A reader very kindly reminded me that I had promised the results of my camping trip using this new Instant tent of mine. (Thanks, Rick! Props!) So here it is: The first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to get it out of the container it came in, but that may have had something to do with trying to set up a tent after an eight hour drive. (It was supposed to be three hours but there was a horrendous accident on the freeway.) Once it was out, however, it really was fairly simple to set up. It took me about fifteen minutes, which is like a world record for me, and I was really happy with the room inside.
Drawbacks to the Instant tent.
I could see two drawbacks that continued to bother me throughout the trip: It wasn’t a two-room Instant tent–which for some reason I got into my head it was–and the door has a “lip”, that is, the bottom of the opening sits about six inches above the base. I know a lot of tents have this, but for some reason the lip seemed higher than most; at least, I kept catching at least one foot on it as I exited, resulting on one occasion in a rather spectacular spread-eagled belly-flop on to the ground in front of my tent. And this was before I had a beer. Oh yes, and the zipper caught one or two times when I was opening and closing the tent flap, but I have that problem with all my tents.
Advantages to the Instant tent.
It is roomy. You can fit two queen-sized mattresses inside and have a nice little space in between them for shoes and backpacks and such. Since I had to share it with my sister and brother-in-law I was able to set up my double thickness queen-sized bed, Their queen-sized bed (mattress and cot), a little table in for my glasses and iPad to sit on, a chair for easy removal and putting on of shoes, and even my little Luggable Loo, plus a box to sit the toilet paper on, put my back pack and gym bag and camera bag and equipment along one side, and my sister and brother-in-law’s stuff against another side and still have space. It does, however, follow the rule of all tents everywhere–if it says ten person, read half that. Five would be comfy. After that it will start to feel crowded.
How it Held Up in a Storm.
At one point we had a horrendous rain storm that turned into hail. The instant tent held up very well. I had no wet areas in the tent except for right in front of the door, and that’s because I remembered a little late that the tent flap was open! But all our stuff remained nice and dry. The storm only lasted a little while and it rained lightly off and on for most of the next two days. It’s hard to say what prolonged serious weather might do to it. We stuck a tarp over the very top and everything stayed dry for the duration of the trip, even when the wind blew the tarp off a couple of times. (We weren’t going to be there for a long time so we got lazy about tarping).
Packing the Instant Tent Up–Results
When it came to folding the tent and putting it away, it wasn’t even necessary to unclip it from it’s rods. You just let the extensions down, then fold, fold, fold (tight) and cram it into the bag. By far, the easiest tent I have ever had to deal with. I can only vouch for how it performed in fairly good weather with a freak rain-and-hail storm thrown in for good measure, but in those conditions, vouch for it I will. It’s not the greatest tent ever, but for the price it’s pretty awesome.
So I’ve had this instant tent about two years now, and it has held up pretty good. I still hate that lip at the bottom of the opening. Stuff was going great for it EXCEPT–
My nephew borrowed it for a camping trip just last week, and when he went to fold it up, he wasn’t sure how to do it. After a little pulling and tugging at the top where all the tent poles connect, there was a sudden snap and the plastic piece that holds it all together suddenly broke in two, rendering the tent set-up basically useless. It was cheap–at the time I bought it, it was only $220.00–but even so I was quite disappointed that after only a few uses (I think about 10 times total) it is now trash.
I have now bought a new tent, and will be doing a review on that one at the end of September. Stay tuned!