Are instant cabin tents good? This is a question I saw on the Internet. The quick answer is yes, most definitely so. Those are truly excellent designs and they will save you a lot of time. See more below.
What type instant tents exist
So the starting question is about instant cabin tents but to understand the topic better, I think it is good to know what types of instant tents you can expect. So quite generally, you can see:
- Instant cabin tents.
- Instant dome tents.
This text is mainly about instant cabin tents, but below you will see one great example of the second group as well.
As a start, it is best that you see this first
If you are one of those who are skeptical about instant tents, it is best to see this video showing the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent:
So what you see here is an excellent example of a dome-style instant tent. If you like such an express setup, keep reading. If not, then it is hopeless.
The other type are cabin style instant tents, and there are many of that type presented on this site, so you can check in the Category instant tents. Note, about the cabin style tents in general, you can see in my separate text.
But to see the difference between the dome and the cabin type instant tents, it is best to see this video showing the Coleman 6 Person Instant Tent, the guy in the video sets it up in 56 seconds:
Obviously, both types allow for an express setup. So imagine you are on a cross-country tour and you have to do this again and again. With the traditional tent, it can become annoying.
I would say that the instant cabin tents are built in all sizes, and they can be huge. As for the dome-style instant camping tents, they are typically smaller, for 1 – 6 people most of the time.
How instant tent really works
The answer is simple – everything is already pre-assembled. So the frame and the tent body are attached to each other at all times, you just unfold and raise the tent one way or another, you have seen it in the two videos.
- In the first case (the dome-style instant tents) it is like an automatic umbrella.
- In the second case (the cabin-type instant tents), you have telescopic poles. So it is a bit more work, you extend them until you hear a click. This is the moment when a spring button pops up and locks the pole to the required pole length.
So you realize how different this is from a traditional tent.
Instant tents are freestanding
This is one of their important features. So you can set such a tent up on any terrain, and you can rotate it and even move a bit around to get a better position. It is not compulsory to stake it down but this is strongly advised to do whenever possible. Remember, cabin tents are like big boxes, so stake them to the ground, just in case.
How about rain fly
Well, some instant tents do not have it, or better to say, the rain fly is integrated so the fabric on the roof is a single layer and waterproof. Great examples of that type are these Coleman 6 Person Instant Tent, and Coleman 8 Person Instant Camping Tent.
But in many other cases, those cabin type tents are high so adding a fly is best done by two people. In some models with telescopic poles, you can attach the fly before extending the poles. So you raise the fly together with the tent and then fix it and tighten it properly when all poles are locked in place.
Can one person set a big instant cabin tent up
Yes, most definitely so, to see this please check my text about the Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent. You will see the guy pitching this huge tent in just a couple of minutes, simply unbelievable.
Are instant tents more expensive
Not necessarily. This will depend on many factors. Some brands make expensive tents, so take this Nemo Wagontop 6 which is a traditional design but its price is over $600. Now compare it with the Core 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent which is $146.
On the other hand, take this same Core 6 Tent which is the instant cabin and the Eureka Copper Canyon 6 Family Tent which is cabin type but not an instant tent and its price is $246. So you see the point, there is no strict rule here.
Quite generally speaking, there may be good and reliable inexpensive tents on the market, but I would not have the low price as my main criterion when I decide about a family camping tent. You need a reliable tool when you are out there.
Are instant tents less durable
Not really. If you have a look in some models you will realize that they are with steel poles and sometimes very thick. But everything is preassembled, so this is different from traditional tents where poles and fabric are packed in separate bags. So one should be a bit careful when packing such an instant tent and when transporting it.
I already mentioned telescopic poles, so you have one pole which slides through another. Now, if they are not straight they would not retract. This is the same what you have in telescopic trekking poles, they can bend and you have probably experienced this, I did many times.
So make sure that this does not happen with the tent poles. But if it does, poles may be replaceable, although perhaps this is not always so.
Are instant tents for 4 season use
♦ This will depend on every specific model of course. But there may be big differences in this respect between the instant cabin tents and instant dome tents. The former are tall boxes, totally non-aerodynamic. Such a tent represents an obstacle for the wind, so it is not stable.
On the other hand, dome-style instant tents are very aerodynamic in shape and they would perform better, but they too can be very tall.
♦ Equally important is the roof structure. The instant cabin tents are usually with a rather flat roof (but there are hybrids), and some of them are really big. So the roof poles span the large distances between the walls, and this is not the best design for vertical static pressure which then transfers to the nearly vertical walls too. In other words, such a structure typically cannot withstand a lot of snow, it may collapse.
With dome instant tent this is different, but this should be obvious.
♦ Instant cabin tents are usually with a mesh ceiling (but there are exceptions) and with a minimal fly which protects only such a ceiling, see for example this Core 12 Person Tent. They are also with huge windows and doors, built for comfort. But such a design doesn’t keep the warmth inside, so they are for mild weather, otherwise they may be very unpleasant.
Do you still remember the starting question – are instant cabin tents good? The point of this text is not to convince you of anything, this is always the matter of preference, and of personal choice and experience. You will choose what you think is good for you. This text is only to point out some features and facts that you may not be aware of, so that you can make an educated choice. Please see also my list of top 10 instant tents, most of them are cabin type.
In any case, I wish you pleasant camping. This may be a rather divisive issue, so let me know what you think. Any experience with instant cabin tents? There is a comment box below, I love to hear from you. Have a nice day.
Jan Goss says
I have an instant tent and have not been happy with it. The main problems are that I find it hard to press the button hard enough to let the inner pole slide. Then once I’ve done that, there is almost always some pole(s) that are very hard to slide. (It doesn’t seem to be one pole that is the problem. Rather it appears to be random.) My sister found that it helps if I take the tent off of the pole I’m trying to slide out, it makes it easier to slide the pole out. That helps, but it is the opposite of the whole idea of an instant tent where the poles are supposed to remain attached to the tent all the time. The final disappointment was a couple of weeks ago when I was attempting to set up my tent in a strong wind (just before it rained). In the battle between myself and both the tent and the wind, a tear in the fabric formed. (At first, I thought it would be no big deal because it was small and covered by the fly. But it quickly became a very large tear. Fortunately, someone else had a tent they could lend me. I was so relieved that it was a conventional tent. It was so much faster and easier to put up than my instant tent. No buttons to push. No inner poles to slide. All I had to do was put the poles together, slide them into the tent, and put the ends in the grommets, and I’m done. Fast and easy compared to my instant tent. (Of course, I still had to stake it down and put the fly on, but that would be true of the instant tent as well.)
I could probably get the tent fixed, but the tent has always been a frustration to put up and take down. (There are things I liked about the tent. I was always dry during heavy rain when other campers were soaking wet. It was roomy, and I liked the electrical port. But none of those have anything to do with it being an instant tent.) So I’m looking for a new tent. I’m not at all enthusiastic about getting another instant tent, but am looking for a conventional tent that is much faster and easier than my instant tent was.
I find it interesting that everyone on the internet seems to talk about how wonderful instant tents are because they are fast and easy to put up. Perhaps I had a lemon, or perhaps it was a bad model. But with my experience, I don’t want another instant tent. I’m looking forward to the speed and simplicity of a conventional tent.
BTW, thanks for your website.
Thank you Jan, it is a pity you had such issues with the tent. It would be helpful if you could tell us which tent this is, such an information would be useful to our readers.
I hope you will find something better for you.
Jan Goss says
It is the Bass Pro Eclipse.I belive I bought it in 2017 at Bass Pro.
Allie Franklin says
We just sold our pop up camper that we had used for many many years. We have decided to go back to some tent camping. But we would also like to enjoy some amenities of the pop up.
I have three tents picked out for our camping family of 5. Two adults and 3 teenagers. May I ask your advice on which one might be the best for us (or feel free to recommend another). I promise not to hold you responsible for the choice I make. ?.
Ozark Trail 15 P Instant Tent
Ozark Trail 20 x 10 Dark Rest Instant Tent
Ozark Trail 16 x 16 12 P 3 room Instant Tent
Some things to consider:
We want an instant tent for sure.
We will need electric service. One cord going into the tent for charging devices, etc. It would be great if there was more than one e-cord slot, but not required.
One room for adults, one room for kids, and a central area for everyone could work.
One room for adults, one room for two boys, one room for one girl, central room Would be ideal.
We need a central area, without having to move an air mattress every day.
I’ve read what feels like hundreds of reviews on Ozark, particularly about trouble with the poles breaking on the 16 x 16 12 P. I would prefer to have the most durable with as much space as possible.
Price isn’t really a factor with this purchase. We are stepping down from a camper, so we would like to have a nice tent, without spending a lot of money on a brand name. I don’t mind paying for durability, space, etc.
We have a lot of equipment. We have outdoor chairs, table, coolers, much of which can be stored outside the tent, but still a significant amount of gear that will need to be in the tent. (Clothing, shower caddies, paper goods, cooking pans, etc. Food.
I also had another question. Do they make cot bunks for teenagers and adults? Or are they just for smaller kids? And would one purchase these on Amazon, camping store, sporting goods store?
My brain is exhausted from trying to figure out the right fit. I would really appreciate your advice. I enjoyed reading all your information on Instant tents, and cabin tents. You’re knowledgeable, friendly and honest with your words.
Thanks so much for your reviews and articles and any advice you could lend.
Hi Allie, it is important that you do not rush with your decisions, there are many tents on the market so choose wisely.
I shall start with the easier questions first, about bunk cots. Yes there is one particular brand well-known for this, and I do not know any other currently on the market. So see this Disc-O-Bed Large With Organizers for adults, and this Disc-O-Bed Youth Kid-O-Bunk with Organizersfor kids. They are available on Amazon.
As for the tents, if it must be an instant tent then any of the three you mentioned will be a good choice. I would go for the second the Ozark Trail 20 x 10 Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent if you want dark rest type, but the first has dividers that are sewn in. The third the Ozark Trail 12 Person Instant Cabin 16 x 16 3-Room Tent is incredibly comfortable and it offers the great awning area.
As for the tent with 4 rooms, I would suggest this Coleman Air Valdes 6XL which is also dark rest and a sort of instant tent with inflatable beams, or Jack Wolfskin Travel Lodge FR tent, but this is not instant tents.
There are more but they are not currently available on the US market. Let me know if I can help.
But if you want something really durable, go for this Crua Loj 6 tent.
More options from inflatable tents, as I mentioned above they are also a sort of instant tents and they can have many rooms:
– MOOSE OUTDOORS Inflatable Tent 10 with 3 rooms.
– Vango Odyssey Air 800 Tent with 5 rooms.
– Crua Core Dome 6 Person Tent that can be combined with several 2 person tents that attach to it. More privacy you can hardly have in a tent.
Victor Darne says
Your choice of the best 10 person tent will determine the kind of camping experience .
By going through this guide, it will be possible for me to make the right choice for my family camping
Hi Victor, thank you. Please let me know if I can be of any help.