Is the instant tent a camping nightmare?
May 23, 2010 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Do you, or does anyone you know, have a Coleman Instant Tent? What do you, or they, think of it?

We need a big, sturdy tent that sets up with ease, has few losable parts, and will keep us dry in the rain (read: survive inevitable the festival storm). By the website's description, the Instant Tent meets all of those expectations, but we have only been able to find two reviews online. We'd really like some more anecdotal information.

We're not concerned about weight, as we will be car camping until the 3yo, 2yo, and 1yo are old enough haul in their own gear.
posted by wg to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I used to work at a camp for kids with disabilities. They bought us a few of these one year thinking they would be easy. They weren't bad, were decent in the rain, but they didn't last long. Two were ruined the first time someone took them down the first time as the idiot did something funky to it and, once fucked with, the complicated rigging system will never work again. A third memorably went into the lake. Two people popped it, turned away, a giant gust of wind came up, and that damn thing went galloping across the meadow, turning toes over tits with two counselors chasing after it until it sailed off across Lake Cheerio. All of the instant tents lasted one summer. The pup tents, while not big, were year after year the most dependable and I never had to run after one. I found learning some tricks with tarps to be one of the best additions to my car camping lineup. They may not be as comfortable to roost under as a tent but they are cheap and easy. Like me.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oh, I was so hoping you would tell us it was a great tent. That video is very attractive. We are in the market to replace ours, if not this year, then next. (I'd have paid money to watch that tent go galloping away, though.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:12 PM on May 23, 2010

I have an Ozark Trail tent from Wal-Mart. We paid $25 for it. Setup goes like this: Lay tent out flat. Fold out shock poles. Place ends of poles on pins at tent corners. Clip tent edges to poles. Loop top cords to poles. That's it. Two people can have this thing up in under three minutes.
posted by azpenguin at 7:42 PM on May 23, 2010

Response by poster: azpenguin - I, just last year, retired an Ozark Trail four-man tent from Wal-Mart. That tent stayed up during storms that damn-near tore down the festival tents.

We're fine with shock cord pole set ups and price-wise they are about the same. We just wanted to know if the instant tent was too good to be true.
posted by wg at 8:00 PM on May 23, 2010

This was several years ago and the whole pop-tent/instant tent thing was a little new. They may have figured things out a little better by now, but, my impression is it's a little like buying a TV/VCR/DVD combo. There seemed to be a lot of things to go wrong that would screw the whole system.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:36 PM on May 23, 2010

I think the Coleman Instant Tent you originally asked about is our (yes, I work at Coleman!) new product, that's only been in the market a month or so. There have been other models by other manufacturers before, but this is a new item. We've been hearing great things from consumers. We're adding reviews to our site soon, so hopefully you'll be able to see them here this summer:
I'm trying one out in a few weeks...I'll let you know!
posted by bballma at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2010

Best answer: OK, here you go. I BOUGHT the new tent that the Coleman Rep above is alluding to... I was excited about it having watched the video. It is a really cool idea. I popped it up the first time by myself, and even with no experience and doing it myself I had the thing up in less than 5 minutes. Very cool... When I went to take it down I found that the pole system was binding and very hard to retract. I put it up again... and when I went to take it down it was IMPOSSIBLE to retract... I am large, and VERY strong, and the pole would not retract.... Rendering the thing a useless piece of junk. I was very disappointed, as conceptually it is awesome. Now I am concerned looking on the Coleman site as to if they will be reasonably easy to work with on the warranty.... I will come back and keep you posted. On the one hand, I want a replacement, on the other hand, it looks to me like this problem would recur with a replacement. It is too bad, as it is the coolest thing ever to put the tent up in 60 seconds.... Any tips for me bballma? Thanks all...
posted by jcworth at 11:43 AM on June 5, 2010

Update:I still dont know how good the tent is, but I bought it online from a place I had never heard of called hutshop, as they were one of the few places to have it in inventory. I was worried about returning it, but they were very gracious, and even sent me a call tag for my old tent while they cross shipped me a new one at no charge! Yay Hutshop! Hoping this one works out better than first, cuz it is a a real cool design.
posted by jcworth at 6:20 PM on June 12, 2010

Response by poster: Hmmm... thanks for the first hand accounts Foam Pants and jcworth. Since I'm pretty competent with standard tent set-up, I think we will skip the allure of the instant set-up. We mostly just need room for the whole family to have a dry place to sleep.
posted by wg at 8:45 AM on June 22, 2010

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