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Coleman 4-Person Cabin with Instant Setup Review

Super fast set up but minimal room makes this fun and easy but for smaller groups
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Price:  $160 List | $138.49 at Amazon
Pros:  Super easy set up, very nice price
Cons:  Low headroom, overall construction is less than thrilling
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Rick Baraff ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 15, 2020
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Space and Comfort - 35% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 4
  • Ease of Set-Up - 20% 10
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Packed Size - 5% 6

Our Verdict

Get camping in an instant with the easy-as-pie Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Setup. This one-step insta-tent is a pop-up style abode that makes up in quickness and ease what it lacks in amenities and overall size. The smallest tent in terms of floor space AND height in our camping tent review, the Coleman is still a charming, affordable, "quick" solution to simple and fast overnight trips, backyard stay-cations, no-frills "couple's retreats", or as the all-important stress-free kid's tent. And this might be where this tent finds a fun, unique niche in the camping world.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Small but mighty… fun? Handy? Cute? Yes, yes, yes. The Instant Cabin has no award-winning qualities unless you give yourself a medal for spending less money and recognizing it has unlimited value as the kid's tent or easy gear storage. With an interior height of less than 5 feet, it doesn't fit adults super comfortably, but it has found its way into our hearts as that "what if…?" piece of equipment you dream about as you doze off with snoring kids, feisty dogs, dirty bike helmets, and wet towels draped over and around you…

Performance Comparison


The Instant Cabin in all it's 4' 11" tall glory.
The Instant Cabin in all it's 4' 11" tall glory.

Space and Comfort


Space is not going to be something synonymous with the Instant Cabin. As one of the smaller "4-person" tents out there — and the smallest in our review group — it relies on its simplicity, fast set up, and "cozy comfort" to win hearts and minds. With only one door, three windows, low overhead, and a couple small pockets, it's the camping equivalent of a Hobbit's den.

Looking in the door of the Instant Cabin.
Looking in the door of the Instant Cabin.

As comfort is often what you make of it, the Instant Cabin obviously comes with a floor and walls to keep you separate from bugs, critters, and some of the elements, and thus all tents being equal with your eyes closed, a comfy pad underneath you, and your favorite pillow, you'll do just fine in a prone position getting zzz's in pleasant weather. But sitting will be a chore with anything close to the four people it claims to hold and forget standing up unless you're well under 5 feet tall.

Checking out the view through the front (and only) door.
Checking out the view through the front (and only) door.

Weather Resistance


This is the epitome of a single-walled tent as it doesn't even come with a rain fly or anything else to separate you and the elements. The Coleman site says it has an "integrated vented rainfly," which sounds like it might have a rainfly that's sewn on and just tucked into some stash pocket. In actuality, this just means the tent itself is coated/treated for weather/water resistance, as are the door and window covers. So if it's raining or blowing, you're gonna know it pretty quick as the barrier is thin.

The main hub and one of the top-mounted air vents in the "integrated fly".
The main hub and one of the top-mounted air vents in the "integrated fly".

The one advantage to smaller sized tents is that, lo and behold, there's LESS material for the wind to catch! So with the compact form factor, if staked out well with the guy lines, this will stand up to a fair amount. Unfortunately, like some other Coleman products we reviewed, the floor material doesn't wrap up the sides "bathtub style" to keep the seams off the ground. The seams are pretty much at ground level (maybe bending up a little bit depending on how taut you stake it out), so this is always (in just about any tent) a spot to watch for when things turn wet and soggy.

The bottom interior corner of the Instant Cabin.
The bottom interior corner of the Instant Cabin.

Ease of Set-Up


Now we're talking! It. Simply. Doesn't. Get. Any. Easier. Than. This.

Unfold. Pop Up. Done.

Just press here for instant tent! The quick release on the leg of the Coleman Instant Cabin.
Just press here for instant tent! The quick release on the leg of the Coleman Instant Cabin.

Durability


Again, if compact has something to do with durability in the tent world, then the Instant Cabin does okay here. A lot of the durability factor has to do with how it takes on the elements, and the form factor makes it at least more structurally sound than 4-person tents that are twice the volume. That said, despite the poles being made of steel, we're leery of all the moving parts. There are four free-moving hinges at the four top corners, a rather large plastic hub atop the whole structure with plenty of screws and hinged connectors, and the telescoping "rapid" legs that lock into place with a tiny metal 'pop' button.

The free-moving hinges that help make this Instant tent "instant."
The free-moving hinges that help make this Instant tent "instant."

The actual tent and floor material are standard Coleman "issue" — burly, somewhat rough polyester that can at least withstand some tramping and just about anything your kids can throw at it. It's a get-what-you-pay-for item that will either last you a few years or be a lemon out of the box.

Packed Size


The Instant Cabin goes back down almost as quickly as it goes up. We say almost because you'll probably have to compress a little air out of the fabric to get it back in the case. BUT, the case has a tear-away strip that leads to an expansion compartment, giving you more room to pack this back inside.

The rectangular carry case for the Instant Cabin 4.
The rectangular carry case for the Instant Cabin 4.

Value


Value + Instant Cabin = A Good Deal. There's little question that unless you do get a total lemon straight out of the bag, you should get plenty of value out of this very affordable tent. We're just not sure for how long.

Some of the fine print on the carry case of this blissfully cheap 4-person tent.
Some of the fine print on the carry case of this blissfully cheap 4-person tent.

Conclusion


Coleman has a variety of budget-friendly tents (and other gear!) that hit a sweet spot in the value-vs-amenities-vs-craftsmanship matrix — and this Instant Cabin is no exception. As we thought a lot about who this might appeal to, it became clear by looking at Coleman's own promo photos: they feature kids getting in and out! It's sized and priced right to have this along as a Happy Camper second tent, or simply as a no-worries option for quick two-person getaways to the beachside or balmy climes.

Rick Baraff