Updated: December 2017
Family Camping Tent Reviews:Camping in the wilderness can be a fun experience if your equipment is quality stuff. My wife has never been a huge "camper" but in recent years we try to go once a year to get the kids out. My memories of camping when I was young are some of the best. I had a 3 person tent that worked for over a decade, but now that our 2 children are five and nine years old, we needed a larger family tent for our camping weekends. Unless you plan on trekking into areas that are bitterly cold at night or extremely rough, you probably don't need a top of the line family camping tent. Stores like Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods, Cabela's, and LL Bean carry a decent variety. Higher end family tents for camping can be found at REI and even North Face stores. I did a little bit of research online and then went into several stores before making the final purchase.
Choosing a family tent for camping - The first thing you need to consider is how often you will go camping. No sense in buying a top rated tent that you only use once a year for 2 nights. Most families only venture out once a year for camping, so keep your sights set on tents that are less than $400. The next thing to look at is the actual size and dimensions of the tent. Many more models are on the shelves that have privacy walls, separate rooms, screened rooms, and the ability to stand up at the highest spot of the tent. Kids love playing in tents when at the campsite, so definitely get one that can handle a bit of use beyond just sleeping. Ground cover - In the old days a tarp was all your need, but I recently was introduced to the "footprint" style tarp that is an accessory item sold with several of the REI branded tents. Similar function to a tarp, but they fit extremely well under the tent and actually latch right into the same spot as the tent does with the poles. Make sure you have some kind of ground cover or tarp before placing your tent on the ground. Moisture under the tent is an issue, so having something to stop it is always important. Rain cover - All tents all sold with some kind of rain or dew cover. It's nice to have screen windows to see the stars, but dew can make things wet if you are not protected and rain is a whole other story. Size - The idea behind a family tent is that it is large enough to fit an entire family and maybe even a pet or extra person. The 6 person family tents are the best idea in terms of space, but certainly the 4 person tents are worth considering. I've seen the huge 12 person tents from Eureka and they are massive. Probably not what the average family needs. Brands - There are dozens but the top ones are Wenzel, Coleman, Columbia Sportswear, Eureka, Swiss Gear, Kelty, The North Face, REI, and Paha Que. PRICE - You can expect to spend at least $100 on a decent family tent and upwards of $300 for those with added features and durability. Family Tent Reviews - About.com does an excellent job of comparing and rating family tents. Amazon.com always offers up dozens of owner reviews on almost all models they sell on their website. REI is a great resource for customer feedback on higher quality tents and the salespeople in their actual storefronts are knowledgeable and can stear you in the right direction. I made a trip to Dicks Sporting Goods but their selection was limited since I was there in late summer. Their website had more of a selection. REI, too, offers only a few brands and they don't cater to families. REI is great for 2, 3, or even 4 man tents, but that's where they stop. You can browse the best selling family tents online here.