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Best Instant Tents

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 19 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 145 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best instant tents

    Last Updated December 2018

    Even the most avid adventurer can get frustrated when putting up a tent, especially if it's raining or dark when you reach the campsite. But with an instant tent, this frustration is a thing of the past. You can pitch the tent in seconds, leaving you more time to get on with the activities that make camping fun, like hiking and exploring.

    The easy part is deciding you want to buy an instant tent. Now you have to figure out which model is right for you and has all the features that you want and need.

    That's where BestReviews comes in. We are here to help consumers just like you find the perfect products for your lifestyle and budget.

    Continue reading our shopping guide to instant tents to learn all you need to know to make an informed purchase, or head to the top of the page to see our top choices.

    One person can pitch a small instant tent, but it takes two people to set up some larger models.

    Why choose an instant tent?

    You might still be on the fence about whether to buy an instant tent or a standard model. Here are some of the benefits of using an instant tent.

    • Quick to pitch: As the name suggests, instant tents are extremely quick to pitch (though not always exactly “instant”), from a few seconds to a few minutes.

    • Less stress: Instant tents can help take the stress out of camping, especially if no one in your party is experienced at putting up a tent.

    • Better in the rain: If you're camping in adverse weather conditions, the inside of your tent can get wet before you've managed to pitch it, but you won't have that problem with an instant tent.

    • Better in the dark: If you arrive at your camping spot after the sun's gone down, you'll find an instant tent much easier to pitch in the dark.

    • No lost poles: Since the poles are attached to the instant tent, there's no chance that you'll accidentally lose one or leave one behind.

    • Quick to take down: Instant tents are extremely quick and easy to take down and fold up, too.

    How do instant tents work?

    Instant tents differ slightly, depending on the manufacturer and the style. All the poles are already attached to the main body of the tent, and most instant tents are pitched in one of two ways. Once the tent is up, you simply secure it to the ground with the included tent pegs and it's ready to go.

    • Pop-up: These instant tents are folded in such a way that when you remove them from the carrying case, you simply give them a quick shake and they pop into shape.

    • Extend poles: Other instant tents require you to manually extend the attached poles.

    Simple and spacious

    If you're looking for a spacious family tent that's quick and simple to erect, look no further than Core Equipment’s Cabin Tent. We love that you can pitch it in just 60 seconds by simply extending the built-in poles. There are mesh vents to keep you cool and water-repellent fabric to keep you dry, and the large interior sleeps up to nine people.

    Instant tent features to consider

    Material

    The majority of instant tents are made from lightweight synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, although you can still find a few tents made of cotton.

    • Polyester is strong, lightweight, inexpensive, and waterproof (when coated). Plus, it won't rot or get mildewed if put away wet. It isn’t very warm in cooler weather. It also isn’t breathable, so the interior of a polyester tent can get hot in the warmer months.

    • Cotton canvas tents are breathable, so they don't feel as hot when the sun's shining on them. They're also much warmer than polyester in cold weather. However, they're very heavy to carry, and the waterproofing can be inconsistent.

    • Nylon tents have similar properties to canvas tents, except they're lighter. Nylon isn't as strong as polyester and is more prone to tearing.

    • Polycotton tents are made from a polyester/cotton blend and combine the good parts of both polyester and canvas tents. They're lightweight, strong, breathable, warm, and not especially susceptible to mildew. However, they do require some extra care and waterproofing.

    Capacity

    The product description of an instant tent will tell you how many people can sleep inside, but you should note that this is the absolute maximum capacity. For example, a four-person tent will sleep four people in sleeping bags with little to no space between them or two people comfortably on a double or queen air mattress. If you want room to store your backpacks and gear and don't want to be crammed in like sardines, we recommend buying an instant tent with a listed capacity of at least double what you need. For example, buy a six-person tent if you want to sleep three people.

    Storage space

    Even if you're only camping for a couple nights, you're likely to have quite a bit of gear with you. You'll need space in your tent to store your clothes, food, water, and any other supplies. Some instant tents feature a porch area that can be used for storage, and others have pouches sewn into the inside of the tent, which are handy for stowing smaller belongings. Make sure you have enough space to fit all your gear – as well as people – or you could be in for an uncomfortable night.

    Portability

    Consider the size of your chosen instant tent when it's fully folded, as well as its weight. Compact and lightweight tents are more portable, especially if you have a long walk from the car to the campsite. Check the product description to find out the weight and the folded size of any tents you're considering.

    EXPERT TIP

    The seams on a quality tent should be taped to keep water from leaking through the stitches.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you want to be able to stand up inside your instant tent, check the ceiling height of the models you’re considering.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Make sure your chosen instant tent has adequate ventilation so condensation won’t form inside.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Instant tent prices

    Instant tents vary in price from $40 to $1,500. You can find small instant tents that fit a couple people starting at around $40 to $50. Large tents that sleep up to 15 people can cost as much as $500 to $1,500. As a rule, expect to spend a little more than you would on a standard tent of a similar size and quality.

    Old meets new

    This Ozark Trail three-season instant tent is a modern take on the classic A-frame tent. But there's no awkward assembly or heavy canvas here – just extend the attached poles, peg it down, and you're ready to go. It sleeps four people in bags or two on a queen air mattress. Storage pockets keep everyone’s gear organized.

    Tips

    • Check the waterproofing on your chosen tent. Some instant tents are completely waterproof while others are only showerproof.

    • Think about how often you'll use your instant tent. If you go camping regularly, it's worth shelling out a bit more for a really durable model. On the other hand, you can probably make do with a less sturdy tent if you'll only use it once a year or so.

    • Consider the number of people who will sleep in your instant tent. There are models that sleep one and models that sleep a dozen or more. Some instant tents have one open space, while others divide into two or three compartments.  

    • Look at how to put up your chosen instant tent. Despite the name, instant tents aren't truly instant. Most take anywhere between 10 seconds and a few minutes to put up. Some are easy for one person to erect, while others require two people for the job.
    If you'll be camping at a festival or large campsite, consider choosing a brightly colored or patterned instant tent so it stands out from the crowd and is easier to find.

    FAQ

    Q. Can I use my instant tent all year?
    A.
    The majority of instant tents are rated for use in two or three seasons, which will suffice for most recreational campers. However, if you're the sort of person who doesn't let rain, wind, or snow stop your enjoyment of the outdoors, you can find all-season models.

    Q. Will the instant tent have a living area?
    A.
    Some larger instant tents feature two or three "bedrooms" situated around a central living area, which gives you a communal space to store gear or spend time together if it’s too cold or wet outside. Some other tents have an optional partition, so you can turn one large sleeping chamber into a bedroom and a living area.

    Q. Do I need tent pegs to set up an instant tent?
    A.
    Instant tents still need to be secured to the ground with guy lines and tent pegs. The pegs should be included with your tent, but you may find it useful to bring some spares just in case.

    The team that worked on this review
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