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Best Instant Tents for Stress-Free Camping

Over the past 10 years, we have owned half a dozen tents from an ultra-lightweight tent that we used to backpack along the Appalachian trail to a 10-person luxury tent for glamping. Both were great for their own reasons, but now that we have 2 kids and a dog, we once again need a new style of tent, one that is quick and easy to set up. Queue the instant tent.

Matching poles with loops is no longer the only option. Instant tents make setting up camp simple and incredibly fast. While you can still opt for the traditional tents that have a higher level of technical features and customization, you can now choose a tent that prioritizes speed and ease. Here are the best instant tents on the market.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.*

What is an instant tent?

Traditional tents come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. Many of the larger-sized tents come with entry vestibules, partitioned rooms, and other features. While these more complex tents are substantially roomy, they involve a longer and more complicated setup that often requires more than one person.

An instant tent is a category of tents designed specifically for quick and easy setup. Some tents have a central hub at the roof of the tent so that you simply fold the poles down and extend. Others have a box-like design where the sides pull out into place. Instant tents can be assembled by 1 – 2 people in under a minute. 

A subset of instant tents is pop-up tents. Metal poles are sewn into the tent in a circular design, once released from their packaging, the tent “pops” open like a released spring. You can throw the folded-up tent in the air, and it instantly pops into place and is ready to go. While these tents are by far the fastest to set up at under 5 seconds, they are not always the best suited for camping. So which tent should you choose?

Related Content: Essential Gear for Camping with a Baby

Is an instant tent right for you?

This really depends on your preferences and how you intend to use the tent. Are you a beginner camper and a bit intimidated by the sheer number of poles, stakes, and other equipment? Perhaps you are camping with kids and just want to get the thing up as fast as possible. Are you not a camper at all and simply need a temporary shelter for a music festival?

Before investing in an instant tent, check out the table below to make sure you find the right tent for you.

CategoryDescriptionSeasonSet up TimeBest forPriority is
Traditional TentPoles are not pre-attached;
Often made with high-quality materials built to withstand water and wind;
Come in many shapes and sizes including dome-shaped, tunnel-shaped, A-frame, or cabin style 
3-4 season5-8 minutesAll-weather Camping,
backpacking
Those requiring specific technical features
Quality
Instant TentPoles are pre-attached;
Usually heavier than a traditional tent of the same size;
Limited styles but sizes available in single-person to 10-person
3-4 seasonLess than 1 minuteCamping
Family camping where setup needs to be quick;
If you are an infrequent camper and just want something that is convenient
Quick Set-up
Pop-up TentPoles are pre-attached;
Made with lightweight materials like nylon or polyester;
Smaller size ideal for 1 – 2 people ;
Typically less durable and less tolerant of the elements
1 season2-3 secondsMusic festivals
Backyard camping
Casual camping
Summer camping;
Temporary setups where durability is not a priority
Convenience

The Best Instant Tents for stress-free camping

So you’ve decided that you want a tent that is quick and easy to set up when you arrive at camp. There are many instant tents on the market ranging in size, weight, quality, and price. We’ve done the work of researching the best of the best so here they are, the best instant tents.

Best 2-person quick tent: TETON Vista 2-Person Quick Tent

Teton Vista quick set up tent

The Vista Quick Tent by TETON is one of the easiest tents to set up. Roll it out, lock the poles, and pull the drawstring. The tent is assembled in a matter of seconds. 

The tent features dual entry doors, a stargazing mesh ceiling, a gear loft, and interior pockets. It can be used on the ground or on top of a compatible camp cot. The TETON Vista comes with a rainfly, although an elite rainfly that covers both the tent and cot is also available.

Estimated setup time: <60 seconds
Occupancy: 2 person
Weight: 6.3 lb
Floor dimensions: 82″x60″
Peak Height: 41″
Best for: Backpacking
Price: $$

Pros:

  • Rainfly is easy to install
  • 2 doors

Cons:

  • Weighs more than the average 2 person tent
  • Does not stand up well to heavy rain

Honorable Mention: Ozark Trail 2 Person Instant Tent

Best 4-person quick setup tent: Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

Gazelle T4 Quick instant tent

With no poles to fumble with, the Gazelle T4 is one of the easiest tents to set up. Within 90 seconds, you can unfold the tent, stake it down, pull out the sides, and pop up the roof. 

The 4-person tent can fit 2 adults and 2 children comfortably. There are plenty of storage pockets to keep items organized and off the floor. There is also a convenient loop at the top of the tent for suspending a light.

The Gazelle T4 is made of high-quality materials including waterproof grade siding and flooring. What makes this instant tent unique from other instant tents is the removable bottom. Seasoned campers know that leaves, dirt, sand, and other grime inevitably make its way into the tent. The bottom of this tent is completely removable so that you can easily sweep and wipe it down.

The tent packs down into a carrying bag, however it is about 5 feet long which may present some challenges with transporting in smaller cars. Its rather cumbersome size means that the Gazelle T4 is best suited for car camping as you will not be able to carry it too far. 

Estimated setup time: 90 seconds
Occupancy: 4 person
Weight: 30 lb
Floor dimensions: 94 x 94 inches
Peak Height:  78 inches
Best for: Camping
Price: $$$

Pros:

  • waterproof tent up to 2,000 mm HH rating
  • waterproof floor up to a 5,000 mm HH rating
  • UPF 50+ rating
  • 2 doors
  • High Quality

Cons:

  • Heavier than some of the alternatives
  • Carry bag is long and cumbersome

Honorable Mention: Caddis Rapid 4 Tent

Best 6-person quick setup tent:  Caddis Rapid 6 Tent

Caddis Rapid Tent 6 person

The Caddis Rapid Tent features a rapid tent frame allowing this easy tent to be set up by one person in less than a minute! The design consists of four hinged and telescoping poles that connect at one central point above the tent. Simply unfold and extend the legs until they click into place. Attaching the rainfly will take an additional minute.

This tent features two storage compartments, one on the side and the other on the ceiling of the tent. There are multiple windows and a mesh ceiling for ventilation, and a power port for an extension cord. With an interior height of 6’8 ft, the tent has abundant head space, but fitting 6 full-sized adults in the space would be a bit of a squeeze.  

Although marketed as a budget-friendly instant tent, the Caddis Rapid Tent is made of notably thick polyester material making this tent simple yet durable.

Estimated setup time: 60 seconds
Occupancy: 6 person
Weight: 25 lbs 8 oz
Floor dimensions: 120 x 120 inches
Peak Height: 80 inches
Best for: camping
Price: $$

Pros

  • East to set up
  • Extra storage space
  • High quality

Cons:

  • Not waterproof. Rainfly required.
  • Sub-optimal views due to window size

Honorable Mention: Coleman 6 Person Instant Tent

Best Instant Tent for Families: Coleman 10-person Dark Room

Coleman 10 person easy set up tent

Coleman is one of the best camping brands out there, known for their reliable and quality made products. The Coleman Instant Tent comes in 4 different sizes: the 4-person, 6-person, 8-person, and 10-person. The largest option utilizes dark room technology, blocking out 90% of sunlight to reduce heat inside the tent. If you have ever camped in the middle of the summer, particularly where there is little to no shade, you will know that tents heat up fast. Darkroom technology keeps the tent cool for a more enjoyable stay.

This large family tent features WeatherTec welded corners and inverted seams to keep water out of the tent. An included rainfly provides added protection from the elements. The tent has reflective guidelines for improved visibility at night, a patented hinged door, and room divider for extra privacy. 

Estimated setup time: 60 seconds
Occupancy: 10 person
Weight: 44 lb 9 oz
Floor dimensions: 14ft x 10ft
Peak Height: 72 inches
Best for: camping
Price: $$$

Pros:

  • Great for families with kids
  • Tall ceilings
  • Tent stays cooler for the summer season 

Cons:

  • Does not stand up well to wind and rain

Honorable Mention: Core Equipment 9-person instant tent

Best Budget Instant Tent: Core 6 Person Instant Tent

Core 6 person instant tent

The Core 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent is one of the most sold tents on Amazon, not only because it is easy to set up, but it is also easy on the wallet. This particular tent comes in a variety of sizes accommodating anywhere between 3 and 12 people. 

This three-season instant tent has ample ventilation, a rain fly that covers the mesh ceiling, and guylines and stakes to secure everything in place. The front “D” style door makes going in and out of the tent easy. The manufacturer claims that the Core 6-person tent can fit two queen air mattresses or up to six campers in sleeping bags. 

Other notable features include an extra large wall organizer, ground air vents, and H20 Block technology making the tent water resistant (but not waterproof).

Estimated setup time: 60 seconds
Occupancy: 6 Person
Weight:
14.15lbs
Floor dimensions:11ft x 9ft
Peak Height: 72inches
Best for: camping
Price 
– $

Pros:

  • Lantern Hook
  • Gear loft and huge wall organizer
  • Price

Cons

  • Only one door
  • No vestibule
  • Not as many windows limit the view
  • Rainfly covers only the mesh ceiling

Final Thoughts on camping with an Instant Tent

As a family of 4 (plus an 80 lb Golden Doodle), having an instant tent makes the most sense for us. There is often so much going on when we first arrive at a campsite. The kids need to use the restroom, everyone is hungry, the dog needs to be leashed up, etc. Fumbling with an armful of unattached poles with all of that going on in the background fills me with anxiety just thinking about it.

We have always used a Coleman tent for our larger car camping and glamping setups. It is a reputable brand that uses quality materials. We look forward to stress-free camping, knowing that setting up our tent is one less thing to worry about.

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