Updated: Oct 14, 2016

Camping Tent Reviews:

Choosing the right camping tent is much harder than it used to be since so many types are offered for all occasions and seasons. There are high end Kelty tents that are great all-season, camping tents and great for backpackers. You can find mid-range tents from Sierra Designs and the North Face. At the low end, are the cheaper tents from Coleman and Ozark. You first need to decide in what conditions will you be using the tent. Will you camp in the winter? How often will you use the camping tent? How many people will need to fit into the tent? There are 1 person, 2-person, 3-person, 4-person, 5-person and even larger camping tents available to fit all camping needs. The family tents are the largest with ceilings that are upwards of 6 feet tall and they have privacy walls to separate the tent into "rooms". How should you compare one tent to another? We will discuss an overall buying guide down below.



Consumer Reports rates tents on ease of setup, rain resistance, overall convenience, size, and construction quality. Backpacking tents are reviewed on Outdoorreview.com and Backpackgear.com - they tend to be lightweight and very durable for all weather use. A good family tent should be large enough to hold sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and any other camping gear or equipment you might need to store in your tent. For those looking to make the camping experience just like home, there are even camping tent heaters that warm up the tent. Experts don't recommend using a heater in your camping tent unless all safety precautions are used. The older tents used to have dozens of poles that were too complicated to assemble, but the newer camping tents require minimal setup time and many are pop up tents that are easy to put together (even for 1 person). Try to find a tent that has a rain cover since you never know when a sudden rain shower may happen and it's better to be safe than sorry.

For people doing mostly car camping, you can buy a cheap tent that will rest on a camping pad or tarp. Most camping tents should last for many years and the only thing that tends to need repairs are the mesh doors that rip rather easily. If you are going into the backcountry and need a lightweight tent, definitely look into those offered by MSR, Big Sky, or Kelty. Condensation is an issue in some tents, so ventilation is can be a key issue. Wind can effect tents that are put up in open spaces, so look for camping tents that are rated high for wind resistance. We visited our local GI Joes and Big 5 Sporting Goods stores to look for family camping tents and the salespeople were very knowledgeable and informed on which tents offered what. As for backpacking tents, we suggest visiting a more specific outdoor equipment store like REI or North Face for higher quality tents. There are dozens of online stores to do research on and read reviews like Altrec.com, Backcountry.com, Sierra Trading Post, and Rei.com. We have tried to sort through all the reviews we could find and come up with a short list of the "best available" tents in different categories below. You can browse all the most popular camping tents online here.

Family Camping Tents:

RECOMMENDED - The Kelty Green River 4 Four Person Tent ($210) is rated very high by users and experts on Altrec.com. The Kelty tent is perfect for families when it comes to camping. This 3-season tent has panels with reduced meshing making them a good choice for early spring and late fall camping. The waterproof canopy will protect the entire family or group even during rain. The tent offers 81 square foot of floor area (that's pretty big) and it can accommodate up to 4 people. The polyester taffeta wall fabric and the polyurethane nylon taffeta floor fabric with taped floor seams keep your dry and well protected. There are 4 fiberglass poles required to construct the tent, but owners say it's easy to do. The mesh windows feature pull-down shades to keep the interior very private. The internal side pockets provide plenty of storage area for your essentials. The single door is huge which is the one feature that my family prefers in a camping tent. Hunching over all the time to go back and forth from the tent gets old really fast and the spacious interior is great for kids. The tent weights 21 pounds. The Paha Que' Pamo Valley Family Tent ($520) is another luxury family tent that the camping guide on About.com recommends. It offers heavy-duty waterproofing, plenty of interior space, and a lifetime warranty. With a peak height of 93", you can stand up inside the cube shaped tent. The door covers open up into a nice awning for additional protection from the elements. See all the top rated family tents online here.

Budget Family Tent:

Families on a budget should consider a Coleman tent. Coleman rates higher than Ozark Trail family tents for rain resistance and leakage. The Coleman 3-Room Family Dome Tent ($180) is a good "value buy" and it's made with the WeatherTec system exclusive to Coleman. You can separate the tent into 3 rooms for privacy and it will sleep 8. Ventilation is plentiful with mesh venting and the rainfly cover will keep the doors and windows secure. The Coleman family tent has a peak height of 72 inches which should be sufficient for most. Owners say the tent fits air mattresses with no problem and the privacy walls are great with kids. Coleman tents don't have the reliability of the higher end family tents, but they do rate well for ease of setup and interior space. We found the Coleman Family Dome Tent at Dicks Sporting Goods Store (online). RECOMMENDED - We suggest you browse all the top selling Coleman family tents online here.

2-Person Tent:

Not everyone needs a big camping tent meant for a family. A good 2 person tent is all that's necessary for most of us and the North Face Tadpole 23 is a good buy. The North Face tent is a 3-season tent that rates high on Backcountry.com. Owners describe the Tadpole 23 as light, small and comfortable. The design does well to make the most of space and the mesh panels in the canopy and the door supply the perfect circulation of air flow. The glow in the dark zipper is an innovative feature that will certainly come in handy late at night for those bathroom runs. The tent stores easily in a compression stuff sack. The North Face 2-person tent sells for about $240. For a slightly larger 3-person tent, consider the MSR Mutha Hubba Tent ($400) we saw on the REI site. It's roomy enough for 3 campers to sleep, but not large enough to stand up in. At less than 7 lbs, the MSR tent is very lightweight and it's durable enough (lifetime warranty) to keep you dry and protected. The pole/hub system allows for easy setup and takedown. RECOMMENDED - We think the Kelty Grand Mesa 2-Person Tent is the one to look at. It gets excellent reviews from owners on Amazon and this 3 season dome style tent is ideal for camping for backpacking. It's a freestanding tent with 6 square foot vestibule for gear storage. It weighs under 5 pounds and is "very versatile" say many consumers. Amazon carries it online (see the image to the right).

Backpacking Tent:

Kelty is a well recognized name in backpacking and camping and the Kelty Teton 2 ($110) is an excellent 2-Person backpacking tent that is both affordable and sturdy. The Kelty tent has a mesh ceiling to help keep moisture to a minimum and the aluminum poles keep it light to carry. Probably best used in summer conditions where rain is not a threat, but overall reviews were positive on the price and what you get. For a 4-season backpacking tent, the Sierra Design Tiros Tent offers some great value at $260. You get dual entry stash doors w/ 2 vestibules for storing your gear. The nylon exterior repels winds, rain, and snow and the waterproof floor keeps you dry. It weighs a about 9 1/2 pounds and stands 46 inches tall. Sierratradingpost.com carries this tent on clearance special. You can browse all the best selling backpacking tents online here.

Camping Tent Care (Cleaning and Storage):

Part of maintaining and caring for your tent is not only being careful when it's up and standing in your campsite, it's also very important that you store it properly in the off-season when it's not being used. When you take the tent down make sure it's completely empty of debris (sticks, rocks, etc) and store the tent in a cool, dry place. Make sure all poles have been broken down properly and that zippers and ties are secured. If a tear should occur in the mesh panels or doors, repair it immediately with a needle and threat so that it doesn't pull apart further.