Camping season is upon us and it is time to get to the outdoors for a little adventure and reaeration. With the falling price of the best camping tents, more people are embracing this outdoor lifestyle every year. With any luck, you will join the multitudes that are heading out with this brief guide and some value-priced options in the tenting world.
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated camping tents:
- 1Best Overall Tent – Kelty Salida
- 2Best Budget Tent - Coleman Sundome
- 3Best for Weather Resistance - MoKo Instant Cabin
- 4Best for Easy Setup - ZOMAKE Keumer Pop Up Tent
- 5Best Pop Up Tent - Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent
- 6Best Roof Top Tent - Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
- 7Best 1 Person Camping Tent - ALPS Mountaineering Lynx
- 8Best 2 Person Camping Tent – TNH Outdoor 2-Person Tent
- 9Best 3 Person Camping Tent - Weanas Backpacking Tent
- 10Best 4 Person Tent - NTK INDY GT
- 11Best 5 Person Tent - NTK Cherokee GT
- 12Best 6 Person Tent – Coleman Weathermaster
- 13Best 8 Person Tent – Coleman Montana
- 14Best 10 Person Tent – NTK Arizona
- 15Best 12 Person Tent - Ozark Trail Instant Cabin Tent
Table of Contents
- Best Camping & Backpacking Tent Brands
- Types of Tents
- 15 Best Camping Tents on the Market Reviews
- 1. Best Overall Tent – Kelty Salida
- 2. Best Budget Tent - Coleman Sundome
- 3. Best for Weather Resistance - MoKo Instant Cabin
- 4. Best for Easy Setup - ZOMAKE Keumer Pop Up Tent
- 5. Best Pop Up Tent - Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent
- 6. Best Roof Top Tent - Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
- 7. Best 1 Person Camping Tent - ALPS Mountaineering Lynx
- 8. Best 2 Person Camping Tent – TNH Outdoor 2-Person Tent
- 9. Best 3 Person Camping Tent - Weanas Backpacking Tent
- 10. Best 4 Person Tent - NTK INDY GT
- 11. Best 5 Person Tent - NTK Cherokee GT
- 12. Best 6 Person Tent – Coleman Weathermaster
- 13. Best 8 Person Tent – Coleman Montana
- 14. Best 10 Person Tent – NTK Arizona
- 15. Best 12 Person Tent - Ozark Trail Instant Cabin Tent
- How to Choose Camping Tents?
Best Camping & Backpacking Tent Brands
With the huge outdoor market, more and more companies are getting into the camping business. This influx of brands ensures that you have more options than ever before when it comes to selecting a tent for you. Some of these brands are older and trusted while others are new and have something to prove.
The brand's list would be too long to cover if we were to go over them all so here are some stars to look out for. Brands like Kelty and Marmot are trusted outfitters that are known to make great products but have a price attached. Coleman has been in the U.S. camping industry for years with their amazing budget tents.
ALPS Mountaineering and NTK are relatively new but are innovating products and producing tents that are a great value for the money. There are probably dozens of other brands doing just the same. These have not earned the recognition of the big names yet but are working hard to do so and offering value-priced products that are well respected. This is truly an exciting time to shop the outdoor product market.
Types of Tents
The two main types of tents you are likely to encounter are the dome and cabin tent. These are old classics that will always remain the most popular options due to their price and ease of use. For starting out in camping, these are the best choices.
Backpacking tents step slightly away from those styles and opt for space and weight saving designs. If you plan to hike into a remote location, this is the style for you. You will have to accept that you often pay more for less weight so cost may be an issue.
Rooftop Tents and Truck tents are a recent innovation that helps turn your car into an outdoor space. These can attach to the top of an SUV or van with a rigid floor to provide space or they can use your truck’s bed as the tent bottom. These can be costly but they get you off the ground. Many people like the sense of security these provide.
Canvas tents are the old staple and are still available today. They are uncommon and rarely used because they weigh more and are more costly than modern materials. However, they are nearly indestructible and great for camping in adverse weather. These are still a viable option if you are interested in camping old school.
15 Best Camping Tents on the Market Reviews
1. Best Overall Tent – Kelty Salida
While Kelty has achieved the most fame for their packs, they are easily one of the best camping tent brands. Everything they make is of the best quality with no compromises. They do tend to cost a little more but you get what you pay for and in the case of the Salida, you get one of the most amazing tents on the market today.
The Salida is available in a single, 2 person, or 4 person model. If you are talking about overall best, you want a reasonable size so let’s look at the 4 person model. With a measurement of 8.5 feet by 6.5 feet, you have plenty of room for a gathering of friends. It may be a little tight with 4 but fits 3 perfectly with room to spare.
The materials are a combination of polyester and netting for better ventilation in hot weather. Or you can throw on the full rainfly to make it waterproof and add an all weather vestibule. This also converts it into a tent that works well for cold weather. It may not be a true 4 season tent but it is a tent that can work in all seasons with a little extra planning.
All of the seams are taped for those bad weather days. It goes up easy and quick with plenty of extra storage. The entire system can go up in minutes with only two press-fit poles. Everything is color coded to keep setup straight forward. You may want to add a groundcloth but this tent is otherwise ready to hit the wild.
2. Best Budget Tent - Coleman Sundome
So, what makes a tent a good budget tent? It still has to have quality that will last, can’t be too heavy, and needs to be roomy enough. When it comes to getting a great tent for the money, it is really hard to beat Coleman. They have been making tents for decades and are often a starting point for the beginner.
The Sundome is a great summer tent that can extend into the spring and fall but would not be suitable when things turn cold. It goes up in minutes and can handle its share of rough stuff. Even heavy rain isn’t a problem with its sealed seams, welded tub floor, and a rainfly that protects the windows and doors. If it isn’t blowing sideways, you will stay dry.
The floor space is 7x7 feet which is capable of fitting 3 but works perfectly for 2. It weighs a total of 8.5 pounds which is a bit much for backpacking but for short trips and car camping, it does a wonderful job. It has extra ventilation and even a vent in the floor to pull in cool air at night and let warmer air out the roof vents under the rain fly.
This is not a good tent for cool weather but works well for most of the year. It is perfect for small families and would be a great choice for dogs with their human friends. What’s best is this tent usually runs around the $50 mark but can be found for under $50 from time to time. This is a wonderful price for those just wanting to get started in camping.
3. Best for Weather Resistance - MoKo Instant Cabin
If you are looking for an easy to set up tent, the Moko Instant Cabin may fit the bill. This is a true 4 season tent that goes up in just minutes. For truly bad winter conditions, it may be a little less than what you need but for most of your outings from the first of Spring through mid-winter, this is an exceptional tent that will get you through.
The MoKo is a little small for a cabin tent but can sleep 3 with comfort. The overall measurements are about 6’7”x7’6” which is on par with most 3-4 people tents. Because it is made with that little extra durability it does weigh a bit more, about 16 pounds. It isn’t a great choice for hikers but for car camping, it works amazing!
The assembly system is much like many other tents but the Moko includes a large covered vestibule which gives it a slight advantage over most other easy-up tents. The rainfly is a little smaller than normal because of the vestibule but works very well for keeping water outside where it should be. In total, it has 3 fiberglass poles and is constructed to stand up to even the worst weather with 500D Polyethylene that is treated as a fire retardant.
There is a single rear window for warm weather ventilation along with the small top vents. The entire door is two layer with a full mesh screen if things get a little too warm. If you get a little cold, everything seals off including the vestibule. For a tent under $100.00, the MoKo does very well!
4. Best for Easy Setup - ZOMAKE Keumer Pop Up Tent
If you want a tent that is easy to set up, nothing is as easy as the Keumer. It may not be a tent for bad weather or one you would take for a long stay in the woods but for a day tent or for the beach, there is no tent better than this. Especially if you have small children that you just want to keep out of the sun. For toddlers and their families, this is a perfect setup.
What makes it so great? Well, it comes as a disk just a couple feet across and a few inches thick. Take it out of the storage bag, throw it on the ground, and you are done. It pops up instantly to a tent capable of holding 3 to 4 people with comfort. It also works great as a sun shelter or just a play area for the kids.
In total, you get a sleeping space larger than a queen mattress. It has two doors, each with mesh screens for the best possible ventilation. This makes it less than desirable for any poor weather conditions but may work for something like desert camping. However, it is perfect for those times you just want a quick shelter for an overnight or just a few hours.
Packing up will take a little practice to get it folded correctly. That has always been the weakness of pop-up tents. They are wonderful to set up, just toss them in the air and they are a tent when they hit the ground. Packing them is a lot more puzzling. The tradeoff is usually worth it, especially if you need quick shelter.
5. Best Pop Up Tent - Coleman 2-Person Pop Up Tent
While the last tent may have been a pop-up tent, it was not the tent that most campers are looking for. It may work outdoors but if you want a serious 3-season tent that is just about as easy up, you can count on Coleman. The setup of this tent is a little harder than the previous tent but only by enough to take you about 20 seconds or so to get everything perfectly in place.
This is a two person tent but actually works well for a single person. It is about 7 feet long and 4 feet wide. It weighs about 6 pounds which is pushing the limit for backpacking but can easily be used for hiking in. When you get to your destination, you will be the first to have your tent set up so you can relax while everyone else struggles.
All Coleman tents have sealed seams to keep water out and a full rainfly. This is a three season tent and would not be great for winter camping. Any other time of the year it has everything you need from the waterproofing to ventilation.
Strong wind, raging downpours, or those perfect sunny days, this is a good tent for an amazing price. The first time you will set it up, you will be sold and so will all of your friends. It is amazingly easy, exceptionally quick, and high enough quality for any outing. Not only is this a great pup up tent but it is a great tent for one or two people.
6. Best Roof Top Tent - Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
The market for truck bed and rooftop tents is unique, to say the least. These are definitely a niche product but one that has taken off in recent years. What type works best for you depends more on your vehicle than the tent itself. But to pick one with great quality and features, it has to be the Napier truck tent.
Size will depend on your truck’s bed but they have a tent that will turn it all into usable camping space. One of the best features about the Napier is that extends into a small vestibule area on the tailgate making every inch usable and weatherproof.
Because it sits in your truck bed, you get a little extra height on the dome to about 5.5 feet. The tailgate room works great for storage and makes getting in and out much simpler than other roof-top tents. As for setup that is just as convenient. A few straps and 3 fiberglass poles get you set up in no time.
There is plenty of ventilation when you need it and a rainfly for when the weather gets rough. It works perfectly for a 3 season tent if you just want to back your truck up to your local lake and camp for a few days. No matter the size you can get this tent for under $200.00 making it much cheaper than even the cheapest rooftop tents. When it comes to convenience, this is the best you can get!
7. Best 1 Person Camping Tent - ALPS Mountaineering Lynx
For the serious backpacker, nothing beats a 1-person tent and when it comes to 1-person tents it's hard to beat the value and function of the ALPS Lynx. This tiny home away from home has everything a person needs and none of the weight adding extras.
At less than 4 pounds this tent has ample room for you and your gear. At over 7 feet long and almost 3 feet wide, it can accommodate a single person with ease. Add the rainfly and you get an outdoor vestibule for some light cooking or a place to keep your pack and you maximize your internal space.
Couple that with internal gear pockets and gear loft for items you want to keep handy and you have one of the best spaces for the outdoors. The added space actually makes this one of the better hunting tents if you aren’t into backpacking. You can relax alone while you prepare for the next day’s outing.
One of the best things about this tent is the price. For under $100, this is one of the cheapest single person ultralight tents out there. There are a few lighter but they cost exponentially more and are no better in overall quality. If you like to go it alone, this is a great setup for a great price.
8. Best 2 Person Camping Tent – TNH Outdoor 2-Person Tent
One of the best things about newer brands is that they often have something to prove. This means you get better quality, value, and usually, a better warranty than you would with existing brands. To serve that end TNH has dedicated themselves to providing some of the best construction, quality control, and customer service in the industry.
The assembly of the TNH tent is not the most straightforward with its strange, 1 piece rod construction. After a couple of times, setting up this tent will feel a lot more natural and you can really appreciate the unique engineering that went into the odd humpback shape.
As for space, this may be a little tight for 2 people but there is definitely enough room to fit 2. The added height is also quite nice. The peak adds a little space for some extra ventilation that is safely protected under the rainfly which also extends down to an enclosed vestibule. This provides ample gear storage space if you do end up with less room than you intended.
Total weight is just over 4 pounds with everything folded into a neat package. The pole is a single piece that locks into the frame position. This makes setup and takedown quite easy with some practice. It can easily be carried in a reasonably sized pack. If you hike with a friend or just want some extra elbow room, this is a solid 3-season tent for a good price.
9. Best 3 Person Camping Tent - Weanas Backpacking Tent
As you move into the more family-sized tents, it gets harder to find a good deal. Most manufacturers focus on smaller single or couple tents. However, there are a few companies out there who make larger tents and Weanas is one of the better brands. Especially when you factor in the overall cost of the product.
Though they have several sizes of tent, for a 3-person you are better off going for the larger model. You get an additional 2 inches of length and 18 inches of width for a total of 80”x88” of floor space. This is a sizable tent that packs down into a case that is only 18”x6” and weighs only 6 pounds. For the amount of space you end up with, that is a very convenient package.
The Weanas tent is a perfect hunting tent and can be used for backpacking if you don’t mind a little more weigh for a little more size. It is rated for 3 season use but can be extended into 4 seasons if the rest of your kit is good. You will find plenty of ventilation for warm months or close that off for cooler weather. The included rainfly and sealed seams keep everything dry no matter the weather outside.
The inside of the tent is made mostly of mesh with the rainfly forming the outside skin. The prevents condensation issues. It has two doors and a large vestibule to make things seem even more open. If you have issues with confined spaces, this is actually one of the better tents that appears more open by design. As an all-around tent, it seems to be one of the best bargains around and can still be had for under $100 no matter the size you need.
10. Best 4 Person Tent - NTK INDY GT
While you can find a 4 person tent for cheaper than the NTK, you can’t find one better or that offers more than this tent does. When it comes to family camping tents, this is just one of the best there is without a doubt and it can still be had for under $150. And it can do it with ease in up to 3 seasons.
With a 7x8 foot sleeping area, this is a roomy tent unless you have 4 adults. With an additional vestibule that is nearly 5x8 on its own and weather protected, you can expend this tent for large families, extra gear or whatever other use you may have.
While the whole tent is waterproof but that outdoor area lacks some of the weather protection of the inner tent. It has its own separate door and a couple of windows with a full floor but can get a little chillier. For the main tent, the ventilation is adequate for warmer nights but not too much if it gets cool.
The inner tent is a mesh design with a single door to prevent condensation while the huge rainfly offers waterproofing and the vestibule area. Assembly is a little more time consuming but not complicated. It uses a total of 6 poles to achieve the novel European design. Simply put, this is one of the most functional and well-designed tents on the market while still being affordable. It is definitely one to check out.
11. Best 5 Person Tent - NTK Cherokee GT
It shouldn’t be surprising to see another NTK tent on this list after the Indy. In this case, the Cherokee has reverted from the Euro-inspired design to a more traditional dome tent to maximize internal space while minimizing cost. This is a very affordable tent that makes a great deal of sense for car camping whether you have a larger family or just want the extra space.
Like the earlier model the Cherokee sports fully sealed seams and a full rainfly so you get a perfectly dry camping experience no matter the weather. There is no true vestibule but the front of the rainfly protects the door from direct rain. It does have a tub style floor that is also treated to be anti-fungal and fire retardant.
As for size, you get a total of almost 10x10 feet. This may be a bit on the cramped side for 6 people but you can fit 5 adults and some gear without an issue. All of this folds down into a pack about 24”x8”x8” and weighs around 15 pounds total. This isn’t a great choice for backpacking but is a solid tent for car camping.
This is a 3 season tent that is not suitable for winter camping. It can handle the cooler weather but not cold. It has great ventilation that can be closed off to some degree making it perfect for summer but without the ability to close it off completely, it would be too cold past mid to late fall. Otherwise, this is a great value tent that will get you outdoors in comfort.
12. Best 6 Person Tent – Coleman Weathermaster
Once you get to the 6 person and larger tents, what you are really shopping for is space and nobody does big tents like Coleman. This has been their hallmark forever and they pull it off at a cost that is almost unbelievable. This is an oversized tent with plenty of room for 6 adults and comes in well under $300 most anywhere you shop.
Let’s talk about the size first; this massive tent has an 11x6 foot interior space that will fit two queen size air mattresses. On top of that, it has an additional 9x6 foot screen room with a floor for the outdoor experience without the bugs. This does come in a little heavy at nearly 40 pounds but when it comes to family camping tents, that isn’t all that bad.
Good for up to 3 season use but perfect for summertime, this tent has a ton of vents to make the most of a cooling breeze. All of the vents and windows are sloped to prevent rain from getting in as one of the weatherproofing features of this tent. Additional features are the tub style floor, protected seams, and gusseted zippers.
There are a few novel features with this tent in addition to the standards like storage pockets. It has a sealable port to run power into the tent which can be helpful for those who aren’t too far out in the woods. But by far the favorite is the D style semi-rigid door that makes this feel like a home away from home. If you want a lot of space or have a big group going, this is the tent to take.
13. Best 8 Person Tent – Coleman Montana
Well, for a great 8 person tent we are going to stick with Coleman who has done an amazing job again with creating a large space for outdoor adventures. In this case, it is a single room unlike the smaller tent but it maximizes the usable space inside that room. You can even get it in a version with indoor battery powered lighting if you so desire.
In total, this tent measures a massive 16x7 making great for those with really large families or pets. It can hold just about every one and a ton of gear besides. It easily accommodates everything and everyone you would ever need but using this tent for two people can provide you with a very homey experience when you head out to the wilderness.
One of the most amazing things about this tent is that it weighs only 22 pounds and packs to a size hardly bigger than their 6 person model. It still has the same sealed and inverted seams, tub style floor, and sloped vents to keep you dry. It has almost every feature of the smaller tent except the screen room. This does mean it deals a little better with cool temperature but probably not winter weather.
The rainfly does overhang enough to give you a small outdoor area to keep your boots but not enough to call it a vestibule. All of the important space is inside and it is huge. At nearly 6 feet tall, it can accommodate most anyone. Throw in an air mattress or two and you are ready for any scout trip, car camp, or extended outdoor vacation.
14. Best 10 Person Tent – NTK Arizona
While Coleman makes an excellent 10 person tent that is very much like their 8 person, they are edged out by the NTK Arizona that is just an amazing tent if what you are looking for is space. This is also a tent that you could probably take into winter in some areas with proper gear. Either way, this is a massive tent that can fit everything that you need and then some.
At 8 foot by 17 feet, this two-room tent is simply huge. It does come with a divider that can split off an extra screen room if needed or keep it one big space to maximize the usable floor area. It has over 7 foot of vertical space at the center of the dome which comes down to about 6 foot in the screen room. In total it weighs only 30 pounds which is quite good for a tent this size and packs down almost as small as the Coleman above.
There is plenty of mesh and vents for when you want airflow along with a large window and screen doors. However, once it gets a little cooler, the sizeable rainfly can cover most everything and the rest has its own covers to keep the cold out. Rain isn’t an issue with this tent and its massive rainfly. It even has a covered door area with the addition of a couple of poles.
This tent is a little pricier than other tent brands but considering the size and quality, it is well worth the slight difference in cost. You won’t find many tents this size and even less with sealed seams, tub floor, and all of the extras. You will have plenty of space for everyone and everything you love.
15. Best 12 Person Tent - Ozark Trail Instant Cabin Tent
If you get to the point you need a tent large enough to host the whole family but don’t want to go in for a circus tent, you have very few options. Tents that will hold a full dozen people are rare and can be very costly, sometimes over a grand or more. Luckily, budget tent maker Ozark Trail has stepped in to fill this niche.
At 16 feet by 16 feet in an L shape, this tent has space to fit up to 3 queen sized air mattresses or a full pack of 12 adults in sleeping bags with tons of space for gear and all the things you need to enjoy the outdoors. It even has an 8x8 awning for a little outdoor space and 7 windows to let the outdoors in when you want it.
Along with the windows, there are a number of vents to keep the tent cool in the summer but they can all be closed off if the weather turns bad. This is still only a 3-season tent that probably isn’t a good choice for winter camping. It lacks the heat retention needed for harsh cold weather.
The rain fly is sized to cover the entire tent footprint along with the awning space. All of the poles are pre-attached so you simply fold the tent out and it goes up in record time. This does mean it packs down larger at nearly 5 feet long and a foot wide and high. It also weighs a good bit at 60 pounds but if you need to get the most out of your own private cabin in the woods, this is the way to go.
How to Choose Camping Tents?
Probably the first decision you are going to have to make when it comes to getting a tent is the size and how many people it can hold. Tents come in models meant for a single person up to the whole family plus friends and pets. While it may seem straight forward, just pick a tent that holds how many people you are going to put in it, it really isn’t that simple.
If you buy a 4-person tent, 4 people without gear or anything else will still be cramped. If you add in people who need extra space (taller, wider, claustrophobic, or restless sleepers), gear, and a little room to move, you will need more space. If you want to keep all of your gear inside, you may need something bigger.
If you want to keep it small for portability, stick with the recommendation. If you need some more room, try adding the capacity of an extra person for every two actual people who will be in the tent. You could even double it if you really want some space.
Most tents are considered a 3-season tent by default. What this really means is that they will function from the warmer months of spring to the warmer months of fall. They offer plenty of ventilation, some of which can be closed off if it’s. Other than that, their primary purpose is to keep you out of the elements, provide some privacy, and keep as many bugs as possible outside.
A 3-4 Season tent offers a few extras to prolong the tents use. These are generally usable for all of spring and fall depending on the climate you use it. They have less ventilation and often add more rigidity through additional poles. They retain more warmth and are the most versatile tent for most people.
True 4-season tents are a specialized piece of gear that can be used in any season but are best reserved for colder weather from fall to spring. They have little to no ventilation and are designed to be very rigid to stand up to harsh winds and weather. They will have a rainfly that extends nearly to the ground or a solid roof. The fabric will also be thicker to make them more robust.
As you increase in seasons, the cost will go up as well as weight. While the 4-season tents are very nice, if you plan on only camping in Sumer, you can get away with a more affordable option.
Footprint & Length
The footprint of a tent is the overall size of the area covered by the tent. While the primary way that people select a tent is by occupancy, you should probably look at the actual ground measurements. This will help you double-check the size to make sure it’s right.
You should also look at the largest dimension if you are taller or have a taller person in your family. Some tents are just not set up for taller people. If you want to be able to stretch out, make sure your tent is big enough to let you.
Weight & Size (Packed)
The Weight of your tent may or may not be a concern. If you car camp weight may be able to get away with a full cabin tent. If you are packing your tent in on a backpacking trip, you will want the smallest and lightest you can get. Pay attention to size and weight when looking at tents. There are no direct guidelines. Some people do dedicate a whole pack to a larger tent when going in groups. As long as you have a plan to deal with transporting it, you should be fine.
The peak height is simply the height of the tallest portion of the tent. If you want to be able to stand up in your tent, pay close attention to this number. For a dome style tent, you should add a few extra inches or the only place you will be standing in the very center. If you have an A-Frame tent, you will need to add even more if you want to be able to move around.
You also need to realize that the taller a tent is, the worse it will fair in windy weather. The broader surface can cause issues with stakes pulling out if the wind is strong enough. All things with camping are about finding a balance.
Most conventional tents made for 4 people or less will only have one door. As you get larger or change the tent shape from the conventional door, you may get additional points of access. Some very large tents can have as many as 4 doors.
Why would you want 4 doors? For some reason when sleeping in a tent, the person farthest from the door will have to get up the most. Having multiple points of access allows them to get to an exit easier without stepping on every other sleeper. While this is by no means a necessary aspect of tents, it is one to consider.
In the same line as this, many larger family sized tents have multiple rooms. Most, but not all, of these multi-room tents will have doors for each section. If you have very young children, you may not want them to have their own way out. If you are sharing with adults, having the extra doors will help you sleep more soundly.
In the warmer months, you are going to want some air moving through your tent. Not only does this help cool things off but it gets rid of the funky odors that can build up over a long weekend. In the colder months, you need to retain every bit of heat you can put into the tent. Depending on when and where you camp, ventilation is a very important consideration for your comfort.
Most ventilation is achieved by small mesh screens near the peak of the tent. It can be augmented by windows, mesh door covers, and even small vents near the foot of the tent. The most versatile tents will have ways of closing any and all of these to prevent excess heat loss. This would be the best option and is usually found on the 3-4 season tents.
Make sure you get a tent with the appropriate setup for you. In the middle of a sunny, summer day a tent becomes a roaster bag. It can get uncomfortably warm very quickly. You need a way for this heat to escape or your tent will be off limits until late evening.
In cold weather, if you have too much ventilation, convective cooling will ensure you have a very cold night. You need to moderate airflow and catch as much warm air as possible. A tent is an imperfect structure and will always have drafts, it’s about minimizing them.
Materials & Construction
There are two main materials that are used in tent body construction. Most te nts are made of polyester which is cheaper and quite resilient to weather but is quite heavy to carry. More expensive tents are made of nylon which is thinner and lighter. There are little real differences in these fabrics other than cost and weight.
Occasionally you will see tents made of canvas. While these are very durable and insulate very well, they are both costly and very heavy for the same size tent. They will usually last forever but if you plan on carrying them into the woods, you may want to think again.
When it comes to the supports and frames, there are three common materials. Fiberglass is the most common, cheapest, and strongest but is a little heavy. Aluminum isn’t used as frequently but is strong and quite cheap but can take a bend that will ruin it easily. Carbon Fiber is the newest and lightest while still being quite strong and flexible. It can way grams for a tent support but you will pay more for it.
You should always look for a tent that is seam sealed or you will have to take care of this monotonous task yourself. No matter the material, a tent without seam sealing will leak. While you are at it, you probably want to consider a tent with a tub-style bottom. This will keep standing water from getting into your tent. Even with seam sealing, this can and does happen.
Vestibules & Awnings
Some tents have a covered outdoor area. This can be a place to cook with a small gas stove or leave your boots to keep from tracking dirt in. These usually have no floor but will be covered and may or may not have their own mesh door. Many long-distance backpackers find these spaces to be a vital portion of the tent.
Some larger tents will have this area completely surrounded by netting to keep bugs out. This effectively turns them into a deck. If you want an outdoor space you can enjoy free of mosquitoes, this can be a huge benefit. Just realize this is a tent area that adds to the weight but will not give you any additional sleeping space.
The ways that modern tent companies have developed to keep your gear organized is quite amazing. Most tents will have some pouches along the walls near the floor for keeping things you want quick access to. Others add additional hanging storage, some of which is a loose mesh where you can hang a tablet to take in a video before bed.
One of the newer additions is a gear loft. This is usually found on smaller tents and not capable of holding a lot of weight. However, they are spacious when you need a place to keep your important gear. They are usually located near one of the support bars to better handle the weight.
A rainfly is a cover that goes over a tent to make sure it is waterproof. Some are attached and some are a separate piece. Those that are separate give you the versatility to keep the rainfly off to improve ventilation when it isn’t needed. It will require a little additional setup but that is often worth it.
If you buy one of the budget model tents, they will usually come with a rainfly. When you move into the smaller, high-end tents they may be an additional item. Make sure you check to see before you purchase or you could be in for more than you wanted to spend. Why would they be separate? This is to save weight for those who don’t feel they are necessary where they are camping.
While most tents have a decent floor, a groundcloth is an additional layer that goes down first to prevent your tent bottom from being punctured. They are a thicker and tougher material than your tent bottom and used sized for each specific tent model. They can be a worthwhile investment unless you know you will be camping in an area with a tended ground that offers little risk of rocks or sticks.
This is a feature usually seen on more expensive models. Budget tents will frequently not offer a ground cloth as it adds to the total cost of their product.
There are a number of the best camping tents on the market today. More than could be covered in this single article with any justice to those skipped over. Some may even top in quality what we have here but these were selected in overall value to make sure you get the most out of every dollar you spend. Not all may be budget but there is a tent here for everyone’s budget. We offer them in hopes of helping you get outdoors this summer and have an amazing adventure all your own!