Which is the best quality heavy duty camping tent?

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Camping tents are designed to provide a reasonably pleasant outdoor experience by being spacious, user-friendly, and feature-rich. On a wet day, many of these behemoths have enough space to put up cots or even chairs and a table for card games. Even the cheapest tents on our list should be enough for vehicle campers who take a number of excursions each year during the summer months. Better materials and internal room are worth the extra money for harsher weather conditions or more regular usage. The top camping tents of 2023 are detailed here. See our comparison table and purchasing tips below the choices for additional details.

Our Team’s Camping Tent Picks

  • Best Overall Camping Tent: The North Face Wawona 6
  • A Close Second (With Better Weather Protection): REI Co-op Base Camp 6
  • Best Budget Camping Tent: Coleman Skydome 6P
  • Best Crossover Camping/Backpacking Tent: Marmot Tungsten 4P

Best Overall Camping Tent

1. The North Face Wawona 6 ($500)

The North Face Wawona 6 tent

Floor area: 86.1 sq. ft.
Peak height: 80 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 20 lbs. 15 oz.
What we like: A large entryway and an open interior at a reasonable price.
What we don’t: It takes time to put up, has a partial-coverage rainfly, and a drafty mesh entrance.

The North Face might be hit or miss in the camping industry, but their Wawona line is a sure bet. The most recent update was to a hybrid double-wall design (the previous generation had a less breathable single-wall construction), and they also retooled the pole structure to make assembly simpler. Offered in four- and six-person capacities, the tunnel-like design is reminiscent of REI’s Wonderland 6 below and provides a generous amount of interior space, including around 3 more square feet of floor area and an additional 2 inches of peak height—all for around $100 less. The huge entrance vestibule (44.7 sq. ft.) easily serves as a sitting area—to attain the same adaptability with the Wonderland, you’ll need to buy the Mud Room add-on ($125) separately. Overall, the Wawona is an amazingly livable design and a good bargain.

Yet, despite the revised pole structure, we found the Wawona to be time-consuming and unpleasant to put up. To keep upright, the vestibule must be properly guyed out, and the peculiar pole system required some time to make taut and secure. The hybrid double-wall construction vents much better than a single-wall tent, such as the NEMO Wagontop below, and it’s also less prone to gathering moisture in humid or wet conditions. Final nitpicks include the rainfly, which doesn’t cover the lower portion of the tent, and the all-mesh door can be a source of serious heat loss and drafts in the cold (for a more weather-worthy option, see REI’s Base Camp below). Yet no tent is flawless, and the Wawona’s mesh-heavy construction, spacious inside, and affordable price win it our top spot for 2023. In addition to the modest four-person capacity ($400), it is also available in an eight-person version ($699) for larger families and parties.

A Close Second (With Better Weather Protection)

2. REI Co-op Base Camp 6 ($549)

Floor area: 84 sq. ft.
Peak height: 74 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P
Weight: 20 lbs. 10 oz.
What we like: Sturdy, weather-worthy structure and ease of use.
What we don’t: It’s rather costly and not as tall as Wonderland or Upward.

Base Camp 6, which draws ideas from alpine designs for a significant gain in weather-worthiness, is towards the top of REI’s camping range for 2023. The dome shape and overlapping five-pole system mean the walls aren’t as vertical as the Wawona’s above, but it’s still very easy to move around inside, and the reward is far better resistance against strong gusts (it’s rated for 3+ season use, meaning the tent can hold its own). The remainder of the design is also impressive, with a superb blend of quality materials and design elements such as two roof vents, useful organization, and even reflective accents to help you see the tent in the dark.

It’s worth mentioning that the Base Camp recently increased in price by $80 (from $469 to $549 for the 6P capacity), making it the third-most expensive choice in REI’s camping tent lineup (right behind the Wonderland 6 and Wonderland X tents below). It’s by far the most weather-resistant choice, but it employs less mesh than both the Wonderland and Skyward below, which has a significant influence on ventilation. Also, although having a comparable floor space, the Base Camp seems much smaller owing to the absence of vertical walls. Finally, we’d split it down as follows: The new Skyward (which replaces the popular Grand Hut) is the best value for most family campers, the Base Camp is best for those who plan to take their tent into relatively rough and rowdy weather, and the Wonderland is the most luxurious, fully featured option for those looking for the ultimate home-in-the-woods experience…

3. Coleman Skydome 6P ($150)

Coleman Skydome camping tent

Floor area: 85 sq. ft.
Peak height: 72 in.
Capacities: 2P, 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 19 lbs. 5.4 oz.
What we like: Easy assembly and a spacious cabin at an affordable price.
What we don’t: There is just one entrance, and the fiberglass poles aren’t particularly sturdy.

Coleman is nearly associated with low-cost camping gear, so it’s no surprise that their Skydome 6 is our top budget selection this season. What surprises us is how contemporary this tent seems and feels. In stark contrast to Coleman’s fairly dated and cheap-feeling Sundome below, the Skydome is far more weather-worthy with a full-coverage rainfly (the Sundome’s leaves most of the sides exposed) and uses pre-bent poles and more vertical walls that open up the interior in a big way. We also like that the poles are pre-attached, making setup a snap, and that the wide entrance and substantially large vestibule contribute to overall convenience.

When it comes to the variations between the two Coleman types, the Skydome has 15 square feet less floor space, but the aforementioned pole structure and vertical walls help to maximize livability. The Skydome costs around $25 more than the Sundome on Amazon at the time of publication, but individuals who visit even a few weekends a year will undoubtedly enjoy the upgraded construction. The Skydome has just one door and employs less expensive materials than the more expensive alternatives on our list, including fiberglass poles that aren’t as durable as aluminum, but the rapid erection and spacious inside are a winning combination.

4. Marmot Tungsten 4P ($399)

Marmot Tungsten 4P camping tent

Floor area: 52.7 sq. ft.
Peak height: 52 in.
Capacities: 1P, 2P, 3P, 4P
Weight: 9 lbs. 3.8 oz.
What we like: A proven crossover option at a good price.
What we don’t: Somewhat less roomy than a specialized camping tent (and the new version is even smaller than its predecessor).

The majority of the tents on our list are solely for car camping, which means they’re hefty enough that you’ll only be moving them a few steps from your vehicle. There are, however, a few crossover alternatives that can serve double duty if you want to trek into the wilderness. The Tungsten 4P from Marmot is a prime example: The Tungsten can hold two sleeping mats side by side and has a peak height of 52 inches, which is plenty for sitting up, changing, or playing cards when vehicle camping. Moreover, the pole design extends the walls to be almost vertical at the bottom, giving the room a somewhat open sense. At just over 9 pounds, the Tungsten isn’t a featherweight by any means (and we’re sad to see that weight jumped by a considerable 12.8 oz. recently), but it’s perfectly serviceable for camping and short backpacking trips, especially if you can divvy up the carrying responsibilities.

The Marmot Tungsten, like virtually other crossover tents, has its share of compromises. A specialized camping tent is considerably preferable in terms of living area and durability for individuals who purely vehicle camp: The Tungsten is made of lighter materials, and Marmot’s most recent upgrade reduced the footprint by 5.6 square feet (floor area went from 58.3 to 52.7 sq. ft.). On the other end of the spectrum, those who are more serious about backpacking may want a lighter and more compressible design like Big Agnes’ Copper Spur HV UL (the 4P model shaves off around 3.5 lbs. and packs down much better than the Tungsten, although it costs a whopping $800). Marmot also offers two- and three-person variants of this tent for smaller families or couples, which reduces weight significantly.

5. NEMO Aurora Highrise 6P ($500)

NEMO Aurora Highrise 6P camping tent

Floor area: 83.3 sq. ft.
Peak height: 77 in.
Capacities : 4P, 6P
Weight: 18 lbs. 10 oz.
What we like: Great overall performance, simple to set up, and extremely well made.
What we don’t: The small second door and dome form lose some side headroom.

The Aurora series was launched by New Hampshire-based NEMO a few years ago, providing a challenger to crossover alternatives like the Marmot Tungsten above and REI Trail Hut below. The most recent Highrise variant, on the other hand, is aimed at the luxury and luxurious end of the market, with a standing-height interior, steep sidewalls, and enormous footprint that rivals the livability of competitors like the top-rated Wawona and REI Wonderland below. As we’ve come to expect from NEMO, the Aurora Highrise is also thoughtfully built with windows at each side that make it easy to air things out and remain protected from rain when open, two large doors and vestibules, a rainfly that can be staked out as an awning (poles sold separately), and high-quality materials throughout—including robust aluminum poles and a thick 150-denier floor that’s outfitted with a fun checkered pattern.

We just tested the Aurora in the Pacific Northwest during the summer and were really pleased. The tent is very easy to put up (it took about 5 minutes with two people and can easily be done alone), and all of the components have a very tough and confident feel to them. We also love the massive, oval-shaped main door that makes entry and exit a breeze, although we wish the second door shared the same design (it’s around half the size). The dome shape also sacrifices some headroom at the sides—REI’s tunnel-like Wonderland does a better job at maximizing the peak height—and you can get more vestibule space for big and bulky items with the Wawona above. But, the Aurora’s benefits in use and build quality are difficult to match, making it our favorite new design this year.

6. REI Co-op Wonderland 6 ($599)

REI Co-op Wonderland 6 camping tent

Floor area: 83.3 sq. ft.
Peak height : 78 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P
Weight: 22 lbs. 15 oz.
What we like: Large inside with excellent airflow and high-quality textiles and poles.
What we don’t: Pricey, with little weather protection and little vestibule room.

The North Face’s Wawona 6 above has a superior price-to-roominess ratio, but REI’s new Wonderland 6 (which replaces the hugely popular Kingdom) has more features. Like the Kingdom, this luxurious tent is highlighted by near-vertical walls, lots of mesh for ventilation and stargazing (including well-placed triangular windows), and a tunnel-like shape that delivers fantastic livability. The six-person variant is ideal for families and bigger groups: There’s plenty of space to stand and stretch out, color-coded components make assembly fast and uncomplicated, and a central divider separates sleeping and daytime spaces. It’s true the Wonderland is expensive at $599 (a notable $100 price jump over the Kingdom 6), but it undercuts competitors like MSR’s Habitude and the six-person version of NEMO’s Wagontop below without compromising on material quality or durability.

What changed when REI replaced the Kingdom with the Wonderland? Although having the same floor space and peak height, the Wonderland now has small awnings over each entrance that provide minimal protection. REI does sell a separate Mud Room attachment for $125 to cover the entryway and increase storage space, but it tacks on another 100 inches to the tent’s already-substantial footprint. While REI did remove the top roof vents, which were a source of vulnerability on the Kingdom, the scalloped rainfly left a substantial section of the sides exposed to wet. Finally, the Wonderland has a less functional storage layout and trades the handy backpack-style stuff sack for a smaller and more basic design. Yet, the Wonderland’s outstanding livability and high-quality construction remain, making it highly desirable to families and big groups…

7. Kelty Wireless 6 ($300)

Kelty Wireless 6 camping tent

Floor area: 86.9 sq. ft.
Peak height: 76 in.
Capacities: 2P, 4P, 6P
Weight: 17 lbs. 3 oz.
What we like: A great price for a nice overall design.
What we don’t: The materials are a step down from the more expensive tents on our list.

Several of the tents on our list cost well over $300, but Kelty always seems to do a good job of balancing quality and affordability. Their Wireless is case in point: It’s relatively affordable at $300 for the six-person version but includes a number of upgrades compared to cheaper tents like the Coleman Skydome above and Sundome below. You have two entrances and two vestibules (both Colemans only have one), as well as a full-coverage rainfly for rainy and windy weather (the Sundome’s just covers the top). Kelty also incorporates additional mesh into its design, making it simpler to stay cool in the summer heat. Throw in a decently roomy interior with a center ridgepole that stretches the walls up and away (again, both Colemans lacks this), and you have one heckuva value.

What are you giving up with the Kelty Wireless? For starters, the floor material and mesh are thinner than those found in the more costly alternatives on our list. This helps to keep the weight down, but it also means that the tent will be less robust over time. Second, fiberglass poles will not withstand harsh weather as effectively as metal poles. Finally, the Wireless is a very popular budget option, and you may have a hard time getting your hands on one—we’ve seen the tent go in and out of stock several times over the past year, although it’s widely available at the time of publishing. Other from these flaws, the Wireless is an excellent camping tent for people on a tight budget. See the $240 Tallboy 6 from Kelty for another terrific deal with a comparable form and floor space for a bit less weight.

8. Marmot Limestone 6P ($499)

Marmot Limestone 6P camping tent

Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
Peak height: 76 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 17 lbs. 9 oz.
What we like: High-quality construction and a large enough tent to accommodate most campers.
What we don’t: Not as storm-proof as the Marmot Halo; availability was limited at the time of publication.

The livability of the TNF Wawona and REI Wonderland above is difficult to top, but the Limestone from Marmot is another superb option. This camping tent includes ample sleeping space for six (or four if you like to spread out), is easy to pitch, and is reasonably weather-resistant thanks to a full-coverage rainfly and taut DAC pole design. And in addition to its tall 76-inch peak height (the Wawona and Wonderland are 80 and 78 in. respectively), the Marmot’s poles also effectively stretch the walls outwards to create an even roomier-feeling interior. The Limestone is on the more expensive side at $500, but it’s less expensive than the Wonderland and performs better when the wind comes up.

The Limestone is suitable for individuals who camp solely on hot summer days, which is a sizable proportion of the population: Even with the fly on, its mesh-heavy construction, vents, and near-vertical walls make it comfy. Those searching for a more storm-proof design can choose Marmot’s Halo. That tent has a beefed-up pole structure, features less mesh in the tent body, and costs an additional $150 for the 6P version, but it will stand up to the elements much better. In the end, both are good choices from one of our favorite camping companies, but the Limestone is a better bargain for fair-weather campers. Note: At the time of publication, availability was restricted, however Marmot did have the 6P model in stock on their website. And for the ultimate in car camping luxury, including modern trimmings like a convertible awning and door mat for dirty shoes.

9. REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 ($299)

REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 camping tent

Floor area: 55 sq. ft.
Peak height: 48 in.
Capacity: 2P, 4P
Weight: 8 lbs. 1.6 oz.
What we like: A possible alternative to the Tungsten above for $100 less.
What we don’t: Can’t match the Marmot’s very open shape.

The third REI product on our list is the Trail Hut 4, which competes with the Tungsten 4P from Marmot as a suitable crossover car camping and backpacking alternative. When compared to the Tungsten, the Trail Hut weighs just over one pound less, has 2.3 square feet more floor area, and costs $100 less. The Marmot has a 4-inch-taller peak height and more open shape that boosts its appeal for families (the REI’s pole structure is decidedly basic and doesn’t do much to stretch the walls up and away), but the Trail Hut is yet another excellent value from the Seattle-based brand.

As previously mentioned, there are several drawbacks to utilizing a single tent for both camping and hiking. For the former, the Trail Hut is significantly less large and pleasant to spend time in than taller and more pricey choices like the NEMO’s Wagontop 4P below and our top-rated Wawona’s four-person variant. And for trips into the backcountry, you can go much lighter with a targeted backpacking option like the aforementioned Big Agnes Copper Spur (alternatively, smaller groups can save with the $199 Trail Hut 2, which clocks in at 5 lbs. 15 oz.). REI does produce a lighter-weight option in their Half Dome SL series, however capacity is limited to “3+” people (48.75 sq. ft. of floor area; 5 lb. 11.7 oz.). Yet, if you like camping and want to dip your toes into the world of backpacking, the Trail Hut is an excellent entry-level alternative.

10. Big Agnes Big House 6 ($480)

Big Agnes Big House 6 camping tent

Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
Peak height: 81 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P
Weight: 16 lbs. 7 oz.
What we like: Tall walls and airy feeling inside.
What we don’t: Less weather-worthy than the competition.

The Big Agnes Big House, as the name suggests, provides exceptional internal room at a reasonable price. With 83 square feet of floor area and a host of high-end features including ample storage, a front door mat for stowing dirty shoes, and a convenient “shelter” mode for providing shade on hot days, the Big House goes head-to-head with premium designs like the REI Wonderland 6, Marmot Limestone 6P, and The North Face Wawona 6 above. The Big House is also rather tall, with the sides aggressively sloping upward to a peak height of 81 inches in the six-person variant. Remember that this additional space might generate a sail-like effect in the wind, so stake out the tent thoroughly and use the provided guylines.

The Big House is a decent ventilator thanks to offset mesh and polyester ripstop panels on the tent body, and with two doors on both variants, the tent is a great bargain at $480 for the six-person and $400 for the four-person (of note: The entire collection is discounted considerably at the time of publishing). Unfortunately, both versions lack a vestibule since the conventional rainfly does not cover the front entrance. For an additional $140, you may purchase the vestibule as an accessory. Alternatively, Big Agnes sells their Bunk House 6, which is pricier at $600 but comes with a full-coverage fly and awning-style door that doubles as an oversized vestibule or hangout space and can be staked out on its own as a sunshade. Their $500 Spicer Peak 6 features a full-coverage fly but cannot be staked up as a shelter. Stepping down in price, the Dog House 6 has a single-wall construction and just one door, but it saves you over $100…

11. REI Co-op Skyward 6 ($449)

REI Co-op Skyward 6 camping tent

Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
Peak height: 78 in.
Capacity: 4P, 6P
Weight: 15 lbs. 7 oz.
What we like: Extremely spacious inside at a reasonable weight and price; quick to assemble.
What we don’t: There is just one entrance, there is limited vestibule storage, and there is no full-coverage rainfly.

REI’s Skyward camping tent was a new addition to their line for 2022, replacing the famous Grand Hut, which previously held the top position in our rankings. Importantly, they took some key cues from the Grand Hut’s design, including a standing-height interior with a peak height of 78 inches, reasonably low weight, near-vertical walls that maximize roominess, and an easy-to-pitch freestanding design. With the same thick materials along the floor (150D) and fly (75D) and a big 83-square-foot footprint, floor area and durability are also comparable (the Grand Hut 6 was 83.3 sq. ft.). Taken as a whole, it’s yet another well-made and comfortable alternative from our favorite outdoor co-op.

What are the drawbacks of REI’s new Skyward 6? Although we like the wide awning for lounging on sunny days (it can be be rolled up partially in moderate weather), it doesn’t give much vestibule area when zipped shut. By comparison, the Grand Hut featured two vestibules totaling 38 square feet, but the Skyward only had one vestibule with 19.5 square feet of enclosed storage. The Skyward also has just one entrance, which is rather large but makes it difficult for several campers to enter and escape. Finally, the tall and upright design provides poor wind resistance, and the tiny stuff bag necessitates careful packing to fit all of the components. These criticisms are enough to drop the Skyward to the middle of the pack, but it’s still another large and well-built REI design (especially if you like the integrated awning)…

12. NEMO Wagontop 4P ($550)

Nemo Equipment Wagontop 4P camping tent

Floor area: 69.4 sq. ft.
Peak height: 80 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 20 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: A well-thought-out and enjoyable design with enough of space.
What we don’t: The high cost and single-wall construction restrict venting choices.

NEMO always seems to come up with intelligent and inventive tent designs, and the Wagontop 4P is the second choice from their collection to make our list this year. This tent has excellent interior space with a standing-height ceiling at the entrance (this unique design beats out dome-shaped tents in terms of headroom), a hubbed pole structure with near-vertical walls, and an optional garage accessory for even more storage. Add in some colorful panoramic windows and optional extras like a Victory Blanket (available separately) that matches the tent floor proportions, and you’ve got yourself a fun and fully equipped camping tent.

What are the NEMO Wagontop’s drawbacks? To start, the four-person version is rather expensive at $550, and price jumps up to a whopping $700 for the six-person version, which is a significant $200 more than the similarly sized Wawona and Aurora Highrise above (although both models are discounted at the time of publishing). Second, because of its vertical construction, the Wagontop is not suitable for nights with severe winds (a tent like the REI Base Camp would be a better bet for that). Last but not least, the Wagontop features a single-wall construction that is simple to erect but does not ventilate as effectively as its double-wall siblings (though the large windows do help in this regard). Yet, for those who value livability and construction quality, the NEMO is an excellent choice, and the lower price just adds to its allure.

13. REI Co-op Wonderland X ($1,249)

REI Co-op Wonderland X camping tent

Floor area: 70.5 sq. ft.
Peak height: 75 in.
Capacity: 4P
Weight: 35 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: All of the advantages of Wonderland above, plus almost limitless flexibility for basecamping.
What we don’t: Overkill for most.

REI’s Wonderland above stands out for its highly livable and well-ventilated inside, and the Wonderland X takes that concept a step further with changeable sleeping, cooking, and socializing zones. It’s basically two tents rolled into one: The rainfly may stand alone as a shade structure or camp kitchen, while the clip-in inner tent accommodates up to four people comfortably. And REI clearly put a lot of thought into the palatial build, including two oversized doors (they’re big enough that you can back a standard wagon or SUV underneath) and four side panels along the fly that can be rolled up for extra airflow or staked out as awnings (poles sold separately). Storage is plentiful, with plenty of pockets for storing supplies, and the tent is relatively weather-resistant, with a silicone-treated DWR finish and coatings throughout the fly to prevent mildew and fading from UV radiation. Considered as a whole, the Wonderland X is the pinnacle of glamping, leaving nothing to be desired for ardent car campers.

Yet, as the $1,249 price tag suggests, the Wonderland X is clearly overkill for most people. The Wonderland X, like the basic Wonderland tent above, is unabashedly vast, and you’ll need a large area to handle the massive footprint (the four-person inner tent measures 100 x 100 in., and the vestibule adds another 38.3 sq. ft.). It’s also heavy at just over 35 pounds and bulky when packed down, although the duffel-style carrying bag makes it easy to divvy things up with separate stuff sacks for the rainfly, inner tent, and smaller components like poles and stakes. Lastly, due to the structure’s intricacy, it may take some time and skill to put up, however most of the components are color-coded to assist speed the process. If the price is justified, the Wonderland X is one of the most uncompromising and adaptable alternatives on the market, making it an excellent choice for big parties wishing to basecamp for long durations.

14. MSR Habitude 6 ($660)

MSR Habitude 6 tent

Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
Peak height : 77 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P
Weight: 14 lbs.
What we like: This is an excellent choice for families because to its standing-height interior and vertical sides.
What we don’t: The Wonderland 6 is more expensive and less sturdy; it just has one door.

MSR is best known for their premium backpacking and four-season tents, but their Habitude series takes direct aim at ultra-premium camping options like the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone above. The MSR, like both of those tents, is a fantastic choice for families, with a standing-height interior, big floor area, and a comprehensive feature set that includes plenty of inside storage. MSR is recognized for its rugged construction, and the Habitude follows pace with a clearly solid pole structure and polyurethane coating for further moisture protection. The walls aren’t as vertical as the Wonderland or Limestone (or our top-ranked Wawona), which translates to a little less roominess inside, but the tradeoff is increased stability in strong gusts.

Stacked up against the similarly built and intentioned Wonderland 6, the Habitude boasts a similar floor area and peak height but is lighter by more than 8 pounds, noticeably more weather-worthy with a full-coverage rainfly, and includes an integrated porch light to make entry and exit in the dark easier (a small but thoughtful touch). Nonetheless, we like the Wonderland since it is more robust, has two doors (the Habitude only has one, while the REI lacks vestibules), and costs around $60 less. Overall, both are terrific choices for families, with the ultimate selection based on how you prioritize price, weight, and livability. MSR will soon release its new Habiscape line, which will provide less weather protection but greater living space and amenities at a cheaper price range.

15. Caddis Rapid 6 ($350)

Caddis Rapid 6 camping tent

Floor area: 100 sq. ft.
Peak height: 80 in.
Capacity: 6P
Weight: 25 lbs. 8 oz.
What we like: Fast setup and quality materials.
What we don’t: Rainfly with just partial covering and a very huge packed size.

Tents with permanently connected poles may significantly reduce overall setup time for individuals who prefer a quick setup. Caddis isn’t the only firm that uses this quick-pitch design, but we believe it’s the finest available. Unlike the popular Coleman Instant Tent (not included), the Rapid 6’s distinguishing characteristic is the high quality of its materials. True, the poles are heavy steel, but everything else stacks up very well at this price point. It’s also huge on the interior, with 100 square feet of useable space owing to near-vertical walls.

What isn’t to enjoy about the Rapid 6? The most significant is the rainfly, which only provides full coverage on two sides and doesn’t have any vestibule space. Most individuals should not have a problem with this for fair-weather camping. Another disadvantage is the very huge packed size, and at 50 inches in length, it might be difficult to put into a full trunk. Yet, if you want a tent with a quick set-up and minimal sacrifices, the Rapid 6 is an excellent alternative.

16. Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model 6-Person ($500)

Cabela's Alaskan Guide camping tent

Floor area: 90 sq. ft.
Peak height: 73 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 33 lbs.
What we like: A very strong, weather-worthy design.
What we don’t: Heavy and not a class leader in livable space.

Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model is a tried-and-true winner for camping in inclement weather. With a strong six-pole hexagonal design, full-coverage rainfly, thick polyurethane floor and fly coatings, and tough fabrics, the tent is capable of handling brutal wind (it’s rated for 50 mph gusts), rain, and even snow. It’s also comfy in moderate temps and packed with functions. Mesh vents and windows can be opened to provide more circulation, the front vestibule is spacious, and there are numerous pockets around the inside to keep your belongings organized. The REI Wonderland above has superior organization and more netting for warm weather, but the Alaskan Guide is the best choice for storm shelter.

What are the disadvantages of the Cabela’s Alaskan Guide tent? First, its hexagonal floor design doesn’t use space as efficiently as the tunnel-shaped Wonderland. Also, for $500, we’d love to see it with metal poles rather than fiberglass. The tent’s sturdy construction should prevent durability difficulties, although fiberglass is more prone to breaking under stress than aluminum (new poles are available from Cabela’s if needed). The Alaskan Guide is also somewhat hefty at 33 pounds, but it’s a fair sacrifice if you require a weather-resistant design for four-season camping excursions.

17. Eureka Space Camp 6 ($500)

Eureka Space Camp 6 camping tent

Floor area: 83 sq. ft.
Peak height: 76 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P
Weight: 16 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: Protection is adequate, and the venting mechanism is well-executed.
What we don’t: It’s more expensive than the Skyward above and has less space than many other 6P tents.

Eureka, established in New York, has been in the outdoor gear business for almost a century (including wagon covers for horse-drawn carriages in the late 1890s). We prefer the Space Camp 6, which combines a pleasant interior with dependable weather protection and durability. Other highlights include 10 total pockets and Eureka’s Air Exchange System, which lets you to adjust airflow at the top and bottom of the tent depending on circumstances. The Space Camp is a touch more expensive than REI’s similarly constructed Skyward 6 above, and it falls a little short in peak height and general construction quality, but it’s a good deal for what you receive.

It’s worth noting that we had Eureka’s Copper Canyon LX 6 model ranked here previously, which undercuts the Space Camp in price ($330 for the 6P model) and boasts more generous dimensions, including a 100-square-foot interior and taller 84-inch peak height. Nevertheless, the Space Camp outperforms the Copper Canyon in terms of weather resistance, thanks to a full-coverage rainfly (the Copper Canyon’s just covers the mesh roof) and a lower-profile design that is more stable in windy circumstances. You also receive an extra door with the Space Camp, which we like since it adds convenience (entering and exiting a packed tent is much easier). Both models provide a good combination of price and quality, and the ultimate selection will be down on how much you value outright spaciousness (the Copper Canyon wins) vs protection and dependability (the Space Camp gets the nod).

18. Coleman Montana 8P ($162)


Coleman Montana 8P camping tent

Floor area: 112 sq. ft.
Peak height: 74 in.
Capacities: 6P, 8P
Weight: 25 lbs.
What we like: Spacious interior at a great price.
What we don’t: Weather protection and construction quality are lacking.

Many low-cost tents sacrifice internal livability, but this is not the case with Coleman’s Montana 8P. This model stretches a substantial 16 feet in length, has a tall 74-inch peak height (the side rooms are shorter), and includes near-vertical walls that maximize the usable space. A single side entrance in the middle limits ease of entry/exit, but the sheer size of the thing makes it a good fit for parties of four to six people.

Who should consider purchasing the Montana 8P? Families that go on vacation a couple of times a year in good weather are the greatest prospects. The tent is surprisingly sturdy in the wind thanks to a number of included guylines for anchoring it down, but its minimalist rainfly and cheaper build is vulnerable to letting in rain (particularly when it’s coming at the tent sideways). Also, you don’t have a vestibule—the front “porch” offers some covering but doesn’t conceal your stuff and isn’t large enough to depend on in a storm. Finally, as long as you have moderate expectations—you can easily get one for less than $200—the Montana 8P offers a very appealing blend of space and pricing.

19. Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8 ($760)

Floor area: 140 sq. ft.
Peak height: 78 in.
Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
Weight: 79 lbs.
What we like: The canvas construction is very durable and weather-resistant.
What we don’t: Expensive, incredibly hefty, and overkill for the vast majority of casual campers.

The other tents on our list are all composed of various thicknesses of nylon and mesh, but the Kodiak Flex-Bow takes it to the next level with a unique canvas construction. What does this have to do with you? Canvas is recognized for its toughness: it can survive strong winds (the steel frame on this tent also helps), heavy rains, and rigorous handling. Moreover, it is effective at both trapping warmth when it is cold and breathing when it is warm. The Kodiak is extremely well-appointed, with wide doors on both sides, a 78-inch peak height, and enough ventilation. Simply said, the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow is an excellent all-season camping tent that can withstand most weather situations.

Canvas, on the other hand, has a few significant drawbacks. To begin with, this eight-person tent weights a substantial 79 pounds and will take up a significant amount of room in your trunk or truck bed. At $760, it’s also the second-most expensive tent on our list (after REI’s opulent Wonderland X above). With these disadvantages, the Kodiak Flex-Bow is not for everyone. Having said that, the tent is a favorite among hunters, which makes sense considering its construction and feature set. Nonetheless, with its spacious interior and waterproof build, it’s an appealing alternative for families and base campers alike.

20. Coleman Sundome 6 ($123)

Coleman Sundome 6 (green) camping tent

Floor area: 100 sq. ft.
Peak height: 72 in.
Capacities: 2P, 3P, 4P, 6P
Weight: 16 lbs. 10 oz.
What we like: Bargain-basement price.
What we don’t: Build quality is questionable, and rainfly covering is low.

Actually, most people only go camping once or twice a season in ideal weather and don’t need all of the bells and whistles of the tents listed above. If this describes you, it’s worth considering Coleman’s Sundome 6, which isn’t fashioned from the most luxurious materials but is sure to get the job done. The main draw for many is price, which often hovers around $100 on Amazon (it’s currently a little more at the time of publishing) and is a steal compared to some of the fully featured tents on this list that cost four or five times that much.

What do you give up by opting with such a low-cost tent? The components, from the clips and poles to the tent walls, have a noticeable cheap feel to them. Moreover, the rainfly covers the majority of the tent body but leaves some of the sides exposed. This shouldn’t be a problem in mild weather, but we prefer complete coverage—such as what you get with Coleman’s more contemporary and well-built Skydome above—for even moderate rain and high winds. The fact that you can currently pick up the Skydome for around $25 more pushes the Sundome to the very bottom of our list, but the combination of roominess and price is undeniably appealing for occasional and fair-weather campers on a strict budget…

Camping Tent Comparison Table

Tent Price Floor Height Capacities Weight Packed Size Doors
TNF Wawona 6 $500 86.1 sq. ft. 80 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 20 lb. 15 oz. 32 x 10 in. 1
REI Co-op Base Camp 6 $549 84 sq. ft. 74 in. 4P, 6P 20 lb. 10 oz. 24 x 11 in. 2
Coleman Skydome 6P $150 85 sq. ft. 72 in. 2P, 4P, 6P, 8P 19 lb. 5 oz. 27 x 10 in. 1
Marmot Tungsten 4P $399 52.7 sq. ft. 52 in. 1P, 2P, 3P, 4P 9 lb. 4 oz. 24.8 x 8.3 in. 2
NEMO Aurora Highrise $500 83.3 sq. ft. 77 in. 4P, 6P 18 lb. 10 oz. 26 x 9.5 in. 2
REI Co-op Wonderland 6 $599 83.3 sq. ft. 78 in. 4P, 6P 22 lb. 15 oz. 32 x 13 in. 2
Kelty Wireless 6 $300 86.9 sq. ft. 76 in. 2P, 4P, 6P 17 lb. 3 oz. 27 x 8 in. 2
Marmot Limestone 6P $499 83 sq. ft. 76 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 17 lb. 9 oz. 28 x 10 in. 2
REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 $299 55 sq. ft. 48 in. 2P, 4P 8 lb. 2 oz. 28.5 x 8.3 in. 2
Big Agnes Big House 6 $480 83 sq. ft. 81 in. 4P, 6P 16 lb. 7 oz. 26 x 15 x 7 in. 2
REI Co-op Skyward 6 $449 83 sq. ft. 78 in. 4P, 6P 15 lb. 7 oz. 27.5 x 9.8 in. 1
NEMO Wagontop 4P $550 69.4 sq. ft. 80 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 20 lbs. 1 oz. 27 x 10 x 10 in. 1
REI Wonderland X $1,249 70.5 sq. ft. 75 in. 4P 35 lbs. 1 oz. 27.4 x 14 x 12.8 in. 6
MSR Habitude 6 $660 83 sq. ft. 77 in. 4P, 6P 14 lbs. 23 x 10 in. 1
Caddis Rapid 6 $350 100 sq. ft. 80 in. 6P 25 lb. 8 oz. 50 x 9 in. 1
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide 6 $500 90 sq. ft. 73 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 33 lb. 31 x 9 x 11 in. 1
Eureka Space Camp 6 $500 83 sq. ft. 76 in. 4P, 6P 16 lb. 1 oz. 25 x 10 in. 2
Coleman Montana 8P $162 112 sq. ft. 74 in. 6P, 8P 25 lb. 28 x 9 x 9 in. 1
Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow $760 140 sq. ft. 78 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 79 lb. 48 x 21.5 in. 2
Coleman Sundome 6 $123 100 sq. ft. 72 in. 2P, 3P, 4P, 6P 16 lb. 10 oz. 28 x 9 x 9 in. 1

Camping Tent Buying Advice 

  • Camping Tent Types
  • Floor Area
  • Peak Height and Pole Structure
  • How Many People Can Really Fit in These Tents?
  • Number of Doors
  • Storage Space: Pockets, Vestibules, and Garages
  • Weather Resistance
  • Ventilation
  • Build Quality and Durability
  • Set up and Take Down
  • Ground Dimensions
  • Weight and Packed Size
  • Footprints
  • The Rest of Your Camping Kit

Camping Tent Types

The camping tent market generally falls largely into two categories: premium designs that utilize high-end materials and prioritize livability and comfort, and more affordable models that stick to the basics and typically cost less than $250. Here, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each kind, as well as other possibilities such as crossover camping/backpacking versions.

Premium Camping Tents
Luxury camping tents are the most expensive, but they come with all the bells and whistles we’d expect from a home away from home. To begin, mid- and high-end alternatives (about $350 and more for a six-person model) make the most of their useable space: A few examples are near-vertical walls, separators, and large vestibules. Liberal use of mesh in the tent body ventilates well in warm or muggy weather, and built-in vents in the rainfly help keep moisture from collecting inside. Also, most of these tents are significantly more weather resistant than inexpensive choices. Almost all premium versions have (or have the option of include) a full-coverage rainfly and sturdy, aluminum pole designs. It’s true that some can be prohibitively expensive (for example, the REI Wonderland 6 is around $600), but for the family or group that heads out a number of times a year, even in bad weather, the long-term investment may be worth it.

Camping tent (REI Co-op Wonderland 4 in Utah) REI’s Wonderland is a decidedly luxurious tent

Budget Camping Tents
Camping, in principle, is a means to simplify life and unplug for a time. In that spirit, budget camping tents are basic but fully functional options for fair-weather campers. There isn’t a distinct boundary between mid-range and budget tents, but for six-person alternatives, it occurs around $250. Budget tents often employ thicker materials, which makes them bulkier and adds weight to the bottom line, but they are also robust and resistant to damp. Their weakness is weather protection. When a storm sweeps through the campground, the cheap tents are usually the ones with damp inside or a mound of broken poles. If camping is new to you or you want to keep things casual in the summer, a low-cost tent will suffice. If the weather goes bad, don’t anticipate anything heroic.

Camping tent (Coleman Sundome at campsite) The budget-friendly Coleman Sundome

Crossover Camping and Backpacking Tents
Even cheap tents can be expensive, so for individuals who intend on camping and trekking with their families, a crossover model may be worth considering. Although much less spacious than a dedicated camping tent, designs like the Marmot Tungsten 4P and REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 can fit four 20-inch-wide pads side-by-side. These tents are compact and light enough for an overnight hiking trip (particularly when shared among group members), yet have enough size to satisfy most campers. But, bear in mind that some versions are made with less durable materials in order to be more compact, and they aren’t the most comfortable for long periods of time. Yet, if you need something to handle both jobs, a crossover choice might be a suitable compromise.

Camping tents (family tent vs. backpacking tent styles) Interior room is sacrificed in a crossover camping/backpacking design (right).

Floor Area

Almost every tent on the market will give floor measurements (or floor area), which is an important indication of overall livability. Tents with comparable sleeping capacity will, in general, have comparable overall floor sizes (80 to 90 square feet for a six-person model). The REI Wonderland 6 has an 83.3 square foot floor space, the Marmot Limestone 6P has an 83 square foot floor area, and the REI Base Camp 6 has an 84 square foot floor area. There are a few roomier six-person models on our list, including the Coleman Sundome 6 and Caddis Rapid 6 (both 100 sq. ft.), but those are more budget-oriented builds with only partial-coverage rainflies, and the Sundome in particular has a dome-style shape that makes it harder to move around inside. In other words, floor area is an important spec to consider, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and should be looked at in conjunction with peak height and pole structure (outlined below) to determine overall spaciousness.

Camping tent (NEMO Aurora Highrise interior) The Aurora Highrise from NEMO has 83.3 square feet of floor area for six people.

Peak Height and Pole Structure

Apart from floor space, peak height and pole construction have a significant influence on overall livability. The peak height of a tent, in particular, indicates whether or not you’ll be able to stand erect, and most vehicle camping-style tents have a peak height of roughly 72 inches. Nevertheless, this value is just one element of the calculation; it is also crucial to consider the slope of the walls and the pole design. Dome tents with basic, X-shaped pole configurations only enable you to enjoy the tent’s peak height in the center. On the other hand, a tent with a more advanced pole system can create nearly vertical walls for walking around. This is one of the main reasons we love the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone: Both ends of the tents have vertical walls, and the pole designs truly opens up the interior. Other standouts in terms of internal size include the cabin-style The North Face Wawona, REI Skyward, and Big Agnes Big House.

Camping tent (REI Base Camp 6 standing inside) REI’s Base Camp 6 has a 74-inch peak height

Capacity: How Many People Actually Fit in These Tents?

The tents above are given a “_ person” capacity, which typically ranges from four to eight people. The number of regular adult sleeping pads that can be set (typically side by side) inside the tent is based on this listing. The six-person REI Co-op Skyward, for example, is 120 inches long, so six normal cushions (20 inches wide) would theoretically fit. But, this does not imply that you should fill your tent to capacity.

If you use wide, 25-inch+ sleeping pads or air mattresses, or just want a little space to move around, we highly recommend sizing up. From our experiences, nobody wants to sleep in a tent that is jammed to capacity, so it’s best to order a slightly larger size than the actual number of people you have in your party. A party of four, for example, should be able to sleep comfortably in a six-person tent, with adequate living area for playing cards, waiting out a storm, and spreading out when sleeping. Many couples and pet owners choose a four-person model with lots of space to spread out.

Camping tent (inside REI Co-op Wonderland 4) The Wonderland 4 is recommended for parties of two to three people.

Number of Doors

We openly like two doors in a big camping tent. If you have a full home, the extra access is helpful, and zipping it up is another option to increase ventilation in the summer heat. A single-door design is one of the most noticeable drawbacks of inexpensive versions such as the Coleman Skydome and Sundome, and even some higher-end alternatives like as the MSR Habitude 6 feature just one doorway. Simply said, falling over your tent mates in the middle of the night isn’t the greatest method to keep everyone pleased. The fairly big openings on these tents ease some of the discomfort, but it’s still a sacrifice worth considering when shopping for a low-cost tent. REI’s distinctive Wonderland X structure includes two enormous doors and four panels along the rainfly for easy entrance and egress on all sides, providing unequaled access.

Camping tent (REI Co-op Skyward 4 exiting tent) The solitary door on the REI Skyward is a significant drawback in terms of convenience.

Storage Space: Pockets, Vestibules, and Garages

Many campers prioritize storage, which begins with inner pockets. As expected, premium options like the REI Wonderland and MSR Habitude include ample space for stowing items like headlamps, maps, books, and other items inside your tent, while budget offerings generally are more barebones. In terms of outside storage, a full-coverage rainfly that shields a tent’s door(s) provides a vestibule in front of those doors. A vestibule may be used for a variety of purposes, including storing goods away from weather and putting on/taking off shoes. If you don’t have a vehicle nearby to keep your belongings, a vestibule should be on your wish list. Furthermore, keep in mind that vestibules are often included in mid-range and luxury camping tents (budget tents with partial rainflies go without).

Camping tent (NEMO Aurora Highrise vestibule) Vestibules are areas outside your tent where you may store wet or soiled goods.

REI’s Wonderland Mud Room takes the vestibule idea to its logical conclusion. The opulent, pole-supported structure spreads out for an extra 56 square feet of space, large enough for a card table or bike storage. You may also zip up the front door and fold up the sides to provide an open, breezy shelter from the sun or light rain. This is a useful addition for long camping excursions or big parties. And it’s worth noting that The North Face’s Wawona 6 above boasts a similar design that comes included with the tent, which adds a healthy 44.7 square feet at the front for stowing gear or use as an additional seating area. REI’s Wonderland X, which is effectively two tents in one, is another noteworthy design. The outer rainfly can be pitched on its own for use as a shade structure or camp kitchen (with plenty of room in the vestibule for setting up chairs and a small table), while the inner tent functions as a dual sleeping/hangout space for up to four adults.

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona 6 vestibule) The large vestibule of The North Face Wawona

Weather Resistance

One of the key reasons to upgrade to a luxury camping model, as mentioned above, is a weather-resistant tent. In most cases, the pole materials (aluminum is better than fiberglass) and designs are more robust, seam sealing and waterproof fabrics improve in quality, and the inclusion of full-coverage rainflies help keep out blowing rain. It’s important to remember that the weather may still be rough in the summer, especially in the highlands (and some national parks).

Camping tent (rainfly setup) In bad weather, partial-coverage rainflies fall short.

Two of the strongest tents on the list are the REI Co-op Base Camp and Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model, which utilize advanced pole designs that are inspired from mountaineering tents. In less severe situations, the Cabela’s may also be utilized for snow camping (for designs meant to withstand serious winter weather, check out our article on the best four-season tents). For most three-season trips, any premium tent should do the trick, as long as it’s been properly staked out (and if the wind picks up, take the time to align the tent and guylines to brace against the wind).

Camping tent (sitting around campfire next to REI Base Camp 6) The durable REI Base Camp is ideal for camping in Washington’s Methow Valley.


Many campers go out during the hot summer months, thus the ventilation design of a tent is important. In general, performance is directly related to price. Several high-end versions have a double-wall structure (the outer rainfly is distinct from the interior tent body) and a lot of mesh, which helps keep things cool and reduces moisture buildup. In addition, deployable vents are often incorporated into the rainfly as a way to encourage more airflow, and some tents like REI’s Skyward 6 have adaptable rainflies that can be rolled up partway in mild conditions.

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona deployable vent) Deploying one of The North Face Wawona 6’s vents

At the low end of the price range, you get less mesh and fewer alternatives for getting air moving without opening doors or windows (thereby compromising weather protection). In addition, some entry-level designs like Coleman’s Sundome include single-wall panels (this means there’s just one layer of fabric to protect you from the elements), which can lead to a muggy interior on warm days and more condensation in the night. In the end, given the considerable price difference between designs, many campers are ready to sacrifice on ventilation, but it’s undeniably another feather in the luxury tent market’s crown.

Camping tent (rolling back rainfly on REI Co-op Skyward 4) Sliding back the rainfly helps ventilation significantly.

Build Quality and Durability

Simply put, the differences in build quality are noticeable between budget and premium camping tents. Paying more money offers you better materials that are stronger compared to their weight and, in theory, should last longer. If you only attend once or twice a year (and primarily in nice weather), a low-cost model like the Coleman Sundome is perfectly enough. But, if you camp often, want a long-term investment for numerous seasons, or just like high-quality gear, we suggest investing in a higher-end camping tent. A full-coverage rainfly, huge vestibules with plenty of inner pockets for kit storage, and sturdy aluminum poles improve a tent’s utility and weather protection.

Camping tent (REI Kingdom 6 interior pockets) Luxury tents often have ample inside storage.

Durability is another element to consider when determining the lifetime of a tent, and important criteria include the thickness of the canopy, floor, and rainfly textiles. The thickness of the floor is especially significant since it will come into close touch with rocks, roots, and other potentially sharp items at camp. The difference between the models discussed above may be significant: The REI Trail Hut 4, for example, loses weight by employing lighter materials throughout, such as a 66-denier (D) floor. This isn’t thin by ultralight standards (targeted backpacking designs go down to around 10 or 15D), but dedicated camping designs like REI’s own Skyward and Wonderland (both 150D) use much more robust fabrics, which boost weight considerably but will stand up much better to long-term use. Many camping tents sit somewhere in the center and are rather durable, but if you’re notoriously rough on your gear, keep this in mind while shopping.

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona tent body closeup) Luxury camping designs, such as the Wawona 6, make use of thick and reassuring textiles.

Set up and Take Down

Camping tents are notoriously difficult to put up due to their big size and many pieces (tent body, rainfly, poles, and stakes). It’s usually advisable to do a test run at home to figure out the procedure, and it also allows you to double-check that you have all the essential components. In general, we recommend setting up a car camping tent with a partner (some smaller four-person models can be done fairly easily by a single person) and you can expect it to take 10 minutes or more to fully deploy (tear down often is a bit faster). One exception to this rule is “instant” tents, such as the Caddis Rapid and Coleman’s Instant model, which simplify the procedure by permanently connecting the poles to the tent body. This style adds weight and size, but some campers may find the convenience tradeoff worthwhile.

Camping tent (setting up The North Face Wawona 6) Oversized camping tents, such as the Wawona 6, may be difficult to put up.

Ground Dimensions

While deciding between tent types, consider the whole footprint or ground area of the tent—some of the six and eight-person sizes are really large. Factoring in some of the large vestibules or “garages” that can be tacked on to the end of a tent, there’s a strong likelihood that it will extend beyond the size of the raised pads at some national parks or campgrounds. Many vehicle camping tents demand a considerably greater expanse of room if you’re used to hiking.

Camping tent (setting up the Coleman Sundome) The size of the ground might vary greatly depending on the tent type and capacity.

A elevated camping pad is typically 10 or 11 feet long, which is a tight fit for a tent like the REI Wonderland 6. (10 feet not including the vestibule). Typically, however, most locations have large pads available, so we wouldn’t recommend downsizing your tent out of fear of not finding a suitable space. But it’s not a bad idea to check out the dimensions of the campsites you plan on visiting and upgrade to a bigger space if possible. If you are unsure or want to use your tent in a smaller space, we suggest choosing with a crossover or backpacking type with a smaller footprint.

Weight and Packed Size

A quick glance at the chart above reveals that the overall weight of our suggested camping tents varies greatly. On the “lightweight” end are crossover car camping and backpacking designs, including the Marmot Tungsten 4P (9 lbs. 3.8 oz.) and REI Co-op Trail Hut 4 (8 lbs. 1.6 oz.), which we’ve found to be an acceptable amount of weight for casual weekend or overnight backpacking trips (especially when divided up between a couple people). Several huge six- or eight-person camping units, on the other hand, easily exceed 20 pounds. The additional weight doesn’t matter much for vehicle camping (exceptions include the 79-lb. Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow), but if you can’t drive all the way up to your campground, overall weight is important to consider.

The packed size of the tent will usually correspond to its weight. Crossover backpacking and camping tents pack down the smallest (the aforementioned Tungsten measures 8.3 x 24.8 in. when packed), while a tent like the Caddis Rapid 6P (9 x 50 in.) will fill up an extra-large duffel bag and take up a good portion of a car trunk. However, if you have the room to keep it and transport it, this isn’t a major disadvantage. But, if space or weight are limited, we prefer a more compact crossover design.

Camping tent (The North Face Wawona packed down) When packed, the Wawona 6 measures a hefty 10 x 32 inches.


Although it is not required, it is frequently a good idea to use a footprint or ground cloth while camping. If you’re camping on dirt or mud, the additional layer makes cleanup quicker and protects the tent’s floor from harm (increasing the tent’s total lifetime). But is it necessary to pay the extra money and buy one manufactured particularly for the tent? They are often in the $50 range, which seems excessive for a single piece of cloth and some webbing. The benefit of utilizing a tent footprint is that it is precut to the right size and the grommets will immediately connect to the tent poles. There is no reason to be concerned since it is an integrated system.

Instead, if you have enough room in your truck, a good tarp would sufficient for ground protection. They’re usually very huge, and if you don’t want to cut them up, you’ll have to layer or shove the extra material beneath the tent floor, which can result in some unpleasant bumps. Purchasing bulk Tyvek is another common option for creating a generic ground cloth. This relatively thin and packable material is inexpensive and provides enough protection. If you opt to cut the ground cloth, be sure to measure in a few inches in all dimensions to ensure there is no fabric hanging out the edges of the tent floor. This excess material protruding might gather and pool rainwater, jeopardizing your watertight shelter.

What About Rooftop Tents?

We didn’t include rooftop tents on our list above owing to their very distinctive designs, but they are an emerging sector in the vehicle camping market and deserve a mention here. The idea is straightforward: When you get at your location, just unfold the tent, ascend the ladder, and sleep. Compared to standard camping tents, rooftop designs get you off uneven ground, make it easier to set up camp just about anywhere, and often include a cushy built-in mattress. Nevertheless, these versions are quite costly (typically $1,000 or more without a rack setup), and storage might be a problem. For example, the Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 weights 131 pounds and is broader than a full-size mattress. Rooftop tents, on the other hand, offer a lot of appeal for individuals who favor convenience and don’t mind the extra expense. See our roundup of the finest rooftop tents for a complete list of our favorites.

Rooftop tent (Roofnest Sparrow) In recent years, the rooftop tent business has boomed.

The Rest of Your Camping Kit

Camping requires a lot of stuff since you’re effectively building a home away from home. Tents are often the most expensive and largest purchase, followed by things such as camping mats or mattresses and sleeping bags. Other necessities, depending on where you’ll be camping and how long you’ll be there, are a gas-burning stove, a cooler, and camping chairs. The beauty in all of this is that the same principles that apply to camping tents transfer to the rest of your gear. You may go cheap and still have a good time, but you’ll seldom be sorry if you pay a little more for additional comfort, performance, and durability.

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