If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you can fall into the trap of accumulating a lot of gear. There’s essential recreational clothing as well as sleeping bags, camping gadgets and family camping essentials. And make no mistake: it can accumulate fast. Between the two of us, we own 12 tents, for example. But you don’t really need a garage full of enclosures; if you equip yourself with the best camping tent for your particular outdoor shelter needs, you can be prepared for whatever the outdoors throws at you—without the need to become a camping packrat.
Whether you’re heading for the summit of a 14er or spending a weekend camping with the family, you ... [+] can find the best tent for your needs here.TENTSILE
Which tent is, in fact, the best one for you? To bring you the best advice on this front, we’ve combined years of personal camping experience with input from backpacking and outdoor adventure experts who know what a solid camping tent looks like. Joseph McConaughy (known as Stringbean) holds the Fastest Known Time (FKT) records on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. He was kind enough to share some insight with us. As did Derek Temple, a category merchant manager with REI, who had some thoughts on the best four-season tents and the best tents for solo camping. And we tapped Temple for good reason; both of those categories require an extra level of quality and reliability.
No matter where your adventures will take you—to the summit of a 14er solo or a weekend in the wilderness with the whole family—below we’ve rounded up a dozen of the best camping tents to help you make the most of it.
- Best Camping Tent For Most People: REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent
- Best Camping Tent For Families: Coleman Carlsbad 6-Person Dark Room Camping Tent
- Best Camping Tent For Four People: The North Face Wawona
- Best Camping Tent For Solo Adventurers: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO
- Best Camping Tent For Car Camping: Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Person Tent
- Best Camping Tent For Backpacking: NEMO Dragonfly 2 Tent
- Best Hammock Tent for Tree Camping: Tentsile Safari Vista 3-Person 3-in-1 Tree Tent 3.0
- Best Rooftop Tent for Overland Camping: GoFastCampers Platform RTT
- Best Camping Tent for Quickly Pitching: Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Setup
- Best Camping Tent for Versatility: Sea to Summit Telos TR2
- Best Low-Cost Camping Tent: Coleman Sundome Tent
- Best Camping Tent For All Seasons: Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent
Best Camping Tent For Most People
Sturdy Geodisic Dome For All Seasons
REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent
We get it: There are tons of options and it can be hard to decide. Consider the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent as a catch-all. Its dome shape is designed to be a sturdy and rugged structure, while also allowing for enough internal space to move around comfortably. Weighing a little over 16 pounds, it’s a fairly reasonable lift for a tent that can accommodate four people in all four seasons. And best of all, it is simple to set up, so even if you don’t find yourself getting into the great outdoors very often, you’re not going to need to re-learn how to pitch your tent each time.
forbes.com REI Coupons | 25% Off In April 2022 | Forbes
Best Camping Tent For Families
Dark Sleeping Area And A Bug-Free Screen Room
Coleman Carlsbad 6-Person Dark Room Camping Tent
When it comes to camping with the family, space and durability matter most. It’s okay to sacrifice a little on the weight. (Many hands make light work.) But you want to make sure your tent can stand up to the rigors that both your children and Mother Nature will throw at it. The Coleman Carlsbad checks both those boxes. And it’s packed with clever features designed to make camping with kids less stressful.
Its interior is darker than most tents thanks to the brand’s Dark Room fabric of the walls and rain fly. That (potentially) lets the fam sleep in a bit later after sunup and might even let you put the kids to bed before sunset. A screened-in vestibule gives parents a bug-free space to chill outside the tent proper. The windows zip open for airflow, a loop at the top off the dome can hang a lantern or fan and two side pockets allow for stashing phones, flashlights, toiletries and more. Also, despite being cavernous inside, the tent sets up in well under 10 minutes once you’ve done it a few times.
Best Camping Tent For Four People
Plenty Of Headroom And Gear Storage
When you’re shopping for a four-person tent—whether you want to camp with friends, family, or a pack of pups—it’s important to consider not just floor space, but overall volume. The North Face Wawona is roomy enough that most people can stand fairly comfortably inside it. So there’s plenty of space for your whole crew and their assorted gear.
The vestibule is also large enough that you can set up camp chairs, making it a perfect spot for enjoying a coffee or to read without bothering tent mates if you’re the first to wake up in the morning. And though it’s meant for four people, it’s easily set up by just two.
Best Camping Tent For Solo Adventurers
Both Lightweight And Well-Lit
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO
This solo-minded tent adds new meaning to the term ultralight. Not only does it weigh very little, but it also integrates a flexible LED light strand right into the tent seams. A battery-powered remote lets you power the light on and off, or quickly set it to 50% brightness. (Preventing awkward eye squints at night.)
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 mtnGLO packs into a size of 20 x 6 inches and weighs a mere 51 ounces, so it can tuck into or strap onto any pack of decent dimensions. The footprint is large enough to accommodate you, a medium-sized dog (or perhaps two smaller ones), and your sleeping bag comfortably, while also being tall enough for even a larger camper to sit fully upright for comfort. In fact, according to McCrackin, it’s “the best tent out there for overall space, quality and weight.”
And you won’t have to worry about finding floor space for your bag, thanks to a bin at the foot that provides ample elevated storage. Additionally, it features oversized media and ceiling pockets, as well as internal hang points. With the fly cover secured, you’ll stay dry and warm even when rain and wind come blowing through thanks to an exterior waterproof coating and fully taped seams. And we also love that the side door can be propped up with a pair of trekking poles to create an awning, for a little extra shaded space.
Best Camping Tent For Car Camping
Classic Backcountry Companion
Kelty Grand Mesa 4 Person Tent
As opposed to backpacking, when every inch and ounce counts, with car camping—where you drive rather than hike right up to the campsite—you can go bigger and heavier with your equipment than you otherwise might. Even with that in mind, at roughly 7.5 pounds, the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 is far from backbreaking. But McCrackin recommends it as an upgrade for solos and couples on car camping trips.
Essentially it’s a two-pole dome tent with one door and a single vestibule. Just assemble the aluminum tent poles, snap them into the color-coded corners, hoist up the body and clip it to the poles, then throw on a rainfly if you like. Although it may be a bit tight for four, it’s certainly roomy for two adventurers towing decent sized bags.
Best Camping Tent For Backpacking
Light, Livable And Well-Constructed
Conventional camping wisdom says to go with a slightly bigger tent than it’s rated. So for example, a three-person tent is actually comfortable for two campers, a four-person for three and so on. But when you’re trekking overland, you need to balance gear weight with nighttime comfort. And if two people will be sharing the tent at night, then two people can share the weight on the trail by splitting up the tent’s hardware.
With that in mind, the two-person Dragonfly 2 Tent offers a minimum trail weight of just two pounds, nine ounces—making it the lightest tent on this list. Yet it still offers 29 square feet of floor area. But if you follow the above-mentioned advice, two backpackers may want to bump up to the Dragonfly 3, a roughly $80 upgrade that nets you a respectable 12 additional square feet of floor space. In either size, dual doors and trapezoidal vestibules provide easy in-and-out and some extra gear storage space helps ensure the interior of the tent stays dry.
Best Hammock Tent for Tree Camping
A Flexible, ‘Flying’ Tent
Tentsile Safari Vista 3-Person 3-in-1 Tree Tent
Usually when you get to a campground, the first thing you need to do is spot a flat, level piece of ground that seems reasonably free from water, rocks and other typical terrestrial hazards. But not so with tree tents, essentially a hammock strung between three trees with a tent safely strapped to it. After spending a couple of nights in one, Bergdoll recalls, “I slept like a rock and have wanted one ever since.”
The largest such offering from Tentsile—which pioneered the category a dozen years ago—is the Safari Vista, which can quickly convert from a giant three-person hammock to one with a roof to a full levitating tent with a removable rainfly and insect-proof mesh. So however and pretty much wherever you want to camp (that has trees), this tent has you covered—or uncovered, as you prefer.
Best Rooftop Tent for Overland Camping
Thin, Sturdy And Primed For Offroading
Whereas traditional car camping simply refers to how you get there, RTTs (rooftop tents) literally take vehicle-based camping to a whole new level. Bergdoll admits that “In the past, I've been a little critical of rooftop tents. But now a big part of me wants one. The technology is just starting to get really good.”
Specifically, he’s partial to Go Fast Campers because of their dialed-in design. In particular, the 135-pound RTT unit is both svelte (just six inches tall) and aerodynamic enough to be permanently mounted to your Land Cruiser, 4Runner or other SUV without sacrificing its high-speed or off-road drivability.
When quickly folded out, the four-season tent offers plenty of headroom, protection from the gustiest winds and even a platform for your solar panels or surfboards. It features doors on both sides, plus a rear door. And an optional collapsible eight-foot ladder accessory adds to its accessibility.
Best Camping Tent for Quickly Pitching
Ready In 60 Seconds
Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Setup
Assume for the moment that you’ve found a decently priced tent that’s reasonable to carry to the campsite and that it promises to offer maximal space and durability. That’s all falls flat if you can’t quickly and easily get the tent pitched in a pinch.
While truly “instant” tents do exist—they literally spring out of your hands and pop into form in a matter of seconds—they don’t tend to pass the durability test if you’re doing much more than resting on the trail or staying shaded at the beach. Especially for families, McCrackin recommends the Coleman Cabin Tent with Instant Set Up.
According to her, it is “extremely affordable, provides tons of space, and goes up in only 2 minutes,” a fact to which many YouTubers have attested. But despite the quick pitch time—achievable by just one person, but certainly easier with two—it’s still sturdy, weatherproof and offers plenty of space. (The six-person version is six feet tall at its center point and can fit two queen-size air beds.)
Best Camping Tent for Versatility
Functionally Modular, Highly Portable And Well-Ventilated
Sea To Summit Telos TR2 Tent: 2-Person 3-Season
The versatility of this ultralight backpacking tent starts with the fact that its modest heft (less than four pounds) can be split into three storage sacks. Once the freestanding tent is set up, two of those sacks convert into gear storage pockets, while a translucent diffuser built into the third cleverly provides illumination when you drop your headlamp into it.
In addition to its color-coded two-hub pole set, the Telos TR2 (and its big brother, the TR3) sports a special Tension Ridge pole system that angles up the walls, offering both easier entry and a greater volume once inside. Vents in the baseline and at the apex efficiently manage airflow, humidity and condensation. While a waterproof, six-inch tub helps keep you and any floor-bound gear dry.
When not being used as protection for the tent, the Telos's rainfly can be assembled with the help of two trekking poles as a separate, semi-open shelter. So in that way, this three-season system provides two structures in one. All in all, it’s one of the most well-rounded, ingeniously designed and highly functional tents out there.
Best Low Cost Camping Tent
Amazon’s Affordable, Best Selling Camping Tent
Coleman 4-Person Sundome Dome Tent
When you close your eyes and picture a camping tent, it probably looks a lot like the Coleman Sundome, one of the best-selling tents you’ll find. And there’s little mystery as to why. Relatively quick to set up, suitable for use in moderate rain and wind, and available in two-, three-, four- and six-person sizes, this is a fine tent for most any casual campout.
And of course the very reasonable price tag—ranging from $25 to $130 for the above-mentioned sizes—seals the deal. But make no mistake, this isn’t a cheap tent in the pejorative sense. In fact, with over 35,000 global reviews posted on Amazon, the Coleman Sundome manages to maintain a solid 4.7-star review after over a decade on the market.
Best Camping Tent For All Seasons
Time-Tested Alpine Oasis
Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent
Just as with a single clothing outfit, it’s near impossible to find one tent that performs equally well in both the most mild and challenging conditions throughout all four seasons. And not just because you’ll encounter a world of variance in the weather, from windy and rainy to snowy to blindingly sunny. You also need to consider how much time you (at least) plan to be hunkering down. Is it for a whole week along the treeline, a couple of days at basecamp or a quick respite before summitting at high elevation?
Beyond the typical comfort and weatherproofing also expected of their three-season counterparts, four-season shelters must also provide long-term performance and top-notch durability. And that’s where the double-walled Trango 2 shines. DAC Featherlite aluminum poles, 70-denier nylon taffeta floor and rainfly fabric, welded corners and guy clip anchors, and fully taped fly and perimeter seams combine to provide the best possible protection from the elements.
Outside the 40 square feet of internal floorspace, a large dry-entry vestibule offers ample headroom and gear storage. In addition to tent access, the small rear vestibule acts as an overflow storage area. And an internal guy system and line tensioners help steady the whole caboodle. Naturally, all these accoutrements comes at the expense of weight, which tops out at over 9 1/2 pounds. But for the peace of mind in a multitude of situations, the Trango’s worth it.