(Photo/Eric Phillips)

The Best Camping Tents of 2022

We make finding the right camping tent easier for you by bringing you the best camping tents of 2022. Whether you are planning a weekend in Big Sur or returning to Burning Man, a tent is your palace on the road.

Our team brings decades of camping experience in every sort of condition imaginable, from national park campgrounds to multiday festivals to long road trips. Our experience and exacting standards give us the expertise to make your shopping easier.

For our evaluation, we focused on weather resistance, comfort, ease of setup, extra features, and value. Using these five guidelines, we have compiled a list of the best camping tents of this year.

We have another guide for the best backpacking tents that focuses on lighter and less bulky tents for your backcountry adventures. Here, we focus more on car and family camping tents for the kinds of adventures where the car is within reach and the weight of a tent is less important.

Check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions for helpful tips to steer your decision-making.

Scroll through to see all of our recommendations, or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Camping Tents of 2022

Best Overall: REI Base Camp 6

REI Base Camp 6

The REI Base Camp 6 ($549) reigns supreme among the camping tents. It may not be the largest, the tallest, or the most affordable, but this moderately sized tent has everything it takes to make camping easy and enjoyable for years to come. With 84 square feet of floor space, there’s plenty of room for up to six campers to slumber under the stars.

The Base Camp 6 employs a durable polyester rainfly that provides full coverage and a sizable vestibule for gear storage, creating 27 square feet of extra covered space in the front and an additional 17 in the back. The front vestibule is large enough to accommodate a few camp chairs and makes a great place to hang out in the shade as well.

Useful features like pockets, a three-point ventilation system, and reflective trim that shines in the light of a headlamp make this tent the place you’ll want to hang out when the weather is fair or foul. Large doors at either end make for an easy exit when nature calls, without having to crawl over all of your tentmates.

Our team of camp-savvy testers had no trouble erecting the Base Camp 6 in light winds thanks to the intuitive color-coded poles and attachment points. For the uninitiated, very clear setup instructions are sewn into the tent’s storage bag.

This tent is freestanding, meaning it can stay up without stakes or guylines. While this is quick and convenient for when you roll up to your campsite in the middle of the night, going the extra mile and using all the included stakes and guylines is well worth the effort. Once fully staked out, the Base Camp 6 is impervious to rain and also stands up well against heavy winds.

The Base Camp 6 is just a hair over 6 feet at its apex, so taller folks won’t be able to stand straight up, and with a packed weight of 20 pounds, it’s limited to car camping. It’s also one of the more expensive models on our list, but if you’re fortunate enough to get out camping a few times a year, the Base Camp 6 is worth every penny.

Specs:
  • Weight: 20 lbs., 10 oz.
  • Height: 74 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Two
Pros:
  • Huge vestibule
  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Easy to set up
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Check Price at REI

Best Budget Tent: Kelty Discovery Element 6

Kelty Discovery Element 6

For the casual camper looking to spend some quality outdoor time with friends and family, the Kelty Discovery Element 6 ($190) is an inexpensive and easy-to-setup option. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and the Discovery Element is one of the easiest tents to set up in our selection.

This tent uses the tried and true two-pole design, with an additional pole to support a small awning. Our tester easily set this tent up (without instructions) in under 10 minutes.

When fully staked and with the rainfly guyed out, this tent does a commendable job keeping its inhabitants dry, especially considering the price. With a peak height of 6 feet 4 inches, most folks will be able to stand up fully in this tent.

While it only has one door, that door is huge, so access is very easy. Each side is lined with a few internal storage pockets, so staying organized and keeping the floor free of knick-knacks is easy.

The Kelty Discovery Element 6 uses fiberglass poles. While fiberglass poles keep the cost down, they are more fragile and more difficult to repair than aluminum poles. Aluminum poles bend under stress and can be bent back in place, and if they break, they break in one place.

Under too much stress, fiberglass poles tend to shatter. This rarely happens from the stress of heavy winds, but breaks can often occur when the poles are stepped on by hasty campers in the dark.

For the price, the Discovery Element accomplishes a tent’s primary functions: keeping campers dry and bug-free, and providing a little privacy in those crowded campgrounds.

Specs:
  • Weight: 15 lbs., 13 oz.
  • Height: 77 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Easy to set up
  • Inexpensive
  • Protective rainfly
Cons:
  • Fiberglass poles aren’t the most durable
  • Only one door

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Runner-Up Best Budget Tent: Coleman Sundome Tent 4P

Coleman Sundome Tent

This tent is a classic bargain. You can score a four-person tent for $90 or grab a two-person model for just $51.

That said, there is a difference between an inexpensive tent like this and the higher-end models. The construction is sturdy, although it’s lacking in some finishing details and long-term durability.

The Sundome has fiberglass poles instead of aluminum. They will work for a lot of car camping situations but are less durable and weaker than aluminum.

It would be a tight fit for four people with 63 square feet inside. We found it had plenty of room for two. It’s worth noting that there isn’t a vestibule for extra gear storage.

The rainfly covers the top and generally works well, but in extra-wet conditions, it leaked at the corners. Finally, we had a few issues with the zipper snagging. For a budget tent, it will get the job done.

Specs:
  • Weight: 9 lbs., 7 oz.
  • Height: 59 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Budget-friendly
Cons:
  • Fiberglass poles
  • Low ceiling height
  • Corners leak

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Best for Group Camping: REI Wonderland X

REI Wonderland X

The Wonderland X ($1,249) is a very large and unique tent that makes an incredibly spacious abode. Designed as a four-person car camping tent, the Wonderland X is so much more.

We tested this tent during the spring of 2022 and were blown away by the unique tunnel design with interior sleeping quarters. It performed perfectly in windy and rainy conditions, where the enormous awning provided space for lounging and cooking for four adult men.

While optimized for a group of four, the Wonderland X not only serves as a giant camping shelter but also as a big hangout space. By removing the interior sleeping quarters, the shelter becomes a 13 x 9-foot floorless shelter. It can easily cover a picnic table, the tailgate of a truck, or even a small car.

REI built the Wonderland X with extremely heavy materials, ensuring a very long life if properly maintained. And at 35 pounds, this tent is definitely not coming backpacking! But for those looking at an alternative to canvas wall tents or just a very robust, large car camping setup, this tent is the pinnacle!

Those looking for a similar design but at a lower price should also consider the Wonderland 4 and Wonderland 6, which work on the same principles but use lighter, less expensive materials.

Read our full review of the Wonderland X.

Specs:
  • Weight: 35 lbs., 1 oz.
  • Height: 75 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Four
Pros:
  • Huge tent for four people
  • Doubles as a massive shelter for cooking, entertaining, or eating
  • Extremely durable
  • The sleeping area is very large and protective from the elements
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Too big for smaller campsites

Check Price at REI

Easiest Setup: Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent, 2-Person

Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent

If you’re a beginner or just perpetually struggle with tent setup, look no further than the Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent ($199) from the French brand Decathlon.

Once you unfold the tent and place it on the ground, its setup — apart from staking out the tent — really can be accomplished in 2 seconds. Just pull the two bright-red ropes (complete with handles) and the tent’s structure locks into place. Stake it out, and you’re done.

Takedown is just as straightforward — but in reverse. Remove the stakes, press the two buttons to release the pull ropes, and the tent collapses just as quickly as it sprang to life.

The simple setup and takedown instructions are sewn into the stuff sack so you can’t lose them. If you need a video demonstration, check out the “How to Install” and “How to Fold” videos on Decathlon’s website.

The lining of this waterproof two-person tent is black, so it keeps out most light for undisturbed slumber, which is nice if you’re a light sleeper.

The floor space in the Quechua 2 Second Easy measures 81 by 57 inches — plenty of room for our tester and her 6-foot-tall partner. However, the low ceiling height is a drawback. The vestibules are small and due to the tent design, you cannot remove the rainfly. This is unfortunate should you want to stargaze or drop some weight.

This tent is perfect for the efficient at heart. Why waste time setting up a tent? Let the engineers at Quechua do the work for you and let it pop open, almost on its own.

Specs:
  • Weight: 10 lbs., 6.4 oz.
  • Height: 43.3 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Two
Pros:
  • Setup and takedown are a piece of cake
  • Keeps out most light for undisturbed sleep
Cons:
  • Low ceiling height
  • Small vestibules
  • The rainfly can’t be removed, so no stargazing mode

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Best Weather Resistance: Marmot Limestone 4P

Marmot Limestone 4 Person Car Camping Tent

While testing in the Rocky Mountains, we experienced sudden high winds and heavy rains. Nearly every tent experienced some damage ranging from broken poles to leaks. The Marmot Limestone ($389) was completely unfazed. It remained sturdy and dry through it all.

It’s not as tall or roomy as some car camping tents, but the sacrifice of space is worth it for excellent weather protection. You can fit four people or spread out and sleep comfortably with just two in 60 square feet of floor space.

The large double doors make coming and going easy. Pre-bent poles make for a quick setup. There is a vestibule on one side for holding extra gear, and interior gear pockets keep you organized. There is plenty of mesh that allows for maximum airflow.

This tent is a great option if you don’t mind not being able to stand up inside. The peak height is 63 inches, so anyone taller than about 5 feet will have to crouch.

This tent is built to withstand storms and is a great choice for anyone camping in unpredictable, inclement weather.

Specs:
  • Weight: 11 lbs., 11 oz.
  • Height: 61 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Two
Pros:
  • Excellent weather protection
  • Lighter weight
Cons:
  • Lower peak height

Check Price at REI

Best Crossover for Camping and Backpacking: REI Half Dome SL 3

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+ Tent with Footprint

If your camping plans include a few days on the trail backpacking, the Half Dome SL 3 ($379) is an excellent choice.

With a minimum trail weight of 5 pounds, 14 ounces, it’s possible to pack this in (although there are certainly lighter backpacking tents available). The double doors and vestibules provide space for gear and make it easy to come and go.

Color-coded poles simplify the setup. The internal pockets and loops keep all your gear organized. We also love that REI includes the footprint in the sale.

As a car camping tent, less than 50 feet of floor space is minimal. Also, the peak height is 44 inches. That’s barely above waist level for some of our testers.

All in all, this is an excellent crossover tent. It offers enough space to be comfortable when car camping and is light enough to take backpacking.

Specs:
  • Weight: 6 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Height: 46 in.
  • Footprint included: Yes
  • Number of doors: Two
Pros:
  • Light
  • Packable
  • Easy to set up
Cons:
  • Smaller
  • Low ceiling height

Check Price at REI

Best of the Rest

Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent

Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent

If you’re looking for a family tent that feels like a spacious screened-in porch, the Jade Canyon 4 ($365) is for you. The 7-foot-tall interior height means no more awkward stooping.

And with 64 square feet of floor space, there’s plenty of room to spread out. We found this provided a comfortable amount of space for two adults and two young children. Each wall is lined with pockets, which is great for keeping track of your headlamp and storing other essentials.

The best part about this tent is the airy feel and giant mesh windows. Not only does it keep things breathable, but it also means you can easily enjoy the view in any direction. We spent a week camping outside Moab and loved relaxing in the tent watching the sunrise.

That said, the benefits of this tent are also its downfall. The tall height and large windows can be problematic in stormy weather. High winds will challenge any tent, and that’s especially true of a tent that’s 7 feet tall.

The window zip closed, and the included rainfly protects from rainfall. However, in heavy storms, it is possible to experience slight leaking. We also would have preferred a second door.

For mild summer conditions, though, this is a winner for family camping. It offers plenty of standing room and is a decent value to boot. We were also pleased with how easily it packed back into the storage bag.

Specs:
  • Weight: 8 lbs., 9 oz.
  • Height: 84 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Roomy
  • Airy and open
  • Tall height
Cons:
  • Only one door
  • Not great in heavy wind

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Big Agnes Big House 6

Big Agnes Big House 6

This super-roomy tent ($480) will keep the whole group comfy all weekend long. You can easily stand up inside. There’s plenty of room to spread out with 83 square feet of interior space.

The welcome mat gives muddy shoes a place to stay, and the eight interior pockets keep gear organized and easily accessible. For more storage, there’s even a gear loft sold separately.

One of our favorite features is the ability to set it up as a sun shelter. Simply set up just the poles and rainfly without the tent insert. It was easy to pack up, and the backpack stuff sack design makes carrying the tent much easier.

Unfortunately, as with most large family camping tents, it doesn’t do great in extremely windy weather due to its nonaerodynamic shape. Also, it’s possible to set this tent up alone, but it’s easier with two people.

This tent is a great option for family get-togethers to sleep in or to quickly create a bit of shade with just the fly.

Specs:
  • Weight: 16 lbs., 7 oz.
  • Height: 81 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Two
Pros:
  • Roomy
  • Two doors
  • Shade canopy feature
Cons:
  • Not built to withstand extreme weather

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Amazon

The North Face Homestead Super Dome 4

The North Face Homestead Super Dome 4

At 13 pounds, 3 ounces, the Homestead Super Dome 4 ($350) is a big car camping tent perfect for the whole family. It can also work great for a few adults camping out for the weekend or enjoying a summer festival. It has three huge doors, two large mesh windows, a mesh ceiling, and a 13-square-foot vestibule.

The interior is roomy with 56 square feet of space. Six giant pockets and an internal clothesline make storage easy. I was able to easily set it up alone although it is 80 inches tall.

On the flip side, it’s not the best performer in heavy winds. It did well during a rainy night, but it’s not ideal in extremely blustery conditions.

If you’re looking for a stylish, comfortable, easy-to-set-up tent for mild conditions, this is a great option.

Specs:
  • Weight: 13 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Height: 80 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: Three
Pros:
  • Roomy
  • Large vestibule
  • Zip-down windows
Cons:
  • Large
  • Not built to withstand extreme weather

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Kelty Late Start 2 

Kelty Late Start 2 

If price is your primary concern when buying a tent, but you still want good quality, the Kelty Late Start 2 ($160) is the best place to look. It will work for modest backpacking excursions with a minimum weight of 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

It sets up super quickly with a simple two-pole design. Once up, the bathtub floor offers a slight overlap with the rainfly to prevent splashback during a storm.

Annoyingly, the vestibules are barely big enough for a single backpack. They will suffice for hikers on a budget. Two small pockets inside offer a little extra space to stash a couple of important items.

There are better tents out there, but you’ll pay more for them. For $160, this one is a steal that can span the two worlds of car camping and backpacking.

Specs:
  • Weight: 4 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Height: 40 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Good value
  • Easy setup
  • Quality construction
Cons:
  • Heavier
  • Not built for extreme weather conditions

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Backcountry

Caddis 6 Rapid Tent

Caddis Rapid 6 Tent

The Caddis 6 Rapid Tent ($350) makes fast work of setting up camp. The telescoping poles quickly and easily extend for setup. There’s no weaving poles through loops or walking in circles to secure things.

The integrated gear loft and side storage pocket keep gear organized, and the mesh windows provide adequate ventilation. With a floor area of 100 square feet, there’s plenty of interior space for people, pets, and gear.

Aside from the bulky weight, the main downside is the subpar rainfly. It sits close to the tent but stops several inches short of the ground.

While there’s an overhang at the top, it leaves the door completely unprotected. This is a recipe for leaking during heavy rain. It is also very heavy and bulky to carry.

This is a great purchase for anyone tired of dealing with setting up a tent.

Specs:
  • Weight: 25 lbs., 8 oz.
  • Height: 80 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Quick setup
  • Roomy
Cons:
  • Very heavy
  • Bulky

Check Price at REI

Coleman Carlsbad 4

Coleman Carlsbad 4 tent

Carlsbad 4 ($199) has the benefit of being dark inside, even during daylight hours. This also means it will stay a bit cooler once the sun rises.

The entry vestibule is well thought out to avoid tracking in mud or water. The floor is made from very heavy material to protect from tearing for those wearing shoes in the darkened abode. It also has some decent venting to stay cool and dry.

Flimsy fiberglass poles and tricky setup should exclude this tent from the most serious campers’ to-buy list. If you’re looking for a low-budget tent that keeps it dark all day long, the Carlsbad 4 is worth considering.

Specs:
  • Weight: 16 lbs., 1 oz.
  • Height: 59 in.
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: One
Pros:
  • Vestibule is great for dogs
  • Sleep in late with blackout lining
Cons:
  • Longer setup
  • Flimsy poles
  • Heavy

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There’s nothing quite like returning to a big shady awning after a big ride or hike; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

Gear Editor Mallory Paige has spent hundreds of nights sleeping under the stars, and she knows the importance of a good tent.

Contributor Ryan Baker started backpacking and car camping as a child. He also has lived in tents ranging from lightweight tarps for extended thru-hikes to heavy-duty basecamps to withstand extreme conditions. He is intimately experienced in the joys and pitfalls of only having a thin piece of synthetic fabric between the elements and a dry night’s sleep.

Both of these outdoor addicts know not only do you need something sturdy and reliable, but it also needs to be set up easily and pack up well. We went to the internet for a deep dive into the research. After hours of research, we narrowed it down to the top tents for a head-to-head test. This involved lots of camping and various testers.

We camped through a quintessential Colorado spring weekend, complete with sun, snow, sleet, and gale-force winds. We enjoyed hot summer nights, a few surprise thunderstorms, and plenty of regular ol’ campground outings from Moab, Utah, to the hills of North Georgia.

We then put the tents to the ultimate head-to-head test. Each was erected in the same valley and left for a week. Through rain, sun, and some epic wind, we were able to see which tents could withstand the elements best. From our experience and side-by-side testing, we crowned our winners.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Camping Tent

To help you decide what tent is best for you, we considered five categories: weather resistance, comfort, ease of setup, extra features, and value. Each of these bears more importance to certain campers than others. Consider when, where, and who you plan to use your tent with.

Weather Resistance

This is one of the biggest reasons to invest more in a tent. Basic tents handle pleasant weather like a champ and can even manage light rain and wind.

If you plan to camp during storms, it’s worth it to save up and buy a sturdier tent. Premium tents have stronger poles, full rain covers, and sealed seams. It’s things like this that seem less important — until you find yourself riding out an epic storm from the confines of your tent.

_DSC1221
The REI Base Camp 6 has an excellent rainfly that provides great weather protection and creates a large vestibule in the front; (photo/Eric Phillips)

While testing, we experienced a major thunderstorm complete with high winds and heavy rain. Each of the tents had been properly staked out, but many of them experienced damage. The Marmot Limestone 4P performed incredibly well, with no leaking or broken poles. The REI Base Camp 6 is also well equipped for inclement weather thanks to its rainfly and many tiedown points.

Construction Materials

The weather resistance of a tent depends largely on the materials from which it is constructed. Nylon and polyester are very common materials used in car camping tents.

Nylon is stronger, more resistant to abrasion, and can stretch considerably. Unfortunately, it absorbs water that causes your tent to sag in storms or high humidity.

Polyester has less stretch than nylon and so it is more likely to tear. This rigidity is a benefit in wet conditions because it will sag less and absorb less water, but also makes it more fragile than nylon.

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The Kelty Discovery Element comes at a great price but sacrifices durability by using inexpensive fiberglass poles; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Coating

Manufacturers will usually coat these fabrics in one or a combination of silicone (Sil), polyester urethane (PU), and polyether urethane (PE). Each of these coatings has benefits and drawbacks.

Most brands use PU because it has been the industry standard for decades. It does absorb water after prolonged exposure and causes fabrics to tear more easily. It also degrades over time (usually about a decade or longer in a chemical process called hydrolysis) and can promote mold growth if put away wet.

PE repels water very well and doesn’t fall victim to hydrolysis. It does reduce tear strength and it is less common than PU.

Silicone is the most water-resistant of these three but does not bond well to other materials — not even itself — and it is expensive. Unlike PU and PE, silicone adds tear strength to the base fabric. Sometimes these materials are used in combination (on opposite sides of a rain fly, for example, labeled Sil:PU).

For waterproofing, all of these coatings are all measured in hydrostatic head (HH). This is a measurement of water that can be placed over the fabric before it starts to saturate and allow moisture intrusion.

Imagine a tube of water placed over the fabric that is so many millimeters long. The gravitational pressure of the water exerts force over time to saturate the fibers.

Over 1,000 to 1,500 mm of HH is considered waterproof by industry standards. The benefit of PU is that multiple coats can be applied to achieve an HH rating of 10,000 mm or more.

Fabrics Are Also Measured in Grams Over a Square Meter

This measurement can be helpful, but remember that some fabrics are inherently stronger than others whether through stretch capability (nylon) or coatings applied. More weight of a given fabric does not always translate to strength. Denier is the measurement of the diameter of the specific fibers.

Again, this can add strength, but different fibers have different innate strengths at the same denier rating. Generally, car camping tents are built pretty burly without much of a worry for weight or packed size, as these will not be hiked very far. These measurements and ratings are a good place to start when selecting a tent but are not the final word on strength.

Comfort

The comfort of a tent depends on personal taste and priorities. To evaluate comfort, we looked at ventilation, door and windows, floor space, and peak height. While a waterproof tent is a must, remaining breathable is a major concern.

_DSC1239
A comfortable tent will have plenty of room to move about and multiple entry points; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Not only does a poorly ventilated tent get too hot and stuffy, but interior condensation can also become a problem. This is another area where investing more in a tent pays off.

Higher-end tents have more mesh and an outer rainfly that is completely separate. The REI Wonderland X has an exoskeleton of poles and unique hanging interior mesh walls. The Kelty Discovery Element 6 features a fully separate rainfly and plenty of mesh at an affordable price. Budget models, such as the Coleman Sundome, lack the extensive use of no-see-um mesh but are more affordable for occasional campers.

Most larger tents have two doors. We were disappointed to see the Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent and the Kelty Discovery Element have just one exit. Two doors make it much easier for multiple people to share the space without having to crawl over sleeping bags.

In general, it keeps the interior space cleaner and is convenient for midnight bathroom breaks. The Quechua 2 has two large zip-down doors that make entry and exit convenient.

Pay attention to the direction of the door flaps. Most doors zip to the side like a regular door, but the Homestead Super Dome 4 from The North Face rolls away to the top. Preference reigns here, but it is an attribute worth consideration.

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A huge tent with room to stand and sprawl can equal the ultimate comfort, but you’ll also need a big campsite; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Floor space in a tent equals comfort. Tents have a stated number of people they can sleep, but how roomy or cramped they will be at capacity varies by body size, bed size, and the amount of gear you need to store inside.

Pay attention to floor dimensions and you can get a better idea of how many sleeping pads will fit. The average size person can sleep fairly comfortably with 24 by 76 inches of room, but the more space the merrier.

Car campers will find maximum comfort by subtracting a person or two from the stated capacity. It is a joy to be able to stand up and stretch out in the taller and larger family tents like the Big Agnes Big House 6 or Eureka! Jade 4, but they can be a challenge to set up.

Best Camping Tents _ Photo by Mallory Paige
Taller tents give more headspace, but they can be more challenging to set up solo if the height of the clips or joints is hard to reach.

Ease of Use

Given their large size, it’s no surprise that some camping tents can be a challenge to set up. Over the years, we’ve wasted a lot of time fighting gear, and we’ve learned that it’s not worth dealing with poorly designed gear. It can quickly take the fun out of your time outdoors.

Whether you camp every weekend or once a year, ease of use is a major concern. Every tent on this list can be set up by one person (although some are easier than others). Our 5’5″ editor set up and took down each tent solo.

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Color-coded poles and attachment points like the ones found on the REI Base Camp 6 can make setup much easier; (photo/Eric Phillips)

The Eureka! Jade didn’t give us much trouble during setup thanks to its pole design, while the Big Agnes Big House 6 was more difficult to set up alone.

The Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent and Caddis 6 Rapid Tent are both set up in seconds, thanks to integrated poles that fold out already seated in the tent material. These tents unfold like a giant jack in the box and then pack away just as easily. While this is very convenient, storage and care are paramount, as there are many hinges and moving parts to accomplish this time-saving task.

Extra Features

One of the most important extra features of a camping tent is storage. Not all tents offer pockets and pouches for stashing gear, but they can make a big difference when deciding between two products.

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Features like the storage pockets found on the Kelty Discovery Element go a long way to improving tent life; (photo/Eric Phillips)

There’s nothing more annoying than having to rifle through all of your belongings to find your headlamp. Luckily, most family camping tents come with a bevy of pockets to help things stay tidy.

The Eureka! Jade has walls lined with convenient storage pockets to keep the whole family organized and the tent free of clutter. Conversely, the backpacking crossover Half Dome has only a couple of corner pockets to save weight.

Other extra features we like had to do with stuff sacks and storage. The Eureka! Jade packed down considerably well.

Another example of a thoughtful extra is the Quechua 2 Second tent’s instructions sewn into the stuff sack. Extra features are just that, but they display a level of integrated convenience that can elevate one product over another for the benefit of the user.

Value

The value of a tent investment often has to do with how often you camp. If you camp every weekend, spending $400 or more on a tent could be worth it. This is especially true if you plan to camp in the colder seasons and need a tent built to withstand the weather, such as the Marmot Limestone 4P.

On the other hand, if you’re just starting or plan to camp only a few nights each summer, a budget pick like the Kelty Discovery Element will help you sleep outside without breaking the bank. Look to the Coleman Sundome Tent 4P for an even more economical option if you are on a very tight budget.

The price difference is a reflection of the materials used in the tent. The Marmot Limestone has seam taping to prevent moisture intrusion as well as sturdy aluminum poles. On the other hand, the Coleman leaked and has fiberglass poles.

Sturdy materials in a more expensive tent will tend to prolong its life. The upfront cost can translate into added years or outings without breakage. That doesn’t mean economical tents can’t stand up to years of use. With proper care and maintenance, any tent can last for a long time, and all tents fall apart eventually.

Aluminum poles with polyether urethane or silicone tend to last the longest and therefore carry a higher price. If children or animals are planned tent guests in your new abode, or you don’t see yourself camping more than the occasional trip to a music festival, then saving money makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand, if you want to get away in the great outdoors often or know you want to shell out the cash for a stronger model, then the cost is usually worth it. Our testing showed that the higher-priced tents fared better in foul weather.

Other Considerations and Taking Care of Your Tent

We have talked about materials extensively. Coatings, base fabrics, and pole construction all contribute to the strength and longevity of your tent, but the single most important factor in the life of your tent is you.

First and foremost, never put your tent away wet. Remember when we mentioned hydrolysis earlier in regard to PU coatings? Water is a major culprit in speeding up that process. The fungus, molds, and mildews love to grow in your dark closet on your wet tent at room temperatures. These organisms destroy the fibers of your tent and make it smell terrible.

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It’s a good idea to open all doors and vents in your tent so that it can dry out completely before going into storage; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Set your tent back up when you get home and let it air out. This simple chore will pay off later when you are still able to use your tent down the road. If you have no yard or nowhere dry to set it up, your living room makes a great space for this. Check all the seams, and especially the floor and fly, before packing it away.

Poles

Poles tend to break when they are not properly seated. When you are setting up your tent, never throw your poles. Some poles have an elastic cord in the center to keep them together. These are not meant to snap the pole into alignment, and tossing them around will crack and break fiberglass or aluminum.

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While typically more expensive, tents with aluminum poles are the way to go due to their durability; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Ensure that each joint is seated before installing the poles into the tent. When putting them away, treat them with the same care in reverse. Even though they seem strong, they are not meant to be thrown or hit against themselves or the ground.

Zippers

Zippers are best left zipped to protect the teeth from wear. Simply zip them up before you roll the tent up to put it away. You can stuff your tent into the sack or roll it up neatly.

Some outdoor enthusiasts argue that rolling and folding in the same areas can create crease lines that put stress on the same area if the folds are always done in the same place. (Think about when you fold a piece of paper back on itself in the same spot to tear it easier.)

We have never had an issue with this, and it would take very specific creasing to accomplish that sort of wear, so pick whatever works better for you.

Most tents come with a stuff sack large enough to fit all the pieces. Cinch that sack tight before you store it so no pieces wander off. Now your tent is put away properly for its next adventure. Keep it away from harmful UV rays and temperature extremes, and your tent will give you optimum performance.

Footprint

When it comes to protecting your new tent, one important consideration is a footprint. This is a ground cloth to set the tent upon. It provides an extra layer to protect the tent floor from punctures.

Some brands sell a footprint with the tent, such as the REI Half Dome. Manufacturer paired footprints usually pack down small and perfectly fit the size of the tent. On the downside, they add an extra $50 or so to the cost of the tent.

Some people prefer to use a basic tarp instead, which can be picked up for less than $20. A tarp doesn’t pack up as easily and doesn’t match the size of the tent.

You’ll either need to tuck the extra under the tent or trim the tarp to fit. You don’t want any of the footprint material sticking out from under the tent, as this can lead to water pooling underneath.

Weight and Packed Size

These are more important when choosing a backpacking tent and less important when car camping. They are still something to consider. Some tents function as backpacking tents as well as car camping tents.

Comparing the Best Camping Tents _ photo by Mallory Paige
Most of the tents in our test come with a useful storage sack that contains the tent, fly, poles, and stakes, though some models are easier to pack away than others.

The REI Half Dome packs down small enough to carry into the backcountry but is by no means “lightweight.” Most of the tents on our list are too heavy to be practical for backcountry travel.

Camping Gear: What Else Do You Need?

Depending on the outing and your style, camping can range from minimalism to a bring-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink adventure. In addition to a tent, you’ll need a sleeping pad and sleeping bag. That has your sleeping arrangements mostly covered, although you could certainly opt for a camping pillow or camp cot.

Next, think about your camp kitchen setup. A good camp stove allows you to make everything from scrambled eggs to multicourse meals. If you’re just looking to boil water, a backpacking stove is all you need to quickly make coffee or cook up a dehydrated meal.

For camp lounging, you may want a camp chair or hammock. And don’t forget the camping lantern. If it sounds like a lot to remember, don’t worry. We’ve made this handy camping checklist that will help you pack the essentials.

FAQ

What Are the Best Tents for Family Camping?

The best family camping tent depends on your outdoor goals. In general, most families appreciate having more room and the ability to stand comfortably.

The Eureka! Jade has earned high marks from our family camping testers. If you regularly camp in adverse weather (hello, spring in Colorado), it’s worth considering a slightly smaller and more durable tent.

What Is the Best Camping Tent Brand?

The best camping tent brand depends largely on your personal needs and budget.

For a premium tent that can withstand the weather, Marmot consistently delivers. If you’re looking for maximum space and flexibility, the Eureka! Jade is a favorite with families. And for a budget-friendly option that is built to last, check out Kelty.

Are Expensive Tents Worth It?

If you plan to camp regularly, it is worth it to invest in a higher-quality tent. The extra expense means sturdier poles, waterproof seams, and generally an easier setup. If budget is a major concern, don’t let that stop you from getting outside.

We’ve consistently been impressed with the budget-friendly options from Kelty. The Kelty Discovery Element 6 costs just $190 and offers plenty of room.

Should You Put a Tarp Over Your Tent?

Quality tents are waterproof. But if you find yourself camping in an absolute downpour, hanging a tarp can provide extra protection and comfort.

It’s important to tie it up well so the wind isn’t a concern and to be sure that it isn’t touching the tent. In addition to creating an extra tent porch, a tarp is great for protecting your camp kitchen.


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