capability

Instant Tent In Rainy Day Camping

Many instant tents are really only designed for use in good weather and don’t perform well in adverse conditions. Some also don’t include a rainfly. If this sounds ok for the conditions you plan to use it in, then fine – but if you might use it in the rain, you need one which can resist the elements.

​Read Also: The step-by-step DIY guide to waterproofing your tent


Design

Instant Dome Tent On White Background

Instant Dome Tent

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent - 14' x 9'

Instant Cabin Tent - Via Amazon.com

There are several designs of tents, the main ones being dome tents and cabin tents – although there are others. Dome tents are lower to the ground and resist wind better but offer less room to move. Cabin tents are taller and more spacious.


Doors, Windows And Ventilation

Inside Of An Instant Tent View Through The Back Door

Tents come in many shapes and sizes and with an assortment of different doors and windows. The number of exits may affect things like how easy it is to get up to answer nature’s call in the night without disturbing your tentmates. In large tents, it’s better to have more than one door.

Windows are important for allowing light to enter the tent if you don’t want it to be gloomy and stuffy inside and a good ventilation system is vital for allowing air to flow and keep you cool at night. This is especially important if you are camping in warmer weather conditions.


Size

Young Friends Sitting In Four-person Instant Tent On Lakeshore

Young friends sitting in 4-person Instant Tent

It goes without saying that you need to buy a tent adapted to the number of people who will be using it. Tents are available for campers right up to 10, 12 or even more people and you should think about how many of people will be sharing.

It is worth remembering that a tent sold as a two-person tent will be a tight fit for two people and a three- or four-person tent will be more comfortable. It is better to have a tent that’s sold to sleep two more people than it will really be sleeping so that it is not too cramped and hot inside.

Reviews

**You'll find our more detailed reviews below, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Coleman 4 Person Instant Tent

Coleman Instant Tent 4 Person

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This is a four-person cabin-style tent from Coleman. It has an 8’x7’ footprint, stands at 4’10” in the center and weighs 18lbs. Setup only takes a minute or two and it can be set up by one person. The same tent is available in other sizes.

The key question is, how easy is this tent to set up? The answer is: It really is as easy as they claim – but crucially, it is just as easy to pack up. When you’re ready to leave, it doesn’t take much longer to pack this tent away than it does to set it up.

One thing I like about this tent is that it’s big and spacious inside – you can easily fit a queen-sized air mattress inside. However, bear in mind that a four-person tent can comfortably sleep two and not four people. The tent has large windows and the ventilation works well.

This tent does what it is designed for but it is too big and heavy for backpacking and this is not what it is recommended for. It isn’t completely waterproof so don’t expect it to protect you in a downpour – and the rainfly isn’t included so I recommend you buy one if you purchase this tent.

This is a great tent for solo or two-person camping and it takes the hassle out of setting up and taking down your tent. It’s perfect for car camping but you don’t want to take this on backpacking trips and it’s not the best choice if you’re expecting bad weather.

Pros

  • Easy to set up AND pack up after
  • Spacious inside
  • Good windows
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Rainfly not included

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent - 14' x 9'

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This is a nine-person cabin tent from Core with space for two queen-sized air mattresses and plenty of extra space. It features a room divider for extra privacy and pouches for storage. It is made of water repellent fabric and weighs 53.15lbs. A rainfly is included.

This tent is huge inside with plenty of space for a family – although if you really did try to sleep nine people in here it would be very cozy. It’s quick and easy to put up and almost as easy to take down. One person could easily manage alone.

Once you’ve disassembled the tent, it’s easy to get it back in the storage bag which is great and this tent will protect you in the rain.

However, this isn’t a tent designed to withstand any kind of sustained downpour and is probably not suitable for camping where bad weather is likely. I’m slightly concerned that the materials used for its construction are not of the highest quality – but that’s to be expected at this price point.

This is a good tent for family camping trips which has lots of space for you to move around inside. It’s quick and easy to set up and take down so it’s perfect for newbie campers. It’s way too big for backpacking or anything like that and is not designed for extreme weather of any kind.

Pros

  • Super spacious
  • Really easy to put up, take down and pack away
  • Rainfly included
  • Good for camping novices

Cons

  • Not good for extreme conditions – not supposed to be
  • Not highest-quality materials

theNORTHblu 2 person Pop Up Tent

theNORTHblu 2 person Pop Up Tent

Quality

Price

Our Rating

This pop-up-style dome tent sets itself up in seconds. It measures 87”x60”x43” and folds down into a circular carry bag of 30” in diameter. It has one door and three ventilation holes and will sleep two people. This tent doesn’t include a rainfly.

This is the ultimate in ease of setup and if you’ve never seen a pop-up tent being assembled, you can check out the video here:

You take it out of the bags and it springs up in seconds. All you need to do is secure it with pegs so it doesn’t blow away.

It’s also easy to pack away once you know how, and with a few goes, you’ll be able to do it in less than a minute. It’s big enough to sleep two people as long as you don’t expect acres of space and the airflow is good too.

Just a couple of small gripes. The windows only roll up from the outside which means you have to get up and leave the tent if you want to adjust them during the night. There’s also no rainfly – but by the admission of the manufacturer, this tent is not designed for wet conditions.

This is a fun tent and would suit a beginner wishing to try out a bit of camping in benign conditions. This tent is too big for backpacking and won’t protect you from anything but the lightest of rain – and it’s not really supposed to.

Pros

  • Impressive setup – just open the bag!
  • Inexpensive fun tent for trying out camping
  • Easy to pack away
  • Good airflow

Cons

  • No good in bad weather
  • Windows roll up from outside

TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent

TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent - 1 Man Pop Up Tent

Quality

Price

Our Rating

Here’s something a little different – this instant tent is designed for solo campers not just as a fun tent for fair weather but as a serious tent you can take anywhere. It can be used alone or with the specially-designed cot and measures 82”x39”x32” up, 25”x8”x5” packed away and weighs 4.2lbs.

Like all the other instant tents, it’s easy to set up and is also almost as easy to take down after. I think the size is good for one person and you could even probably squeeze two inside if you really had to.

There is an issue with this tent when used in conjunction with the cot in that the rainfly isn’t large enough and rainwater puddles on the cot under the tent. However, I am reviewing it as a stand-alone tent and as such, it performs well.

For me, even if it is designed as a backpacking tent, I think there are other regular tents I would prefer as it can’t match the smallest regular tents for size and weight.

I think this is a quirky little tent that almost manages to pull off being a solo backpacker tent but not quite. If you are looking for a solo tent that is really easy to put up and take down, this could be what you’re looking for. Probably not the right choice for the minimalists out there.

Pros

  • Good sized one-person tent
  • Easy access via door located on side
  • Keeps you dry in rain if use as a stand-alone
  • Easy to set up and pack away

Cons

  • Too big when packed away to be a true backpacking tent
  • Rain issue when used with the cot

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Quality

Price

Our Rating

The Coleman 2-person pop-up dome tent measures 7’6”x4’5” with a height of 2’11” in the center. It is made of fire- and water-resistant polyester and is also available as a four-person version.

This tent is very similar in design to the theNORTHblu tent reviewed above but costs slightly more so what are the differences? Well, set up and take down are similarly very quick and easy. Packing it away takes a few goes but is fine once you’ve worked out how.

This tent has good ventilation and opens up so you can look at the stars. The big advantage you have with the Coleman version is that it will protect you to a much greater degree in bad weather. I would still prefer a regular tent for serious conditions but this will keep you dry at a pinch.

It is slightly more expensive than the theNORTHblu tent so it depends what you want it for. It is a little cramped, too. It’s sold as a two-person tent but only comfortably sleeps one. It’s also fairly flimsy and not really built to last.

This is a tent for someone who wants an instant tent that can handle some more severe conditions than cheaper versions – but it’s still not a tent for anything too extreme and if you need a tent for something a bit more challenging, you might think twice about using this one.

Pros

  • Fast and easy – springs out of the bag
  • Great ventilation
  • Keeps out bugs
  • Will keep you dry unless you find yourself in a torrential downpour

Cons

  • Cramped for two
  • Not made of the highest-quality materials

The Winner!

I really like all of these tents and I think they all have their uses. The Coleman four-person and the Core nine-person are good quick set up options when you need something more substantial and the Teton is a good one-person option which you can use in a range of conditions.

The theNORTHblu pop up is a fun tent for beginners in fine weather – but for me, the overall winner is the Coleman Pop-Up which can sleep one or two and will protect you from poor weather better than the theNORTHblu version – which is why, for me, the Coleman Pop-Up is the best instant tent.

Have you ever tried an instant tent? How do you think they compare to regular tents? What are your experiences? Please leave me a comment – and if you liked my article, please don’t forget to share!

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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