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The Best Camping Tents of 2023

REI wonderland tent (Photo/Eric Phillips)
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We make finding the right camping tent easier for you by bringing you the best camping tents of 2023. Whether you are planning a weekend in Big Sur or returning to Burning Man, a tent is your home on the road.

Our team brings decades of camping experience in every sort of condition imaginable, from national park campgrounds to multiday festivals to long road trips . Our experience and exacting standards give us the expertise to make your shopping easier and have shown us that while many tents claim to do it all, many excel in certain circumstances over others.

Some tents are wildernests that thrive in a more backcountry-adjacent use, while others are downright front-country palatial. We gathered our most camp-savvy testers and sent them into the woods across the country in search of the perfect camping tent for every type of weekend.

For our evaluation, we focused on weather resistance, comfort, ease of setup, extra features, and value. Using these five guidelines, we’ve compiled a list of the best camping tents of this year. Check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions for helpful tips and have a look at our comparison chart to steer your decision-making.

Scroll through to see all of our recommendations or jump to the category you’re looking for:

The Best Camping Tents of 2023

Best Overall Camping Tent: REI Base Camp 6

REI Base Camp 6

The REI Base Camp 6 ($549) reigns supreme among the camping tents. It may not be the largest, the tallest, or the most affordable, but this moderately sized tent has everything it takes to make camping easy and enjoyable for years to come. With 84 square feet of floor space, there’s plenty of room for up to six campers to slumber under the stars.

The Base Camp 6 employs a durable polyester rainfly that provides full coverage and a sizable vestibule for gear storage, creating 27 square feet of extra covered space in the front and an additional 17 in the back. The front vestibule is large enough to accommodate a few camp chairs and makes a great place to hang out in the shade as well.

Useful features like pockets, a three-point ventilation system, and reflective trim that shines in the light of a headlamp make this tent the place you’ll want to hang out when the weather is fair or foul. Large doors at either end make for an easy exit when nature calls, without having to crawl over all of your tentmates.

Our team of camp-savvy testers had no trouble erecting the Base Camp 6 in light winds thanks to the intuitive color-coded poles and attachment points. For the uninitiated, very clear setup instructions are sewn into the tent’s storage bag.

This tent is freestanding, meaning it can stay up without stakes or guylines. While this is quick and convenient for when you roll up to your campsite in the middle of the night, going the extra mile and using all the included stakes and guylines is well worth the effort. Once fully staked out, the Base Camp 6 is impervious to rain and also stands up well against heavy winds.

The Base Camp 6 is just a hair over 6 feet at its apex, so taller folks won’t be able to stand straight up, and with a packed weight of 20 pounds, it’s limited to car camping. It’s also one of the more expensive models on our list, but if you’re fortunate enough to get out camping a few times a year, the Base Camp 6 is worth every penny.

  • Floor area: 84 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 20 lbs. 10 oz
  • Height: 74″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Huge vestibule
  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Easy to set up
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Check Price at REI

Best Budget Camping Tent: Kelty Discovery Element 6

Kelty Discovery Element 6

For the casual camper looking to spend some quality outdoor time with friends and family, the Kelty Discovery Element 6 ($190) is an inexpensive and easy-to-setup option. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and the Discovery Element is one of the easiest tents to set up in our selection.

This tent uses the tried and true two-pole design, with an additional pole to support a small awning. Our tester easily set this tent up (without instructions) in under 10 minutes.

When fully staked and with the rainfly guyed out, this tent does a commendable job keeping its inhabitants dry, especially considering the price. With a peak height of 6 feet 4 inches, most folks will be able to stand up fully in this tent.

While it only has one door, that door is huge, so access is very easy. Each side is lined with a few internal storage pockets, so staying organized and keeping the floor free of knick-knacks is easy.

The Kelty Discovery Element 6 uses fiberglass poles. While fiberglass poles keep the cost down, they are more fragile and more difficult to repair than aluminum poles. Aluminum poles bend under stress and can be bent back in place, and if they break, they break in one place.

Under too much stress, fiberglass poles tend to shatter. This rarely happens from the stress of heavy winds, but breaks can often occur when the poles are stepped on by hasty campers in the dark.

For the price, the Discovery Element accomplishes a tent’s primary functions: keeping campers dry and bug-free, and providing a little privacy in those crowded campgrounds.

  • Floor area: 89 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 15 lbs. 13 oz
  • Height: 77″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Easy to set up
  • Inexpensive
  • Protective rainfly
  • Fiberglass poles aren’t the most durable
  • Only one door

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Backcountry

Runner-Up Best Camping Tent: Mountain Safety Research Habitude 6

Mountain Safety Research Habitude 6

The MSR Habitude 6 ($660) was a strong contender for best overall camping tent, bringing a slate of smart frontcountry features to the table and a built tough construction that ensures it’ll be around long into your camping future.

Available in both a four- and six-person configuration, the Habitude series of tents borrows much from MSR’s long history in creating strong backcountry-style tents to produce one for the more mellow outings of the summer. Supreme livability is the name of the game for this tent, and we greatly appreciated the large vestibule space and 6-foot overhead clearance.

Setup is a breeze, utilizing a hubbed pole design and color-coded clips (no pole sleeves to fuss with) to erect the 83 square feet of sleeping space. While many camping-size tents might require an extra set of hands to wrangle it into existence, the Habitude was noticeably easy to erect by a single person.

The majority of the tent’s inner is a 68D polyester, with mesh placed smartly to provide airflow and privacy. Studded about are a number of storage pockets and extra hang loops to trick out your home away from home with camping niceties such as lanterns .

Now the Achilles heel: This wonderful tent only offers a single entry/egress point, which we found a hindrance on an otherwise excellent tent. We would have loved the ease of even a 1.5 door design — like on The North Face Wawona 4 . You might consider the integrated LED porch light lantern a worthy balm, as it is pretty enjoyable to use.

Weighing the Habitude against other tents in our review was a tough row to hoe— it was considerably lighter than our the REI Base Camp 6 but also $100 more expensive. It offers much more standing height than tents like the Poler 4-Person Tent or REI Half Dome SL 3 , but it lacks the second door both these tents have.

Overall, we agreed the Habitude found balance across a number of scales and would be an ideal tent for introducing little ones to camping, escaping for the weekend, or indulging in the “buy once, cry once” ethos.

  • Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 14 lbs.
  • Height: 77″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Smart pole geometry and tough fabrics means this tent is built to last
  • LED porch light integrated into the tent
  • Generous sleeping area
  • Single door means you may have to stumble over tent mates to enter/exit
  • Expensive

Check Price at REI Check Price at Amazon

Best Tent for Group Camping: REI Co-op Wonderland X

REI Co-op Wonderland X tent

The REI Co-op Wonderland X ($1,249) is a very large and unique tent that makes an incredibly spacious abode. Designed as a four-person car camping tent, the Wonderland X is so much more.

We tested this tent during the spring of 2022 and were blown away by the unique tunnel design with interior sleeping quarters. It performed perfectly in windy and rainy conditions, where the enormous awning provided space for lounging and cooking for four adult men.

While optimized for a group of four, the Wonderland X not only serves as a giant camping shelter but also as a big hangout space. By removing the interior sleeping quarters, the shelter becomes a 13 x 9-foot floorless shelter. It can easily cover a picnic table, the tailgate of a truck, or even a small car.

REI Wonderland X Interior Space
(Photo/Eric Phillips)

REI built the Wonderland X with extremely heavy materials, ensuring a very long life if properly maintained. And at 35 pounds, this tent is definitely not coming backpacking! But for those looking at an alternative to canvas wall tents or just a very robust, large car camping setup, this tent is the pinnacle!

Those looking for a similar design but at a lower price should also consider the Wonderland 4 and Wonderland 6 , which work on the same principles but use lighter, less expensive materials.

Read our full review of the Wonderland X .

  • Floor area: 70.5 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 35 lbs. 1 oz
  • Height: 75″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 4
  • Huge tent for four people
  • Doubles as a massive shelter for cooking, entertaining, or eating
  • Extremely durable
  • The sleeping area is very large and protective from the elements
  • Expensive
  • Too big for smaller campsites

Check Price at REI

Easiest Setup Camping Tent: Poler 4-Person Tent

Poler 4-Person Tent

After a roughly year-long hiatus, Poler is back with a new line-up of camping gear, and the 4-Person Tent (yes, that is the name) lands squarely in Poler’s wheelhouse — a fun and accessible outdoors kit you’ll chuck in the back of the rig for a weekend abroad.

At a claimed 30 seconds to put up — which we confirmed — the 4-Person Tent ($300) is the quick-draw champ of our review, erecting with the simple pull of two grab handles of either side of the tent. We actually had to double-check that we hadn’t missed a step during setup — it’s that easy.

Compared to other quick-setup tents like the Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent , we greatly appreciated that this tent had an independent rainfly, allowing us to use it as an easy beach shelter or star-gazing station. There’s even a see-through window integrated into the fly for sneak peeks into what the weather is doing.

Poler Tent ext.
Camp vibes galore; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Speaking of the rainfly, there unfortunately isn’t much space between it and the tent inner, meaning air flow was minimal, and condensation might become more of a problem than on tents with more room. As with any tent, leaving a door or two open can greatly alleviate this, but it’s something to consider.

We appreciated the Scouts-esque styling of the 4-Person Tent, which provides an adequate 47 square feet of floor space — easily enough for a small family, though the 50-inch height will mean you’ll have to kneel down to make your way around inside.

The 4-Person Tent has become our no-fuss tent of choice for locales such as beach camping or festivals, erecting in a snap and becoming the chill spot to be.

  • Floor area: 47 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 14 lbs.
  • Height: 50″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Set up is a cinch
  • Removable fly unique when it comes to quick-deploy style tents
  • Window allows for easy star peaking
  • Fiberglass poles
  • Fly isn’t held off tent body very far
  • Packed size is a bit large

Check Price at Poler

Best Weather Resistance Camping Tent: Marmot Limestone 4P

Marmot Limestone 4P 

While testing in the Rocky Mountains, we experienced sudden high winds and heavy rains. Nearly every tent experienced some damage ranging from broken poles to leaks. The Marmot Limestone 4P ($389) was completely unfazed. It remained sturdy and dry through it all.

It’s not as tall or roomy as some car camping tents, but the sacrifice of space is worth it for excellent weather protection. You can fit four people or spread out and sleep comfortably with just two in 60 square feet of floor space.

The large double doors make coming and going easy. Pre-bent poles make for a quick setup. There is a vestibule on one side for holding extra gear, and interior gear pockets keep you organized. and there is plenty of mesh that allows for maximum airflow.

This tent is a great option if you don’t mind not being able to stand up inside. The peak height is 63 inches, so anyone taller than about 5 feet will have to crouch.

The Limestone 4P is built to withstand storms and is a great choice for anyone camping in unpredictable, inclement weather.

  • Floor area: 60 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 11 lbs. 11 oz
  • Height: 63″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Excellent weather protection
  • Lighter weight
  • Lower peak height

Check Price at Amazon

Best Crossover Tent for Camping and Backpacking: REI Half Dome SL 3

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+ Tent with Footprint

If your camping plans include a few days on the trail backpacking, the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3 ($379) is an excellent choice.

With a minimum trail weight of 5 pounds, 14 ounces, it’s possible to pack this in (although there are certainly lighter backpacking tents available). The double doors and vestibules provide space for gear and make it easy to come and go.

Color-coded poles simplify the setup. The internal pockets and loops keep all your gear organized. We also love that REI includes the footprint in the sale.

As a car camping tent, less than 50 feet of floor space is minimal. Also, the peak height is 44 inches. That’s barely above waist level for some of our testers.

All in all, this is an excellent crossover tent. It offers enough space to be comfortable when car camping and is light enough to take backpacking.

  • Floor area: 49 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz
  • Height: 46″
  • Footprint included: Yes
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Light
  • Packable
  • Easy to set up
  • Smaller
  • Low ceiling height

Check Price at REI

Best of the Rest

Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent

Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent

If you’re looking for a family tent that feels like a spacious screened-in porch, the Jade Canyon 4 ($365) is for you. The 7-foot-tall interior height means no more awkward stooping.

And with 64 square feet of floor space, there’s plenty of room to spread out. We found this provided a comfortable amount of space for two adults and two young children. Each wall is lined with pockets, which is great for keeping track of your headlamp and storing other essentials.

The best part about this tent is the airy feel and giant mesh windows. Not only does it keep things breathable, but it also means you can easily enjoy the view in any direction. We spent a week camping outside Moab and loved relaxing in the tent watching the sunrise.

That said, the benefits of this tent are also its downfall. The tall height and large windows can be problematic in stormy weather. High winds will challenge any tent, and that’s especially true of a tent that’s 7 feet tall.

The window zip closed, and the included rainfly protects from rainfall. However, in heavy storms, it is possible to experience slight leaking. We also would have preferred a second door.

For mild summer conditions, though, this is a winner for family camping. It offers plenty of standing room and is a decent value to boot. We were also pleased with how easily it packed back into the storage bag.

  • Floor area: 64 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 8 lbs. 9 oz
  • Height: 84″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Roomy
  • Airy and open
  • Tall height
  • Only one door
  • Not great in heavy wind

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at CampSaver

Coleman Sundome Tent 4P

Coleman Sundome Tent

This tent is a classic bargain. You can score a four-person tent for $100 or grab a two-person model for just $70 .

That said, there is a difference between an inexpensive tent like this and the higher-end models. The construction is sturdy, although it’s lacking in some finishing details and long-term durability.

The Sundome has fiberglass poles instead of aluminum. They will work for a lot of car camping situations but are less durable and weaker than aluminum.

It would be a tight fit for four people with 63 square feet inside. We found it had plenty of room for two. It’s worth noting that there isn’t a vestibule for extra gear storage.

The rainfly covers the top and generally works well, but in extra-wet conditions, it leaked at the corners. Finally, we had a few issues with the zipper snagging. For a budget tent, it will get the job done.

  • Floor area: 63 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 9 lbs. 7 oz
  • Height: 59″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Budget-friendly
  • Fiberglass poles
  • Low ceiling height
  • Corners leak

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Walmart

Big Agnes Big House 6

Big Agnes Big House 6

This super-roomy tent ($480) will keep the whole group comfy all weekend long. You can easily stand up inside. There’s plenty of room to spread out with 83 square feet of interior space.

The welcome mat gives muddy shoes a place to stay, and the eight interior pockets keep gear organized and easily accessible. For more storage, there’s even a gear loft sold separately.

One of our favorite features is the ability to set it up as a sun shelter. Simply set up just the poles and rainfly without the tent insert. It was easy to pack up, and the backpack stuff sack design makes carrying the tent much easier.

Unfortunately, as with most large family camping tents, it doesn’t do great in extremely windy weather due to its non-aerodynamic shape. Also, it’s possible to set this tent up alone, but it’s easier with two people.

This tent is a great option for family get-togethers to sleep in or to quickly create a bit of shade with just the fly.

  • Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 16 lbs. 7 oz
  • Height: 81″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Roomy
  • Two doors
  • Shade canopy feature
  • Not built to withstand extreme weather

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Backcountry

Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent, 2-Person

Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent

If you’re a beginner or just perpetually struggle with tent setup, look no further than the Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent ($229) from the French brand Decathlon.

Once you unfold the tent and place it on the ground, its setup — apart from staking out the tent — really can be accomplished in 2 seconds. Just pull the two bright-red ropes (complete with handles) and the tent’s structure locks into place. Stake it out, and you’re done.

Takedown is just as straightforward — but in reverse. Remove the stakes, press the two buttons to release the pull ropes, and the tent collapses just as quickly as it sprang to life.

The simple setup and takedown instructions are sewn into the stuff sack so you can’t lose them. If you need a video demonstration, check out the “How to Install” and “How to Fold” videos on Decathlon’s website .

The lining of this waterproof two-person tent is black, so it keeps out most light for undisturbed slumber, which is nice if you’re a light sleeper.

The floor space in the Quechua 2 Second Easy measures 81 by 57 inches — plenty of room for our tester and her 6-foot-tall partner. However, the low ceiling height is a drawback. The vestibules are small and due to the tent design, you cannot remove the rainfly. This is unfortunate should you want to stargaze or drop some weight.

This tent is perfect for the efficient at heart. Why waste time setting up a tent? Let the engineers at Quechua do the work for you and let it pop open, almost on its own.

  • Floor area: 32 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 10 lbs. 6.4 oz
  • Height: 43.3″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Setup and takedown are a piece of cake
  • Keeps out most light for undisturbed sleep
  • Low ceiling height
  • Small vestibules
  • The rainfly can’t be removed, so no stargazing mode

Check Price at Decathlon

The North Face Wawona 4

The North Face Wawona 4

Newly updated, The North Face Wawona 4 ($400) got a second skin, going from a single- to double-wall design, and its poles have been re-engineered for easier set up — both worthy upgrades.

It’s the small things that make the Wawona (which, if you’re wondering, was the name of a famous giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park) tick. A unique hooped pole design kicks out the large vestibule to a comfy 28 square feet of space and provides plenty of dry room to shuffle gear about.

The North Face Wawona 4P
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

Then there’s the interior features: A smaller rear door doubles as an organizational center, while an interior height of 78 inches allows for easy walking about inside the tent. We greatly appreciated the breathability built into the Wawona on a night camping in Washington’s San Juan Islands — where moisture from the sea can be heavy and keeping air moving is a priority.

We struggled with the rainfly the first go around, as it has an unusual shape that goes to the ground at the vestibule then up to window height along the body of the tent. Once we figured out which way was up, snapping it into place was an (adjustable) breeze.

The North Face Wawona 4P
(Photo/Nick Belcaster)

There also is the issue of the fly not covering the rear door — although it does sport a waterproof zipper. Our testing hasn’t shown this to be a weak point necessarily, but we have our doubts the tent would keep a heavy rain entirely at bay.

For fair weather conditions, the Wawona 4 offers a boatload of space for families that bring plenty along on their camping trips. Just consider what the weatherperson has in store for you.

  • Floor area: 58 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 13 lbs.
  • Height: 78″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 2
  • Unique second door design
  • Plenty of interior storage pocket options
  • Rainfly isn’t the most intuitive to put on
  • Rear door isn’t covered by rainfly

Check Price at REI Check Price at Amazon

Kelty Late Start 2

Kelty Late Start 2 

If price is your primary concern when buying a tent, but you still want good quality, the Kelty Late Start 2 ($160) is the best place to look. It will work for modest backpacking excursions with a minimum weight of 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

It sets up super quickly with a simple two-pole design. Once up, the bathtub floor offers a slight overlap with the rainfly to prevent splashback during a storm.

Annoyingly, the vestibules are barely big enough for a single backpack. They will suffice for hikers on a budget. Two small pockets inside offer a little extra space to stash a couple of important items.

There are better tents out there, but you’ll pay more for them. For $160, this one is a steal that can span the two worlds of car camping and backpacking.

  • Floor area: 29.5 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 8 oz
  • Height: 40″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Good value
  • Easy setup
  • Quality construction
  • Heavier
  • Not built for extreme weather conditions

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Backcountry

Caddis 6 Rapid Tent

Caddis Rapid 6 Tent

The Caddis 6 Rapid Tent ($350) makes fast work of setting up camp. The telescoping poles quickly and easily extend for setup. There’s no weaving poles through loops or walking in circles to secure things.

The integrated gear loft and side storage pocket keep gear organized, and the mesh windows provide adequate ventilation. With a floor area of 100 square feet, there’s plenty of interior space for people, pets, and gear.

Aside from the bulky weight, the main downside is the subpar rainfly. It sits close to the tent but stops several inches short of the ground.

While there’s an overhang at the top, it leaves the door completely unprotected. This is a recipe for leaking during heavy rain. It is also very heavy and bulky to carry.

This is a great purchase for anyone tired of dealing with setting up a camping tent.

  • Floor area: 100 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 25 lbs. 8 oz
  • Height: 80″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Quick setup
  • Roomy
  • Very heavy
  • Bulky

Check Price at REI

Coleman Carlsbad 4


The Coleman Carlsbad 4 ($229) has the benefit of being dark inside, even during daylight hours. This also means it will stay a bit cooler once the sun rises.

The entry vestibule is well thought out to avoid tracking in mud or water. The floor is made from very heavy material to protect from tearing for those wearing shoes in the darkened abode. It also has some decent venting to stay cool and dry.

Flimsy fiberglass poles and tricky setup should exclude this tent from the most serious campers’ to-buy list. If you’re looking for a low-budget tent that keeps it dark all day long, the Carlsbad 4 is worth considering.

  • Floor area: 63 sq. ft.
  • Weight: 16 lbs. 1 oz
  • Height: 59″
  • Footprint included: No
  • Number of doors: 1
  • Vestibule is great for dogs
  • Sleep in late with blackout lining
  • Longer setup
  • Flimsy poles
  • Heavy

Check Price at Amazon Check Price at Walmart

Camping Tents Comparison Chart

Camping Tent Price Weight Height Floor Area Number of doors
REI Base Camp 6 $549 20 lbs. 10 oz 74″ 84 sq. ft. 2
MSR Habitude 6 $660 14 lbs. 77″ 83 sq. ft. 1
Kelty Discovery Element 6 $190 15 lbs. 13 oz 77″ 89 sq. ft. 1
REI Co-op Wonderland X $1249 35 lbs. 1 oz 75″ 70.5 sq. ft. 4
Poler 4-Person Tent $300 14 lbs. 50″ 47 sq. ft. 2
Marmot Limestone 4P $389 11 lbs. 11 oz 61″ 60 sq. ft. 2
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3 $379 6 lbs. 6 oz 46″ 49 sq. ft. 2
Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 $365 8 lbs. 9 oz 84″ 64 sq. ft. 1
Coleman Sundome Tent 4P $100 9 lbs. 7 oz 59″ 63 sq. ft. 1
Big Agnes Big House 6 $480 16 lbs. 7 oz 81″ 83 sq. ft. 2
Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent $229 10 lbs. 6.4 oz 43.3″ 32 sq. ft. 2
The North Face Wawona 4 $400 13 lbs. 78″ 58 sq. ft. 2
Kelty Late Start 2 $160 4 lbs. 8 oz 40″ 29.5 sq. ft. 1
Caddis 6 Rapid Tent $350 25 lbs. 8 oz 80″ 100 sq. ft. 1
Coleman Carlsbad 4 $229 16 lbs. 1 oz 59″ 63 sq. ft. 1
There’s nothing quite like returning to a big shady awning after a big ride or hike; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Why You Should Trust Us

Gear Editor Mallory Paige has spent hundreds of nights sleeping under the stars , and she knows the importance of a good camping tent.

Contributor Ryan Baker started backpacking and car camping as a child. He also has lived in tents ranging from lightweight tarps for extended thru-hikes to heavy-duty basecamps to withstand extreme conditions. He is intimately experienced in the joys and pitfalls of only having a thin piece of synthetic fabric between the elements and a dry night’s sleep.

Both of these outdoor addicts know not only do you need something sturdy and reliable, but it also needs to be set up easily and pack up well. We went to the internet for a deep dive into the research. After hours of research, we narrowed it down to the top tents for a head-to-head test. This involved lots of camping and various testers.

We camped through a quintessential Colorado spring weekend, complete with sun, snow, sleet, and gale-force winds. We enjoyed hot summer nights, a few surprise thunderstorms, and plenty of regular ol’ campground outings from Moab, Utah, to the hills of North Georgia.

Then, we put the tents to the ultimate head-to-head test. Each was erected in the same valley and left for a week. Through rain, sun, and some epic wind, we were able to see which tents could withstand the elements best. From our experience and side-by-side testing, we crowned our winners.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Camping Tent

To help you decide what tent is best for you, we considered five categories: weather resistance, comfort, ease of setup, extra features, and value. Each of these bears more importance to certain campers than others. Consider when, where, and who you plan to use your tent with.

We have another guide for the best backpacking tents that focuses on lighter and less bulky tents for your backcountry adventures. Here, we focus more on car and family camping tents for the kinds of adventures where the car is within reach and the weight of a tent is less important.

Weather Resistance

This is one of the biggest reasons to invest more in a tent. Basic tents handle pleasant weather like a champ and can even manage light rain and wind.

If you plan to camp during storms, it’s worth it to save up and buy a sturdier tent. Premium tents have stronger poles, full rain covers, and sealed seams. It’s things like this that seem less important — until you find yourself riding out an epic storm from the confines of your tent.

The REI Base Camp 6 has an excellent rainfly that provides great weather protection and creates a large vestibule in the front; (photo/Eric Phillips)

While testing, we experienced a major thunderstorm complete with high winds and heavy rain. Each of the tents had been properly staked out, but many of them experienced damage. The Marmot Limestone 4P performed incredibly well, with no leaking or broken poles. The REI Base Camp 6 is also well equipped for inclement weather thanks to its rainfly and many tiedown points.

Construction Materials

The weather resistance of a tent depends largely on the materials from which it is constructed. Nylon and polyester are very common materials used in car camping tents.

Nylon is stronger, more resistant to abrasion, and can stretch considerably. Unfortunately, it absorbs water that causes your tent to sag in storms or high humidity.

Polyester has less stretch than nylon and so it is more likely to tear. This rigidity is a benefit in wet conditions because it will sag less and absorb less water, but also makes it more fragile than nylon.

The Kelty Discovery Element comes at a great price but sacrifices durability by using inexpensive fiberglass poles; (photo/Eric Phillips)


Manufacturers will usually coat these fabrics in one or a combination of silicone (Sil), polyester urethane (PU), and polyether urethane (PE). Each of these coatings has benefits and drawbacks.

Most brands use PU because it has been the industry standard for decades. It does absorb water after prolonged exposure and causes fabrics to tear more easily. It also degrades over time (usually about a decade or longer in a chemical process called hydrolysis) and can promote mold growth if put away wet.

PE repels water very well and doesn’t fall victim to hydrolysis. It does reduce tear strength and it is less common than PU.

Silicone is the most water-resistant of these three but does not bond well to other materials — not even itself — and it is expensive. Unlike PU and PE, silicone adds tear strength to the base fabric. Sometimes these materials are used in combination (on opposite sides of a rainfly, for example, labeled Sil:PU).

For waterproofing, all of these coatings are all measured in hydrostatic head (HH). This is a measurement of water that can be placed over the fabric before it starts to saturate and allow moisture intrusion.

Imagine a tube of water placed over the fabric that is so many millimeters long. The gravitational pressure of the water exerts force over time to saturate the fibers.

Over 1,000 to 1,500 mm of HH is considered waterproof by industry standards. The benefit of PU is that multiple coats can be applied to achieve an HH rating of 10,000 mm or more.

Fabrics Are Also Measured in Grams Over a Square Meter

This measurement can be helpful, but remember that some fabrics are inherently stronger than others whether through stretch capability (nylon) or coatings applied. More weight of a given fabric does not always translate to strength. Denier is the measurement of the diameter of the specific fibers.

Again, this can add strength, but different fibers have different innate strengths at the same denier rating. Generally, car camping tents are built pretty burly without much of a worry for weight or packed size, as these will not be hiked very far. These measurements and ratings are a good place to start when selecting a tent but are not the final word on strength.


The comfort of a tent depends on personal taste and priorities. To evaluate comfort, we looked at ventilation, door and windows, floor space, and peak height. While a waterproof tent is a must, remaining breathable is a major concern.

A comfortable tent will have plenty of room to move about and multiple entry points; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Not only does a poorly ventilated tent get too hot and stuffy, but interior condensation can also become a problem. This is another area where investing more in a tent pays off.

Higher-end tents have more mesh and an outer rainfly that is completely separate. The REI Wonderland X has an exoskeleton of poles and unique hanging interior mesh walls. The Kelty Discovery Element 6 features a fully separate rainfly and plenty of mesh at an affordable price. Budget models, such as the Coleman Sundome , lack the extensive use of no-see-um mesh but are more affordable for occasional campers.

Most larger tents have two doors. We were disappointed to see the Eureka! Jade Canyon 4 Tent and the Kelty Discovery Element have just one exit. Two doors make it much easier for multiple people to share the space without having to crawl over sleeping bags.

In general, it keeps the interior space cleaner and is convenient for midnight bathroom breaks. The Quechua 2 has two large zip-down doors that make entry and exit convenient.

Pay attention to the direction of the door flaps. Most doors zip to the side like a regular door, but the Wawona 4 from The North Face rolls away to the top. Preference reigns here, but it is an attribute worth consideration.

A huge tent with room to stand and sprawl can equal the ultimate comfort, but you’ll also need a big campsite; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Floor space in a tent equals comfort. Tents have a stated number of people they can sleep, but how roomy or cramped they will be at capacity varies by body size, bed size, and the amount of gear you need to store inside.

Pay attention to floor dimensions and you can get a better idea of how many sleeping pads will fit. The average size person can sleep fairly comfortably with 24 by 76 inches of room, but the more space the merrier.

Car campers will find maximum comfort by subtracting a person or two from the stated capacity. It is a joy to be able to stand up and stretch out in the taller and larger family tents like the Big Agnes Big House 6 or Eureka! Jade 4 , but they can be a challenge to set up.

Taller tents give more headspace, but they can be more challenging to set up solo if the height of the clips or joints is hard to reach.

Best tents

Ease of Use

Given their large size, it’s no surprise that some camping tents can be a challenge to set up. Over the years, we’ve wasted a lot of time fighting gear, and we’ve learned that it’s not worth dealing with poorly designed gear. It can quickly take the fun out of your time outdoors.

Whether you camp every weekend or once a year, ease of use is a major concern. Every tent on this list can be set up by one person (although some are easier than others). Our 5’5″ editor set up and took down each tent solo.

Color-coded poles and attachment points like the ones found on the REI Base Camp 6 can make setup much easier; (photo/Eric Phillips)

The Eureka! Jade didn’t give us much trouble during setup thanks to its pole design, while the Big Agnes Big House 6 was more difficult to set up alone.

The Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Tent and Poler 4-Person Tent are both set up in seconds, thanks to integrated poles that fold out already seated in the tent material. These tents unfold like a giant jack in the box and then pack away just as easily. While this is very convenient, storage and care are paramount, as there are many hinges and moving parts to accomplish this time-saving task.

Extra Features

One of the most important extra features of a camping tent is storage. Not all tents offer pockets and pouches for stashing gear, but they can make a big difference when deciding between two products.

Features like the storage pockets found on the Kelty Discovery Element go a long way to improving tent life; (photo/Eric Phillips)

There’s nothing more annoying than having to rifle through all of your belongings to find your headlamp. Luckily, most family camping tents come with a bevy of pockets to help things stay tidy.

The Eureka! Jade has walls lined with convenient storage pockets to keep the whole family organized and the tent free of clutter. Conversely, the backpacking crossover Half Dome has only a couple of corner pockets to save weight.

Other extra features we like had to do with stuff sacks and storage. The Eureka! Jade packed down considerably well.

Another example of a thoughtful extra is the Quechua 2 Second tent’s instructions sewn into the stuff sack. Extra features are just that, but they display a level of integrated convenience that can elevate one product over another for the benefit of the user.


The value of a tent investment often has to do with how often you camp. If you camp every weekend, spending $400 or more on a tent could be worth it. This is especially true if you plan to camp in the colder seasons and need a tent built to withstand the weather, such as the Marmot Limestone 4P .

On the other hand, if you’re just starting or plan to camp only a few nights each summer, a budget pick like the Kelty Discovery Element will help you sleep outside without breaking the bank. Look to the Coleman Sundome Tent 4P for an even more economical option if you are on a very tight budget.

The price difference is a reflection of the materials used in the tent. The Marmot Limestone has seam taping to prevent moisture intrusion as well as sturdy aluminum poles. On the other hand, the Coleman leaked and has fiberglass poles.

Sturdy materials in a more expensive tent will tend to prolong its life. The upfront cost can translate into added years or outings without breakage. That doesn’t mean economical tents can’t stand up to years of use. With proper care and maintenance, any tent can last for a long time, and all tents fall apart eventually.

Aluminum poles with polyether urethane or silicone tend to last the longest and therefore carry a higher price. If children or animals are planned tent guests in your new abode, or you don’t see yourself camping more than the occasional trip to a music festival, then saving money makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand, if you want to get away in the great outdoors often or know you want to shell out the cash for a stronger model, then the cost is usually worth it. Our testing showed that the higher-priced tents fared better in foul weather.

Other Considerations and Taking Care of Your Tent

We have talked about materials extensively. Coatings, base fabrics, and pole construction all contribute to the strength and longevity of your tent, but the single most important factor in the life of your tent is you.

First and foremost, never put your tent away wet. Remember when we mentioned hydrolysis earlier in regard to PU coatings? Water is a major culprit in speeding up that process. The fungus, molds, and mildews love to grow in your dark closet on your wet tent at room temperatures. These organisms destroy the fibers of your tent and make it smell terrible.

It’s a good idea to open all doors and vents in your tent so that it can dry out completely before going into storage; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Set your tent back up when you get home and let it air out. This simple chore will pay off later when you are still able to use your tent down the road. If you have no yard or nowhere dry to set it up, your living room makes a great space for this. Check all the seams, and especially the floor and fly, before packing it away.


Poles tend to break when they are not properly seated. When you are setting up your tent, never throw your poles. Some poles have an elastic cord in the center to keep them together. These are not meant to snap the pole into alignment, and tossing them around will crack and break fiberglass or aluminum.

While typically more expensive, tents with aluminum poles are the way to go due to their durability; (photo/Eric Phillips)

Ensure that each joint is seated before installing the poles into the tent. When putting them away, treat them with the same care in reverse. Even though they seem strong, they are not meant to be thrown or hit against themselves or the ground.


Zippers are best left zipped to protect the teeth from wear. Simply zip them up before you roll the tent up to put it away. You can stuff your tent into the sack or roll it up neatly.

Some outdoor enthusiasts argue that rolling and folding in the same areas can create crease lines that put stress on the same area if the folds are always done in the same place. (Think about when you fold a piece of paper back on itself in the same spot to tear it easier.)

We have never had an issue with this, and it would take very specific creasing to accomplish that sort of wear, so pick whatever works better for you.

Most tents come with a stuff sack large enough to fit all the pieces. Cinch that sack tight before you store it so no pieces wander off. Now your tent is put away properly for its next adventure. Keep it away from harmful UV rays and temperature extremes, and your tent will give you optimum performance.


When it comes to protecting your new tent, one important consideration is a footprint. This is a ground cloth to set the tent upon. It provides an extra layer to protect the tent floor from punctures.

Some brands sell a footprint with the tent, such as the REI Half Dome . Manufacturer paired footprints usually pack down small and perfectly fit the size of the tent. On the downside, they add an extra $50 or so to the cost of the tent.

Some people prefer to use a basic tarp instead, which can be picked up for less than $20. A tarp doesn’t pack up as easily and doesn’t match the size of the tent.

You’ll either need to tuck the extra under the tent or trim the tarp to fit. You don’t want any of the footprint material sticking out from under the tent, as this can lead to water pooling underneath.

Weight and Packed Size

These are more important when choosing a backpacking tent and less important when car camping . They are still something to consider. Some tents function as backpacking tents as well as car camping tents.


Most of the tents in our test come with a useful storage sack that contains the tent, fly, poles, and stakes, though some models are easier to pack away than others.

The REI Half Dome packs down small enough to carry into the backcountry but is by no means “lightweight.” Most of the tents on our list are too heavy to be practical for backcountry travel.

Camping Gear: What Else Do You Need?

Depending on the outing and your style, camping can range from minimalism to a bring-everything-including- the-kitchen-sink adventure. In addition to a tent, you’ll need a sleeping pad and sleeping bag . That has your sleeping arrangements mostly covered, although you could certainly opt for a camping pillow or camp cot .

Next, think about your camp kitchen setup. A good camp stove allows you to make everything from scrambled eggs to multicourse meals. If you’re just looking to boil water, a backpacking stove is all you need to quickly make coffee or cook up a dehydrated meal.

For camp lounging, you may want a camp chair or hammock . And don’t forget the camping lantern . If it sounds like a lot to remember, don’t worry. We’ve made this handy camping checklist that will help you pack the essentials.


What Are the Best Tents for Family Camping?

The best family camping tent depends on your outdoor goals. In general, most families appreciate having more room and the ability to stand comfortably.

The Eureka! Jade has earned high marks from our family camping testers. If you regularly camp in adverse weather (hello, spring in Colorado), it’s worth considering a slightly smaller and more durable tent.

What Is the Best Camping Tent Brand?

The best camping tent brand depends largely on your personal needs and budget.

For a premium tent that can withstand the weather, MSR consistently delivers. If you’re looking for maximum space and flexibility, the Eureka! Jade is a favorite with families. And for a budget-friendly option that is built to last, check out Kelty.

Are Expensive Tents Worth It?

If you plan to camp regularly, it is worth it to invest in a higher-quality tent. The extra expense means sturdier poles, waterproof seams, and generally an easier setup. If budget is a major concern, don’t let that stop you from getting outside.

We’ve consistently been impressed with the budget-friendly options from Kelty. The Kelty Discovery Element 6 costs just $190 and offers plenty of room.

Should You Put a Tarp Over Your Tent?

Quality tents are waterproof. But if you find yourself camping in an absolute downpour, hanging a tarp can provide extra protection and comfort.

It’s important to tie it up well so the wind isn’t a concern and to be sure that it isn’t touching the tent. In addition to creating an extra tent porch, a tarp is great for protecting your camp kitchen.

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