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Festival season is coming up, which means the highlight of your summer will be spent soaking in music on a campground or field. The right gear — think chairs and tarps — can make or break your festival experience, which brings us to the most important thing on your packing checklist: a good tent.
Having the right tent will help you avoid rain, bugs, and back pain from sleeping on the ground, but there are a lot of factors to consider before picking one.
For starters, determine whether you’d like a tent that sticks into the ground with poles and stakes, or prefer a lighter option that unfolds and basically sets itself up. A traditional tent will be more durable, and keep out more rain or dust, but the unfolding style of tent is more portable, and will drastically cut your setup and breakdown time.
Size is another important factor to think about when picking a tent, especially if you’re going to a festival with multiple people, or you’re extremely tall (I’m 6′ 2). The tents we’ve chosen are about 7′ long and 5′-7′ wide, but their height can vary from about 3′-4′ tall. Keep in mind that you’ll be carrying an entire mini version of your life around with you in this tent, so space can fill up fast. Taller people like me will want something that’s at least 4′ in height, so you can crouch comfortably without having to get on all fours.
Modern tents sport festival-friendly features like UV (ultraviolet) protection, built-in pockets to hold smaller accessories like your phone or wipes, and welded frames to keep you dry during a downpour. Some offer a separate mesh lining to keep out bugs, while improving airflow, or a dedicated pocket for snaking out an extension cable. These extras can add to a tent’s complexity, weight, and cost, but offer convenience and peace of mind.
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Need a tent and don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. We’ve done the hard work by picking four great tents to get you through Cochella, Bonnaroo, or a weekend camping trip.
1. Chillbo Two-Person Camping Tent
Chillbo’s two-person tent has a 2000mm waterproof rating (that means it can withstand 78.7″ of sustained rain), sealed seems and a welded floor to prevent leaks, and mesh lining to keep bugs out. Its cross-poll design (the poles bend in a criss-cross pattern over the tent), further bolsters its durability.
The tent also has two built-in pockets to hold your supplies, two doors for easy access, and two windows for ventilation. Chillbo says this tent can comfortably fit two people (it’s 7’1″ x 6’9″), which is something to keep in mind if you’re going to a festival with a group.
PROS: A hyper durable design.
CONS: Too small for large groups.
2. Coleman Sundome Tent
Coleman’s Sundome Tent has welded corners to prevent leaking, ground vents to circulate cool air, and is rated to withstand winds of up to 35 mph. It’s available in multiple sizes (two to six people), which makes it a great option regardless of your group size. The two person size is 7′ x 5′ x 4′ and the six person size is 10′ x 10′ x 6′, so you know your options.
Coleman says this tent can be set up in ten minutes, which is ideal if you’re planning on breaking it down and pitching it every day of the festival. It has two mesh pockets to hold your belongings, and an “E-port,” which allows you to snake an extension cable directly into your tent.
Coleman has been selling camping equipment for 120 years, so if you’re looking for a tried-and-true professional tent, this is a great option.
PROS: Available in multiple sizes, ground vents for air circulation.
CONS: No mesh lining, the E-port is an opening, which can let water, dust, or bugs in.
3. ZOMAKE Pop-Up Beach Tent
ZOMAKE’s tent stands out because because of its “pop-up” design. Unlike traditional tents, this one opens up on its own once it’s released from its pouch. It measures 7’9″ x 5.9″ x 3’3, which ZOMAKE says can fit a queen-sized mattress. That’s big enough for two people with festival gear to fit comfortably, though it is a little on the short side.
Ideal for the beach, the tent’s coating has a 50+ UV (ultraviolet) rating, which can block up to 98% of UVA (ultraviolet A) rays to help protect your skin — and stuff — from the sun.
PROS: Extra sun protection, incredibly easy to set up.
CONS: Best used for beach days or one-day festivals, this tent’s fiberglass frame isn’t built for harsh winds or rain.
4. River Country Products Trekking Pole Backpacking Tent
River Country’s tent strikes a balance between portability and durability. Although it weighs just over two pounds and folds up to be the size of a football, it comes with eight aluminum stakes and two poles, which keep it from moving in rough weather.
It’s not waterproof, but this tent does have a two-layer door, which features a mesh layer that can increase ventilation, and keep out bugs. It also has a personal belongings pouch to hold your personal items.
This tent is 7′ x 5′ x 3.5′, which River Country says can comfortably fit two people, or one person with a lot of gear, so keep that in mind if you don’t pack light.
PROS: A mesh door to keep out bugs, and an eight-stake, two-pole design that keeps it in place.
CONS: Only fits two people, isn’t waterproof.