Gold vs Silver – Comparing the Coleman Instant Up Tents


Since their beginnings, the Coleman Instant-Up range of tents have experienced 2 facelifts, welcomed an 8 person version to the family and most recently seen the introduction of a Gold Series or ‘top-shelf’ range of these popular tents. It’s these gold series tents that have our customers asking themselves, “What is the difference between the Silver and Gold Series Instant Up tents”

Truth is, it’s pretty straight forward. For starters, the frame is exactly the same for both, the differences are in the fabrics and extras. But, before we delve into explaining the differences let’s answer the question – “Why should you buy a Coleman Instant Up Tent?”

The answer? Because they are a perfect lightweight substitute to heavy duty canvas touring tents. Their lower price, smaller pack size and ease of handling make them the quick pitch tent of choice for family campers and four wheel drive tourers alike.

How’s that for a sales pitch!

Now, down to the nitty-gritty… the differences between the Coleman Instant Up Silver and Instant Up Gold Tents.

There are eight differences, so let’s get started…

Instant Up Silver 4P next to Instant Up Gold 6P

The Instant Up Gold 6P and Instant Up Silver 4P side by side. 

Differences between the Silver and Gold Instant Up Tents

1. The fabric quality

This is a bit technical, bear with me. The silver series use a PU coated 150 denier polyester with a thread count of 150 (150D/150T). This is a durable and reasonably heavy duty fabric. The gold series, however, utilise a PU coated 75 denier polyester with a thread count of 185T (75D/185T) plus it has a rip-stop fibre sewn into the fabric. This gold series fabric is a softer and denser fabric that packs away easier whilst maintaining strength and durability.

Further to this, the Gold Series Darkroom Tents share the same fabric as the regular Gold Series tents only they have a light blocking coating on the inside to minimise the amount of light that enters the tent so you can get a midday nap.

2. Higher water-head ratings

Waterwhaaat…?! Not everyone understands what water-head means. Basically, it’s a measure of how waterproof the fabric is. It’s measured with a machine that places water pressure on a section of the fabric until it starts to seep through. For most conditions, the 1500mm waterhead on the silver series Instant-Up tents will keep you dry. The gold series, however, boast a 3000mm waterhead, which I wouldn’t say is twice as waterproof, but they certainly offer extra peace of mind if you’re caught out in torrential rain.

Instant up tent floor comparison

The floor on the Gold (left) is a little easier to fold thanks to the coating on it, and it’s also a bit more durable compared to the silver (right). Image: Coleman Australia.

3. Nicer floor material

Both series have a bucket floor, and they offer similar levels of water protection, the difference is in the type of fabric. In the silver series, you get a Polyethylene floor (PE), which is the same stuff regular tarps are made of. It’s tough and waterproof, but noisy to walk on and requires a little bit of wrangling to fold away. The gold series tents have a nice PVC coated poly oxford floor, which is basically like the fly fabric, only thicker with a durable rubbery coating on it. This fabric is softer and quieter to walk on, packs away easier and still offers the durability of the PE flooring.

4. Door & window mesh

Coleman doesn’t advertise this much and I’m not sure why, but the mesh on the gold series tents is finer than that on the silver series. It’s not no-see-um mesh, but it’s definitely much finer and softer which probably also aids in ease of packing away.

Lower vent in Instant Up Tent

The Instant Up Gold tents have ground level vents that open up to create a nice cross breeze. 

5. Better ventilation

All the Instant-Up tents have large windows finishing at waist level with internal privacy screens, along with entrances with mesh and solid panels. So, ventilation is good on all these tents. The gold series tents have the added benefit of ground level vents that can be opened internally. This is called Coleman Circle Ventilation and, talking from experience, is a welcome addition to your tent in warm weather. It creates a cross breeze at the base of the tent, right where you’re sleeping!

6. Bonus awning

While all entrances to the Instant Up tents can be extended as awnings, the 4P and 6P version of the gold series come with an extra removable awning that can be fixed above the windows on either side. It’s easily attached/removed with a zipper and features three eyelets so the awning can be extended with a peak to shed water. What’s more, the extra awning poles are included.

7. More storage

While internal storage pockets feature on the internal walls of every Instant Up model, the 4P and 6P Gold as well as the 4PV and 6PV Gold Darkroom series have the added benefit of a gear hammock that attaches under the internal peak of the tent. It’s a perfect place to store the car keys so all can access, or maybe some emergency midnight munchies… up where the kids can’t reach them!

Instant Up Gold Doormat

A doormat is a nice addition to the Gold tents, as you can leave your dirty boots outside of your clean tent! Image: Coleman Australia. 

8. Last and most importantly… a doormat!

Every gold series Instant Up tent comes with its very own doormat. There’s no witty welcome phrase or fancy patterns on it, it’s just a panel of mesh polyethylene fabric with peg out points, but it offers a clean and dry place to rest your shoes in the vestibule.

So, there you have it – the differences between the Gold and Silver Instant Up Tents!

That’s pretty much it. In terms of performance in wind, both the gold and silver series are comparable. Set up time is the same for both series and the packed size only varies slightly. In summary, the gold series offers extra bells and whistles and a few creature comforts, if you can afford the extra dollars then you’ll appreciate the gold series. The silver series, on the other hand, is very affordable.

My old Coleman Instant Up 4P (not the gold version) has seen me and my family through two big outback touring trips and numerous weekend escapes. It’s still fully functional and apart from a few rub spots on the floor, it’s in great condition. However, if I had my time again, I’d certainly consider upgrading to the gold series.

The Instant Up Gold and Silver tents are both very comparable, but which one would you pick if you had to make a choice? 

About the writer...

Ben Collaton

Trekker, surfer, climber, mountain biker, runner, camper. Participator in most things… master of none.

Joined back in March, 2013

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