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Best Family Camping Tents

The LL Bean King Pine 4 has a great screened in front vestibule for hanging out in on buggy days.
The LL Bean King Pine 4 has a great screened in front vestibule for hanging out in on buggy days.

What is the best family camping tent? That’s the question we posed to 150 Section Hiker’s readers:

  • What are the must-have attributes of a family camping tent are?
  • How many people should a family camping tent hold?
  • What’s a reasonable price for a quality family camping tent?

Best Family Camping Tents

Most of our readers equate family camping to car camping, where there’s no limit on the amount of stuff you can pack and bring along. Furniture, grills, ice chests and games – the sky is the limit when you pack for a car camping trip.

Time and again, the most popular car camping tents are:

However, about 25% of our readers opt to bring smaller tents on family camping trips because they’re faster to set up, more private (when segregating kids from adults, and use limited campground space more efficiently. Less expensive 4 person tents including the Eureka Timberline 4, the Mountainsmith Genese 4, and the Coleman Instant Dome 4 are most popular for this style of camping.

If you’d like to read all of the feedback we received, check out the comments below.

149 comments

  1. My ideas of a good family tent are 1.one that’s going to hold back the weather if it gets nasty. 2.one that’s packable enough for car camping or not too bulky for canoeing, and 3.one that’s not going to break the bank & last long enough to enjoy it for some time.
    My family consists of 5 people and the Coleman Sundome (9×7) fits the 5 of us & most of our gear. With good ventilation, & adequate head room it does all we need it to. We have weathered quite a storm (x2) in the Bancroft, Ontario area & came out dry as a bone. It’s also easy enough for one person to set up-remembering it’s not a race.

  2. LL Bean dome tent worked well for both Yellowstone and backyard family reunions. Its 10 x 10 and did not cost an arm and leg. Sleep four with cots and air mats.

  3. I have an older Big Agnes family camping tent that I got from REI about 3 or 4 years ago. I forget the exact model, but it is a six person tent similar to this http://www.rei.com/product/865404/big-agnes-big-house-6-tent. It has a very large front vestibule where you can have 2 or 3 people comfortably hang out under (almost too big in my opinion, it is difficult to pitch).

    A family car camping tent should easily be able to hold all your family members + additional gear, or just get two smaller tents, one for the kids and one for the parents. I got ours before we had a kid, so we sized it for two dogs + two adults + gear. 4-6 person seems to be the sweet spot for plenty of space for luxurious car camping and ease of storage and setup. Anything larger would be a huge pain to pitch.

    I believe i paid about $350 for mine, but it is pretty bomb proof and it has held up just fine in thunderstorms and hail. Pick a decent brand that is within your budget and stick to it, but try to find something with the features you need, and skip the random extras that you do not need. You can usually get away with less features than you think.

  4. I think of it as a “family camping system”, because with a 5-person family, there are several permutations of who might be along. In terms of space, rated space should be 1+ more than your people, i.e. at least rated 6-person capacity for 5 people. I like modular, i.e. separate 3-4 person tents plus a screened in common space, connected via blue tarps.

    The best tents are the ones you have, but for some members of my family, higher clearance is important. I have a “big” Coleman Montana (~$125, fiberglass poles) which takes 10+ minutes to set up – was too cheap for the EZ-UP ones, and I’ve had aluminum poles crack on a 6-person dome that was 6′ tall. A lot depends on camping regulations also – max # of tents per spot, available space, etc., and amount the family will go camping vs. subsets. So tradeoffs between ease of setup, durability and price, like everywhere else.

  5. We use a BPWD Luna 6 with an inner net. It is a pyramid style and very lightweight and stormworthy for the size. We did get the inner pole for it as we found tying hiking poles together just wasn’t as sturdy as we would like with kids pulling and windforce on the side panels.

    We did have John from BPWD customize it by adding some additional height as I am 6′-4″.

    We have a family of five, so a 6-man tent is our minimum to have enough space for the kids to move around a little bit if it is raining or the bugs are bad. This is something to certainly consider as kids can get very restless in these conditions and need a little extra space to wrestle or play.

    As for cost, it depends on the conditions. Are you car camping or are you backpacking? If you are backpacking, you will need to spend extra for it to not weigh a ton. Is it going to see adverse weather or is it reserved for sunny, warm weekends? Obviously, you will need to spend more for high winds or snow load. On the bottom end, I would say $150 for a quality tent is minimum. Lighter and better designs could go upwards to over $1000 for a lightweight tipi style tent which will be the premium.

  6. The most important attribute of a family camping tent is useable space so no one needs to step over someone else in the middle of the night to visit nature. Ventilation is the next priority because tents can feel like a sauna in hot and humid weather. If it is not going to rain the rain fly should be easily removable for better ventilation. I appreciate the design of the Eureka Copper Canyon with its near vertical walls, you can stand up anywhere in the tent. Also, all four sides are mostly windows for ventilation, and the fly can be removed so the roof becomes a “window” too.

    A family camping tent should hold four people minimum with space between them. Even more space would be useful so that gear can be moved in during rain.

    A reasonable price for a quality family camping tent would be between $200 and $300 for a four person model. The expense of making it able to be used in winter or on a mountain peak is not warranted.

  7. What is the best family camping tent?

    For our family its the two-door, four person Eureka Timberline, which is good value for just over $200. With front and rear doors, late to sleep or early to rise are less problematic as one can easily escape the tent. The generous oft and two side pockets hold glasses, phones and more. Best of all, its self-supporting. This tent does double duty for camping on hard ground and on wooden gym floors during evacuations. The bathtub floor and full rain fly means seldom having to worry or treat hypothermia, even in the worst of storms. Its my go to tent when family safety is a must.

    What do you think the must-have attributes of a family camping tent are?

    Self standing, bath tub floor, full rain fly, good ventilation, ample storage loft, available spare parts.

    How many people should a family camping tent hold?

    The family plus 1 or 2 friends. With the average American family being 3 people, a four person tent is ideal. More children in your tribe, buy a second four person tent or an extra two-person for the parents or older children.

    What’s a reasonable price for a quality family camping tent?

    About $200-250 for a four person. $100-150 for a starter family of two and an infant.

  8. What is the best family camping tent? – A durable affordable tent that is rated for at least 2 more people than you plan to sleep in it. Mine is currently a Coleman Elite 8-person tent for our family of five (and a dog).

    What do you think the must-have attributes of a family camping tent are? #1 is superior weather-proofing. Nothing ruins an outing faster than a wet, cold, child. #2 is ease of set-up.

    How many people should a family camping tent hold? Two more people than you plan to sleep in it. Otherwise there is no room for extras such as pillows, toiletries, etc…

    What’s a reasonable price for a quality family camping tent? $200-300 range

  9. Family Tent should be easy to set up (even for the kids) with lots of space. At minimum, it should have space for four people and cost less than %$200

  10. I agree a family tent should be easy to set up and have enough space for 4 people and cost less than $200.

  11. The best family tent is also one of the lightest: The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3

    What do you think the must-have attributes of a family camping tent are?
    Balancing the lightweight attribute with the spaciousness attribute. The UL3 will fit myself, my wife, my daughter and somehow squeeze Gracie the dog at the end. The tent weighs 3 lb. 8 oz. We have a lot of headroom, however we sleep quite snugly side-to-side. The big boon is the ability to not way my pack down which enables us to hike further.

    How many people should a family camping tent hold?
    Four (4) would be the optimum number. Too much larger and it is impossible to do anything other than car camp.

    What’s a reasonable price for a quality family camping tent?
    $300-$450.

    Best,

    Jonathan

  12. Coleman Elite 8-person -> use this for car camping (non-backpacking). spacious, well-ventilated, fairly easy to setup/takedown with two people

    -What do you think the must-have attributes of a family camping tent are? Durability, space, ease of setup/takedown
    -How many people should a family camping tent hold? ideally kids in one, parents in another, but minimum 6 person (so really, an 8-person on paper)
    -What’s a reasonable price for a quality family camping tent? under $300 (US)

  13. The best family camping tent is whatever tent is currently at Costco.

    Let’s face it, kids are hard on things. I bought a new Coleman 8-man a few years ago and the first night they managed to burn a hole in it. The next day a snake found it’s way into that hole and just about gave my wife a heart attack.

    So I vote go cheap and plan on getting a new one every few years. I think for $200 you should find a decent tent to last 2-3 seasons. I think anything with decent vestibule and something that has a great view of the stars. Don’t be afraid to go without a rain cover…the kids will love it.

    Now take all that money you saved on a family tent and go buy a crazy expensive lightweight backpacking tent :)

  14. I don’t believe there is one best family camping tent. I believe it depends on whether you only car camp or if you backpack in to the campsite. It also depends on how many people are in your family and how old they are. When my kids were smaller and harder on tents (or anything for that matter) I bought a cheap four-man tent at a big sports retailer (we like to backpack as well as car camp). It got banged up and was a little heavy, but it worked great. It is still usable, but my boys are getting older and more mature so we recently bought a REI quarterdome T3 plus. It is lighter, easy to set-up, and has been great so far. My three boys sleep in that tent (or my wife or I will sleep with two) and then my wife and I will sleep in a lightweight tarptent (or my wife or I will sleep with one). If you just car camp I would suggest a Kirkham’s canvas tent – they are almost indestructible, have a great warranty, and are very roomy.

    Must-have attributes of a family camping tent again depends on the kids’ ages and how hard they are on the tent. If they are young and/or hard on things, then I would go with cheap so if you have to replace it, it won’t hurt the bank as bad – a kid can ruin any tent, whether it is made well or not. If you like to backpack, get a four-man tent so the weight can be distributed between more people. If your family is bigger buy a small two-man tent or another four-man tent.

    The cheap four-man tent I bought early on was around $100. I think it was Coleman or Eureka. It doesn’t have a vestibule and the poles were fiberglass (not the lightest tent), but we couldn’t go on LONG backpacking trips anyway, so I could deal with the slightly heavier backpack.

  15. Big Agnes 6 seems to work well for my neighbor with young family of 4. Vestibule keeps debris and wetness out of tent. Plenty of room for storage and sleeping equipment. The $500 investment was well spent for all components.

  16. For us it was the Eureka Sunrise 11. We live in Florida and camped in the summer so ventilation, no-seeum netting, and rain protection were must haves. The Sunrise had full wall windows on all four sides and the fly always did the job. This family of three could stay cool in August in that baby and she was about $250. A family tent should hold a family comfortably in the conditions you are in. The 11 x 11 x 11 was HUGE but was surely appreciated after a day in the hot sun and on the water. Of course we are talking car camping not backpacking. All in all no matter the season, the size, the location or the type of camping, must have attributes are ventilation and rain protection. The right amount of space is enough space to meet the needs of the personalities and dynamics of your family. Cost is also dependent on camping conditions and family habits. I wouldn’t pay a bundle for a tent exposed to the extreme exposure a beach tent gets, it is foolish. A tent is an investment in your family and should be should be treated with love and care so get what you can afford that meets your needs and treat it with love.

  17. Using a couple old Colemans I have had for years … everyone fits in them (6). Beefed up the water protection with a tarp over the tent and additional area over the vestibule. Hey, it isn’t broke — why change it! It meets our needs and everyone is happy.

  18. We have the REI Base Camp 6 (6 person). It has served us very well and has been able to still be of use as my kids have grown from adolescence into teens and yes, adults, we are still able to sleep comfortably. We are a family of 5. Good head room, too! Lots of great features to make the tent function well.
    Durable and easy to set up. This has been a great “car” camping tent for us.

  19. Weight not being much of a concern , good ventilation and waterproof properties , capacity for 4 people and a $300.00 ( maybe a bit more ) price point would work for me .

  20. From a car camping perspective, I’m not concerned about weight, but like others may have said, in larger family style tent I want headroom, waterproofness, and good ventilation. Since it’s just 3 of us I want a tent with a listed capacity of at least 4 or more so that we have a little extra room. This style of tent shouldn’t break the bank – I think a tent that costs no more than $200 will do.

  21. The first part of the answer has to do with when and where? For me it is three season car camping. I grew up in Coleman cabin tents and still think they are the pick for this type of camping. Always plan a bit bigger then the number of family members. Have lists of bug proof screens because most of the time heat is the problem, not cold. Modern tents are all fairly straight forward to set up and take down. Weight is the issue. Maybe I’m getting older but my trusted canvas sided tents are gone. Light weight fabrics, lots of ventilation, waterproof floor and a rain fly for the occasional shower By the way, if the weather is good and the bug spray is working. Ditch the tent for a ground cloth under your bags. Sleeping under the stars will be a memory that will make the family camp out a life long memory! How much? $200-300 is a fair deal for all.

  22. CHARLEEN WINGERTER

    Space enough to give each person a little area just their own. Head room I think gives the feeling of spaciousness and makes it easier getting in and out when there is a tent full of people. I think a family tent should hold 4 average size people plus one dog or smallish child. I would pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for a quality tent that would last longer than 2 campouts.

  23. The ideal family tent will change as the family ages! The ideal tent should sleep 4-6, allowing for plenty of room for kids to hang out just in case the weather is less than ideal. Tall enough to stand up in, and a door thats easy to use. As kids age it may be more convenient to have a separate smaller tent for them to sleep in. This size of tent would also allow for cots or air mattresses to be used when old age hits and sleeping on the ground is no longer comfortable. Another must have attribute would be a good rain fly, something that comes to the ground. If I have to rig up a tarp over a leaking tent, I am definitely not enjoying myself. I would spend $2-400 on a quality, long lasting tent. I have car camping in mind here, a backpacking setup would be entirely different.

  24. For car camping we have the Big Agnes Big House 4 person tent which we love and for backpacking we have a Big Agnes Jackrabbit SL3 which works fine but is very tight…

  25. While a hanger in a prefect world, when out on our monthly scout trips (car and paddle) theGolite Shangri-La 5 is still our go to tent. We even pack infrequently, when my better half joins us on short treks. Our teenagers love this tent as well.

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