Camping is on the rise. We tested a bunch of family camping tents with our friends and family in 2019. These our picks for the best family camping tents.
The REI Kingdom 6 Tent is about as close as I’ll get to have my own portable army barracks, this 2-bedroom suite is great for big families or even smaller families that just want some space. A zippered wall can split this into 2 rooms — a luxury when you’re a loving couple with memories of backcountry romance from before you had to start sharing the tent with a couple of rugrats. At 20 pounds you’re not carrying the REI Kingdom 6 Tent anywhere but when I plopped the 83-square-foot base 75-inch-high 75-denier nylon tent a couple of yards from my truck at the trailhead, I made a basecamp for days of adventures followed by the kind of sleep you just don’t get in smaller tents. With the vestibule, you get basically a lean-to gear shack but add in the garage and it’s bigger than my wife’s and my first apartment together on Newport Peninsula. REI makes a great family camping Tent in the Kingdom 6.
The Marmot Limestone 4P Tent is practically bulletproof and, even more important, basically humidity-proof. With 40D polyester no-see-um mesh for an unmatchably breathable but bug-proof canopy and 68d Polyester Taffeta 190T 1500mm for the fly, you could be in the middle of a summer Assateague Island mosquito swarm with the fly off for stargazing and coolness and not get a single itchy bump or devolve into a sweaty mess. And the DAC DA17 Poles’ simplicity and the canopy’s freestanding design make it one of the easiest tents to put up, even if it’s just you and the kids on your first 1-parent-only campout.
The Big Agnes Big House 4 is every bit a backpacker’s basecamp tent with its 8lb 4oz weight. This is probably the best blend of price and quality when it comes to 3-season/4-person tents for rowdy backpackers, though you sacrifice some waterproofness with “only” 1500mm coating on the floor and fly. Still, with 6-foot ceilings that only have a slight curvature out towards wide square walls and its optional cavernous vestibules (highly recommended as they almost double your square-footage, a necessity when trapped inside by storms with a younger family, like I was just off the road in Nowhere, Idaho), there’s no better backcountry/car camping Shangri-la for the American nuclear family than the Big Agnes Big House 4 Tent.
This three-person, three-season tent packs down to 5.5″ x 19″ and weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger, lighter tent than the Tiger Wall UL3. Dual-zipper doors and single-pole architecture make this a convenient tent for setup and sleeping, too.
As if that wasn’t enough, Big Agnes included media pockets on the inside of this tent, so you can stash your phone in the pocket and route your earbuds for easy listening. What more could you ask for? One of the best lightweight family backpacking tents.
The Eureka Copper Canyon 12 comes with 9 poles for setup. 14 by 12-foot floor and 7-foot high ceilings with big flat walls. A blend of 75D 190T Storm Shield and 1200mm coating ensures that family you introduce to the great outdoors don’t get washed away during their first outing while the 2-room divider cuts down on the creep factor of two families, 1 tent. I really liked setting it up in the acreage-heavy backyard for a bonfire party where the kids could run in there and chill, then warm by the fire, then into the garage climbing wall and eventually pass out in a near-glamping situation while we grown-ups carried on into the late night.
The Mountain Smith Conifer 5 Tent has a height of 6’2” and 84 square feet of floor space (plus 33 feet of vestibule space), it’s about the size of that hotel room you squeezed the family into on the last trip to San Francisco. Obviously for a 3-season (PU 2000 MM fly, poly breathable tent) super-suite with a suitcase-style stuff sack, you’re talking a lot of weight and at almost 15 pounds you’d have to have your family-weight-distribution game on lock (it does incorporate Clip-pole attachment to get it down) to make it into a backpacking pack. But at 22inches by 10.5 by 10.5 the Mountainsmith Conifer 5 Tent it’ll fit very easily in your overloaded car.
Do you need a tent that can take all nature throws at you and your small family in the backcountry for cheap, portable wilderness protection that doesn’t break the bank? The Cabela’s Orion 3 Tent weighs in at only 6 and a half pounds despite aluminum poles, a 47-square-foot footprint (with 8-foot vestibule) and 3000mm waterproofing (as well as a 1500 waterproofing fly). Plus it comes in a striking blue, perfect for spotting your tent after a day of wandering off in the middle of nowhere. With the Cabela’s name and emphasis on ruggedness, this is probably the best tent you can find for you, the spouse and the kids for under $150 bucks. One of the best Cabelas tents we have tested in recent year.
At just under 6 lbs. trail weight, the MSR Elixir 3 is an ultralight family backpacking tent for three people. The freestanding design and color-coded pieces make it easy to set up, and the 8″ x 20″ stuff sack is easy to transport.
You can also use the MSR Elixir 3 Tent footprint and rainfly to create a minimal shelter to cut even more weight. If you’re looking for the lightest three-person backpacking tent, the Elixir should definitely be on your radar. One of the best 3 person backpacking tents on this list.
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