Coleman Instant Tent 6 ReviewPrice: $260 List | $194.95 at Amazon Pros: Super-quick set-up, roomy, plentiful ventilation, durable floor.
Cons: Inadequate rainfly, the rest of tent is only weather-resistant, no vestibule.
Bottom line: Goes up stunningly fast, but not reliable in bad weather.
Weight: 20.6 lb
The Coleman Instant Cabin 6 is a phenomenal tent for the camping everyman. It's perfect for those of us who don't want to mess around with a bunch of poles and complicated, extended set-up time. If you frequently pull into a campsite long after dark, wanting nothing more than to have your tent up, your body horizontal, and your eyes shut, this is your tent. The Instant Cabin 6 lives up to its name. It goes up quickly and comes down the same way. That's probably its most remarkable feature. Beyond that, the Instant Cabin is a solid, reliable tent with one potentially fatal flaw. As long as the weather is good, you'll be happy with the Instant Cabin, but if it starts to precipitate with any kind of fury, like us, you may begin to get a little nervous with a rain fly that only covers the top of the tent, neglecting most of the main tent walls. Of course, if you check the weather and actively avoid the wet stuff, this tent will treat you well given its frugal price.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Tents of 2018
Our Analysis and Test Results
At 90 square feet and a head height of 6'2", the Instant Cabin 6 is as spacious as any tent we've reviewed here. Coleman makes the claim that you can fit two queen-sized air mattresses in the Instant Cabin, and while that's technically true, it would leave exactly zero inches between them, basically turning your entire tent into a bouncy castle. That being said, you could conceivably fit the stated capacity of six in the Instant Cabin, though it would be more comfortable at four.
Windows on all sides (including the door), as well as pop-out vents on the top, and even a ground vent in the back keep the air moving and temperatures reasonable inside the tent.
One feature that is noticeably absent is the vestibule. While many tents of this size include some form of vestibule to keep your shoes or other gear out of the tent, but also out of the elements, the Instant Cabin 6, does not.
It also lacks somewhat in interior storage space. There are only two moderately-sized pockets (in opposite corners). It's nice to have a place to put the small things you carry around in your pockets all day (car keys, phone, wallet, etc.), and the Instant Cabin 6 can really only meet the need of a couple people in that regard.
It's also worth noting that the Instant Cabin 6 only has one door. This may not be a deal-breaker for many, but it's worth noting. Sometimes it's nice to be able to come in and out both ends of a tent, especially if you're really pushing the capacity. Nobody likes having to step over (or being stepped over) for a late night bathroom trip.
Finally, at the risk of belaboring the point, the simple fact that you can have the Instant Cabin 6 set up in a minute or two, should add to its comfort level. Just imagine kicking back, tent up, favorite beverage in hand, watching your friends continue to struggle to get their tents set up. Sounds comfortable, doesn't it?
In the end, the Coleman Instant Cabin 6 is adequately comfortable. It's not fancy, it's not innovative, and it doesn't set a new standard; but it is roomy, easy, and readily vented. That will get the job done.
If you're already reaching for your credit card, just itching to get your hands on the Coleman Instant Cabin 6, you might want to skip this section. The biggest issue we had with the Instant Cabin was its severely inadequate rain fly. It really only covers the top of the tent, venturing meagerly down the sides, and leaving most of the walls vulnerable to the elements.
But wait, they must have made the rest of it waterproof to compensate, right? Nope. Coleman's patented and much ballyhooed WeatherTec technology only uses a weather-resistant, coated polyester fabric meaning that any of the tent not covered by the rain fly will get wet and leak in moderate to heavy or consistent rain.
To their credit, the floor of the Instant Cabin is tarpaulin, but even then, it stops right at the edges and doesn't run up the side a few inches to further guard against ground wetness.
As long as the weather cooperates, you won't have a problem, but if the forecast is calling for much rain, you might want to look elsewhere for either a tent or a drier place to go camping.
Windy conditions in the Instant Cabin 6 were a different story. With thick, strong poles, and bending, jointed corners. rather than curved poles, the Instant Cabin was sturdy in moderate (15-20 mph) winds and we're confident it would hold up well if those gusts increased. You can also secure the tent further with guy lines to limit excessive wind buffeting. It's a small point, but also worth noting that the guy lines are woven with reflective material so they'll pop out at you when you hit them with a flashlight in the dark. Anyone who has spent much time outside has kicked through a stake or guy line in the dark.
Ease of Setup
Admittedly we were skeptical when we read the claim on the storage bag, "Instant setup in 60 seconds or less". Sure, we thought. Right. That'll be the day. When you put the words "Instant Cabin" in your title, you're setting a high bar for yourself. That being said, the Coleman lives up to its billing. The only variable factor in set-up time is how fast you feel like walking around the tent unfolding the poles and pulling them to their full length.
If you're speedy you can probably have the tent up (sans rain fly) in 45 seconds. If you prefer to take your time, maybe 60 seconds. The Instant Cabin 6's poles are pre-attached to the tent so that all you have to do is unfold the tent and get the poles facing the proper direction, then pull the poles apart to extend them to their full length, at which point they click into place, attach a couple easy clips to each pole, and voila! Instant Cabin.
The rain fly might take another couple minutes, but it's also a very simple set of buckles that even one person can handle with ease. If you've always had a more traditional tent, you'll find yourself laughing at how quick and easy the Instant Cabin 6 goes up.
Six-person tents are not made to be compact. They are not made to be hauled many miles through the wilderness or get blown away in a light breeze. While the packed away Instant Cabin 6 is one of the larger tents we reviewed (44" in length), it's still easily manageable and storable, so it shouldn't be an issue.
Most of us will be transporting the Instant Cabin by car, not packing it away for a through hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. The bag has a zipper that runs through the middle from one end to the other (all the way through the ends to the ground). You'll have to be moderately careful rolling it back up to get everything neatly in the carrying case, but it's fairly easy to do. There's nothing revolutionary about the Instant Cabin's storage bag. It's what you'd expect in most tents of this size. It's not great, but it's certainly not a reason to shy away from purchasing one.
What's odd is that the Coleman Instant Cabin's shortcomings in weather-resistance seemingly add to its quality in workmanship. In only making the tent's walls water resistant, the folks at Coleman did make them thicker and more reinforced than your average tent, meaning they should last longer and be less prone to rips and tears. As mentioned earlier, the tarp floor is a nice touch as well. Because the pole system relies on hinged/jointed corners, you're unlikely to stress any poles to the point of bending or breaking.
The Instant Cabin is built sturdy and should have a long life.
This is where the Coleman Instant Cabin 6 shines. At a retail price of $260, it's one of the cheapest tents we've reviewed. Does it have its flaws? Sure. But it's still a great value at that price-point. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might want to look elsewhere, but if you live in California, Colorado, or any other state that typically sees 300+ days of sun a year, the Instant Cabin 6 would be a worthy choice.
Another thing to consider is how flexible your camping plans typically are. If you make reservations six months in advance and stick to them, even if Hurricane Tentzilla is bearing down on you, this might not be your tent. On the other hand, if you find yourself watching the weather and altering your camping plans to avoid wet weekends in the woods, the Instant Cabin will treat you right.
The Coleman Instant Cabin 6 is a good choice for casual campers, the lazy, people who prefer to get to the "enjoying nature" part of the program as quickly as possible, and sunshine-chasers who don't mind being flexible with their weather-dependent plans.
With a full rain fly, we'd be jumping up and down and doing cartwheels of joy over the Coleman Instant Cabin 6. It's hard to ignore the spaciousness and how ridiculously easy it is to set-up. As it stands it's still a nice tent. It just isn't going to be your jack-of-all-trades (or conditions).
— Wes Berkshire
You Might Also Like
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 16, 2018
Summary of All Ratings
33% of 3 reviewers recommend it
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:
Average Customer Rating:
33% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Jul 6, 2016 - 01:47pm
slimjim · Camper · ReginaWe had to upgrade our tent due to the growing size of the family. We chose to the Instant Tent by Coleman due to the ease of set up with the built in poles and the height. It is quick to set up which provides for a quick turn around on setting up camp. It is very roomy inside with high ceilings.
The downfall of the tent is having no fly. We debated buying the tent due to not having a fly but we trusted the Coleman name and bought it. Unfortunately, the tent does not stand up to rain unless it is a shirt-lived light sprinkle. Any amount of rainfall leaks at all four top seams where the poles begin to slope towards the outer corners.
We used the tent once on the July 1, 2016, weekend and found ourselves scrambling at 2:00 in the morning to move the kids and sleeping bags to the truck due to the leaky seams on the top. In addition to the water dripping straight down at all four spots into the middle of the tent, it also ran down the inside on the roof of the tent towards the outside corners (as the rain continued). There were puddles in the tent when it was finished.
We will not buy another tent without a fly and it likely won't be a Coleman. Live and Learn. We will see if we are able to get our money back.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
Jul 4, 2015 - 11:26pm
Wayne Taylor · Camper · VirginiaProduct comes with a one-year warranty. We have used it three times. Once was for setup in our backyard so we knew how to use it. It broke the third time we used it and there is no way to fix it. Coleman did get back to us and offered us %25 off a new tent with free shipping. The fly was a custom fit for this tent and cost us $46 dollars. So we are close to $196 on a useless tent. The umbrella action has a complex spring mechanism at the top that is not serviceable!!! Now we have a $196 paper weight.
If the tent mechanism was perfect, the weight is terrible and the size is enormous. This thing doesn't pack well. Coleman knows it. After you unpack it the first time, the bag actually has a single use seam that you are supposed to rip open so you can get the tent back into the now larger bag.
It takes two hands to open the door, and two zipper actions. The horizontal zipper and the vertical zippers are not connected.
The windows are fine. The height is fine.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Sep 1, 2013 - 06:37pm
Darth Vader · Camper · Los Angeles, CAVery Happy with tent. Purchased tent (orange bottom version) on sale for $99 earlier this summer. Then found out why so cheap. No real rain fly protection. Considered taking it back, but came up with excellent solution that cost me less than $10.00 - with tax. Purchased a 10 x 12 blue poly tarp. Last week went camping into an area that was expecting major weather from a current Mexican off-shore storm. Big Bear Lake, CA. Major storm blew through Monday 8-26-2013, rained steadily all day, and I was ready. Perfect test.
Tent erects in couple minutes. Love that. Put the poly tarp over the tent resting it on the support poles across the top. Long length (12') fore and aft over the tent. Guided it out all around with lines running from tarp's grommet holes to stakes in the ground - or trees as available. Tarp covered well over all sides. Even had enough for a 2 foot+ overhang over the front of the tent. Used one aluminum pole to prop up the overhang over the door area and had a great awning. Tarp provided enough protection where I could open ALL the windows ALL the way down. Could open front door ALL the way with no rain coming in. Now feel much better about my bargain purchase. In fact — Love It.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...