CAMPING & HIKING

Best Family Camping Tent: Top 9 of The Best Investments You Can Make

Family tent review
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Going camping with the family and you don’t know if Junior will like it? Well, don’t worry anymore! Today we’ll discuss the best family camping tent and all the features that it should have. This way camping will be fun and interesting for everyone!

Modern tents are light, bright, and ‘pop-up’ and down in a few minutes. Even more, significant improvements have been made to waterproofing. And perhaps the biggest innovation to tent design is the integrated groundsheet. No more rising damp and ground water inflows!

A close second behind the integrated groundsheet in terms of innovative design is the ease with which modern tents can be erected and packed away. The more experienced campers amongst us may recall earlier tent models, which provided somewhat of a conundrum to set up, as all possible combinations of poles were attempted before finding the right combination.

Best Family Tent Inside

Not only has the canvas (a blend of cotton and polyester) been replaced with nylon, but the heavy steel poles have been replaced with graphite and other lightweight compounds. The result is, for the most part, a tent which is light, bright, and highly mobile.

What to consider when shopping for your tent:

  1. The size of your ideal tent – this is a very important point to consider, and it is beyond me why manufactures provide the capacity of their tents by the number of people you can ‘squeeze’ into the tent. And no thought given to the fact that most campers will also have luggage.
    In short, if you are looking for tent which can accommodate four people, and plan to be set-up for a while, rather look for a tent which can accommodate six or eight persons. If you are looking to store your kit, equipment, and luggage in the car, then you may only need a two-person tent for two campers.
  2. Tent dimensions’ vs useable space – tents with near vertical sides have a high degree of useable space, conversely, those with sloping sides form acute angles inside.
  3. What weather conditions are you likely to expect – Light-weight and spacious tents do have a downside: they are generally not particularly effective against strong winds. So, if you’re expecting a bit of bad weather, consider tents with sloping side-wall designs, rather than near vertical side wall design. Dome shaped tents are less likely to buckle under wind pressure.

Let’s Take A Look at 9 Best-Selling Tents

Sundome 6 Person Tent

Sundome 6 Person Tent

We like: Lightweight and very easy to set up, good airflow, and good price.

We don’t like: Lacks privacy, not very effective against cold, is likely to get a little wet inside during moderate rain.

Cost:  $100.84

Description: The Sundome 6 person tent is a budget tent, and requires some care in erecting and taking down to avoid damaging the pole sleeves. The design does provide for good air-flow, something which many nylon tents don’t get completely right. The problem with this design however is the fact that it is not ideal for cold windy weather.

The fly-sheet is just a little small to adequately protect against rain, (something has got to give when designing for good airflow). The ‘bathtub’ type ground sheet is made from 1000D polyethylene, and will be effective against ground water. A small D ring is fixed to the centre of the ceiling and adequate for hanging a small lantern. There is also a power lead aperture.

Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent

Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent

We like: Large at 17 feet by 10 feet, easy enough for two people to erect. Good value for the space you are getting.

We don’t like: tapered sides, questionable quality.

Cost:  $131.05

Description: The Coleman 8-person Red Canyon looks good, and has two detachable interior dividing screens, which will provide 3 compartments. The ends taper significantly, which would make the two end compartments cramped, at best.

It would have been useful to enable one partition screen to be attached to the centre of the tent to create two compartments, both of which would have been sizeable with adequate standing area.

Big Agnes Wyoming Trail Camp 4 Person Tent

Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 Person Tent

We like: Highly versatile, cavernous dimensions, true family tent.

We don’t like: not much.

Cost:  $599.95

Description: Seldom do we come across a tent which is equal to the stated capacity, and the Big Agnes is a refreshing exception. Big Agnes Wyoming Trail Camp 4 Person Tentis a true 4-person tent, with two two-sleeper rooms flanking a large central area.

Perfect for two couples, or for a family of four. The central area is large enough to store almost everything you are likely to take along with you, and can be left open-sided or sealed up to create a cavernous area including the two rooms.

The tent is going to need about 85 square feet to rest upon, and ideally this needs to be level ground, so it’s likely best suited to established camping locations. Given its size and versatility you are likely to be using this tent as a home-away-from-home base camp.

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent

We like: Great value, real base camp tent, good versatility.

We don’t like: If we were stretched to find something, it would be that this tent is not likely able to withstand strong winds (it has to be said that this a typical downside of any lightweight tent).

Cost:  $169.99

Description: The Wenzel Klondike is a great family tent, and its generous size and functionality lends itself to setting up camp for a few days at a time. Having said this, it is quick and easy to set up and strike.

One must consider that the capacity of tent accounts for both the main tent area as well as the netted patio section. Nonetheless, for the price it makes for a good value tent for a family of four.  The dimensions of the tent are 16 x 6.5 x 11 feet (W x H x D); and weighs 27.3 pounds.

Wenzel Kodiak Tent – 9 Person

Wenzel Kodiak Tent - 9 Person

We like: Awesome size at 14 feet x 14 feet, near vertical sides makes for most efficient space utilization, a true two-roomed tent.

We don’t like: Large upright sides will make this tent prone to billowing in reasonably strong winds.

Cost:  $211.64

Description: The Wenzel Klondike 9-person tent is a cavernous base camp option. The apex deign side window rain fly is a clever idea to keep the tent ventilated during rain, although with a bit of wind the rain will soak into the tent. The option is always there to zip the side windows closed a bit, and still get some airflow.

Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent

Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent

We like: 3 large doors, each with netted and solid door panels.

We don’t like: Gently tapered sides have no protection from the elements, save for zipping up the doorways.

Cost:  $123.90

Description: Once again, expecting to fit 10 people into this tent would be a tight squeeze, and hardly practical. We would suggest that the Ozark Trail Tent would make a great four-person family tent, and perhaps leave the central area open for luggage etc.

Remember that in reasonable rain you are likely to get the central area wet as you open and close, so best to keep sleeping areas on the ends.

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

Coleman Pop-Up Tent

We like: 3 large doors, each with netted and solid door panels.

We don’t like: Gently tapered sides have no protection from the elements, save for zipping up the doorways.

Cost:  $49.64

Description: The question of erecting pop-up tents is almost a moot point, since they generally set themselves up. It is the packing away that normally presents somewhat of a challenge, and a fair amount of dexterity is required to get the tent fold in on itself, a reversal of what it did all by itself on the way up.

Now, if you are prepared to give yourself enough time to learn how ‘fold’ up the tent before you head out into the wilderness, you will save yourself a lot of hassle trying to transport a half collapsed tent after your camp.

That said, the Coleman Pop-Up Tent is adequate for one or two campers, and not much else. And if a quick getaway is what you’re looking for then this would be ideal. The dome shape makes for relatively good wind resistance, and don’t expect too much airflow through this model.

Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent

Browning Camping Big Horn Family Hunting Tent

We like: The neutral colours, great size at 10 feet x 15 feet, and standing 7,3 feet high, true two room tent.

We don’t like: Ground sheet is made from the same fabric as the tent, certainly going to tear with a stone or two beneath your feet.

Cost:  $249.99

Description: Very good reviews, and equally impressive warranty service for Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent and its manufacturer.

Some attention has been given to using heavy duty zippers, probably the one area most tents will be affected by in time. 150 square feet under cover and the cabin-style near vertical sides rising to a center height of 7 ft. 3 in. gives this family tent loads of space.

A number of netted storage pouches provides ample space for cameras, toiletries etc.

We are puzzled by the decision to utilize the lightweight nylon fabric as the integrated ground sheet, this is most certainly going to tear at the first instance you place the tent on any rough surface. Be sure, therefore to pack in a ground to rest this tent upon. There appear to be some complaints about the integrity of some of the lighter poles, and clearly, as with most cabin-styled tents, this one is going to sway a bit in a light wind.

Suisse Sport Mammoth Tent – 6 Person Olive/Khaki

Suisse Sport Mammoth Tent - 6 Person

We like: The neutral colors, great size at 10 feet x 15 feet, and standing 7,3 feet high, true two room tent.

We don’t like: Ground sheet is made from the same fabric as the tent, certainly going to tear with a stone or two beneath your feet.

Cost:  $132.02

Description: Measures 12 x 6 x 10 feet (W x H x D); and weighs 17 pounds. If you are planning to sleep on reasonably large stretchers, then space for 3 is what you should be counting on. At maximum two adults and two kids is about right as far as capacity is concerned.

As is to be expected with modern tents, Suisse Sport Mammoth Tent has an integrated polyester ‘bathtub’ ground sheet, and has two doors (effectively one for each sleeping area). The tent is reasonably water resistant.

Waterproof vs Water-resistant, and Sealing Seams

We think it is safe to say that there is not a mass-produced lightweight camping tent that is 100% waterproof, and this is an obvious result when different panels of extremely thin nylon or silnylon are stitched together. Not to mention where nylon is stitched to polyester (as is the case with most integrated ground sheets)!

This process is going to leave thousands of tiny needle holes along all seams, and yes some tents will include taped seams, and this still does not necessarily mean that you will have a perfectly waterproofed tent. It is also fair to say that repeated erecting of tents, or prolonged periods under tension will also eventually affect the seams.

Waterproof family tent

The sealing process, which we will go through briefly in a moment, must always be done in consultation with manufacturers guidelines, as there are number of sealants, some of which are suited to specific materials. The process is not particularly onerous, and could potentially save much frustration when you least need it.

If the tent is new, then no cleaning will be required, if not and it is soiled, it is best to clean the tent, again consult the manufacturers guidelines with respect to cleaning your specific tent, and in absence of any available guidelines, you could probably use any mild non detergent soap to achieve a good result.

Don’t worry too much if your tent has become stained, and you are not having any luck in getting it 100% clean.

The tent must be allowed to dry properly and must be erected when sealing seams. For the perfectionists amongst us, you may wish to apply some tape on either side of the seam, to limit the spread of the sealant. Apply the sealer along the inside seam, and then to the outside of the tent and repeat the process.

One needs to concentrate on the areas close to the ground, particularly where the ground sheet meets the tent. Avoid use the sealer directly on the zippers, this is just likely to impeded the smooth opening and closing of zippers.

Sealing seams on camping tent

It is a good idea to put the flysheet on upside down, and apply the sealer, allowing a little time to dry before attaching it, right side up, and repeating the process. Be sure to also focus on all anchor points.

That done, allow the sealant to dry completely, best in a shaded area for 12 to 24 hours. And then switch on the garden sprinkler or irrigation system, and get into the tent and check out any spots you may have missed. If you notice one or two spots where water appears to be dripping in, you will need to repeat the process at these spots. If not, let your tent dry completely and pack it away.

You would be wise to treat all tents as water resistant at best regardless of claims made by manufacturers.

It Has Never Been Easier to Head Out into The Outdoors

The sheer functionality of modern tents is almost enough to want to get you into the outdoors, and thankfully competition is certainly spurring along manufactures to improve all aspects of their tent designs, and moderate prices of course.

There are few things to consider when making your purchase and enjoying your experience. First, you have to remember that an 8 sleeper tent means just that, enough space to lie 8 people down (often in a bead to toe configuration). You will almost always need space for luggage, so typically one could halve the claimed capacity to make room for the extras. Sure there are the exceptions, and often the car trunk is used as the storage area.

Tent for family camping

Whilst most, if not all tents include integrated ground sheets, it is really worth while throwing in an extra ground tarp to protect the tent floor from sharp objects and it helps when setting up the tent in wet conditions. Lastly, do yourself a favour and throw in a few larger tent stakes or pegs; typically, the stakes provided are not substantial enough for hard ground use, and tend to bend under the force of your mallet.

Accept that tents are made of lightweight material and poles are mostly fibreglass or a graphite compound, and although these poles are surprisingly strong, there is only so much bending and buckling that they can withstand before breaking. With a little bit of care, and occasional use, your tent is most likely going to outlive you. This makes it one of the best investments you can make.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Mike Walker

    Can’t get my eyes from the Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent. This was my first large tent purchase. It’s easier to set up than you would think. The inside of the tent is very roomy and attractive, with some gold accents on the white areas of the tent. We’ve been “poured” on 3 weekends this summer, and the only drop of water in the tent was from the bottoms of our shoes. It is indeed as waterproof as people say. Overall, for the price, if you want a large, roomy tent, this is a the best deal.

  • Mark Foster

    Coleman has been around for quite some time and it’s a trusted brand. The Red Canyon Tent is a good choice if you want a roomy tent. If you’re camping with your family, you can also opt for Big Agnes Wyoming Trail Camp 4 Person Tent. You’ll have 2 sleeper rooms and it’s quite versatile. Recommended for a family of 3-4.

  • Jim Clark

    I have to say that the Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent is one of the best deals on the market in my opinion. This tent is quite roomy – queen mattress, chair and lots of gear one one side, twin mattress and pack-n-play and more gear on other side, with plenty of room to walk and play. Pretty easy to set up and taking it down was the same. There is a small space open at the bottom. It will be wonderful to camp on a warm, clear summer’s night with the rain cover off so we can see the stars. I’m just thrilled when I go outdoors with this thing.

  • Mark Foster

    Yes, bring the whole family along and you’ll all fit! This is quite a remarkable tent and in my opinion of the best family camping tent in the market. One more thing, it’s easy to pitch and everyone can just help along. The material that they used for this tent is also very durable and will last for a long time. Thanks for dropping by Jim!

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