The Best Family Camping Tent

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Planning on going camping with the family? Some may call you crazy. But, I say you’re brave – brave for getting out of the comfort zone of air conditioning and refrigeration. But just because you’re willing to rough it doesn’t mean you should have to rough it in an uncomfortable, cramped tent. A little homework before purchasing a family camping tent for your crew will ensure your family is camping in comfort.

I’ve spent countless summers in tents of all kinds: one person nylon pop-ups, U.S. Army GP mediums, and mind-bending jigsaw puzzle family camping tents. After many camping trips – some great, some miserable – I can tell you without a doubt which tents are best suited for a family looking to have a little outdoor fun. My absolute top pick is the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent.

Top Pick –

The is my new go-to camping tent for the family.

It fits my family of six with room to spare. We blow up two queen size air mattresses inside the tent with plenty of room for extra sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and copious amounts of baggage.

Top Features

What makes the such a great choice for a large family? It’s the top notch convenience factor of course.

We typically get this tent unpacked and set up in less than ten minutes, thanks to its color-coded assembly rods. In fact, on our last summer camping trip of 2017, we finished setting up our tent in under eight minutes. Then we helped my brother-in-law, who was still struggling with his six-person family camping tent that took twice the time to set up.

Break down is just as simple and quick as set up. The tent is essentially a large rectangle, so sweeping it out before break down is a cinch. Once you’ve broken it down, it easily fits into a wheeled storage bag. Just pick up the handle and roll the bag back to the car.

Construction

Coleman has gone crazy with the trademarks. They have trademarked nearly every cool construction feature of this tent. Trademark or not, there’s plenty to talk about.

For starters, the tent is made of welded polyethylene floors and inverted seams for protection against the elements. It’s a cabin style family camping tent, which means there’s 6’8” of height at the tent’s center. So no need to crouch down when you’re moving around.

At 13 x 7 feet, the interior of the tent easily accommodates two queen air mattresses. It comes with two built-in cabinets complete with shelves. The tent material making all this room and shelving possible is coated polyester. Polyester is a popular family camping tent fabric for its durability and ability to hold shape.

Set Up

I admit, I have far from a photographic memory. So each time I set up my tent, it’s like I’m setting it up the first time. But, I can still get it done in a snap, partly because my husband remembers everything, and partly because the set up system on the Tenaya Lake is so intuitive.

This family camping tent comes with pre-attached fiberglass top poles that are color coded to fit with its matching stored steel poles. So, set up is as easy as finding the right colored poles and running them along the correct lines.

The guy lines are a breeze too. They are equipped with another trademarked Illumiline technology so that you don’t go tripping over them in the middle of the night when nature calls.

Ideal Use

The is perfect for a family that does a moderate amount of car camping each year at sites equipped with spacious, level camping pads.

It’s easy set up of about 10 minutes or less makes it ideal for a family full of kids waiting to bust in and get settled. The room divider gives the grown-ups a smidge of privacy too, but that’s purely optional.

Something To Consider

If you’re a hardcore camping family, then you may want to look for a tent that has a little more durability. That’s not to say this family camping tent isn’t absolutely worth the money, but the velcro components and highly used areas like the door may not be able to stand up to the demands of outdoor enthusiasts year after year.

 

The Runner Up –

Similar to the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch family camping tent in many ways, the does what it says. Setup is almost instantaneous. And, although the nine-person rating is a bit generous, the CORE is still one very roomy tent.

Top Features

Two huge convenience factors make this family camping tent a great option for big families. The first is in the access to the tent. There are two doors: the large D-door in the front of the tent, and a huge T-door in the side of the tent. It would seem to most of us that one door is more than enough. After all, we’re not moving in permanently.

But, when you’re camping with the family, gear seems to accumulate faster than you know it. The ability to unzip a door the size of the entire side tent panel makes moving sleeping bags, air mattresses, or even cots into the tent nearly effortless.

Another great feature about the is the ventilation. There are windows and vents galore on this family camping tent. All this venting allows outside air to move in from the bottom, while warmer air moves out through the top. Anyone who’s ever tried to take a mid-day tent nap knows the value of a well-ventilated tent.

Set Up

Putting this family camping tent together is amazingly simple and quick. In a few minutes, the tent will go from a lump of fabric on the ground to a polyester fortress. This is all thanks to CORE’s click and lock system.

Setup does require two people. But an extra person shouldn’t be hard to find if you’re using a large family tent like the in the first place. As one person stabilizes the tent, the other person walks around, locking elbow joints into place.

Then, once all elbows are locked, the tent behaves much like the canopies you would find at a typical farmer’s market. Extend all the leg poles and lock them into place. At this point, you’ve spent about a minute on set up so far. All you have left to do is set up the rain fly and guy lines.

Construction

The is like most other family camping tents in its class, made from 68D Polyester. The floor is constructed with 125 gsm P.E. (polyethylene). It’s seams are heat sealed and it’s stakes are made with 7” steel.

Floor size is 14’x9’, which will accommodate two queen size air mattresses easily. They rate this tent for nine people, but I find that’s a bit generous. Sure, if you’re in a pinch, nine people can squeeze in. But realistically, if you want to be comfortable, aim more for seven or eight people.

Ideal Use

Like the Coleman Tenaya Lake, the is ideal for a large family who wants the ultimate in convenience. I’ve found myself rolling late into a campsite many a night due to unplanned pit stops and snack breaks. Having the ability to pitch my family camping tent in under five minutes is an insanely attractive selling point for predicaments like these.

Something To Consider

Watch out for wear and tear on this family camping tent. It’s a great choice for families who camp a moderate amount each year. It is also well priced for the material and features. But, the convenient locking mechanisms may become more difficult to operate after a few years.

That’s not to say they won’t still do their job in pitching the tent quickly. But, if you do have a problem with one of the latches, it won’t be like other tents where you can easily replace a pole.

Best Family Backpacking Tent –

Yes, there are actually small family size tents you can backpack in with. They’re not too heavy; which is surprising given the sheer square footage of fabric required to temporarily house a family. Trail weighted at 7.8 pounds, any medium-sized member of the family can take turns hiking this to your campsite with a four-person tent on their back.

You can use that extra room in your pack to bring along a high-quality DSLR camera for those beautiful views. Check out this article for help choosing – Which DSLR Camera Is Best For Me?

Top Features

The best part of this tent is that it only takes one person to set it up using just three aluminum poles. So the rest of the family is freed up to gather firewood and start meal prep. Just make sure to lay down the included footprint under the tent to keep it protected from whatever surface you plan to camp on.

The next best part of this tent is the fully ventilated inner tent. So if no rain is on the horizon, keep the rain fly off and enjoy the beautiful night sky and a refreshing breeze while mid-summer camping. Or, throw the rainfly on to protect you and your family from the elements.

The entire tent can be rolled up in a small cinch style duffle that will add just under 8 pounds to your pack. That’s two pounds of tent per person. Not too shabby considering the weight of average one person tents.

And, best yet, the comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Setup

Putting this tent together is an easy one person job. Just lay out the footprint, shiny side facing the sky. Lay out the tent over the footprint, then assemble the orange cross poles. Insert each end into the grommets while the poles are arched.

Clip tent seams onto the poles, then insert the T6 silver ridgeline pole. Drape and secure the rainfly. Guy out, and you’re done!

Construction

The inner tent is made up of a micro mesh to protect you from bugs, and a waterproof oxford bathtub floor that comes up around the edges to properly keep moisture out.

The rainfly is made of ripstop nylon treated with 66D 3000 mm water repellent. The rainstop comes out and over the entrance of the inner tent to keep rain from running onto the inner tent.

Ideal Use

The is ideal for a hardcore backpacking family with minimal luggage. If you hike into your campsite more than you drive in, then you’ll get sick of hauling in a large family tent pretty quickly. The TETON Mountain is a great, affordable choice, for any family looking to go far on a light load.

Something To Consider

When TETON says this is a four-person tent, they mean it. Unlike the generous amount of room a cabin style tent provides, this dome style tent will provide just enough room for four sleeping bags and four packs. Any presumptions that it will hold too much more may land you in a world of disappointment.

Best Family Four Season Tent –

So far I’ve only listed three season tents. That’s because most tents are built with only spring, summer, and fall camping in mind. After all, most families who tent camp do so when the weather is optimal, lest they endure the grumbles and rumblings of many unhappy family members.

But there are those who love to camp throughout the year, and in regions where cold weather, heavy rain, and snow may come earlier or stay later than other areas. For that reason, I thought it important to include my pick for best family four season tent –.

Top Features

The very best feature of this tent is its ability to protect you from the elements. It’s completely waterproof, windproof, and light snow fall-proof. It will keep you warm during the cold winter months, thanks to its heavy canvas construction. But it’ll also keep you cool in the summer thanks to large windows and roof vents.

What else is great about this tent? The roominess. This truly is an eight-person tent with room left for each person’s gear. And there will be no bumping heads on the tent roof; it easily accommodates six-foot tall campers.

Setup

Setup does take a small bit of time, but it can be done with just one person. It really is just a matter of laying out the base and staking it down, followed by insertion of the aluminum poles. Guy it out of course. Make sure you do put the awning up as well, especially if you’re expecting rain.

Construction

The will last decades, literally, thanks to its beyond durable 100% cotton duck canvas construction with a silicone finish to keep the canvas rain tight yet breathable.

The floor of this 10 x 14 cabin style tent is made of 16-ounce vinyl. The fully screened windows, doors, and vents are made with no-see-um mesh. And all zippers are UV treated #10 ykk extra heavy molded zippers.

The interior features tons of gear hammocks and pouches so that you can stay fully organized while you’re out camping for the long haul.

Ideal Use

This tent is heavy and expensive. So, it’s really meant to be used for those who are devoted to car/truck camping, hunting, or fishing year after year; those who need something that will stand up to the cold, wind, or rain effortlessly.

Something To Consider

Most canvas tents need to be weatherized before their first outing. Soaking the canvas with a water hose will ensure micro holes around the stitches get closed by the shrinking fabric exposed to water.

Also, this tent is very expensive. So, if you just camp a couple times a year, you may want to consider a less expensive, lighter weight tent to accommodate your family.

What Do You Really Need In A Tent?

Before making any tent purchase, consider what elements are most important to you, how often, and in what kind of environment you’ll most often be using your tent.

Are you looking for a tent for some fun backyard camping with the kids on a lazy summer night? Maybe you’re looking to branch out into light car camping at established campgrounds with well-groomed camping pads. Or maybe you’re ready to go into a full overland move and drag your kids along for the ride.

Knowing just what kind of camping you’re looking to get your family involved in will help determine which price determining factors are most important to you.

Ease Of Use

Setup can be a cinch, or slightly more complicated, depending on the tent. Just because a tent is harder or easier to erect doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. If you’re planning on camping with just the kids, and they’re still on the wee side of growth, then you may want to pay a little extra for a fastpitch family camping tent that can be done by one person.

Durability

There’s no sense paying a lot of money for a highly durable tent if you’re just looking for a good quality family camping tent to take to the backyard or a local campground once a year. Then again, if you’re already a heavy camping family, then there’s a lot of sense in spending more money for more durable tent construction.

Look for features such as double inverted seams, no-see-um mesh, high quality easily replaceable poles, thick bucket style flooring, and smartly designed rain flys.

Wiggle Room

Just because you’re a family of four doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an eight-person family camping tent. Before my second two children came along, we used an eight-person tent. Never did we have to worry about the extra stuffed animals and pillows my oldest two children wanted to bring. Nor did we worry about dragging in extra luggage or blankets.

Conversely, you don’t want to go too conservative on the family camping tent size either. A little extra money is worth getting a slightly larger footprint if you need it. Nothing is worse than trying to squeeze five people in a four-person tent, especially after the once little people have grown larger and your high-quality tent is still going strong.

Price

Luckily, you can find really well-constructed tents at a low price point, especially if you’re looking to camp only a couple times a year. But if you and your family’s main form of recreation is camping, don’t be afraid to save up and invest a small bit of dough in the highest quality tents.

Canvas family camping tents will absolutely last the longest with little upkeep. They are heavy and expensive, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for something that won’t give up.

Price – Least Expensive To Most Expensive (scale of 1 to 10)
Weight – Light To Heavy (scale of 1 to 10)
Durability – Least To Most Durable (scale of 1 to 10)
Ease of Use – Hardest To Set Up To Easiest (scale of 1 to 10)
Capacity – 1 to 10 people

Questions & Answers

Q: What type of fabric is best for a family camping tent?

A: While cotton was the go-to fabric for ages before man-made fabrics made their debut, cotton is still used by many due to its thickness, waterproof nature, breathability, and durability.

More often, though, campers choose tents made of lighter weight material such as polyester or nylon. Nylon is a popular choice for backpacking tents because the fabric is incredibly light but still water resistant.

Polyester is the most popular material for larger, car camping style tents. Whichever material you choose, take a look at what kind of coating has been applied to the material for added protection.

Q: What’s the most important factor to take into consideration when choosing a family camping tent?

A: While headroom and general ability to move about within the tent is important, it’s not a deal breaker. I would rather put more attention to the material the bottom of the tent is constructed in, as well as the style and construction of the rain fly. The easiest way to ruin a camping trip is with water leaking into the tent because of poor design or low-quality material.