Best Tent for Family Camping

Category Family Tents

What is the Best Tent For Family Camping?

best-tent-for-family-camping-150x150This article will give you pointers for finding the best tent for family camping whether your family has three people or ten.

Family camping can be broken down into two main categories: car camping and backpacking. Each type requires a different type of tent.

With car camping, size and weight are not a factor. This type of camping gives you the freedom of parking right next to your camp site. If you’re planning a backpacking trip, you need to be more cognizant of weight and bulk. What I recommend for a family who’s going backpacking, is to use several smaller backpacking type tents, and break the family up into logical groups of two or three, each sleeping in a separate tent.

Three Types of Family Camping Tents

Family camping tents can be broken down into three categories.

Cabin Tents

camping-tents-on-sale1-150x150These are the roomiest tents and have the easiest access. They are tall and can be entered without crouching. The walls of the tent are almost vertical, giving the most space for sleeping and storage. Some larger family tents even offer room dividers, giving more privacy to its occupants. Because of its room and other useful features, the cabin-style is considered by a majority to be the best tent for family camping.

Dome Shaped Tents

best-tent-for-family-camping1-150x150This style tent is kind of a hybrid of the cabin-style tent and a backpacking tent. Even though larger and heavier than a backpack tent, the dome family tent is shorter and more streamlined. Access into the dome tent is not as convenient, and because of the dome shape, the walls are more sloped, thereby reducing the usable living space inside. An advantage of the dome tent is it’s less susceptible to damage from high winds, which can develop in some campgrounds near a lake or in high-elevation campsites.

Screened-in Tents or Sun Shelters

best-tent-for-family-camping2-150x150This type of tent has walls made of screen material and works well over the main picnic table, where the cooking and eating are done. Some campsites are plagued by mosquitoes, bees, and other annoying bugs, and the screened-in tent can reduce this problem. A screened-in tent can also double as sleeping quarters, but lacks in privacy compared to the dome or cabin style tents.

The Best Tent For Family Camping – What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Here are a few things to pay attention to while shopping for a family tent.


Not all family camping tents are created equal. Remember that a low priced tent probably won’t be as durable as a more expensive one. If you plan to use your family camping tent for the next several seasons, you might be smarter to invest in a more expensive tent. Sometimes the best tent for family camping isn’t always the cheapest!


Most tent descriptions give a “peak height” or “center” height. This is the maximum height of the tent. If you like being able to stand straight up while dressing, get a tent with a taller height.

Sleeping Capacity

Another specification mentioned in the description is the number of people it will sleep. Something people don’t think about is the extra “stuff” you’ll have in your tent besides your sleeping bags. You might also store a suitcase, backpack, or duffel bag in your tent. If you plan to have four people sleeping in your tent, you might want to consider a tent that’s rated to sleep six. This should give you ample room for extras.

The Set Up

Unless you particularly like stress and hardship, you probably want a tent that’s easy and quick to set up. A good rule of thumb is, the fewer poles involved, the simpler the set up will be. Avoid tents with “sleeves” which the poles need to be threaded through. These can be especially frustrating.

It’s also a good idea to buy a tent that’s “free-standing”. This means you don’t need to stake it down to pitch it. You should, however, stake it down once you find a level, smooth spot. But the free-standing tents are easier to pitch, as a general rule. And if you need to move it for some reason, you can just pick it up like a big beach ball and transport it.


In case you don’t know, a rainfly is a separate piece of fabric (usually waterproof), that is attached over your tent. The purpose is to protect your tent from moisture in the unfortunate possibility of a rain shower. Even in summer, it’s very possible to experience a shower or two.

Some tent manufacturers claim their tents are waterproof. This may be true, but what about the windows and doors? They probably aren’t waterproof. The best approach is to buy a tent that either comes with a waterproof fly or can be ordered with the tent. The peace of mind you’ll have is worth the extra cost. Who wants to come back to camp after hiking or boating, and find soggy sleeping bags and soaked clothes!

There are other factors to consider when searching for the best tent for family camping, but these tips are a good place to start.

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