Camping as a family is a great way to spend some quality time together, just sleeping out under the stars is an adventure in itself and it opens up opportunities to stay in out of the way places that you just couldn’t stay overnight in any other way.
I am sure most of us have memories of camping as a child, are they just that little bit clearer than memories of other types of holiday or trips away? I can definitely say that they have stuck in my memory far better.
This is one of the reasons that I am such a big fan of camping with my own young family and feel that it is a great way to have new and different experiences together, all shared in your own cosy tent.
Choosing a Tent for Your Family
Tents themselves have come a long way from the damp, leaky triangles that I remember from my youth. They are now bigger, lighter, and better able to deal with even the worst weather that could be thrown at you.
Having the right tent can really make or break your time in the outdoors. To help you choose the ideal tent for your next family getaway we have produced this review of the best family tents available in 2018.
Important Features when Choosing Your Tent
How big should it be?
As I alluded to above tents have grown a lot in recent years and some are now bigger than a small apartment. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to buy a tent that is marketed for more people than you need.
As a general rule for a family of 4, you should look at ‘6 man tents’, these will give you enough space to camp comfortably, with enough room for all your things and with space to move around.
There will always be a trade-off between the size of tent you would like and the weight and bulk of the tent itself.
Consider how far you will be carrying your tent and how much space you have in the car to transport it before getting too carried away buying the biggest tent you can find.
Bigger tents will also take longer to put up and need more people to work together on them than smaller tents.
Beyond the simple metrics of capacity, a very important consideration is the layout of the tent. Do you want to have separate sleeping compartments for you and the children? Or one big one for all of you?
Some tents offer the option to combine bedrooms, allowing you the flexibility to choose either of these options as suits you best.
A decent sized living area is essential for an enjoyable camping trip. This will give you a space to play, eat, cook and sit even if you are unlucky with the weather.
Many modern tents will have a high ceiling that allows you to stand comfortably in this space, but be sure to check the measurements if you are tall.
Other great features to look out for include:
- Blacked out bedrooms – These are great for helping to get the kids to sleep on light summer evenings.
- Built-in groundsheet – Essential to easily ensure that the inside of the tent stays nice and dry, and closed off from creepy crawlies.
- Multiple windows and doors – Each should have a fly screen that allows you to open the door but keep the bugs out.
- Lots of pockets, loops and hooks – These really help you to stay organised, which can really help you to stay sane while camping with kids.
- Adaptability – Think about the sleeping arrangements and how they work for you now and how they will work when your kids are older. A tent is a big investment that should last you years so it is worth ensuring that it will continue to meet your needs.
- Water resistance and breathability – You kind of expect that all tents would provide this but there are different levels of waterproofing that you need to consider against the types of conditions you are likely to encounter and the frequency that you will use your tent.
If you haven’t bought a tent for a while you may not be familiar with some of the new technologies around. One of the most exciting is the introduction of inflatable tents.
These replace the traditional metal or fiberglass poles with fabric ‘poles’ that you inflate when you pitch your tent. This enables the tent to go up far quicker than a more traditional design and it is easier for one person to pitch the tent on their own.
Best Inflatable Tents
Coleman Valdes 6
Tent Area: 200 x 600 x 300cm
Weight: 22.6 kg
Packed Size: 78 x 58 x 36 cm
Waterproofing: 4000 mm water column
The Coleman Valdes 6 is a great six-person tent (so ideal for a family of 4). It is a spacious tent that features 3 bedrooms which are all big enough to fit a double air mattress, and the tent uses our favourite layout with the living space at the front of the tent.
The bedrooms are really dark inside so perfect for getting more sleep during the short nights of summer. The manufacturer claims they block out 99% of sunlight and that seems about right as they are very dark: remember your torch!
The blacked out bedrooms have the added benefit of moderating the temperature in the tent, keeping it 1 degree warmer at night and 5 degrees cooler by day. This makes quite a difference to the traditional problem of waking up baking in the morning sunshine!
The inflatable poles allow one person to put up the tent in around 15 minutes (even in the wind and rain), and the pump you need is included.
Overall this is a great option for family faming, it is spacious, quick to put up and has the blacked out bedrooms that we feel are essential when camping with little ones.
For more details on the Coleman Valdes 6 please click here
- Dark Bedrooms
- Quick to set up
- The hinged door is great but we have some concerns over its durability.
Best Tent for Large Families
Outwell Concorde 10 Air Comfort Tent
- Tent Size: 780 x 215 x 360cm
- Weight: 32kg
- Packed size: 51 x 89cm
- Waterproofing: 5000mm
This is a great tent for larger families or those looking for a bit more space on their camping trips. It sleeps 10 people in 4 bedrooms and has a large living area as well.
The tent has all the features that we like such as darkened bedrooms, plenty of headroom and lots of doors and windows for access and ventilation. The windows are slightly tinted to stop glare from the sun, which is a nice feature.
The tent has the sealed in groundsheet that you would expect and the pump needed for the air poles is supplied with the tent.
You get a covered porch and there is ventilation straight in the bedrooms (or Ambassador Master Bedrooms in pompous marketing speak). You will also find all the pockets and hooks you could want.
We find that Outwell tents are that bit higher quality in terms of the materials that they use, so this should be a great long-term investment.
If you like the look and quality of this tent but are after something smaller, check out the Corvette 7AC.
- Top quality materials
- Dark bedrooms
Click here to check prices and read owner reviews
Are you planning a camping trip with a young child?
Check out our guide to camping with toddlers.
Best Tent for Tall People
Skandika Nizza Family Tent
Tent Size: 574 x 400 x 210 cm
Weight: 24 kg
Packed Size: 80 x 42 x 26 cm
Waterproofing: 5,000 mm water column
A mid-priced option, the Skandika Nizza is a spacious 6-berth tent with a good 210 cm peak height making it a great option for taller campers and those seeking a quality tent at an affordable price.
The tent uses a traditional poled system so is also a good option for people that aren’t too keen to try out an air pole tent.
Despite not using air poles the tent is pretty quick and easy to put up and pack away and stands up well against strong wind.
It has a good sized living area so you’ll be able to keep all your belongings safe in the dry, and the sewn in groundsheet keeps the whole tent cosy and free from draughts and insect visitors.
All the windows and doors have a mosquito mesh, and the waterproof fabric has an impressive 5000mm water column.
Overall the tent is good quality and the materials used seem extremely durable making this a bargain at this price.
For more details on the Skandika Nizza please click here
- High ceiling
- Sewn in groundsheet
- No bedroom blackouts
- Materials feel less premium
Best Tent for Glamping
Boutique Camping 5m Bell Tent
Weight: 24 kg
Packed Size: 100cm x 30cm x 30cm
If you are looking for something a bit more stylish then you could consider this boutique bell tent to create your own luxury experience. The 5-metre tent is quite spacious for 4 but just has the one room for your family all to sleep and live in.
The tent is made from 100% natural breathable cotton which gives the tent a lovely atmosphere, quite different for the other tents in our review, but it does also mean that the tent is bulky and quite heavy.
A cotton tent requires a little more maintenance than a nylon alternative as you will need to reproof the canvas every year to ensure that it remains waterproof, colourfast and mould resistant.
You will also need to be careful not to pack it away while wet, this is not always easy so you may need to have a drying space somewhere.
This model has a zipped in ground sheet which adds to the comfort when zipped in but is a big benefit over sewn-in alternatives as you can roll up the sides of the tent on warm days.
You should be able to get the tent up in around 15 minutes, it is possible to do on your own but easier with 2 or more.
The tent has mosquito mesh on the door and 4 windows and also features additional air vents. If you are planning to camp out in cold weather you may want to consider having a flue flap fitted for your log burner.
Overall this is a great option if you are looking to try glamping, it has a totally different feel to the other tents and will give you quite a different camping experience due to having only the one communal space. Be sure to accessorise with some bunting!
For more details on the Boutique Camping Bell Tent please click here
- A glamorous way to spend a night under the stars
- Requires more maintenance
- Only one compartment
Best Budget Tent
CampFeuer Tunnel Tent
Packed Size: 64 x 23 cm
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the tents above then the CampFeuer Tunnel tent is a great option. It is a slightly smaller tent than most of the others in our review (marketed as a 4 person tent), but this should be sufficient for short trips or for young families.
For the low price, you get a very capable tent with excellent waterproofing at 5000mm which has proven stand up well to testing conditions in the wind and the rain.
You get 2 bedroom compartments that have sewn-in groundsheets, but the living area has a separate groundsheet. The groundsheet goes up to the sleeping compartments but not underneath them.
This is one of the compromises of a cheaper tent and it does make the tent feel generally less cosy and less enclosed. You will also be more vulnerable to water flowing through the tent (rather than under it) should you have a lot of rain on your trip.
Whilst the materials used seem decent quality they are understandably cheaper than those used on the other tents in this roundup. You will also have to make do without bedroom pockets or any specific hanging points in the living area.
The tent is very easy to put up but the pegs that are supplied are pretty weak and bend easily so you may want to consider upgrading them.
Overall this is a good tent for the money. You don’t get as much space or as many features as with the other tents, but you do save a lot of cash and you will have a tent that does what it needs to. Check out this post for other budget tent ideas.
For more details on the CampFeuer Tunnel Tent please click here
- Decent tent for a low price
- Solid construction and waterproof
- Separate groundsheet
- No pockets, blackout bedrooms
- Weak pegs
Best Tent To Enjoy The View
Coleman Cortes Octagon Tent
Pack Size: 85 x 30 x 30cm
Water Column: 2000mm
An unusual looking tent the Coleman Cortes Octagon (8 person) offers a 360-degree view thanks to the 6 large windows and sides that can be tied back to allow you to enjoy the scenery.
The tent is tall so allows you to stand up throughout the tent and creates a spacious environment.
The tent has hinged doors that are more like using a normal door. This is great as you do not need to zip it every time you go in and out.
As kids seem to like to go in and out constantly, this is a great feature for a family tent, and it also means that you can quietly enter and exit while they are asleep as you do not need to use the noisy zip.
The tent can be used with one internal space or divided down the middle by hanging the partition curtain.
We don’t like this layout quite so much as the clear bedroom/living area that most of these tents have, but it does allow for flexibility depending on how you would like to use the tent, and how many people are camping.
Another versatile feature is the option to remove the flysheet and convert the tent into a room enclosed by fly screens. This would make a great cooking/dining room in good weather and could be combined with using other tents for sleeping to make for a more luxurious camping trip.
The tent is easy to put up thanks to the colour coded steel pole system, has a fully sewn-in groundsheet and 2000mm waterproofing. This is the lowest of our featured tents but should still keep you dry.
The tent comes in a handy wheeled carry bag a saving you from having to lug it about when you arrive on the campsite.
For more details on the Coleman Octagon Tent please click here
- Lots of windows and ventilation
- High ceiling throughout creates a feeling of spaciousness.
- Inner tent is largely perforated making it quite cold in cooler weather
- So big that it is hard to light after dark
- No true bedroom compartments
The Best Family Tents 2020 – Which Will You Choose?
We hope that you have enjoyed reading our roundup of the best family tents that are available in 2018. Please let us know if you have any questions about choosing a tent and we will be happy to help in the comments below.
Please also let us know about any family camping experiences that you have had, we would love to hear how you got on.