For sleeping under the stars, backyard camping nights or week-long hiking expeditions, you need a strong, durable, quality tent that fits your budget.
From luxurious canopies and moments when you want to feel most comfortable in the great outdoors, to tents that give you the most space possible between you and your family members at the end of a long getaway, we’ve found several top-notch options that do it to offer a touch of color and offer quality protection.
REI Co-op expert Mike Kries also shared some important tips for first-time buyers and veterans alike on how to choose the right tent for future camping trips, as well as tips on how to care for it for years to come.
Which tent is best for camping?
Whether you’re buying a tent for the first time or looking for something new for the summer, Kries has a few things to consider when looking through your options.
First think about how big you want your tent to be as you want to have enough space for everyone in your group to relax comfortably. (According to Eastern Mountain Sports, you should typically have at least 20 square feet for each person in a tent.)
Kries encourages you to think ahead about the conditions you will be in. Braving rough terrain, colder climates or basking in the sun non-stop? You want a tent that will last at least three or four seasons. In colder weather, opt for a canvas-faced tent to seal in the heat. Tents used primarily during the winter months also usually have a fabric exterior to combat snow, ice, or water. For warmer months, tents can be outfitted with nylon to encourage airflow. Plus, nylon is a strong, stretchy material, meaning it can shrug off summer wind speeds and morning dew.
Also consider the height of you and other campers as this contributes to the comfort aspect of camping. “It can be a game changer to be able to stand completely upright in the tent,” Kries said. REI recognize that there are no set dimensions in which a tent must be built, but they do advise that if you are taller than 6 feet, you will need a tent with a floor length greater than 90 inches and a high peak height should take into account, which varies from tent to tent and is typically listed in the product description. However, it is always a wise decision to check the dimensions of a tent before you buy it to ensure you can stand, kneel, lie or sit comfortably in it.
Finally, Kries advises backpackers to double-check whether or not the tent has an anteroom. “This way you can protect your backpack from the weather and don’t take up the limited space in the tent,” says Kries. This is important when backpacking because you have everything with you and the lighter your backpack, the happier your back is.
How do you maintain a tent?
Two words: zipper. Etiquette. It might seem like minor advice, but Kries notes that zips – and tents as a whole – are “one of the most expensive things to send anywhere for repairs”.
Aside from not over-pulling or further jamming a zipper, Kries also recommends that your tent is a shoe-free, food-free zone.
“If you wear your shoes inside the tent, you’re just bringing dirt with you, which will just rub into the tent and potentially puncture or tear the tent,” Kries said. When eating, he advises leaving it outside, otherwise “our furry friends in nature will get at it and won’t use the door.”
Taking the time to store and clean your tent properly during the off-season will also add to its longevity. If it rained on your trip or you experienced morning dew while you slept, Kries strongly recommends leaving it outside to dry on a sunnier day.
“The cleaning I do at home depends on how dirty the trip got,” he added. “It can be anything from sweeping out the tent to pulling out the materials needed for a thorough cleaning.”
But basic storage of your tent is as simple as this: “You want to make sure it’s not over-compressed and [is] somewhere cool and dry.”
Stansport Scout tent with nylon A-frame
Relive summer camp days from your childhood with this nostalgic A-frame tent that looks like it came straight out of Camp Walden in The Parent Trap. Weighing less than four pounds, this tent is perfect for backpacking, but reviewers warn that it’s not waterproof.
Coleman Sundome tent
For a budget choice, this best selling Coleman Sundown tent with over 31,000 verified five star reviews from Amazon is the perfect solution. One reviewer loves this tent because it’s waterproof and another because it’s spacious for two people.
“My favorite part is that it sleeps two people and has plenty of room for backpacks and gear,” said one reviewer as a testament to this tent’s size.
Poler 2-person tent
Opt for a pop of color with this Clementine tent from Poler, complete with a rain flap and the gear needed for pitching, tearing down and off-season storage, such as pegs and a stuff sack.
“We really love this tent,” said one reviewer, adding that it’s “roomy and comfortable for two,” meaning you won’t have to fight for space with the rest of your family.
Klymit Cross Canyon Tent
Beat the heat with this tent, which includes a cover that encompasses the entire top of the tent, meaning you won’t be woken up early to the sunrise or its brilliant rays. Reviewers rave about how easy it is to store this tent, especially with the included bag. Simply roll the tent into the bag and buckle up for an easy ride home.
Rightline Gear Truck Tent
With size options like full size short, mid size long and compact, you get the tent that fits perfectly in your truck bed when you spend nights gazing at the stars. Reviewers describe it as “convenient” and easy to pack and store for travel. For longer trips, think ahead and pack a mattress topper as sleeping directly on the truck bed may not be the most comfortable option.
According to buyers, the best camping tents for larger groups
Ozark Trail 11 Person Tent
With a separate space perfect for separating parents and kids, reviewers claim this is the “best family tent,” with one noting that it has ample space for everyone and their air mattresses. Take out the air mattresses and there’s room for even more!
Tahoe Gear 10 person camping tent
For those who can’t do without their favorite electronics or need a lantern at night, this tent comes with a power outlet next to the door for easy access to the power cord if needed. Built-in bottom vents also allow for airflow when you need to uncover the roof. “We can’t wait to do another camping trip,” said one reviewer after using this tent.
Ozark Trail 8 Person Hexagonal Tent
Set a timer and put this Ozark tent’s description to the test – the brand claims this tent can be set up in two minutes or less with pre-assembled poles, meaning less work when camping. Reviewers got the best bang for their buck with this tent, noting that it is “amazing in every way”.
Ozark Trail 20 Person 4 Room Cabin Tent
Invite the whole family or join groups of friends to fill this “very well made” tent, according to one reviewer. With enough room for everyone to spread out, even groups of fewer than 20 people will enjoy this sturdy, tall and waterproof tent. Several reviewers raved about how this tent is value for money.
Playdo 4 season canvas bell tent
This tent accommodates a stove for easier outdoor cooking without worrying about inclement weather and also features a fireproof fabric opening on the outside for a stove hole to vent smoke. “It’s like a motel room in the trees,” said one reviewer, noting how well the tent blocks out outside noise, perfect for sleeping.
According to buyers, the best tents for children
Pacific game under the sea tent
Keep this tent in the garden all summer long with weighted sandbags to ensure it stays in place no matter the weather. Reviewers rave about how this tent works wonders at keeping bugs out so kids can sit comfortably and enjoy the great outdoors.
iCorer Automatic Pop Up Tent
Find shade after a long day in the sun or escape the heat on the beach with this pop up beach tent. One reviewer packed this “lightweight” tent on a recent trip to Hawaii, adding that it “worked great for sand” and was also “comfortable.”
REI Co-op Groundbreaker Tent
For your first camping trip, choose a tent with a little more protection from the elements with this smaller REI tent. Perfect for siblings, cousins, or overnight guests, this tent protects against the rain and, according to one reviewer, is “the sweet spot in price, weight and size.”