The 10 Best Family Tents
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you're planning a camping trip and need a comfortable shelter for the whole gang, take a look at these family tents. They're sized to accommodate a large group of adults and kids or provide an abundance of space for a pair of travelling couples. Some are even equipped with special features for extreme outdoor enthusiasts, such as protection against driving snow, rain and wind. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
May 26, 2019:
While the primary thing to think about when shopping for a family tent is size -- after all, the quickest way to ruin a group outing is to have to share a cramped shelter -- it's by no means the only consideration. Today's tents come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and often incorporate additional features to help maximize your comfort while sleeping outdoors. Our own list includes options that are perfect for a wide range of camping applications and environments, from casual weekend outings to more rugged back country adventures. The NTK Arizona GT, for example, features a sturdy domed frame and full rain fly that should perform well in remote or exposed camping locations. The Coleman Prairie Breeze, by contrast, includes several comparatively modern luxuries -- such as LED lighting and a fan -- that will please recreational campers looking for a more relaxed experience. Ultimately, though, we thought the Core 9 Person Extended best for most people, since it offers most of the basics in a relatively affordable package.
A Home Far Away From Home
But family tents are built with a pleasant mix of ease and roughness in mind.
There is no experience in modern times quite like getting out of town and getting back to nature. The hiking, the campfires, the rivers and streams, the swaying trees, the inevitable bonding, the peeing outdoors; there is magic everywhere you turn.
If you have kids old enough to own a cell phone (which I believe they're implanting prepartum nowadays, there's also the added benefit of no reception. You kids will actually have to interact with you, and their siblings, and the world around them. It's almost frightening to think about it.
It's a more or less guaranteed way to bring a family closer together. Even if you're at each others' throats through the whole experience, you still come home feeling closer to the people with whom you shared a taste of the wilderness.
Of course, you'd rather the experience be a positive one, and of all the potential pitfalls awaiting you on a family camping excursion, setting up the tent and laying down to sleep are among the most dangerous.
But family tents are built with a pleasant mix of ease and roughness in mind. They're typically simple to set up, with a few frame pieces and one or two main support poles. They have weather resistant covers to keep your family nice and dry should the skies open up, and some even divide off to give kids a sense or privacy from their parents come bed time.
A Tent For Every Type
While there are plenty of similarities among the tents we recommend, there are also plenty of important differences that could have you at the mercy of a teen daughter's uncontrollable angst, or a young boy's destructive streak. Choosing the right tent might just cause you to take a hard look at the personality types in your family. Let's look at a few possibilities and see which tent style best suits them.
They have children ranging broadly in age, and a great deal of different personalities among them.
The Prolific Procreators: These are bigger families. They have children ranging broadly in age, and a great deal of different personalities among them. If the eldest among these kids are in their teens, I recommend getting your hands on a family tent sized to house you and your youngest, and a two or three-person tent for the teens. Just separate them out entirely, and everyone will be the saner for it.
The Tight Circle: This is also called the nuclear option, as it falls into the 2.5 kids area of the spectrum. While you might need special accommodations for that one half of a child you're dragging out into the woods, most family tents will suit your needs, and some will offer you a bounty of space to stretch out.
The Homesteaders: These folks carry tents just for the heck of it, as they're also traveling in a giant RV. Maybe they set up their tent right next to the camper so they can have power to run their laptops. Maybe they take it out a mile or two from the RV just for a night. These groups can afford to bring the much heavier tents along since they aren't liable to hike very far with them, and they don't need the most advanced, lightweight, and durable materials.
Which brings us to one of the most important considerations: weight. Most of you are going to carry this thing miles and miles through the woods with you, and you aren't liable to get a lot of help, so pick something that won't leave you crippled by the time you reach your site.
Shelter Stretching Back Through The Ages
Tents are nothing new. If asked, you might think of Native American structures resembling modern tents, and assume they reach back a few hundred, maybe a couple thousand years.
If asked, you might think of Native American structures resembling modern tents, and assume they reach back a few hundred, maybe a couple thousand years.
While those are certainly important developments in the history of these portable coverings, the oldest ruins of tents date back much farther than the plains of North America. Archeologists have found crude Russian tent ruins made of mammoth hide that date back to roughly 40,000 BCE, before written language, before the pyramids were built.
It was around 400 BCE that the more advanced structures like teepees and yurts cropped up, with Roman military tent encampments following over the next century on the other side of the Atlantic. Much later, around the time of the American Civil War, heavy canvas materials hung over a single horizontal beam supported by two short verticals–known as a pup tent–became the standard military shelter until the 1970s.
The decade following the close of the Vietnam war saw the advent of synthetic materials in tent construction, which proved lighter and easier to set up and break down, as well as much more resistant to the elements. Family tents are simply big version of these synthetic models with all the latest trappings.
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