Best Camping Tents of 2021

Adventure Media – November 27, 2020

There are literally thousands of camping tents on the market right now, all of them with unique designs, weight, and features meant to give you the best camping experience possible. With so much clutter in the tent industry, it’s hard for first-time tent-buyers to know where to even start. You are in the right place.

Before we start shopping for the best camping tents, let’s quickly run through some of the things that everyone must know and consider before making their first camping tent purchase. After reading this you should have a pretty good idea of which tents would be best suited for your camping needs.

Best Camping Tents

Brand Tents Capacity Category Price Weight
REI REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 4 Best Overall Camping Tent $299* 14 lbs. 2 oz. Learn More
Coleman Coleman Sundome 6 6 Best Budget Tent $156.99* 16 lbs. 10 oz. Learn More
Marmot Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking Tent 2 Best Tent For Backpacking $299* 4.8 lbs. Learn More
The North Face The North Face Wawona 6 6 Best Large Tent For Families $399* 20lb 15oz Learn More
Thule Thule Tepei Explorer Kukenam 3 Best Car Camping Tent $1699.95* 131 lbs. Learn More

Tent Sleeping Capacity

Tent brands are notorious for telling consumers that their tents can comfortably sleep more people than they actually can. For instance, a tent brand may say it sleeps 4-people. Well, when you get to the campsite and set everything up and cram all your sleeping bags and backpacks inside you’ll soon find out there is barely enough room for 3 people. If you aren’t backpacking and space isn’t a huge issue it is always best to go a little bigger on the size for the obvious comfort benefits.

Tent Height

Pretty self-explanatory. This refers to the peak height of the ceiling of the tent. You’ll soon see that tent companies offer camping tents that allow you to fully stand up inside. Other tents that are meant to be lighter will be much shorter and are only mainly good for laying down or sitting on the ground.

Tent Weight

The weight of a tent refers to how much it weighs when it is all packed up and ready for transportation. Tent weight is very important to people in the backpacking community who are looking for any type of weight advantage as they lug their heavy packs. A tent with less weight will likely mean that the material it is made of is thin and will not provide as much protection as one that is rated with a heavier weight.

A general rule for backpacking tents is that they should weigh about 2 and a half pounds per the number of people it holds. That means a highly efficient backpacking tent that sleeps two people should weigh around 5-pounds.

Keep in mind though, large camping tents, luxury camping tents, or camping tents for families where weight is not a factor sometimes tip the scales at upwards of 50-pounds when they are all enclosed and packed up.

Setup Complexity

This refers to how much time, effort, strength, and the number of people it will take to set up your new camping tent. Large camping tents can look appealing but if they have a complex setup process they may not be worth your time.

It is also best to consider how much time you’ll be spending inside the tent. If it is just for sleeping then a luxury camping tent might not be worth it. On the flip side, if you plan to set up a table and chairs inside a tent going large may be the best route.

Seasonal Rating

Most tents have a “3-Season” rating. To the manufacturer, that means they can be used for spring, summer, and fall. But most outdoor enthusiasts know they are probably only good for summer, and maybe only the warmer portions of spring and fall.

Camping tents that are meant to withstand harsher elements have a “3-4 Season” rating. These tents often have added weather protection like a fly, stronger materials, sturdier poles, and more robust securement systems. These can be used in winter but prepare for a very cold experience.

Tents can also have a “4 Season” rating which is meant to withstand harsh snow and rain. They are heavy, bulky, and a pain to set up and tear down. They are most likely overkill to even some of the most hardcore camping enthusiasts.

So, now that you know some of the things that make each camping tent unique, let’s now look into some of our top picks for the best camping tents.

Best Overall Camping Tent

REI Co-op Grand Hut 4

Price: $299
Sleeping Capacity: 6 People
Weight: 14 lbs. 2 oz. | Height: 75 in.
Seasonal Rating: 3 Season
Learn More

The reason this was our best camping tent overall is that it strikes a very nice balance between space and budget. This tall, roomy design is made from the high-quality materials that REI is known for using in its Kingdom model tents which are a lot more expensive than the Grand Hut. The door space is massive making entries and exits simple and easy. REI made setup and teardown a breeze which also adds to the overall flexibility of this great tent. Combine that with the super-competitive, mid-range price tag and you’ll see that the REI Grand Hut is a great option for an enthusiast but it won’t break the bank and will last for years for families that only use it once or twice a season.

Pros: The REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 offers affordable quality. It has strong aluminum poles and durable fabrics that are not only tough but do great in the rain. It also comes with a full rainfly for even more weather protection. The two large doors and two large vestibules for gear storage also scored points with us.

Cons: The maximum capacity is pretty cramped which means you may want to only have a total of 3 people sleeping inside at once. We also have concerns about the tent’s vulnerability in windy locations because of its tall profile but that can be a problem with many tents with the same dimensions.

Best Budget Camping Tent

Coleman Sundome 6

Price: $156.99
Sleeping Capacity: 6 People
Weight: 16 lbs. 10 oz. | Height: 72 in.
Seasonal Rating: 3 Season
Learn More

Coleman has been a staple in the camping industry since the 1950s, and with the affordable price points a big brand can offer, it only makes sense that Coleman tents are some of the best selling across the United States. The Coleman Sundome 6 is a no-frills option that is perfect for summer camping and the rock-bottom price tag pretty much can’t be beaten. It also has adequate door space making entries and exits very easy. As with any tent on the budget end, expect things like cheaper materials, less sturdy poles and clips, and less weather protection. Coleman designed the tent to appeal to the most common of campers, ones who only trek out once or twice a year at most and for that, it does the job well. Be prepared to buy a new one after a few years which shouldn’t be a huge issue given the low price.

Pros: The price is the biggest benefit of this tent but we also like the amount of space it offers for that ultra-competitive price point. It also has a small pack size and weight for the amount of space it provides. The tent is also easy to set up and provides optimum ventilation.

Cons: Weather protection is minimal and might be sketchy during rain or high winds. Also, be prepared to use the cheaper quality stakes and guidelines that the tent provides. There is also not a lot of dedicated storage inside which could make things feel more crowded inside.

Best Tent For Backpacking

Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking and Camping Tent

Price: $299
Sleeping Capacity: 2 People
Weight: 4.8 lbs. | Height: 43 in.
Seasonal Rating: 3 Season

We love this backpacking tent by Marmot because unlike other backpacking tents this model is much less expensive and still provides a ton of protection. The tent weight and compact pack design make it ideal for backpackers who are trying to shave as many ounces as they can off their packs. The tent also has some convenience features that scored extra points with us like the large dual doors, and dual overhead vestibules for storage. The low price of the tent also makes it a nice option for novice campers who don’t have a lot of space to store their camping gear when they are not using it.

Pros: Very light-weight but extremely versatile. This tent can keep you warm in cold rainy weather but is also nicely-ventilated when the weather is warm. We love the price for the performance. Marmot was able to pack a lot of higher-end options like convenient small storage areas and a super-strong floor material into a very affordable package.

Cons: Due to its small design, packing up the tent can be tedious and take extra time. The tent’s low profile and smaller capacity can feel cluttered and make it tough for moving around inside.

Best Large Tent For Families

The North Face Wawona 6

Price: $399
Sleeping Capacity: 6 People
Weight: 20 lbs. 15 oz. | Height: 77 in.
Seasonal Rating: 3 Season
Learn More

The North Face Wawona 6 is the ultimate camping tent option with the features needed to keep you and your family safe, clean, and comfortable. Our favorite part about it is the huge vestibule that spans outward which adds tons of very useful covered space. It also has loads of door space making it easy to walk in and out of. Despite the complexity of how it looks, setting up the Wawona 6 isn’t that hard and can be done by just one person. The weight of the tent material offers superior protection from the wind and other elements. Another reason we named this as the best tent for families is because of the quality you get for the relatively low price.

Pros: Functionality and livability are the features that struck a chord with us. We also love the comfort the tent provides because of its large design that has plenty of height and interior space. The large, unique covered vestibule will make your camping experience feel less cluttered.

Cons: The tent is on the more expensive end but doesn’t fully break the bank. Sleeping 6 people inside this tent would be very tight. The tent’s tall profile and open-faced vestibule can be susceptible to windy conditions.

Best Car Camping Tent

Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam

Price: $1699.95
Sleeping Capacity: 3 People
Weight: 131 lbs. | Height: 52 in.
Seasonal Rating: 3 Season
Learn More

Car camping is increasing in popularity as more and more options hit the market. Using the roof of your car as a tent foundation makes camping possible virtually anywhere you can park. Although the options for the best car camping tent were limited and expensive, Thule’s design, price, and overall clout as a leader in car carrying accessories made it our top pick.

Pros: This tent has plenty of space and comfort. The durable materials and design do great in rain and wind. We also love the added sky windows which can make for a unique ‘under the stars’ experience. Several color options are also available to fit your car’s color.

Cons: The price might seem high but it is actually very competitive compared to the other models on the market. There is also no awning over the entrance which would add protection when not using the rain cover.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are expensive tents worth it?

Tents are just like most pieces of outdoor gear. Paying more usually means you are getting a higher quality tent in some shape or form and it will likely provide you with a camping experience that is a little better or easier. Paying more for a tent will have its benefits but it really comes down to a few factors.

How serious are you about camping and how often do you go?

If you don’t camp all that often you probably don’t need to go all out on an expensive tent. Most companies that make camping tents these days have designed them to last for years, especially if you only plan to use it 1 to 3 times per year.

If you plan to camp for several weeks every year it would be worth it to buy a more expensive tent that is designed for tougher use and easier to set up and take down since you will be using it a lot more often.

How much tent space do you need and what will the weather be like?

The more expensive the tent, the more space and options it is likely to have like extra top protection for rain, extra doors, more openings for ventilation, and room dividers. Do you need these features in your tent?

Factors like the weather where you plan to camp and how many people will be sleeping inside the tent will highly impact how expensive of a tent you will need. Generally, the bigger the tent the more expensive it is going to be. The same goes for the weather, the more protection from the rain and wind that you need, the more expensive the tent is likely to cost.

How do you insulate a tent for winter camping?

Winter camping certainly has its challenges but with the right steps, your tent can be a warm and cozy escape after a trek through the winter wilderness. Here are some basics to help get you through those chilly nights.

Cover The Ground

Having only your tent floor between you and the ground is not enough to keep the cold earth from sucking the heat out of the tent. Covering the ground with a tarp or thick canvas is essential to staying warmer. The thicker the material, the more insulation it will provide. It will also help protect you from moisture.

But be very careful if you are camping in the rain and snow. If your tarp is much larger than your tent, water can gather on it and flow right into the floor of your tent which will defeat the whole purpose. Make sure the edges of the tarp are not sticking out from underneath the tent.

Insulate The Floor

Using a ground covering alone is not going to be enough to keep you totally warm inside your tent in the middle of winter. It is also best to bring something to line the floor inside the tent to make sure that the ground is still not pulling cold air out.

You can use pieces of carpet, any kind of padding, old comforters or blankets, even beach towels will make a difference in the amount of warmth that stays inside the tent.

You can also use a sleeping pad on top of that inside floor layer which provides yet another element of floor insulation that will add to your overall warmth. Air mattresses are also great providers of insulation since they physically lift you off of the colder surface.

Cover Your Tent

Another way to keep warm inside your tent during the winter months is to cover the outside of the tent with a tarp or a fly. Even if it is not raining, adding an extra layer to the outside of your tent does wonders when it comes to blocking the wind. A tarp or fly also does a fantastic job of stopping warm air from escaping out of the thinner tent material. The more surface area of your tent you are able to cover the warmer you will stay.

If you do not have a tarp or fly to cover the outside of your tent you can consider finding or building a windbreak to keep the gusts from seeping inside your tent.

What are the 10 essentials for camping?

When it comes to camping there are truly endless amounts of gear to choose from including some items that are far from necessities. So, what is essential? These are the top ten things that we at Adventure Media believe you should always have with you if you’re going camping.

  • Navigation or Maps: You have to have a way to know where you are going and how to get back. You should also make a plan based on what you should do if you get lost.
  • Lights: How are you going to see things at night? Keep in mind extra batteries or fuels.
  • Fire: Matches or lighter. Something that can help you start a fire for warmth, light, and cooking.
  • Shelter: Having a way to escape the elements could be a matter of life or death.
  • Water: Always best to pack more than you think you need.
  • Food: Pack a variety of items that don’t require cooking and always pack more than you expect to eat.
  • Sun & Bug Protection: Mosquito repellant, sunblock, sunglasses, and hat that covers ears.
  • First Aid Kid: The basics that can fix minor to moderate medical issues you may have in the wilderness.
  • Extra Clothes: Prepare for different scenarios in case of sudden weather changes.
  • Knife or Utility Tool: Perfect for quick repairs/tasks during your camping trip.
How Do You Stay Warm in a Tent?

There are several techniques you can utilize to stay warm in your tent. The first is to purchase a tent suited for cold weather. Check out our top tent choices of 2020 here. Another is to wear a series of layers to bed. These layers will not allow the cold to penetrate your body. A sleeping bag and camping blanket can provide additional layers. Another technique to prevent the colder temperatures from disturbing your night’s sleep is to utilize camping mats or heat packs.

What is the best brand of camping tents?

The truth of the matter is when it comes to camping tents there are several reputable brands that you should consider. One brand of camping tent may be specifically best for you but not best for someone else. A good way to figure out what is the best tent brand for you is to figure out your exact needs and price range. Here is a list of companies that millions of camping enthusiasts trust.

  • REI
  • Coleman
  • The North Face
  • Kelty
  • Marmot
  • Caddis
  • Hyperlite
  • Eureka