Make the most of your home away from home by choosing the best camping tent for your adventure. We found the top car camping and family camping tents for every budget and use.
Choosing a camping tent is a big decision and investment. A leaky, poorly designed tent can quickly ruin a camping trip. But a good tent will keep you comfy and cozy, creating the perfect home base while exploring outdoors.
We have more than a decade of collective experience camping and testing tents. Between that knowledge and our focused yearly testing, we’ve identified the best camping tents.
During testing, we focused on ease of setup, spaciousness, weather resistance, and comfort. We also look for durability, value, and extra features.
This article focuses on car camping and family camping tents. We have a separate article identifying the best backpacking tents if you’re looking for something lighter and more packable.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys, or jump to the category you’re looking for:
- Best Overall
- Runner-Up Best Overall
- Best Budget
- Runner-Up Best Budget
- Easiest Setup
- Best Weather Resistance
- Best Crossover (Camping & Backpacking)
- Best of the Rest
The Best Camping Tents of 2021
Best Overall: REI Kingdom 4
The REI Kingdom 4 ($429) is a palace of a camping tent. With nearly vertical walls, a rectangular floor, and 75 inches of peak height, the interior living space on the Kingdom 4 is massive. There’s space to hang out with your family, sit in chairs, lie on cots, or whatever a group of four would desire.
But the Kingdom 4 goes way beyond spacious. REI also nailed ventilation, vestibules, and doors.
While this is a big tent, we found setup and takedown reasonably easy thanks to the hubbed pole assembly, pole clips, and sleeves.
REI also gives campers the details they expect in a high-quality tent. There are internal pockets and storage everywhere along the steep walls. The zippers are large, the doors are massive, the vestibules have space for four backpacks each, and the poles are color-coded for easy setup.
The only negative is, well, the sheer size. It weighs more than 18 pounds and is tall and wide. In high winds, it’s a sail, but if you want a large tent, that’s just how it is. We’ve heard complaints of leaking but never experienced a problem even during consecutive rainy days.
- Weight: 18 lbs. 8 oz.
- Height: 75″
- Easy setup
- Interior pockets
- Not suited to windy conditions
Runner-Up Best Overall: 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 ($350) 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 it 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.
For mild summer conditions, though, this is a winner for family camping. It weighs less than the REI Kingdom, offers more standing room, and is slightly less expensive. We were also pleased with how easily it packed back into the storage bag.
- Weight: 8 lbs. 9 oz.
- Height: 84″
- Airy and open
- Tall height
- Only one door
- Not great in heavy wind
Best Budget Tent: Kelty Discovery 4
This tent is a great value. For just $150, you get a large tent that sets up quickly, offers plenty of space, and can withstand inclement weather. It’s a great option if you’re just getting into camping, looking for a budget pick, or need something to entertain the kids in the backyard.
The Discovery 4 offers 57 square feet of space, plus another 17 square feet in the vestibule. The color-coded rainfly clips made it easy to identify the proper setup. And the duffel carrying bag was large enough when it came time to pack it up.
And while I was able to set it up solo, the straight fiberglass poles did take a bit more effort than other tents listed here. But the “Quick Corner Technology” is a big win. Even new users were able to quickly set the tent up. Simply slide the pulls into the corner sleeves, pop it up, and clip.
Most impressively, this tent weathered a sudden storm like a champ. The poles held strong during heavy winds and rain.
Anyone looking for a sturdy, budget-friendly tent should consider the Kelty Discovery 4. It’s also available in a six-person design.
- Weight: 10 lbs. 7 oz.
- Height: 56″
- Great value
- Sturdy design
- One door
- Lower ceiling height
Runner-Up Best Budget Tent: Coleman Sundome Tent 4P
This tent is a classic bargain. You can score a four-person tent for $106 or grab a two-person model for just $51. And with more than 10,000 rave reviews on Amazon, it’s clear that plenty of people love this tent.
That said, there is a difference between an inexpensive tent like this and the higher-end models. Here, you will get fiberglass poles instead of aluminum. They will work for a lot of car camping situations but are less durable and weaker than aluminum.
The construction is sturdy, although it’s lacking in some finishing details and long-term durability. We’ve had a few issues with the zipper snagging, and the heavy fabrics increase the likelihood of condensation buildup. But for a budget tent, it will get the job done.
With 63 square feet inside, it would be a tight fit for four people, but we found it plenty roomy for two. And 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, leaking at the corners can be a problem.
- Weight: 9 lbs. 7 oz.
- Height: 59″
- Lower quality
- Low ceiling height
Easiest Setup: Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent, 2-Person
If you’re a beginner or just perpetually struggle with tent setup, look no further than the Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent ($199) from French brand Decathlon. This year, it won both the Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award and Popular Mechanics Gear of the Year for its unique design functionality.
Once you unfold the tent and place it on the ground, setup — apart from staking out the tent — really can be accomplished in 2 seconds. Just pull the two bright-red ropes (complete with handles, shown above), and the tent’s structure locks into place. Stake it out, and you’re done.
And 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. But if you need a video demonstration, check out the “How to Install” and “How to Fold” videos on Decathlon’s website.
When set up, the floor space in the Quechua 2 Second Easy measures 80.7 x 57.1 inches — plenty of room for our tester and her 6-foot-tall partner. However, we do acknowledge that the low ceiling height is a drawback. When packed down, it fits nicely into its stuff sack, measuring 23.2 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches.
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 tent’s main fabric is 100% cationic polyester, and its unique internal framework (its poles) is made of 50% fiberglass and 50% polyoxymethylene.
- Weight: 10.4 lbs.
- Height: 43.3″
- Setup and takedown are a piece of cake
- Keeps out most light for undisturbed sleep
- Low ceiling height
- Small vestibules
- The rainfly can’t be removed, so no stargazing mode
Best Weather Resistance: Marmot Limestone 4P
This tent is built to withstand storms and is a great choice for anyone camping in unpredictable, inclement weather. While testing in the Rocky Mountains, we experienced sudden high winds and heavy rains.
Nearly every tent experienced some damage, from broken poles to leaking. But the Marmot Limestone ($370) was completely unfazed. It remained sturdy and dry through it all.
It’s not as tall or roomy as some car camping tents, but it could be worth it for excellent weather protection. With 60 square feet of floor space, you can squeeze in four people, or spread out and sleep comfortably with just two people.
The large double doors make coming and going easy. And the pre-bent poles make for quick setup. There is a vestibule on one side for holding extra gear, but it isn’t as large as some gear garages offered.
If you don’t mind not being able to stand up inside, this tent is a great option. Interior gear pockets keep you organized, plenty of mesh allows for maximum airflow, and the weather resistance can’t be beat.
- Weight: 11 lbs. 11 oz.
- Height: 61″
- Excellent weather protection
- Lighter weight
- Lower peak height
Best Crossover for Camping and Backpacking: REI Half Dome SL 3
If your camping plans might include a few days on the trail backpacking, the Half Dome SL 3 ($329) 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. We also like that trekking poles can be used to turn the vestibule into a covered patio. It’s a great option to combat claustrophobia during unexpected rains.
Color-coded poles simplify setup. And the internal pockets and loops keep everything organized. 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.
If you don’t mind the extra weight, the new REI Trail Hut 4 has a bit more space and wins top marks for ease of setup. It includes a preattached footprint, offers a roomy 55-square-foot interior, and is reasonably priced at $299.
- Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
- Height: 46″
- Easy to set up
- Low ceiling height
Best of the Rest
This super-roomy tent ($450) will keep the whole group comfy all weekend long. You can easily stand up inside. And with 83 square feet of interior space, there’s plenty of room to spread out.
As with most large family camping tents, it doesn’t do great in extremely windy weather. Otherwise, it offers up a lot of great extras.
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. It’s possible to set it up alone, but it’s definitely easier with two people.
One of our favorite features is the ability to set it up as a sun shelter. Simply set up without the tent, using just the poles and rainfly.
It’s a great option for family get-togethers to quickly create a bit of shade. You can either use the included webbing harness or set it up with a matching footprint (sold separately).
And the attention to detail continues to the carry bag. It was easy to pack up, and the backpack strap design makes hauling in the tent much easier.
- Weight: 16 lbs. 7 oz.
- Height: 81″
- Two doors
- Shade canopy feature
- Not built to withstand extreme weather
At 13 pounds 3 ounces, the Homestead Super Dome 4 ($350) is a big car camping tent fit for families, or for a few adults camping out for the weekend or enjoying a summer festival. It has a huge door, two large mesh windows, and a 13-square-foot vestibule that leads to a tall dome with a 56-square-foot interior.
Six giant pockets, an internal clothesline, big windows, and a mesh ceiling make this an abode worthy of group get-togethers. I was able to easily set it up alone. And even though it is tall, it was easier than the REI Kingdom 4.
At 80 inches tall, most people can comfortably stand inside. This means it’s comfortable and extremely roomy.
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.
- Weight: 13 lbs. 3 oz.
- Height: 80″
- Large vestibule
- Zip-down windows
- Not built to withstand extreme weather
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. The Late Start 2 is far from the cheapest tent on the market. However, it’s a very nice tent that will last for several seasons while hitting a price point that most people won’t balk at.
The Late Start 2 packs down to 16 x 7 x 7 inches. While certainly not tiny, it will work in a backpack. Similarly, at a minimum weight of 4 pounds, it will work for modest backpacking excursions.
It sets up super quickly with a simple two-pole design. Once up, the bathtub floor offers a slight overlap with the rainfly, so splashback could be an issue in heavy rain and wind.
It has small vestibules barely big enough for a single backpack, but they will suffice for hikers on a budget. And two small pockets offer 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 value that should last through lots of happy camping.
- Weight: 4 lbs. 8 oz.
- Height: 40″
- Good value
- Easy setup
- Quality construction
- Not built for extreme weather conditions
This pop-up tent ($300) 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. Simple unfold, pop up, and voilà, camp is ready.
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. And while there’s an overhang at the top, it leaves the door completely unprotected. This is a recipe for leaking during heavy rain.
But the quick setup may be a worthy tradeoff for anyone looking for a quick pop-up tent.
- Weight: 25 lbs. 8 oz.
- Height: 80″
- Quick setup
- Very heavy
This tent has the benefit of being pitch-dark inside, even during daylight hours. This also means it will stay a bit cooler once the sun rises. And while it’s not a particularly high-end tent, the Carlsbad 4 ($128-287) is an OK shelter.
The entry vestibule is well thought out to avoid tracking in mud or water. And the floor is very heavy for those wearing shoes in the darkened abode. It also has some decent venting, so it should stay reasonably dry.
But flimsy fiberglass poles and tricky setup should exclude this tent from most serious campers’ to-buy list. If you’re looking for a large budget tent that keeps it dark all day long, this one is worth considering at a low price of $152.
- Weight: 16 lbs. 1 oz.
- Height: 59″
- Vestibule is great for dogs
- Sleep in late with blackout lining
- Longer setup
- Flimsy poles
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Camping Tent
A tent is a big investment, so it pays to figure out what you need. Below you’ll find a list of important considerations. But before we get there, take a moment to imagine your camping future.
Do you plan to camp alone or with your family? Are car camping tents your jam, or do you regularly head out for weeks in the backcountry? Are you a strictly summer camper, or do you sleep outside all year long?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but being clear on how you want to camp will make choosing a tent easier.
Space & Capacity
Floor space in a tent equals comfort. The main things to consider are floor dimensions and ceiling height.
Tents have a stated number of people they sleep, but how roomy or cramped they will be at capacity varies. By paying attention to floor dimensions, you can get a better idea of how many sleep pads will fit.
When backpacking, plan to save weight by being willing to snuggle into a two-person tent. But car campers will find maximum comfort by subtracting a person or two from the stated capacity.
Ceiling height may not seem important — until the weather turns and you find yourself hunkered down inside for 6 hours. At that point, you’ll be happy you’re able to at least sit up comfortably and perhaps even stand in the bigger family tents like the REI Kingdom 4.
It’s worth noting, though, that a higher ceiling can make for a more challenging setup. At a height of 5’5″, I was able to set up all tents listed here solo. However, the REI Kingdom 4 and Big Agnes Big House 6 were challenging due to their tall height.
Weight & Packed Size
Weight and packed size are more important when choosing a backpacking tent, but it’s still something to consider. Whether you plan to hike in a short distance or simply maximize the gear that can fit in your car, a tent that packs up well is easier to transport and use.
The REI Kingdom 4 has one of the largest packed sizes, but the bag design is top-notch. There are separate zippered compartments for the poles, tent, and stakes. And the backpack straps make carrying it a cinch. The Kelty Discovery packs much smaller in a single-compartment bag.
Most larger tents have two doors. This makes 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 REI Kingdom 4 has two large zip-down doors while the Eureka only has one. Another thing to think about with the doors is the design and zipper quality.
Budget tents tend to have a few more problems with zippers snagging. This is not only annoying, but it can also ruin an otherwise fine tent.
Storage & Pockets
When your tent becomes your home away from home, it’s easy for clutter and disorganization to reign supreme. And 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 REI Kingdom 4 has a long strip on both walls of pockets big enough to fit a book or water bottle. However, the backpacking crossover Half Dome has only a couple of corner pockets.
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. But if you plan to camp during storms (which often roll in unexpectedly), it’s worth it to save up and buy a sturdier tent.
Premium tents have stronger poles, full rain covers, and sealed seams. And it’s things like this that seem less important — until you find yourself riding out an epic storm from the confines of your tent. 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 experienced damage. The Marmot Limestone 4P performed incredibly well, with no leaking or broken poles.
Surprisingly, the Kelty Discovery also did well. There was minimal leakage in one corner, but the poles didn’t break even in high winds.
While a waterproof tent is a must, remaining breathable is a major concern. 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. This increases airflow and allows for various levels of ventilation.
Budget models tend to have fewer venting options. The classic Coleman Sundome is constructed from a single layer.
And we’ve found that condensation and breathability are definite issues (especially when camping in the South). But for some, the price savings make it a worthy tradeoff.
Surprisingly the $150 Kelty Discovery 4 features a fully separate rainfly and plenty of mesh, making it a great budget option for summer camping.
Tent Footprint: What Is It and Do You Need It?
A footprint is a ground cloth to set the tent upon. It’s not required, but it’s generally a good idea. It provides an extra layer for comfort and protects the tent floor from punctures.
Most brands sell a complementary footprint for each tent. On the plus side, these 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 sticking out from under the tent, as this can lead to water pooling underneath.
Ease of Use
Given their large size, it’s no surprise that some camping tents can be a challenge to set up. We’ve wasted a lot of time fighting gear.
And we’ve learned over the years that it’s not worth dealing with poorly constructed or 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 solo. Weather was generally pleasant, but we did have one setup test in windy conditions.
Even though the REI Kingdom has a tall interior height, we found the setup rather simple thanks to the hubbed pole design. The Big Agnes Big House was more difficult to set up alone.
The value of a tent investment often has to do with how often you camp. If you camp every weekend, spending $600 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.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out or plan to camp only a few nights each summer, a budget pick like the $150 Kelty Discovery will help you sleep outside without breaking the bank.
How We Picked and Tested
Having spent hundreds of nights sleeping under the stars, Gear Editor Mallory Paige knows the importance of a good tent. Not only do you need something sturdy and reliable, but it also needs to set up easily and pack up well.
To start, we drew on the vast knowledge of our team. With a list of recommended tents in hand, we went to the internet for a deep dive into the research. After hours of research and a resulting spreadsheet of data, we narrowed it down to the top tents to test head to head.
Our testing involved lots of camping and various testers. We camped through a quintessential Colorado spring weekend, complete with sun, snow, sleet, and gale-force winds.
Additionally, 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 put these tents through the paces.
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 tent could withstand the elements.
While testing, we made notes on various factors including ease of setup, standing room, vestibules, durability, and price tag. Lastly, we analyzed, compared, and crowned a winner.
Camping Gear: What Else Do You Need?
Depending on the outing and your personal style, camping can range from minimalism to a bring-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink adventure.
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.
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.
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 REI Kingdom 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.
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 Discovery 4 costs just $150 and offers plenty of room. And we were very impressed with its performance during a heavy storm.
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.