What Is an Instant Tent? (Everything You Need to Know)

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Nobody wants to spend half a day fumbling through instructions trying to pitch their tent. Especially in harsh weather conditions.

That’s where instant tents come in!

But what is an instant tent? And are they right for you?

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about these innovative tents.

What Is an Instant Tent?

Core Equipment 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent with Awning
Learn more about the Core Equipment 6 Person Instant Tent.

An instant tent is a specific kind of tent that campers can set up almost instantaneously – hence the name instant tent.

And while instantaneously might be a bit of a stretch, most models can be pitched in less than 60 seconds, which is quite impressive.

Instant tent manufacturers make this possible by pre-attaching the poles. You simply have to unfold the tent, extend the poles, and secure it in place.

These kinds of tents typically fold down in the same fashion, making the packing up process just as easy.

Instant tents are sometimes referred to as Fast Pitch tents, Easy Set Up tents, and various other names, depending on the brand.

How Do You Set Up An Instant Tent?

With an instant tent, the pitch time is drastically reduced because the tent frame (tent poles) is already constructed and attached to the tent housing.

And while every brand of instant tent works a little differently, they all have a similar process:

  1. Remove the tent from the bag.
  2. Lay the tent out on a flat smooth surface.
  3. Unfold the tent completely so it’s laying flat.
  4. Extend the poles.
  5. Secure the tent in place and optionally attach the rainfly.

Here’s a quick video on how to set up the Coleman Signature 6-Person Instant Cabin tent at your campsite.

How to Set Up Your Coleman Signature 6-Person Instant Cabin with Rainfly

Why Use an Instant Tent?

Using an Instant Tent has a few added benefits that you might not get from using a regular camping tent, including:

  • You will significantly reduce the setup and takedown time needed to provide shelter for your camping trip.
  • Instant Tents are also more comfortable to work with than standard tents and won’t require you to sift through manuals or research how to set them up.
  • For beginners, an Instant Tent may be the best option as they require very little time and effort to set up.
  • Instant up also means instant down, so you save time and hassle packing up your tent, as well.

Overall, instant tents are not only great time savers, but they make the setup and take-down process as easy as possible.

Types of Instant Tents

Instant tents are available in three main styles – dome tents, cabin tents, and pop-up tents. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

Instant Dome Tents

Dome tents are among the most popular kinds of tents. These tents are rounded at the top, like a dome, as the name suggests. These tents are often big and in some cases can allow people to walk around freely.

An Instant Dome Tent will be a great option if you intend on camping during rainy or windy weather. Because of the tent’s shape, water will roll off the top, and the wind is less likely to disturb anyone inside.

Dome tents are also a good option if you have more than one person sharing a tent during a camping trip.

The Core Equipment Core 4 Person Instant Dome Tent is a great example of a high-quality instant dome tent at an affordable price.

Instant Cabin Tents

Instant Cabin Tents are cabin-style tents that campers can set up quickly.

Cabin-style tents provide a shelter that feels more like a cabin or home than a tent. Frequently, cabin tents will have walls and individual rooms that campers can utilize for various reasons.

The Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent is a large tent that goes up in as little as 60 seconds and features a wall divider, making it a two-room tent.

Pop Up Tents

An Instant Pop-up Tent, if you can believe it, goes up even faster than your typical cabin or dome-style instant tent. Some going up in as little as 3 seconds!

You simply take it out of the bag, undo the strap, and the tent pops open.

While pop-up tents are easy to use and store, they do not provide as much shelter or durability as some of their cousins in the tent world. Pop-up tents are best for casual use in fair weather.

The Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent is a great example of a tent that goes up in under 10 seconds and is about as durable as pop-up tents come.

Check out our reviews of the best pop-up tents for camping to find the perfect tent for you!

What is the Difference Between an Instant Tent and a Regular Tent?

While an Instant Tent and a regular tent share the same general purpose (providing shelter during a camping trip), there are a few key differences between the two.

The purpose of Instant Tents is to make the setup and takedown process as quick and easy as possible. Instant Tents are durable and easy to work with but are sometimes a bit more expensive than a regular tent.

Many people are willing to spend the extra money on an Instant Tent as it provides convenience and saves time.

The purpose of a regular tent is also to provide shelter. While many brands that sell standard tents will attempt to make the setup process as easy as possible, there is still a bit of building required from the camper.

However, a regular tent is typically more affordable and durable, and you definitely have more options to choose from.

All in all, the durability relies mostly on the style of tent that a camper uses. For example, a dome or cabin tent is more durable than a pop-up tent, Instant or not.

The key takeaway here is instant tents are quicker and easier to set up and take down than regular tents. While regular tents are oftentimes more affordable, more durable, and come in more varieties.

Are There Any Downsides to an Instant Tent?

While instant tents do provide many benefits, there are a few downsides that you need to take into account.

Can Be Costlier

When buying an Instant Tent, you will often pay more than a regular tent in exchange for convenience. While spending more to do less is a fair trade-off for many campers, the heftier price tag can be seen as a downside.

With that said, you can still find affordable instant tents, with some being less than $100.

Harder to Store

Because instant tents usually come in one piece, they are often a pain to store. Traditional tents often have bags to store them in and can be folded or rolled into a car or backpack.

But, while instant tents usually come in a storage bag, they are a bit bulkier and can take up more space than you’re probably used to with a regular tent.

Not as Durable

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that instant tents aren’t durable (they definitely are), but the convenience of pitching these tents at extremely fast speeds comes at a cost: They aren’t as durable as their regular counterparts, especially in high winds.

However, the durability of instant tents, like any tent, depends on the brand and material.

Some higher-end instant tents feature steel, durable poles to create a structure that rivals regular tents in terms of quality. However, you typically sacrifice a bit of durability for the sake of speed and convenience.

As technology evolves, instant tents are becoming more and more durable and will one day hopefully be in line with regular tents.

Are Instant Tents Worth It?

Instant tents are worth it if you are a casual camper looking for a tent that you can set up as quickly and easily as possible.

That said, it really comes down to personal preference. If extreme durability is more important than a quick setup, then you may be better off spending your money on a more traditional-style tent.

Weigh the pros and cons we outlined above to understand if an instant tent is worth it to you.

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