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I have not only the Coleman 4-Person Instant Tent, but also the 4-Person Carlsbad Tent, the 6-Person Sundome Tent, and the 2-Person Sundome Tent, and in this blog post, I’ll go through all the differences between these tents.
The Coleman Instant Tent sets up and packs away anywhere between 50-100% more quickly than the Sundome Tent, it has more livable space, and slightly higher quality materials. In contrast, the Coleman Sundome Tent has a bigger base area, it’s much lighter, and it functions better in rainy weather.
|Sundome Tent (4P)
|Instant Tent (4P)
|Set Up Timing
|Take Down Timing
|9 by 7 feet
|8 by 7 feet
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Check out the Coleman Sundome and Instant Tents:
Ease of Use
Set Up Timing
Setting up a 4-Person Sundome Tent takes about 8.5 minutes, while the 4-Person Coleman Instant Tent takes just 4.5 minutes, or about half the time.
Take Down Timing
Taking down and packing away a 4-Person Sundome will take about 7.5 minutes, while the 4-Person Instant Tent will take about 5 minutes.
Because of the instant mechanism of the 4-Person Instant Tent, I was able to save between 30 to 50% of not only the set-up time, but also the pack up time.
All the poles of the Instant Tent are pre-attached, and I didn’t have to insert them through pole sleeves. All I had to do was prop the poles up, and extend all the poles upward.
On top of that, all the pole clips are pre-attached as well, so I didn’t have to clip them on.
While the peak height for both the 4-Person Carlsbad Tent (which is the equivalent of a Sundome Tent but with an extra screen room) and the 4-Person Instant Tent is about the same, coming in at 60 and 61 inches, the cabin shape of the 4-Person Instant Tent makes it feel a lot roomier, so I can freely stretch my arms out.
I can’t stand upright though, because this is only a 4-person tent.
The base area for both tents is about the same though, both fit 4 pads without much leftover space, or 1 queen bed with some leftover space.
For the heavy rain test, I found that the length of each Coleman tent’s rainfly really affects how long it stays dry under heavy rain.
The Sundome Tent has a decent rainfly length, covering about one-third of the entire tent body, and it leaked only after 30 to 35 minutes.
On the other hand, the Coleman Instant Tent has a really tiny rainfly, covering only the very top of the tent, so a lot of water ran over the tent body.
After just 15 minutes of heavy rain, I found quite a bit of leaking from the seam connecting the bathtub flooring to the black tent fabric, and the tent was overall pretty drenched.
Rainy Day Ventilation
For rainy day ventilation, for the traditional Sundome tent, even with the windows completely closed, I still had some ventilation from the 2 huge mesh wall vents on each side of the tent, and a small ground vent at the back of the tent.
However, for the Instant Tent, I had to close all the windows, and there were no vents inside the tent. So, on a rainy day, ventilation is limited.
The materials used in the Sundome Tent is typically 68D polyester for the tent body, either 68D or 75D polyester for the rainfly, and fiberglass for the tent poles.
In contrast, the Coleman instant tent is made of 150D polyester, which is what Coleman calls “double-thick fabric”, and the poles are made of alloy steel, so overall higher quality materials.
A 4-Person Sundome is supposed to weigh about 10 pounds, and the 4-Person Instant Tent is almost twice as heavy, coming in at 18 pounds. And that’s not including the rainfly and the rainfly stakes, which will weigh another 2 pounds or so.
The packed size of the 4-Person Instant Tent (40 x 11 x 8 inches) is much bigger than even a 6-Person Sundome Tent (27 x 12 x 9.5 inches), it’s about 30% longer to be more specific.
I paid less than $50 bucks for the 2-Person Sundome, about $100 bucks for the 6-Person Sundome, and more than $100 bucks for the 4-Person Instant Tent. And I paid an additional $30 bucks for the separate rainfly.
I think it’s quite a bit more expensive due to the slightly higher quality materials, but I found it really weird that the 4 to 8-Person Coleman Instant Tents have rainflies that must be purchased separately.
Overall, I think the Coleman Instant Tent is a great pick if you love the instant set up and cabin shape, and if you’re camping only in fair weather. It’s definitely more of a summer tent with lots of ventilation.
I especially love the 10-Person Coleman Instant Tent for hot summer days, because it seriously has tons of hot day ventilation, plus blackout fabric to keep you cool in the summer heat.
And you don’t have to pay for a separate rainfly, it comes included with your purchase.
But if you need a tent that’s better in heavier rains, or you need something that doesn’t pack down so big, or if you need something on a budget, you can go for the traditional Sundome tent instead.
Even without the instant mechanism, the set up and take down is still pretty simple, and I’d recommend the 6-Person Sundome for that nice 6-foot peak height in the middle.
Bonus: Must Read!
To find out how the Instant and Sundome tents compare against more than 10 other Coleman tents, I highly recommend that you read this blog post here: I Tested the 14 BEST Coleman Tents!