16 Best Instant Tents of 2022 (To Save Time Camping)

By Joshua Davis •  Updated: 02/21/22 •  28 min read

In a market saturated with new tent designs, searching for the best instant tents is a time-consuming, mind-boggling task, especially if you’re not sure what to look for.

Fortunately, there are some things you can know beforehand that will help make your purchase easier. 

After weeks of research combined with personal experience, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide so you know exactly how to find the perfect instant tent for your needs. Read on: knowledge is power!

Best-Instant-Tents

These Instant Tents are Perfect for Family Camping

QUICK LINKS
  1. These Instant Tents are Perfect for Family Camping
  2. Reviews of the Best Instant Tents
  3. Why Would I Want an Instant Tent?
  4. What is an Instant Tent?
  5. Types Of Instant Tents
  6. What’s The Difference Between Instant Tents & Traditional Tents?
  7. Pros and Cons of Instant Tents
  8. What’s the Difference Between Instants and Pop Ups?
  9. What Size Tent Is Right for Me?
  10. Does Expensive Mean Better When It Comes to the Best Instant Tent?
  11. Is the Instant Tent You Want Truly Instant?
  12. Does it Require a Crane to Lift?
  13. Do I need a 3 or 4-Season Tent?
  14. Which Instant Tent is Best?
  15. Are Instant Tents Any Good? Are Instant Tents Sturdy?
  16. Are Coleman Instant Tents Good?
  17. Is Coleman Better Than Core?
  18. Does Coleman make Ozark Trail?
  19. Wrapping Up Best Instant Tents

It’s hard buying an instant tent online without any way of trying it out first: How can you be sure that it’s easy to use, comfortable to sleep in, made of quality materials, and backed by a reputable company?

Below you’ll find our overall top picks, but you can keep reading for other instant tents that have been ranked and reviewed.

Best Overall Instant Tent
Caddis Rapid 6-Person Tent
$349.95
Pros:
  • Tent floor and rainfly material made of MUCH stronger stuff than others in its class reinforcing against higher winds and heavier precipitation
  • Integrated "gear loft" for added storage
  • Truly easy to pitch and stow
Cons:
  • The door zipper tends to snag on the tent fabric
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Made of higher-quality materials than others in its class, the Rapid 6 is better-prepared for the elements straight-outta-the-box.

While warranty information is difficult to find, the fact that REI has accepted them into their family of products gives them street-cred with us. See more information on the Caddis 6 below.

Best Overall Pop Up Tent
Ayamaya 4-6 Person Pop Up Tents with Vestibule
$159.99
Pros:
  • Generous ventilation
  • Truly waterproof
  • Durable floor material
  • Super-lightweight
  • Separate vestibule for pets or storage
  • Ultra-fast set-up
  • Power port
Cons:
  • Only 4.5' high in the center
  • Packing it up takes some practice (but, so do they all).
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10/04/2022 12:23 am GMT

It is beyond us why someone would manufacture a tent out of such great materials and not proclaim its warranty from the rooftops (seriously, we can’t find anything on it)!!!

Still, what you have here is a lightweight, truly waterproof pop up. Given the specs, you’ll stay drier in this than an instant cabin tent twice the price.

When finding the balance between cost and quality, Core provides the best of both worlds.

Their tents come ready-to-use with heat-sealed seams in the tent body and rainfly as well as treated tent walls for better water resistance.

They are upfront and honest about the materials they use in their tents while their closest competitors seem to hide details behind their craftsmanship.

Runner-Up Brand
Coleman Instant & Pop Up Tents
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Coleman’s tents have been around for a long time. They have a wide customer base and are a favorite for many; however, while they claim that some of their models are “waterproof,” customer experience has shown differently. These tents simply cannot handle steady, heavy rain.

Also, Coleman seems to shy away from giving detailed spec’s about their tents on their website while other manufacturers proudly post specifics about the materials they use. This is what killed it for us.

Coleman’s worth a shot . . . at least they’ll stand behind that tent for 1 year.

Reviews of the Best Instant Tents

We’ve ranked what we believe to be the best instant tents by size from largest to smallest. After all, that slick state-of-the-art 4 person pop up tent won’t be so impressive when you, your wife, and 5 kids have to dog-pile when it’s lights out.

Best 7+ Person Instant Camping Tents

Cautionary Note: The bigger the instant tent, the more that can go wrong!

While the following large cabin tents have achieved high consumer ratings, it is important to remember that the bigger the instant tent, the more moving parts it has, ere go, there’s more that can break over time.

While many campers have enjoyed their polyester Taj-Mahal’s; it may be prudent to buy 2 or 3 smaller tents as opposed to one big “palace.”

Ozark Trail 3-Room 12 Person Instant Cabin Tents (3-Season)

Core 2-Room 12-Person Instant Cabin Tent (3-Season)

Core Lighted 10 Person Instant Cabin Tent (3-Season)

Coleman 10 Person Instant Cabin Tent (3-Season)

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent (3-Season)

Best 4-6 Person Instant Tents

Caddis Rapid 6 Person Instant Tent (3-Season)

Oxley OzTent Lite 5 Person Instant Tent (4-Season)

Coleman 4 or 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent (3-Season)

Ayamaya Pop Up Tent (4-Season)

Moon Lence 4-Person Instant Tent ( 3-Season)

Best 3-4 Person Instant Tents

Coleman 4-Person Pop Up Tent (3-Season)

Toogh 60-Second Pop Up Tent (3-4 Person)

Best 2-3 Person Instant Tents

Ubon 2 or 3-Person Pop Up Tent (advertised as 4-Season . . . doubtful.)

Sportneer 2-3 Person Camping Instant Tent (4-Season)

Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent (3-Season)

Best 1 Person Instant Tent

Teton Sports Outfitter Vista 1 Instant Tent (3-Season . . . probably. Not advertised.)

Why Would I Want an Instant Tent?

Traditional tents can take a long time to set up, which is frustrating if you’re trying to get settled in quickly at a campsite. 

Not only can it be frustrating to get into an argument with a rebellious tent; but, it also leaves you vulnerable during that time. If it starts raining or gets dark while you’re still setting up your tent, you could be in for a grumpy night.

With an instant tent, there’s (potentially) no need to worry about any of that. Many of these tents can be set up in as little as one minute, so you’ll be able to get under cover quickly or get to that trailhead without any hassle.

What is an Instant Tent?

An instant tent is a type of tent that can be set up quicker than its traditional tent counterpart. This allows campers to set up their campsite in as little as one minute, without having to muddle through the slower process of conventional tents.

Instant tents are usually supported by integrated, steel or aluminum (fiberglass if it’s a Pop Up) poles and steel wires that are attached at specific points of the tent. This allows it to be deployed quickly and gives the structure its strength.

While few instant tents are truly “instant,” (I mean, what really is in this life . . .), the integrated poles and rods allow the tent to deploy much like an oversized umbrella. By simply pulling up and out on the poles, the structure can be lifted and locked into place in a matter of minutes.

When it’s time to break camp, taking the tent down and stowing it is simply a matter of reversing the process. The integrated poles and fabric fold in on themselves and because everything is connected, you never have to worry about leaving a piece behind.

Types Of Instant Tents

A-Frame

The A-Frame Instant Tents create a basic A-shaped frame when they are set up.  This is the classic tent shape, which has been used for thousands of years. While the sloping roof of the tent is better at shedding rain or snow accumulation as well as deflecting wind, the design leaves very little room for standing up inside.

Pitching an A-Frame requires little more than pulling upwards on the ceiling support rod and locking the 4 legs in place, creating the A-shape at the front and rear of the tent. This is an easy task for 1 person.

Instant A-Frame tents are few and far between and the available ones didn’t impress us enough to review them.

Cabin

The Cabin-Style tent is popular with large families or groups. They sleep anywhere from 4 to 12 individuals and can be divided into multiple sleep/storage compartments with removable dividers.

The center height of a cabin tent is typically more than six feet tall, which makes it great if your family descends from giants. Larger cabin tents will also feature more than one entrance/exit so that each room has its own doorway.

Pitching a 4-6 person instant cabin tent can be done single-handedly; however, the larger the structure, the greater the need for an extra pair of hands.

A 12-person instant cabin tent is likely to be a group effort.

Once all the poles have been locked in place, it is critical to stake the tent down securely. Cabin tents can catch high winds like a sail compromising the integrity of the poles. It is recommended to build a windbreak on the windward side of the tent if the forecast calls for strong gusts.

Dome

The most popular type of tents are Dome tents. These tents have two or three poles that form an arch over the top center of the tent to give it a dome shape. A two-pole tent will be square, while a three-pole tent will be hexagonal. The peak of these tents is at the center, and they slope down to give less headroom the farther away from the center you go.

Instant Dome tents are better than Cabin-style tents at deflecting wind and shedding rainfall; however, the sloping wall compromises the amount of standing room inside.

Because dome tents are usually smaller, they can be handled easily by one person.

Family Tent

These are the Taj-Mahal’s of the camping world. Designed for large families or groups, offering more space than your standard tent, these tents are big, heavy, and pitching one requires time, patience . . . and maybe a beer.

Family tents usually come with multiple rooms allowing people to sleep separately with walls dividing the space. An awning or screened-in vestibule are often included in the design giving these leviathans a true “house” feeling.

Family tents are distinguishable from large Cabin tents in that the auxiliary rooms branch off from the central room creating a more complex footprint than the Cabin tent’s simple square or rectangle.

And like Cabin tents, campers should use them with caution in high winds.

Pop Up

What do you get when you cross an Instant tent with your car’s pop up windshield shade?

This variety of camping convenience is great for individuals, couples, or tiny families who do little more than sleep in their tent. Pop Up tents are designed to be lightweight, space-efficient, and ultra-fast when it comes to making camp.

All features of a Pop Up are fully integrated, requiring no assembly: you simply take it out of the case and toss it onto the tent site. Smaller tents will automatically deploy themselves while the larger ones will require a modicum of “unfolding assistance.”

Although these Pop Up tents are light on headroom; they are ideal for those that are in a rush to get to the fun parts of their camping trip . . . among which, pitching a tent is decidedly not one.

Straight-Walled

Somewhat an improvement on the cabin tent, straight-walled tents have the advantage of more headroom throughout the structure.

Rather than sloping inward from the ground, they stand closer to vertical when deployed, gaining greater height along the perimeter of the room.  This also translates into more usable floor space.

Some companies such as Core have begun to blend the best parts of both cabin and straight-walled tents to develop a product that has the benefits of each.

Teepee

An icon of the wild west, the teepee was once a shelter for Native Americans.

Now, it is more of a novelty item and is rarely used in its original form. The nostalgia of a teepee in a campsite adds a flare of the aboriginal and, and let’s just face it: it’s cool looking!

The functional advantage of a tee-pee lies in its ventilation. The conical shape directs warm, tepid air up and away from campers below; as well as creating a sense of spaciousness for its native and non-native inhabitants.

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

The primary difference between an instant tent and a traditional tent is how long it takes to set up. Instant tents take from 1-10 minutes to deploy from start to finish, while traditional tents can take much longer. It really depends on the tent in question and how many people are helping in the setup process.

However, there is a trade-off for this convenience: by their nature, instant tents rely on a complex support mechanism that has many moving parts. As such, there’s more to potentially break over time.

Support joints can become warped in high winds; tent fabric can get caught and torn in the deployment process; although many problems can be avoided with proper planning and patience, and, once more, a beer.

Pros and Cons of Instant Tents

For every convenience, there is a potential trade-off. Instant tents, while a fantastic development in camping technology, are no exception. Understanding the ups and downs of purchasing an instant tent will establish realistic expectations and lead to a smarter buying decision.

Pros to Owning an Instant Tent:

Pro 1: Quick Set-Up and Tear Down

Depending on the size and experience of the user, instant tents go up and come down much quicker than traditional tents.

While the 1-10 minute set-up time of instants and pop ups allows for getting to the “fun stuff” quicker, having a quick-deploying shelter in the shadow of an impending rainstorm is also a plus.

Pro 2: Fewer Pieces to Lose

Almost as frustrating as the cold rain pounding down on your back when pitching a tent is unpacking to find that you must have left that critical pole behind on the last trip. Thus, your tent is about as useful a shelter as a plastic grocery sack.

All-integrated pieces of instants and pop ups mean that everything stays connected and nothing gets left behind . . . except for the stakes and mallet. Don’t forget those.

Pro 3: Instants and Pop Ups Are Great for Beginning Campers

Because they’re essentially pre-assembled, Instant and Pop Up tents require less of a learning curve. Less practice is needed to master pitching and stowing these types allowing more effort and energy to be devoted to other camping skills.

Pro 4: Great for Backyard Campouts

Sometimes there just isn’t time to plan a camping trip to a distant park . . . but, if you have a backyard and an instant tent, you can turn it into your own mini-campground on a whim.

Pitch the instant, build a fire ring, bust out the franks and mallows, and, voilà, Kumbaya!

Cons to Owning an Instant Tent:

Con 1: Instant Does Not Mean Weatherproof

Many folks get the impression that the term “Instant” implies “effortless.” As with any type of tent, many of them are weather-resistant; but, require some work to become waterproof.

Read the spec’s on a prospective tent carefully before purchasing. If a tent you like is not truly waterproof, grab some seam sealant and waterproofing spray and get your DIY on!

Con 2: Space-Consuming when Stowed

Unlike traditional tents, which can be compact when stowed, instant tents do not fold down as compact. This can be especially problematic for 10-12 person Cabin tents that fold down no smaller than 4 feet long, meaning you’ll have to take the Suburban instead of the Mini Cooper.

Check the packed dimensions of your prospective instant tent and make sure you have room to store it at home and transport it in your vehicle.

Con 3: HEAVY!

Trading the fiberglass poles of a traditional tent for the steel poles of an instant tent is going to pack on the pounds. While some manufacturers equip their tents with aluminum poles to relieve some of the weight, it’s still a beast to lug around. Bring a friend.

Con 4: The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall.

Even if you manage to get your 12-person Instant Cabin tent pitched in the manufacturers’ advertised time of 2 minutes, you still have to wrangle that behemoth back in the bag later.

This is why it is highly recommended that you have someone video you taking it out and setting it up for reference when you have to reverse the process. After a few times, you’ll be a pro-behemoth-wrangler and can tell your buddies that you never needed no stinkin’ video to help you.

Con 5: More Parts . . . More to Break

Camping purists stand by their traditional shelters under the philosophy “Less Is More.” And, they’re not wrong.

The trade-off for all that convenience of instant camping tents is that the mechanism that does so much of the work for you has a lot of moving parts that can potentially defect just when you’re feeling those warm, fuzzy camping vibes.

The best solution here is prevention: be careful with your Instant. Set it up and take it down with tender, loving care. Then inspect it each time you use it for potential problems and address them while you are still giddy and the sun is smiling down on you.

Don’t force it, kick it, stomp on it, cuss at it or set it ablaze and it will serve you for many moons to come.

What’s the Difference Between Instants and Pop Ups?

These two types differ in a few areas:

On the flip-side, Instant tents accommodate larger families and provide more “stand-up” room inside.

What Size Tent Is Right for Me?

Tent manufacturers think like sardine canneries. When they advertise their tent as 4-6 people, what they mean is once all six of you are packed in there, you’re going to need a giant shoehorn to pry you out come morning.

And you all may hate each other.

When it comes to what size tent to settle on, you want a tent that has enough space for everyone in your family/group and with some to spare for moving around, gear, and storage.

For example: There are 4 people and one Boston Terrier in my family.

We prefer the freedom to walk upright around the tent without having to step (or army-crawl) over each other. We also prefer to store our backpacks and gear in the tent so everything is in one place.

The result: we bought the Coleman 8-Person Instant Cabin for our 4 -person family. My wife and I sleep on one side and my boys sleep at the other end with a room partition in between.

For us, elbow room is critical for maintaining cordial feelings for one another, especially when some haven’t showered in a few.

Does Expensive Mean Better When It Comes to the Best Instant Tent?

Absolutely. Maybe. It depends.

Company’s like Coleman and Core have a long-standing reputation among casual campers for manufacturing fair quality for a fair price and providing a decent warranty (1 Year) to give you time to work out any potential kinks.

Ozark trail has GREAT prices; but, a 6-month warranty . . . really?!?

Then you have pricier tents like Teton that come with a Lifetime Guarantee.

Consider both warranty and price when making a buying decision. Never trust a company with your money if they don’t trust their own product.

Is the Instant Tent You Want Truly Instant?

Probably not. And while some pop ups are close, none of them are.

If you want an experience that is as-close-to-instant-as-possible, stick to 4-6 person Instant tents or smaller Pop Up tents. If you need more room, consider buying two (or more) of them.

Whatever you decide, remember: the bigger the Instant tent the more challenging it is to wrangle.

Does it Require a Crane to Lift?

No secret here. Check the weight before you buy. Or lift some before you buy. (That’s funny if you think about it . . .)

Do I need a 3 or 4-Season Tent?

Let’s simplify this. In camp-speak, 3-season means “fair-weather tent” and 4-season means “severe weather tent.”

Those who camp in heavy wind, rain, snow, and frequent Everest’s K-2 would consider the 4-season.

For the rest of us, 3-season will do just peachy.

Which Instant Tent is Best?

At OFHQ, we believe that the best balance between price and quality is currently represented by the Coleman and Core brands of instant and pop up tents. Both companies have a wide customer base and have shown that they truly care about their customers’ experience.

It should be noted that any claims by these companies stating that their tents are “waterproof” should be considered intelligently. We encourage anyone purchasing any tent to go through the process of reinforcing seams and tent fabric at least once a year to prevent this nuisance from occurring and to prolong the life of the tent.

Are Instant Tents Any Good? Are Instant Tents Sturdy?

From personal experience and research, we are confident that a quality instant tent is just as dependable as a quality traditional tent.

While they are a bit more complex and require a bit of practice to master, the payoff is a more spacious tent with greater organization and comfort.

Are Coleman Instant Tents Good?

From personal experience, our family has come to trust Coleman’s tents. Over the last 20 years, we have car camped in both their 4-Person Sundome and 8-Person Instant Cabin Tent. Both have met our expectations and provided many enjoyable trips to State and National Parks and Forests.

Be advised: we applied seam sealer and fabric waterproofing treatment ourselves before getting caught in torrential rain. Worked like a charm!

Is Coleman Better Than Core?

By “better,” we assume most people are referring to the quality of the tent relative to price. In other words, which brand is going to give me the best bang for my buck?

Some metrics we looked into:

  1. In the construction of the tent walls, Coleman employs 75D Polyester while Core uses 68D, meaning Coleman’s walls have a slightly tighter weave in the polyester.
  2. Coleman’s proprietary WeatherTec assures us that they have inverted the seams (but not sealed them — only the rain fly seams are sealed) and welded the corners. Core’s H2O Block Technology promises treated tent walls, taped seams (tent and fly), and water-resistant windows.
  3. When comparing the cost of comparable models, Coleman’s prices are typically $30-$50 higher.
  4. Overall, Core’s tents come more weather resistant out of the box while Coleman leaves the seam taping and fabric treatment to the consumer.
  5. Coleman has been making tents since 1962 while Core is a much younger entity (company birthday undetermined).
  6. Using Amazon’s customer rating system as a metric, both Core and Coleman average 4-5 star ratings on their instant tents with Core achieving about half-a-star higher on comparable 8-9 person instant tents.

Does Coleman make Ozark Trail?

William Coffin Coleman founded Coleman in 1900 in Kingfisher, OK. It is now owned by Newell Brands who also owns other outdoor recreation brands such as Marmot.

Walmart owns and founded Ozark Trail in 2005.

We were unable to find any evidence that suggests that Coleman makes tents for private label sale through Walmart or Ozark Trail.

Wrapping Up Best Instant Tents

So, what is the best Instant camping tent for you?

It ultimately depends on your needs and what you are looking for in a camping experience.

We’ve provided our top selections as well as detailed reviews of each, to help make your decision easier. Whether you are looking for a large family tent or something small and easy to set up, we have an option that will work perfectly for you.

And don’t forget – even though they may be called “instant tents,” sometimes there can still be a little bit of setup required. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice a bit before hitting the great outdoors!

Thanks for reading our blog post on the best instant tents – we hope you have found everything you need here.

Now, get out there!

Joshua Davis

Being outdoors is freedom! Being outdoors with my wife and two boys is LIVING! Whether in my backyard or getting lost in a National Park, there’s nothing I’d rather do than explore, discover, and experience the paradise that surrounds us. Give me my family, a backpack, and a trail and my life is full!