The Best Instant Tents of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Not all instant tents are gimmicks. These five tents are worth a look
We tested the best instant tents.

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I’ll be honest: I’ve heard of pop-up tents, but never really gave them much thought. If I’m being real, I felt they were a bit hokey and heavy. Plus, I’m an avid backpacker, so they didn’t really fit with those intentions. But I am car camping more often these days. And I don’t want to struggle with putting up a tent after a long drive. So that made me wonder, can it truly be that simple? Let’s just say that after some extensive testing, I now see the benefits of creating a plush campsite within mere seconds using one of the best instant tents.

Other Instant Tents Worth Considering

How I Tested the Best Instant Tents

The best instant tents vary in packed size.
The best instant tents vary in packed size, but they all go up in seconds. Justin La Vigne

For this testing process, I focused on three four-person tents in my backyard. I live in a remote part of Alaska where the weather changes fast, so these tents went through 40-mph wind gusts, heavy rain, blazing sun, wet snow, ice, and even moose brushing up against them. Executive gear editor Scott Einsmann, senior staff writer Laura Lancaster, and OL contributor Theo Harris also tested instant tents. We all assessed the ease of setup and breakdown, durability, how they stood up to the elements, and any special features.

Best Instant Tents: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Magellan Outdoors Pro SwiftRise 4-Person Hub Tent

Best Overall

Magellan Outdoors Pro SwiftRise 4-Person Hub Tent

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Key Features 

  • Peak Height: 6.5 feet
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Adjustable ventilation
  • Eight side pockets and one gear loft
  • 20+ UV protection
  • Integrated lighting system

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Spacious for four adults
  • Durable
  • Interior storage space
  • Adjustable windows

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Rainfly can blow off
  • Heavy
  • Not compact for long-term storage

This one-room, square tent stood out from all the rest of the tents, and will now be my go-to car camping tent. With a center height of 6.5 feet, it can accommodate even the tallest campers. Plus, the 60 square feet of floor space was more than enough to sleep four people.

Out of the box, it was a cinch to set up by deploying the ceiling into place, then pulling the four side hubs outward. It comes with too many stakes (small and large ones) to secure the edges and guy lines. 

One highlight was all the windows with mesh screens and shades that can be strapped over or rolled up. Not only was the natural light welcomed, but the amount of ventilation resisted any moisture buildup. An integrated, battery-operated light system surrounds the interior roof for ample nighttime light. It has a head-level gear loft and eight pockets, offering plenty of storage options. 

What really made this tent stand out is that it is extremely durable. I had this up for over two months in all types of weather, including 40-mph gusty winds, driving cold rain, and even wet snow. A few inches of wet snow collapsed the tent, but once I removed it, the tent sprung right back into position. The 150-denier polyester offered proven durability and protection for the contents inside.

There is an additional rain fly that attaches to the bottom of the tent, however, in the strongest winds, it can become detached. 

Best for Large Groups: Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent

Best for Large Groups

Core 9-Person

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Key Features

  • Peak Height: 6.5 feet
  • Weight: 37 pounds
  • Adjustable ventilation
  • Water-resistant coated fabric and taped seams
  • Separate rain fly

Pros

  • Easy set up with three hubs and telescoping legs
  • Can be divided into two separate rooms
  • Electrical access port

Cons

  • Set up is ideal for two people
  • Pricey
  • Heavy
  • Not compact for long-term storage at 48 inches x 11 inches x 11 inches

This instant cabin tent might feel like a spacious home away from home.  I also couldn’t believe how easy this huge tent was to set up. The tent body is permanently fixed to the frame, and the six poles are telescoping, which makes the setup a breeze. Set up takes just minutes.

Another awesome feature of this instant cabin is the ability to have two divided rooms. This allows you to fit two queen air mattresses comfortably. You can also make one room a screen room for air to cool the main cabin. Speaking of air, another big advantage of this tent for summer camping trips is its excellent ventilation. This tent features multiple mesh windows, a mesh ceiling, and an adjustable ground vent for plenty of air circulation to stay cool during the summer months. 

The only drawback to this spacious tent is the weight that comes with it. At 37 pounds, this is the heaviest tent by far in my test. And the packed size takes up a lot of space in your car. But if you’re looking for a large tent that can be put up in minutes and fits the whole family, this is the tent for you. —Theo Harris

Read Next: Best Camping Blankets

Best Budget: Coleman 4 Person Camp Burst Pop Up Tent

Best Budget

Coleman 4 Person Burst Pop Up Tent 

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Key Features 

  • Peak Height: 3 feet, 4 inches
  • Setup: Instant
  • Seam sealed floor
  • Integrated adjustable rainfly

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Affordable
  • Folds flat and compact for storage
  • Gear pockets

Cons

  • Not that easy to put away
  • Rain fly does not extend over the door

This instant tent’s key traits are its simplicity, ease of setup, and affordability. As a four-person tent, it is as basic as you get with a similar design to the Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Pop-Up. It does have an integrated rainfly that can roll back, allowing ventilation and air circulation. 

The Coleman Burst instant tent is easy to set up.
The quick setup and small packed size make this a great instant tent for beginners. Justin La Vigne

There are a few other features that impressed me. It stores compactly, like a huge frisbee, so it doesn’t take up much space in your shed or vehicle. It does take a bit more time to put away, but once packed, it’s barely noticeable.

A few inches of wet snow didn't break the Coleman instant tent.
After a week of being collapsed under heavy snow, the Coleman still didn’t break. Justin La Vigne

I was quite impressed at its durability. As with the Magellan, I had it set up for two months in all weather. Several inches of snowfall crushed it, and it took me at least a week to hike to it and I expected it to be broken. But it popped back open with all parts in working order.

The four person tent is just under $100, and the two person is just over $50. Many times you can catch them on sale for even cheaper. This is a great option for beginners, as a kids’ tent, or for budget-minded car campers.

Others Instant Tents Worth Considering

Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

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Key Features

  • Hub-style tent
  • Includes stakes and rainfly 
  • Four person tent 
  • Interior Dimensions: 90 x 90 inches and 76 inches tall
  • Weight: 31.8 pounds (measured)
  • Price: $350

Pros

  • Fast set up time 
  • Easy to take down and put back into bag

Cons

  • Large and heavy
  • Not much airflow 

If you’re buying an instant tent you probably want a tent that’s fast to set up and pack up. So I started my testing with a timed test. Starting with the tent completely packed in its storage bag it took me 1 minute and 50 seconds to get it set up — minus the rain fly and stakes. It took 2 minutes and 48 seconds to get it back in the bag. That’s pretty darn instant. 

Riley checks out the interior of the Gazelle T4.
Riley checks out the interior of the Gazelle T4.

Scott Einsmann

The interior space is generous. I’m 6-feet 6-inches tall and 220 pounds. You could comfortably fit three of me inside the tent or one of me and a spoiled dog. The center height is 6 feet 4 inches and the the tent is about 5 feet 4 inches at its shortest point. I measured the interior dimensions at 90 by 90 inches. 

The build quality is excellent and there are some smart touches throughout the tent and its carrying bag. For example the spring pressure to pop out each hub is light and smooth. The stake points are all reinforced. The bag has grab loops on either end for easily sliding the tent out of a trunk or truck bed. 

While it gets high marks for ease of use and space, the windows are small and it doesn’t have much airflow. It gets toasty inside when it’s in the sun, and I’d suggest pairing it with one of the best camping fans

This tent is quite large when folded up and heavy. I weighed it at 31.8 pounds and measured it at 67 x 11.5 inches packed. It will take up substantial storage space when not in use. I don’t recommend this tent if high winds are forecasted because it catches a lot of wind due to its height and shape. —Scott Einsmann

Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Pop-Up

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Key Features

  • Peak Height: 3 feet, 6 inches
  • Weight: 9.6 pounds
  • Doors: Two
  • Windows: Zero

Pros

  • Fast to set up and tear down
  • Dark interior blocks light while sleeping

Cons

  • No way to separate the fly from the tent body
  • Fewer pockets than I would have liked

Pop-up tents are popular for one reason: They are fast to set up. But, too often, they are a real chore to tear down or lack the structural integrity of a traditional tent. Not so with the Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Pop-Up.

As expected, it turned tent-shaped with two easy tugs on the red pulls at either side of the tent (only thing left to do was put six stakes into the ground to secure it). 

Pressing firmly on the blue button collapses the tent instantly, making for a surprisingly short tear-down time.
Pressing firmly on the blue button collapses the tent instantly, making for a surprisingly short tear-down time. Laura Lancaster

To tear it down again, you simply remove those stakes, then push the buttons attached to the red pulls. (If anything, this worked too well—I jumped a little at the speed at which the tent collapsed in itself with only moderate pressure applied.) Then simply fold up the tent (I highly recommend looking at the directions for this) and stuff it back into its bag. Like the MSR Habiscape, this one has a sideways opening (if not the same generous extra-large size), making this easier to deal with than vertical-open models. All in all, this was the fastest I had ever put away a camping tent, even though it was my first time doing so with this model. 

Very small vents provide the only possible inlet for this extremely dark tent.
Very small vents provide the only possible inlet for this extremely dark tent. Laura Lancaster

Unfortunately this tent is lacking in some details. The most obvious one is that there is no way to set up just a mesh body—the structure of the Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Pop-Up is attached to the rainfly. It also has fewer pockets on the inside than other models—only four small pockets plus a diamond-shaped overhead mesh storage area. Two adult testers were comfortable with a dog in the two-person model. —Laura Lancaster

Decathlon has updated their Quechua 2 Second Pop-Up design since this review, but set up remains the same.

Toogh 3-4 Person Camping Tent 

Toogh 3-4 Person Tent 

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Key Features

  • Doors: Two
  • Weight: 14 pounds
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Packed size: 40 inches x 6 inches x 6 inches

Pros

  • Super fast setup 
  • Mosquito netting provides ventilation and protects from bugs 
  • Accommodates at least four people 

Cons 

  • Not made for strong rain and wind

The Toogh 3-4 Person Instant Tent is super simple to set up. All you have to do is lift up the top of the tent and then press the end of the poles to automatically lock everything into place. It can be done in about a minute or two and is convenient when you roll up to a campsite, especially in the dark. The tent itself has just two poles that cross like a dome tent, although it feels more like a cabin tent. It comes with a rainfly that has a bit of an overhang at the entrance to keep rain and bugs out. 

This tent feels very spacious and could fit four people who don’t mind sleeping close to one another. Inside the tent, there is enough room for a queen mattress and duffel bags or backpacks.  It also features a double pocket on both sides and a net in the center for added storage. There is also a spot to hang a light or fan from the middle if you choose to do so. I liked all of the thoughtful details and felt like the tent fared pretty well in the rain. The rainfly isn’t the strongest, but the tent is definitely breathable and provides adequate space. —Theo Harris

Read Next: Best Ultralight Tents Tested and Reviewed

The Rest of the Field

The Bushnell's poles were slightly too long for the tent structure.
The included poles were too long for the tent. Justin La Vigne

I also tested the Bushnell Preserve Series 4 Person Instant Cabin Tent, but the interior poles were too long due to manufacturer errors. I was not able to completely set up the tent. My wife and I struggled immensely to get the two side poles in, so much so that one of the poles (which had no flex) snapped during the process. The manufacturer is correcting this issue, so if you do decide to try out this tent, set it up at home first to verify you’ve received the correct poles.

the Bushnell's setup was the most complicated.
After this tent pops up there are still a few more steps before it’s fully constructed.

Photo by Justin La Vigne

Regardless of the too-long poles, I found this setup to be the most complicated. But the end result is a palace. The tent initially pops up and the hubs all locked into place quite easily. My challenge was with the three interior poles that need to be placed alongside and over the door to give the tent more structure.

Even without testing, I can tell how sound this structure would be with its 210-denier fabric. At 64-square feet, a large front door, plenty of windows, and a peak height of 6.5 feet, it can house a small family very similarly to the Magellan Outdoors Pro SwiftRise 4-Person Hub Tent.

Read Next: Best Sleeping Bags

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Instant Tent 

Ease of Use

Most instant tents are so easy to set up that you don’t need an instruction manual. They have pre-attached poles, an integrated pole system, or at least poles that are easy to install. Most rainflys, if they aren’t already attached, should also be fairly simple to install. If you can’t put your instant tent up in a few minutes, its design is flawed—or you didn’t buy an instant tent. 

Materials 

You shouldn’t have to trade convenience for solid construction. Some high-end instant tents, and even some affordable ones, feature materials that are waterproof, UV-resistant, and strong enough to outlast bad weather. You should also expect tent poles and stakes to perform just as well as regular a tent. They shouldn’t break or bend easily and should stand their ground in windy conditions. 

Ventilation 

Summer camping conditions can get pretty steamy. And unless you have a camping fan you plan on using, you’ll want a tent that circulates airflow, especially at night. Look for tents that feature windows, multiple doors, and multiple mesh screens to circulate air so you don’t sweat through your sleeping bag. After all, fresh air is why you came camping in the first place. 

Capacity 

Camping solo? With a friend? Or maybe with your five children? Whatever your camping adventure brings, you will want to pick a tent size that will fit your needs. One- to two-person tents are usually lightweight and portable for backpacking and hiking while four- to six- to nine-person tents are better for packing in your car and setting up at a nearby campsite. Larger tents usually offer more room for all of your gear, and some easily allow you to stand up inside. —Theo Harris

FAQs

Q: How do instant tents work?

It is a simple concept.  The tent is one complete package, meaning the tent poles are integrated into the actual tent. All you do is pull on the sides and top to pop the structure. The only thing left to do is to stake it to the ground. This process is a lot different from the standard tent where you unfold the tent, snap the poles together, and either attach the poles to the tent or slide them through the fabric channels.

Q: Can one person put up an instant tent? 

The goal of an instant tent is for it to be done solo. If you want a team effort, go with a standard tent. Pop-up tents are meant to be easy, quick and a one-person operation. With a larger tent, like the Core 9-Person, you may need a hand or two, but even the four-person tents, like the Magellan Outdoors Pro SwiftRise 4-Person Hub Tent, only took one person to put up.

Q: Are instant tents worth it?

Yes, instant tents are worth the money, especially if you shudder at the thought of setting up a regular tent, particularly in terrible weather. They are quick to set up with very little effort making the set up process less frustrating than a standard tent.

Final Thoughts 

While I was a little skeptical about the value and utility of instant pop-up tents, after testing several and seeing how easy they truly are to set up and put away, I feel these are perfect for beginners, car campers, and families. I am a full-on convert.

Other Instant Tents Worth Considering

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Justin La Vigne

Freelance Writer

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