Camping is a favorite pastime for a number of people who spend their days and nights in their favorite mountain regions, flatlands or really anywhere with enough space to set up a tent. Most people think of small or lightweight tents that can easily be carried long distances before they are set up, but in fact, if you go car camping, you don’t need a lightweight tent.
You could actually opt for a larger, bulkier or heavier tent simply because you’re going to be a lot closer to your car when you get started on the setup process. That’s why the best car camping tent is not necessarily the same tent you would take with you otherwise.
What to Look for In A Car Camping Tent
Before you choose one tent that’s going to work for you and your family you need to know what you’re looking for. You want to make sure you’re not missing something in the process that you’ll realize later you really wish you had. It happens to a lot of people. So, to avoid any later regrets, here are the features your tent should have.
The first thing to think about is how many people are going to be with you. Remember that the number of people who can use a tent is not always going to be the number listed on the label. A tent rated for four people may only comfortably hold three of your family members.
It’s going to depend on the amount of space each person wants as well as things like height and additional items that you bring with you into the tent. If you need space for four people you may want to consider a six person tent, especially if your family is taller than average or if you have a lot of items you’re storing in the tent with you.
Of course, the cost is always going to be a factor and tents offer a large variety when it comes to cost. You could easily spend only a hundred or a couple hundred dollars if cost is important to you. On the other hand, you could easily spend over $1,000 if you’re looking for the best of the best and price is not an object.
You want to come up with your own price range and budget before you start looking. Just because you spend a lot more money on a tent doesn’t mean it’s going to be better than the one you spend less for. All it means is you’re going to have a more expensive tent and maybe a few extra features.
Not all tents are intended for camping in all types of weather. Some can be used in cold temperatures just as well as in hot and some can only work in certain climates. You want to make sure that the tent you’re choosing is going to work no matter where you plan on camping.
If you only plan on using it in one type of climate that’s fine, but if you’re looking for something more flexible you need to be careful while you’re shopping to watch for proper ratings.
Many tents will offer you more than one door because it makes getting in and out a whole lot easier. Not all of them will offer this feature, and you’ll want to look at how many doors you’re really getting.
It may not seem like a big deal to have only one door, but when it’s the middle of the night and you have to crawl over the entire family to get out so you can go to the bathroom … well that’s definitely not going to be a fun experience. Having at least two doors in these instances can be a great benefit.
There are two main peak types: cabin style and dome style. Each has its own benefits so you’ll need to think about your family needs before you decide on one.
The cabin style peak features a flat ‘roof’ so no matter where you stand in the tent it’s about the same height. That means if the center is 7’ tall then at the walls your ceiling is also 7’ tall. On the other hand, a dome style tent has a domed roof so you may have 7’ height in the center but only 3-4’ height at the walls.
That means you’re not going to have as easy of a time moving around inside but because of the dome shape you have fewer problems with the wind.
A rainfly is going to be important when it comes to anything but perfect weather. You don’t want to be sleeping at night and find yourself getting wet because water is seeping through your roof.
Most tents are made with an understanding that you will use a rain fly of some type so the company works on making the tent more breathable, assuming you’ll take care of covering the holes. Sometimes your tent may come with a rainfly and sometimes you have to buy your own. Make sure you know what your roof is going to look like inside the tent and also if you have a rainfly included or not.
These can be great for sitting together with your family and enjoying the outdoors when there’s a lot of bugs or the weather isn’t that great. Some have a floor so you can easily store your belongings in this space and use the remainder of the tent for sleeping space.
Others are simply a screened porch where you can sit without worrying about bugs. Sometimes they are an add on that you have to find separately, but many times you’ll be able to get one included with your tent, which means it’s designed to fit perfectly.
Car Camping Tent Reviews: Best Products to Consider
Hilleberg Saitaris 4 Person Tent
Weight: 14 lbs. 9 oz.
Features: 4-person, lightweight, includes vestibule
Best Use: Small amount of space for packing, lightweight needed
Description: If you’re looking for a tent that provides plenty of space for everyone and also provides you with a nice little vestibule for storing your belongings the Hilleberg Saitaris is definitely one you’ll want to check out.
With 10 mm poles to provide stability while also remaining lightweight, it has an easy to assemble design that’s also comfortable for everyone. The outer walls are Kerlon 1800 and can be extended all the way to the ground if you prefer. Plus you can use the inner and outer tents separately as you prefer.
Even better, this tent is designed for any type of terrain and any type of weather condition without you getting wet, cold, hot or snowed on. What could be better than that? It’s a little high on price, but you’re going to definitely get a lot for your money here.
Kelty Frontier 10 x 10 Tent
Weight: 43 lbs. 4 oz.
Dimensions: 120” x 120”
Features: 3 doors, 6 person, aluminum build, small packed size
Best Use: Small amount of space for packing, large amount of guests
Description: A freestanding tent is always going to be a great idea when you’re heading out with your family and this 6 person tent, the Kelty Frontier, is going to be just what you’re looking for.
It has an additional vestibule and three doors to make sure you have no problem getting in and out. Made with poly cotton, it’s designed to keep the weather out and to make sure there’s enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably and even to hang out if the weather isn’t quite what you’d like for camping.
You’ll pay a little more for this one, but it’s definitely going to give you the size you’re looking for and some other features as well. Plus, with a moderate packaged size, you’ll be able to easily store it with everything else you need.
Big Agnes Wyoming Trail Camp 4 Person Tent
Weight: 15 lbs.
Dimensions: 90” x 55”
Features: 2-in-1 shelter, large inside vestibule, 2 person
Best Use: Lightweight, moderate spacing available
Description: If you’re looking to get a good size tent that’s going to cost less than most of the other guys, then the Big Agnes Wyoming Trail Camp Tent is the one for you. It’s moderately priced and it’s got plenty of features that you’re looking for.
First, it’s easy to put up with the color coded pole ends and second it features an oversized vestibule to go along with it. What’s really great about this tent however is that it features two small tents made for one person each which can be set up at opposite ends of the vestibule to provide privacy while still keeping a join zone and an overhang.
Everyone will be happy with this tent and with how easy it is to put up each piece.
Marmot Limestone 6 Person Tent
Weight: 20 lbs.
Features: 6 person, available in 2 colors, easy install
Best Use: Smaller spaces, especially when square sections are needed
Description: The Marmot Limestone Tent is a very regularly shaped tent that’s designed with two large doors to make sure everyone can come and go as they please.
It’s built with a rugged style floormat and canopy to make sure even with above average wear and tear it will hold strong and it’s got a great vestibule for gathering if the weather gets bad.
Even better, it sets up in just a few minutes and you’ll be able to pull the tent out and get to sleep that first night without any problems. Moderate weight and a very moderate price tag mean that this is going to be a tent you will definitely love.
Feather-Lite Roof Top Tent
Weight: 93 lbs.
Dimensions: 4.3’ x 7.9’
Features: Mountable form, Easy to install
Best Use: Very little space or no ground space, uncertain of sleeping on ground
Description: If you’re looking for a unique tent then you’ve found it in the Feather-Lite Roof Top Tent by Front Runner. It’s actually designed so you can set it up on the ground and sleep easily with two people, but if you’re not sure about sleeping on the ground or if you just don’t feel safe you can set it up on top of your vehicle.
It’s made with strong fabric that resists everything from mold to water and still provides a breathable surface. What’s even better is you get a mattress included and a ladder so you don’t have to worry about how to get up and down from your tent.
It’s even complete with a rain fly to go over the top and it’s easy to put together, no matter where you want to use it. Priced a little high, you’re still going to love using it.
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Tent
Weight: 21 lbs. 1 oz.
Dimensions: 29’ Floor area, 9’ Vestibule area
Features: 2 doors, moderate price, 2 person
Best Use: Lightweight, small amount of space available
Description: Designed for those who need a good quality tent without a lot of added weight, the Big Agnes Copper Spur is perfect for backpackers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t love it for car camping as well.
It’s large enough in size that you can easily get two people inside and you get an easy to install tent and rain fly. You can even install the fly first and put up the tent underneath if the weather isn’t good during your setup. That means you’re not going to get soaked and you’re still going to get your tent ready for the night.
Made out of nylon with polyurethane coating and polyester mesh, you’ll get ventilation to stay cool but still plenty of protection from moisture and water.
Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6
Weight: 20.25 lbs.
Features: 1 or 2 bedrooms plus vestibule, 6 person
Best Use: Large amount of space, large amount of guests
Description: If you’re looking to get something large and comfortable for multiple people as well as having enough power to keep out all the bad weather you’re going to love the Big Agnes Flying Diamond.
What’s best about it is you get the option to make two smaller rooms and maintain a little privacy or create one large room for everyone together. The rooms are slightly different sizes but still plenty big enough for three people each and there’s a large vestibule besides.
Because the entire tent is put up with lightweight poles you’ll also have no problem getting it ready for your night or taking it back down when you’re ready to move on.
Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin Tent
Weight: 24.9 lbs.
Dimensions: 10’ x 9’
Features: Low price, 6 person
Best Use: Large size needed, low price
Description: Sometimes you just don’t have a lot of money to spend on a tent but you still need something large enough for a lot of people. Well this Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin tent is the one for you.
It’s made by a company well known for quality in the outdoor world and it’s large enough to hold six people at the same time but it’s priced extremely reasonable.
The WeatherTec system is patented and ensures that no water gets in through the floors or seems. There’s also illumiline guy lines to make it easy to see and it’s easy to put together because the poles are pre-assembled. You can easily put 2 queen air mattresses inside and everyone can sleep comfortably no matter where you are.
Related: If you’re looking for slightly different options either different sizes or slightly different features, Coleman also offers the Longs Peak and Steel Creek 6 Person tents in the same price range.
Eureka Copper Canyon 6 Tent
Weight: 25 lbs.
Dimensions: 10’ x 10’
Features: 6 person, low price
Best Use: Large space, many guests
Description: Need something with a low price and a lot of cabin space? The Eureka Copper Canyon is what you’ve been looking for. It’s easy to install as well as having a large door and windows so you get a lot of light on the inside. Plus the windows offer screened ventilation to keep you cooler without letting in bugs.
The roof is entirely made of mesh with a rain fly able to be installed over the top to make sure you don’t get any moisture in but you still get plenty of circulation. The freestanding frame is easy to install and, when finished, this tent will hold six people comfortably and with plenty of height for moving around too. What’s really great is the low price and the carefully sealed floor and seams.
Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Screened Tent
Weight: 38 lbs.
Dimensions: 10’ x 10’
Features: 6 person, 2 rooms & screened room
Best Use: Large size, lots of guests, low price
Description: The Coleman WeatherMaster is a huge tent that holds six people in the main cabin compartment and also provides a screened room for sitting and socializing.
Two rooms in the back section of the tent can easily hold everyone who wants to come with you and the rain fly covers the entire tent and screened section so you don’t have to worry about bad weather.
Made with polyester, you’re going to have no problem keeping the rain out and at this price you can absolutely afford it, especially when you know a brand like Coleman is behind it. What’s even better is that it’s easy to put together, has plenty of space even when standing and offers adjustable ventilation and color coded poles. There’s no reason not to enjoy this one.
No matter what type of tent you’re really looking for, you want to make sure you have one that’s going to be easy to put up, will hold everyone you want to take with you and provides the level of privacy you want. Keep looking around and you’ll find the best car camping tent for you and your family. Make sure you check out these ones and plenty more as well.
That’s all we have for now, but what about you? Do you have a favorite car camping tent? Or maybe a few tips on picking out the right one?