At the end of a hike the last thing you want is to spend hours figuring out how to erect your tent. Instant tents attempt to make things much simpler and faster, some claiming to only take seconds to erect.
Sounds great but there are some factors you will need to consider that we dive into a bit more below.
|CORE 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent||Amazon||A|
|Quechua Camping Tent||Amazon||A|
|CORE 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent||Amazon||A|
|Wnnideo Instant Family Tent 4-5 Man||Amazon||B|
|Genji Sports Instant Camping Tent||Amazon||C|
|FiveJoy Instant 4-Person Pop Up Tent||Amazon||B|
|Coleman Waterproof 10 X 9-Feet 6-Person Instant Tent||Amazon||B|
|Night Cat Camping Tent||Amazon||C|
|Coleman 2-Person Pop-Up Tent||Amazon||C|
Instant camping tents, also called pop up camping tents, have been a popular solution to pitching heavy canvas and wood tents for decades. They have a series of flexible rods made of lightweight carbon, plastic, or metal attached usually to a polyester material (or “skin”) that has either a single or double waterproof wall.
One of the most important pieces of equipment you need for camping is a good tent. It’s your home away from home, so it needs to be a dry, comfortable, and a safe place.
The best thing about these camping tents is that they are so easy to set up that even first-time campers can handle it. For some, all you have to do is pull it out of its bag, press down on the top of the tent to bow the rods out, and let it almost literally “pop up” into place. The whole thing is set to go in a matter of seconds and it’s usually just as easy to take down.
Another style is constructed with springs and hinges. It’s much easier to set up because all you do is remove it from its bag, undo a strap, and let it automatically expand into size. Pack up is just as easy. When fully collapsed, it fits nicely into a circular bag that you can wear on your back. The profile in these types of tents tends to be lower, but still have plenty of room.
Not all instant camping tents are designed to be tied down, but many campers find guy ropes and stakes useful for added stability and safety especially in inclement weather. They are typically limited to less than eight person capacities.
A few other things to consider
Weight and Portability
Some of the cheaper types of tents tend to be heavier while the more expensive types are usually the lightest, so budget accordingly.
Ventilation and Screening
Every tent needs ventilation to keep humidity and developing condensation away. Windows and doors with a mesh covering help this. Look for a finer mesh to best prevent mosquitoes and no-see-ums from entering.
Good tents have a single wall with a waterproof rain fly or a double wall where the rain fly is built around a breathable inner wall so the condensation occurs between the two walls. A double wall also offers thermal insulation. Check for a tent’s denier, which is the fabric’s thickness. Fabrics can range from less than 50D for a rain fly to more than 150D for the walls.
Most camping tents have a waterproof coating such as polyurethane, polyethylene, or silicone, but not all coatings have the same resistance to rain. The amount of rain resistance, or hydrostatic head measured in millimeters, refers to the amount of water pressure needed to penetrate the fabric.
Tents with a hydrostatic head measurement of 1000mm or less are akin to the same water resistance as umbrellas. Summer camping tents have a measurement somewhere around 1500mm while tents used year-round have 2000mm or more. In other words, the higher the hydrostatic head measurement, the drier you’ll be.
Also look for a high hydrostatic head measurement in the groundsheet (the waterproof barrier in the floor) and rain fly (canopy). Double stitching that has been treated with a seam sealant is also helpful.
Think about what kind of camping you intend to do. Are you just looking to put something up in the yard for your child’s sleepover party? Will you be taking it deep into the woods to hike for a week or more? Will you camp alone or with others? How many? Will you camp year-round or only during a certain time of the year? The answers to these questions will help you to determine which tent to buy that will meet your needs and how much to spend.
Prices for a good pop up camping tent can range from under $100 to more than $500, which can seem like a lot. But as with many products, sometimes you get what you pay for.
This video shows how long it takes to setup a 10 x 14 Coleman Instant Tent:
Our Top Picks
Quechua Waterproof Pop Up Camping Tent
Quechua is actually a spin off brand from Decathlon a European based company that started in France. They are a well established outdoors brand that has a good history.
Unfortunately the US has to pay a bit of a premium to get their products compared to the Europeans. Depending on your tenting needs it might be worth it.
As the products name points out it can be put up in 2 seconds. Although it will take much longer to pack it up again. Inside the tent is made to be dark so much so they call it a “black out tent”. They claim it’s 99% darkness even in full daylight. This can be a huge benefit for actually getting to sleep faster.
Their tents are tested in a laboratory for waterproofing. It’s kept under 200 litres / M2 / h for 4 hours. So you know if you get caught out in heavy rain it’s very unlikely to leak.
It comes in 2 and 3 man sizes. The 3 man weighs 7.3 lbs and is 230 (L) x 140(W) x 98 (H) cm in size. This should be ideal for 2 large adults.
The diameter of the tent packed away is 60 x 60 x 10 cm which can be large if you are planning on using it as a backpacking tent. Almost all other real “instant” tents have this issue.
This is our favourite tent for car camping.
- 2 seconds to assemble
- Laboratory tested waterproofing
- Black out tent, dark when inside.
- Premium pricing
- Might not be ideal for backpacking
Coleman 2-Person Pop-Up Tent
This Coleman 2 man pop-up tent is another popular option. It can be assembled in 10 seconds and is 7.6″ / 4.5″ / 2.11″ in size and weighs 6.41 lbs. They used Fire and water resistant polyester for the rain fly and it has taped floor seams to keep water out.
As this is on the low budget end of the market the build quality and materials used aren’t as good as the higher end tents.
This is a good option if you’re on a low budget but might not be ideal for a long term solution.
- Easy assembly
- Good low budget option
- Not ideal for backpacking
- Some might find it too small for two people.
CORE 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent
The CORE Instant Cabin Tent, with its 60-second setup, is large enough to fit two queen size air mattresses and offers plenty of head room. CORE H2O Block Technology is supposed to integrate the waterproofing material with active bead technology to promote water runoff, although there is no specific information about the fabric.
The sealed seams and rain resistant privacy panels and zippers for the windows and door provide extra protection. An adjustable ground vent paired with a mesh roof and several windows promote lots of ventilation. Plus, the rain fly is removable in warm temperatures.
A gear loft with a lantern hook and large pocket keep your belongings dry. An electrical access port is also built in. Ground space is 11’ x 9’ and has a 72” center height. Comes with a one year limited warranty. This a great tent the whole family will enjoy.
- Adjustable ground vent and lots of windows give plenty of ventilation.
- Sealed seams and rain resistant door and window panels.
- Gear loft with lantern hook is handy for storing personal items.
- Has a one-year limited warranty.
- Tent stakes are included but guy ropes are not.
- Zippers tend to get caught in the fabric around the door.
Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent
This one is obviously very similar to the Core 6 above. The main difference is it’s larger at 14′ x 9′ and made to sleep 9 instead of 6. It also features a room divider, that’s right it’s large enough you can split it up into two sections. This feature is perfect if you need some extra privacy.
The other feature that makes it unique from the 6 is the large T-door at the front. This means the tent can be fully opened up to make it more of a gazebo than a tent when needed.
- Sleeps more people
- Features T door and Room divider
- Bigger and heavier than the 6.
Night Cat Pop-up Camping Tent
Night Cat is a not a company I recognize but they do offer a popular 3-4 person pop-up tent. They don’t appear to have a company website but I can see they list products on both Amazon and Ebay. So not as established as some of the bigger well known companies.
That being said they do have a lot of praise for their tents. We can see why, the tent looks high quality and has a nifty easy to erect and put down design.
This tends to be true of most tents but the 3-4 person size may not actually fit 3-4 people depending on the size of each person. It will definitely fit 2 adults comfortably.
The 3-4 person weighs around 10lbs and is 200 x 180 x 120 cm in size.
- Quick setup
- Great for first time campers
- Looks great
- Might prove confusing to put up the first time.
- Might not hold up to heavy consistent rain.
Wnnideo Instant Family Tent 4-5
Wnnideo is another unknown name to me as they were only established in 2015. They do have their own website and do offer a contact form and address. This is a Chinese based company, like many others that trade mainly on Amazon and Ebay.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although some caution might be needed compared to more established US brands, they can have some advantages when it comes to sourcing quality materials and factories.
The tent itself looks quality and offers some nice looking color schemes. It’s made from rain resistant 210T polyester. It’s 120 x 94.5 x 67 inches is size and weighs 9.25lbs.
You’ll most likely struggle to get 4 large adults comfortably inside but this seems to be true of most other tents advertised sizing.
- Simple to put up
- Large windows
- Cheap looking stakes
- Might be slightly heavy for some.
Genji Sports Instant Camping Tent
The Genji Sports Instant Camping Tent is small, dome-shaped tent perfect for 1-2 people. It’s a double walled tent made of polyurethane polyester 2000mm, a 120D floor, and two mesh panels attached to two small, outside ventilation holes. It has a higher than usual thread count for added durability.
A fiberglass frame with a spring and hinge design makes for speedy quick setup, and folding it down is just as easy. Dimensions are 7’2”L x 4’9”W x 3’6”H and 7.5 lbs. Carrying bag and metal stakes included. This is a nice lightweight, no frills, rugged tent for long distance hiking and biking trips.
- Superfast setup and packing away
- Double walled to keep condensation out
- Folds up small for easy carrying
- Very little ventilation with only two small holes in the sides
- No guy ropes included
FiveJoy Instant 4-Person Pop Up Tent
The FiveJoy camping tent is mainly designed for casual camping and not weeks-long, deep woods explorations. The fabric is water resistant polyurethane polyester, but not waterproof.
It has two mesh-covered windows covered by nylon flaps that can convert into a rain fly by attaching guy ropes to metal stakes (both included), though a second rain fly might be a good idea if inclement weather is expected.
Double doors on both sides of the tent allow for extra ventilation. Privacy panels cover both doors and windows or you can just leave in the zippered mesh. There are several storage pockets and a lantern hook in the ceiling. This is a great tent for scouting trips or camping in the backyard.
- Lots of ventilation from the double doors and 2 windows
- Nylon flaps on the windows convert to a rain fly
- More storage pockets than most tents.
- Definitely requires a second rain fly for weekend trips
- Can be difficult to pack up
Coleman Waterproof 10 X 9-Feet 6-Person Instant Tent
Coleman has been a trusted name in camping equipment since 1900. This Coleman 6 person instant tent has an extra thick 150D polyethylene fabric along with Coleman’s exclusive WeatherTec system keeps moisture out. WeatherTec is also integrated into a fully welded floor with inverted seams (no needle holes for rain to get in) around the body of the tent.
A vented and fully taped rain fly is built in for added protection and airflow in addition to several zippered windows and two roof vents with Velcro attachments. Pre-assembled, fiberglass rods make for 60-second setup, but folding it down can be challenging.
Illuminated guy ropes create high visibility so no one trips and falls. The spacious interior includes a 6-foot center height and two storage pockets, and comes with a one-year warranty. This is a great tent for family camping without breaking your budget.
- Extra thick fabric for durability
- Exclusive WeatherTec waterproofing system
- Fully welded floor with inverted seams to prevent water from entering through the floor
- Illuminated guy ropes
- Zippers can be annoying
- Condensation can build up
So Which Tent Should You Choose?
Our top pick is the CORE 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent. Its H2O Block Technology, sealed seams, and rain resistant privacy panels and zippers, which are uncommon to a lot of tents, seem to provide plenty of water protection.
An adjustable ground vent and mesh roof allow air to amply flow through, providing lots of ventilation and prevents condensation build-up. A removable rain fly and an electrical access port are also handy.
The Coleman Waterproof 6-Person Instant Tent has a lot of similarities to the CORE Instant Cabin Tent, but CORE has the better overall waterproofing system and costs a little less. If you’re looking for a good, dry family tent that will last you for years to come, the CORE 6-Person Instant Tent is your best bet.