Camping can be an incredibly fun and rewarding activity that offers lots of chances for you to exercise, relax, and explore in nature. But it is important to consider the structure that you bring an instant tent along to provide shelter during the night. Most of us are familiar with traditional tents.


Usually, there’s one bag with the canvas or nylon tent material and a separate bag that contains interlocking poles and stakes. Instant tent, as the name suggests, has been designed to serve the same purpose while minimizing both setup and teardown time.

Two Types of Instant Tent

dome tents are instant tent

As with traditional tents, instant tents are available in two types: dome tents and cabin tents. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them different.

  • Dome tents have rounded tops and are better suited for windy conditions. While their ceilings are tall, the rounded walls limit the space in which you can move inside the tent. This design also offers higher strength, which makes them more versatile in all seasons.
  • Cabin tents have higher walls with a box-like design. This style of tent is typically appealing to families, as some models offer partitions for creating individual rooms for privacy. Cabin tents are equipped to house more people than the average dome tent.

These differences apply to the traditional styles as well as the instant tent counterparts. Although, setup differences apply more to the instant tents.

Setting Up Your Instant Tent

set up tent of an instant tent

Each style of an instant tent has a slightly different method for setup. Dome tents have mechanisms that function similar to that of an umbrella. When activated, the mechanism pulls all of the structural poles taut and locks them in place once the tent is unfurled. The instant cabin style tents take longer to set up than instant dome tents but assemble faster than traditional cabin tents. The components of an instant cabin tent are pre-connected, much like the instant dome tents.


Instead of hinged poles that open and become taut, the cabin style instant tent has telescopic poles that extend. This swift setup makes instant tents perfect for situations in which you might need to set up and tear down your tent multiple times in a short span of time.


seasonality tent

In the fashion of traditional tents, instant tents also have specific seasonality, and the most popular tents are intended for use through three seasons; however, there are tents designed for moderate use as well as use in all four seasons, but all styles have their advantages and drawbacks.

  • Three-season tents are the most common and are used simply for privacy and protection from rain, light snow, and insects. For the occasional camper, a three-season tent works perfectly.
  • Extended season tents are best for early spring and late fall expeditions. They eschew some of the mesh netting offered by three-season tents. Also, they have additional poles to provide more strength against the moderate snow and strong winds. These tents are an excellent step for intermediate campers who plan to venture into nature frequently. They offer a fine balance between the versatility of three-season tents and the warmth retention of four-season tents.
  • Four-season tents are built for dedicated campers with intended use during inhospitable weather or above the tree line and offer warmth in the chill of winter as well as shelter in high winds. While this style of tent is best suited to keep the cold out, the design may make campers feel too warm in more mild weather. Four-season tents can be found in both traditional style tents and instant tents.

Keep in mind that a tent can be a three-season cabin instant tent all in one, but it is worth noting that four-season tents are almost always dome tents, as one of their primary purposes is to be wind resistant.

Pros and Cons of Instant Tent Styles

1. Instant Tents

instant tent


  • Pre-assembled for quick setup and teardown
  • Available in both cabin and dome styles
  • Available with all types of seasonality
  • Multiple price points for your budget
  • Often include integrated rainfly


  • Pre-construction may cause issues during storage
  • Generally a bit heavier than traditional tents
  • Telescopic poles on cabin models may bend and prevent closure

2. Traditional Tents

traditional tent


  • Separated components prevent ripping of tent material during storage
  • Generally lighter to carry than instant tents
  • Available in cabin and dome styles
  • Available with all types of seasonality


  • Longer setup time required
  • Separate components may get lost between uses

3. Dome Tents

Pros and cons of an instant tent


  • High wind resistance
  • Smaller and easier to carry than cabin tents


  • Tall peak with sloping sides limits livable space
  • Usually do not accommodate more than 6 people at most

4. Cabin Tents

cabin tent


  • Can accommodate full families and up to 16 people
  • Some models include partitions for privacy
  • Vertical walls maximize the livable area


  • Boxlike design is not ideal for windy areasFlat roof can hold snow and collapse under too much weight

Here’s A Relevant Video from YouTube:

5. Three-Season Tent

season tent


  • Designed with multiple mesh panels to allow for maximum ventilation
  • Great for shelter in mild weather


  • Not intended for cold weather​
  • Not recommended during storms

6. Extended Season Tents

extended tent


  • Offer a great middle option between the warmth of four-season tents and the versatility of three-season tents
  • Generally more included poles to strengthen your structure


  • Offer a great middle option between the warmth of four-season tents and the versatility of three-season tents
  • Generally more included poles to strengthen your structure

7. Four-Season Tents

four season tent


  • Designed for warmth at high altitudes and to withstand strong winds, rain, and snow
  • Manufactured with heavier fabrics for insulation


  • Can become too warm in milder climates


The thought of durability should cross your mind when searching for your tent, as it is a long-term investment, and you will want that investment to last as long as possible. If you have considered purchasing an instant tent, you may be relieved to find that the added benefit of quicker setup does not come with a caveat of decreased durability. However, it may be beneficial to be aware of the connections of the instant tents’ components. As these components do not detach completely from the rest of the tent, a haphazard or careless teardown of the tent may cause damage at these locations, but if you are careful when packing your instant tent, you can expect a similar lifespan as a traditional tent.

Other Considerations During Tent Purchase


No matter what style of tent you purchase, campers may need to consider a few other factors.

  1. The floor length of the tent will determine how much room you will have while asleep. While being able to stand fully in the tent is a nice added benefit, and peak height may need to be considered, your comfort while asleep should be a priority, as you are likely to spend more time sleeping in your tent than standing up inside it.
  2. The number of doors should also be a consideration if you intend to spend your outings with multiple people. Additional tent doors can help lower the feeling of claustrophobia and can prevent tumbling over one another as you attempt to enter or exit during the night.
  3. A rainfly may also be beneficial for your camping trip. If you plan to camp in an area that is expecting rain a rainfly can help keep you and your things dry, while not having a rainfly in a time of unexpected rain can lead to an unpleasant camping experience. If you are considering an instant tent, check to see if the material of the tent is already waterproofed or if the manufacturer incorporated a rainfly into the design.

The Best Tent for You

best tents

Whether you decide to opt for an instant tent or a traditional tent, you will be able to make an informed decision about the benefits and pitfalls of each style.


Each tent has a purpose that is unique to its design, and understanding which tent best suits your camping needs will help with decision making. If you enjoy camping in extreme temperatures at high altitudes, a three-season tent will not fit your needs. Likewise, if you are a casual camper who enjoys spending a few weekends a year camping with your family, a four-season tent will likely not serve the intended purpose.


If you keep in mind the seasonality, style, and added benefits like instant setup and the number of doors, picking the right tent to invest in will be simple, and time spent camping can be enjoyed knowing what to expect from a temporary shelter.

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