Spacious, user-friendly, and feature-rich camping tents are made to facilitate a relatively luxurious experience in the outdoors. Many of these behemoths offer enough room to set up cots or even chairs and a table for card games on a rainy day. For car campers who take a couple trips each year during the summer months, even the cheapest tents on this list should perform fine. For tougher weather conditions or more frequent use, it's worth spending up for better materials and interior space. For going on a decade, the Switchback Travel team has been camping in all manner of environments to help you find the best shelters for the job. Below we break down the best camping tents of 2024. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

Editor’s note: We updated our camping tents round-up on April 22, 2024, to add the weather-worthy REI Base Camp 6 and canvas Springbar Highline 6. We also included more information about our testing practices and scanned the guide to ensure all prices, colorways, and product write-ups are current.

Our Team's Camping Tent Picks

    Best Overall Camping Tent

    1. The North Face Wawona 6 ($500)

    The North Face Wawona 6 tentFloor area: 86.1 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 76 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 20 lb. 15 oz.
    What we like: Open interior and massive vestibule at a good value.
    What we don’t: Time-consuming to set up, partial-coverage rainfly, and mesh door is draft-prone.

    The North Face can be hit or miss in the camping market, but they have a winner in their Wawona collection. Updated fairly recently, the biggest shift was to a hybrid double-wall construction (the prior generation used a less breathable single-wall build), and they also retooled the pole structure to make setup easier. Offered in four- and six-person capacities, the tunnel-like design is reminiscent of REI’s Wonderland 6 below and provides a generous amount of interior space, including around 3 more square feet of floor area for about $100 less. And we love the massive front vestibule (44.7 sq. ft.) that easily doubles as a seating area—to achieve the same versatility with the Wonderland, you’ll have to purchase the Mud Room add-on ($125) separately. Added up, the Wawona is an impressively livable design and an excellent all-around value. 

    That said, despite the updated pole structure, we still found the Wawona to be considerably time-consuming and tedious to set up. The vestibule, in particular, must be guyed out tightly to stay upright, and the unique pole structure took some time to get taut and secure. The upside is that the hybrid double-wall design vents considerably better than a single-wall tent, and it’s also less prone to collecting moisture in humid or rainy weather. Final nitpicks include the rainfly, which doesn’t cover the lower portion of the tent (this section is still waterproof), and the all-mesh door can be a source of heat loss and drafts in the cold. But no tent is perfect, and the Wawona’s mesh-heavy build, expansive interior, and reasonable cost earn it our top billing for 2024. It’s also sold in a smaller four-person capacity ($400) if you don't need as much space. 
    See The North Face Wawona 6

    Camping tent (stepping into The North Face Wawona 6)
    The Wawona is highly livable and comes with a massive vestibule for gear storage and hanging out | Credit: Jason Hummel

    A Close Second (With a Simpler Setup Process)

    2. Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P ($500)

    NEMO Aurora Highrise 6P camping tentFloor area: 83.3 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 77 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 18 lb. 10 oz.
    What we like: Excellent all-around performance, easy to set up, and very well built.
    What we don’t: Small second door and dome shape sacrifice some headroom along the sides. 

    New Hampshire-based Nemo introduced the Aurora collection a couple of years ago, adding a competitor to crossover options like the Marmot Tungsten and Mountain Hardwear Mineral King below. The latest Highrise variation, however, takes aim at the premium and luxurious end of the market with a standing-height interior, steep sidewalls, and massive footprint that rival the livability of competitors like the top-rated Wawona and REI Wonderland. As we’ve come to expect from Nemo, the Aurora Highrise is thoughtfully built with windows at each side that make it easy to air things out and remain protected from rain when open, two large doors and vestibules, a rainfly that can be staked out as an awning (poles sold separately), and high-quality materials throughout—including robust aluminum poles and a thick 150-denier floor that’s outfitted with a fun checkered pattern.

    We put the Aurora through a summer of testing in the Pacific Northwest and came away thoroughly impressed. The tent is surprisingly fast and intuitive to set up (it took around 5 minutes with two people and can easily be done solo), and all of the components have a very hard-wearing and confidence-inspiring feel. We also love the massive, oval-shaped main door that makes entry and exit a breeze, although we wish the second door shared the same design (it’s around half the size). The dome shape also sacrifices some headroom at the sides—REI’s tunnel-like Wonderland does a better job at maximizing the peak height—and you can get more vestibule space for big and bulky items with the Wawona above. But the advantages in usability and build quality are hard to beat, making the Aurora a quick favorite among our staff... Read in-depth review
    See the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6P

    Camping tent (interior of Nemo Aurora Highrise)
    Nemo's Aurora Highrise is a well-built and intuitive design that was quick to impress | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Best Budget Camping Tent

    3. Coleman Skydome 6P ($150)

    Coleman Skydome camping tentFloor area: 85 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 72 in.
    Capacities: 2P, 4P, 6P, 8P
    Weight: 19 lb. 5.4 oz.
    What we like: Quick setup and big interior at a budget-friendly price.
    What we don’t: Only one door and the fiberglass poles aren’t very durable.

    Coleman is practically synonymous with affordably priced camping gear, so it comes as little surprise that their Skydome 6 slots in as our top budget pick this season. What is surprising to us, however, is how modern this tent looks and feels. In stark contrast to Coleman’s fairly dated and cheap-feeling Sundome below, the Skydome is far more weather-worthy with a full-coverage rainfly (most of the sides are exposed on the Sundome fly) and uses pre-bent poles and more vertical walls that open up the interior in a big way. We also love that the poles are pre-attached to make setup a breeze, and the wide door and generously sized vestibule really help boost overall convenience.

    Diving deeper into the differences between the two Coleman models, the Skydome boasts 15 fewer square feet of floor area, but the aforementioned pole structure and vertical walls go a long way toward maximizing livability. In terms of value, the Skydome costs the same as the Sundome on Amazon at the time of publishing, but those who get out even just a few weekends each year will likely appreciate the modernized build os the Skydome. It’s true that it only has one door and uses cheaper materials than the more premium options on our list—including fiberglass poles that aren’t as hardwearing as aluminum—but the quick setup and roomy interior are a winning combination. A final budget-friendly design to consider is REI’s new Campwell, although the Coleman wins out in spaciousness and ease of use for considerably less money. 
    See the Coleman Skydome 6P


    Best Reliability in Rough Weather

    4. REI Co-op Base Camp 6 ($549)

    REI Co-op Base Camp 6 camping tentFloor area: 84 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 74 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 20 lb. 11.5 oz.
    What we like: Sturdy, weather-worthy structure and ease of use.
    What we don’t: Pricey and not as tall as the Wonderland or Skyward.

    Sitting near the top of REI's camping lineup for 2024 is their Base Camp 6, which takes cues from mountaineering designs for a sizable boost in weather-worthiness. The dome shape and overlapping five-pole system mean the walls aren’t as vertical as the Wawona's above, but it’s still very easy to move around inside, and the reward is far better resistance against strong gusts. And the rest of the design is equally up to snuff with an excellent mix of quality materials and design features, including four roof vents and a low side vent, functional organization, and even reflective detailing to help you see the tent in the dark. It's true that more specialized models like Cabela’s Alaskan Guide below are better suited for true four-season conditions, but the Base Camp will get the job done in most inclement three-season weather—which is realistically all most campers need.

    It’s worth noting that the Base Camp is the third-priciest option in REI’s camping tent collection (right behind the Wonderland 6 and Wonderland X tents below). It’s far and away the most weather-ready option of the bunch, but it uses less mesh than both the Wonderland and Skyward below, which has a notable impact on ventilation. Additionally, despite a similarly sized floor area, the Base Camp feels noticeably less roomy due to the lack of vertical walls. In the end, we’d break it down as follows: The Skyward is the value leader and offers plenty of tent for most family campers, the Base Camp is best for those who plan to take their tent into relatively rough and rowdy weather, and the Wonderland is the most luxurious, fully featured option for those looking for the ultimate home-in-the-woods experience... Read in-depth review
    See the REI Co-op Base Camp 6

    Camping Tent (REI Base Camp 6 standing inside)
    Testing the past-generation REI Base Camp 6, which is largely identical to the latest model | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Best Crossover Camping/Backpacking Tent

    5. Marmot Tungsten 4P ($399)

    Marmot Tungsten 4P camping tentFloor area: 52.7 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 53 in.
    Capacities: 1P, 2P, 3P, 4P
    Weight: 9 lb. 3.8 oz.
    What we like: A proven crossover option at a good price.
    What we don’t: Quite a bit less spacious than a dedicated camping tent (and the new version is even smaller than its predecessor).

    Most of the tents on this list are strictly of the car-camping variety, meaning they’re heavy enough that you won’t be carrying them more than a few steps from your vehicle. However, there are a handful of crossover options that can pull double duty should you want to venture into the backcountry. Marmot’s Tungsten 4P is case in point: For car camping, the Tungsten can accommodate multiple sleeping pads side-by-side and has a peak height of 53 inches, which is enough for sitting up, changing, or playing a game of cards. Moreover, the pole design does a nice job of stretching the walls to be nearly vertical at the bottom, giving the interior a relatively open feel. At just over 9 pounds, the Tungsten isn’t a featherweight by any means (and we’re sad to see that weight jumped by a considerable 12.8 oz. recently), but it's perfectly serviceable for camping and short backpacking trips, especially if you can divvy up the carrying responsibilities.

    However, as with nearly all crossover tents, the Marmot Tungsten has its fair share of compromises. For those who strictly car camp, a dedicated camping tent is far superior in terms of livable space and durability: The Tungsten uses thinner materials to cut weight, and Marmot dropped 5.6 square feet off the tent’s footprint with their most recent update (floor area went from 58.3 to 52.7 sq. ft.). On the other end of the spectrum, those who are more serious about backpacking may want a lighter and more compressible design like Big Agnes’ Copper Spur HV UL (the 4P model shaves off around 3.5 lb. and packs down much better than the Tungsten, although it costs a whopping $800). For smaller families or couples, Marmot also makes this tent in two- and three-person versions, which bring the weight down considerably, or a one-person version if your flying solo.
    See the Marmot Tungsten 4P


    Best of the Rest

    6. REI Co-op Wonderland 6 ($599)

    REI Co-op Wonderland 6 camping tentFloor area: 83.3 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 78 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 22 lb. 15 oz.
    What we like: Huge interior, great ventilation, and high-quality fabrics and poles.
    What we don’t: High price tag, limited weather protection, and no vestibule space.

    The North Face’s Wawona 6 above hits a better balance of price and roominess, but REI’s Wonderland 6 (which replaced the extremely popular Kingdom a couple seasons back) wins out in terms of features. Like the Kingdom, this luxurious tent is highlighted by near-vertical walls, lots of mesh for ventilation and stargazing (including well-placed triangular windows), and a tunnel-like shape that delivers fantastic livability. For families and larger groups, the six-person variation is excellent: There’s plenty of room to stand up and spread out, color-coded components to make setup quick and easy, and a center divider allows you to separate sleeping from daytime areas. It’s true the Wonderland is expensive at $599 (a notable $100 price jump over the Kingdom 6), but it’s on par with competitors like the Marmot Limestone and MSR Habiscape below, and being an REI Co-op member ($30 for a lifetime membership) gets you 10% back if you purchase the tent at full price.

    What did REI change when replacing the Kingdom with the Wonderland? Despite an identical floor area and peak height, the Wonderland now features narrow awnings above each door that offer little in the way of protection. REI does sell a separate Mud Room attachment for $125 to cover the entryway and increase storage space, but it tacks on another 100 inches to the tent’s already-substantial footprint. The scalloped rainfly also leaves a good portion of the sides exposed to moisture, although REI did drop the top roof vents, which were a source of vulnerability on the Kingdom. Finally, the Wonderland has a less functional storage layout and trades the handy backpack-style stuff sack for a smaller and more basic design. But the standout livability and high-quality construction remain, making the Wonderland very appealing for families and large groups. For those camping in the sunniest of climes, REI also sells the Wonderland 6 Titanium for an extra $100, which features a UV-enhanced rainfly... Read in-depth review
    See the REI Co-op Wonderland 6


    7. Kelty Wireless 6 ($280)

    Kelty Wireless 6 camping tentFloor area: 86.9 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 76 in.
    Capacities: 2P, 4P, 6P
    Weight: 17 lb. 3 oz.
    What we like: A great price for a nice overall design.
    What we don’t: Materials are a step down from the pricier tents on this list.

    Many of the tents on this list cost well over $300, but budget-oriented Kelty always seems to do a nice job at mixing quality and value. Their Wireless is case in point: It’s relatively affordable at $280 for the six-person version but includes a number of upgrades compared to cheaper tents like the Coleman Skydome above and Sundome below. Namely, you get two doors and two vestibules (both Colemans only have one), along with a full-coverage rainfly for wet and windy conditions (the Sundome’s covers just the top). Kelty also uses more mesh in the construction, making it easier to keep cool in the summer heat. Throw in a decently roomy interior with a center ridgepole that stretches the walls up and away (again, both Colemans lack this), and you have one heckuva value.

    What do you sacrifice with the Kelty Wireless? First, the floor material and mesh are thinner than the more expensive options on this list. This does help keep weight reasonable, but it means that the tent will be less durable over time. Second, the fiberglass poles won’t hold up as well as aluminum in rough weather. Finally, the Wireless is a very popular budget option, and you may have a hard time getting your hands on one—we’ve seen the tent go in and out of stock several times over the past year, although it’s widely available at the time of publishing. These issues aside, the Wireless is a great camping tent for those who don’t want to break the bank. And for another good value from Kelty with a similar shape and floor area for a little less weight, see their $240 Tallboy 6.
    See the Kelty Wireless 6


    8. Marmot Limestone 6P ($529)

    Marmot Limestone 6P camping tentFloor area: 82.9 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 76 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 17 lb.
    What we like: High-quality construction and excellent comfort for summertime trips.
    What we don’t: Good but not great in any particular category.

    The livability of the TNF Wawona and REI Wonderland above are tough to beat, but Marmot offers another quality setup in the Limestone. This camping tent includes ample sleeping space for six (or four if you like to spread out), is easy to pitch, and is reasonably waterproof thanks to a full-coverage rainfly and taut DAC pole design. And in addition to its tall 76-inch peak height (the exact same peak height as the Wawona and just two inches shorter than the Wonderland), the Marmot’s poles also effectively stretch the walls outwards to create an even roomier-feeling interior. It’s true that the Limestone is on the pricier end at $529, but it’s cheaper than the Wonderland and lighter-weight and more packable, too.

    For those who camp only on warm summer days, the Limestone is ideal: Its mesh-heavy design, vents, and near-vertical walls make it comfortable even with the fly on. That said, it can't match the burlier pole layout of the Aurora above, and the upright shape is susceptible to bowing in moderate gusts (the Aurora is more dome-like by comparison). Marmot’s own Halo is a more weather-ready option with a beefed-up pole structure and less mesh in the tent body, although it’s a substantial $150 pricier (for the 6P version) and makes sacrifices in weight and ventilation. In the end, the Limestone doesn't stand out in any particular category—price, interior space, or weather protection—but it's a solid all-rounder from a well-respected brand.
    See the Marmot Limestone 6P


    9. Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 ($375)

    Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3Floor area: 42.5 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 48 in.
    Capacities: 2P, 3P
    Weight: 7 lb. 1.2 oz.
    What we like: A viable crossover option that’s lighter and cheaper than the Tungsten above.
    What we don’t: We'd love to see a four-person version offered.

    Mountain Hardwear typically focuses their efforts at the technical end of the spectrum—their 4-season Trango is a common sight at high-altitude basecamps around the world—but their camping tent lineup is gaining similar traction among the less extreme outdoors crowd. We especially like their Mineral King 3, which goes head-to-head with Marmot’s Tungsten above as a viable crossover camping and backpacking option. Comparing the three-person models (Mountain Hardwear unfortunately doesn’t offer a 4P version), the Mineral King is around $75 pricier than the Marmot but offers a nice boost in livability with a 1.9-inch-taller peak height and an additional 1.6 square feet of floor area. The details are equally well sorted, including hardwearing and pre-bent DAC poles, plenty of mesh for stargazing, a full-coverage rainfly, two large doors and vestibules, and five pockets lining the interior—all for just over 7 pounds.

    As we touched on above, there are some inherent downsides to using one tent for both car camping and backpacking. For starters, the three-person Mineral King is the smallest option on our list and far less comfortable to spend time in than most options here, including the 52.7-square-foot Marmot Tungsten 4P above. The materials are also on the thinner end, and for trips into the backcountry, you can go much lighter with a targeted backpacking option like the aforementioned Big Agnes Copper Spur (alternatively, smaller groups can save with the $325 Mineral King 2, which clocks in at 5 lb. 13.4 oz.). But for couples and small groups, the three-person model offers a really effective balance of livability, durability, and weight—especially if you only get into the backcountry occasionally.
    See the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3


    10. Big Agnes Big House 6 ($600)

    Big Agnes Big House 6 camping tentFloor area: 89 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 80 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 16 lb. 14 oz.
    What we like: Tall walls make for an airy feeling inside.
    What we don’t: Less weather-worthy than the competition.

    Aptly named, the Big Agnes Big House offers excellent interior space in a thoughtfully built package. With 89 square feet of floor area (a 6-ft. increase over the past-generation model) and a host of high-end features including ample storage, a front door mat for stowing dirty shoes, and a convenient “shelter” mode for providing shade on hot days, the latest Big House goes head-to-head with premium designs like the Wonderland 6, Limestone 6P, and Wawona 6 above. And the Big House is impressively tall, with the sidewalls sloping upward aggressively to a peak height of 80 inches in the six-person model. Keep in mind that this extra real estate can create a sail-like effect in the wind, so make sure to stake the tent out completely and use the included guylines.

    Offset mesh and polyester ripstop panels on the tent body make the Big House a good ventilator (it’s also great for stargazing), and we love the large doors and dual-closure windows. However, you do miss out on a vestibule on both models, as the standard rainfly does not cover the front door. Big Agnes does sell a compatible vestibule separately, although it’s steeply priced at $200, bringing the grand total up to a whopping $800 (though you can find the Big House at a sizable discount on Amazon at the time of publication). Alternatively, Big Agnes’ Bunk House 6 costs $100 more than the Big House but comes with a full-coverage fly and awning-style door that doubles as an oversized vestibule or hangout space and can be staked out on its own as a sunshade. Their $450 Spicer Peak 6 also has a full-coverage fly, although it can’t be staked out as a shelter. 
    See the Big Agnes Big House 6


    11. REI Co-op Skyward 6 ($449)

    REI Co-op Skyward 6 camping tentFloor area: 83 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 78 in.
    Capacity: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 15 lb. 7 oz.
    What we like: Very roomy interior at a good weight and price; sets up fast.
    What we don’t: Only one door, limited vestibule storage, and lacks a full-coverage rainfly.

    REI’s Skyward was a new addition to their camping tent collection for 2022 and replaced the popular Grand Hut, which previously held the top spot in our rankings. Importantly, they took some key cues from the Grand Hut’s design, including a standing-height interior with a peak height of 78 inches, reasonably low weight, near-vertical walls that maximize roominess, and an easy-to-pitch freestanding design. Floor area and durability also stack up competitively, with the same thick materials along the floor (150D) and fly (75D) and a massive 83-square-foot footprint (the Grand Hut 6 was 83.3 sq. ft.). Taken together, it’s another well-made and highly livable option from our favorite outdoor co-op.

    What are the downsides with REI’s new Skyward 6? While we like the large awning for hanging out on sunny days (it can also be rolled up partway in mild conditions), it doesn’t provide much vestibule space when zipped shut. For reference, the Grand Hut had two vestibules that totaled 38 square feet, while the Skyward’s single vestibule provides just 19.5 square feet of covered storage. The Skyward also only has one door, which is pretty big but makes it far less convenient for multiple campers to enter and exit. Final drawbacks include poor wind resistance due to the tall and upright shape and a small stuff sack that requires diligent packing to accommodate all of the components. These complaints are enough to push the Skyward to a mid-pack finish, but it’s nevertheless another spacious and well-built design from REI (and a solid value at 30% off at the time of publishing)... Read in-depth review
    See the REI Co-op Skyward 6


    12. Gazelle T4 Hub ($400)

    Gazelle T4 HubFloor area: 61 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 78 in.
    Capacities: 3P, 4P, 8P
    Weight: 30 lb.
    What we like: Setup takes seconds; pretty roomy for the capacity.
    What we don’t: Very heavy and bulky; doors are awkwardly positioned and make it harder to get in and out. 

    Popular among the overlanding community, Gazelle’s pop-up Hub tents offer the ultimate in convenience for those looking to minimize setup time. With the poles pre-attached to the tent body, it’s as easy as removing the tent from its bag and pulling the sides into place, which is a stark contrast to complex designs like the Wawona above and Snow Peak Alpha Breeze below. The rest of the design is equally up to snuff with six large mesh windows for ventilation, functional storage (including a removable gear loft), quality YKK zippers, and thick materials that stand up well to long-term use. 

    While undeniably appealing from a convenience standpoint, the Gazelle T4 Hub does have a few noteworthy shortcomings. First is the lack of weather protection: The rainfly offers very limited coverage (plus no vestibule space), and the tent’s upright shape makes it prone to bowing in blustery weather. You do get taped seams and the ability to zip the windows shut in inclement weather, but it’s still a noticeable step down from many of the options above. And we’re not big fans of the triangular doors, which are positioned at the corners and result in an awkward lip that’s easy to trip over. Finally, like most pop-up designs, the T4 is decidedly bulky and will take up a sizable chunk of space in your vehicle. But we certainly understand wanting to cut down on setup time, and the T4 excels at that with a solid reputation to boot. For another quick-pitch option, the popular Caddis Rapid 6 is both cheaper and bigger but falls short in overall build quality.
    See the Gazelle T4 Hub


    13. Springbar Highline 6 ($649)

    Springbar Highline 6 camping tentFloor area: 100 sq .ft.
    Peak height: 78 in.
    Capacities: 6P, 8P
    Weight: 75 lb.
    What we like: Canvas build is highly weather-resistant, ultra tough, and looks good to boot.
    What we don’t: Expensive, extremely heavy, and overkill for most casual campers.

    Classic canvas tents are making a bit of a comeback, and Utah-based Springbar has been a major name in the space for decades. Compared to the nylon and mesh designs above and below, canvas is known for being both super long-lasting and reliable in inclement weather: The Highline can withstand heavy winds (the steel frame helps), serious precipitation, and rough handling. Further, it does a good job of both trapping warmth when it’s cold and breathing when it’s warm. Canvas tents are also extremely livable: The Springbar’s unique pole design, 100-square-foot footprint, and tall peak height (78 in.) make it feel almost more like a small cabin than a camping tent (some offerings from Springbar are even wood stove-compatible).

    There are, however, a few notable downsides to canvas. First and foremost, this six-person tent weighs a whopping 75 pounds and takes up a ton of space in your car, so you’ll want to make sure you can park close to your campsite (and have enough space to store it at home). Compared to more traditional designs, canvas models also include a lot more—and heavier—parts, which translates to a longer and more involved setup process (advantages are excellent stability and wind resistance). Given these drawbacks, the Springbar certainly isn’t for everyone. But considering its roomy interior and weather-ready design, it’s an intriguing option for families, big groups, and basecampers spending considerable time in one place.
    See the Springbar Highline 6


    14. Snow Peak Alpha Breeze ($500)

    Snow Peak Alpha Breeze tentFloor area: 77.4 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 73 in.
    Capacity: 4P
    Weight: 24 lb. 3.2 oz
    What we like: Well built, very tough, and boasts four doors for easy access from all sides.
    What we don’t: Heavy and expensive for the capacity, slanted rear eats into usable space, and fairly involved to set up.

    Japan-based Snow Peak is making a big push in the U.S. market with a clear focus on minimalist designs that look good and perform well. Their Alpha Breeze tent is a nice reflection of the brand’s innovative approach: In contrast to the more traditional models above, the Snow Peak has a unique A-frame-inspired shape that does a great job at maximizing livability and headroom at the front and middle of the tent. For reference, at 77.4 square feet, it’s one of the largest four-person tents on the market (it's possible to squeeze a fifth in there if needed, especially a child), and the 73-inch peak height rivals many of the six-person designs here. Other notable features include an extendable vestibule that converts into an awning and four doors for convenient access from all sides. Finally, build quality is top-notch, including a UV-resistant finish on the rainfly and ultra-thick (300D) floor that eliminates the need for a footprint.

    However, while we love the generous dimensions and clear attention to detail, the Snow Peak Alpha Breeze falls short in a few areas. In addition to being heavier and pricier than most options here (while also smaller), the tent’s slanted rear detracts considerably from usable space. Setup is also fairly involved given the unique pole structure, although many will find this to be a worthwhile trade-off for the convertible vestibule and all-around solid structure. In the end, the Alpha Breeze isn’t the most convenient or livable option here, but the combination of build quality, toughness, and sleek looks nevertheless stands out in the market. 
    See the Snow Peak Alpha Breeze


    15. REI Co-op Wonderland X ($1,249)

    REI Co-op Wonderland X camping tentFloor area: 70.5 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 75 in.
    Capacity: 4P
    Weight: 35 lb. 1 oz.
    What we like: All the benefits of the Wonderland above with seemingly endless customization for basecamping.
    What we don’t: Overkill for most.

    REI’s Wonderland above stands out for its very livable and well-ventilated interior, and the Wonderland X takes that design to the next level with customizable spaces for sleeping, cooking, and socializing. It’s essentially two tents in one: The rainfly can be pitched on its own as a shade structure or camp kitchen, while the clip-in inner tent offers space for up to four adults to sleep comfortably. And REI clearly put a lot of thought into the palatial build, including two oversized doors (they're big enough that you can back a standard wagon or SUV underneath) and four side panels along the fly that can be rolled up for extra airflow or staked out as awnings (poles sold separately). As expected, storage also abounds with ample pockets for stashing the essentials, and the tent is reasonably weather-ready with a silicone-treated DWR finish and coatings along the fly to fend off mildew and fading from UV rays. Taken together, the Wonderland X is the epitome of glamping and leaves little to be desired for avid car campers.

    However, if it isn’t abundantly clear from the $1,249 price tag, the Wonderland X is decidedly overkill for most. Like the standard Wonderland tent above, the Wonderland X is unapologetically large, and you’ll need a big campsite to accommodate the massive footprint (the four-person inner tent measures 100 x 100 in., and the vestibule adds another 38.3 sq. ft.). It’s also heavy at just over 35 pounds and bulky when packed down, although the duffel-style carrying bag makes it easy to divvy things up with separate stuff sacks for the rainfly, inner tent, and smaller components like poles and stakes. Finally, given the complexity of the structure, it can take some time and finesse to set up, although most of the pieces are color-coded to help streamline the process. If you can justify the price, the Wonderland X stands out as one of the most uncompromised and customizable options on the market, making it a great pick for larger groups planning to basecamp for extended periods.
    See the REI Co-op Wonderland X


    16. MSR Habiscape 6 ($600)

    MSR Habiscape 6 camping tentFloor area: 83 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 77 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 14 lb. 6 oz.
    What we like: Great livability and storage; faster to set up than the Wonderland.
    What we don’t: The REI Wonderland has better livability and the MSR Habitude is more weather-worthy.

    MSR is best known for their premium backpacking and four-season tents, but their Habiscape takes aim at premium camping options like the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone above. Similar to those tents, the MSR is a great pick for families thanks to a standing-height interior, generous floor space, and full feature set. Compared to the tunnel-like Wonderland, the MSR is much quicker and easier to set up thanks to its symmetrical design and intuitive pole layout, and storage abounds with 10 pockets that are well distributed for divvying things up (the stuff sack also transforms into an additional hanging pocket). Unlike the REI and Marmot tents, the Habiscape also features a convertible rainfly that can be rolled back out of the way, secured to one side for partial protection, or used as a shade structure with MSR’s 8-foot Adjustable Poles (sold separately). This tent is slightly less durable and expansive than the Wonderland, but the fast setup and well-appointed build make for a competitive alternative.

    We previously had MSR’s own Habitude 6 ranked here, which is the Habiscape’s predecessor and bears a very strong resemblance to the newer model. In parsing out the differences, the Habitude was slightly sturdier and more wind-resistant with a stronger pole structure and thicker canopy fabric (68D vs. 40D for the Habiscape) but cost $100 more, only came with one door (the Habiscape has two), and had a more streamlined storage layout. Both designs come with a full-coverage rainfly—something the Wonderland lacks—and polyurethane coatings along the floor and fly for added assurance in inclement weather, which should be ample for most campers. All in all, both are excellent options for families, and a final decision will come down to how you prioritize price, weather protection, and features. For those who want even more exterior storage, MSR’s latest Habiscape Lounge features a larger (36 sq. ft.) customizable vestibule similar to the TNF Wawona above.
    See the MSR Habiscape 6


    17. Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model 6-Person ($500)

    Cabela's Alaskan Guide camping tentFloor area: 90 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 73 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P, 8P
    Weight: 33 lb.
    What we like: A very strong, weather-worthy design.
    What we don’t: Heavy and not a class leader in livable space.

    For camping in rough weather, Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model is a proven winner. With a strong six-pole hexagonal design, full-coverage rainfly, thick polyurethane floor and fly coatings, and tough fabrics, the tent is capable of handling brutal wind (it’s rated for 50 mph gusts), rain, and even snow. Importantly, it’s also comfortable in mild temperatures and rich in features. Mesh vents and windows can be opened to encourage airflow, the front vestibule is generously sized, and you get enough pockets along the interior to keep gear organized. The Wawona above has better organization and more mesh for warm weather, but the Alaskan Guide is the better option for hunkering down in a storm.

    What are the downsides of Cabela’s Alaskan Guide tent? First, its hexagonal floor design doesn’t use space as efficiently as many models here, including the tunnel-like Wawona and REI's Wonderland above. Further, at this $500 price point, we’d prefer to see it offered with aluminum poles rather than fiberglass (though they are available for $100 off at the time of publishing). The tent’s burly construction should limit durability issues, but fiberglass is more prone to breaking under stress than aluminum (it’s worth noting that Cabela’s does also sell replacement poles if you need them). The Alaskan Guide also is very heavy at 33 pounds, but it’s a reasonable trade-off if you need a weather-worthy build for four-season camping adventures.
    See the Cabela's Alaskan Guide Model 6P


    18. Coleman Montana 8P ($270)

    Coleman Montana 8P camping tentFloor area: 112 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 74 in.
    Capacities: 6P, 8P
    Weight: 25 lb.
    What we like: Spacious interior at a great price.
    What we don’t: Weather protection and build quality come up short.

    Many budget-oriented tents compromise in interior livability, but that’s certainly not the case with Coleman’s Montana 8P. This model stretches a substantial 16 feet in length, has a tall 74-inch peak height (the side rooms are shorter), and includes near-vertical walls that maximize the usable space. A single side door is placed right in the center, which does limit ease of entry and exit, but the sheer size of this thing makes it a nice match for groups of four to six people.

    Who should buy the Montana 8P? Families that get out a couple times a year in fair weather are the best candidates. The tent is surprisingly sturdy in the wind thanks to a number of included guylines for anchoring it down, but its minimalist rainfly and cheaper build are vulnerable to letting in rain (particularly when it’s coming at the tent sideways). In addition, you miss out on a vestibule—the front “porch” provides some coverage but doesn’t hide your gear and isn’t expansive enough to rely on in a storm. In the end, as long as you set reasonable expectations—you can often pick this tent up for less than $200—the Montana 8P provides a very enticing mix of roominess and price. 
    See the Coleman Montana 8P


    19. Eureka Space Camp 6 ($520)

    Eureka Space Camp 6 camping tentFloor area: 83 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 76 in.
    Capacities: 4P, 6P
    Weight: 17 lb. 4.8 oz.
    What we like: Good protection, durable build, and well-executed venting system.
    What we don’t: Pricier than the Skyward above and less roomy than many other 6P tents.

    New York-based Eureka has been in the outdoor gear game for over a century (including wagon covers for horse-drawn carriages in the late 1890s). From their current lineup, we like the Space Camp 6, which combines a livable interior with reliable weather protection and durability. Storage and ventilation are two other hallmarks, including 10 total pockets and Eureka’s Air Exchange System that allows you to tweak airflow at the top and bottom of the tent depending on conditions. The Space Camp does cost a little more than REI’s similarly built Skyward 6 above while falling a little short in both peak height and overall build quality, but it’s a decent value for what you get.

    It's worth noting that we had Eureka’s Copper Canyon LX 6 ranked here previously, which undercuts the Space Camp in price ($330 for the 6P model) and boasts more generous dimensions, including a 100-square-foot interior and taller 84-inch peak height. However, the Space Camp wins out in weather-worthiness with a full-coverage rainfly (the Copper Canyon’s only covers the mesh roof) and lower-profile design that’s more stable in blustery conditions. You also get an additional door with the Space Camp, which we appreciate for maximizing convenience. Both models offer a nice balance of price and quality, and a final decision will come down to how you prioritize outright spaciousness (the Copper Canyon wins out) versus protection and reliability (the Space Camp gets the nod). Note: Eureka's parent company recently announced they will stop selling Eureka products by the end of the year. While that's a loss to the camping industry, it also means it's a good time to keep an eye out for steep discounts.
    See the Eureka Space Camp 6


    20. Coleman Sundome 6 ($130)

    Coleman Sundome 6 (green) camping tentFloor area: 100 sq. ft.
    Peak height: 72 in.
    Capacities: 2P, 3P, 4P, 6P
    Weight: 16 lb. 10 oz.
    What we like: Bargain-basement price.
    What we don’t: Questionable build quality and limited rainfly coverage.

    Realistically, a healthy number of people only go camping once or twice a summer in good conditions and don’t need all the bells and whistles of the tents above. If this sounds like you, it’s worth giving some consideration to Coleman’s Sundome 6, which isn’t made from the fanciest fabrics but likely will got the job done. The main draw for many is price, which is a steal compared to some of the fully featured tents on this list that cost three to four times as much.

    What do you sacrifice by going with such an inexpensive tent? We've found the materials feel noticeably cheap, including everything from the clips and poles to the tent walls. Additionally, the rainfly covers the main portion of the tent body but leaves part of the sides exposed. This shouldn’t be an issue in mild conditions, but we do prefer full coverage—like what you get with Coleman’s more modern and better-built Skydome above—for even moderate rain and blowing winds. The fact that you can currently pick up the Skydome for just around $10 more pushes the Sundome to the very bottom of our list, but the combination of roominess and price is undeniably appealing for occasional and fair-weather campers on a strict budget... Read in-depth review
    See the Coleman Sundome 6


    Camping Tent Comparison Table

    Tent Price Floor Height Capacities Weight Packed Size Doors
    TNF Wawona 6 $500 86.1 sq. ft. 76 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 20 lb. 15 oz. 32 x 10 in. 2
    Nemo Aurora Highrise $500 83.3 sq. ft. 77 in. 4P, 6P 18 lb. 10 oz. 26 x 9.5 in. 2
    Coleman Skydome 6P $150 85 sq. ft. 72 in. 2P, 4P, 6P, 8P 19 lb. 5.4 oz. 27 x 10 in. 1
    REI Co-op Base Camp 6 $549 84 sq. ft. 74 in. 4P, 6P 20 lb. 11.5 oz. 10.6 x 23.8 in. 2
    Marmot Tungsten 4P $399 52.7 sq. ft. 53 in. 1P, 2P, 3P, 4P 9 lb. 3.8 oz. 24.8 x 8.3 in. 2
    REI Co-op Wonderland 6 $599 83.3 sq. ft. 78 in. 4P, 6P 22 lb. 15 oz. 32 x 13 in. 2
    Kelty Wireless 6 $280 86.9 sq. ft. 76 in. 2P, 4P, 6P 17 lb. 3 oz. 27 x 8 in. 2
    Marmot Limestone 6P $529 82.9 sq. ft. 76 in. 4P, 6P 17 lb. 24.4 x 10.4 in. 2
    MH Mineral King 3 $375 42.5 sq. ft. 48 in. 2P, 3P 7 lb. 1.2 oz. 25 x 7 in. 2
    Big Agnes Big House 6 $600 89 sq. ft. 80 in. 4P, 6P 16 lb. 14 oz. 26 x 16.5 x 8 in. 2
    REI Co-op Skyward 6 $449 83 sq. ft. 78 in. 4P, 6P 15 lb. 7 oz. 27.5 x 9.8 in. 1
    Gazelle T4 Hub $400 61 sq. ft. 78 in. 3P, 4P, 8P 30 lb. 67.5 x 8 x 8 in. 2
    Springbar Highline 6 $649 100 sq. ft. 78 in. 6P, 8P 75 lb. 48 x 12 x 12 in. 1
    Snow Peak Alpha Breeze $500 77.4 sq. ft. 73 in. 4P 24 lb. 3.2 oz. 14.9 x 8.1 x 6.1 in. 4
    REI Co-op Wonderland X $1,249 70.5 sq. ft. 75 in. 4P 35 lb. 1 oz. 27.4 x 14 x 12.8 in. 6
    MSR Habiscape 6 $600 83 sq. ft. 77 in. 4P, 6P 14 lb. 6 oz. 24 x 10 in. 2
    Cabela's Alaskan Guide 6 $500 90 sq. ft. 73 in. 4P, 6P, 8P 33 lb. 31 x 9 x 11 in. 1
    Coleman Montana 8P $270 112 sq. ft. 74 in. 6P, 8P 25 lb. 28 x 9 x 9 in. 1
    Eureka Space Camp 6 $520 83 sq. ft. 74 in. 4P, 6P 17 lb. 4.8 oz. 10 x 25 in. 2
    Coleman Sundome 6 $130 100 sq. ft. 72 in. 2P, 3P, 4P, 6P 16 lb. 10 oz. 28 x 9 x 9 in. 1

    About Our Testing Process

    Almost everyone on the Switchback Travel team is well versed in camping—after all, it’s a relatively approachable (and ideally comfortable) way to spend time outside. Former editor-in-chief John Ellings compiled our initial list of 10 camping tents in 2016, drawing from years of experience camping throughout the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) with his family. Managing editor Sarah Nelson began contributing to the guide in 2021. A former full-time vanlifer who now spends half the year traveling in a truck camper with her partner, Sarah is intimately familiar with creating a home-in-the-woods experience. Contributing editor Nick Mott took over the guide in 2024. In his younger days doing conservation work in the Desert West, Nick spent most of the year in a tent. Now, his experience camping near his home in Montana—and all over the country—has given him a keen eye for comfort and quality when spending nights outside.

    Our current lineup of 20 camping tents reflects our collective experiences at campsites throughout the U.S., as well as feedback from contributors and the online camping community. When we put camping tents to the test, our primary consideration is livability, which includes specifications like dimensions and peak height but also takes into account pole structure and the number of doors. We also evaluate storage (both internal and external), wind and water resistance, overall build quality, and ease of setup. Since the market is constantly evolving, we continue to put new and noteworthy designs to the test, making changes to the list above based on our experiences.

    Camping tent (walking through TNF Wawona vestibule)
    Testing camping gear—including our top-rated Wawona tent—on a team trip in Washington state | Credit: Jason Hummel  

    Camping Tent Buying Advice 

    Camping Tent Types

    The camping tent market generally falls largely into two categories: premium designs that utilize high-end materials and prioritize livability and comfort, and more affordable models that stick to the basics and typically cost less than $250. Below we detail the pros and cons of each type, as well as breaking down additional options like crossover camping/backpacking models and canvas tents.

    Premium Camping Tents
    Premium camping tents sit at the top of the heap pricewise but have all the trimmings we’d expect of a home away from home. To start, options in the mid- and high-end category (usually $350 and up for a six-person model) make the most of their livable space: Near-vertical walls, dividers, and spacious vestibules are a few examples. Liberal use of mesh in the tent body ventilates well in warm or muggy weather, and built-in vents in the rainfly help keep moisture from collecting inside. In addition, most of these tents can withstand the elements far better than budget options. Nearly all premium models have a full-coverage rainfly (or at least the option) and strong, aluminum pole designs. It’s true that some can be prohibitively expensive (for example, the REI Wonderland 6 is around $600), but for the family or group that heads out a number of times a year, even in bad weather, the long-term investment may be worth it.

    Camping tent (REI Co-op Wonderland 4 in Utah)
    REI's Wonderland is a decidedly luxurious tent | Credit: Brian McCurdy

    Budget Camping Tents
    In theory, camping is a way to simplify life and just disconnect for a while. In that spirit, budget camping tents are basic but fully functional options for fair-weather campers. There isn’t a clear line where a tent goes from mid-range to budget, but we’ve found for six-person options, it happens around $250. Typical budget tents use heavier fabrics, which make them bulky and adds weight to the bottom line, but they’re also durable and resist moisture. Weather protection is their downfall. When a storm blows through the campsite, more often than not, the budget tents are the ones with soaked interiors or are in a heap of broken poles. If camping is a new thing or you keep it casual in the summer, a budget tent will serve your needs just fine. Just don’t expect anything heroic if the weather turns sour.

    Camping tent (Coleman Sundome at campsite)
    The budget-friendly Coleman Sundome | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Crossover Camping and Backpacking Tents
    Even tents in the budget category can be a significant investment, so for those who plan on both car camping and backpacking with the family, it may be worth considering a crossover model. Although much less spacious than a dedicated camping tent, designs like the Marmot Tungsten 4P can fit four 20-inch-wide pads side-by-side, and the same goes for Mountain Hardwear’s Mineral King 3 with three pads. Both tents are small and light enough to manage on an overnight backpacking trip (especially when divvyed up among group members) but still have enough space to make most campers happy. That said, keep in mind that these models are built with less durable fabrics to make them easier to pack down, and they’re not the most comfortable for spending considerable time in. But if you need something to pull double duty, a crossover option can be a good compromise.

    Camping tents (family tent vs. backpacking tent styles)
    A crossover camping/backpacking design (right) compromises interior space | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Canvas Tents
    In some ways, canvas tents are as classic as it gets: The Springbar Highline, for example, hasn’t changed for decades—and for good reason. These burly designs can last for years, breathe decently well and regulate temperature in the summer, retain heat in the winter, stand up to the gnarliest storms, and maximize livable space. Plus, many options are compatible with wood stoves for keeping warm in exceptionally cold weather. If you’re a dedicated camper spending days or weeks out at a time, a canvas tent might be the ideal choice. If you’re a weekend warrior just getting out for a day or two, however, the bulk and additional setup requirements might not be worth the reward. As a general rule, the biggest downsides of canvas tents are their price, weight and packed size, and the time it takes to set them up. For reference, the Springbar Highline 6 above is a “budget” offering at $649, but the brand’s premium models can run over $2,000. Other brands worth looking into in the canvas space include White Duck and Kodiak, just to name a couple.

    Floor Area

    Nearly every tent on the market will provide information about floor dimensions (or floor area), which is a key indicator of overall livability. In general, tents with similar sleeping capacities will have similar total floor areas (80 to 90 square feet for a six-person model). For example, the REI Wonderland 6 boasts 83.3 square feet of floor area, the Marmot Limestone 6P has 82.9 square feet, and Nemo’s Aurora Highrise 6P has 83.3 square feet. Coleman's Sundome 6 is technically bigger at 100 square feet, but the dome-style shape makes it harder to move around inside. In other words, floor area is an important spec to consider, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and should be looked at in conjunction with peak height and pole structure (outlined below) to determine overall spaciousness.

    Camping tent (Nemo Aurora Highrise interior)
    Nemo's six-person Aurora Highrise boasts 83.3 square feet of floor space | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Peak Height and Pole Structure

    In addition to floor area, peak height and pole structure make a big impact on overall livability. Peak height in particular is an indication of whether or not you’ll be able to stand upright, and most car camping-style tents have a peak height of around 72 inches. However, this number is just part of the equation, and it’s important to also look at the slope of the walls and pole design. Dome tents with simple, X-shaped pole structures only allow you to enjoy that peak height at the middle of the tent. On the other hand, a tent with a more advanced pole system can create nearly vertical walls for walking around. This is one of the main reasons we love the REI Wonderland and Marmot Limestone: Both ends of the tents have vertical walls, and the pole designs truly opens up the interior. The cabin-style The North Face Wawona, REI Skyward, and Big Agnes Big House are other standouts in maximizing interior space.

    Camping tent (sitting inside Big Agnes Big House)
    The Big Agnes Big House has a generous 80-inch peak height | Credit: Brian McCurdy

    Capacity: How Many People Actually Fit in These Tents?

    The tents above are given a “_ person” capacity, which typically ranges from four to eight people. This listing is based on the number of standard adult sleeping pads that can be laid (usually side-by-side) inside the tent. For example, the six-person REI Co-op Skyward is 120 inches long, so six standard pads (20-inches wide) technically will fit. But this doesn’t mean you necessarily want to max out your tent.

    If you use wide, 25-inch+ sleeping pads or air mattresses, or just want a little space to move around, we highly recommend sizing up. From our experiences, nobody wants to sleep in a tent that is jammed to capacity, so it’s best to order a slightly larger size than the actual number of people you have in your party. For example, a group of four should sleep comfortably in a six-person tent, leaving enough living space for playing cards, waiting out a storm, and spreading out while sleeping. And many couples and those with pets prefer a four-person model, which gives you plenty of room to stretch out.

    Camping tent (inside REI Co-op Wonderland 4)
    We consider the Wonderland 4 best for groups of two to three | Credit: Brian McCurdy

    Number of Doors

    For a large-capacity camping tent, we unabashedly prefer two doors. The additional access is convenient if you have a full house, and zipping it open is another way to encourage airflow in summer heat. A single-door build is one of the notable downsides of budget models like the Coleman Skydome and Sundome, and even some higher-end options like the REI Skyward 6 only have a single entryway. Put simply, stumbling and crawling over your tent mates in the middle of the night isn’t the best way to keep everyone happy. The very large openings on these tents do alleviate a little of the annoyance, but it’s still a compromise that’s worth considering when looking at an inexpensive tent. And for unparalleled access, REI’s unique Wonderland X structure has two oversized doors and four panels along the rainfly, while Snow Peak’s Alpha Breeze boasts four doors for easy entry and exit on all sides.

    Camping tent (REI Co-op Skyward 4 exiting tent)
    The REI Skyward's single door is a notable downside for convenience | Credit: Brian McCurdy

    Storage Space: Pockets, Vestibules, and Garages

    Storage is a crucial consideration for many campers, starting with interior pockets. As expected, premium options like the REI Wonderland and MSR Habiscape include ample space for stowing items like headlamps, maps, books, and other items inside your tent, while budget offerings generally are more barebones. As far as exterior storage goes, a full-coverage rainfly that protects the door(s) of a tent creates a space in front of those doors, referred to as a vestibule. We’ve found a wide range of uses for a vestibule, but a few highlights include a spot to store gear away from rain and putting on/taking off shoes. If you don’t have a car close by to store your stuff, a vestibule should be on your must-have list. And note that vestibules most often come with mid-range and premium camping tents (budget tents with partial rainflies go without).

    Camping tent (NEMO Aurora Highrise vestibule)
    Vestibules provide a space to stash wet or dirty gear outside of your tent | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Taking the concept of a vestibule to the extreme is REI’s Wonderland Mud Room. The palatial, pole-supported structure extends out for an additional 56 square feet of space, enough for a card table or area to store bikes. Also, you can zip up the entry door and roll up the sides to create an open and airy shelter from the sun or light rain. On extended camping trips or in large groups, this is a valuable add-on. And it’s worth noting that The North Face’s Wawona 6 above boasts a similar design that comes included with the tent, which adds a healthy 44.7 square feet at the front for stowing gear or use as an additional seating area. A final design worth calling out is REI's Wonderland X, which is essentially two tents in one: The outer rainfly can be pitched on its own for use as a shade structure or camp kitchen (with plenty of room in the vestibule for setting up chairs and a small table), while the inner tent functions as a dual sleeping/hangout space for up to four adults.

    Camping tent (The North Face Wawona 6 vestibule)
    Enjoying The North Face Wawona's generous vestibule | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Weather Resistance

    As we touched on in the section above, a weather-worthy tent is one of the main reasons to upgrade to a premium camping model. In most cases, the pole materials (aluminum is better than fiberglass) and designs are more robust, seam sealing and waterproof fabrics improve in quality, and the inclusion of full-coverage rainflies helps keep out blowing rain. It's good to keep in mind that the weather can still get plenty rowdy in the summer, particularly in the mountains (and some national parks).

    Camping tent (rainfly setup)
    Partial-coverage rainflies fall short in inclement weather | Credit: David Wilkinson

    Two of the strongest tents on the list are the REI Co-op Base Camp and Cabela's Alaskan Guide Model, which utilize advanced pole designs that are inspired by mountaineering tents. The Cabela's can even be used for snow camping in less extreme conditions (for designs meant to withstand serious winter weather, check out our article on the best four-season tents). Springbar's Highline 6 is another standout with a weather-ready canvas build and sturdy pole structure. For most three-season trips, any premium tent should do the trick, as long as it’s been properly staked out (and if the wind picks up, take the time to align the tent and guylines to brace against the wind).


    Many campers head out in the warm summer months, which means a tent’s ventilation design is a key consideration. And in general, performance is closely tied to price tag. Many premium models utilize a double-wall construction (the outer rainfly is separate from the inner tent body) and lots of mesh, which help keep things reasonably cool and limit moisture build-up. In addition, deployable vents are often incorporated into the rainfly as a way to encourage more airflow, and some tents like REI’s Skyward 6 have adaptable rainflies that can be rolled up partway in mild conditions.

    Camping tent (The North Face Wawona deployable vent)
    Deploying one of the vents on The North Face Wawona 6 | Credit: Jason Hummel

    On the cheap end of the spectrum, you get less mesh and fewer options to get air flowing without opening up doors or windows (thereby compromising weather protection). In addition, some entry-level designs like Coleman’s Sundome include single-wall panels (this means there’s just one layer of fabric to protect you from the elements), which can lead to a muggy interior on warm days and more condensation at night. In the end, many campers are willing to compromise in ventilation given the large price gap between designs, but it’s undoubtedly another feather in the premium tent market’s cap.

    Camping tents (MSR Habiscape set up)
    Mesh-heavy designs help with airflow in warm conditions | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Build Quality and Durability

    Simply put, the differences in build quality are noticeable between budget and premium camping tents. Spending more gets you higher-quality materials that are stronger relative to their weight and, in theory, should have a longer lifespan. If you only make it out once or twice a year (and mostly in good weather), you absolutely can get away with a budget model like the Coleman Sundome. That said, if you camp a lot, are looking for a long-term investment for multiple seasons, or simply prefer quality gear, we recommend splurging for a higher-end camping tent. Upgraded features like a full-coverage rainfly, large vestibules and lots of interior pockets for gear storage, and strong aluminum poles increase a tent’s functionality and weather resistance.

    Camping tent (Snow Peak Alpha Breeze)
    Snow Peak's Alpha Breeze is pricey but extremely well built and hardwearing | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Another factor to consider in gauging a tent’s lifespan is durability, and big factors include the thickness of the canopy, floor, and rainfly fabrics. Floor thickness is particularly important, as it will have direct contact with rocks, roots, and other potentially sharp objects at camp. In comparing the models above, the difference can be significant: The crossover Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3, for instance, shaves weight by using lighter materials throughout, including a 68-denier (D) floor. This isn’t thin by ultralight standards (targeted backpacking designs go down to around 10 or 15D), but dedicated camping designs like REI’s Skyward and Wonderland (both 150D) use much more robust fabrics, which boost weight considerably but will stand up much better to long-term use. Many camping tents fall somewhere in the middle and are decently hardwearing, but if you’re typically tough on your gear, make sure to factor this into your buying decision.

    Camping tent (The North Face Wawona tent body closeup)
    Premium camping designs like the Wawona 6 use thick and confidence-inspiring fabrics | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Canvas tents like the Springbar Highline 6 are in a league of their own when it comes to durability. While the typical tent may last several seasons of rough use, a canvas tent can last decades. Their thick fabrics and bulky poles are designed to weather even the worst of storms. In this sense, their higher price tag may make sense for folks who spend a lot of time camping each year. They do require extra care, though: Canvas tents can develop mold and mildew if improperly dried. If you go this route, be extra careful to thoroughly dry your tent before storage.

    Setup and Take Down

    Given their large dimensions and multiple parts (tent body, rainfly, poles, and stakes), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that camping tents can be a bear to set up. It’s always best to do a test run at home to figure out the process; this also gives you a chance to verify you have all the necessary pieces. In general, we recommend setting up a car camping tent with a partner (some smaller four-person models can be done fairly easily by a single person), and you can expect it to take 10 minutes or more to fully deploy (tear down often is a bit faster). One exception to this rule is “instant” tents like the Gazelle T4 Hub, which streamline the process by having the poles permanently connected to the tent body. This design does add some weight and bulk, but some campers will find the trade-off in convenience worth it.

    Camping tent (instructions for Snow Peak Alpha Breeze setup)
    The Alpha Breeze's unique pole structure makes it tricky to set up | Credit: Jason Hummel

    Ground Dimensions

    When choosing between tent models, it’s a good idea to take the total footprint or ground size of the tent into account—some of the six and eight-person models are absolutely massive. Factoring in some of the large vestibules or “garages” that can be tacked on to the end of a tent, there’s a strong likelihood that it will extend beyond the size of the raised pads at some national parks or campgrounds. If you come from a backpacking background, keep in mind that many car camping tents require a much larger swath of space.

    Camping tent (setting up the Coleman Sundome)
    Ground size can vary widely depending on tent style and capacity | Credit: Jason Hummel

    It’s not uncommon for a raised camping pad to be 10 or 11 feet long, which is a tight squeeze for a tent like the REI Wonderland 6 (10 ft, not including the vestibule). Typically, however, most locations have large pads available, so we wouldn’t recommend downsizing your tent out of fear of not finding a suitable space. But it’s not a bad idea to check out the dimensions of the campsites you plan on visiting and upgrade to a bigger space if possible. And if you have any doubts or want to use your tent in smaller spots, we recommend going with a crossover or backpacking model that has a smaller footprint.

    Weight and Packed Size

    A quick look at the comparison table above shows a wide range in the total weight of our recommended camping tents. On the “lightweight” end are crossover car camping and backpacking designs, including the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 (7 lb. 1.2 oz.) and Marmot Tungsten 4P (9 lb. 3.8 oz.), which we’ve found to be an acceptable amount of weight for casual weekend or overnight backpacking trips (especially when divided up between a couple people). On the other hand, many large six- or eight-person camping models easily break 20 pounds. For car camping, the extra weight doesn’t mean a whole lot (one exception is the 75-lb. Springbar Highline 6), but if you’re unable to drive all the way up to your campsite, it’s worth considering the total weight.

    Camping tent (setting up REI Skyward)
    The REI Skyward 6 checks in at a reasonable 15 pounds 7 ounces all in | Credit: Brian McCurdy

    The packed size of a tent typically will align with its weight. Crossover backpacking and camping tents pack down the smallest (the aforementioned Tungsten measures 8.3 x 24.8 in. when packed), while a tent like the Gazelle T4 Hub (8 x 67.5 in.) will fill up an extra-large duffel bag and take up a good portion of a car trunk. Again, if you have the space to store it and haul it around, this isn’t a big downside. But if either are at a premium, we recommend a more compact crossover design.

    Camping tent (MSR Habiscape 6 packed down)
    The MSR Habiscape 6 measures 24 x 10 inches when packed, which is pretty competitive in this space | Credit: Jason Hummel


    While not a requirement, it's often a good idea to use some type of footprint or ground cloth when camping. The extra layer makes it easier to clean up if you're camping on dirt or mud and protects the tent’s floor from damage (thus extending the tent’s overall lifespan). But do you need to spend the big bucks and get the one specifically made for the tent? Oftentimes those are upwards of $50, which feels like a lot for a single sheet of fabric and some webbing. The advantage of using the footprint specifically designed for the tent is that it’s precut to the proper dimensions, and the grommets will attach to the tent poles directly. It’s an integrated system that you don’t need to worry about. 

    Alternatively, a decent tarp can suffice for ground protection as long as there’s still space to store it in your vehicle. They are typically quite large, and if you don’t want to cut them up, you’ll need to layer or stuff the excess material under the tent floor, creating some uncomfortable lumps. Another popular choice for making a generic ground cloth is picking up bulk Tyvek. This relatively thin and packable material is cheap and offers sufficient protection. No matter your choice, if you decide to trim the ground cloth, make sure to measure in a few inches in all dimensions to guarantee you don’t have fabric hanging out the sides of the tent floor. This extra material sticking out can collect and pool rainwater and compromise your waterproof shelter.

    What About Rooftop Tents?

    We didn’t include any rooftop tents on our list above due to their notably different designs, but they’re nevertheless an up-and-coming category in the car camping world and worth a mention here. The concept is fairly simple: A folded tent attaches directly to the roof rack system on top of your vehicle or pickup bed, and when you arrive at your destination, you simply unfold it, climb the ladder, and go to sleep. Compared to standard camping tents, rooftop designs get you off uneven ground, make it easier to set up camp just about anywhere, and often include a cushy built-in mattress. That said, these models are very expensive (often $1,000 or much more, not including a rack system), extremely heavy, and storage can be an issue. The Roofnest Condor 2 XL, for example, weighs 180 pounds and has a footprint that’s comparable in size to a king-size mattress. But for those who prioritize convenience and don’t mind the added cost, rooftop tents have a lot of appeal. For a full list of our favorite options, see our round-up of the best rooftop tents.

    Rooftop tent (Roofnest Sparrow)
    The rooftop tent market has exploded in recent years | Credit: Linhbergh Nguyen

    The Rest of Your Camping Kit

    Since you’re essentially setting up a home away from home, camping can be heavy on gear. Tents are typically your biggest purchase—both in price and size—followed by items like camping pads or mattresses and sleeping bags. Depending on where you’ll be camping and for how long, other essentials include a gas-burning stove, cooler, and camping chairs. The beauty in all of this is that the same principles that apply to camping tents transfer to the rest of your gear. You can go cheap and still have a great time, but you’ll rarely regret spending extra for added comfort, performance, and longevity.
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