The best instant tent
Camping can be great fun, but pitching a tent can be a pain, especially with kids in tow. If you want to avoid the stress and get straight to singing campfire songs and roasting marshmallows, choose an instant tent.
This guide will lay out all the basic information you need to find the best instant tent and what features to consider, such as setup time and pitching method. The CORE nine-person instant cabin tent is our top choice due to its spacious design and overall quality.
Considerations when choosing instant tents
Pop up vs. extendable
You can find two main varieties of instant tents:
Pop-up instant tents simply pop into shape when you remove them from their carrying cases, then all you need to do is peg them down. They're extremely quick to set up but are usually fairly compact in size and aren't always great at keeping out the rain.
Extendable instant tents have all the poles attached to the tent cabin, so you just extend them or fit different segments together to set up the tent before pegging it down. You can generally find these tents in larger sizes, and they tend to be more rugged than pop-up options.
How many people do you need to fit inside your tent? While you can check the interior dimensions, the description will also list how many people an instant tent fits. Bear in mind that this is the maximum amount of people a tent fits. So, a four-person tent will sleep four people in sleeping bags right up next to each other or two people at a more comfortable distance apart.
Despite the name, instant tents aren't literally instant to set up. Pop-up models pitch themselves instantly but still take a minute or two to peg down. Extendable models take around 30 to 90 seconds to set up, plus extra time to peg it down.
Consider both the size and weight of your instant tent when packed away. Smaller, lighter models are more easily portable.
Integrated ground sheet
Many instant tents have integrated ground sheets, making them even quicker to set up. The benefit of this is that it keeps drafts and bugs out.
Check whether your chosen instant tent has any space to store your gear, such as interior pockets, a gear loft, or even a porch area.
Instant tent prices
You can find basic instant tents for less than $50, whereas the largest and most rugged options can cost over $1,000. You should expect to pay at least $200 to $400 for a decent family tent.
Q. Why should I choose an instant tent over a standard model?
A. While they do have their disadvantages, there's plenty to love about instant tents. They're perfect for inexperienced campers or anyone who has never quite got the hang of pitching a tent the traditional way. Even if you are proficient at setting up tents, an instant tent saves you time, so you can start having fun right away. If you often reach your campground after dark, it's far simpler to pitch an instant tent than attempting to pitch a standard tent with little or no light to see what you're doing. There's also no way you can lose a pole from an instant tent.
Q. What equipment will I need to pitch my instant tent?
A. The only piece of equipment you'll require to pitch your instant tent is a mallet to hammer the tent pegs into the ground.
Instant tents we recommend
Best of the best: CORE Nine-Person Instant Cabin Tent
Our take: A spacious nine-person pop-up tent with a 78-inch ceiling clearance and an optional room divider.
What we like: Takes just 60 seconds to set up. Quality rainfly keeps water out. Large enough for two queen mattresses. Well-ventilated.
What we dislike: The door zippers could be more durable.
Best bang for your buck: Ozark Trail Four-Person Instant A-Frame Tent
Our take: An affordable compact A-frame tent that fits two people comfortably or four in close quarters.
What we like: Extremely quick and easy to set up. Interior pockets for storage. Two vents for airflow. Lightweight and small when packed down.
What we dislike: Won't keep out heavy rain.
Choice 3: Coleman Cabin Tent With Instant Setup
Our take: Available in a range of sizes to fit a maximum of between two and 10 people, there's something for camping parties of all sizes.
What we like: Integrated rainfly makes it simple to erect. Six-foot ceiling height on the four-person tents and larger. Made from thick, durable material. Fully-taped seams.
What we dislike: Fairly heavy, which could be a problem if you can't park near your camping spot.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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