Breathing in fresh air while hearing the wind whisper through the pine needles is one of the best ways to wake up in the morning. When I was younger, and the nights were warm, I found it better to sleep under the tree limbs and the stars. Now I have a family, and while the experiences have their own flair, sleeping sans shelter is not so great for the little ones. So I embarked on determining which tent is the best for family camping. Obviously this is completely subjective because there are many different criteria that go into play. Like size, climate, material, weight, and setup/tear down time. This is not the easiest question to answer because even just these few criteria have hundreds of different permutations. Just to start to determine what kind of tent is best, you first must decide what type of camping are you doing, how much standing room do you need, how easy is to set up, and how many people you need to squeeze inside.
For the sake of this list, I have made some general assumptions. In the future, I will delve into some of these assumptions and recommend other types of tents, but for the sake of this top three list here are the assumptions that I have made.
- Must be of a size to use at improved and unimproved campsites.
- Easily set up by two people.
- Must be capable of a 6’0 person to stand with limited crouching.
- Must be capable of handling varying weather extremes.
- Comfortably sleep a family of four with all associated gear.
- Weight is not an issue because we will consider this for car camping or basecamping.
With these assumptions in mind, the following list falls out. The tents are placed in no order since all of them are excellent options for taking your family out for a great camping trip.
1. Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent
The Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent hits each of the assumptions that were listed. The tent can sleep 8 people, and is capable of creating three separate rooms. For a family of four this allows a room for the kids, one for the parents, and a common/gear area that will give plenty of privacy between the rooms. The tent is on the larger side, but would still be able to fit in any improved campsite. The Red Canyon is approximately 21 pounds so it is not too heavy, and would be easily moved if necessary. It is also of a size that would allow for placement between trees for those more adventurous campers. It has a 72″ center height, which will limit the amount of crouching and bending for us taller folk. The red canyon tent comes with a rain fly, which can be taken off on fair weather nights to allow for star gazing and excellent ventilation. Its dome shape also makes it more aerodynamic for strong wind events. One of the major concerns of families is set up, and this tent is easily set up by one person instead of the assumed two. Testing of this tent showed that it was capable of handling all four seasons, but for winter camping additional preparations should be made. Personally, I find the style and privacy of this tent great for my family. It makes the tent feel more like a camper with its separate rooms and size. The Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent is recommended if you want separate areas for people in your family (cough cough families with teens), a common area, great headroom, all weather capabilities, low weight, and easy set up.
2. Wenzel Grandview Tent – 9 Person
The Wenzel Grandview Tent is another superb option for family camping. This tent sports two rooms. The first is more of a porch which would allow for two additional people to sleep in, but would be better used for a small card table to continue to enjoy the outdoors even during the rain. The second room is much larger and can sleep up to seven people. Since it can sleep 7, you know that there will be more than ample space for a family of four and all their gear. This tent is a bit heavier than the other two tents at approximately 27 pounds, but that is not unreasonable for its size, or purpose as a basecamp tent. Set-up is a breeze. Wenzel has created a patented system which has feet that allow for quick set-up. The tent can be set up with only one person, but two would be better. The Grandview has an outstanding 82 inch center height, which means absolutely no crouching for most. Again, this tent can handle all seasons. The Grandview Tent has a small footprint (82″ x 144″), which would make it very capable in unimproved campgrounds when you need to squeeze between a couple of trees. The screened in room can zipper shut for the colder or wetter nights and the dome shape can handle the wind like a champ. This tent is great for family adventures because it allows for sleeping in a single room. It will give you more chances to tell those late night ghost stories while still giving some additional living area for bad weather days. The Wenzel Grandview Tent is recommended if you are looking for a shared sleeping space (great for families with small children), all weather capabilities, outstanding headroom, and a compact tent footprint.
3. The NTK Arizona GT
The NTK Arizona GT is the last on our list, but it is definitely not the least. This tent has two rooms of nearly equal size. This is great if you need separate rooms for sleeping, or if you would like to have a shared room and a common room. The first room of the tent is of ample size to entertain friends during the pounding rain. The Arizona has all the space a family of four could need. The tent has exceptional build quality which makes it seem as though it was hand made instead of mass produced. All of the seams have high quality taping to keep the rain out. You can trust that this tent will exceed expectations when it comes to extreme weather conditions because it was constructed to withstand the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. An added benefit for weather events in this tent is that the rain fly goes all the way to the ground to protect against those heavy downpours and strong winds. This tent has commanding headroom of 96 inches, which means absolutely no crouching except for the very, very tall. The footprint of this tent is average at 17ft x 8 ft. This tent is a nice compact rectangle which will allow for it to fit on any campsite that you can find. It is also only 24 pounds, which is not the lightest on the list, but it is still reasonable for a basecamp tent. This tent is very comparable to the Grandview in shape and amenities, but the quality of the Arizona GT is what puts this over the top. Set up of this tent is quick and easy. It can be done by a single person after some practice, which will come in handy when you get to the campsite late, and you are trying to get the tent up and dinner going. The NTK Arizona GT is recommended for families who need separate rooms or want a shared room space, great headroom, ample sleeping and storage space, above average weather capabilities, and easy set up.
All of these tents are great options for families. Depending on your specific criteria and camping needs I highly recommend going with one of these three. Each of these tents has comparable interior amenities such as storage pouches and hooks for hanging lamps or lights. Whether you are going on your first family camping trip or your 100 its time to upgrade to one of these tents that can last you a long time and give you great memories. Remember to define your criteria for a tent up front. The ones listed here are the most common that are used, but there are lots of these tents which come in varying sizes in case your family has more than two children or are taller.
Good luck on your trip and make lots of good memories even on the rainy camping days!