Depending on how you’ve handled this past year, the thought of cramming into a tent with a big group of people is either exhilarating or daunting (introverts, we hear ya).
Either way, a camping trip with your friends or family might be the perfect way to celebrate encouraging signs of progress in the COVID-19 pandemic, as vaccinations increase, various restrictions ease and life starts to look “normal” again.
If you’ve gone a little stir crazy after a year inside, there’s no better antidote than the great outdoors. Disconnect, escape the distractions of home and spend quality time with others. But a proper camping trip requires a good tent, and we’re here to help you find the best one.
We’ve covered camping tents in the past, so here we’ll focus on the best family tents — options that fit at least five or six people. If your idea of camping is kicking back with a martini and an iPad, might we suggest our guide to the best tents for glamping?
And when it comes to shopping for the best family tents, there are a ton of options and a lot of variables, so it’s critical that you identify what your priorities are. Are you a novice camper who wants a tent that’s quick and easy to assemble? Check out tents that tout “instant setup.” Are you worried about the weather? Pay close attention to materials, durability and waterproof ratings. Do you plan on backpacking with the tent? Snag something light. Lastly, if you’re a serious camper — looking to do something a little more adventurous than a warm weekend under the stars — browse options from Marmont and The North Face. All of these factors will play a big role in your decision.
Unlike many of our product round-ups, there’s no Best Overall here. The best family tent truly hinges on your specific needs.
1. CORE 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent
BEST FOR STARGAZERS
This tent from CORE somehow manages to opt for size and easy set-up. Its telescoping poles come pre-attached, so it only takes a few steps to get this tent — which sports a 14′-by-9′ floor plan — erected. While “9-person” is in the name, Core clarifies that you wouldn’t have room to sleep nine and store gear in this tent, so take that into account. The polyester fabric is equipped with sealed seems to keep water out, and the tent features a detachable rainfly to cover the top of the tent in wet weather. On clear night, though, you’ll reap the biggest benefit of this tent — the ultra-wide mesh ceiling panels, which should offer beautiful views of the stars.
2. Coleman Cabin Tent
Odds are if you’re camping with your family or a large group, it’s not an intense hiking trip where you’ll be carrying a tent on your back all day. But even if you’re car camping, every pound counts, and this cabin tent from Coleman weights in under 18 pounds. The 14′-by-10′ interior comes with a room divider for added privacy. It also features dark room technology to block out sunlight, which is great news for anyone who doesn’t care for a sunrise wake-up call or wants to stay a little cooler.
Courtesy of Amazon
3. CORE 9-Person Extended Dome Tent
A solid tent for casual weekend camping trips will only cost you between $150 and $300. At just over $130, CORE’s Extended Dome is one of the best options for the money. But that price is no knock on its features. With almost 2,500 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star average, users agree this tent is both functional and durable, with a water-resistant seam technology that actually works. At 16 feet, it’s one of the longer tents on this list and sleeps nine not including luggage.
4. WHITEDUCK 13′ Regatta Canvas Bell Tent
BEST CANVAS TENT
Aside from being an obvious aesthetic favorite among glampers, canvas tents have a ton of other benefits over their nylon counterparts. Canvas is both more breathable (for warm days) and a better insulator (for cold nights) than nylon, and the high surface tension of canvas actually makes it more effective at keeping out rain, though it won’t dry as quickly as nylon. Canvas tents are more durable but harder to pack and set up. They also cost much more, hence their prominence in the luxury glamping space. If you’ve decided on the canvas route, we recommend this bell tent from WHITEDUCK. Aside from all the standard canvas benefits we mentioned above, it also features a stove jack, which allows you to cook with a small stove inside the tent and properly ventilate it during colder conditions.
Courtesy of Amazon
5. CORE 9-Person Person Lighted Tent
BEST LIGHTED TENT
CORE cracks the list once again with its lighted tent, which sports built-in LED lights. Controllable from both inside and outside the tent, you can adjust the light to three different settings. It’s powered by 4D batteries (which aren’t included), so make sure to grab some before hitting the road. We highly recommend this to those who aren’t quite ready to go full survivor mode and want a little bit of technology in their nature experience.
6. Marmot 8-Person Limestone Tent
BEST WATERPROOF OPTION
Most tents will tout their weatherproof or water-resistant material, but most of the nylon tents you’ll see on Amazon don’t list any specifics beyond that. In addition to the heat-sealed seams mentioned elsewhere on this list, it comes down to the strength of the tent’s polyurethane (PU) coating and rating. The number refers to water column height, meaning a fabric with a 500 mm rating can withstand a 500-mm (or about 20-inch) column of water for more than a minute before any water leaks through. It’s a fine line, though, because a stronger PU coating makes the fabric heavier and more susceptible to tears. That being said, Marmot’s Limestone Tent sports a 2000-mm PU coating on the sidewall, meaning it can handle some seriously wet conditions. If you’re anticipating some rain on your camping trip, a “3-season” tent like this one will definitely keep you dry. We’d expect nothing less from outdoor gear stalwart Marmot.
7. Wildcat LYNX 640 Premium Family Camping Tent
If privacy is a priority and you’re down to pay extra for it, this is the tent for you. The Wildcat LYNX mirrors the comforts of home with 228 square feet that feature two enclosed bedrooms, a large common space, a side storage area and a covered front porch. Basically, it’s like a mini two-bedroom house. Given the size, this thing is pretty heavy, weighing in at over 100 pounds, so it’s best for car camping only. The photo below shows this tent’s interior, though the furniture is not included.
8. Coleman 6-Person Dome Tent with Screen Room
BEST PORCH FEATURE
Coleman is practically synonymous with casual camping at this point, so we’re not surprised to see the brand on this list twice. The Dome Tent features a screened-in porch perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or reading a book as the sun creeps up without worrying about bugs. The included rainfly should keep you dry, though reviewers point out that it doesn’t provide any protection against wet weather in that front screen room, so proceed accordingly.
9. The North Face Summit Series 2-Meter Dome
BEST FOR MOUNTAINEERS
While most of the options on this list are for casual family trips, this eight-person tent from The North Face is for serious adventurers only. True to the brand, it’s super durable built to withstand even the coldest, snowiest conditions (think literally the Himalayas) with heavy-duty nylon to keep wet weather out and warmth in. The interior is no-frills, which should suit you if spending weeks out in the wilderness is your thing. And premium quality costs a premium dollar — the 2-Meter Dome will run you more than $5,000.