A family tent is not only defined as one that sleeps four or more people, but it’s also a tent that is often too large to be comfortably carried or backpacked. Family tents are most often used in a campground setting or as a base camp shelter. Selecting the best family camping tent for you requires a little research and consideration of a few questions about your typical family camping experience.
- How many people in your family will be using the tent? Adults? Children?
- What is the purpose of your camping trip? Will you have a need to store wet items outside of the sleeping area but still protected from weather?
- How often will the tent be used?
- What style family tent are you interested in? Cabin style, umbrella style, self supporting or stake out?
- Where will you be setting up your family tent? Is the ground level or irregular?
- In what type of weather do you typically camp; fair weather, or in anything that nature throws at you?
- How long do you want your family tent to last?
- How much do you want to spend?
How many people will be sharing your family camping tent, and what activities will they be enjoying, are factors that will play a very big role in the decision about what tent is right for you. If your family tent is serving as a base camp for six adults who are serious about their day hikes, then you will want a tent that is very different from the one that perhaps a family of six, with grandparents and small children, would choose for their family vacation. Keep your answers to the above questions in mind, while you shop for your family camping tent.
Picking a family tent also tends to center around what style and shape would make the best family tent for your trips. There are a number of different tent types, each with a set of unique characteristics.
Types of Family/Group Tents
- Cabin Family Tents – Cabin tents feature close-to-vertical walls and large doors that are easy to walk through. There are large windows on the walls for ventilation. These tents are generally not free standing, and will need to be securely staked out, for the tent to stand.
- Umbrella-Style Family Tents-Umbrella tents feature a central hub at the peak, into which frame poles are inserted. These tents offer self-supporting, or free-standing frames, although it’s always best to stake down your tent, for additional security and stability.
- Dome Family Tents – Dome tents use long hoop poles to support the tent that either clip to the tent or thread through sleeves. They have rounded walls making them preferable for high wind areas like fields, beaches and lake fronts, as they are more aerodynamic. Dome tents are also self-supporting, but don’t forget to stake them out, just to be on the safe side.
- Screen House and Sun Shelters – Screen houses and sun shelters do not have floors. A screen house has a frame and a roof, though the roof is not necessarily waterproof. They have walls are made from mosquito netting or no-see-um netting to keep out insects. Sun shelters provide shade but do not have walls.
The performance of any tent is dependent on several issues:
- Waterproofness – A function of the amount of coating the fly, walls and floor have. The higher the coating, the more waterproof the materials are, that are used to make the tent.
- Strength – Aluminum frames are stronger and more flexible than steel or fiberglass.
- Ease of Set-up – How many people will you need, to set up the tent?
- Stability – How reliable is this tent in the windy conditions? The more aerodynamic the design, the better the tent will be in higher wind conditions.
While some families camp regularly and require a high performance family tent, others only camp occasionally where tent performance won’t play a huge roll in their decision of what tent to purchase.
Finding the best family tent takes some insight and a little bit of research. Combine that with an honest assessment of your needs, and you should be able to pick the perfect family camping tent for you and your group, to enjoy for years to come.