Your camping experience may end up being as good as your tent – not all are created equal.
Take the time and research what kind of shelter you need, as this can make all the difference. Consider the sleeping capacity, height, material, construction, and purpose.
The tents on the following list have been selected with all of these in mind, plus price. Some of you may prefer cabin-style tents, while the car-top model, so you can camp where you park, will be a better fit for others.
The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 was Outdoor Gear Lab’s top pick for best tent. It scored 10 out of 10 for weather resistance. It’s waterproof and one of the most storm-resistant tents. You can go camping with this freestanding tent literally whenever you want, year-round. It’s fairly easy to set up – it takes about 15 minutes. Some of the pros include a huge versatile vestibule, zippered internal door, easy to store in bag, great ventilation, good in wind, and lightweight poles. Price: $700
If you are on a budget but still want a reliable tent for camping in the woods for a couple of days, the Mountainsmith Morrison is a good option, according to CleverHiker. It has less headroom because it doesn’t have a top bar to make the walls vertical but it has two doors, two vestibules, a wide fully-rectangular floor, and interior mesh pockets. This is a freestanding three-season, two-person tent, recognized with 2011 Backpacker Gear Guide "Killer Deal" award and “Best Buy 2014” by Outdoor Gear Lab. Price: $180
The Rei Half Dome 2 Plus is best used for lightweight backpacking and camping. It’s perfect for all seasons, except winter. It has two doors and vestibules and a double wall. “I chose [it] because of the excellent room, advanced features […] Doors are spacious and easy to operate and enter. Setup is extremely easy and I like alternate setup with just the optional rainfly and floor only,” one review says. People like this tent also because of the quality of the materials, large sleeping area, light weight, and affordability. Price: $220
You don’t have to be outside when it gets chilly at night to enjoy mesmerizing dark skies. The Sierra Designs Nightwatch features a roll-up fly for convenient stargazing, according to Backpacker. It also has integrated interior lighting. “Super easy to set up, pretty light, great features. The best thing about this tent for me is the ventilation. There was great airflow with the rain fly on and I usually feel stuffy in tents,” a recent review says. Price: $240
The Copper Canyon 8 scored very high in the best in comfort category and overall testing, according to Outdoor Gear Lab. What they liked the most is the box shape that made it super comfy. It also has a huge floor space. Other pros include a lot of space, height, great ventilation, lots of pockets, free standing, and removable divider. It’s designed to handle a lot of rain but not very strong winds. Price: $400
The Nemo Equipment Apollo is perfect for ultralight backpacking solo hikes. Weight-conscious backpackers and bike-packers will love it for its ultralight weight – it weighs about a pound – and minimalist design, according to Backcountry.com. It has a pentagonal pyramid shape. It can fit up to three people or one person with a mountain bike. Price: $250
The Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform SW 1 is a one-person tent but it’s big enough to fit everything you carry with you. It was rated very high for protection. As one person said on Backpacker.com: “A New Mexico storm buried me in a foot of snow overnight. This tent stood firm and kept me cozy and dry.” This is a non-freestanding tent with two trekking poles. The Cuben Fiber fly and floor show no signs of wear after weeks. The tent is strong, waterproof and made of quality material. Price: $475
The Marmot Force 2P is ideal for wilderness backpacking, especially if you’re going with another person, according to Outside Online. It takes less space than a sleeping bag when it’s packed and also weighs little – about 3 lbs. It has two doors with spacious vestibules. Overall, there is plenty of room for two, even standing, people. It features extended head and foot zones for maximum usable space. Price: $390
The Coleman Longs Peak Fast Pitch 4P Dome is best for car camping with the family. It’s very easy to set up. This is a 4-person tent with storage pockets and a big door. The Fast Pitch™ system uses pre-attached, color-coded poles and hub, fast fit feet and snag-free Insta-Clip™ suspension for a fast setup. Thanks to a partial fly over the top, highly water-resistant walls, and a reinforced floor, the tent keeps everybody dry during a downpour, according to Outside Online. Price: $110
The Kelty Salida 2 is on the list because value proposition – a 2-person strong tent for less than $200 is not very easy to find. It’s freestanding and lightweight. It also features a tall 43-inch peak and a lot of mesh for keeping things cool during the summer months, according to SwitchBackTravel.com. “This tent has many benefits that you may not find in some tents such as the quality, durability, weight, and the simplicity of setup. It also has some interesting but needed features like the aluminum poles and clips,” according to one review. Price: $150
The Tarptent Double Rainbow, won the 2015 Best Buy award by Outdoor Gear Lab, it is recommended because it’s light but strong enough to withstand bad weather. It’s also fairly cheaper than ultralight tents by better known brands. It weighs just over 2 lbs. The Double Rainbow has a lot of space inside once it’s set up. It features a hybrid bathtub floor — clip/unclip floor ends for views and airflow. Price: $290
Pitching a tent above your car is fairly new in the U.S. It’s very convenient as you literally camp when you park your car – anywhere off the road. They can be expensive and you generally won’t find a very good one for under $1,000. In any case, you need your car to have a good roof rack. The Treeline Outdoors Tamarack Constellation is made to last. It’s strong but lightweight. It’s made from a honeycombed base of aluminum. There are plenty of windows for ventilation. Price: $2,400