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The Best Family Camping Tents of 2022

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Editor's Choice Product image of Coleman 4-Person Skylodge Instant Camping Tent
Best Overall

Coleman 4-Person Skylodge Instant Camping Tent

This excellent tent with well-thought-out features will give you the gift of time on your family camping trips. Read More

Pros

  • Superior ventilation
  • Easy one-person setup
  • Mosquito net skylight

Cons

  • One door
  • Poles are tricky the first couple of uses
Editor's Choice Product image of Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin
Best Value

Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin

A straightforward and simple tent that will make for a stress-free camp setup. Read More

Pros

  • Can be put up in 60 seconds
  • Easy one-person setup
  • Comes in a range of sizes

Cons

  • Could use more air ventilation
  • Heavy
Product image of Core 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent

Core 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent

A roomy tent that doesn't skimp on the extras and comes in sizes to accommodate groups as large as 12-people. Read More

Pros

  • Lots of storage options
  • High center height
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • No back window or door
  • Sticky door zipper
Product image of Coleman 4-Person Skydome Camping Tent

Coleman 4-Person Skydome Camping Tent

While not quite an "instant tent", a great lightweight family tent that has excellent ventilation and makes setup easier than most standard tents. Read More

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Cool LED-light feature
  • Comes in sizes up to 8-person

Cons

  • None that we could find
Product image of Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent

Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent

A one-handed set-up, this tent pops open for an instant camp setup in seconds. Read More

Pros

  • 10-second setup
  • Easy rain fly

Cons

  • No lantern hooks
  • A tight fit for a family of 4

Wouldn't it be nice to roll up to a campsite at sunset, throw up a tent in seconds, and tuck the kiddos into their favorite sleeping bags so you can immediately kick back in your favorite camp chair and enjoy some immediate R & R?

If you're a weekend warrior type, if you like to make last-minute camping plans, or if you're a working family that just can't afford to take off early on Fridays every time you want to get into the great outdoors, you should be buying yourself an instant tent. Instant tents are the dream invention of car camping families everywhere and we tested eight of the most popular ones on the market to find the best.

After weeks of rigorous testing that included a Boy Scout campout, yard camping, and weather testing through both 90-degree heat and monsoon-level rainfall, we fell in love with the Coleman Skylodge Instant Tent (available at Amazon for $239.99), which we chose as our top pick. Coming in as the best value buy is the Coleman Instant Cabin (available at Amazon). Both tents will transform your family campouts.

Here are the best instant tents for families we tested ranked, in order:

1. Coleman Skylodge
2. Coleman Instant Cabin
3. Core 6-person tent
4. Coleman Skydome
5. Coleman Pop-up
6. Moon Lence 4-5 Person Instant Pop-Up Tent
7. Night Cat Waterproof Camping Tent
8. Toogh

A woman walks away from a Coleman Instant tent
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

The Coleman Skylodge had all of the simplicity of an Instant tent with lots of great design features.

Best Overall
Coleman 4-Person Skylodge Instant Camping Tent

If you want a sturdy and strong tent with superior ventilation that sets up in a matter of seconds, you’re going to love the Coleman Skylodge Instant tent. It was the tent that turned my die-hard, backpacking tent-loving husband into a believer.

When we tested this tent, my son and I arrived at our campsite solo at nearly 9 p.m. in the pitch dark at an unfamiliar campground along with another family. It took them over 40 minutes to pitch their standard tent, which they had used many times prior. It took me, with a brand new tent, under 5 minutes. I expected this tent to be easy to set up, but I had no idea it’d be quite this easy.

Taking it down was just as simple, and my husband has been waxing poetic for weeks about the ease with which he was able to pack this tent up and hit the road.

As for the time spent in the tent: This is a great tent! It has a mesh sunroof that allows for excellent airflow and panoramic views, a floor-to-ceiling door, and three windows on the remaining sides—which makes for excellent cross ventilation during summer camping months.

Two storage pockets were roomy enough for a wallet, a phone, an e-reader, a couple of headlamps, and even a mini children’s audio player and headphones. We don’t tend to plug in when we are at a campsite, but an added E-port electrical sleeve allows you to easily run a cable to an outlet without compromising warmth in the tent.

Aluminum poles make for a durable frame that feels like it could stand up to heavy winds and a color-coded rain fly allows for simple orientation when inclement weather rolls in.

The biggest complaint we had was that the poles can be a little sticky at the first use. After a few more uses they now move with ease. Should we have difficulty in the future, a spray of lubricant should help. We also would have loved to have had two doorways, to allow for kids to enter and exit from either side.

This three-season tent is a total winner. Set-up and break-down are both quick and easy and it has a roomy interior with lots of floor space and headroom to give excellent shelter for families, with options to outfit groups as small as two and as large as ten.

My family loves this tent and—as far as family camping tents are concerned—it has made us complete converts to the world of instant tents. Whether you are a new camper or just looking to simplify things when taking your family on camping adventures, this tent is a total winner.

Pros

  • Superior ventilation

  • Easy one-person setup

  • Mosquito net skylight

Cons

  • One door

  • Poles are tricky the first couple of uses

The Coleman Instant Cabin tent.
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

The Coleman Instant Cabin family tent has a cult following.

Best Value
Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin

The Coleman Instant Cabin has an enormous cult following and when we tried it, we could see why. This is a phenomenal tent for the casual car camper and those of us that prefer not to mess around with complicated poles and protracted setup times. This charming little tent is perfect for weekend getaways, backyard staycations, or even for a little pop-up playhouse for kids to enjoy.

We tested the four-person version of this tent and have to say that, when they say instant, they mean it with this no-frills, well-priced, one-step family camping tent. The aluminum poles extend and collapse using a button system that is a cinch to figure out. Vertical walls, two large side windows, and one floor-to-ceiling door with an adjacent window gave this pop-up abode a decidedly cabin-like feel. A roomy floorplan and a center height of nearly 5 feet allow for easy movement. You feel like you have a lot of breathing room in this well-priced tent. An integrated rainfly further contributes to the ease of setup—particularly for the entry-level camper.

This family camping tent isn’t without its flaws, however. This tent can feel stuffy: The lack of a rear window and sunroof prevented the kind of airflow we prefer. We'd love to see either a second door or a rear window, to improve overall ventilation on this tent. That aside, this is a charming entry-level tent that impressed us and our volunteer testers right off the bat.

Pros

  • Can be put up in 60 seconds

  • Easy one-person setup

  • Comes in a range of sizes

Cons

  • Could use more air ventilation

  • Heavy

How We Tested Family Camping Tents

The Tester

I’m Janelle Randazza, the parenting writer at Reviewed. I’m an avid outdoors woman with nearly 30 years of camping experience: I’m also a total gear nut and my husband and I own a somewhat embarrassingly large collection of tents for camping. Some are from our backpacking days, some are from when we switched to family car camping. In short, we have a lot of experience with tents. Surprisingly, it took this article to push us to acquire our first instant tent, and now it will be a permanent part of our family camping gear arsenal.

One of the reasons it took us so long to take the plunge is we are pretty picky about our tents. It was going to take a special instant tent to convert us. After trying eight tents—seven instant and one not—we consider ourselves official converts.

The Tests

A series of tents in a back yard
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

We pitched each of the tents in our yard to test for durability, comfort, space, and water resistance.

We didn't set out to almost exclusively review instant tents but when we started our search to find the best family camping tent we knew that ease and speed of setup was the most important feature we needed to look for. No one wants to deal with a complicated camp setup when you have kids to watch after.

While there are lots of excellent family tents on the market, instant camping tents have been gaining popularity, so we decided to focus our testing exclusively on tents that claimed to be “instant” or able to be set up in 5 minutes or less.

While many of these tents claim they can be assembled in 60 seconds, that doesn’t include laying down a tarp, putting in tent stakes, securing guylines, or putting on a rain fly. For our testing, we allowed a 5-minute start-to-finish setup time, to be completed by one person, with all of the additional steps. Any tent that took longer than 5 minutes to fully set up was docked points. Each tent was assembled by yours truly. Some were additionally tested by family friends.

After setup, we assessed the size of each tent by putting in two inflatable camping pads that, when pushed together, create a queen-sized mattress. Because most car campers want comfort, if we weren’t able to fit a queen-size mattress in the tent, points were lost in scoring. If they then weren’t able to fit four sleeping bags side-by-side, they were docked even further.

A tent should be a refuge from both rain and blazing sun and it should be a comfortable place for kids to take a quick nap or steal some quiet time. Since most families camp in the summertime, we tested for air ventilation and we tested for water resistance against a summer storm.

All of the tents were either taken on a car camping trip or set up in our yard for four days and two sprinkler cycles. What's more, five of the eight tents made it through a rain and hailstorm! This was unexpected, but it allowed us to authentically test their weatherproofing. To allow the three remaining tents to sustain the same level of elements, we doused them with a garden hose.

What You Should Know About Buying a Family Camping Tent

A Core tent in the wild.
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

The Core Instant Tent comes in sizes all the way from 4-person to 12-person.

Size Up

Before you even start your search for a family tent, know this: Choose a bigger tent than you think you need. If a tent is sized as a four-person tent, know that it will have space to accommodate four sleeping bags with each family member packed in like sardines. A four-person tent is best for a three-person family. If you want space to move around or space for a dog or your backpacks, size up.

Prepare Before You Go

These tents are easy but, for some of our testers, they weren't entirely intuitive. We highly recommend that before you pitch a tent at a campsite you watch online videos to familiarize yourself with their setup and breakdown processes. For instant tents, this is just as important.

Instant Tents Are Heavy

Since we tested a lot of instant tents in this roundup, we want you to know that they can be heavier than you might expect from a tent. While instant tents are getting lighter and lighter, if you are used to more standard tents, know that instant tents are much heavier and are not a good choice as a carry-along when you hit the trails. These tents are best for car camping, backyard campouts, and staycations.

Be Sure to Weatherproof

When testing, we read a fair number of reviews where the expectations of tents may be more than is typically reasonable for the product. Many tents—especially the more affordable ones—tend to require that you waterproof them before their first use and again at regular intervals depending on the use. It’s always best to waterproof a new tent before the first use to keep out heavy rains.

A man pulls at the side of a Core tent.
Credit: Reviewed / Janelle Randazza

Ventilation and ease of setup were two key things we tested for.

Ventilation is Key

Some tents skimp on ventilation. This can be problematic with all family camping tents, but we noticed in testing that this was a major issue with many instant tents. Many lacked windows on four sides, which can be stifling in warmer weather if you haven't positioned your tent in the right direction for a cross breeze—something we found frustrating.

What's more, when shopping for a family camping tent know that the tents with integrated rain flies can often be problematic. As far as ventilation is concerned, the only tent we recommend that has an integrated rain fly is the Coleman Instant Tent. The Night Cat came close to getting our endorsement, but cheap components prevented it from being an editor's choice. Read on for our explanations.


Other Family Camping Tents We Tested

Product image of Core 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent
Core 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent

We loved the thoughtful design features of this tent by this Kansas-based company, including electrical cord access, a lantern hook, a gear loft, and a huge wall organizer. There’s a place for everything, so you’ll never be left scrambling to find your cell phone, headlamp, or wallet with this tent.

One of the better-ventilated family camping tents we tried, the Core has an adjustable venting system that includes three windows, a door, a mesh sunroof, and two floor vents to keep air circulating on hot days. Though, as with many of the instant tents tested, we were disappointed to find that there was no back window or door.

This was, however, a sturdy and easy-to-set-up tent that held up well to the elements and came with a lot of excellent features for the price. This tent comes in sizes small enough to accommodate four people and large enough to accommodate 12.

Pros

  • Lots of storage options

  • High center height

  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • No back window or door

  • Sticky door zipper

Product image of Coleman 4-Person Skydome Camping Tent
Coleman 4-Person Skydome Camping Tent

Honestly, we loved this tent. My husband, the gear nut, couldn’t stop praising it.

Pre-attached poles that unfold break down easily and ensure that you are never scrambling to figure out which pole goes where. Color-coded hooks make the rain-fly assembly intuitive. High-quality features like a full mesh upper area, storage pockets, a storage loft, and battery-operated interior lighting make this a well-priced, well-structured tent that is loaded with bells and whistles.

The only issue of note is that, while the Coleman Skydome calls itself an instant tent, it really isn’t one. It lacks telescopic poles or pop-open features to make it truly instant. It is, however, one of the easiest family camping tents we've ever assembled, making it a perfect middle-ground for a family that wants an easier tent setup and a sturdy build, without the bulk of an instant tent.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Cool LED-light feature

  • Comes in sizes up to 8-person

Cons

  • None that we could find

Product image of Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent
Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent

Be careful with this tent—it goes up so fast you could lose an eye! As far as family camping tents go, you can’t get an easier setup than this pop-up tent, and it comes down almost easier than it goes up.

The connected rain fly is a cinch to connect and, what’s more, the open roof makes this a dreamy tent for gazing up at the stars or at a tree canopy. Our son loved hanging out in this pop-up abode when we tested it in our front yard, which is a testimony to its excellent ventilation.

This pop-up tent packs up into a large, flat disc shape, which is super lightweight. While it held up fine in drizzling rain this tent only has two guylines to secure it to the ground, so we are skeptical it will be able to stand up to heavy winds.

While it bills itself as a four-person tent, know that it’s a tight fit—so we wouldn’t recommend it for more than three people and, if you're tall, it may only be suitable for two.

Pros

  • 10-second setup

  • Easy rain fly

Cons

  • No lantern hooks

  • A tight fit for a family of 4

Product image of Moon Lence 4-5 Person Instant Pop Up Tent
Moon Lence 4-5 Person Instant Pop Up Tent

If there is an easier family camping tent out there, we haven’t seen it. No tent was more simple to set up and take down than the Moon Lence.

Shaped in a hexagon this five-point tent opens and closes like an umbrella, so it makes for a speedy and intuitive setup. The four windows and floor-to-ceiling door, as well as the skylight roof, allow for lots of ventilation and superior cross breeze on hot days.

This is an extra roomy tent for a four-person family, while not being as large as a six-person. That does make for some nice breathing room, however, due to the hexagon shape, it seemed impossible for this tent to actually be able to fit five people as they claim. What’s more, the odd shape made it challenging to add an air mattress or inflatable sleeping pads.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Great cross ventilation

  • Roomy

Cons

  • Flimsy construction

  • Awkward layout makes tough to fit families bigger than three

Product image of Night Cat 2-4 Person Pop Up Tent
Night Cat 2-4 Person Pop Up Tent

We were excited to try out this tent by Night Cat. It had a ton of great online reviews and video bloggers extolled the virtues of this fast and easy tent, hailing it as one of the best family camping tents for the price. We, unfortunately, were disappointed with the tent we received.

While the telescoping frame opened up easily, one of the fiberglass poles popped apart when it came time to break it down. It looked easy to pop back into place, but we don’t love the idea of constantly needing to repair a tent at the end of each camping trip. What’s more, the carrying bag split open the first time I zipped it shut and won't last more than two or three camping trips from the looks of it.

What we did like about this tent was the spacious footprint and the two doors that allowed for a refreshing cross breeze. This tent has an integrated rain fly, and where it could have been stuffy, there was a lot of thoughtful attention to ventilation. Additionally, while the tent can’t stand on its own without the rainfly, the rainfly is attached to the frame. Removal of the internal tent can turn this into a sun tent, which could have made this a real value winner.

This could have been our best value winner, but cheap components knocked it down to the bottom of our list. The design was great, so this is a real shame of craftsmanship.

Pros

  • 10-second setup

  • Two doors

  • Smart design

Cons

  • Cheap components

  • Flimsy construction

Product image of Toogh 3-4 Person Camping Tent
Avoid
Toogh 3-4 Person Camping Tent

With cheap components and a design that seems better suited to suffocation than shelter, this tent is one we strongly advise you to pass on.

Like the Night Cat, this is a tent that can’t stand on its own. The integrated rainfly is attached to the telescoping fiberglass poles and you can remove the internal tent for a sun tent or a minimal camping cover. The problem is that when in tent mode, the Toogh doesn’t have nearly the same level of ventilation as the Night Cat.

For one, it only has one door. For another thing, it was designed where the rainfly and the internal tent didn’t seem to have enough clearance to give proper air circulation. Every time I was in this tent I felt like I was going to suffocate.

What’s more, there is no way this is a four-person tent. This is a two-person tent—and if you and your partner go camping, you’ll probably want to leave your dog at home.

Pros

  • Lightweight

  • Compact

Cons

  • Suffocating design with poor ventilation

  • Can't fit queen air mattress

  • Flimsy construction

Meet the tester

Janelle Randazza

Janelle Randazza

Staff Writer, Parenting

@JanelleRandazza

Janelle Randazza is a writer/mother hybrid and taco enthusiast based out of Los Angeles, California.

See all of Janelle Randazza's reviews

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