How to Choose a Great Family Tent
Choosing a tent is a decision that should be based on a few different factors. You want to make sure you get the best tent for your camping situation, so we’ve provided some information that will help you with your selection. Below are the five most essential points you should consider when buying a family tent.
There are a lot of different types of family tents so it’s helpful to know which one you’d prefer. All the models can fit your needs, but there are slight advantages and disadvantages to each type. It’s a matter of personal preference on which one you want rather than necessity. The four main types of family tents are cabin tents, dome tents, tunnel tents, and multi-room tents.
Cabin tents get the name from the fact that they have four almost vertical walls and have poles that connect to form a square or rectangle-shaped frame. These tents usually have plenty of room, the maximum use of floor space, and a good height to accommodate tall people. They are generally well-ventilated, making them great for warm or hot weather. Out of the three tent types, cabin tents are usually the most inexpensive. However, they can be heavy/bulky and challenging to set up.
Dome tents resemble igloos. They have rounded tops and usually have just one entrance. Dome tents are suitable for snow environments since the snow can’t collect on the top of the tent. The two poles of the tent usually go from front to back diagonally, creating an X at the top. This makes dome tents extraordinarily sturdy and great for high-wind areas. Although you can find large dome tents, dome tents are more suited for small groups than large groups. The larger they are, the more unstable they can be unless you have a phenomenal rain fly.
Tunnel tents are dome tents that are extended in the middle, making the tent look like a tunnel. The poles loop around the top of the tent in a half-circle shape. Tunnel tents can be a bit more stable in the wind than cabin tents. They also tend to have more headspace. Unfortunately, they can sag in the middle, and they are generally heavier than cabin tents.
Multi-room tents are just what the name indicates – a tent with multiple rooms. These tents can come in different shapes – in fact, cabin tents and tunnel tents could also be multi-room tents. Multi-room tents are great for giving people their own, private space inside of a tent. It’s also great for providing more living space than just sleeping areas.
Naturally, you’ll need a tent that can accommodate the number of people that need to sleep in it. Manufacturers often list the number of people that can fit into a tent, but this number is a wall-to-wall measurement. In other words, if you take the manufacturer’s advice, you’ll probably be sleeping right on top of each other. A good rule of thumb is to get a tent with a capacity of at least two more than the number of people in your group.
Make sure you look at the height of the tent. Do you want to be able to stand up in the tent, or are you okay with only sitting or squatting? How tall is the tallest person that’s going to be in the tent? Keep the answers to these questions in mind as you’re considering the tent height.
Usually, adequate storage space is more of a luxury than a necessity, but when you have a whole group of people, that equals up to a lot of gear. You don’t want to crowd your precious floor space with a bunch of stuff so having adequate storage space is important.
Having a lot of mesh pockets is excellent for holding small items like keys and cell phones. A gear loft at the top of your tent helps to get stuff out of the way. You also want to make sure you have at least one vestibule, which is excellent for larger gear like boots and coats. This provides storage space outside of the tent while offering protection from the elements.
Having a tent with high-quality, durable fabric is a must. With a whole group of people putting stress on the tent, you need a fabric that’s going to hold up. This is especially important for the floor, which can take the most abuse.
There are three main types of tent fabrics: polyester, nylon, and cotton canvas. Tent walls can be made from a combination of these fabrics (ex. Polycotton). Each type has specific advantages and disadvantages.
Polyester and nylon are human-made fabrics. These types of materials tend to be inexpensive and lightweight. Unfortunately, these fabrics are not breathable or insulated. They collect condensation inside. These tents aren’t the best for cold weather.
Cotton canvas is much more durable than human-made fabrics and is a natural insulator. It stands up well to UV rays and is much more durable than human-made fabrics. Cotton canvas requires more maintenance than human-made fabrics. You must weather cotton before it becomes waterproof. This means that your tent may be leaky the first few times you use it in the rain. However, once it’s been weathered, you’ll have one of the most naturally waterproof tents you can get.
Cotton canvas is much heavier than human-made fabrics as well as more expensive, but it’s an excellent investment if you can deal with the high-maintenance of it.
Insulation and Ventilation
When you’re going to have a lot of people in a single tent, it’s easy for your tent to get hot and stuffy in warm weather. Having adequate ventilation solves this problem. It allows cool air to flow in and circulate while pushing the hot air out. Some tents have specific ventilation ports, while others have large windows with mesh screens for ventilation. Both works, so it’s a matter of personal preference when choosing which one works for you.
If you’re going to be camping in cooler weather, your tent should be as insulated as possible. This helps to trap the heat inside and keep everyone nice and toasty. Cotton canvas tents are great for this. You could also get double-wall tents for added insulation.
Having a good warranty on your tent is a nice touch. Tents are expensive, and you don’t want to have to buy tents repeatedly if something goes wrong. Having a good warranty is like having security for your investment in a tent. At the very least, you should be able to get replacement parts from the manufacturer.
Now that you know what features and points to consider when you buy a tent, we’ll help you get started with finding one. Below we’ve provided a list of seven great family tents that have most or all the above features.
The Best Family Tent – The Results
Wenzel Klondike 8 Dome Tent
The Best Family Tent
This is a unique type of dome tent because it is a multi-room tent. Once you get it set up with the rain fly pulled taut over it, it doesn’t even look like a dome tent. It’s structurally durable and designed well.
The tent measures 16′ x 11′ including the screen room. It has a center height of 78″ so most people can stand inside the tent. The manufacturer states that the tent sleeps eight people plus another two in the screen room. This is ambitious – you’ll have a tight fit for eight people inside the sleeping area, and you can forget about putting your gear inside with eight people. However, with fewer people the tent would be comfortable.
The wall fabric is made of a very strong polyester taffeta that is coated with a waterproof polyurethane (PU) layer. Although the manufacturer doesn’t list the deniers or thread count of the fabric, the welded bucket floors and durable fabric hold up very well in extreme weather.
- Plenty of ventilation.
- Rainfly makes it super sturdy.
- Amazing 10-year warranty.
- Relatively lightweight for a family tent (28 lbs.).
- The back of the tent tends to sag in wind.
- It only has one way in and out.
- Only has two mesh pockets for storage.Bottom-Line: If the screen room is enough storage space for you, this is a great, sturdy tent that will keep you warm/cool and dry.
Ozark Trail 10-Person Dark Rest Cabin Tent
If you and your family like to sleep late, this is a great tent to consider. The dark rest liner keeps the tent nice and dark, so you aren’t disturbed by sunlight. When you’re ready to enjoy the sunshine, the tent has four skylights up top that you can unzip to enjoy the light or the stars. There are mesh panels, but two of them don’t have any cover. They’re covered when you put the rainfly on.
We loved the fact that the tent is extremely easy to set up. Since the poles are already attached, you can unroll the tent and extend the poles. The tent sort of “pops up” into place. Note that this same convenience also makes it a little challenging to take down.
- Easy two-minute set up with pre-attached poles.
- Large mesh wall organizer for storage.
- The poles are made of steel.
- The floor vents can’t be closed – bad when it’s cold.
- The dark rest material tends to get pin-prick sized holes when stretched.Bottom-Line: This is one of the best dark rest tents that you’ll get in this price range.
NTK Laredo GT
The NTK Laredo GT sets the bar high for an affordable family tent that is high-quality. The tent wall is made of a 68D polyester taffeta material. The rainfly is a double-wall, 190T polyester fabric with a 2500mm PU coating. The seams are welded, sealed, and the fabric is UV-protected. The floor is impressive also. It’s a bucket-style floor that has a silver layer to help keep away those puddles. The floor is seamless, anti-fungal, and anti-flammable.
Besides the quality, the tent has some pretty good features. The tent features an over-sized mesh wall organizer and a lantern hook at the top. It has two substantial mesh windows that go from the sides across the top of the tent for some of the best ventilation around. We would like it more if the mesh panels had zippered covers, but the full rainfly completely covers them.
The tent is very spacious and can comfortably accommodate up to nine people. It has a center height of 6.23 feet, so it’s suitable for tall people.
- At only 18 pounds, it’s very lightweight.
- It has a no-see-um mesh.
- It only has a six-month warranty.
- The rainfly covers one of the two doors.Bottom-Line: This is an excellent, warm-weather tent. It’s spacious and will provide you with adequate shelter from the elements.
Coleman Red Canyon 8-Person Tent
Best Budget Family Tent
If you’re looking to save a few bucks on a tent, the Coleman Red Canyon tent is a decent quality tent in an affordable price range. It’s extremely spacious! You can easily fit eight people in this 17′ x 10′ tunnel tent. The maximum height is six feet tall, which is the lowest of all the tents on the list. The average height of men in the U.S. is 5′ 9″ and the average height of women is 5’3″ so the height will still work for most people.
The manufacturer doesn’t list the fabric type, denier, or thread count, probably because they aren’t the best due to it being a budget tent. We’re only told that it’s waterproof coated with welded floors and inverted seams. Despite this, the tent has been known to hold up well to most environments and weather scenarios. It also comes with a one-year warranty for your peace of mind.
- The tent comes with two built-in room dividers.
- The tent is superior at keeping water out in a downpour.
- It’s a very lightweight family tent, weighing only a little over 21 pounds.
- Comes in red or blue.
- The fiberglass poles can splinter easily if not handled properly.
- Doesn’t have a lot of storage options.Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a budget tent where you don’t have to sacrifice quality, the Coleman Red Canyon tent is an excellent choice.
ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek Two-Room Tent
The ALPS Camp Creek tent is a multi-room cabin tent with excellent ventilation. It features two large doors with mesh coverings – one door for each of the two rooms. It also has four large windows with mesh coverings and a mesh ceiling. It’s also suitable for tall people because it has a center height of seven feet, supported by fiberglass poles with steel uprights. Measuring 10′ x 12′, it’s suitable for four to six people.
The manufacturer doesn’t list the specs on the wall fabric. However, they do give the specs on the rainfly and the floor. The rainfly is a 75D, 185T high-quality polyester fabric with a 1500mm waterproof coating. The floor is 150D polyester oxford floor with a 1500mm waterproof coating. These are great, durable fabrics that will last a long time. The tent has a lot of extras that make it attractive such as a lot of storage options and easy set up with a freestanding design.
- Lots of mesh pockets, a gear-loft, and two mesh shelves.
- ALPS offers a lifetime limited warranty.
- The rainfly can dump water right into the tent when you open the door.
- If you roll up the divider, you can’t use the pockets.Bottom-Line: With a lifetime warranty, even if it is limited, you can’t go wrong. The rainfly may be a little off-putting, but it can be reinforced and then you’ll have a great tent.
Coleman Tenaya Lake Lighted Fast-Pitch Tent
This tent is unique because it pushes the boundaries of tent construction and convenience. You can choose between a 6-person tent that has two cabinets with mesh shelves or an 8-person tent that has a closet with mesh shelves. Another great feature is that it has built-in LED lighting.
If you get caught in heavy rain, this is the tent you want to be in. It’s constructed with inverted seams to prevent water from seeping through pin-sized holes. The tub floors are welded in the corners to prevent water from leaking through, and the zippers even have a waterproof cuff over them. Pair this with a high-quality rainfly, and you’ll stay dry no matter how much it rains.
- It’s a fast-pitch tent.
- Poles are color-coded.
- It fits into a wheeled carry bag.
- The manufacturer doesn’t list any information about the fabric specs.
- There is only one door.Bottom-Line: This is an impressive tent, especially because of the built-in light and closet. You’ll be the envy of the campground in the Tenaya Lakes tent.
Big Agnes Flying Diamond Family Tent
Interestingly, the name of the tent is the Flying Diamond. Upon first glance, this tent reminds us of a circus tent, so the name fits. However, it’s a great family tent with a lot of features. First, you can get this in three sizes – a 4-person, 6-person, or 8-person tent. All three versions are very spacious for the listed capacity. The tent also has a ton of storage space – sixteen mesh pockets, a gear loft, and two vestibules (on the 8-person version).
The tent also has a very functional construction. The 6 and 8-person tents have two doors and plenty of mesh ventilation ports and windows. All the tents of made of a polyester rip-stop fabric and have taped seams. Both the rainfly and the floor have a waterproof rating of 1500mm. Like the Tenaya Lakes tent, you aren’t going to get wet in this tent. It’s one of the highest quality tents on the market.
- Very lightweight for a family tent (22 lbs.).
- Comes with an optional divider to make two rooms.
- It’s a “ready-to-pitch” tent with pre-cut guy lines and more.
- The tents are very expensive.Bottom-Line: If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you’ll be getting a top-of-the-line tent if you get the Big Agnes Flying Diamond tent.
Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API