The Best Family Instant Tents Reviewed
For years my brother and I worked hard perfecting our campsite setup skills. We would divide and conquer the necessary tasks, with one of us getting the firewood and gear ready, and the unlucky loser getting stuck dealing with the tent (often mocking his brother as he also got the coolest job of starting a campfire).
Setting up the tent was the job I disliked the most. The bigger the tent, the longer it took. And after multiple uses, all the color coated stickers had faded – leaving me with no idea where anything was supposed to go. Of course the almost the same size middle poles that attached to the adjustable ones were almost exactly like some of the outside ones…but you didn’t know you mixed them up until the last moment when the tent couldn’t stand all the way up. Oops – down it would come to switch them around again.
Luckily tent companies have helped alleviate those setup issues by creating instant tents, which setup in almost no time at all and without the extremely heavy metal poles that we dreaded growing up. In other words, the options are so much better than when we were kids, and as adults we’re still thankful for that!
This article will give you a breakdown of the most popular instant family tents – specifically designed for people like me that just don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up camp.
Best Instant Family Tent Comparison Table
For a quick reference point, here is a table that highlights the ratings we gave to each tent we reviewed. We graded the tents on a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 being our highest recommendation. For cost we evaluated what you got feature wise for what you were spending. For functionality, we looked at all the features the tent has that will make your camping trip more enjoyable. We also made sure to look at numerous diffent review sites, to make sure we were recommending tents that people have had a good experience with. A more in depth review with a longer explanation of each tent’s features are listed below.
Here is also a quick reference table for each option – again with a more detailed review for each listed below. Here are the best instant tents!
The 5 Best Instant Tents
|Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent||Click for Price!|
|Coleman 8 Person Instant Tent||Click for Price!|
|Ozark Trail 16x16 Feet 12 Person Tent||Click for Price!|
|Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tents||Click for Price!|
|Ozark Trails 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent||Click for Price!|
Coleman 8-Person Instant Tent
This is the oldest and most popular version of the 8-Person instant tent on most shopping sites. In fact it is so old it is not actively promoted on the actual Coleman website anymore, but due to its popularity, is widely avaliable to be purchased. The reason it is still available is because it delivers on all the important features campers want. It’s durable, affordable, spacious, does well in slightly adverse weather conditions, and obviously it’s easy to setup.
With a 14 x 10 foot living area and a six foot five inch center height, you are going to have plenty of sleeping room and gear storage. I also like the design because the two big doors and seven windows allow for plenty of airflow and for a good view. The mesh screens also do a great job of keeping insects out of the tent. Due to its popularity, you can still expect to pay somewhere between $200 to $300 dollars for this tent but you are definitely getting your money’s worth and the classic Coleman quality you expect.
Core Instant Cabin Tents
Core makes two really good versions of family instant tents. One is the Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent and the other is the Core 12-Person Instant Cabin Tent. The tents are almost identical except for size and cost. The 9-Person version has a space of 14 x 9 feet and a 78 inch center height. It has a setup time of about 60 seconds (not including the rainfly), has an electrical cord access port, a room divider, storage pockets, and a bright color scheme.
The 12-Person version has a space of 18 x 10 feet and an 80 inch center height. The extra space fits three queen sized mattress. It also has the electrical cord access port and storage pockets, in addition to having multiple room dividers giving you the ability to create three separate rooms.
The setup does take a little longer, normally about two minutes, but who can complain about that? Cost wise, the 12 person version is normally between 300 to 350 dollars and the 9 person version is between 200 to 250 dollars.
Update: Core now offers a top rated 6 person instant tent that is built with the same design specs and standards you’ve come to expect from the outstanding 12 person and 9 person designs, but is slightly smaller for families or small groups that are just starting out. If in doubt you should still go for a slightly larger tent to accommodate everyone and their gear, but this is another outstanding choice that this awesome tent company offers. You can check up on this specific model HERE.
Ozark Trails 16 x 16 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent
Ozark Trails makes the perfect multi-room instant cabin tent for campers that want a little extra privacy during camping trips. Like the name implies, you can divide this tent into three separate rooms, with each room having enough space to fit a queen sized mattress inside.
Each room can be completely zipped off, allowing for a private bedroom area or changing space, which is definitely a nice bonus if you’re by a lake area with a beach for swimming, have a lot of kids running around, or just need to take a nap one of those days to recharge a little bit during an exhausting and fun week of enjoy the great outdoors.
The space is 16 feet by 16 feet with the tallest center height being 82 inches, or a full 6 feet 10 inches, allowing for plenty of room for even the biggest and tallest of campers. Setup up time is just under two minutes for most people, although it may take a minute or two more the first time you set it up just to get used to it. The price is normally around $350, again making this our recommended tent for groups of campers that would like multiple rooms and extra privacy.
Ozark Trails 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent
Ozark Trails also makes a really good Instant family camping tent that is a little cheaper and designed a little differently that the 3 Room instant cabin option. This tent is 18 x 16 feet with a 78 inch center height, providing plenty of room for 6-8 adults to sleep comfortably. There is a room divider that allows you to make two rooms, but the rooms are not as private as they are in the other Ozark Trails Cabin option listed above.
This tent does have a large screened in area in front of the entrance that provides a really good area for storage, or a safe spot to remove muddy shoes. Setup time is still under two minutes, and the price is normally around $275 dollars or less, making it a real bargain for beginners! If you want a good price without sacrificing quality then this is the top rated instant family tent we recommend as a value purchase.
Instant Family Tents FAQ
Here are some of the most common questions we get about instant tents that should help you in the purchasing process.
1. What is the biggest difference between instant tents and traditional tents?
The biggest difference between instant tents and traditional tents is how they are setup. Instant tents will normally have everything already in place and attached to the tent. For example, your tent poles will come pre-attached and basically everything just needs to be snapped into place and the corners need to be staked down. Traditional tents require almost everything to be put together, which makes the setup process much longer.
2. What is setup like with an instant tent?
Each tent is a little different in how it is setup, but they are all simple. You basically take it out of the bag, hold on to the center pole area, and unroll the tent. After unrolling the tent, you snap or lock into place all of the pre-attached poles. Most of the poles will expand to the appropriate size, and the corners need to be staked down. Rain flys can take a little additional time to setup. Due to the size of these tents, it is easiest if two people help setup, but it is possible with one person. At the bottom of this article we will link a YouTube video showing just how easy the process it!
3. What are the biggest drawbacks to instant tents?
There are two major drawbacks to instant tents. One is cost. Generally speaking they can cost $100 or more than traditional tents that are similar in size. You are paying for that ease of setup. The other drawback is durability. With everything being pre-attached, it is not uncommon for a pole to snap or for a piece to break off. You need to be gentler with instant tents during setup and take down than you need to be with a traditional tent. In addition to this, getting a replacement tent pole is much easier for a conventional tent since it is in no way stitched in with the fabric or design itself.
4. Are family instant tents different from smaller models?
Yes and no. The truth is they are related but the larger ones are a more recent addition. Most early instant tents were hoop tents or set up for one or two people who wanted a way to set up quickly and get the campsite up for the night. The larger models here mean that these tend to be a bit more sturdy and well built than the smaller ones, but they are all based around the same concept.
5. Aren’t there any really cheap big instant tents?
One of the most important things to understand about these is that you are getting really high quality design that saves you time, frustration, and effort. Since the poles can’t be easily changed in and out since they’re attached to the design for these family tents, it is important for the companies to make sure they are high quality and don’t break easily. This is why these tents are naturally going to cost more and to be frank: if you’re looking for a large family tent you shouldn’t be looking for the cheapest option available. That’s just asking for trouble.
Brief Wrap Up
The reason to pick one of these tents over the traditional options really comes down to setup. If you hate taking 30 minutes to pitch a tent, or if you don’t have good helpers, spend a little extra money and pick one of these tents to eliminate the frustration caused during campsite setup. While it might seem like a small thing while in the store or perusing this website, take a moment to imagine yourself at a new campsite, kids running around screaming in excitement as you’re watching big purple rain clouds moving in.
Is that really the time you want to have to mix and match poles to get the tent set up? Do you really want to be racing the clock, or do you want the tent that you can set up quickly, toss the rain fly for your tent up on top of it, and have the shelter before the rain starts pouring down on you, the spouse and kids, or all your buddies? Trust us – you want the instant tent. It is worth the investment because it pays off when you realize you really need it the most. The difference between everyone diving into the tent before the rain comes down and spending your time muttering and cursing as the rain pours down on everyone…you just can’t overestimate the difference between those two scenarios.
Here is that promised video showing just how easy these tents are to get pitched. Enjoy!