Instant Tent vs. Regular Tent

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Camping is one of the best ways to free yourself from the stress of life and recharge your mind and body. You can find yourself feeling at peace while watching the waves rolling up on the beach, sleeping in the middle of the forest, or taking in the sights of the mountains.

Meanwhile, the type of tent you choose can make a huge difference to your entire camping experience. No matter if it’s your first time buying a tent or if you are an avid camper, knowing the difference between an instant tent and a regular tent is important. Which one is better?

While both tents have their pros and cons, the main differences between the two are price, size, and the time it takes to set up. An instant tent also referred to as a popup tent, can be set up and taken down in just a few minutes, while regular tents can take up to 15 minutes.

Instant Tent vs. Regular Tent Comparison Table

Are you in a hurry to buy a camping tent? Then, check out the head-to-head comparison table below:

FeatureRegular TentInstant Tent
Setup and Take Down Time10 to 15 minutes2 to 5 minutes
Water ResistanceExcellent water resistance, but an error in setup may result in leakingExcellent water resistance, depending on the type
Wind ResistanceSolid stability, depending on the typeFlimsier than its counterpart
Ease of carryingFolds down into duffels or easy-to-carry bagsFolds down into large, bulky bags, making it awkward to carry
WeightStandard weight depends on the type and material1 to 3 pounds or more
SpaceUp to 10 person sleepers, depending on the size1 to 2 or 4 to 6 person sleepers, depending on the size
MaterialUsually made from polyester, depending on the brandUsually made from nylon or canvas, depending on the brand

What is an Instant Tent?

An instant tent refers to a tent that you can set up in one quick motion, usually 2 to 5 minutes. You will find no separate pieces because everything on this tent stays connected. It comes in different sizes and shapes.

The quick assembly is in the frame. Flexible or spring-loaded poles are stitched into the material. Once the tent is folded, those poles are contained through a strap. Most instant tents are for one or two people. However, you can also find instant tents that accommodate larger families.

If you are looking for good quality, affordable instant tent, then this instant tent from Coleman is available in both 2-person and 4-person options.

Instant Tent Pros and Cons

Pros of instant tents

  • Lightweight – An instant tent is really lightweight, making it ideal for camping, hiking, and climbing exhibitions. It is often made with flexible steel or aluminum alloys, making it light and sturdy.
  • Quick and Easy Setup – When setting up an instant tent, the entire process only takes a few minutes to be completed. You can set it up without the help of others. With less setup time, you can enjoy the camping trip and have more time to relax.
  • Fast Take Down Time – If you want a quick and easy tent to pack up into the travel gear, an instant tent is what you are looking for. So, moving to another campsite is never a hassle.
  • Safer Option – Aside from being simpler to set up, an instant tent is also safer to take down, especially when removing tent poles’ handling. This tent may still have some risks due to the metal that may fold unexpectedly; you do not need to handle the poles directly. In short, an instant tent is safer to set up and take down.
  • Ideal for Different Events – Aside from camping purposes, you can also use an instant tent for different events. During festivals, galas, or concerts, you may not get a place to stay in the exact location for several hours. This is where you can take advantage of instant tents. All you need to do is check out the locations where setting up a tent is allowed.

Cons of instant tents

  • Materials – An instant tent may come with extras like sunshades and rainfly; it is still made to be lightweight. This means the materials used are light also. It may be designed to withstand different weather conditions, but it is not as heavy-duty as a regular tent.
  • Small Size – You may find big instant tents, but they are generally smaller than regular tents. So, if you want a bigger tent, this one is not for you.
  • Higher Cost – If you are new to camping or hiking, you may want to invest in a tent that suits your budget. After all, you need to purchase other gear as well. An instant tent may be suitable for beginners since it is simple to set up, but the price tag is not attractive.

What is a Regular Tent?

A regular tent is durable and allows more than four people to sleep comfortably. It is generally built to last and is usually larger than an instant tent. It is built to withstand rain, winds, and heavy weather. This tent may lack shades and rainfly but may come with extras like mesh shelves, mud mats, utility loops, and more.

There are many different manufacturers for regular tents, but this best-seller from Coleman comes in sizes from 2 and up to 6 people.

Regular Tent Pros and Cons

Pros of Regular Tents

  • Sturdy – A regular tent is designed to be extremely sturdy. You can stake, tie, and hammer the tent into a lasting position.
  • Withstand Bad Weather – Generally, a regular tent is more heavy-duty compared to an instant tent. This tent type is usually made from rip-stop and thicker polyester materials that can withstand bad weather conditions.
  • Bigger Size – A regular tent can accommodate more people comfortably than an instant tent. This tent is designed to fit two or more people, making it ideal for larger families.
  • Interchangeable Parts – Understandably, you may encounter unexpected things like something in the tent breaks. Fortunately, you can just replace the parts, and you are ready to go.
  • Small Storage Space – Unlike the instant tent that is bulky when packed, you can fold down a regular tent into a small bag or duffel bag without looking awkward.
  • More Affordable – If you want a more affordable option, you can go for a regular tent. Instant tents often come with high price tags.

Cons of Regular Tents

  • Longer Setup Time – A regular tent requires more time to set up than an instant tent. The larger the tent is, the more time you will spend.
  • Not Portable – This tent is durable and heavy-duty, making it generally heavier than an instant tent. If you are planning to change locations often, then the regular tent may not be the best option for you.

Are Instant Tents Worth It?

An instant tent is an excellent piece of camping equipment for most recreational campers. It makes the setup and take-down of a campsite quick and easy, requiring only a few minutes.

Everything about it is already pre-assembled. It stays connected together, where you do not have to separate the poles from the tent. If you are searching for a tent that allows a faster setup and tear down process, is lightweight, offers an instant shelter, and is beginner-friendly, then an instant tent is worth it.

Final Thoughts

Deciding which one to choose between the instant tent and the regular tent can be overwhelming if you are unsure what they are and their advantages and drawbacks. Hopefully, the comparison above will help you decide which suits your needs.