By R. Maxine Lundquist
Instant tents are designed to set up in a matter of minutes, and I do mean minutes–one person can set it up in two to five minutes without a problem. Handy if it’s raining, getting dark soon, or there is just one person to deal with it. They have a pole system that comes pre-attached to the tent, so there is no confusion as to what pole fits where. You just unfold the tent, spread it out, and extend the poles, or stuff leg poles into pre-attached roof poles. Either way it is relatively pain-free to set up and very quick. Below is a comparison review of three popular 8-person instant tents:
The Coleman 8-person Instant Tent:
A simple, quick set-up in less than a minute with two people, this particular Coleman stands 14′ x 10′ with an interior center height of 6’5″. It is weatherproof, not weather resistant, and important distinction when you are stuck inside with the kids and it’s pouring rain. It doesn’t need the rainfly to be waterproof but it has one, and the seams on the rainfly are fully taped.
The tent’s exterior is twice as thick as Coleman’s standard tent fabric, making it durable, and it has a drop-down room divider, two doors and seven windows, increasing ventilation for hot nights and days. It also has an interior gear pocket. This tent is my bang-for-your-buck choice, running around 290 dollars and worth every penny.
The Ozark Trail 8-person 2-room Instant Cabin Tent:
The Ozark Trail is a steal for about one hundred seventy dollars for the 10′ X 13′ tent, which is about the size you want for two adults and two kids; even so it can feel a little cramped. The floor is heavy canvas so it’s long-lasting and the windows zipper up, a major plus if the weather is rough. Drawbacks? It is water-resistant, not water-proof, so it needs to be well tarped if rain should threaten. There is also some concern about the reliability of the pins that hold the poles together, and the stakes aren’t the greatest. An extended warranty is recommended. Holds up nicely in high winds, however, and at a hundred and seventy bucks for a two-room cabin tent, one really can’t complain.
Arctic Monsoon 8 Person 2 Room Instant Tent
Reasonably priced at two hundred ten dollars, the Arctic Monsoon has an optional divider which can make it into a two-room tent. It’s fairly durable, but the top is mesh. Fortunately it comes with a flysheet to go over the top, making it water resistant. It’s fire-retardant, good if you’re near the campfire, and UV protected. The zippers haven’t really been a problem but there are a few comments about maybe warning the kids to be careful, so that tells me they may have a tendency to catch. Made of breathable polyester fiber, the tent weighs under 32 pounds, pretty good for a tent this size. This isn’t our favorite, but it’s got value for price, and the optional divider might be a real selling point for some.