Have you ever been camping and your tent is just not up to par? There is nothing worse than camping with a tent that you do not feel comfortable or safe in. One time I was camping, and it started to rain, the cheap tent that I bought immediately started leaking. Imagine being in the woods, in the middle of the night, and your sleeping bag is soaked. That is what happened to me, and it was absolute misery.
I decided right then that I would never go camping with a sub-par tent again. Like every other significant purchase, research is key when trying to find the perfect tent. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things to consider!
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Before you begin shopping for a new tent, there are a few questions you might need to answer.
What kind of tent do you need?
Most tents come in three different styles. These are three season tents, extended season tents, and four season tents. You can use three season tents duringthe spring, summer, and fall seasons. Extended season tents do the same but are built a bit sturdier in case of colder climates in the spring and fall. Four season tents can be used any time of the year and are capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions.
Your decision will largely depend on the climate in your area. Odds are, you’re going to buy a three season or extended season tent, depending on how cold it gets during the spring and fall. Four season tents are not necessary unless you enjoy camping in the winter or frequently experience colder weather where you live.
What size is best for you?
Many tents will say they’re capable of sheltering a certain number of people. Unfortunately, this is more of an estimation than an accurate representation of its size. A three-person tent might actually fit three people, but it’s going to be a very tight fit.
A good rule of thumb is to consider how many people you’ll need to accommodate, then upgrade by one person. This way, everyone will have plenty of elbow room. Other things to think about are the size of your guests, how much room they need to sleep comfortably, and if you’re taking any children or pets with you.
How difficult will it be to assemble?
Putting together a tent is one of the things campers dread the most. Unfortunately, there’s not a specific answer to this question. The difficulty you’ll have in putting it together is going to differ from one tent to the next.
The best thing to do is ask if you can assemble it in the store before you buy. Of course, this might not always be a realistic option. The only other thing you can do is research your tent as thoroughly as you can before you make a purchase. Afterall, you don’t want to spend your whole trip setting up your tent. That said, larger and more complicated tents will generally take longer to assemble.
What features will you need?
One feature you really need to think about is the number of doors you’ll need. If your tent only has one door, you and your guests will spend a lot of time climbing over each other. Interior pockets are also quite helpful. This will help you keep your tent neat and organized.
You’ll also want to consider how much vertical space you’ll need. Cabin-style tents have more vertical space while dome-style tents are sturdier and easier to set up. Finally, you might want to have some room dividers if you’re using a cabin-style tent. This will give your family members added privacy.
What kind of material should you use?
The material used to make the tent can also make a difference in your camping experience. Polyester and nylon are the most common materials you’ll find. These fabrics are waterproof, but they tend to deteriorate when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
Cotton tents are rare these days, but they provide a breathability that you won’t find in other materials. However, they also absorb water when it rains. This causes them to become heavy when they’re wet. Also, cotton tents might have to go through a weathering process before they become fully waterproof. This can be done by letting them sit in the rain two or three times.
How We Reviewed
Most of the general specifications for the following tents were found on their official websites. Customer reviews from sites such as Amazon also informed our opinions. In particular, we chose to focus on areas such as interior space, durability, ease of use, extra features, and of course, price. These are the most important things you’ll need to consider before purchasing a new tent.
The Top Tents
These are eight of the best tents you’ll find on the market today. All of the following are 3 season dome-style tents unless otherwise noted.
The Rei Co-op Kingdom 6 really is like a portable kingdom. Despite being a dome-style tent, it actually contains an impressive amount of vertical space. It stands 75 inches tall and gives you 83 square feet of floor space. This makes it a very livable tent for your entire family. It also features two doors and a room divider in the middle. This essentially gives you two different rooms to work with.
This tent also has bug-proof mesh windows and a waterproof polyester fly. Its canopy is made from a durable nylon fabric with poles made of aluminum.
The main disadvantage with the Rei Kingdom 6 is that it lacks a vestibule. You can add one to it later, but it’ll cost you extra. It’s also slightly difficult to set up compared to other tents of this size, but experienced campers shouldn’t have any trouble. Overall, the Rei Kingdom has a lot going for it and is easily one of the best tents you can find.
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The greatest advantage of the Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 is its surprisingly adaptable vestibule. This vestibule is sold with the tent itself and has two mesh windows for added ventilation. This is opposed to the Rei Kingdom 6, which must be sold separately. The vestibule is highly customizable and can be used for a variety of different purposes. Additionally, the tent also features a mesh ceiling. This provides an excellent view of the sky and offers added ventilation as well.
Furthermore, this tent gives you plenty of living space. It's 75 inches tall and has 90 square feet of floor space. Its polyester material offers maximum breathability, and its color-coded parts make it very easy to set up. You also get two doors and multiple interior pockets to help keep the tent organized.
Unfortunately, The Big Agnes Tensleep is also pretty expensive. Also, it’s vestibule can be difficult to customize exactly how you want it. That said, this is a very good tent that provides several different camping options.
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The best thing about the Coleman Sundome 6 is its affordability.While we normally wouldn’t recommend spending less than a hundred, this tent is an exception. It is surprisingly high-quality despite its small price tag. It’s also exceptionally easy to set up. These qualities make it a great tent for casual campers who only plan to use it every once in a while.
The tent also comes with two doors and two windows for ventilation. It has a maximum height of 75 inches and 100 square feet. You also get a rainfly for added weather protection and multiple interior pockets.
Of course, there are disadvantages to buying a tent this cheap. The Coleman Sundome's polyguard fabric isn’t made to last long with continuous use. If you’re someone who likes to go camping multiple times a year, you’ll probably want to invest in something more expensive.
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The Marmot Halo 6P is considered to be one of the best tents for car camping. This refers to camping beside your car at a designated campsite. This particular tent features even more interior space than the REI Kingdom. It has an 81-inch height and 100 square feet of floor space that can fit six people. Furthermore, its color-coded parts make it very easy to set up.
This tent also features two doors, two vestibules, and several interior pockets. Its polyester material is made to withstand extreme weather.
The Marmot Halo 6 is also rather expensive. This is to be expected from a tent this size. In fact, making it the most expensive tent on this list. Your best bet is to try to catch it on sale if you plan to buy it. Nonetheless, many will say its size and durability make it well worth the price.
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The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a favorite among backpackers. This is because it only weighs three pounds and is easy to carry on long hiking trips. You can take it almost anywhere and set it up fairly easily. Its rain fly vents also provide excellent ventilation, and it holds up well in rainy conditions.
The canopy is made from a nylon fabric with poles made from aluminum. It has two doors and color-coded fabrics that make it very easy to assemble.
The main issue with the MSR Hubba Hubba is its small size. It stands 39 inches tall and only has 29 square feet of floor space. As such, it's only capable of holding two people at a time. You’ll need a larger tent if you plan to accommodate more people than this. Still, if a 2-person tent is all you need, then this is one of the best on the market.
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The North Face Wawona 6 is another tent that excels in terms of interior space. It has a maximum height of 80 inches and 86 square feet. This makes it comparable to the REI Kingdom 6. Unlike that particular tent, the North Face Wawona comes with two of its own vestibules. It’s also quite easy to set up.
This tent comes with three doors and two windows for added ventilation. It's made from a waterproof polyester fabric and has several mesh pockets that help keep the tent organized.
However, the North Face Wawona doesn’t have a room divider like the REI Kingdom does. Also, the front vestibule occasionally has issues when it comes to ventilation. That said, the North Face Wawona has proven itself to be one of the best overall tents available today.
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model is the tent for you if you’re looking for something that can withstand harsh conditions. It’s a legitimate 4 season dome-style tent and is the most weather resistant item on this list. It’s an excellent choice for people who live in areas that are known for intense weather.
This tent is 75 inches tall and has 90 square feet. This gives you quite a bit of room to move around in. It also has three mesh roof vents and two windows for ventilation. Cabela's makes the tent from a polyester fabric with fiberglass poles.
Although you get a lot of space with this tent, its hexagonal design doesn’t use this space quite as effectively as the REI Kingdom. At 33 pounds, it’s also a very heavy piece of gear. Carrying it for long periods of time might not always be realistic. Still, it’s one of the best tents you can find if you expect to be camping in rough weather.
The Kelty Discovery 4 is a great 4-person tent with an excellent price tag. It’s also very quick and easy to set up and take down and stays relatively cool in the summertime.
This tent features two vents for ventilation and poles made from fiberglass. Unfortunately, there is only one door and no windows.
The Kelty Discovery 4 does have a few downsides. For one, there’s virtually no vertical space to speak of. With only 57 inches and 57 square feet, you’re not going to be standing up and walking around in this tent. Its polyester material is also quite thin and isn’t made to withstand hazardous conditions. That said, it’s still a very high-quality tent considering its price.
Our Final Thoughts
In the end, our picks for the best tent are the REI Kingdom 6 and the North Face Wawona 6. We chose these for their massive interior space, ease of use, and reasonable price. The choice between these two will largely come down to personal preference. Would you rather have the REI Kingdom’s room divider or the North Face Wawona’s vestibules? It’s really up to you.
Now that you know the best tents on the market today, it’s time to decide which is best for you. Are you looking for a cheaper tent that you’ll only use every once in a while? Do you require a lot of space for you and your family? Or would you rather have something that’s easy to assemble? Answering these questions will help you make your decision. You should start now, and you’ll be embarking on a new outdoors adventure in no time.