Best Family Camping Tent – Reviews & Buying Guide

Tents are very important for camping trips. Individually or with family, if one is going for a camping trip, then the tent is one of the most important things that one has to carry along. At the campsites it is obvious that there would not be any hotels, so for shelter and safety, tents are a must.

If it’s a family camping trip, it is appropriate to carry along a large family tent that will fit the whole family in. Family tents come in wide varieties, and the buyers often get confused about which tent to choose and which will be more reliable. A good family tent keeps the campers safe from any weather elements.  Here are some ideas for guidance on how to select a good family tent for camping trips. One should always compare and consider these factors while choosing a family tent;

  • Tent material
  • Tent type
  • Tent shape
  • Size of tent
  • Tent layout
  • Type of poles and pole connection
  • Floor space and Headroom
  • Doors and windows
  • Extra tent features
  • Additional tent items

Tent material

The material that the tent is made of is a very important factor. Most of the tents are made from three kinds of fabrics; nylon, cotton or poly-cotton.

  • Nylon tents are cheap and affordable. These tents are very light and less bulky, making those easy for small backpacking. Nylon tents can dry out fast and are maintenance free as these are resistant to mildew.  The lightness and less bulkiness make these tents easy to carry to the campsites.However, nylon tents get very hot in hot weather and too chilled in cold weather, as these are not very good insulators. These tents flap around and make lots of noise when the weather becomes a little windy, which might be disturbing for the campers while trying to get a sound sleep. This type of a tent is not naturally breathable and cause condensation if the source of ventilation is less. The color of nylon tents often fade away due to exposure to UV rays.
  • Cotton tents are the traditional ones. These tents are good insulators and don’t get too warm in hot weather or chilly in cold. This type of a tent is heavier and it doesn’t make too much noise even if it flaps due to the wind. Cotton tents last longer than nylon ones and can bear heavy UV rays.Cotton tents are heavy and bulky, making those little difficult to carry to the campsite. This type of a ten is prone to mildew if packed in wet condition and needs a lot of maintenance. If the tent is wet, it needs long time to dry out. The cotton tents are more expensive. Before using this type of a tent for camping, one needs to weather the tent in order to make the tent resistant to leaking.
  • Poly-cotton tents are the hybrid tents, made from mixture of nylon/polyester and cotton. These tents are not too heavy, and have all the positive points of both nylon and cotton, with less negative points. These tents are affordable with average cost. Poly-cotton tents are perfect choice for family camping trips.

Tent type

Family camping tents come in many types; these are some of the types of family tents that are good for family camping trips;

  • Three season tents are specially designed for different types of weather conditions, from spring to rainfall, this type of a tent can bear any weather and keeps the campers dry and cozy. Three season tents are made of solid materials and mesh so that these can withstand even strong winds, balancing between protection and ventilation. One should remember that the three season tents are not compatible for all the four seasons, these tents are not for snowy camping areas and might be damaged if used in snowy campsites.
  • Four season convertible tents are compatible for all the seasons. These tents have features of rainfly, poles and vestibule that allow the tents to be stripped down during summer and again fortified during stormy weather. The four season tents are hybrid tents and can bear any weather conditions. These tents have windows that have zipping features, which allow the campers to close the windows during storm or snow. This type of a tent is very reliable, but it is much heavier due to the fabric that it is made from.
  • Mountain tents are specially designed only for winter season. These tents can bear the worst and windiest weather conditions as these are made of tough fabrics and have strong poles. There are loops that are affixed to the tents’ fly, called the guy-out points. Mountain tents come mostly in dome shape, which look like boulder and this design helps in shedding wind.
  • Tarp tents are the lightest type of tents. These tents are made from nylon.  One must be expert in tying knots, to be able to set up these tents. Tarp tents have no walls and floors, and need to be set to trees or trekking poles. These tents are not for family camping, but can be used for emergency shelter if the primary tent fails. The tarp tent can be used to give shade when the family is out for few hours picnic trip on a sunny day.

Tent shape

Shape of the ten is one very important factor that one would like to consider while buying a tent for family;

  • Dome shape

The dome is a very common shape for family camping tents. These tents come in a wide variety of design and sizes. The dome tents are ideal choice for camping in windy campsites. Though the floor space might not be that much convincing, but these tents are one of the best tents for family camping trips. The dome shaped tent may not be a good choice for a family with more than four members.

  • A-Frame and modified A-frame shape

The A-frame shape is one the oldest and traditional shape for family camping tents. These tents are cheap and affordable. The walls are sloppy and so these tents have limited head and elbow room. The A-frame shaped tents cannot bear high blowing wind, so these tents are not recommended for windy campsites.

Modified A-frame shaped tents are same as the A-frame shaped tents, but these tents have curved side-walls or centre hoop poles in order to increase the interior space of the tents.

  • Tunnel shape

Tunnel shaped tents or the tube tents are not free standing tents and require proper staking. These tents are very light and are good resistance to various weather elements. The tube tents are ideal choice for large families as these tents provide adequate space. The tunnel shaped tent is the best choice for a large family.

  • Wedge shape

Wedge shaped tents are high at head and low at the ends. These tents are light and good for ventilation. However, the wedge shaped tents don’t provide adequate space.

Size of tent

Size of the tent is also a very important factor. For a family camping trip, it is much better to get a large family tent that fits in all the members of the family, so that the trip gets more entertaining. One should always keep in mind the number of members and the gears while selecting the tent and number of berths of the tent should also include the gears. For example, if there are four members, then one should select a tent with 5 berth, one berth is for storing the gears.

Too much large sized tents are also not that good as there might be difficulty in packing and fitting those in the boot of the car. Buying a larger tent means there will be difficulty in setting up the tent, so one should go for a tent with an appropriate size, which would be able to perfectly fit the whole family in.

Tent layout

For a family camping trip, it is best to select a tent that has many separate rooms. When buying a tent with rooms, one should count the number of rooms allotted in the tent. It is best to select a tent according to the number of rooms that will be required, than number of berths. A tent having many rooms is a good choice, as it will give more space for the gears and backpacking. Some of the teenage kids of the family would like to have their own privacy, so it is better if one would choose a tent that has zipping doors between the walls of the tents, separating the rooms.

Type of poles and pole connection

Before looking out for poles, one should know that there are two tent conditions;

  • Freestanding tent doesn’t require staking to make the tent take its ideal shape, which makes it easy for the camper to pitch the tent. But one should always stake the tent in order to prevent it from blowing away during windy weather.
  • Non-Freestanding tent require staking in order to get the tent into its proper shape. One will have to be extra careful while pitching this type of a tent on snow and sand. None-freestanding tents are much lighter and will fit perfectly on tight spots.Poles are the most important part of a tent. To make the tent perfectly on shape and steady, one should select a tent with strong and flexible poles. Mostly poles are of three types, fiberglass poles, metal poles and inflatable poles;
  • Fiberglass tent poles are very flexible and cheap. These poles are mostly used in small tents. If the budget is low and tent size is not so large, one can go for a tent with fiberglass poles. These poles might snap when bent too much, but these can also be repaired very easily. The fiberglass poles are not that good for windy campsites as the poles might bend and even get flattened in strong winds. These poles are good for only small tents and are not recommended for larger tents.
  • Metal poles are used in many tents, as these poles are strong and light. Some have steel poles and some tents have aluminum poles. Aluminum poles are very light and easy to carry. These poles are mostly used in backpacking tents. Steel poles are heavier and very strong, recommended for large family tents. These days, carbon fiber poles are also coming up, which are found in high quality tents. The carbon fiber poles are strong and light, but these are more expensive than other metal poles and are not as durable as the steel or aluminum poles.Metal poles are very strong and are the best choice for large family tents, as these can withstand strong winds. However, the metal poles are heavier then the fiberglass poles and also way more expensive. It takes longer time to pitch the tents with metal poles and if the pole gets damaged accidentally, the repairing of the metal pole is not easy and will cost a lot.
  • Inflatable poles or vacuum poles are the modern type of poles. Some tents are designed in a way that the tents don’t need any poles to support those, as these tents have structures that allow the user just to pump the air into the provided space, which is then filled by vacuum and take the shape of poles within the tents. The tents with inflatable poles can be set up easily and very quickly. These features make the larger tents much lighter to carry along, but the tents are not that light as these are made of heavy materials. The tents with inflatable poles cannot be rigid in strong winds and these can be found only in expensive and high quality tents.Pole connection is the connection of the pole to the tent. Mostly the poles are connected to the tents in two ways;
  • Clipping is the connection in which the tents are attached to the poles using plastic clips. The clip connection is the easiest and fastest way of setting up the tents. The air-flow is balanced in this connection, but during strong winds, the tents with this pole connection won’t be able to stand rigid.
  • Sleeve connection is the connection in which the poles are inserted into the sleeves of the tent, which are particularly designed for this purpose. This connection makes the tent strong and rigid even in windy weather conditions. Setting up of the tent with this type of pole connection takes a lot of time. If the tent is not well ventilated, then condensation might occur.

Floor space and Headroom

Floor space is an important feature that one would like to consider if one is very tall, as the floor space of tent will need to be more. One must thoroughly check the dimensions of the tent.

Headroom should also be considered while buying a tent. The headroom depends on the slope of the tent walls. Tents with proper headroom provide good space in the tent. In case the family is likely to get stuck in the campsite due to bad weather condition, it is best to choose a tent with enough head room.

Doors and windows

Doors are very important part of the tents, as these are the main mode of entrance and exit for outdoors as well as other rooms. One needs be very careful about the entrance door while selecting a tent. Large doors are good, as these provide more lighting and ventilation to the tent, but it is necessary to check if there are gullies on the fly of the tent in order to direct away the rain water. If the rain water will pour directly through the entrance of the door then it will be a big issue as the water will wet the gears in the tent. Now-a-days many tents have zipping doors to deal with heavy rainfall and storm.

Windows are necessary part of the tents as these are the source of lighting and ventilation for large family tents that have only one or two doors, which are unable to provide enough lighting or ventilation to the tents. Many tents come with blinds that can be put down if privacy is required. Some tents come with larger windows and zipping blinds those are necessary for dealing with storms and heavy rainfall.

Additional tent features

Along with the basic tent features, there are some other features that one can look for, while buying a family tent;

  • Storage pockets are the small pockets on the inner wall of the tents.  These pockets can be used to store small and important items.
  • Lantern hooks are required for holding lanterns in case of power shortage. Many tents have this feature. One can also use these hooks to hold the bulb wires.
  • Electric cord entrance is found in many tents, the electric cord entrance is a hole in the tent specially designed to place the outer electric cord through it into the tent.
  • Mud valance are featured in many tents, necessary for directing away the rain water from the base of the tent.
  • Trip-free entrance is a trend of family tents now-a-days. In this the ground sheet is flat at the entrance in order to prevent the campers from tripping and falling.
  • Guy-lines are found in many tents, which are specially designed for the tents to stand strong and stable during strong rainfall, storm and snow.

Extra tent items

Along with the tent, there are few items that can be bought, to make the tent look more attractive and homely;

  • Extension can be bought along with the tent in case one more room is required to be added. If one is likely to need the extension, it is best to buy the extension at the time of purchasing the tent, as the extension of that particular tent model might not be available after few years or even months. Some brands even give the extension at discount, if bought together with the tent.
  • Porch can provide a good weather entrance. If the tent that one has selected doesn’t have porch along, then the porch can be bought separately. Porches can be helpful in parking motor bikes. The porch can make the tent look more attractive and also gives a homely feeling. All the family members can gather at the porch during the evening and enjoy the campsite view.
  • Tent carpets are very good insulators, when the weather is cold, these can help in keeping the tent floor warm, making it cozy for the campers. One can buy colorful and beautiful designed tent carpets to enhance the inner view of the tent.
  • Entrance mate can be bought and placed at the tent entrance door, to rub the sole of the shoes so that the mud and dirt that are attached at the base of the shoes are cleaned.

Conclusion

If one wants to have a good camping experience with the family, the most important thing is comfort. Everyone can enjoy the outdoors, only if the resting is comfortable, as a comfortable sleep is necessary as well as the family has to be protected and safe from the various weather elements. Overall, a good family tent must have these basic features;

  • Affordable, easy to set up, light weight, makes less flapping noise and resistant to mildew and UV rays.
  • Compatible with all weather conditions.
  • Appropriate size with required number of rooms, adequate floor space and headroom.
  • Good shape with strong poles that can withstand harshest weather conditions.
  • Large doors and windows with zipping and easy to in and out design.
  • Gullies on the fly of entrance doors.
  • All necessary additional features like hooks, pockets, and cord entrance.

Choosing the right tent is not easy. This guide is for the beginners, inexperienced and confused customers who are keen to buy a good family tent for camping trip.