CORE Instant Cabin 9p Tent

$219.99
4

Features

4.0/5

Design

3.5/5

Performance

4.0/5

Ease of Use

4.0/5

Value

4.5/5

Pros

  • Airy, luxurious capacity
  • Fast assembly and disassembly
  • Room separation
  • Sturdy for its tent classification
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • Heavy and big
  • May be too large for camp sites
  • No separate door for Main cabin
  • Separator does not provide full privacy
  • May not be sturdy against strong winds
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Camping Family

I am an avid hiker, camper, and wilderness backpacker and regularly organize camping events for as many as 45 participants. My family also grew to 4 (with a potential for a 5th coming in the near future), and so I wanted a larger tent to house two families comfortably with up to 9 members (4-6 of whom would be adults.) Tents I have purchased in the past were made by Sierra Designs, Big Agnes, MSR, REI, Columbia, and less expensive ones like Coleman, depending on the purpose of the trip.

The CORE 9 Extended Dome tent is one of my favorite, family-sized ones (although it has a few issues, such as a door that’s mildly difficult to operate and a slight lack of ventilation for the hot summer days), and I was excited to purchase the CORE 9 Instant Cabin Tent. Why? The ability to have 2 divided rooms and making one of them a screen room to allow for air to cool the main cabin, and for the kids to enjoy lounging safely away from mosquitoes. Also, to a small extent, the speed with which this tent could be set up and taken down. I was EXCITED!

Tent Assembly /CORE

Backyard Camping

Recently, I took my son camping in our backyard to bring some sense of normality back into our lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s Shelter-In-Place guidance. He was quite bummed when I told him that our Memorial Day weekend trip to Sequoia National Park was cancelled, but daddy to the rescue! Before I share with you how that 3-day experience went, let’s dive into why you probably came to this page: the CORE Instant Cabin 9-Person Tent.

What’s Good? What’s Bad?

Pros

  • Very large capacity (can hold up to 8 or 9 adults comfortably) with a 14′ x 9′ floor
    • Has a luxurious feel. My son amusingly called the tent a “hotel”, in fact!
  • Can be divided into 2 separate rooms, although the divider does NOT completely block someone from peering into the other
    • Room divider can be removed or rolled to the sides
    • The CORE 11 Family Cabin has a Main cabin that can be zipped closed for better privacy (but its screen room is not as sturdy and takes more time to put up/take down)
  • Separate screen room
    • Mesh panels can be zipped closed, instantly turning that section into its own sleeping quarter
    • Keeps bugs out while letting air circulate through the warmer main cabin
    • Has a full tent floor
    • Double door can be rolled up for unobstructed view
    • Zipped side door allows for quicker entry and exit
      • I wish it was part of the Main cabin instead so there is a door for both the Main and Screen rooms
  • Plenty of air ventilation for both the screen room and the main cabin (which has a panoramic, mesh ceiling)
    • Absolutely LOVED how the air flowed throughout!
  • Easy and QUICK to set up. It took about 3-6 mins by myself
    • Quick disassembly, though I feel that only about 3-8 mins were saved over a non-instant tent type
  • Sturdy
    • Neither the Main cabin nor the Screen room sagged. This is important to keep rain from pooling and to withstand stronger winds
  • Excellent color design
  • Adjustable air flow vents on both sides of the main cabin
  • Water resistant (though I did not get a chance to test that)
  • Generously-sized carry bag
    • Tent packs HUGELY LONG, however, due to the instant setup poles
  • Electrical access port for RV campers
  • Bright-green guy lines for increased visibility, though I prefer bright-orange ones (ever tripped on those at night before?)
  • Lantern hook at the center, although it’ll be quite high up for shorter people to reach
    • This is where the room divider also hangs from
  • Multiple wall pockets that are higher off the ground for easier reach
    • One in the Main cabin and another in the Screen room
  • Very generous height (up to 6.5′), allowing most occupants to stand straight up
  • Can fit up to 2 queen-sized air mattresses
  • Thoughtful design
  • Rain fly to keep rain out
  • Hardly any condensation in the morning
  • Included tent stakes were sufficiently sturdy
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • No separate entrance to the main cabin without having to go through the screen room, making it inconvenient to be used as two, separate sleeping quarters
  • Bottom of tent is not lined like a bath tub to keep rain water out
  • Footprint not included (most tents do not)
    • If you get one, be sure it is not larger than the tent itself so water will not pool up. However, having one slightly larger is not necessarily a bad thing
    • Recommendations: Columbia (13′ 10″ x 9′ 10″), Triwonder (13′ x 9.8′), Kalinco (4.5m x 3m/ 14.7′ x 9.8′)
      • A generic tarp (AmazonBasics 12′ x 10′) will work, but tend to be bulkier, noisier, not last as long, and not be as waterproof
  • VERY large tent may not fit some camp sites
  • Fairly heavy at 31 lbs
  • HUGELY long in its packed state (slightly longer than 4′)
    • It may not fit the trunk of many cars
  • Rain fly appears a bit skimpy
  • Large, rectangular design may not be as sturdy as the Dome types against stronger winds and snow build up
  • There are no ceiling hooks for each of the Main and Screen rooms (for hanging a light or fan)
    • Only one exists in the center of both rooms (where the room divider is hung from)
  • Room divider does not fully seal off both rooms
    • Does not allow for complete privacy
    • Allows bugs from the screen room to enter the Main one

Tips

  • Keep the footprint smaller than the size of the tent to keep the rain water from pooling
    • Having one slightly larger is not necessarily a bad thing
    • Recommendations: Columbia (13′ 10″ x 9′ 10″), Triwonder (13′ x 9.8′), Kalinco (4.5m x 3m/ 14.7′ x 9.8′)
      • A generic tarp (AmazonBasics 12′ x 10′) will work, but tend to be bulkier, noisier, not last as long, and not be as waterproof
  • Ensure the tent is not twisted where the stakes are. A twisted area can help rain water enter the tent
  • Without air flow, the sunny, 93F, California weather made it almost unbearable to stay inside without having to strip down to just our shorts
    • If you have a portable power station, such as the Jackery Explorer 1000, Goal Zero Yeti 500x, nrgGo 400, or Rockpals 500W, you could have several fans running for hours to help stay cool
    • If you have a solar panel, you could extend the battery capacity of those power stations, such as with the Rockpals 80W
  • If an air mattress is used, consider inflating it first, let it sit for a few hours for the plastic to sufficiently expand, then inflate some more to desired firmness. Otherwise, you may find yourself sleeping uncomfortably on a saggy mattress

Tent Disassembly

When putting away any tent, the process I follow is:

  • Clear out the inside
  • Open the doors as wide as possible
  • Flip the tent upside down and shake out any debris found inside through the open doors
  • Leave the tent upside down to allow the bottom to dry. This helps ensure that no mold would form while tent is packed away

The below photos show how I put the tent away:

How To Tightly Pack A Tent

Speaking of taking the tent down… Generally, many of the high-end ones do not pack back easily into their carry bags: they always seem to be too tight or too small! I had found the following technique working well after over a decade of camping with a large variety of tents. It does not apply to this particular CORE 9 Instant Cabin Tent, but works with practically any, non-instant tent:

  • The folded tent poles always fit into the carry bag. Use them as your guide
  • Fold the tent until its width is the same length as the folded poles (pictured left)
  • Roll up the tent around the poles, applying as much force as needed to keep everything tight (pictured right)
  • Continue rolling tightly while ensuring the tent does not go past the pole ends
  • Once rolled up, hold the tent together with rope to keep it from unfolding
  • The finished state should fit fairly easily back into the carry bag

How to pack tent tightly

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really love the generous size and air ventilation of the tent. Its size made our backyard camping experience feel like a visit to a luxurious, camping resort. The ability to have air circulate throughout the main cabin AND be split into 2 separate rooms were the major reasons I was so excited to buy it. Furthermore, one of the rooms being the screen room was a very welcome feature. Just remember to keep in mind: it may be too big for most camp sites. We would hate to be stuck at a site that would not allow the tent to fit. So, do your research on the destination well before going on the trip.

The CORE 9 Instant Cabin Tent is a nice compromise between the VERY large CORE 11 Family Cabin and the not-so-ventilated, single-room CORE 9 Extended Dome I already own.

Where To Buy

Tents

Some of the items I used or tested with for our backyard camping:

Backyard Camping Experience

As I had shared at the beginning, my son and I camped in the backyard for three days. It was such a great experience that he woke up on the first morning and said, “I love you, papa.” Wow!

We took out some camp chairs to lounge on, and a steel pot for use as a mini firepit. No S’mores were available, unfortunately, and so the next, best thing was to roast some sausages over the burning, hot coal. One of the benefits of staying in the backyard was immediate access to flush toilets, hot showers, cold drinks (and dessert), though one of my biggest concerns was leaving the backdoor unlocked for easier access. I installed a security system to alert us if an unauthorized person attempted to enter the house, among other precautions the intruder certainly would not want to face.

Our son also loved watching a Pixar movie that was projected onto a section of the wall after observing the moon rise in the distance.

The tent held up really well. It truly felt like walking into a paradise resort the way the room separator and double-screen door were rolled up. Sleeping in 60F temperatures was infinitely better (and more cost effective) than inside the house with an air conditioner set between 68F-72F, and as I had read somewhere a while ago — staying outdoors for some reason helps your natural clock kick in, making you fall asleep sooner and possibly even wake up earlier (7am) without an alarm clock. The sun was the natural, gentle alarm. Never did my son and I feel too tired over the two nights we slept outside. In fact, once we slept inside the house again, he woke up the next morning complaining that he was “tired”… at 8am! He asked if we could camp again, of course. Soon, my son, soon. A new foldable fire pit is on its way for our next adventure!

In the end, it truly was a great experience. We felt like we went on vacation despite having been just a few feet away from the back door, but in the current, coronavirus-dampened environment, it was a welcome change of pace that helped us feel a bit more normal again. A brief reprieve from working slightly longer hours from home and dealing with the quarantine stress of having to home school as well. Too bad we could not have any friends or family over, but camping in the backyard was a refreshing, family-bonding memory nonetheless. Try it out, parents!

Be safe, stay safe, and hang in there! We will hopefully be able to return to normal life again soon. Meanwhile, look for fun things to do inside and around your house!