If you plan on taking your family camping, you need the right tent.
Taking the family camping is a tried-and-true pastime. There’s no better way to bond with your spouse, the kids, and maybe even a dog or two than by spending time together outside. But when you have basecamp at the resort or a cabin, you’re missing out — on stargazing, proper campfire tales, and the kind of sleep you can only get cozy in a bag with the bugs buzzing outside and lulling you to sleep. The one piece of equipment that brings it all together is the tent. Not just any tent, but a big-ass family tent that can fit the whole family.
There are dozens of quality larger tents out there. We selected a few of the best based on a couple of criterium: they had to fit at least four people and weigh under 30 pounds packed up, making them large but portable. Also, big tents with lightweight materials and technical fabrics can get really pricey, so we decided to focus on sub-$200 tents that do the basics well even if they aren’t ready for extreme weather situations. If you’ve been cooped up all winter, any of these tents would make a great purchase as you prepare to enjoy the warmer months.
This compact, four-person tent is designed for whatever weather comes your way.
Pros: This tent is going for just $50, an excellent price for one that fits four. It has protected seams, zippers, and waterproof floors that will keep water out of your tent and a door awning that will let you and your kids peek out at the storm without getting drenched.
Cons: Sixty-three square feet can technically fit four people, but we wouldn’t call it a comfortable fit.
Instant means, well, instant. We love this tent because it’s a breeze to set up — the company says it should take only 30 seconds to complete the three necessary steps. It’s simply a perfect space for a small family to hang out in during backpacking, or even just a night under the stars in the backyard.
Pros: It’s big enough to fit an entire queen-sized mattress or four people in sleeping bags. Built-in storage pockets and a gear loft allows you to store whatever you need without it cluttering your space. A water-repellent polyester, sealed seams, and an included rainfly will keep you dry during a rainstorm, and an electrical access port lets you charge up, but can be closed if you’re not using it. Our favorite part: the pre-built frame, making it simple to set up.
Cons: It only fits four, so if you’ve got a big family, you might be a little cramped. The 54-inch ceiling also isn’t what we’d call roomy, so expect to use this tent more for laying down than standing up.
The headlining feature of this tent is the hydraulic mechanism that takes most of the physical labor out of setting it up. It's also built to be waterproof
Pros: You can choose between two- and four-person sizes of this tent. Each comes with waterproof fabric, a waterproof tarp, and waterproof tape on the seams. And if it’s not raining, you can open up the mesh windows or roll up the sides to form a breezy shelter that won’t overheat on hot summer days.
Cons: Not the roomiest tent, and some users said they expected more space to fit four people comfortably.
Big families, take note: this tent fits eight people in its dome area and attached screen room. It's made of polyester coated in polyurethane, so it's nice and weather-resistant for those trips when the weather just won't cooperate.
Pros: This is a solid price for a tent this big, particularly one that inclues an enclosed lounge area that keeps you outside but safe from mosquitos. It has a removable airfly, accessory pockets, and mesh openings for ventilation for warm-weather camping.
Cons: It weighs almost 30 pounds, which is a lot to lug, so you might want to save this one for campsites you can drive to.
This cabin-style tent has near vertical walls, which makes its eight by eight square footprint feel way more spacious than a traditional dome tent. There's a window on each side of the tent, so you won't be lacking for airflow or natural views. And at the apex of the seven foot-tall tent there's an eminently convenient gear hammock that keeps your stuff off the ground but still accessible.
Pros: The cabin construction of this tent means that even tall dads can stand up straight comfortably in it. There’s also a clever zippered flap that lets you run an extension cord into the tent without letting in water, bugs, or worse.
Cons: This tent weighs less than 20 pounds, but part of that may be due to a thin floor material. If you plan on tackling damp or rocky terrain, it may be worth your while to select a tent with a thicker material.
Large, roomy, and actually quite colorful, we love that this tent can comfortably fit five people. It’s made from a durable polyester coated in polyurethane that’ll last a lifetime (and through any inclement weather). Take it camping, take it hiking, take it to the beach; this big guy can go anywhere.
Pros: Durable fiberglass poles and steel stakes mean this tent won’t blow away. The doors and top are mesh, giving you excellent ventilation. On the inside, you’ve got small pockets to store all your stuff.
Cons: As far as tents go, this one’s pretty basic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but huge families might miss the extra space and configurations of more elaborate tents. It’s also meant more for warmer weather, so if your family is all about fall foliage you might want to consider other tents.
A tent with a dedicated lounge area? We’re into it. This behemoth comfortably fits six sleepers or two queen-sized airbeds — and it takes about seven minutes to set up. There's a porch area that's a great place to leave dirty shoes. Inside, you'll find a dry and comfy environment, and the sturdy frame means it’ll never blow away.
Pros: Again, there’s a lounge, people. A separate screened-in room allows for both stargazing and extra sleeping space. Extended window awnings give you more circulation. It has storage pockets on the inside for all your gear, and an e-port lets you run wired power through it in case your family isn’t quite ready to give up their tablets for the great outdoors. The color-coded poles make for easy set-up, and inverted seams increase the tent’s weather resistance.
Cons: While it packs down small, we wouldn’t call it “light” at 20 pounds. The center height is five feet, eight inches, so while your kids can probably stand you might find yourself stooping.
Big family trip? Pack away this ginormous tent which has more of the feel of a fabric cabin. It comfortably fits eight people, or two queen-sized air mattresses, with built-in resistance to windy weather and setup that should only take about nine minutes.
Pros: There are so many awesome features to this monster, starting with a built-in closet, complete with shelves and a hanger bar. You also get a rainfly to protect against inclement weather, a hinged door for easy entry and exit, storage pockets, and waterproof floors that’ll keep the inside of your tent dry even if you have to pitch it on damp ground.
Cons: It’s not the quickest (nine minute setup time) or most seamless camping solution, and you can expect some serious bulk carrying it around. Whatever — technically, it’s a workout, and you can reward yourself with a s’more or three afterward by the campfire once everything’s set up.
With enough sleeping room for a gob-smacking 10 folks, this tent is as rugged and useful as it looks. It holds up wonderfully in rain, and it gives you the ability to create separate rooms if you could use some privacy. It’s simply huge, and it's easy to set-up and pack down. For a big family trip, it’s a no-brainer.
Pros: Two removable room dividers can create three separate rooms in the tent, giving you at least a little privacy, plus a center door and two separate side doors create some extra separation should you need it. Six windows provide solid ventilation and panoramic views, and the tent’s taped fly seams make it water resistant.
Cons: At around 30 pounds, we wouldn’t exactly call this tent light. Plus, due to state restrictions, it’s not available for sale in California. If you live in California, congratulations, you have some of the best wilderness areas in the country — but you’re out of luck here.
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