We decided it was about time to find the absolute best family tents on the market. Shelter is the first consideration when you’re out in the wild, so we wanted to make sure yours was the best.
We did extensive testing and research to find the absolute best tent possible at an affordable price range. Ultimately, we came down to four criteria that we found most important in the selection process: Purpose, Capacity, Height, and Durability.
When searching for the right tent it is important to figure out exactly what you will be using it for. Does it need to survive in three-seasons? What type of camping do you do? Are you a fair-weather camper or do you camp in all conditions? How will you be transporting your tent? What terrain will you be using this in? Take all of these questions into careful consideration when choosing your family tent.
The first thing people often look at when choosing a tent is capacity and for good reason. Long nights cramped into a tiny tent with too many people can turn a relaxing vacation into a stressful situation. When determining capacity, we recommend choosing a tent with a capacity of at least one more than you expect to need. This will allow you extra room to keep your gear.
But if you have the type of family that packs a lot, you might need even more space. Some experts recommend counting the number of people you have and using a tent that has a listed capacity of double that in order to insure maximum comfort.
Tent height is largely a matter of preference, but can make a big difference. Although a tall cabin-style tent can be a good choice for people who are tall or claustrophobic, the more traditional dome-style tent will stand up better to heavy winds and rain. So, although a nice big cabin with a bunch of standing room may seem like the right call, you might want to consider when you plan to be camping and how durable you want your tent to be when an unexpected storm pops up. Because if your tent can’t stand up to a storm, what good is it really?
When choosing your tent take into account its construction. The first thing you will want to check to make sure that the seam where the floor attaches to the tent wall is raised off of the ground. A seam on the ground can act as a weak point where water can enter the tent.
Check for the quality and configuration of the tent poles. Using a tent with aluminum poles instead of fiberglass can make a huge difference in increasing your tent’s lifespan and durability. Look at how the poles attach to the tent. Do they slide into sleeves, or do they clip on? This is a matter of preference, but poles that clip on make it easier to set up your tent.
Consider any accessories that you want for your tent. Mudflaps, tent-fans, mesh shelves, and entrance areas are all little luxuries that can help you keep your tent interior cleaner and more organized.
Most tents these days are made with either nylon or polyester and coated with a protectant, such as polyurethane or silicone. Silicone-coated nylon tends to be the most water resistant and durable commonly used material.
Based upon these criteria we picked what we believe to be the absolute best family tents on the market to share with you. Here they are:
1. Big Agnes Flying Diamond 4 – Best all around for durability and versatility
- Four season, free standing, deluxe car camping/base camp tent with one large vestibule off main room and one access door off smaller, back room. Tent may be separated into one large room and one smaller room with stowable partition wall.
- Tent body is breathable polyester rip stop, with nylon mesh windows. Fly is durable poyester rip-stop with 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating. Floor is durable polyester with 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating.
- DAC Combination Lightweight Aluminum poles with press fit connectors - featuring eco-friendly anodizing. Color coded pole ends, webbing and buckles make set up easy. Sleeves and plastic clips attach the tent body to the pole frame for quick and easy set up.
- Two doors and vestibules
- Doors have two closure options: Zip up mesh door for ventilation only or zip up the polyester layer for full protection
- Vestibule may be staked out as a shade using trekking poles
- 6 and 8 person may be separated into two rooms with a fabric wall that can be stowed away when not in use
- Storm flaps on vestibule zipper
This is the only tent of this size (under $1,000) that has the cross pole design of more durable mountaineering tents. Whether you are camping in adverse weather, places with extremely high winds, or just having a back-yard sleepover, this tent will not let you down. After looking at all of the tents of this size this one was the best in terms of both durability and versatility in the sub-$1000 range.
2. Coleman Octagon 98 – For fair weather Campers that need more head space.
- Pole Type: Steel
- Water-resistant polyester rainfly included with taped seams – provides excellent rain protection
- Full length zip-on fly for great ventilation
- Exclusive weathered system
- Color coded pole attachments for easy set up
This is the tent to choose if you want plenty of standing room. And if you have little kids the D door is absolutely spectacular. With little kids, it is perfect because there is no need to zip and unzip the door until you are ready to hunker down. That way the kids can freely come and go without the frustration of a zipper.
3. Sundome 4 Person Tent – An affordable option for small families
- Snag-free, continuous pole sleeves for easy setup
- Rainfly awning for shade and rain protection
- Storage pockets keep gear organized
- WeatherTec™ system’s patented welded floors and inverted seams help keep water out
- Insta-Clip™ Pole Attachments stand up to wind
The Coleman Sundome Tent is a great choice if you are looking for a smaller and more convenient three-season tent. Compared to the other tents, this is a better choice for a small family. It would be my tent of choice for two people and a child or two people and a pet, but four people will not comfortably fit in it with their gear. So keep that in mind.
As our test went on, it became more and more apparent to me that the number one factor in a good family tent is its ability to keep out the elements. We found that a surprising number of tents had issues with leakage, and their poles would start to collapse when faced with high winds. If your tent can’t keep you dry, then what good is it?
When making your decision about your family’s tent, make sure that you inspect the tent for quality construction and good materials. Be sure to take into account how you plan to use it and where you plan to take it. Remember, a quality tent is the first part of a great camping trip, and when that unexpected thunderstorm comes, your family will be thanking you for choosing the best!