The best family tent
Family camping is a fun and exciting pastime, bringing families together year after year. The right family tent can start and end your campout on a positive note. These tents range in size from small four-person to spacious nine- or 10-person models with several rooms. Rain flies, windows, and porches can all make a difference in the comfort and success of your family trips.
Our guide is designed to take you through the features you'll want the most on your family tent. Our top pick from Kodiak has a spacious 6'6" ceiling and breathable, durable cotton duck canvas. There's plenty of space to walk, stand, and enjoy camping in this watertight tent.
Considerations when choosing family tents
Types of family tents
Ridge/A-frame: This simple design features a ridge pole with two poles at either end. Your family tent is then tightened over this framework with guidelines. These models are simple, sturdy, and keep out the rain but lack the headroom of modern designs.
Dome: Dome tents have taken the camping world by storm. They feature two poles that crisscross and bend to make a tall, dome-shaped tent. They're popular for their extra head room and ease of setup.
Pop-up/instant: If you like to keep things simple and are a fair weather camper, a pop-up or instant tent might be a good choice. As the name implies, once unpacked, their poles pop into place. What they lack in stability they make up for in their ease of setup.
Inflatable: Inflatable tents are newcomers to the camping scene. Once the sides and poles are tethered, you use an air compressor to blow up the "poles." They're easy to set up but are only meant for car camping and can be pricey.
Tents come with a season rating that ranges from one season (summer) to five seasons (extreme temperatures). One and two season tents are lightweight and may resist some rain or come with a rain fly, but they are not intended for high winds and serious downpours. If your family likes to camp for the majority or all of the year, you may want to invest in a three or four season tent. But unless you're going to be in high winds, cold temperatures, or extreme rain or snow, a two-season is probably a safe bet.
The most common tent materials include:
Polyester: This may include special weatherproofing coatings, but even on its own, it's lightweight and durable.
Cotton: Before polyester hit the market, cotton was the most common tent material. Today, it's still common with larger tents, but they are heavy and more expensive than those made of synthetics.
Polycotton: Polycotton combines the durability of cotton with the lightweight and weatherproofing ability of polyester.
Nylon: Nylon is less durable than polyester and requires special coatings to give it strength. It's inexpensive, but it easily tears.
Number of windows and doors
More windows and doors create better opportunities for ventilation as well as the flow of traffic in and out of the tent. However, if you get a tent with lots of doors and windows, it should either have a rain fly or be used when rain is not in the forecast. The more windows and doors the tent has, the more entry points there are for water.
Family tent prices
Family tents cover a wide price range, from under $50 for a two-person tent to over $600 for a large nine or 10-person model. Figure out your budget and look for a tent with a balance of size and quality.
Q. Is there a way to predict how much square footage I need per person?
A. In general, each person (adult) needs about 25 square feet of space. Four-person tents have about 60 to 70 square feet, while eight-person tents have 120 to 130 square feet of space. You can calculate what you need from there.
Q. When would I need a tent with a partition or separate rooms?
A. Tents with room partitions or even separate rooms aren't for everyone, but they can be lifesavers for some families. Rooms and partitions can offer some privacy and personal space. They can also provide a play area versus a sleeping area. Other families don't need the division to camp together comfortably, so it's really whether or not you think it would be something that would make your camping experience better.
Family tents we recommend
Best of the best: Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe Eight-Person Tent
Our take: Durability and ample space make this tent one that's worth the investment, especially if your family frequently heads into the outdoors.
What we like: The construction is impressive with high-quality cotton duck canvas and galvanized steel poles, plus the fact that it's spacious and easy to assemble.
What we dislike: You're paying for quality, but it's pricey.
Best bang for your buck: Coleman Eight-Person Tent
Our take: This tent provides a good balance between price, floor space, and ease of setup.
What we like: A ceiling height of 6'5" and 14' x 10' of floor space make it doable for bigger families. Setup is a breeze, and there's a rain fly available.
What we dislike: It's not as durable as more expensive tents and has been known to leak.
Choice 3: Browning Big Horn Family Tent
Our take: This tent sleeps five adults and has impressive headroom. It's a good choice if you want extra quality but aren't ready to invest in a cotton duck model.
What we like: This spacious tent provides excellent floor and headspace along with a rain fly that covers the whole tent for good overall water protection.
What we dislike: Waterproofing and zipper problems have been noted, but excellent customer service usually steps in without a hassle.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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