Are you seeking an exceptional tent for your next outdoor adventure? There’s nothing more satisfying than drifting off to sleep among the sparkling stars and rustling forest sounds, and waking up enveloped by the beauty of nature. Regardless of whether you prefer to camp in popular public areas or venture alone on foot for miles, we have researched and tested the best options available. After conducting unbiased comparisons, we have gathered the top-rated tents across various categories for this collection of exceptional products. From ultralight options weighing just over a pound to rooftop tents that transform your car camping experience, we have something for everyone.
If you’re uncertain about which type of tent is best for you or contemplating multiple options, our comprehensive guide is the perfect starting point. Conversely, if you’re confident about the type of outdoor travel preferred, head straight to our category-specific reviews. Whether you’re searching for an ultralight shelter to keep you nimble, the best backpacking tent for an upcoming thru-hike or the perfect camping tent, we can assist in finding you a flawless fit. Once you’ve secured your shelter, peruse our wish list of camping gear to finalize your setup.
REI Co-op Base Camp 6
With a price tag of $549, the REI Base Camp 6 is a top-of-the-line camping tent that boasts numerous benefits. Although it may not be the most spacious, tallest, or cost-effective, this moderately sized tent provides all the necessary features to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience for years to come. The Base Camp 6 offers 84 square feet of floor space, providing ample room for up to six campers to sleep under the stars.
Equipped with a strong polyester rainfly, the Base Camp 6 offers full coverage and a roomy vestibule for storing gear, providing an additional 27 square feet of covered space in the front and 17 in the back. The front vestibule is spacious enough to accommodate a few camp chairs, offering a perfect area to relax in the shade.
Useful features such as pockets, a three-point ventilation system, and reflective trim that illuminates in the light of a headlamp make the Base Camp 6 a desirable place to retreat during varying weather conditions. With large doors at both ends, campers will no longer have to crawl over all their tentmates when venturing outside.
Thanks to the intuitive color-coded poles and attachments, our team of camp-savvy testers had no trouble setting up the Base Camp 6 tent even in light winds. For first-timers, the tent’s storage bag contains very clear setup instructions.
The Base Camp 6 is freestanding, enabling it to stay up without requiring stakes or guylines. While this may be convenient for campers arriving at night, utilizing all the provided stakes and guylines will ensure maximum sturdiness against rain and wind.
At just over 6 feet at its highest point, taller individuals may have trouble standing straight up within the Base Camp 6. Weighing in at 20 pounds, this tent is not ideal for backpacking but is best suited for car camping. Despite being among the more expensive models on the market, the Base Camp 6 is an excellent investment for those fortunate enough to indulge in camping several times a year.
Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 Person Tent
The Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 Person Tent is the perfect combination of size, resilience, ease of assembly, and affordability. Its cabin-style construction provides a generous peak height of 7 feet and a boxy shape that makes it one of the most spacious tents on the market. The extra room ensures better organization and comfortable sleeping arrangements. While the Copper Canyon LX 6 may be larger and heavier than some, as long as you don’t plan on trekking great distances, this isn’t an issue. Although not built to withstand extreme weather conditions, the tent’s durable design allows it to withstand most rain and windstorms. The Copper Canyon LX 6 has a proven track record and is a reliable choice for years to come. While advertised as a six-person tent, it’s ideally suited to two adults with two or three children and equipment.
At first glance, the MSR Habiscape tent may seem unremarkable, but the longer you spend with it, the more appealing it becomes. Its headspace provides ample room for a person of five-foot-five to stand not only at the center but also along the sides and at the doors. The tent also boasts 10 pockets, with two accessible from outside, eliminating the need to take off rain jackets and shoes just to store your car keys.
However, what sets the Habiscape apart is its structural integrity. Unlike most similar tents, the Habiscape has four additional shorter poles that connect the upper part of its four walls together, which are easy to set up. This design creates a tent that is sturdy and can withstand strong winds without guylines set up.
Moreover, the stuff sack is excellent. Unlike typical tent stuff sacks that open at the end, the Habiscape’s opens along the side. After a rainy night, I easily stuffed the rainfly and body in, along with the stake and pole bags on top, and tightened the compression straps. The tent was now ready for transport with minimal hassle, although I did dry it properly at home.
Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3
When it comes to selecting a rooftop tent, the type of vehicle you own will play a crucial role. Among the many fantastic options available, the Thule brand offers a wide range of selection, and in particular, the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 has become a personal favorite.
This rooftop tent is a great option for couples or up to three people, providing the perfect opportunity for adventurous travel. While the setup process may take a bit longer compared to other Thule designs, the added entrance awning is well worth the few extra minutes.
One major highlight of this tent is its ability to offer 4-season weather protection, while still maintaining breathability through vents and side windows suitable for warmer weather. Though the side windows cannot be rolled up, they still function well in rainy conditions. The tent’s materials are also UV and mold-resistant, ensuring durability and hassle-free travel.
Overall, this Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam rooftop tent provides a high level of comfort, ease of use, weather protection, and versatile fit for most vehicle sizes, making it a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
Yakima SkyRise HD
Weight and price are two major concerns for potential rooftop tent campers. However, Yakima’s SkyRise HD tent, priced at $2,499, is competitively priced for a three-person tent and also relatively light. It closely resembles the backpacking and car camping tents that many nature enthusiasts are already familiar with.
Made from the same materials as traditional ground tents, the SkyRise is constructed with a 600D nylon tent body that is lightweight and breathable. Mesh ventilation panels serve as windows allowing for great views of the night sky. The windows and two skylights can be easily opened for increased ventilation.
The SkyRise is equipped with a polyurethane-coated waterproof fly that can be set up with or without the tent body. The tent’s structure is supported by strong, preset aluminum poles which can be easily engaged upon opening the tent. A plush, 2.5-inch-thick wall-to-wall mattress provides a comfortable sleeping area that everyone will appreciate. If need be, the mattress cover can be removed for easy cleaning.
The SkyRise HD 3 is a great option for those who will be sleeping with a child or dog. Dog owners who have dogs that climb ladders will appreciate this feature as well. The tent is one of the easiest to mount on a roof rack and requires no tools to attach. Additionally, the tent can be locked to the roof rack using the SKS lock cores, which are included with the tent.
Camping Tent Buying Advice
Camping Tent Types
The market for camping tents can be broadly categorized into two types: high-end premium designs that focus on comfort and livability while utilizing top-notch materials, and more economical models that focus on meeting basic needs and generally cost less than $250. The following section delves into the advantages and drawbacks of each type, along with additional options such as crossover camping and backpacking tents.
Premium Camping Tents
Although premium camping tents are pricier, they provide all the amenities we would expect from a home-away-from-home experience. These high-end models, typically starting around $350 for a six-person unit, prioritize living space with near-vertical walls, spacious vestibules, and dividers. Mesh materials optimize ventilation in warmer climates, while rainfly vents prevent moisture from accumulating inside. Moreover, premium options offer superior durability against harsh weather conditions, thanks to full-coverage rainfly and aluminum pole designs. While some, such as the REI Wonderland 6, may be cost-prohibitive at around $600, frequent campers seeking to endure all weather conditions may find these tents a worthwhile long-term investment.
Budget Camping Tents
Camping is typically viewed as a way to simplify life and disconnect from the world for a brief period of time. For those seeking an affordable option, budget camping tents are a viable choice for fair-weather camping. There is no distinct price point that separates mid-range and budget tents, but for six-person capacities, it can be around $250. Budget tents tend to use thicker fabrics which create bulk and contribute to heavier weight, but they are also durable and water-resistant. However, they are not as effective in extreme weather conditions. During a storm, budget tents are more likely to become saturated or suffer from broken poles. If you’re new to camping or only camp during the summer, a budget tent is a suitable option, but anticipate some limitations if inclement weather arises.
Crossover Camping and Backpacking Tents
For those who enjoy both camping and backpacking with the family, purchasing a budget category tent can be a considerable investment. In such a scenario, it may be worthwhile to consider a crossover model. While such designs like the Marmot Tungsten 4P and REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 are relatively compact compared to dedicated camping tents, they can still comfortably accommodate four 20-inch wide pads side-by-side. These tents are easy to manage on an overnight backpacking trip, particularly when distributed among group members, and provide sufficient space to satisfy most campers. However, it’s essential to note that these models are made with less durable fabrics to facilitate packing down and are not the most comfortable for extended use. Nonetheless, opting for a crossover model can be an excellent compromise for those who require something that can multitask effectively.
Floor dimensions are a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a tent as they indicate the overall livability of the tent. Generally, tents with the same sleeping capacity will have similar total floor areas, with six-person models ranging from 80 to 90 square feet. For instance, the REI Wonderland 6, Marmot Limestone 6P, and REI Base Camp 6 all have comparable floor areas between 83 and 84 square feet. However, some six-person models, such as the Coleman Sundome 6 and Caddis Rapid 6, offer more room with 100 square feet of floor area. These models are budget-oriented but have partial-coverage rainflies and dome-style shapes, which may restrict movement inside. It’s crucial to consider the peak height and pole structure alongside floor area to determine the overall tent livability.
Peak Height and Pole Structure
Aside from the floor area, the peak height and pole structure play significant roles in enhancing the overall comfort of a tent. Particularly, the peak height determines whether one can stand upright or not, and most car camping-style tents feature a peak height of approximately 72 inches. Nonetheless, there are other factors to consider, such as the slope of the walls and pole design. For instance, dome tents with basic, X-shaped pole structures provide the full peak height only at the center. On the contrary, an advanced pole system can produce nearly vertical walls for free movement around the tent. Therefore, we highly recommend the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone, where both ends showcase vertical walls, and the pole designs effectively widen the interior. The cabin-style tents, namely The North Face Wawona, REI Skyward, and Big Agnes Big House, are also remarkable in maximizing the interior space.
Capacity: How Many People Actually Fit in These Tents?
The tents displayed above have a capacity designated by the number of people they can accommodate, ranging from four to eight individuals. This capacity is determined by the number of standard adult sleeping pads that fit comfortably in the tent, typically arranged side-by-side. For instance, the six-person REI Co-op Skyward measures 120 inches and can fit six standard pads. Nevertheless, we recommend choosing a larger size if you prefer wider sleeping pads measuring 25 inches or more, or you desire additional space to move around.
Based on our experience, it’s impractical to pack a tent to its full capacity as it detracts from everyone’s sleeping and living comfort. It’s best to opt for a tent size somewhat larger than the number of individuals in your group. For example, a group of four would find a six-person tent suitable as it allows for ample living space for activities like card games or waiting out a storm. On the other hand, couples and pet owners might prefer a four-person tent to enjoy additional space while sleeping.
Number of Doors
When it comes to camping tents with ample space, we strongly recommend opting for one with two doors. Not only does it provide an additional point of entry, which proves convenient when accommodating a large group, but it also allows airflow to circulate easily during hot summer days. Select budget models, such as the Coleman Skydome and Sundome, only come with a single door, which can be problematic. Even pricier models such as the MSR Habitude 6 also have a single entry; this makes it challenging to move around the camping tent without disturbing others. While some tents with larger openings tend to ease the annoyance, it’s still worth considering this aspect when looking for an affordable tent. However, for easy access from all sides, the REI Wonderland X boasts an exclusive design with two oversized doors and four panels along the rainfly.
Q: What makes a tent high quality?
The top-rated tent brands possess extensive expertise in outdoor activities such as camping and backpacking, and have a deep understanding of how a tent’s structural features impact its adaptability to various weather conditions and climates. Additionally, they often employ premium materials that exhibit greater longevity compared to mediocre grade nylon or polyester. Lastly, quality tents come with extended warranty periods – if a manufacturer doesn’t offer a warranty that spans multiple seasons, it is likely that their tent is substandard.
Q: How do I make tent camping comfortable?
Warmth is the key ingredient for a comfortable camping experience. Being cold equals discomfort, hence investing in a top-notch sleeping pad is a smart move. An excellent sleeping pad offers not only cushioning, but also insulation from the cold ground. When buying a sleeping bag, go for a rating at least twenty degrees below your anticipated coldest temperature. Don’t forget to pack an ample amount of blankets.
Q: How do I insulate a tent for winter camping?
If you plan to camp during winter, you cannot adequately insulate a regular camping tent. In this case, it would be wise to invest in a winter tent that offers extra insulation and structural support to withstand the weight of snow. Alternatively, you can also explore warmer clothing options and a suitable sleeping bag.
Q: How much does a camping tent cost?
The price range of camping tents varies greatly, from $100 to over $1,000, based on their dimensions and quality standards.
A wide range of camping tents can be found, ranging from giant 8-person tents able to accommodate the entire family to tiny two-person tents that provide just enough space for one individual. We assure you that any of the choices presented below will excel during your next great outdoor excursion.