Camping is not just an isolated activity for many families, it’s a lifestyle. For us, it’s a great way to bond as a family and spend healthy time in the outdoors. When I was picking out a family tent the first time, I had no clue where to start. So for anyone in a similar position, this guide is designed for
The importance of picking out a great family tent cannot be overstated. You want something durable that can last a while, something that is roomy enough for the whole family with enough space inside, and something that is comfortable yet convenient. The last thing I want to be worrying about when I go camping with my family is whether the family tent will have enough space and if it’ll hold up.
These are the basic defining features of family tents. They should have tall walls with adequate interior space, maybe even divided rooms. They will cost significantly less than the premium professional three-season tent, but will also be less sturdy in harsh weather conditions.
So let’s look at individual features that matter the most. Size is the first thing that we worried about. Turned out the worrying was needless because family tents in the market now can really just be classified as tent mansions. There are a number of options available to you, so the best place to start with is assessing your own personal need.
How big is the family? Do you want separate rooms or not? Do you want a canopy out front, or a small family space at the center of the tent to huddle together before calling it a night? These are questions that will ultimately inform the kind of tents you will be looking at. There are a couple of flipsides to large family tents as well.
For one, the bigger a tent is, the heavier it’s going to be. If you’re planning on ditching the car close to the road and climbing the plains to the perfect camping spot up the mound, reconsider the size. Similarly, the larger a tent, the more time it will take to set it up. If you have teens in the family who can pitch in and pitch it up, go for a big tent. If you’ve got an army of little ones, reconsider the size and the layout.
In terms of other essential features, always go for a family tent that offers a double wall. What that entails is better rain protection and greater airflow and ventilation, so reduced congestion and stuffiness. This will make the tent heavier, but trust me this is not something you want to compromise on with a family tent.
You can also choose between single-door tents and double-door tents based on the number of tent-ants (tenants, tent-ants). This is another feature, along with the number of windows that can help with ventilation and airing through the night. Another feature to consider is the size of vestibules or canopies.
These are places where you can enjoy the outside fresh air under a tent shelter, without being soaked in the rain or consumed by the fiery sun. When I was choosing a tent, I had to consider the muddy boots my kids would be dragging into the tent otherwise, and so a family tent with a large vestibule made sense for me.
What About Design?
In terms of other key design and value features, you should definitely pay attention to the material the tent is made of. Most tents are made of polyester, but even that has varying degrees of quality. Polycotton is one type of a polyester hybrid material which is durable, sturdy and a great temperature insulator.
You should also consider your needs in terms of entrance for electric cords, stowage pockets and hooks around the tent to hang lights. Again, this may be a significant investment into the future so you might as well be thorough.
Best Family Tent: A Buyer's Guide
Coleman 8-Person Instant Tent
This is a great product on the market that is not only spacious but easy to assemble. Between two people, the assembly of this tent, which comes with pre-attached poles, takes less than a minute. It also comes with an exclusive Coleman WeatherTec system, which is great because of the protection it provides from the outside temperature and rain.
The central height of the tent is 1.95m and the base is 14ft. by 10 ft. This means four queen size air mattresses can easily be laid out inside. There are also two entrances and seven windows, making for great ventilation.
Klondike Tent - 8 Person by Wenzel
This tent is equally spacious and tall, with a base of 16ft. by 11ft. It’s lightweight, weighing only 28lbs and is easy to carry. The setup is relatively simple, but still takes around 20 minutes between two people.
It’s made from weather protective polyester with an added coating for reliability, which comes handy during rain.
However, this tent does not have a great temperature insulation system. What that means is you may expect to get cold inside the tent if the weather outside is in the low 50's.
Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent
This is a spacious tent with a maximum height in the center close to 2.21m. There are two large entrances and six windows that provide great ventilation. There is no canopy or vestibule and the fiberglass poles may not be the strongest.
The product comes with a weather resistant polyester coating that provides good insulation, though water resistance in case of heavy rain is not a certainty with this tent. It is still a great product that offers a range of decent features.
3 Room Cabin Tent by Ozark Trail
This is a spacious tent that can house a dozen people. There are pre-attached poles that help with quick assembly. The dimensions are 16ft. by 16ft.
There are three room divisions with seven windows. The tent is very spacious but the quality of the tent may not be top of the line. The metal joints are also not very sturdy.
Coleman Prairie Breeze 9-Person Cabin Tent
Another Coleman product to finish off the list and another quality product that provides ample space and weather protection. It takes much longer to set up though, anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour.
It comes with an LED lighted fan system that improves the ventilation between 9 people, though the batteries are not included in the purchase. It has a sleek design and sturdy quality, yet is lightweight enough to be carried easily.