I have to admit. I am a competitive person. I turn everything into a game, and I love to win. Don’t worry; I am not hurt or angry when I lose, I simply like to play.
Over the years, I realized that many camping activities could be turned into a competition. My favorite one is - who will set up the tent faster? We all start at the same time, and the one who finishes first and does all of the steps correctly – wins the symbolic prize.
This year, I decided to outsmart my fellow competitors and leave them stunned by purchasing a popup/instant tent. However, I couldn’t risk the possibility of my brand new tent letting me down and performing poorly at the scene, so I tried out many of them before purchasing the best one.
I am here today to share with you my knowledge and experience and help you choose the best popup/instant tent for yourself.
What To Consider When Buying Pop-Up/Instant Tents?
There are a few key features you should look for, once you decide to buy a pop-up or instant tent. Here comes the list that will make this choice much simpler for you:
How many people do you want to fit in your tent? Only you? You and one friend, or a pet? The whole family? This is a vital factor you should consider before you make a decision. There are many different sizes on the market. However, you should be aware that, for example, 6-person tent won’t comfortably fit six people – it will be crowded. So, always go a little bit bigger, extra room always pays off. If you are not sure which size to choose, this tent size guide could be helpful.
Popup and instant tents are usually made to be lightweight, which means some companies try to save money on the materials. Also, they are often designed as three season tents, which means they are not meant to be used during the winter. However, safety should still be your top priority. Consider your preferred campsite terrain and weather conditions before shopping.
Waterproof fabrics, sealed seams, and stable base will keep you safe, warm and dry.
I mentioned just a few rows above how important it is to go with high-quality tents. This is not only the matter of safety but durability too. Why would you invest your money in something that will break after a few days? This goes especially for popup and instant tents as they are often foldable. If they are made of flimsy materials, the fabric can easily rip in half. Poles should be firm and stable, while the tent’s canopy materials need to be as much tear resistant as possible.
Nearly all models of pop-up and instant tents are easily portable, but some are bulkier than others. If you want to use your future tent for backpacking, then smaller is better. On the other hand, if you are going to have a vehicle on your hands, bulkiness is not such a big deal as long as it doesn’t take up too much space in your car. However, make sure you don’t sacrifice quality for portability.
When you go out camping, your tent is the roof over your head. This means you should make your decision based on tent’s quality, not price. High-quality tents don’t stand a fortune, while some lower quality models are sold for higher prices because they have a fancy branded name. Make sure that you inspect the tent, read the reviews and make a smart decision, rather than allowing the price to determine your choice.
Top 5 Pop-Up/Instant Tents On The Market – My 2017 Reviews
#1 CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent – Spacious but flimsy
If you are looking for a roomy tent that will be ready for use in less than a minute, Core’s 9-person instant cabin tent might be a good idea. It fits two queen air mattresses and its center height is 6.5 foot. For the money you invest in this product, you will get a solid tent with H20 Block Technology, room divider, wall storage pockets, electrical cord access port, excellent ventilation system and a rain fly.
Core’s tent simply pops-up! That is how quick and straightforward the assemble is. Take down is also a breeze and most importantly for the tent of this size, it fits into the carry bag with no problem. I was surprised when I realized how much space and headroom it offers. Also, it has a lot of windows which makes it well-ventilated. This comes in handy, especially during hot summer days.
However, because of its size, it doesn’t retain heat very well. In addition, it will probably collapse as soon as it meets his first average-force wind. It is definitely a three season tent. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the quality of the stakes and zippers – they bend and break easily.
#2 Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin – Sturdy but dark
If you are looking for an instant tent that won’t instantly wear off, Coleman 6-person instant cabin has your back. You can get it for a great price, and at the same time, it will offer you multiple useful features. Patented welded floors and inverted seams are here to keep you dry, double-thick fabric will offer durability, a 6-foot high center ensures headroom and most importantly – set up is quick!
What I really liked about Coleman’s tent is the fact that I didn’t have to worry about fiberglass poles. The set up was done under a minute, as well as the takedown. The poles are sturdy, and the seams do more than a great job protecting you from moist. Also, it offers a lot of room – you can fit one queen air mattress and store all of your luggage inside without tripping over it on every step.
However, you should know that you might have a problem fitting the tent in its original bag. Also, if you are counting on large mesh storage pockets, you will be disappointed – they are smaller than expected. Square door design makes zipping and unzipping a bit complicated. Lastly, even though black might seem fashionable, it will attract a lot of heat, which can be inconvenient during summer time.
#3 Abco Tech 2-Person Pop-up Tent – Portable but cramped
If you like spontaneous trips to nature, without too much planning Abco Tech’s 2-person pop-up tent is something you should have. It comes with incredible “value for money” ratio. This tent is easy to set-up, has double doors on both sides and comes with a combination of inner zippered screen and outer zippered nylon layer to ensure both high breathability and complete privacy. Also, it has a handy carry bag and another smaller one where you can pack all of your accessories.
It might seem small at first, but two average-sized people or one person and a dog will comfortably fit inside. The set-up is done within few seconds, and anyone can figure it out even without instructions. Also, the price is excellent and 100% risk-free satisfaction guarantee makes the deal even more attractive. The most significant advantage of this tent is the degree of its portability. You can quickly move it wherever you want.
However, breakdown can be a little confusing, so make sure to watch a few video instructions before you head out to the woods. Also, it is not exactly waterproof, even if you add a rainfly and a tarp, so be sure to check the weathercast too. At last, taller people will have a problem sleeping in it, because their legs won’t fit.
#4 CORE 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent – Practical but unreliable
I have to introduce you to another a bit smaller model from Core. Just as the previous one, this 6-person cabin tent is characterized by 60-second setup, spaciousness and plenty of headroom. For the money you invest in it, you will get a tent with adjustable ground vent, H20 Block Technology, lantern hook, fully closable, electrical cord access port and a large wall organizer.
What I really liked about this tent is the fact that even it is so large, you can quickly pack it back in its carry bag and transport it wherever you want. Also, it pops up immediately and has a smart design, with a lot of room and functional mesh storage pockets. The rainfly is included, and it seems to be made of high-quality materials.
Unfortunately, the seams are not waterproof, so you might end up wet. Also, the fabric, poles, and floor seem to be poorly made and flimsy, which means overall this is not a tent that will serve you for many years. At last, there’s the annoying problem with zipper – it gets stuck in the fabric if you don’t use it with two hands.
#5 Coleman Pop-Up Tent – Lightweight but takes practice
Coleman offers their pop-up model in 2-person and 4-person size, so you can choose the one that suits your needs. Also, you can buy the tent with or without Coleman’s sealer. All of these details change the tent’s price. However, even if you decide to go with 4-person model, plus the sealer, you will realize it is still affordable in comparison to some other brands. It comes with multi-position, waterproof rainfly, and two mesh storage pockets.
The setup and the takedown are fast and straightforward. One person can do it in less than a minute. Coleman’s tent might be lightweight, but it handles both winds and rain very well. However, you should be aware that you are still dealing with 3-season tent. It is spacious, sturdy and a great deal overall.
However, folding the tent and fitting it back into its original bag is a learning curve. You’ll need to practice before you get out in the woods. Also, you’ll need two hands to zip the door properly. The floor is a vulnerable spot, and you’ll need to buy an additional tarp to place it under the tent and protect it. At last, this model is lightweight and practical, but it is too bulky for backpacking.
I gave this choice a lot of thought. If the speed and convenience of a setup and takedown are my main criteria, all of the tents are equally good. So, I had to take a better look at secondary features to make my decision. That is how Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin won me over.
As you already know, I love to have company on my camping trips, and this tent offers enough room for a few people. Also, it is sturdy enough, doesn’t leak and it doesn’t collapse as soon as the wind starts to blow. Its color does attract heat, but if you find a right place to set it up, this won’t be a problem.
Remember, before you choose your instant tent, consider your needs. This way you cannot make a mistake.
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