There are few activities as rewarding as a family camping trip. Disconnecting from everyday life and bonding over activities that are hard to find in the city is a wonderful way to spend a couple of nights or even a couple of weeks. While camping does require an investment, it won’t break the bank, and no family camping trip is possible without a good tent.

In this article, we’ll review some exceptional tent choices and put you and your family on a path for camping excellence. But first, let’s get to the question that your checking account wants to know – how much should you spend?

How Much is a Decent Tent?

How much is a decent tent?

Most tents range from as cheap as $35 up to $1,000. In the tent world, the old mantra of “you pay for what you get” also holds true. On the cheap side (roughly $35), pop-up tents are a popular pick. These are one to two-person tents that do not require poles to set up. They’re super small, not very insulated, but backpackers like them as they’re lightweight and perfect, especially for summer camping.

Two to three-person tents range from $40 to $50. With these tents, you’re getting waterproofed seams, vents, a rainfly, and guylines. Again, for only $40 to $50, you’re not getting something that is going to last more than two, perhaps three camping seasons. But if you’re on a budget, you can certainly camp in this price range.

Jumping up into the $100 to $150 range and you’ll find spacious, 6-person tents – here is where you can find four-season tents with some really nice bells and whistles. Once you hit the mid-$200s, you’ve got hinged doors, high-quality poles, and tons of zippers. Moving up from here and the fabrics become more specialized, and the additional features are notable. In general, if you can swing it, try going for a tent that is over $100. You’ll be able to use it for multiple seasons and won’t be disappointed out in the woods.

Should You Put a Tarp Under a Tent?

Should you put a tarp under a tent?

The answer to this question is, “not always.” But that doesn’t mean a tarp isn’t a critical component to any camping trip. Before considering whether you’ll be placing a tarp under your tent, no matter your ground cover, be sure to pitch your tent on high ground. A quick scan of the general camp area will reveal areas that sit higher than others. The reason is quite simple – when water (ground or from above) arrives, you want it to drain downward, away from the bottom of your tent.

Once you’ve picked your spot, distinct terrains require distinct solutions in terms of ground cover. In a field or woodland setting, it’s advised to place a tarp under your tent. Yet, you don’t want the tarp to extend too far out from the edges of the tent as morning dew could collect and roll back into the tent. However, if you’re on the beach, placing a tarp inside the tent is the smart decision. Heavy rain can result in your tent floating with a piece of tarp directly under your tent in sand, so it’s advisable to keep it inside.

Many tents will offer what’s known as a footprint. These are fancy, often expensive tarp covers that are fitted to the exact specifications of the tent. While good, a cheaper piece of tarp can be purchased at any sporting goods or hardware store for a fraction of the cost. The American SPCC has more helpful tips on how to make your family camping trip a success.

What is the Most Comfortable Way to Sleep in a Tent?

What is the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent?

A good night’s sleep in a tent can be downright relaxing, but the key is smart planning.

First, there are car camping bags and backpacking bags. The former are wider, and some argue more comfortable, but they do not capture nor retain heat well. The latter are those mummy-shaped bags you’ve likely seen. They capture your body’s heat extraordinarily well, and the good ones have goose or duck down fillings. It’s recommended to try both and judge for yourself.

One of the keys to a comfortable sleep in a tent is a sleeping pad. Some are self-inflating, but the good ones really provide that mattress feel that helps in assuring a good night’s rest. Pillows from home are always good, as are earplugs and an eye mask. Once it’s time to call it a day, wear dry clothing to bed and be sure not to overdress.

Following these tips and keeping extra blankets and even a water heater on hand should result in a pleasant night.

Our Top Picks for the Best Family Camping Tents in 2021

Bessport Water-Resistant Family Camping Tent for 1 – 10 People

Bessport large family camping tent with  carrying bag.

We kick off the list with an absolute stunner. Appropriate for all four seasons, this ten-person capacity tent measures 440 x 340 x 200 cm. It weighs an astonishingly light 24.25 pounds and can be folded down into an easy-to-manage carrying bag.

One of the coolest features about this tent is the folding entrance door; you can fold the entire front of the tent upwards and maintain it with two posts. In nice weather, this makes the entire set-up roomier and creates a fabulous social setting. Both the inner and outer fabrics are made of polyester 68D + 190T, and Bessport guarantees this tent is PU3000mm water-resistant.

To learn more, click here.

Rebornsun Family Outdoor Camping Tent With Pop-Up Shade

Rebornsun family outdoor camping tent with water-resistant fabric.

Made of Oxford cloth 210d with an impressive 3000mm water resistance, this Robinson Family tent is also multi-functional. On the top, there is a miniature pop up tent that can be set up on its own. Imagine a sunshade of sorts that you can sit under on warm days. Once the temperature drops or rain begins to fall, the main tent can then be constructed underneath.

It also includes a moisture-proof pad, and online reviews praise the tent’s excellent ventilation. Appropriate for three seasons, the Robinson family tent comfortably accommodates four people but can fit up to six (kid size).  

To read reviews, click here.

Clostnature Lightweight Backpacking Tent

Closnature lightweight backpacking tent.

Weighing in at just 7.4 pounds, this is an ideal tent for backpackers on short camping trips (3 to 4 nights). Waterproof (210T polyester) with a PU 5000 coating, the factory-sealed seams will keep you dry at night, and the quick set-up makes this an ideal purchase.

On the inside, the Clostnature mesh walls offer great ventilation, and the entire set comes with a carry bag, two aluminum poles, four ropes, fourteen stakes, and a pole emergency repair kit should anything go awry.

Like it? Click here to buy now.

GT Outdoor Dome Camping Tent by NTK Store

Family outdoor camping dome tent by NTK Store.

Available in 3, 4, 6, and 9 people, this awesome tent is waterproof (190T polyester laminated with polyurethane) and also offers a highly protective UV coating. The nano-flex fiberglass poles interconnect seamlessly with the chrome-plated ferrule hardware, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a mosquito mesh cover as a bonus!

On the floor, the anti-fungal polyethylene prevents leaks, plus the flooring features a bathtub-style construction to ensure you don’t wake up in a literal bathtub while enjoying the great outdoors.

To see pricing, click here.

Coleman Classic Dome Tent with Screen Room for 4-5 People

Coleman large family camping tent with screen room.

With enough room to fit two queen-size airbeds, this tent is ideal for four or even five folks. Coleman is a leader in the camping sphere and has been manufacturing quality products for decades. The feature that has most buzzing about this model is the screen room.

While it might sound like a room to take in a new movie, the screen room is essentially a cubby of sorts off the side of the main tent. It is open to the air but covered in a tightly knit screen to keep the bugs out. You can hang out in the screen room with a book on a nice day and take in the sights without worrying about what might be crawling up your leg.

Ready to buy? Click here.

Core 12 Person Extra Large Straight Wall Cabin Tent

Extra large 12 person family camping tent by Core.

We’re moving into big boy and girl territory now. With room for a whopping 12 people, this is certainly a tent to contend with. Measuring 16’ x 11’ x 86”, the Core tent comes with 22 stakes, and the floor material is made of a durable 115gsm P.E.

The entire tent is covered in a durable 68D polyester, and there are two separate entry and exit doors. The H2O Block Technology that Core worked into this tent is a lifesaver in bad weather. Rain rolls off the fabric, and the seals are airtight. A wonderful option for larger camping groups. 

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Coleman Montana WeatherTec 6-Person Tent

Coleman Montana six person tent.

The Montana line of tents from Coleman are camping aficionado favorites. The WeatherTec system keeps the inside dry, and this tent goes from your backpack to full installation in less than 15 minutes. Weighing a manageable 19 pounds, you won’t want to be hauling this around all day, but a couple of hours is certainly doable.

The Montana measures 12 x 7 feet, and at its center, someone measuring 5-foot-8 or under can stand up with no issues. A couple of features that garnered some positive comments online were the handy storage pockets and the wind-strong frame.

To learn more, click here.

Outdoor Waterproof Luxury Glamping Bell Tent by Free Space

Luxury glamping waterproof tent by Free Space.

If you haven’t heard of glamping, then you’ve likely been camping for the last decade without an Internet connection. Glamping is “camping glamorously.” While it might sound ridiculous, the glamping community has taken off, and this tent from Free Space is a glamping must-have.

Made of a breathable canvas and UV treated, this tent is waterproof, lightweight, and ideal for a range of climates. Extra ventilation comes via four zipped windows, and there is a mosquito net door in the front. The photos online of this tent are marvelous. Nothing short of a glamorous weekend outing, in style!

To read reviews, click here.

To Sum It Up

There’s no better time than the present to hit the great outdoors. If you haven’t already, it’s time to step your tent game up ASAP!

We reviewed how much decent tents cost, when and where to place a tarp when camping, the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent, and then presented eight tents that will have you questioning whether you want to even return to normal daily living. Family time is a blast when camping, so do yourself and your family a favor and plan a couple of trips this year.

Check out The Best Outdoor Hammocks next!