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The best family tents: the finest shelters for your tribe this coming season

best family tent: Outwell Airville 6SA lifestyle shot
An air tent like the Outwell Airville 6SA is sturdy and astonishingly easy to pitch (Image credit: Outwell)

The best family tents are spacious homes from home, veritable castles of canvas for you, your partner and the kids. With the camping season fast approaching and all of the glory of the great outdoors at your fingertips, there’s never been a better time to invest in a tent that will see you and the fam through countless vacations. 

Just like families, the best family tents come in all shapes and sizes. Traditionalists are well served by a range of excellent dome and geodesic tents with sturdy fiberglass poles. Then, there are palatial tunnel tents that pitch in less than twenty minutes thanks to their inflatable air beams, negating the need for poles and leading to super simple construction. For those after even more luxury, there are bell tents that bring a real glamping vibe to your camping trip. 

best family tent: family outside tent

Quality time spent outdoors with the family is priceless (Image credit: Getty)

The best camping tent for you and your tribe will depend on how many of you there are, what your budget is and what you value in a tent. Some manufacturers champion sustainability, crafting shelters made from recycled materials, something to look out for. Once you’ve made your choice, you can rest assured that all of our selections below offer excellent protection from the elements, a range of well-thought out features and the durability to last for years and years of use. They’re simply the best family tents available today and will enable you and yours to make memories to treasure forever.

For guidance on the features you can expect from the best large tents, as well as a little assistance with all the associated jargon, see our ‘what to look for’ guide at the bottom of this feature. Otherwise, without further ado, here’s our roundup of the best family tent options. 

How we test the best family tents

At Advnture we endeavor to test every product we feature extensively in the field. That means one of our team of reviewers and writers – all experienced outdoor specialists active across the US, UK, Europe and Australasia – taking it out into the terrain and climatic conditions that it’s designed for. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, we’ll say so in our buying guides and reviews.

Our reviewers test family tents overnight – press-ganging their children into some early years work experience – in outdoor conditions, temperatures and terrain appropriate to the rating assigned to the product by the manufacturers/ brand. Lightweight family tents will also be tested in backpacking scenarios to assess their performance as a shelter for multi day hikes.

The best poled family tents

Best family tent: Big Agnes Tensleep

(Image credit: Big Agnes)

Big Agnes Tensleep

A portable cabin in the woods

Specifications

RRP: $500 (US) / £480 (UK)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 18lb / 8.16kg
Dimensions: Floor length: 122in, floor width: 115–96in / Floor length: 310cm, floor width: 292–244cm
Waterproofing (fly): Polyester with a 1500mm HH waterproof polyurethane coating

Reasons to buy

+
Screen porch
+
Two entrances and vestibules
+
Plenty of pockets
+
Mesh wall ventilation

Reasons to avoid

-
Footprint sold separately

Under wide-open skies, a tent can feel small and cramped – but not the Tensleep. The floor plan sleeps six people comfortably. Six people means a lot of small gear floating around, but there’s a collection of gear loops, mesh pockets, cargo pockets and media pockets to keep everything off the ground and ready when needed. The huge front vestibule can be transformed into a screened-in porch that holds a camp chair or two – handy for eating and playing games when the weather’s not so great. And when it’s warm, fly walls can be rolled up to improve ventilation on hot summer nights. Spend enough nights outside and you’ll probably encounter some really nasty weather, but storm flaps on the vestibule and closed mesh windows create a safe haven in a thunderstorm.

Best family tent: Eureka Jade Canyon

(Image credit: Eureka)

Eureka Jade Canyon

Family friendly camping shelter

Specifications

RRP: $400 (US) / £700 (UK)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 22lb /10kg
Dimensions: 10 x 10ft / 305 x 305cm
Waterproofing (fly): 75D 190T StormShield polyester taffeta

Reasons to buy

+
Stand-tall interior
+
Steel frame construction
+
Hub set-up system

Reasons to avoid

-
Single door and no vestibule
-
Heavy compared to some models

Kids love camping and the best way to create lifelong memories of campfire ghost stories under a moonlit sky is to start with a comfortable shelter. No one wants to remember complicated tent set-up instructions, cramped sleeping bags, or wet floors. The Jade Canyon is well suited for family camping adventures. Near-vertical walls increase living space and the 7ft tall ceiling lets parents stand tall, getting everything below organized.

With continuous pole sleeves, hubs and clips, set-up is as easy as assembling a familiar puzzle on the kitchen table; fast, quick and with a shared sense of success. The durable steel and aluminum frame keeps the shelter stable and dry when the weather turns foul. Although there is no porch, which cuts down on storage space, there’s plenty of room inside for a family card game when rain interrupts outside play.

Best family tent: Kelty Tallboy 6

(Image credit: Kelty)

Kelty Tallboy 6

Welcome to the family party tent

Specifications

RRP: $230 (US)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 14lb 1oz / 6.38kg
Dimensions: 105 x 118 x 72iin / 269 x 300 x 183cm
Waterproofing (fly): 68D Poly (1200mm HH)

Reasons to buy

+
Tall ceiling
+
Fiberglass poles
+
Easy to pack storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Single door
-
No vestibule

After a long day climbing, paddling, hiking, trail running or fishing for a trophy to put on the wall, a comfortable tent is a wonderful reward. The Tallboy’s high ceiling makes changing into dry clean clothes an easier process. A wide large single door keeps entry traffic manageable. Set-up features a familiar fiberglass X-pole construction so you can switch from set-up to ‘go have fun’ mode quickly. It’s often-overlooked but taking a tent down at the end of the trip can be a frustrating process of stuffing pounds of fabric into a barely big enough stuff sack. Kelty’s ‘Shark Mouth’ duffel design makes take down as easy as set-up.

Best family tent: REI Kingdom 6

(Image credit: REI)

REI Kingdom 6

A hotel room for a campsite

Specifications

RRP: $500 (US)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 21lb 6oz/9.7kg
Dimensions: 120 x 100in / 305 x 254cm
Waterproofing (fly): 75-denier coated polyester taffeta

Reasons to buy

+
Backpack style storage bag
+
Vertical walls
+
Vestibule
+
Hubbed pole assembly

Reasons to avoid

-
Footprint sold separately
-
Heavy compared to comparable models

The Kingdom 6 is as comfortable as a hotel room (without the room service). Vertical walls and a large rectangular floor plan creates a comfortable living space for a family of up to six. A zippered center divider creates two rooms for couples, parents, kids, friends and pets.

A combination of hubbed pole system, sleeves, clips and color-coded tent, fly and footprint elements make set-up foolproof, even for first time campers. Two very large doors give all six campers easy, unencumbered access. Mesh panels and doors deliver both ventilation and views of the surrounding environment. The mesh keeps the bugs outside after dark. The huge multi-purpose vestibule can be used as an awning.

Best family tent: Vaude Badawi Long 6P

(Image credit: Vaude)

Vaude Badawi Long 6P

A two-bedroom, tall tent with plenty of communal space for cooking and playing games

Specifications

RRP: $740 (US) / £950 (UK) / €1,050 (EU)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 32lb / 14.5kg
Dimensions (each sleeping room): 79 x 83in / 200 x 210cm
Waterproofing (fly): 75 D Polyurethane coated (3,000mm HH)

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious and well proportioned
+
Tall
+
Well constructed

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires lots of pitching space

With two cosy sleeping compartments, and a large main communal space in the middle, which opens to a good-sized porch, this six-person tent is wonderfully roomy for a family of four to six (a slightly smaller four-person version is also available). Fitted with lots of ventilation options, including a top vent system and mesh windows, the Badawi is a great choice for warmer weather camping. Yet its clever multi-tunnel design and separate, double-walled sleeping compartments are robust and insulating enough to withstand colder and less clement conditions. Showcasing Vaude’s trademark top-quality materials, manufacturing and attention to detail, the color-coded poles and pole sleeves, and lightweight design allow quick and straightforward pitching. Simply one of the best family tent options around.

Best family tent: Vango Stargrove II 450

(Image credit: Vango)

Vango Stargrove II 450

A family favourite, with lots of room for people with young kids

Specifications

RRP: £400 (UK)
Sleeps: 4 people
Weight: 37.5lb / 17kg
Dimensions (sleeping area): 82.5 x 118in / 210 x 300cm
Waterproofing (fly): Sentinel Active 70D polyester fabric (3000mm HH)

Reasons to buy

+
Large master bedroom
+
Spacious communal areas
+
Side access
+
Tall

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t cope with extremely windy weather

This classic family tent features a fully enclosed, integrated awning with large windows that let in lots of light during the day and rollaway curtains for the evenings. The fully sewn-in groundsheet keeps the inside free from puddles and drafts, while mesh doors and AirZone panels allow good ventilation throughout. There is plenty of headroom in the main living space, a number of hanging points for lanterns and lots of pockets, which is useful for keeping things organized, so you can find your headtorch when you need it. If you’re bothered by light mornings or evenings on camping trips, a blackout lining in the single, spacious sleeping compartment allows you to sleep in for longer. The large master bedroom can be separated into two smaller rooms, if kids (or parents) want some privacy. This model is best suited for families with smaller children, but Vango offer numerous bigger tent options too.

The best family air tents

Best family tents: Coleman Valdes Deluxe 6XL Air BlackOut Tent

(Image credit: Coleman)

Coleman Valdes Deluxe 6XL Air BlackOut

A family-focused tent with generous internal proportions and blackout bedrooms designed to offer a better night’s sleep

Specifications

RRP: £999 (UK)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 38.4kg/84lb 10.5oz
Dimensions: 665 x 450cm / 21ft 9.8in x 14ft 9in
Waterproofing (fly): PU coated Polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 4500mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great bedroom space
+
Roomy and spacious
+
Plentiful storage pockets

Reasons to avoid

-
Air system not as intuitive as some rivals
-
No porch/vestibule door

As with many similar designs, the Valdes Deluxe 6XL consists of three distinct zones: sleeping area, living area and porch area. The sleeping area at the rear consists of three almost equally generously proportioned bedrooms, which can easily accommodate a double camp bed or inflatable mattress. The right-hand bedroom is removable, so space can be configured according to your needs. In addition, each uses Coleman’s BlackOut system, which blocks out up to 99% of daylight. Bedroom doors have half-height zipper stoppers, ensuring that zips are always within easy reach for children. Thanks to near-vertical sidewalls, head room is excellent throughout. 

The living space is large enough to house a table and chairs, and a spacious porch extends to the front. This has a canopy and sidewalls for shelter but no front door or groundsheet. The main door has an unusual rigid frame, meaning it opens and closes without needing to be folded or rolled away. There’s also an additional side door, which has a framed peak to provide shade and rain protection. There’s a tough bathtub groundsheet and multiple windows fitted with roll-up blinds, ensuring an airy interior but also plenty of privacy when required. Ventilation is also good throughout the tent, with mesh-lined vents above and below the main windows. There are ample storage pockets in the bedrooms and outside the bedroom doors, plus hanging loops for positioning camp lanterns and cable entry for power points. Pitching is relatively quick and easy, with a little practice.

best family tents: Outwell Airville 6SA

(Image credit: Outwell)

Outwell Airville 6SA

Deluxe large family tent with plenty of thoughtful details to make this a real home from home – creating a pleasant place to stay, whatever the weather

Specifications

RRP: £1,625 (UK)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 41.3kg / 91lb
Dimensions: 760 x 520cm / 24ft 11in x 17ft
Waterproofing (fly): Outtex 6000 Pro, 100% polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 6000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Air system makes for easy pitching 
+
Spacious and roomy, with configurable interior
+
Great features
+
Excellent insect-proofing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not worth pitching for one or two nights – too big to bother!
-
Relatively heavy and bulky when packed
-
Rolling suitcase-style case only has small wheels, so you’ll need a trolley or transporter for muddy campsites

The Outwell Airville 6SA is a seriously spacious shelter, one of the best large tents available today. Provided your family will fit into its two bedrooms, it has all the living space you’ll ever need. Pitching is easy thanks to the inflatable air beams employed throughout – there are no poles at all. A combination of guylines and webbing straps create a secure and sturdy weatherproof structure, aided by a polyester flysheet with a highly waterproof 6,000mm hydrostatic head.

The tent is basically configured in three zones – from rear to front, these are a sleeping zone, a living zone (with a handy side wing) and a front porch area, which can be used with or without a groundsheet. As well as the large front entrance, there are two additional side doors, offering flexible access and plenty of ventilation. Though it can sleep six, it’s the ideal setup for a group of four – either two couples, or parents and a couple of kids.

best family tents: Easy Camp Base Camp Air 500

(Image credit: Easy Camp)

Easy Camp Base Camp Air 500

A practical and relatively inexpensive air tent that is ideal for short getaways with a small family or a couple of friends

Specifications

RRP: £640 (UK)
Sleeps: 5 people
Weight: 15.6kg / 34lb 6.3lb
Dimensions: 490 x 300cm / 16ft x 9ft 11in
Waterproofing (fly): PU coated polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 3000 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Practical porch
+
Pitches all-in-one
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Noisy Velcro seal on doors
-
Not the lightest

Priced at the lower end of the spectrum for an air tent, Easy Camp’s Base Air 500 promises quick and easy pitching with minimal fuss. It delivers – simply peg out the base, then inflate the three hooped tubes using the supplied pump. It’s well made, with a polyester fabric flysheet that is rated at 3,000mm hydrostatic head – slightly lower than premium family tents, but still fully waterproof.

Inside, there’s a generous living area that will easily accommodate a table and two or three camping chairs. To the rear, Easy Camp’s ‘Sleep-Tight’ inner creates a sleeping area with a toggled divider to form two bedrooms in a 60/40 split. The larger right-hand bedroom is intended for up to three sleepers, while the left-hand side can accommodate two. These spaces provide enough room for sleeping mats up to 55cm in width to lay flat, side-by-side.

More compact than many of the other big air tents, it will fit happily in the boot of a small family car. As an air tent, it is a little more expensive than comparable poled designs, but we think the ease and convenience of pitching makes the extra cost well worth paying. 

Best 4-person tents: Terra Nova Zonda 8

(Image credit: Terra Nova)

Terra Nova Zonda 8

A huge, hassle-free air tent that is robust, stable and well-built, making it the ideal basecamp for big families

Specifications

RRP: £1,399 (UK)
Sleeps: 8 people
Style: Air tent
Weight: 46.5kg/102lb 8oz
Dimensions: 790 x 450cm / 25ft 11in x 14ft 9in
Waterproofing (fly): 150D Rip Stop Polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 6000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent air flex pole system
+
Sturdy and robust
+
Fully enclosed porch area

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Difficult to transport

Compared to other tent makers, this British manufacturer is a relative newcomer to the family market – and is better known for its excellent range of lightweight backpacking tents – but with the Zonda series, they’ve created a modest range of large, high-quality designs that employ the latest air beam technology. The 12cm-diameter Air Flex poles are wider than most for increased stability, while the well-established tunnel-type structure is a family camping favourite. 

For such a big tent it’s surprisingly straightforward to pitch, with sturdy end guy straps and reflective side guy lines that don’t pose a trip hazard and don’t whistle or vibrate in high winds. The quality of the flysheet is right up there with the very best tents. With a broadly rectangular floor plan and walls that are designed to maximise internal space and headroom, this is a roomy and capacious tent. The living space is light and airy, with large tinted windows that come with adjustable privacy curtains. There are lantern hanging points and twin electrical hook up access on either side of the tent. Adjustable, mesh-lined ventilation ensures good airflow and a comfortable ambient temperature. 

Off the main quarters are three side-by-side bedroom compartments, each measuring 215cm x 140cm, equipped with black fabric and removable partitions, enabling you to customise the sleeping space as needed. At the front of the tent, an extended porch offers room for storage, cooking or just hanging out, with a detachable bathtub groundsheet that means you can use it as a wet or dry space. It also has a fully enclosed front door, which is a big plus. Amazingly, it’s also easy to drop and pack away. Simply one of the best family tent options out there.

The best family tent for value

Best 4-person tents: Easy Camp Galaxy 400

(Image credit: Easy Camp)

Easy Camp Galaxy 400

Budget base camp for young families on wild weekends away

Specifications

RRP: £200 (UK) / €220 (EU)
Sleeps: 4 people
Weight: 8.9kg
Dimensions (sleeping area): 82.5 x 95in / 210 x 240cm
Waterproofing (fly): 180T polyester PU coated (2000mm HH)

Reasons to buy

+
Very reasonable price
+
Detachable groundsheet
+
Big vestibule with large windows

Reasons to avoid

-
Won’t cope well with extreme weather
-
Not as tall as others

Updated for 2021, this great value, well-featured, 4-person tent for is ideal for young families who only camp for a week or two each summer. It’s quick and easy to pitch, either with the flysheet first or all in one, and the groundsheet is detachable for easy cleaning. The main door doubles as a canopy, covering a large porch area that’s a great space for relaxing in the evenings. A Sleep-Tight inner tent adds insulation and reduces light – ideal for those light mornings and evenings and daytime naps. Ventilation points in the top, sides and rear add cooling airflow throughout.

The best glamping tents

Best family tents: SoulPad 4000-hybrid

(Image credit: SoulPad)

SoulPad 4000-hybrid

A cool, customizable glamping den for festival-loving families

Specifications

RRP: from $690 (US) / from £520 (UK) / from $910 (AU)
Sleeps: 4 people
Weight: 52lb / 23.7kg
Dimensions (diameter): 13ft / 4m
Waterproofing (fly): Cotton canvas

Reasons to buy

+
Nice looking tent (good for festivals)
+
Customizable in lots of cool ways
+
Removable waterproof bathtub-style groundsheet
+
Tall (in the center)

Reasons to avoid

-
Extras cost extra (obvs…)
-
Heavy
-
Hard to keep pristine

A bell tent is a beautifully bright, open space, ideal for those looking for a simple, single living area. They’re also brilliantly customisable: add an inner bedroom tent for extra insulation and privacy, or a woodburning stove for heating and indoor cooking (only use recommended appliances, and read instructions very carefully, especially in regard to the Genie – a feature which puts the price of the tent up slightly). Made from a durable, breathable cotton canvas, they’re not the lightest but they’re simple to pitch and by far the most pleasant tents to spend time in. SoulPad’s range runs from 3-metre models, perfect for couples, to 6-metre mansions. This hybrid version features a tough, waterproof bathtub-style groundsheet that unzips from the upper to create a cool canopy on hot days.

best family tents: Robens Chinook Ursa

(Image credit: Robens)

Robens Chinook Ursa

A traditionally styled tipi tent that uses modern materials and an innovative design to create a versatile and adaptable space, ideal for convivial camping trips

Specifications

RRP: €1,400 (EU) / £1,180 (UK)
Sleeps: 8 people
Weight: 21.7kg/47lb 13.45oz
Dimensions: 475 x 425cm/15ft 7in x 13ft 11in
Waterproofing (fly): HydroTex HD 100% 75D 185T polyester, Hydrostatic head: 5000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Well-designed and adaptable configuration 
+
High-quality materials
+
Accommodates a stove
+
Easy to pitch

Reasons to avoid

-
Single-skin construction (unless used with optional inner, sold separately)
-
Only one living/sleeping space (unless used with optional inner, sold separately)
-
Optional inner tent and stove cannot be used together

Despite its traditional looks, this unusual tent employs modern materials and an innovative, superbly engineered design to create a versatile space for families or groups. It can be configured as a conventional tipi with an A-frame doorway but can also be transformed to open up into what is essentially an airy shelter with an open, three-poled front canopy. If you’re looking for an adaptable tent that works in varied conditions, this is one of the best large tents around.

The tent is part of Robens’ popular Outback range, which is a series of eye-catching tents with a retro canvas look, based on the designs used by early American pioneers. It also has plenty of character and charm – but like all the Outback tents, rather than canvas, the fabric is actually a quick-drying but waterproof polycotton blend. That saves plenty of weight, making transport and pitching the tent simple and convenient for such a large, eight-person design.

It also has a vent for a stove pipe, allowing it to be used with a frontier or outbacker-type stove. That addition creates a very cosy space that comes into its own on chilly evenings. It also effectively extends usability beyond summer, permitting year-round use. This tent really comes into its own when used as a single communal and convivial space – in fact, a night in the Chinook Ursa is pretty much camping heaven, as far as we’re concerned.

The best tree tent

best family tents: Tensile Trilogy 6-person Super Tree

(Image credit: Tensile)

Tentsile Trilogy 6-person Super Tree

A giant suspended tree tent that offers a unique camping experience for family or friends, bringing a true sense of adventure to any group getaway

Specifications

RRP: £1,354 (UK)
Sleeps: 6 people
Weight: 30.5kg/67lb 3.8oz
Dimensions: 8m x 8m x 8m / 26ft 3in x 26ft 3in x 26ft 3in
Waterproofing (fly): 70D PU-Coated polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 5000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Roomy
+
Fun and unique
+
Superbly engineered

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be chilly
-
Consistent pitching requires practice
-
Requires a very large area
-
Requires very robust trees

Tentsile’s tree tents offer an undeniably unique camping experience. The Trilogy is essentially three of Tentsile’s two-person Connect tents interlocked together, with a huge dome centrepiece that creates a covered porch area. It is a truly impressive bit of kit that creates a spectacular tree-fort basecamp for six people.

Each of the three Connect units has a comfortable sleeping platform, fold-away doors, four large storage pockets and a mesh inner. The central canopy attaches to the three Connect units, providing plenty of cover. The setup utilises a sturdy three-point anchor system. It has enough flex to ensure it is very comfortable, making it more practical than pitching a tent on the ground – particularly in wooded areas, where tree roots, leaf litter and pine needles can often make it tricky to find a flat, dry spot to camp.

Whether a tree tent will replace your usual tent depends on how much you value the idea of being up off the ground – for some, the added comfort and the unique appeal will be well worth the cost.

The best family tents comparison table
TentPriceWeightStyleBest use
Big Agnes Tensleep$500 (US) / £480 (UK)18lb / 8.16kg6-person poled dome tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Eureka Jade Canyon$400 (US) / £700 (UK)22lb /10kg6-person poled hub tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Kelty Tallboy 6$230 (US)14lb 1oz / 6.38kg6-person poled dome tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
REI Kingdom 6$500 (US)21lb 6oz/9.7kg6-person large poled dome tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Vaude Badawi Long 6P$740 (US) / £950 (UK) / €1,050 (EU)32lb / 14.5kg6-person poled multi-tunnel tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Vango Stargrove II 450£400 (UK)37.5lb / 17kg4-person poled tunnel tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Coleman Valdes Deluxe 6XL Air BlackOut£999 (UK)8.4kg/84lb 10.5oz6-person air tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Outwell Airville 6SA£1,625 (UK)41.3kg / 91lb6-person air tent3 season use: car camping, festivals, vacations
Easy Camp Base Camp Air 500£640 (UK)15.6kg / 34lb 6.3lb5-person air tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Terra Nova Zonda 8£1,399 (UK)46.5kg/102lb 8oz8-person air tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Easy Camp Galaxy 400£200 (UK) / €220 (EU)8.9kg4-person poled tunnel tent2 season use: car camping, festivals
SoulPad 4000-hybridfrom $690 (US) / from £520 (UK) / from $910 (AU)52lb / 23.7kg4-person bell tent4 season use (with heating): camping trips and festivals
Robens Chinook Ursa€1,400 (EU) / £1,180 (UK)21.7kg/47lb 13.45oz8-person tipi tent3 season use: car camping, festivals, holidays abroad
Tensile Trilogy 6-person Super Tree£1,354 (UK)30.5kg/67lb 3.8oz6-person tree tent3 season use: forest and woodland getaways

Choosing the best family tent for you

Before you commit to buying  what you think is the best family tent for your tribe, it’s important to carefully consider what you want from it and how you’ll use it. There are plenty of things to think about when it comes to choosing a tent, including sleeping, cooking and evening/rainy day arrangements. 

From an airy single space like a bell tent, to one arranged over several rooms with separate sleeping compartments and a porch, every tent – like every family – is different. We’d strongly advise viewing some tents pitched before you decide so you can really get an idea of how they work in practice. Outdoor shops with display areas, tent shows, and camping-savvy friends are all good places to see them in action.

best family tent: kids setting up a tent

Get the little ones to help with pitching (Image credit: Getty)

Tent size vs family size

As a general rule of thumb when purchasing a tent, go for a shelter that is advertised for more people than you intend to use it for. For example, 2-person tents are usually pretty tight for two campers and all their gear, so we'd go for a 3- or 4-person tent to sleep two. Likewise, a 6-person family tent may be cramped when it comes to fitting adults comfortably in its bedrooms. 

If you're camping with teenagers, they will probably want their own space too, whereas younger children will happily dive in with a sibling. With this in mind, tents that have more than one bedroom are ideal. Even better are tents that have customisable bedrooms. Many of the best air tents feature removable bedroom walls, enabling you to have one huge bedroom, one large and one small, or three small rooms.

Poles tents vs air tents

Since Vango introduced the air tent around 10 years ago, the trend has really caught on and now many of the best family tent options are air tents. These innovative products take less time (around 15 to 20 minutes) to erect than their poled counterparts. Usually all they require is that you peg out the corners, before inflating the air beams to the required pressure using a pump and pegging out the guy lines. Voilà! If you're camping with kids, you can always get them to help with pumping up – just make sure you keep an eye on the psi gauge!

The standard reaction when people hear about air tents for the first time is: "But are they sturdy enough?" The answer is an emphatic yes, more than enough for car camping trips during the camping season. Air tents are on the heavier side though, so if you're looking for a lightweight 4-person tent to take your kids wild camping with, a pole tent is still the best option.

best family tents: kids eating at the campsite

Food just tastes better when you're camping (Image credit: Getty)

Preparing for the weather

The best family tents are built to withstand all but the most atrocious conditions and are usually rated for 3-season use (so not winter). Of course, not knowing how to pitch a tent could mean your castle of canvas is like a castle built on sand, so it's important to get this right. Strong gusts can ruin a poorly erected shelter.

In terms of waterproofing, the key spec to look for is your tents hydrostatic head (HH) rating, which is measured in milimeters. This is basically the measure of how much water pressure the tent fabric can cope with before it starts to leak. A flysheet with a HH rating of 3,000 mm should in theory be able to withstand a solid column of water 3,000 mm (or 3 meters) pressing against it. Tents are required, by law, to have minimum rating of 1,000 mm, though most family tents have much more than this.

Other features to look out for is a tent's ventilation. Air flow stops condensation, as well as making the tent a much more pleasant place to be during the height of summer. If anyone in your family is a light sleeper, bedrooms with blackout fabric are a real boon. Not only does blackout fabric block most of the morning sunlight, it also keeps the room and your sleeping pads, pillows and bags cool on hot days.

Living conditions

Doors, zippers, windows, vents and pockets. After a long weekend, the importance of these details will become clear. Gear lofts are very useful, as are attachments for hanging camping lanterns.

These days, almost every family member comes equipped with a headlamp, smartphone, sunglasses, and a tablet, and mesh pockets are essential for keeping this gear off the floor in a place where it’s protected them from getting crushed underfoot or lost. It’s a good idea to allocate each person a tent pocket for stashing their stuff. Encourage everyone (including yourself) to learn the zipper directions. Most are bi-directional, but fumbling around with a zipper when everyone else is asleep is a good way to end up sleeping outside.

You might be able to bring a power line into your tent and enjoy the luxury of electricity to keep all of your camping tech juiced up. Many of the best large tents will come with a zipped access point and velcro tidies to keep the cables off the ground. 

Vestibules offer a place for extra gear and muddy boots but can block access to the door. It’s well worth reminding family members to watch out for the location of guy wires and tent stakes. An unexpected trip or fall can put a damper on a good day in the woods.

best family tent: family emptying car boot

The great thing about car camping is that you can bring all the comforts of home (Image credit: Getty)

Budget

Don't let budget get in the way of what could be trips that give your family memories to last a lifetime. In the long run, any of these tents are a fantastic investment, as you'll get loads of use out of them if you treat them properly. Our selection of the best family tent options includes shelters that we believe are fantastic value. The less you spend on the shelter, the more you have to get the other essentials on the camping checklist.

Where 4-person tents are concerned, the East Camp Galaxy 400 and the Vango Stargrove II 450 are both priced extremely competitively, giving you a lot of tent for your cash. The 5-person Easy Camp Base Camp Air 500 is a bargain as far as air tents go, while the Kelty Tallboy is a bargain for larger families of up to six.

Award-winning outdoor adventure writers and photographers, Jen and Sim are the authors of eight books, including The Adventurer’s Guide to Britain, Amazing Family Adventures and the forthcoming 100 Great Walks with Kids, which will be published in March 2021. In 2015 they spent a year living under canvas, exploring Britain’s wild places with their two young children. Find out more at Adventure Places.