CAMPING & HIKING

Best Family Tents: How to Pick a Tent and Not Regret It

Best Family Tents
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned veteran of many campsites, there’s one thing that you can always do better – picking the tent. Not until you actually set it up that you realize how you could’ve done differently and picked up something better. Hindsight 20/20, as they say.

To save you the trouble of scouring the internet and/or your local retailers, we did the legwork (sometimes literally) and made a list of some of the best family tents on the market. If you want to get straight to that, feel free to skip the following section, but if you’d like a couple of tips on shopping for a family tent, read on.

Sizing Up

Most family camping tents should be around 6 feet or around that neighborhood in height in the center, which is enough for the average height person, let alone kids. The tricky part is choosing the sufficient footprint, and matching it to the rating capacity.

A good rule of thumb you can employ here is reducing the rating by two. For example, if you’re a family of four, you’ll need a 6-person tent, an adult couple should feel fine in a 4-person tent, while bigger families or parents with teenagers (so, four to six people) should find an 8-person tent more than sufficient.

Family camping

For maximum comfort, reduce the rating by four in equal increments. Of course, as you gain experience and try out different setups, you’ll become all the more able to gauge your needs.

Short of that, here’s another great tip (more of a formula) that will help you choose the best tent for family camping – the average adultuses up about 15 to 20 square feet of space for backpacking.

Double that for family camping – so it’s about 30 feet per adult, plus 15 to 20 feet for young teens(adjust this depending on their habits back home, exact age, gender, you know the drill).

Even younger kids can sleep along the walls that are too short for adults, and toddlers will need about half that, so you can probably get away with a 4-person tent if it’s only the two of you and your two toddlers. Conversely, if you want to go for broke, get an outfitter tent and enjoy about 50 square feet of space per person.

9 Best Family Tents: The Face-Off

If you’re in the market for the best tent for family camping, read through our top rated family tent reviews and see if you can find something you like.

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent

Weight: 27.3 pounds

Floor dimensions: 11 x 16 feet

Special features: Front awning, rainfly, mesh vents, zippered windows, carry bag

Best use: Family camping, car camping

The Wenzel Klondike sets up easily in under an hour if you’re somewhat experienced, half an hour if you’re a camping veteran.

Make sure to stake up the sides first, and then follow the three red lines in the fabric in order to find the sleeves for the tent poles. It’s fairly sturdy and should withstand the wind no questions asked (within reason, of course).

The main cabin is rather big, and you can easily stand up inside provided you’re about 6-foot, give or take a couple of inches (the center height is 6.5 feet), so no crawling on all fours to get around the tent, changing clothes or whatnot.

The front porch is another interesting feature – you can’t really stand in it, but there’s enough space for about four chairs in there, at least, which is great if you need someplace to spend your time if it’s raining outside. The mesh windows allow you to have a great view of the surroundings, so the whole thing is practically a screenporch, and you can always zip them up if it’s raining.

They don’t close on the top, but there are about two inches of rain-flap to keep it from coming in.

The inside is not only spacious, but you also get a great view comparable to the one from the porch. Here, the windows zipper up all the way, and the mesh roof provides both great ventilation and a nice view of the sky (not bad for stargazing).

Of course, you get the full kit with your purchase – steel and plastic stakes, fiberglass tent poles (connected with a bungee), and, of course, a carry bag. One minor gripe is that it doesn’t come with an electric cord hole, but you can get around that if you use an off-the-grid charger.

Related: There’s also the Wenzel Vortex 8 Tent if you need something different, as well as the Wenzel Stow-N-Go Queen Airbed if you like to sleep softly.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman WeatherMaster TentColeman WeatherMaster Tent

Weight: 31 pounds

Floor dimensions: 17 x 9 feet

Special features: Hinged doors, rainfly, mesh roof, color-coded poles, room divider, separate entrances

Best use: Family camping, car camping

The Coleman WeatherMaster 10-Person is pretty much what it reads on the tin – the tent will sleep up to ten campers comfortably, so it should be more than enough for a family of four. There’s the main area, plus the screen area with enough place for about four chairs. It’s a tight squeeze that way, but two is about perfect.

You can access it either from the main area or the outside, so on that note, it would be a good idea to get a piece of outdoor carpet so that you don’t dirty up the tent. 5×5 should do the trick, and you can get it for under 20 bucks at any retailers.

You’ll have plenty of room on all sides even with a queen mattress inside, and there’s a loop in the center of the roof so that you can hang up a light if you like so that it feels just like home. The hinged doors make entering and exiting a piece of cake. You do have to stoop a little, but the main area is plenty spacious, and you can stand inside without any issues (center height is about 6.7 feet).

The rainfly does a great job of keeping it dry, even despite the fact it doesn’t quite cover the sides, so unless you go against heavy rain and windy weather, you should be good. If you want to play it safe, you might want to consider putting a tarp underneath, just in case.

The automaticroll windows might seem a little gimmicky at first, and most folks won’t think it’s that big of a deal, but they’re actually pretty convenient. There are also a couple of pockets along the walls acting like drawers.

Related: Coleman Tent Kit for convenience, Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE if you want to cook up on your trip, or the Coleman WeatherMaster II Tent if you need more space.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Evanston Screened Tent

Coleman Evanston Screened Tent

Weight: 20.9 pounds

Floor dimensions: 14 x 10 feet

Special features: Screen front porch, large mesh windows,

Best use: Camping and hiking, car camping

The Coleman 6-person screened tent is a nice medium-sized choice, suitable for parents with school-age kids. Obviously, the tent is fairly spacious, with the center height of about 5.7 feet. The dome footprint (main area) runs about 10×10, which is more than enough to sleep four single mattresses.

Besides, there’s also the screened front porch, which measures another 4×10, plenty of room to fit one more person in a pinch. Speaking of which, it also works nice as an antechamber, and you can easily fit two to three chairs in there and still have room to move around. It’s sort of angled, though, so the rainfly might not cover the whole thing.

Setting it up is simple enough, and you’ll only need four poles to do it. If you’ve ever camped before, it shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes, though the instructions are clear enough so that even an absolute novice can do it. It handles the wind very well (think 15mph or thereabouts), and the rainfly goes a long way to keeping your things from getting wet.

You might want to invest in a tarp, though (about 16×20), just in case – not only will it keep water out of the tent, but it’ll also prevent debris and broken stalks from poking through the floor.

The main area has two large zippered windows for ventilation, as well as two wall pockets. It’s nothing to write home about, but you’ll have more than enough room for your personal things, hygienic products, and other assorted whatnots. Obviously, you access it via the mesh screened porch, passing through a zippered door. Up on top, there’s a little hook, so you can hang on a light from there.

Related: The Coleman Evanston comes in two distinct flavors, the one here and the 8-Person variant, and there’s also the Evanston 4-Person Family Tent, for folks with small kids, as well as the Coleman Tent Kit for a convenient setup.

Check the price on Amazon

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent

Weight: 35.15 pounds

Floor dimensions: 14 x 9 feet

Special features: Room divider, adjustable ground vent, wall storage pockets, closable electrical cord access port, rainfly, carry bag

Best use: Family camping, car camping

The Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent pretty much lives up to its name – it sets up in under ten minutes, five if you have someone to give you a hand, and if either or both of you have at least some prior experience. Short of that, you can count on about 15 minutes to about half an hour of trial and error, but once you get a hang of it, it’s a breeze.

It’s great for a sort of a big family – about six people, with enough room to move around. If it’s just the two of you and a couple of kids, you can get super-comfortable. On that note, the center height is about 6.5 feet, so there’s plenty of room to stand and change or stretch without problems.

The ventilation’s definitely up to par, thanks to having large windows on every side, and all of them have to zippers, so you can adjust how much air you want coming in (or close them up entirely to get some privacy. Not only that, but the entire wall is ventilation, and if that’s not enough, the mesh roof should cool you off.

You can enter the tent via the large front door, or use the D-style side-door. Alternatively, you can use a divider and make use either door for separate entries.

In the way of storage, it does have little wall pockets, as well as a couple of hooks up on top, so you can use them to either hang a light or a piece of clothing, whichever jingles your jollies. You can easily fit two queen size mattresses in there, and still have plenty of room to get around. It’s not exactly an outfitter tent, but it’s a nice midway solution.

Related: You can also check out the CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent or the CORE 6 Person Instant Cabin Tent, if you need more or less space, respectively. Also, if you need to light up the tent, there’s the CORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Battery Lantern.

Check the price on Amazon

Browning Camping Big Horn Tent

Browning Camping Big Horn Tent

Weight: 34.75 pounds

Floor dimensions: 10 x 15 feet

Special features: Wall divider, large separate zippered doors, large windows, rainfly, mesh storage pockets

Best use: Family camping, car camping

With the base size of about 10×15 feet and the center height of 7 feet and 3 inches, the Browning Camping Big Horn Tent is definitely a nice way to go if you want comfort. Granted, the height is not the same throughout, but it doesn’t drop below 6 feet anywhere, so you can walk head held high.

Seriously, though, the walls on this thing are straight up-and-down, so you get every cubic inch of space the footprint promises. In plain English, the walls aren’t sloping.

It does have a room divider, and the floor is fairly thick and feels nice, so you might even make do without a tarp. You can stack up a lot of kids inside, probably up to 50 if you didn’t want to have room for anything else. Another nice feature is the storage space in the form of about six of sewn-in mesh wall pockets, which lets you organize your hygienic products per family member.

On that note, there’s a total of six windows, mesh and zippered, two of them also being doors. The seams seem nice and tight, but you might want to camp-dry and put some seamsealer on there, just in case.

The good news is that all the zippers are oversized, so everything should slide easily. On a similar note, there is a power port at the bottom of the door, right next to the zippers, which might come in handy. The rainfly has anice overhang, so it should do a great job of keeping the rain out (though the clips could be a bit sturdier).

As far as the setup goes, the bag comes with the instructions sewn up into it that are waterproof, which is a nice touch. You also get two smaller bags, a bigger one for your tent poles, and a smaller for the stakes (as any stock product that comes with your main order, these are not great, but they do the job). Installing it takes some time, but if you’re at least half-serious about camping, you’ll know what to do – you can do it on your own.

Related: To keep the floor from wear and tear, you can go for the Browning Camping Floor Saver. Also, if you need extra privacy when nature calls, there’s the Browning Camping Privacy Shelter, and the Browning Camping Fireside Chair is a godsend for a weary tush.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman WeatherMaster Screened Tent

Coleman WeatherMaster Screened Tent

Weight: 32 pounds

Floor dimensions: 17 x 9 feet

Special features: Screen room (no floor), room divider, adjustable ventilation, hinged door, Coleman’s proprietary WeatherTec System

Best use:

The Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Screened Tent is one of those products that live up to the name – the tent handles both wind and wet no questions asked. It’s pretty big, and you could probably even fit about ten people in it, in a pinch. There’s a screened area in the front, but no floor, so you should definitely think about investing in a tarp (about 20×12 should do it), and maybe even a piece of outdoor carpet.

Setting it up is a bit tricky, especially if you’re of a certain height, so you should probably have someone to help you out. Whichever way you go about it, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour, even on your first try. Aside from the screen room, you can access it via the zippered D-style door on the side (or the front, depending on how you look at it). You do also get a zippered divider, so you can separate yourself from the kids and give them some privacy.

In the way of ventilation, you have three windows in what you might call the bedroom, but where it really shines is the weather protection. Every bit of surface, from the seams, through polyester walls and mesh windows is water-repellent and leak-free.

Related: If you’d like something more “high-tech”, there’s the Coleman Elite WeatherMaster Tent, or the Coleman WeatherMaster II if you really need plenty of space. Also, if you’d like to have spares, you might want to get the Coleman Tent Kit.

Check the price on Amazon

Ozark Trail Family Cabin Tent

Ozark Trail Family Cabin Tent

Weight: 31.4 pounds (shipping weight)

Floor dimensions: 20 x 10 feet

Special features: Rain flap, mesh roof, three rooms, three doors (one center, two side doors), six windows, zippered carry bag

Best use: Family camping (large families), car camping

As the name might suggest, this Ozark Trail tent sleeps ten people in three rooms, so, if we use our formula from a bit earlier, that means it’s big enough for a family of eight (six, if you want to get super-comfortable). Its footprint is about 20×11, so if you plan on getting a tarp, go with something at least 25×15. It’s about 6.5 feet tall, give or take an inch, so you can stand inside without having to stoop or crane your neck.

It’s actually one huge room with a couple of dividers that make it into three separate living areas, which you can allocate whichever way you like. If you don’t want to have your shoes with you, but don’t want to leave them outside for the creepy-crawlers, you can zipper them up inside a handy little compartment by the entrance.

In the way of ventilation, you have a nice little system with vents that you can stake out (or not, depending on how hot/cool it is), two in the back and two in the front. On top of that, you also have six mesh windows, zippered, of course (two on the front ,one on each end and two on the back), as well as two side doors that you can open up to make a draft.

The main entrance is a D-style screen door that zips closed and has a small port for theelectric cord that doesn’t interfere with the zipper in any way.

One thing you should keep in mind is that the tent is not available in California due to state restrictions.

Related: If three rooms are too much for you, you can get the 2-room Ozark 10-Person Tent, or you might get a real palace in the likes of the Ozark 12-Person Tent. Of course, to get the most out of your camping, you’ll need a portable cooler, such as the Ozark Trail 24-Can Cooler.

Check the price on Amazon

CORE Instant Cabin TentCORE Instant Cabin Tent

Weight: 22.8 pounds

Floor dimensions: 11 x 9 feet

Special features: Instant setup, adjustable ground vent, gear loft, lantern hook, wall organizer, closeable access port for electrical cords, rainfly, carry bag

Best use: Hiking and camping, family camping, car camping

The Core 6-Person Instant Tent is definitely what the name promises – it sets up in under fiv minutes (provided you know what you’re doing), leaving you plenty more time to enjoy camping. All you have to do is unpack the tent, lay it flat on the ground, unfold, lift and extend the steel telescopic poles, and fix everything with stakes and guy lines. Packing it up takes a bit more finesse, but it’s basically the same process, only in reverse.

The 6-person variant sleeps 6, obviously, which meansthe space should be enough for a family of four. There’s plenty of ventilation, what with the ground vents, the large zippered windows, and the mesh roof. The center height is 6 feet flat, so as long as you’re under 6-foot tall, you’ll have no problems standing inside. There’s also a fully closable electrical cord port at the bottom of the door panel (it in no way interferes with the door zipper).

The rainfly will provide you with a decent coverage, but if it’s gusty, windy rain, you should expect some leakage. A tarp sounds like a good solution, and you can always spraying a sealant of your choice on the outside. It’s not really required, but it won’t hurt.

Related: For more space, you might want to consider the CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent, or even the CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent. And, of course, if you need to take the kids for a night-time number two, some light won’t go amiss – CORE 85 Lumen CREE LED Mini Battery Lantern.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Instant TentColeman Instant Tent 

Weight: 18 pounds

Floor dimensions: 8 x 7 feet

Special features: Pre-attached poles, Coleman’s proprietary WeatherTec System, inverted seams, vented rainfly (integrated), four screened windows

Best use: Hiking and camping, family camping, car camping

The Coleman 4-Person Instant Tent is pretty much the same thing as the rest of the Instant Tent line, only smaller. It sleeps four people, which in family English translates to an adult couple with toddlers or a couple of teenage kids (three max). In a word, it’s a great choice for folks with either very small kids or very big kids who need their privacy.

Setting it up is pretty much a piece of cake, and it should take about five minutes total, unpacking and adjusting included (provided you know what you’re doing). Even if you’re new to camping, it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, letting you get back to enjoying the trip in short order.

The door is nice and large, comparative to the tent’s size, and allows you to get in and out pretty easily. Next to the door you have a cute little window to let the daylight in, and when it gets too bright, there’s even a matching curtain (goes a long way to affording you more privacy, as well).

The material itself is plenty breathable, and there’s a nice and large mesh panel towards the back which zippers open. There’s an internal and an external panel, both fully closable and breathable. There are also a couple of pockets sewn into the back wall, for all your hygienic products or other things you need ready-at-hand. It’s not awfully tall (4 feet 11 inches center height), so you do need to stoop a little bit when inside, but sitting down (or in a chair) is plenty comfy.

The rainfly is integrated and vented, which saves anadditional couple of minutes you’d otherwise use for setting it up. On that note, there’s also a zippered port on the side, near the bottom, which allows you to pull through an electric cord if you need it.

Related: For your and your kids’ comfort, there’s the Coleman Durarest Single High Air Mattress, or, if you prefer some elevation, the Coleman Airbed Cot, as well as the Coleman QuickPump to set it all up.

Check the price on Amazon

Conclusion

After everything is said and done, it’s a thankless task choosing the best out of these nine great family camping tents. If you found your personal favorite on our list, or if you think we missed something even better, be sure to let us know in the comments. Until then,happy camping!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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