Best camping tents 2022: for glorious outdoor adventures

Collage of the best camping tents
(Image credit: Future)

The best camping tent is the perfect home from home, a ticket to the great outdoors and an enabler of many great adventures. Whether you're a parent looking to get a new family shelter or a backpacker with expedition ambitions, with the camping season fast approaching, it's worth getting the ultimate fabric fortress.

Our buying guide focusses first on the best camping tent options for larger groups, before moving on to the crème de la crème of  backpacking tents. These models are designed to be featherlight and portable, handily slotting into your backpack and opening up a world of thru-hiking and trekking adventure.

We then move on to the best pop up tents, models for those who want to spend minimal time getting the thing up in order to spend more time having fun. It may be that you're heading for a music festival or three and you require something that conveniently pops up in no time. Or, perhaps you're looking for a family air tent for speedy assembly; if this sounds like you, check out our first listing, the Vango Osiris Air 500.

To help you select the right option, we've included a comparison table and a 'choosing the best camping tent for you' feature at the bottom of this guide. Every one of the products we feature here are shrewd purchases that won't let you down. All you have to do is consider kind of camper you are and what your budget is.

Tents for the family

Vango Osiris Air 500 camping tent

(Image credit: Vango)

Vango Osiris Air 500

Well-designed air tent for large groups, made from recycled plastic bottles

Specifications

RRP: £550 (UK)
Sleeps: Up to 5 people
Weight: 15.3kg / 33lb 11.7oz
Waterproofing (fly): 70D Recycled Polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 3,000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Quick to pitch
+
Loads of headroom
+
Dark bedrooms

Reasons to avoid

-
Not easy to get back in the bag
-
Bulky
-
Pump required

The new Osiris 500 is an air tent from the Vango’s pioneering Earth Collection – a range of tents, sleeping bags and outdoor chairs all made from Sentinel Eco Fabric, a material that’s entirely comprised of recycled single-use plastic waste. Each and every Osiris tent accounts for 158 plastic bottles.

But even putting aside its excellent eco credentials, the Osiris 500 is a superb camping tent. Instead of poles, the structure is erected with airbeams – thick, robust tubes that you inflate with the use of a pump (included) – which means one person can pitch the whole tent in a matter of minutes.

Tension bands provide security and confidence when the weather gets wild, and it has been extensively tested in adverse conditions. It’s spacious, without being ridiculously massive (some large tents are so palatial they don’t fit on campsites, and never feel warm because they’re too cavernous, but the Osiris is just right).

With one main communal area and two bedrooms (which can be converted to one big bedroom), it comfortably sleeps five people. The sleeping quarters are fitted with nightfall drapes, so you don’t have to wake with the dawn, and the ceilings are high enough in this villa-style tent for adults to stand upright throughout.

It has ample storage, with pockets aplenty and hanging capacity for lanterns and lofts, and there’s lots of ventilation and light, with ‘Diamond Clear’ windows and mesh doors. There’s even a bay window, something we think all the best camping tents should now have!

Big Agnes Big House 4 Deluxe camping tent

(Image credit: Big Agnes)

Big Agnes Big House 4 Deluxe

A tall-sided home away from home for weekends in the woods

Specifications

RRP: $400 (US) / £295 (UK)
Sleeps: 4 people
Weight: 12lb 14oz/5.84kg
Pack size: 26 x 13in / 66 x 33 x 18cm

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of storage compartments
+
Lightweight pole system
+
Reflective webbing and guylines
+
Two doors

Reasons to avoid

-
Footprint not included
-
Extra large vestibule sold separately

A weekend in the woods with family and friends is a far better experience if you are warm, dry and comfortable. By delivering those features, this excellent four-person camping tent quickly becomes a family friendly basecamp. Living space includes a stand-up-tall interior and plenty of room for four people. It’s one main compartment, but don’t worry about misplacing your gear: there is a very useful collection of 12 storage compartments, including mesh pockets, removable corner bins and media pockets, plus interior loops for hanging lanterns, headlamps or damp clothes. 

In terms of set-up, this is one of the best camping tents out there. Large tents can be complicated to erect, but that’s not a concern with this shelter; color-coded webbing and buckles removes any set-up stress. Pre-cut guylines and tensioners that are already attached to the rainfly help fine-tune the tent in windy or rainy conditions. 

The oversized pole configuration serves as an awning for the substantial vestibule. It’s large enough to accommodate a camp chair so you can watch the sunset protected from the weather, but it is sold separately ($130), along with the footprint ($50). Two large doors are designed to match conditions. For hot nights, large mesh sections improve ventilation. When Mother Nature changes her mood, zip up panels keep the interior warm and dry.

Tents for backpacking

Nemo Dragonfly camping tent

(Image credit: Nemo)

Nemo Dragonfly

A three-person backpacking tent you can carry on the trails

Specifications

RRP: $500 (US)/ €460 (EU)
Sleeps: 3 people
Weight: 3 lb 15oz/1.77kg
Pack size: 19.5 x 5in / 50 x 13cm
Waterproofing (fly): 15D Sil/PeU Nylon Ripstop, 1200mm HH

Reasons to buy

+
Light enough to take backpacking
+
Big enough to sleep three adults
+
Freestanding
+
Light diffusing fabric pockets
+
Lifetime warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly expensive

An unusual beast, the Dragonfly is a camping tent big enough to accommodate more than two adults but is light enough to take backpacking. Split the pegs, poles and fabric up between three people’s packs, and you have one of the best tents for its size for taking on the trail – also good for small families who want to backpack. After using such a tent a few times, the measure of success comes in two criteria: ease set-up and comfortable liveability. The Dragonfly earns high marks for both. Color-coded poles and webbing, plus pre-bent DAC Featherlight poles combine to create a hub system that can quickly to assembled to create a spacious, high-volume, freestanding living space. 

This model can accommodate two people with loads of space, or three if you don’t mind getting cosy. (There are one-person and two-person versions of the Dragonfly available too.) Occupants can crawl in (or escape for a midnight ablution) via one of the two large doors. The vestibules can be rolled back to increase visibility and ventilation. Small details enhance the liveability measurably, and make this one of the best camping tents for longer excursions. White mesh on the side panels adds privacy, while black mesh on the Dragonfly’s ceiling permits long after-dark star gazing. Gear storage pockets keep small and expensive electronics safe and near-at-hand. Specialized light diffusing fabric ceiling panels soften harsh hard headlamp beams.

Sierra Designs Meteor 3000 2P camping tent

(Image credit: Sierra Designs)

Sierra Designs Meteor 3000 2P

Ideal wild camping or backpacking tent that offers plenty of protection

Specifications

RRP: $250 (US) / £250 (UK)
Sleeps: 2 people
Weight: 2kg 40g /4lb 8oz
Pack Size: 46 x 16.5cm/11.1 x 6.5in
Waterproofing (fly): 68D 190T Poly Taffeta; Hydrostatic Head: 3,000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great headroom
+
Twin entrances
+
Roomy porches 
+
Protective and weatherproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Pitches inner first

A newcomer among the best camping tents, this superb model is based on US brand Sierra Designs’ bestselling Meteor series but tweaks the build to make it better suited for wetter climates. As such it features enhanced waterproofing, in an earthy green colourway that makes it far more practical for stealthy wild camps. 

The fly provides good coverage and there is added wind protection too, thanks to an inner tent that features more fabric and less mesh. Sierra has retained the same lightweight, double-door, twin porch design that has made the Meteor such a popular backpacking tent. It offers decent living space, two roomy porches and plenty of headroom, with practical features like two-way door zips for additional ventilation. Pre-bent DAC poles create a vertical front wall while an extra ridge pole creates near vertical side-walls. 

The flysheet can also be rolled back for added ventilation or a spot of stargazing on warmer nights. It does need to be pitched inner-first, which is a minor inconvenience if you’re setting up camp in the rain. This is one of the best 2-person tents around for backpackers and wild campers, as well as a choice that gives you excellent value for money. 

Big Sky Chinook 1Plus camping tent

(Image credit: Big Sky)

Big Sky Chinook 1Plus

A fabulous four-season offering, excellent for stormy weather

Specifications

RRP: $550 (US) / £490 (UK)
Weight: 1.6kg / 3lb 8.4oz
Pack Size: 44 x 13cm/17 x 5.5in
Waterproofing (fly): SuperSil (silnylon coated on both sides) 1500mm HH

Reasons to buy

+
Freestanding
+
Four-season
+
Flexibility to squash in a mate in a pinch
+
Storm-, wind-, snow-proof

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Tricky to set up

The dome-shaped Big Sky Chinook is a hardy four-season shelter, able to withstand properly foul stormy conditions. When operated as a single-unit (fly-clipped-to-tent), it’s great for setting up and packing down in bad weather. It’s also fairly roomy for a one-person tent – and able to accommodate two at a stretch.

Here’s the catch for those benefits, however: it’s also the up double the weight of other one-person tents on test. But room, warmth and staying dry may be worth paying the price of heft, especially if you can split the carrying weight between two. The strength ratio comes from a sturdy three-pole design which can actually be downscaled to a two-pole set up if you want to find weight savings as solo traveller, but that also drops you into three-season territory.

In three-pole mode, the fly is drum-tight when set up, which is great for shedding snow and repelling water, but harder in set-up mode due to how taught it is. A double-wall construction with two top vents does the job of preventing interior condensation while still holding on to body heat warmth in cold conditions.

The steep wall design sheds snow well, so it’s one of the best camping tents fo rwinter, and there are many tabs sewn into seams for additional guys. The pole clip design offers super-fast and easy setup and take-down and the interior buckling to the outer shell for one piece setup/take down ensures good for speed in foul weather.

The interior is large, with a high ceiling and decent doors on each side that allow easy entry and exit for either one or two people (no need to climb over each other).  The durable 30D nylon silicone/PU-coated and seam taped fabric floor keeps the footprint dry and 1500mm rated fly sheet keeps things super dry.

Marmot Limelight 4 camping tent

(Image credit: Marmot)

Marmot Limelight 4

Comfortable choice for family camping adventures

Specifications

RRP: $408 (US) / £338 (UK)
Sleeps: 4 people
Weight: 3.85kg / 8lbs 8 oz
Waterproofing (fly): 68d Polyester Taffeta 190T Hydrstatic Head of 1,500
Pack size: 27.5 x 9.5in | 68.6 x 22.9cm

Reasons to buy

+
Reflective points prevent late night tripping
+
Solid protection in poor weather
+
Durable materials
+
Footprint included

Reasons to avoid

-
Extensive use of mesh requires rain fly for privacy
-
Rain can pool near vestibule
-
Poles are stiff

Small details matter. Often overlooked by first time tent buyers, details like color-coded easy pitch clips and poles, a waterproof seam, taped full-coverage rainfly, and durable fabrics make the Limelight 4 a very comfortable four-person shelter.

Set-up is fast and stress free. Reflective points shine under headlamps and help avoid campers tripping over guidelines after dark. A large D-shaped door makes entry easy. The top half of the Limelight uses mesh to improve ventilation, save weight and lets campers stargaze late at night.

On the other hand, the mesh doesn’t provide much privacy. The rainfly provides solid weather protection but in place, ventilation suffers a bit. The spacious floor plan fits four and two vestibules add more storage space. Marmot offers a nice unique touch with a doormat to clean boots and keep twigs, grass and leaves outside of the tent.

A fine choice for car camping families, it’s also light enough to take backpacking if you split the load. The Limelight is constructed with a excellent attention to detail, durable materials and plenty of features to improve liveability. This tent is backed by Marmot’s lifetime warranty.

MSR Hubba NX Solo camping tent

(Image credit: MSR)

MSR Hubba NX Solo

A great mid-range that can handle most things nature can throw at it

Specifications

RRP: $380 (US) £385 (UK)
Sleeps: 1-person
Weight: 1.29kg/2lb 13.5oz
Pack Size: 46 x 15cm/18 x 5.9in
Waterproofing (fly): 20D ripstop nylon, Hydrostatic Head: 1200mm **Compatibility:** 3-season backpacking

Reasons to buy

+
Very wide vestibule
+
Spacious
+
Freestanding

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow interior

The Hubba NX Solo is MSR’s best-selling freestanding solo tent – and there’s a very good reason for that. This tent is an excellent all rounder, balancing lightweight credentials with durability and practicality. Its minimum weight is just over a kilogram, but there is a ‘Fast and Light’ option at 0.7kg. It's simply one of the best tents out there.

This camping tent is easy to set up, with colour coded poles and clips, and comes with a stuff sack with compression straps. The rain fly has kickstand vents to allow you to adjust ventilation depending on conditions. You can also roll up the vestibule rainfly for better air flow on hot nights, or just to lay back and enjoy the night sky – maybe at one of the best sites in the US for stargazing.

Pop-up camping tents

Coleman Galiano camping tent

(Image credit: Coleman)
A simple pop-up design in two sizes, one for couples and one for families

Specifications

RRP: £70 (2-person) or £90 (4-person)
Sleeps: 2 or 4
Weight: 2.5kg/5lb 8.2oz (2-person) or 3.3kg/7lb 4.4oz (4-person)
Packed size: 77cm / 30.3in diameter (2-person) or 90cm/35.4in diameter (4-person)
Waterproofing: 2,000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great ventilation
+
Pops up in seconds
+
Two sizes to choose from

Reasons to avoid

-
Single skin
-
More expensive than other similar designs
-
Only two guy ropes

Coleman’s popular Galiano tent is available as both a 2-person and a 4-person tent, and we’d recommend both as not just two of the best pop-up tents, but two of the best tents on the market full stop. This is especially true if you just want a simple tent without bells and whistles. Like most pop-ups on our list, they erect as soon as they’re freed from their circular bag, you just need to peg in the reflective guy lines. 

Inside, a thick nylon groundsheet keeps you dry and wide vents in the roof help with airflow. Taped seams and a flysheet waterproofed to 2,000mm offer enough protection from the kind of weather you can expect from a British summer, although this is a single skin design, so won’t be tough enough for other seasons, and there are only two guy ropes, which isn’t enough to fight off strong winds. In terms of size, we’d recommend the two-person camping tent for one or two people, and the four-person model for three adults or a family with two smaller children.

Decathlon 2 Seconds Easy Freshblack camping tent

(Image credit: Quechua)

Decathlon 2 Seconds Easy Freshblack

Uses a drawstring to pop open into a comfy tent with blackout bedroom

Specifications

RRP: $199 (US) / £100 (UK)
Sleeps: 2 people
Packed size: 58.4 x 20.3 x 20.3cm / 23 x 8 x 8in
Waterproofing: Hydrostatic Head: 2,000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Pleasingly easy and innovative to pitch
+
Effective blackout bedroom
+
Portable enough to carry in a pack

Reasons to avoid

-
On the pricier side for a pop-up

Despite having tested it out on weekends in the wilderness, we still don’t really understand how this clever camping tent erects – it’s a bit of a magic trick. Tip the 2 Seconds Easy Freshblack (it has a bit of a mouthful of a name) out of its bag, pull two cords tight and it springs into shape, then you just peg it down and you’re ready to camp. Boom. To dismantle, you click a release button and then gather the tent into its bag, which is also the work of minutes. With such little fuss, it's one of the best tents of its kind.

Inside, there’s a bedroom suitable for two, plus backpacks, and lined with effective blackout material, as well as handy pockets and a lantern hook. Although this tent can’t really be classed as lightweight, it’s still just about small and portable enough to be useable for wild camping and backpacking at a pinch, as it folds down into a compact rectangle rather than a bulkier circle, and fits in a backpack. Otherwise, it’s brilliant for festivals and carefree camping weekends through summer and a few months either side. 

Camping tent with a difference

Tentsile Connect camping tent

(Image credit: Tentsile)

Tentsile Connect

Combining the elevated comfort of a hammock with the bug- and weather-protection benefits of a conventional tent, this two-person tree tent is a great way to hang out

Specifications

RRP: £399 (UK)
Sleeps: 2 people
Weight: 9.5kg
Pack Size: 56 x 33 x 25cm (x3) / 22 x 13 x 9.8in
Waterproofing (fly): 70D PU-Coated polyester, Hydrostatic Head: 5000mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Fun and unique
+
Superbly engineered

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be chilly
-
Relatively heavy 
-
Consistent pitching requires practice

Tentsile’s innovative and striking tree-tent designs, loftily suspended among the trees, serve up a fun and unique way to spend a night in the great outdoors that makes for undeniably Instagram-worthy pictures. If you love sleeping in forests and woodland, this is a great option that combines the best bits of hammock camping with all the benefits of a tent.

The tree tent utilises a sturdy three-point anchor system, delivering a taut and tensioned platform with minimal sag, (unlike a hammock). The surface has enough flex to ensure it is very comfortable, making it more practical than pitching a tent on the ground, and it has a full mesh inner with two zipped side doors and plenty of internal space, incorporating numerous storage pockets. The fly extends outwards from the tent, providing ample protection even in poor weather and creating a large, dry area underneath the tent to store gear or seek shelter. 

Inside, two alloy crossing poles form a 4m by 2.5m triangular sleeping area, with 1m of head height at the highest point. A reinforced central webbing strap down the middle of the tent floor effectively creates separate sleeping bays for each person, ensuring you don’t end up squashed together in the middle of the tent. For an optimum setup, you need to find a fairly widely-spaced trio of trees in a triangular configuration. 

You need to try and make sure your anchor points are all placed at the same height, and we found anywhere in the range of about 3-4ft off the ground was ideal. Being higher up looks cooler but makes it tricky to climb in and out – unless, of course, you also own Tentsile’s nifty webbing ladder.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best camping tent comparison table
TentPriceWeightStyleBest use
Vango Osiris Air 500£550 (UK)Extremely heavy5-person family tent3 season use: car camping
Big Agnes Big House 4 Deluxe$400 (US) / £295 (UK)Heavy4-person tall camping tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Nemo Dragonfly$500 (US) / €460 (EU)Light3-person backpacking tent3 season use: backpacking, thru-hiking, car camping
Sierra Designs Meteor 3000 2P$250 (US) / £250 (UK)Light2-person backpacking tent3 season use: backpacking, thru hiking
Big Sky Chinook 1Plus$400 (US) / £400 (UK)Light1-person winter backpacking tent4 season use: backpacking, thru hiking, winter camping
Marmot Limelight 4$380 (US) / £370 (UK)Medium4-person backpacking tent3 season use: backpacking, car camping
MSR Hubba NX Solo$380 (US) / £385 (UK)Ultralight1-person backpacking tent3 season use: backpacking, thru hiking
Coleman Galiano2-person: £70 (UK), 4-person £90 (UK)Medium2 or 4-person pop up tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Decathlon 2 Seconds Easy Freshblack$199 (US) / £100 (UK)Heavy2-person pop up tent3 season use: car camping, festivals
Tensile Connect£399 (UK)Very heavy2-person tree tent3 season use: forest and woodland wildcamps

Testing

How we test the best camping tents

Why you can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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 camping tents overnight in outdoor conditions, temperatures and terrain appropriate to the rating assigned to the product by the manufacturers/ brand. Specific features (weight, zip quality, headroom, ventilation, vestibules, awnings, ease of assembly/packing and so on) are tested against claims made by the brand.

Choosing the best camping tent for you

Almost every individual, couple, family or group has a slightly different set of requirements or preferences when it comes to selecting the best camping tent for their needs. When you're considering a tent, it all boils down where you want to camp, who with, and what time of year you’re planning to head out and pitch up. 

There's a size of every occasion, with tents generally categorised into one-person tents, two-person tents, four-person tents and family tents. Obviously, the larger the model, the heavier it tends to be, which isn't a problem if you're off car camping with kids. If you're camping with teenagers, a large model with separate vestibules gives everyone a bit of privacy. Unfortunately for those who have to put up with snoring camp mates, no one has yet designed a noise-cancelling tent.

If you're off on a wild camping adventure, lighter tents are the order of the day - just make sure you know how to stay warm in a tent if temps are low. However, if you're thru-hiking in the hills and mountains, you'll also need a tent that can repel the worst of the elements.

No matter what adventures you have planned, before investing in a shelter, consider the following factors.

Performance

The primary function of any tent is to keep you protected from the elements – mainly wind and rain, but sometimes snow too. On the best tents, the flysheet and groundsheet fabric will have a quoted Hydrostatic Head (HH) weighting in terms of thousands of mm – e.g. 3,000mm – which reflects how much pressure the fabric can withstand before it lets water in. So, a flysheet with a HH of 3,000mm could have a solid column of water 3 metres tall bearing down on it before it fails. 

Groundsheets should be even more robust, but the thicker the material, obviously the heavier the tent will be. Also, HH isn’t everything – a good tent will also need decent stitching, well-sealed seams and quality zips. Ventilation is another important factor – a tent may be fully waterproof, but without adequate moisture management you’ll still get wet from condensation build-up. 

Rain droplets forming on a tent

The best tents guarentee protection from the elements (Image credit: Getty)

Design and construction

There are many different types of tent design: ridge tents, dome tents, tunnel tents, geodesic tents, semi-geodesic tents, tipi tents, pop-up tents and even inflatable tents. Which one is the best tent design for you will depend on the size of your group and the type of use you’re putting the tent to. 

Most tents have a double-skin design, meaning they are comprised of a fabric-and-mesh inner structure (your abode) with a waterproof flysheet over the top. Which ever design you choose, check out the features on the inside as well, because they’ll make a difference to comfort levels. Many inner tents have useful pockets for storing small items, such as headlamps, flashlights, insect repellent and other camping tech items, or for stashing away tent doors, as well as overhead hanging tabs or hooks for a tent lantern or gear loft.

A tent erected near the Matterhorn

Admiring the Matterhorn from a stunning lakeside wild camp (Image credit: Getty)

Space

The best camping tents are designed with spaciousness in mind, though you'll stilll need to consider the total floor space of the inner, to ensure you’ll have enough room for the number of people you intend sharing the shelter with. Make sure it is long enough for you all to stretch out and wide enough to accommodate your sleeping pads. If you’ll also have a lot of camping or backpacking gear, think about whether the tent offers enough space to store it, either inside the inner tent with you, or in the porch or vestibule(s). 

Also look at the headroom – ideally, you want to be able to at least sit up inside the tent. Depending on the tent’s design, the ceiling may taper towards the foot end, so you may not be able to sit up throughout its length. In family tents, grumpiness will be avoided if the tallest member of the clan can stand upright without pushing the inner against the fly and producing drips.

A wild camp in Scotland

A gorgeous wild camp on Scotland's Isle of Skye (Image credit: Getty)

Vestibules

The best camping tent options will usually have at least a small space outside the inner tent that is still protected by the flysheet, usually located at the entrance(s) of the tent. This is called a porch or vestibule. It’s a great place to store wet kit and muddy boots, and can also act as a sheltered space to cook on a camping or backpacking stove in poor weather. With backpacking tents, make sure that the porch is big enough to accommodate your gear – otherwise you might be forced to keep your pack outside your tent, which is bad news.

A tent door looking out onto a camper admiring the view

The best tents fit all the gear and the humans you bring with you (Image credit: Getty)

Pitching

Knowing how to pitch a tent and where – or where not to camp – is crucial if you are going to enjoy your camping experience. Tents pitch in one of three ways: inner first, outer first or all-in-one. With an inner-first design, the poles usually attach to the inner tent with clips and the flysheet is then thrown over the top. This is a simple and stable system that makes it easy to tweak and adjust fly sheet tension if necessary. With an outer-first design, the poles are usually threaded through sleeves in the flysheet, or sometimes the fly is clipped to a skeletal pole structure. The inner then attaches to the inside of the flysheet. This system is ideal if pitching in the rain, as the inner can more easily be kept dry. 

With an all-in-one system, the fly and inner are pre-attached to each other, and poles are then threaded through sleeves or clipped to the whole tent. This offers quick and easy setup, but sometimes makes it harder to fine-tune tent tension. Air tents are obviously different, using inflatable tubes instead of poles, and are generally easy to set up.

Two people pitching a tent

Pitching the outer layer for a forest camp (Image credit: Getty)

Weight and pack size

If you’re car camping, these considerations are less important, but you still need to ensure you can fit the tent in the car, along with all your kit and companions. If you’re backpacking, fastpacking or bikepacking, make sure the tent and poles are not too bulky to fit inside your pack. To maximise space efficiency, some lightweight campers prefer to pack the tent and poles separately. 

If you’re backpacking with a partner or a group, split the tent up (poles, pegs, inner, flysheet) and carry it between you. A heavy tent will make a real difference to the overall weight of your pack – especially if you have to pack it away when wet, when it will be considerably heavier.

Value

To a certain extent, the old adage ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is true. Cheaper tents may look similar in design to more expensive rivals, but they are typically made from poor-quality fabrics and components. The build quality is also unlikely to be as good compared to a reputable manufacturer. Large, inexpensive tents – such as those that are often abandoned at festivals – are difficult to recycle and have a significant environmental cost. 

With this in mind, the best camping tent is the one you only have to buy once. Try to think of your tent as an investment and purchase one accordingly. Ultralight backpacking tents made from premium fabrics like Dyneema Composite Fibre (DCF) can come with big price tags, as can four-season or expedition tents designed to withstand extremely high winds and massive snow-loading. But unless you’re a committed adventurer, you don’t need to spend an eye-watering sum to get a decent tent for you and your family. If you look around, there are good value tents across all categories at cheaper price points. And it is always worth shopping around, because you can invariably pick up tents for far less than the list price.

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).

With contributions from