Coleman’s Instant Camping Tent
Designed for roominess, luxury and convenience, this humungous cabin-style “Instant” cabin may be just what you need if you’re in the market for a no muss, no fuss solution for sheltering a large number of people (or a smaller number of people who value space), but be warned… if room for eight people, setup time of as little as a minute, and all the other features boasted of by the Coleman “Instant” sound too good to be true, you might be right.
The one thing that’s absolutely impossible to ignore about this model is its sheer size. With 140 square feet of floor space and a peak height of just under six and a half feet, you and your group will be camping in style. Add in two doors, seven huge windows for all-around visibility, and a room divider—great for separating kids from parents, giving couples a bit of privacy, or even just creating a comfortable space to change—and you’ve got a shelter fully engineered for convenience and comfort.
The term “instant tent” is no joke, either—by keeping the steel poles attached to the body, setup times of a just one minute (or even less, with some extra hands and a bit of practice) are easy to accomplish. Of course, keeping that much steel attached to the enormous amount of fabric necessary to form the body means that this model isn’t exactly light; it would be difficult to recommend except for car campers.Of course, you’ll want to make sure your group stays dry and comfortable, which is where Coleman’s years of experience in engineering sturdy wilderness gear will pay off.
Their WeatherTec system means heavy-duty proofing against wind and rain—150-Denier polyester is double the amount even in other WeatherTec products, and it’s all treated with weatherproof coating and combined with wicking thread to help fend off condensation. The manufacturer is so confident in their product, they claim that it doesn’t even need a rain fly, though one is sold separately for the especially cautious.
And, in case you’re worried about such a heavy material turning your abode into a sauna, the seven windows are supplemented by discreet ceiling vents to help heat escape out the top when necessary. Additionally, a welded floor of waterproof material, with seams inverted to help reinforce a common entry point for water on the ground.
The header of this section was not chosen accidentally—as remarkable as the design and construction of the “Instant” may be, it does rely on many small parts, often made of plastic and prone to torqueing and breaking. A huge, heavily-constructed shelter with extra-thick materials and sturdy steel poles that can be undone by the snap of a tiny plastic hinge is an item with a real Achilles’ heel.
What’s worse, it’s a downfall that’s very easy for new owners, who may not be familiar with the precise methods of setting up and breaking down the tent, to stumble into, ruining their purchase before they really have a chance to enjoy it. Even those steel poles—with steel often considered the most rugged and ideal pole material for those who don’t mind the weight—could be undone by the plastic connection points.
As they say, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and many users complain that this model has some very weak links.More exasperating still, reviews abound that reference Coleman’s subpar customer service, especially as regards replacing small, broken parts. With many of the plastic hinges and other finicky little items difficult or impossible to replace (i.e. rarely restocked or outright no longer sold), buyers are advised to be very delicate with their tent, especially while getting the hang of setup and breakdown. Just because you can set it up in a minute doesn’t mean it might not be wise to take it slow the first time or two.
The Coleman “Instant” offers a great deal of luxury, industry-leading weatherproofing (though remember, the savvy camper always reinforces seams, purchases a footprint, and gives their new purchase at least one night in a backyard to see how it holds up), and exceptional ease of use all at a very attractive price. That said, go slow—getting the full value of your purchase means keeping it in good condition. Enjoy!