So to help your little monsters get the most out of their camping experience, your first port of call is to ensure that you have an epic family camping tent that everyone will love. For kids, sleeping under canvas is a real-life version of den building, so cool tents for camping will make things even better.
Our best family camping tents reviews will help you figure out what you and your family might need to make living in a canvas den your family vacation of choice for many summers (or winters!) to come.
The best family camping tents in 2017
|Product||Type of tent||Height||Floor space||Weight||Cost|
|Nemo Equipment Wagontop 6||Single walled 6 person||203cm||9m2||10.5kg||$$$$|
|Kelty Frontier 4||Canvas 4 person||218cm||6.74m2||18.7kg||$$$$|
|Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8||4 season 8 person||183cm||13.6m2||9.7kg||$$$$$|
|Eureka Copper Canyon 8||Single room 8 person||213cm||12m2||16kg||$$$|
|The North Face Kaiju 6||Lightweight 6 person||203cm||10m2||7.6kg||$$$|
|REI Kingdom 8||Spacious 8 person||196cm||12m2||10.85kg||$$$|
|Wenzel Blue Ridge||Budget 7 person||183cm||10.8m2||8.25kg||$|
|Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 6||Canvas 6 person||198cm||9.2m2||30.8kg||$$$$|
|Coleman Octagon 98||Large 8 person||208cm||15.9m2||20.7kg||$$|
How to choose a family camping tent
Choosing a tent to camp in with your family is not as straightforward as just getting something that sleeps the number of people you need it to accommodate. There are a load of other things to consider which will make spending days on end in closer that usual proximity to your kids, a much more fun and enjoyable experience – for everyone involved.
How big does your family camping tent need to be?
Most tents are described by the number of people that they can comfortably accommodate overnight – a ‘4 person tent’, for example, sleeps 4 people! But this doesn’t always allow for much more personal space than the size of an adult sleeping mat. This isn’t much of a problem if you are only camping for a night or two, but with a week-long vacation comes a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, towels, camp shoes and camping games, not to mention all the camping and cooking equipment that also needs to be stored. So if you value your personal space and are likely to have more than a bag full of personal items each, it’s worth choosing one of the larger family camping tents with rooms that accommodate more people than the size of your family.
How much space do you need?
The next thing to consider is the space that your tent provides for both sleeping and living. Although unlikely, assume that you will be camping in wet and rainy conditions. You may only have a day of rain, if any, but if there is enough space in your tent to hang out in during bad weather, it will make all the difference to not only the kids enjoyment levels, but also your sanity levels. Having separate sleeping and living space is also essential, especially if you have young kids who will go to bed early. Ideally, family camping tents with a screened porch is favourable and your tented living room should provide plenty of space for:
- A table and chairs/stools – this is great for dining during the cooler evenings as well as sheltering from the rain or sun.
- Storing dry food and a spot for the cooler.
- Storing all the cooking equipment and plates etc.
- Cooking your camp meals.
- Leaving your shoes and boots.
The best family camping tents should also be tall enough for adults to stand in.
Versatility is key
There are some great family camping tents on the market that provide excellent space efficiency and storage options, but are only really suited to camping in areas where bad weather is unlikely. If you are a fair weather camper, then you don’t need to worry too much about having a really good waterproof fly sheet, for example. However, for optimal versatility, a tent that will stand up to all conditions will go the distance for many years of camping. A few other features to look for in a versatile tent design:
- The ability for internal walls to be put up. This allows for added privacy between tented areas, and makes a single huge communal space if taken down.
- Some tents have fly sheets that can be pinned back to allow for star-gazing and a through breeze on warm clear nights.
- Multiple entrances are really useful if there are lots of you using the tent. If the wind changes, you can also switch to using a different entrance.
- A good tent should have lots of ventilation panels with a variety of usage combinations.
- Having bug-proof windows means you can still get the breeze coming through without the bugs flocking in to join too.
- Some tents have vestibule/porch/garage add-on options that can be bought alongside the main tent. These can add lots of options for space usage and can be something to think about once you’ve used your tent once or twice.
How durable is your family camping tent?
For many families, camping trips are the main vacation of the year. So investing in one of the best family camping tents that provides plenty of space, and withstands storms and heat in equal measure is hugely important. But even more critical, is making sure the investment will last more than just a summer or two of outdoor escapades. To make sure your tent will go the distance, look for the following:
- Seam sealed rain fly
- A waterproof treated or coated rain fly
- Robust and smooth running zips
- A tough built-in floor
- Strong stakes that won’t bend easily
- Strong poles – steel or aluminium
Most of the best big tents have built-in storage pockets on their internal walls or gear lofts in the ceiling of the tent. These are great space savers and are a useful way to keep things organised. Hooks and ties are also really handy for hanging lights, or for setting up a line for washing.
Is your tent weatherproof?
Not all tents are suited to all weather conditions, but even summer tents need to be able to hold up if a storm hits and only the best family camping tents will do this well. Taped, sealed seams will help to keep the wet out, as well as having a rain fly over the top of the main tent that extends all the way to the floor. Many fly sheets are treated with a waterproof coating that can be re-applied as the treatment wears off with time.
How easy is is to put up your family camping tent?
In general, the larger the tent, the more difficult it is to put up on your own. But this is not always the case, and if an easy to pitch tent is high on your list of priorities, then some best big tents with a simpler tent designs might be for you.
What is the floor like?
There are various levels of floor covering in family camping tents. Some come with a separate groundsheet, others with a fully built-in ‘tub-style’ flooring and some that have a built-in inner tent and a porch or vestibule that is floorless altogether. Whilst a built-in floor is good to stop any unwanted bugs and rodents coming in, or water and backsplash from the rain trickling in, some find them less versatile than tents with a separate groundsheet.
How heavy is your family camping tent?
For once in the camping world, weight and movability of a family camping tent don’t need to be considered too highly. Yes, you don’t want to be lugging a 40kg tent from your car to the pitch too often, but if it means that you have a solid and durable tent that will last a lifetime of family camping trips, then it’s worth keeping in shape for!
Family canvas tents are the heaviest types of tent around, but they provide unrivalled durability and quality.
The best family camping tents in 2017
The unique design of the Wagontop creates near vertical sidewalls for loads of liveable space. Especially well suited to tall families, this highly versatile family cabin tent takes its form from two hubbed aluminium pole structures that support a single-walled polyurethane-coated polyester canopy. The large vestibule is fully floored and screened, and just like the canvas on a wagon, the integrated front fly can roll back to expose its passengers to the sun or stars.
In addition to the vestibule, the front rainfly also stakes down to create a front porch that is ideal for storing shoes and wet gear, whilst the back entrance provides easy access to the sleeping area.
Although this Nemo family camping tent is made of solid and durable materials with excellent ventilation throughout, the tall steep sides that feature in family cabin tents struggle to hold their own in strong winds.
Cons: Not many pockets or hanging loops. Expensive for its lack of sturdiness.
Verdict: A versatile and spacious summer tent that the kids will love spending time in at the campground.
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For a highly durable and weatherproof tent, the Kelty Frontier 4 is an excellent choice for a family camping tent that will last a lifetime of outdoor adventures. The classic boy scout style poly/cotton canvas is supported by aluminium poles and plenty of guy lines to withstand storms and rain, and its large vestibule (with two entrances) provides ample room for refined dining at a table – an ideal space to hang out in during bad weather.
The single-walled design of family canvas tents rely heavily on the numerous ventilation options to prevent condensation and maximise airflow, which is does well. The Keltyis a little on the heavy side for a 4 person tent, but this is a small sacrifice for such a high quality, super spacious home away from home.
Cons: There is only a mesh divider between the vestibule and sleeping area and no privacy screen. The inside is also lacking any storage pockets and hanging hooks or loops.
Verdict: A super durable and weatherproof family camping tent that will last a lifetime of outdoor adventures.
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Big Agnes should be flying high with this little gem of a family camping tent – they really have thought of everything. Internally it is very useable with numerous storage pockets and gear hooks, excellent ventilation through mesh panels on the inner and storm vents on the outer, and an optional wall divider to separate the vast sleeping area into two. There are two entrances, at the back and front which is a very appealing feature for families to not get on top of each other too much.
The excellent condensation control makes the Flying Diamond a great choice for year-round camping, and the sturdy design, really sets it apart from other large tents in its ability to hold up in high wind and rainy conditions. Whilst its high price tag might put some families off, the good quality and craftsmanship certainly make up for it.
And to top it off, the setup of this versatile all-weather tented condo needn’t be an adults only activity – with colour-coded pole ends, webbing and buckles, the kids will love helping out.
Cons: not as tall as other tents of this size
Verdict: one of the best camping tents for all-season base camp living, that is as equally well suited to an adult group expedition as it is to a family adventure on or off the campsite.
At 12m2, the Copper Canyon provides a huge single communal sleeping space for up to 8 people and is one of the best big tents in the review. Put up the divider and you’ve got yourself a one bedroom condo with ample living space for a family of 4, which makes up for the lack of vestibule. As well as good floor space, the design of the Canyon creates a really high ceiling that houses a gear loft and hang loops in addition to the wall storage pockets.
Essentially this is a single-walled tent, but the canopy rainfly keeps the showers off as well as providing a bit of extra insulation whilst maintaining good ventilation through the mesh ceiling.
Two entrances keep the through traffic of chaotic kids moving as freely as the airflow through the 6 mesh windows, and the quick and easy setup means that at least one part of the day will be stress-free.
Cons: Although it will give it a good go, this tent doesn’t do so well in high winds or sideways rain and the lack of vestibule makes it less versatile than other tents.
Verdict: An excellent summer car camping tent that the kids will love. Buy with a footprint to provide extra durability under foot.
For a dome-style tent, the Kaiju provides excellent height at the peak, with its pole configuration keeping the walls steep but really sturdy in windy conditions. The North Face have clearly drawn inspiration from their high-end expedition tents by adding loads of lightweight hooks, ties and storage pockets, and well placed storm vents on the rainfly for good ventilation. The 68D polyester coated fly performs excellently in the wet and can also be rolled up for some welcome through-breeze on the hot days.
There’s no groundsheet in the vestibule, but a doormat instead to really make you feel at home. And with colour-coded poles, the set up is as a straightforward affair – once you know how.
Cons: The lightweight poles and stakes bend easily and the instructions aren’t the easiest to get your head around.
Verdict: a sturdy, lightweight and versatile family camping tent that is as suited to basecamp in the backcountry as it is to the campground.
In property terms, the REI Kingdom 8 provides the ideal mix of ready to go spacious luxury with excellent potential for expansion as the family grows. The 122 of waterproof polyester covered living space includes a large mesh windowed vestibule, front porch, and a sleeping area with back door that can be divided into two – a two bed airy condo that is ideal for a family of four. And if that’s not quite enough space then you can always add a ‘garage’ extension onto the front porch for extra dining or storage space. Or turn it into a guest bedroom if you like!
Setting up your home away from home is definitely a two person job but the easy to carry backpack that it comes in makes moving house a breeze. There are also loads of storage options to keep things organised and tidy.
For summer vacations, the ventilation throughout the Kingdom comes from the mesh canopy, doors and windows, and the ability for the front rainfly to be folded back, or the sides rolled up keeps the air moving freely.
Cons: Although good in the rain, the Kingdom doesn’t hold its stability in windy conditions.
Verdict: versatile and spacious – the perfect family camping tent with the potential to expand as the family grows. One of the best family camping tents with rooms.
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The Blue Ridge 7 person tent is the cheapest tent in this review. It offers a good value family camping tent that will do a good enough job for a few years of summer camping trips. The polyester rainfly covers the mesh canopy but not the sides of the tent, and there are also three mesh windows that provide ample ventilation and through breeze.
Although there is no vestibule, the removable divider maximises the internal space by creating two separate living or sleeping areas. There are also 4 internal storage pockets.
Cons: There is no vestibule and only one entrance, the materials are lightweight and not very robust and the rainfly isn’t full length.
Verdict: A roomy and functional family tent that lacks durability and quality. Ideal for casual infrequent campers on a budget.
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The Kodiak Flex-Bow is by far the heaviest tent in this review, but worth every extra kilo for each year that it will outlast its competitors. This is a one of the best family canvas tents that will see your family through years of camping trips, and just when the kids outgrow it, you’ll be more than ready to sit under its awning and enjoy the cavernous canvas shelter all to yourselves!
It is surprisingly easy to put up considering its weight, even in bad weather, and the galvanized steel poles and Hydra-shield canvas stand up very strongly to windy and wet conditions.
The mesh windows, two doors and funnel flow vents prevent condensation, and the super tough vinyl floor all add to the Kodiak’s ability to perform right through the winter months.
Cons: There’s no vestibule or internal divider making this tent much less versatile than others in the review. It’s heavy.
Verdict: A straightforward, no frills all-season tent that will last a lifetime.
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The Coleman Octagon is a really great value family camping tent that, despite its lower end price bracket, manages to do a really good job of standing up to the elements, like most Coleman tents, whilst providing a tall and roomy space for campers. At 15m2 it is the best big tent in this review that provides the largest amount of floor space of any of the tents, that can be divided into two spaces with a removable room divider.
The full length water resistant polyester rainfly has a zip on 6 sides that open up to create an almost gazebo-like feel to the tent. This also provides excellent ventilation and 360º views through the mesh windows of the inner section of the tent – not the only feature that makes this an appealing child and family friendly tent. There are also internal storage pockets and integrated cup holders to avoid unwanted spillages, and one of the two doors has a hinged design for super easy fly-in, fly-out use by the kids.
Set up is surprisingly straightforward for one person to tackle, with colour-coded steel poles for guidance.
Cons: there is no vestibule and it is almost twice as heavy as some of the other tents in this review.
Verdict: An excellent value family camping tent that will stand up to the odd storm, but is best suited to summer conditions on or off the campground.
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