Ozark Trail 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent Review (Tested!)

I bought the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6-Person Camping Tent from a friend to make this review, and I managed to test its ease of use, dark rest technology, quality, and loads more.

The author in her Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Me in my Ozark Trail tent.

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I would recommend this Ozark Trail tent only if you check all the following boxes:

  • You’re on a very strict budget

  • You’re a first-time/casual camper who just wants to try it out

  • You love both the dark rest and instant setup for the price

  • You camp only in fair weather.

Otherwise, there are plenty of other tents out there that are better than this.

To watch my full review, check out my YouTube video here (TBA):

Check out the Ozark Trail Dark Rest 6:

RELATED: The 7 Best Instant Tents

Alternatively, keep reading (if you prefer that to watching a YouTube video). Here’s everything you’ll find out in this blog post:

In the Box

Here’s what I got out of the box:

  • Tent body (with pre-attached poles)

  • Rainfly

  • Pocket organizer (included) x 1

  • Gear loft (included) x 1

  • Stakes x 9

  • Carry bag (included) x 1

And now, here’s all the testing that I did with this Ozark Trail tent, and of course, I’ll show you why I don’t really like it that much.

1. Set Up

Setting up this Ozark Trail Instant 6 took me about 6.5 minutes, and this includes staking and guying out the entire tent. Without staking and guying, it takes about 5 minutes instead.

For a step-by-step guide on how to set this tent up, check out my YouTube video here (TBA):

I really liked how almost everything was pre-attached; this includes the pre-attached poles, pre-attached pole clips, and the 4 pre-attached guylines.

However, I didn’t like that rainfly shock cord to be attached to the tent was super tight. There’s a lot of strain and tension on the shock cord, and eventually you’re gonna need to replace it.

A close-up shot of the shock cord of the rainfly of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
A close-up shot of the shock cord.

2. Pack Away

As for the pack away process, it took me about 6.5 minutes as well.

It would have been a little quicker, if one, compression straps were provided to help get the tent down into a smaller size, and two, if the carry bag provided could have been a little bit bigger.

3. Rain Test

I put this Ozark Trail tent through only a very light rain test, and after just 15 minutes of this, I noticed that some of the rain had actually seeped into the fabric of the tent from the outside.

When I went into the tent, I also noticed that this un-taped flooring seam here got damp. I checked the entire seam around the tent and found that it was damp throughout, which is pretty bad.

The seam that started leaking after the rain test of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
This is the leaky seam. You might not be able to tell from this picture, but the entire seam was damp.

Weirdly enough, this is the only seam exposed to the outside that wasn’t taped.

Overall, this tent is not waterproof at all.

4. Window Ventilation

As for ventilation on rainy days, after the 15 minutes of light rain, I checked the windows of this tent and found that the mesh was already kind of damp. And that’s just from light rain, not to mention heavy rain.

That’s because the rainfly is so tiny, it doesn’t cover any of the windows at all. So, no window ventilation.

The Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 in light rain
The Ozark Trail in rain. It’s so light you can’t even see it coming up in this picture. Also, look at how the rainfly doesn’t cover any of the windows.

5. Vents

Luckily, there is 1 single floor vent at the back of the tent, which measures almost a foot in width from the outside.

The author measuring the width of the ground vent of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Me trying to measure the width of the ground vent from the outside.

The dimensions of the ground vent from the inside are about 29 by 7 inches.

Not the most ventilation, but better than nothing.

6. ‘Innovative’ Dark Rest Technology?

Does the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Cabin tent truly have “innovative dark rest technology”? Well, I conducted tests on this too, and here’s what I found.

  • The Dark Rest tent does keep you very slightly cooler (about 0.5-1 degrees cooler) inside the tent on hot days, compared to a similar tent without the dark rest feature. (Emphasis on the ‘very slightly’.)

  • The Dark Rest tent also blocks sunlight coming into the tent during the day, allowing me to sleep longer.

Here’s what the 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent looks like from the inside, during the day:

What the dark rest feature of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like during the day
What the dark rest feature looks like in the middle of the day.

However, there was one thing I really didn’t like about this Dark Rest tent, and that’s the degrading of the blackout fabric. After just 1.5 years in storage, the dark rest tech started peeling off.

Every time I touched the wall of the tent, it started leaving a sticky residue on my fingers. I initially wanted to use and test this Dark Rest tent out for longer, but I decided to junk it after a few days cos it was really gross.

Overall, I can’t say this 6-Person Dark Rest tent was particularly innovative, I’ve seen better dark rest features in other tents.

7. Base Dimensions

Here are my personal measurements of the dimensions of this Ozark Trail 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Tent:

  • Length: 117.5 inches

  • Width: 104 inches

  • Base area: 84.9 square feet

This is quite a bit smaller than the marketed dimensions of 10 by 9 feet.

8. Mattress Sizing

I found that the Ozark Trail 6 could fit exactly 6 single pads or single sleeping bags, and here’s what they look like inside the tent:

6 single sleeping pads in the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
What 6 single sleeping pads looks like inside the Ozark Trail tent. 2 are single pads, and 2 are double pads.

But of course, you’re sleeping like sardines, and there’s hardly any floor space leftover for gear.

This tent can also fit 2 almost-queen bed mattresses, and here’s what they look like as well, along with their dimensions:

2 queen beds inside the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
The Etekcity Upgraded Camping Mattress (brown, 80 x 59in) and the Alps Mountaineering Vertex Airbed (blue, 80 x 56in) in the Ozark Trail tent.

Notice how my beds aren’t exactly the full queen size, yet they fill up the entire tent? So, if you have 2 actual queen beds of 80 by 60 inches, it won’t be able to fit into the tent, because the length is a little too short for 2 actual queens.

There is some leftover space for gear at the foot of each mattress though.

9. Peak Height

The peak height at the center of this Ozark Trail tent is just 65.5 inches, which is right about the marketed peak height of 66 inches.

However, even though I’m not very tall, when I’m standing at the center of the tent, my head is almost touching the top of the tent.

The author standing in her Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Me standing upright in the tent.

So, if you’re taller than me, you literally won’t be able to stand up in this tent.

10. Side Walls

Not only does this Ozark Trail tent have the lowest peak height of any other 6-person cabin tent I’ve tested, it also has one of the least vertical walls I’ve ever seen.

Here’s what one of the side walls looks like:

What one of the side walls of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like
Look at how slanted the side walls are!

11. Windows

This tent has 3 windows in the entire tent, and here are the dimensions:

  • Side windows (there are 2 of these): 25 by 21 inches

  • Front window: 33 by 28 inches

As you can tell, these are not large windows at all.

The author opening up one of the windows in the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Me opening up the front window. You can also see one of the side windows to the right.

On top of that, the zippers for the windows are small and feel flimsy, even though they’re SBS zippers. Thankfully though, at least they don’t snag.

Another minor con I noticed is that the top of the 2 side windows do not zip up, so this tent is definitely only for summer camping. In any other season, cold air would get in easily.

And as for the quality of the mesh, here’s a close-up of what it looks like, it’s just regular mosquito netting.

A close-up shot of the window mesh in the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
A close-up look at the mesh in the tent.

12. Interior Ceiling Panels

One unique thing about this tent is the ceiling panels. So, basically, there are 2 more windows up top, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in any other tent so far.

This tent has 2 plastic skylight panels on the rainfly, so, when you open the top windows, you get to look at the sky, or stargaze at night, without having to take the rainfly off.

These windows aren’t too big though, each of them is in this triangle shape, with a longest length of 39 inches and longest width of 19 inches. Not exactly unblocked views of the sky, but better than nothing.

The author opening up the skylight windows in the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Me opening up the skylight panels. This is with the rainfly still on the tent. Notice light streaming through 2 windows only.

The other 2 panels at the top are just full mesh and can’t be zipped up (and are covered by the rainfly in the picture above).

13. Door

There’s just a single door at the front of the tent, and to be honest, I didn’t really like it very much for a few reasons.

First, it’s not very big, it has a length and width of just 46 by 36 inches.

Second, it measures just 46 inches from the ground to the top of the door, so you’re gonna have to do a whole lot of ducking to get in and out of this tent through this door. I’m not very tall myself, but even I did feel that I had to duck pretty low.

The author walking through the door of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Look at how much I had to duck just to get through the door!

And third, although it’s the same SBS zippers as the windows, the zipping experience for the door isn’t great.

From the inside of the tent, because the wall of the tent is so floppy, I couldn’t even unzip the zipper with one hand, and I had to use my other hand to hold down the zipper before I could do so.

And on the outside of the tent, the rain flap from the outside will always get caught in the zipper track.

14. Removable Pocket Organizer

The 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Tent comes with a removable pocket organizer, and it’s supposed to be hung up on the back wall (the wall that doesn’t have a window).

What the removable pocket organizer of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like
The removable pocket organizer on the back wall.

There are 6 individual pockets in this organizer, and each pocket measures about 14 by 6 inches.

The 4 corners of this large gear organizer have an S-hook, and each of these are to be attached to the fabric loops on the back wall of the tent.

15. Hanging Gear Loft

There’s also 1 lantern loop right at the very top center of this tent, and another four more loops around it for the provided gear loft (which also has s-hooks in each corner for hanging up).

The gear loft is really quite small, it measures only about 11 by 11 inches.

What the removable gear loft of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like
What the gear loft looks like. It’s tiny!

But one thing I did like is that I could still fit a small lantern up on the lantern loop, even with the gear loft in place.

16. Power Port

There’s also electrical cord access on this tent, at the middle of the tent. From the inside, you can seal it shut completely with Velcro, it’s quite tight and shouldn’t let in any bugs.

A close-up shot of the power port of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
A close-up shot of the power port.

17. Materials

Moving on to the materials of this tent, the flooring definitely looks like polyethylene, while the rest of the tent fabric is made of polyester, and the poles are made of alloy steel.

Oh, and the poles are also starting to show signs of rust, which isn’t good.

18. Stitching

The stitching on this tent isn’t the best, there were quite a few areas of patchwork all around the entire tent, so unfortunately, that’s another con against this tent when it comes to quality.

A close-up shot of one of the seams in the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6
Some patchwork in the stitching on the rainfly.

19. Ceiling Mesh

This is what the tent looks like without the rainfly:

What the ceiling mesh of the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like without the rainfly
The Ozark Trail without the rainfly.

I think this is great for stargazing at night, or to look out during the day as well, and it’s also useful for more ventilation on hot summer days.

20. Instant Mechanism

As for the instant cabin mechanism, there’s only a single hub at the very top of the tent.

There are also 4 elbow joints, which helps to connect some of the poles, and this also make up the instant mechanism.

What the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like without the rainfly
Again, the Ozark Trail without the rainfly. You can see the top hub and also the elbow joints (the joints are covered with a neoprene covering).

Unfortunately, these joints have the tendency to buckle pretty easily in strong winds, so I’d keep this tent away from that.

Also, I felt that this entire tent was really floppy, even with me just shaking it with minimal strength.

21. Portability

For portability, I measured the packed size of this 6-Person Ozark Trail instant tent to be about 44 by 11 by 9.5 inches.

Here’s what it looks like beside a 6-Person Eureka cabin tent, a 2-Person Coleman Sundome tent, and also a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle.

What the Ozark Trail Dark Rest Instant Cabin 6 looks like beside a Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 and a Coleman Sundome 2
From left to right: Ozark Trail Instant Cabin 6, Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6, Coleman Sundome 2, 32-oz Nalgene bottle.

Notice how it’s a lot longer than a 6-person regular tent without the instant mechanism?

The carry bag comes with a hand strap at the top, and this entire tent weighed about 17.8lbs for everything.

What I Liked

Here are all the pros that I could think of when it comes to this Ozark Trail 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent:

  1. It’s an inexpensive, freestanding family camping tent

  2. Takes 40 to 70% less time to set up than a regular 6-person cabin tent

  3. Decent dark rest feature, useful for blocking out sunlight in the day and blocking shadows at night

  4. Unique skylight windows, can stargaze without taking the rainfly off

What I Disliked

However, here’s everything I didn’t like about this 6-Person Dark Rest Instant Tent:

  1. The plastic skylight panels turn yellow after a while

  2. Very little livable space in the tent (low peak height, walls not vertical), feels more like a dome tent rather than a cabin tent, can’t walk around, a lot of bending and crouching inside the tent

  3. Will not stand up to rain and wind

  4. Dark rest fabric will degrade after 1-2 years

  5. Warranty is only 6 months long

  6. Quality is not the best

The Verdict

I think you can tell that there are actually way more cons than pros for this 6-Person Dark Rest Tent, and I wouldn’t really recommend this tent unless:

  • You’re a first-time or even a casual camper who just wants to try it out;

  • You love both the dark rest and instant setup of this tent for the price;

  • You only plan to use it for summer camping; and

  • You camp only in strictly fair weather.

Bonus: Must Read!

I highly recommend investing in a slightly better tent for the long term, I can recommend way better dark rest tents or instant camping tents. I’ll link to them here when they’re ready, so that you can find something better for yourself.

Note: “Dark rest” tents is an Ozark marketing term. These tents are more commonly known as blackout tents.

Alternatively, check out the tent here:

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