The Best Tents for Camping, Families, Backpacking & Festivals (2022) - Rolling Stone
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RS Recommends: The Best Tents for a Restful Adventure

Whether you’re car camping with the family, backpacking, or heading to a music festival, these are the best tents keeping us sheltered

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Amazon

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The best tents can be the difference between a memorable adventure and a nightmare trip, effectively keep out rain, bugs, and dust for a comfortable place to recharge — no matter the environment.

If you haven’t gone tent shopping in a while, you’re in for a treat: Like outdoor bags, portable grills, and other camping essentials, tents have advanced. The best tents can now be set up quickly (some in 60 seconds or less), sleep up to six or more campers, and boast amenities like vestibules, storage, and improved airflow for hot nights.

Whether you’re car camping with the family, backpacking up a mountain, or setting up at a music festival, we’ve got you covered (literally). Below are some of the best tents to buy right now, plus some tips for choosing the best camping tent to suit your adventure.

How to Choose the Best Tent

Before buying a new tent, consider how you’ll be using it, how many people need shelter, and what kind of weather you’ll encounter. If you’re car camping (i.e. driving right up to a campsite) during the summer then you don’t have to worry about weight or cold-proofing. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want to keep weight (and therefore space) to a minimum.

Below are the key specs to consider while shopping for the best tent.

Space: Look at both floor space and head space when shopping for tents. All tents will list the number of people that can lie down inside, but keep in mind that this is a maximum (a four-person tent, for example, is necessary if you and your partner want an air mattress). Tents with room to stand up can be very nice too, making it easier to enter and exit the tent (i.e. when you need to sneak out and use nature’s restroom).

Setup: The best tents can be set up as quickly as possible, letting you move on to other campsite tasks (like relaxing by the fire). Look for user-friendly features like color-coded poles and clips.

Material & Weight: Camping tent walls and flies are typically made of either polyester or nylon. Polyester is heavier but more resistant to UV damage and better at shedding water. Nylon is lighter, but will be damaged by prolonged sun exposure and absorbs water. Most tents also use a coating to protect the material against sun damage and water absorption.

As far as pole materials, most campers will want aluminum poles for easy assembly and less weight. Steel and fiberglass poles, on the other hand, weigh more but lend more durability in bad weather. If you’re camping in the winter, you’ll need a purpose-built “four-season” tent to withstand higher winds and hard rain or snow.

Features: Added features like a mud room or vestibule, as well as pockets and storage spaces can make the best tents even better. Keep your eyes peeled for these convenience-minded features.

The Best Tents to Buy Right Now

Ready to hit the great outdoors? Here are some of the best tents to buy right now, including lightweight backpacking tents and luxurious tents for the whole family.

1. REI Co-op Base Camp

BEST OVERALL
best tent rei review

REI

For the best balance of comfort and weather protection, pick up REI’s best-selling Base Camp tent, either in the four or six-person size. Inspired by mountaineering tents, the Base Camp combines durable polyester and lightweight aluminum poles to survive rough weather. But it’s great in warm weather as well, thanks to opening/closing dual roof vents that control condensation.

Once inside, campers should have ample space to spread out. The four-person model has 59.7 square feet of floor space and a peak height of 60 inches, while the six-person tent has 84 square feet of floor space and a 74-inch height. Despite all this space and rugged weatherproofing, the tent is light enough to carry around with ease (the four-person weighs just over 16 pounds and the sixer weighs a little under 21 pounds).

The Base Camp also comes with a rainfly, and two vestibules offer space for dry storage and shoes. Overall, it’s a great way to stay cozy out in the wild — no matter the weather.

Buy: REI Co-op Base Camp (4-Person) at $449

2. The North Face Wawona 6-Person

BEST FAMILY TENT
best large tent for family

The North Face

If you’re setting up camp for the whole family — copious gear and dog in tow — opt for this six-person Wawona tent from The North Face.

Besides a large six-person sleeping area (measuring 86.11 square feet), the Wawona comes equipped with a whopping 65.7 square feet of vestibule space (44.7 in the front, 21 in the rear). This delivers more than enough room to sleep and stash gear, while the front vestibule can even function as bike storage or a covered seating area. Head space is great too at 80 inches peak height.

The North Face recently updated the Wawona tent with a double-walled build (for better moisture control and weather protection) and re-designed poles. These poles are color-coded and easier to set up than the previous Wawona, and offer more sturdiness in high winds. Even with these strong poles and the massive overall size, the Wawona packs up into a neat duffel bag that weighs 19 pounds for relatively easy transportation.

Buy: The North Face Wawona 6-Person at $450

3. Marmot Tungsten

BEST TENT FOR BACKPACKING
backpacking tent lightweight

Backcountry

With a trail weight of just under five pounds, this Marmot Tungsten tent is ideal for backpacking and remote camping away from the car. Setup takes minutes thanks to color-coded poles and clips, again making the tent good for backpackers setting up camp each night.

The Tungsten is meant for up to two people, but it’s quite spacious for a double tent. The side walls are almost vertical, creating an interior height of 42 inches. In terms of floor space, you get 30 square feet, plus two vestibules along either door.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, deploy the Tungsten’s 68D, PU-coated polyester rainfly for protection. Without the rainfly, the tent has excellent ventilation with a large mesh roof that keeps out bugs and lets in the starry sky.

Buy: Marmot Tungsten at $248.95

4. Eureka Mountain Pass

BEST FOUR-SEASON TENT
four season tent eureka

Backcountry

Looking to head out in cold or snowy weather? Consider this four-season Mountain Pass tent from Eureka. With 45 square feet of floor space, the Mountain Pass works for three campers, or two people with lots of gear and a dog. There’s also a gear loft and plenty of interior pockets for cold weather necessities and gadgets. Two vestibules, meantime, offer more room for boots and gear.

The tent’s ruggedness comes courtesy of an included 68D polyester footprint and rainfly, plus 20D polyester ripstop double walls and durable aluminum poles. In other words, it’ll keep you cozy through driving rain, harsh wind, and even snow.

Better yet, the Mountain Pass weighs just six pounds, so it won’t weigh down your (already heavy) winter load.

Buy: Eureka Mountain Pass at $389.95

5. Thule x Tepui Explorer Autana 4

BEST ROOFTOP TENT
thule roof tent review

Backcountry

Rooftop tents have gained popularity recently, with high-end examples like this Thule Tepui Explorer leading the charge. It essentially turns your car into a small apartment, complete with a sleeping loft atop your ride and a fully enclosed annex below. This creates standing room on the lower level for cooking, eating, or relaxing in chairs, and the upper bed area is big enough for three people.

Another one of the Explorer’s strong suits is durability. Everything from the frame to the fabric to the seams are designed to withstand rough wind, rain, and sleet. When the weather clears up, the canopy can be removed for ventilation and starlight visibility. Setup is also relatively easy, considering the tent’s luxurious size, because the tent and mattress are already attached to your car’s roof after initial assembly.

Buy: Thule x Tepui Explorer Autana 4 at $2,999.95

6. Coleman Cabin

BEST INSTANT TENT
quick setup tent coleman

Amazon

Quick tent setup is always a bonus when arriving at the campsite, letting you get to cooking, unpacking, or just enjoying the campsite after a travel day. This Coleman Cabin boasts one of the fastest setup times on the market, promising a fully-erected tent in 60 seconds.

Once it’s set up, the Cabin offers ample space for the family (it comes in four, six, or 10-person sizes). The larger two options have enough room for an adult to stand fully upright, while the four-person Cabin has a (still generous) four-foot, 11-inch height.

Other features we like about the Coleman Cabin are its capable weatherproofing and “dark room technology” which blocks 90% of sunlight for any late risers. The tent is also very affordable — no matter which size you choose — at $158 for the four-person, $175 for the sixer, and $259 for the massive 10-person option.

Buy: Coleman Cabin at $158.21

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