A quality tent does more than provide shelter from the elements: It provides you with a small home away from home when you’re on the trail, giving you a cozy place to rest and relax when you’re not busy enjoying the great outdoors.
To accomplish this, a well-designed tent must be durable, reasonably easy to set up, and able to provide suitable comfort and protection from any type of weather you’re likely to encounter (your tent is shelter first and foremost, after all).
Best Overall: Coleman Montana 8-Person Tent
Coleman is a brand that hardly needs an introduction (you’ll be seeing it more than once on this roundup), and there’s a good chance you already have some outdoor gear bearing this name. The Coleman Montana is well designed, reasonably weather-resistant with an entrance awning and removable rainfly, and roomy enough for eight sleepers or about three queen-sized air mattresses. Perhaps most impressively, the Coleman Montana family tent is extremely affordable, making it the best choice for anyone who wants a no-frills, no-nonsense shelter for their next camping trip.
Also Great: Core Instant Cabin 9-Person Tent
Another great choice that’s similar to the Coleman Montana, but that offers a bit more headroom, is the Instant Cabin family tent from Core. This was a runner-up for our top pick thanks to a generous, roomy interior that easily allows adults to stand up and walk around comfortably. The Core Instant Cabin is also very well-ventilated, particularly when the detachable rainfly is removed, which opens up the entire roof of the tent, and features a handy room divider (useful for changing clothes or when camping with older kids who may want some privacy).
Best for an Upgrade: NTK Arizona GT 9- to 10-Person Tent
If your motto is “buy once, cry once,” then you’ll want to consider upgrading to the Arizona GT from NTK. This family tent can comfortably pack in nine to 10 people (depending on the age and size of the occupants) with enough room for three queen air mattresses plus two single mattresses. The Arizona GT also boasts a suite of great design touches including having two doors instead of one, three ventilated windows, color-coded poles for easy setup, and an anti-fungal heat-deflecting floor. The tent’s coated rainfly also stretches all the way to the ground – meaning it’ll completely shed water away from any and all openings no matter how hard it’s pouring outside.
Best for Smaller Families: Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent
The Sundome is another solid offering from Coleman and is by far one of its most popular tent offerings. Like the Montana, the Sundome features a straightforward but reliable design that’s easy to set up (one person can do it alone) and has a simple domed interior with room enough for six people – ideal for smaller families or even as a separate kids’ tent. Bear in mind that it only has two fiberglass poles for support, though, so it’s not the best pick for heavy wind and rain.
Best for Wet Weather: Coleman Weathermaster 10-Person Tent
If you’re specifically looking for something that can stand up to high winds and heavy rainfall better than most other tents, the Coleman Weathermaster is a good alternative. This 10-person family tent is made from coated polyester and features Coleman’s WeatherTec system with welded floors and inverted seams that keep water out, as well as a rainfly that doubles as an above-door awning. The door, instead of being a loose flap, is also framed and hinged for easy opening and closing when it’s windy.
Best for All Seasons: Springbar Highline Canvas Tent
Most tents today are made out of modern materials like nylon and polyester which strike a balance between lightness and durability. If weight is not your concern and you care most about ruggedness, however, then it doesn’t get much more long-lasting than a canvas tent-like the American-made Springbar Highline. This tent, crafted from thick and sturdy 100% cotton duck with steel (not fiberglass) poles, looks like something your grandpa might have used, and it’s just as tough. This cotton canvas is watertight but breathable (as it’s a natural material), and the tent has a large awning covering the door which doubles as a rainfly. The big drawbacks with old-school tents like this are weight – canvas is heavy – and expense, but if you want an old-school U.S.-made tent that can last a lifetime, this is it.
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