Most reviews of tents for outdoor camping usually focus on small, one- or two-person models. These definitely have a lot going for them as they’re lightweight, easy to carry, and don’t need a lot of space to set up.
So, if you’re heading out on your own for a camping trip a compact tent could be just what you need.
If there’s more than one of you, however, you’ll probably soon find it a bit cramped and realize that it’s not quite the best family tent you have hoped for.
Our Top Three Picks for the Best Family Tents:
**Note – There are several possibilities that may fit your needs listed in larger detail below. If you want to skip the read, the three choices listed above are top picks and are battle tested. All three are great choices.
- Family Tent Buyer’s Guide
- Top Choices for Families of 10
- Top Choices for Families of 8
- Top Picks for Families of 6
- Wrapping Up & Parting Thoughts
The Main Benefits of Small vs. Larger Camping Tents
Small tents are really designed for lightweight backpacking, and the designers assume that you’re carrying a rucksack and not much else.
That’s what they base the tent’s size on, but for campers with large families, it’s not always the best assumption. Beside your pack, the chances are that you have a lot of other gear with you too.
If you are hunting – you may have a hunting crossbow, fixed blade survival knife, game camera, laser rangefinder and everything else you need for a successful hunting trip.
It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that a four-man tent is going to hold just two campers and their gear.
If you are heading out on a fishing trip and are bringing along a fishing kayak and fly fishing gear, then plan accordingly to pick up a tent that has at least 2-3 more people than you will have on the trip.
If you are just heading into the woods and only have basic camping gear, floor space becomes a little less of an issue.
Even if you’re camping on your own, but planning to be away longer than a couple of days, it makes a lot of sense to take a larger tent. The extra space will soon be appreciated, especially if the weather’s not that great.
In a small backpacking tent you often don’t have much more space than what you need to sleep in. Keeping your gear clean and maintained can be a real struggle in a cramped tent.
On the other hand if you go for a larger one you’ll have plenty of room to relax and work on your gear, which will make your trip a whole lot more pleasant.
If you choose a six- or eight-person tent there can be other advantages. These are usually divided into multiple spaces, which is ideal if you take the kids camping – they can have their own room.
Alternatively, for hunters, you can have a sleeping area and another for storing all your gear. Whatever you decide, it’s always good to have more space and the flexibility it brings with it.
Ultra-lightweight gear is fine when you expect to have to carry it long distances – that’s what it’s for, after all. If you’re taking the kids the chances are you won’t be carrying it more than a few hundred yards from where your car’s parked, so you can afford to bring a bigger, more comfortable tent.
If you have the kids along, you’ll probably be more focused on finding a nice camping place and having some fun with some great family activities.
Family Tent Buyer’s Guide
There’s a handful of things to look for when you’re choosing any tent, and a couple of extra points with a larger one.
Here are the factors that should be looked at when you’re making your decision on what tent to buy:
Size: This is a pretty obvious one. You need a tent that’s big enough to hold everyone who’ll be staying in it, plus all their gear, plus whatever activities you plan on doing inside the tent.
Always plan for the worst case here, which usually means bad weather. It’s great to sit outside the tent when the sun is shining or it’s a nice night around the campfire – but not so appealing when a cold wind is driving the rain into your face.
Make sure that, if you have a wet spell, the tent is roomy enough for you and your loved ones to do more than squeeze yourself into it.
Weight: For backpacking, every ounce counts. If you want a tent for family camping weight is usually less of an issue. Heavier tents also tend to be more robust – they’ll stand up to wind better, and should last you more seasons.
If you just plan on camping out in your backyard or a half of a mile in the woods, then weight shouldn’t be a factor.
Layout: Most tents have an inner sleeping area known as an inner tent plus a vestibule area with a door, which can be used for storing gear. Many large tents opt for a front door and vestibule with a sleeping room on each side of it.
This design is ideal for families, as it gives about as much privacy as you can have in a tent, and it also increases your options. If there are two of you in a six-man tent you might be able to only set up one of the sleeping rooms, giving you a large space to store and maintain your equipment, hang up wet clothes or just relax at the end of the day.
Durability: A cheap tent designed for occasional family summer breaks might not stand up to a storm in the woods. Your tent is the only shelter you have in the wild, and it’s worth paying a bit more to get one that can stand up to the elements.
You’ll also save money in the long run because a high quality tent will last longer.
Just like any other piece of gear it’s important to decide what you need before you start shopping around, and what tent suits you best.
Think about what sort of trips you plan to make, what you’d like to do inside the tent and where you’ll be setting it up, and use those facts to pick the winner.
To help you out, here are our favorite family tents that work great for both hunting or camping trips.
Top Choices for Families of 10
Camping in larger groups is becoming more and more popular. If you are camping with a group of 10 people, an 8 person tent just won’t make the cut.
Most tents on our 10 person tent list will have at least two rooms, making privacy a little better, especially if two families plan to camp in the tent together.
Let’s face it though, if you have 10 people camping with you, space is going to be relatively limited.
The good news is that our top three choices on this list will all do the job. All three have adequate space and will allow you to camp in a large group setting.
These tents are also good for people who have a family of 7-8 and just want a little extra room. So, let’s dive in!
1. The Coleman “WeatherMaster” 10 Person Tent (with Hinged Door)
Coleman comes up big on our list, and they start it off with a monster tent that comes in at 17 x 9.
It can fit up to 10 adults and kids or three queen airbeds. With a 6 foot, 8 inch center – most grownups will be able to stand up inside the tent with relative ease.
The door hinges are great for people that are constantly coming and going in and out the tent. It comes equipped with a sturdy rain fly that provides adequate weather protection if you get caught in a rainstorm.
It also has a mesh roof that will allow a little sunlight to come in on sunny days.
Like similar Coleman models, this tent’s floor is constructed in a manner that’s designed to keep out moisture. If you truly need the moisture out, it’s still obviously recommended that you lay down a tarp first.
This is a great pick for people that need a lot of space and come at a pretty reasonable price point, so you can’t go wrong.
If you have a ton of people coming along or have larger pieces of gear like a tandem fishing kayak, then this is an excellent choice.
2. Mountain Trails “South Bend” Tent for 4
Mountain Trails does a great job with the South Bend 4. at 9 x 4.3 x 7, the tent measures close to the same size as the WeatherMaster.
The big benefit for the South Bend is the easy storage. It’s designed to roll up and be stuffed into a duffel for extra convenient.
It’s one of the lightest 4 person models you can currently buy. This is great because it won’t add unnecessary weight to your pack if you are planning on hiking long distances before you get to set up camp.
The tent itself has a full 60 square feet inside, and it’s just over 5 feet at standing height. If you have a family of 4, you should fit very comfortably in the South Bend 4. It will fit your extra camping or hunting gear with relative ease, too.
Even though the floor is reinforced, we’d recommend laying down tarp underneath just to keep any unwanted moisture out.
3. Ozark Trail 10 Person 3 Room Cabin Tent
This is a great three room tent. It has a center area that’s great for coming in/out of and two side rooms that are separated by dividers.
It can fit up to three queen mattresses and has improved ventilation to help make sure the air in the tent is doe snot get too stale.
Slightly heavier at almost 32 pounds, this tent would probably not be our first pick if weight was a primary concern for hiking.
Like other items on our list, this tent packs right up into a duffel bag with relative ease. The setup is pretty quick as well and the directions are straightforward.
The price is pretty reasonable and we’d recommend this tent if you are looking for a three room tent with extra space. While we like the Coleman as our top pick, this is a great alternative at a lower price point.
Top Choices for Families of 8
If you have a family of 8, finding the right tent is definitely not an easy task. You have to take into account exactly how much privacy you need and how much additional gear you will need to store with the whole family.
You need to also take into consideration the room count, space, as well as everything we just covered in our buyer’s guide above when trying to make the right choice.
As always, we’d recommend that you pick a tent that’s at least two person larger than how many people you plan on taking along to allow for adequate space.
There are a few top rated tents that have done really well with the general population, and we’ve helped hand pick our top choices for you below.
1. Coleman 8 Man Instant Tent
If you want something that’s easy to set up this Coleman is pretty hard to beat – you can do it on your own in ten minutes, and with two people it takes a fraction of that.
It’s also roomy, making it perfect for longer trips – but at 36 pounds you won’t want to carry it very far.
This is an externally framed tent that comes out the bag with all the pieces ready assembled. You just need to unfold and extend all the poles until they lock into position, so it’s basically impossible to get anything wrong.
Once it’s set up you just have to peg it down – use the guy lines! – and that’s it; everything’s secure. The Instant Tent doesn’t come with a rain fly but Coleman’s 10×14 model will fit it if you want some extra protection.
The heavy-duty, water resistant WeatherTec walls will stand up to most rain as long as you apply the proper waterproofing treatment (including for on the seams) beforehand. Don’t buy into the manufacturer’s claims that the tent is “waterproof”. Many users have found the opposite the hard way.
Inside the tent there are some configuration options. There’s a zippered divider you can use or not, giving the option of one or two rooms – and each will accommodate a queen size mattress with plenty space left around it.
There’s a door at each end and plenty of windows with mesh screens – one end can be converted into a sunroom.
2. Coleman “Red Canyon” 8 Person Tent with Three-Room Divider
Coleman’s Red Canyon is marketed as an 8-person tent, but as usual if you fill it to that capacity there won’t be a lot of extra space for your gear and extras.
It’s very comfortable for six people though, and also very easy to set up the way you want.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Red Canyon is that it’s roomy. It’s 17 by 10 feet, and there’s six feet of headroom in the center. Once the tent itself is set up a rain fly goes over the top.
This only covers the top half of the walls but the Red Canyon has a great reputation for keeping the rain out. One side of the fly is extended out to give some extra protection over the door.
Inside you’ll find one huge (for a tent) space, but Coleman also supply two zip-in dividers, so you can split it up into three.
Because they all have a sealed floor they can be used as sleeping rooms, which not all tents allow. For light and ventilation there are four mesh panels – one on the door and another one opposite to the door, and two others at each end.
The center mesh panels have zippered privacy flaps and the others are fully covered by the rain fly.
The Red Canyon is quite easy to put up – it’s even possible to do it solo, although the long poles can take some wrestling.
Poles are color-coded for simple assembly and shock corded together. Overall this is a capable, well-made tent.
3. Wenzel “Klondike” 8 Person Tent with Two-Room Divider
At first glance, the Klondike looks like it would be more a home on a campground than one in the woods – its walls are close to vertical and there’s a big, mesh-sided sunroom on the front.
Don’t be fooled though. The main compartment is a tough dome tent and the sunroom has zippered walls that convert it into a second enclosed space.
It’s ideal for an extended hunting trip or a family wilderness adventure.
The Wenzel’s design gives you a lot of options. The sun room can be left open to the air, with the mesh to protect you from critters, and makes a great place to relax.
It’s also ideal for storing packs and other gear, and like the main compartment it has a sealed bathtub floor to keep everything bone-dry.
A big circular door between the two sections can convert it into more or less a single space if required – if you do, it feels big enough to have a decent party in there.
One strong point of this tent is the headroom, which is excellent – close to six feet everywhere. It can also be buttoned up for good weatherproofing, but the main compartment also has mesh-screened windows.
It does need two people to set up – you’d really struggle on your own – but it’s a sturdy and spacious performer and also a great value.
4. Coleman “Montana” 8 Person Tent:
The Montana is a long, narrow tent at 16 x 7 feet, and inside there’s a large single room with a full floor.
The tent comes with an included rain fly, so all conventional so far – but it has some very clever touches.
Each end wall has a mesh window at the top, which can be zipped close for privacy – but they’re angled inwards, so they can be left open even when it’s raining without letting water in.
There’s also a D-shaped door with a lightweight hinged frame, which seals with both Velcro and a zipper – this saves a lot of zipping time if you’re in and out a lot.
Below the door, there is a small folding mat sewn to the tent’s waterproof base, giving you something clean to stand on if you’re putting on dirty boots.
The tent also has an interior pocket for small items and an access port for electronics. The Elite version even has integrated LED lighting.
Very steep walls mean the Montana catches the wind, so use the guy lines, but also gives excellent headroom. There’s loads of space inside and a small fly extension to keep rain off the door.
This is a solid and up to date tent, ideal for four or five people to camp in comfort.
5. Browning Camping “Big Horn” Family Tent with Two-Room Divider
Browning has a reputation for quality that starts with their legendary guns and carries on into their wide range of outdoor products. Quality exudes from the Big Horn tent.
Unusually, the manufacturer doesn’t make any claims about how many people it sleeps, but the floor area is similar to the 8-person models we’ve so far tested – so it should be ideal for four or five adults.
This is a cabin-style tent with steep sides, and the headroom is really remarkable; over seven feet at the center, and generous everywhere.
The Big Horn uses the popular three-pole dome design; the poles are fiberglass and the uprights steel for extra strength. A separate rain fly goes over the roof and buckles onto the poles – it’s worth fitting it even if it’s not raining, because it shields the tent from the sun.
The fly will protect the fabric and help keep you cool in hot weather. Inside there’s a zippered divider that can be used to split the tent into two good-sized rooms. Each room has its own door and three mesh windows.
This is a simple design but extremely well made out of solid materials. It’s a very waterproof tent. It also has some nice detail touches, including a hook in the center for hanging a lantern and three mesh gear pockets in each room.
The quality makes it more expensive than some, but Browning is known for their quality in just about everything they do and this tent is no different.
6. Coleman “Evanston” 8 Person Tent
Affordable quality isn’t the only good thing about Coleman tents; they also have enough variety that you’re almost guaranteed to find one that suits you.
The Evanston is a simple and spacious family camping tent that’s quick to set up but gives plenty of room for an extended trip.
This tent is a dome design, with an extra hoop to support the generous screened porch. There’s a separate rain fly too, with triangular side gaps to allow ventilation and a view out of the windows.
The interior is a single large room with close to six feet of headroom in the middle.
Its best feature is the porch, which is fully enclosed by mesh sides and large doors. You can’t close it in, while the sloped front means it can collect some rain.
However, the porch is a great place to sit and watch the world from. It also makes a spacious gear storage space. The wall between the porch and interior has a waterproof base, so any rain that does pool in the porch won’t make it to your sleeping bag.
Top Picks for Families of 6
Families of 6 are a little easier to plan for than a larger family of 8. These tents are great for people that are outfitting a family of four and can use a little extra space inside the tent for their camping gear.
If you are a family of 6, we’d definitely recommend looking at an 8 person tent just because the extra room can come in handy.
Eight person tents aren’t that much bigger or heavier than 6 person tents so they are ideal if you need the extra room.
Six person tents are great for people that have 3 – 6 people that are looking to cap their weight that they have to carry around.
If you fall into this bucket, we’d recommend that you look at any of the 6 person tents we have outlined for you below.
1. Coleman “Sundome” 6 Person Tent
Another Coleman and another style, the Sundome is a hexagonal dome tent that can fit six at a pinch, but is ideal for three or four.
It’s a simple design with a single large sleeping area and a rain fly that gives some extra protection to the door. The upper walls are mesh for ventilation.
One great thing about the Sundome is that it’s easy to set up, even on your own – it can be done in ten minutes.
Despite its simplicity it has some nice details. A lantern hook overhead comes in handy after sunset, and there are two mesh gear pockets on the walls. There’s a mat for the door, which helps keep dirty boots (and dirt) out of the interior.
Plus, a port lets you run a power cable in if you have access to electricity. This tent is ideal for family trips to a campsite.
While a second room for storing gear would have been nice, the plus side is that the Sundome weighs just 18 pounds and is a good option if you plan to carry it any distance.
2. Coleman “WeatherMaster” 6 Person Tent
This Weathermaster is a six-person dome tent but a very generously sized one – it’s as big as some of the eight-person ones we’ve looked at, and can comfortably accommodate up to five people.
It has two sections, a main sleeping room you can divide in two with a zippered curtain, and a mesh-screened sunroom.
The sunroom can’t be closed up, so it won’t double as more sleeping space. It also doesn’t have a floor. That is a good thing though, because you can store muddy gear in it without messing up the tent.
For a bow hunting trip, that’s the best use for it, but it makes for a nice bug-free place to sit in the evenings as well.
As the name suggests this one is a rugged tent. The fabric seems tough, and the walls have Coleman’s WeatherTec system to keep the rain out. Poles are heavy duty 11 mm fiberglasses.
There’s a rain fly with an extension to protect the door. The door itself is the same D-shaped hinged model as the Montana, complete with fold-out mat underneath.
The WeatherMaster isn’t cheap for a six-person tent, but the build quality and performance make it a great choice for a few nights in the woods.
3. Coleman Instant Tent 6 Person Tent
If you like the idea of the instant tent but the weight of an eight-person model puts you off this one might suit you.
With 90 square feet of interior space and close to six feet of headroom, this tent’s cabin-style interior is roomy enough for at least three adults and all their stuff. It’s also a good bit lighter at 24 pounds.
The current six-person model has a few updates to the design, including reflective guy ropes to help you avoid tripping at night. Like its bigger sibling, this instant tent uses Coleman’s WeatherTec system to keep the rain out, but it doesn’t come with a rain fly.
If you expect a major storm, you can improvise one with a tarp, but a Coleman one to fit this tent is due out soon. Details include a lantern hook and two mesh storage pockets inside.
This is even quicker to set up than the bigger version because there’s less weight to grapple with, and if you’re after a convenient tent it’s a great option for the money.
4. ALPHA CAMP 6 Person Tent:
This tent takes a different approach to quick setup. It’s not quite as fast as the Coleman Instant, but you can still get it ready to use in just a few minutes and there’s a lot less weight to haul around.
The ALPHA CAMP will provide shelter for three people and all their gear or for four if you don’t have too much stuff with you, and tips the scale at 14 pounds.
ALPHA CAMP have gone for a four-pole design, with two long ones forming the central dome and another at each end. The telescopic main poles are pre-attached and just need to be extended to sort out the dome.
Then attach the end poles to complete the frame, put on the rain fly and stake out the guy ropes. It’s quick and simple, and the end result is a sturdy and fairly roomy tent.
It doesn’t have as much headroom as the others, though, so you won’t be walking around inside – it’s about 4.5 feet high at the center. Inside it’s comfortable and well ventilated, with generous mesh panels shielded from rain by the fly.
If you’re planning on backpacking with a couple of friends this isn’t beyond the limits of what you can carry, and it’s also a good size for hunting in dense woods where a higher tent would be awkward and conspicuous.
Wrapping Up & Parting Thoughts
When it comes to choosing the best family tent for your next outdoor excursion, we always recommend buying one that will sleep two people more than you actually have.
This will ensure that you have enough room for extra camping gear like two way radios or camping equipment and enough space that you don’t trip all over each other as you come and go.
While most of the tents on our list can help make an outdoor excursion enjoyable, ultimately you need to decide what specifications you are looking for before making a choice.
Camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities are all going to have different levels of gear requirements, so it’s up to you to plan accordingly.
Hey, look at that! You found me! Lucky for you, because when I’m not writing articles all about the wilderness life, I’m out in the bush. Camping, fishing, canoeing, and sometimes even getting lost. You know the drill.