Standing at the top of REI Co-op’s expansive camping tent lineup is the aptly named Kingdom series. Offered in 4, 6, and 8-person capacities, its familiar tunnel-like shape is a common sight at national parks and campgrounds around the U.S. We’ve used the tent extensively over the years, and despite a growing number of challengers, continue to be impressed with its premium materials, long-lasting construction, open and livable interior, and thoughtful feature set. Below we break down the Kingdom’s interior space, weather protection, ventilation, storage, durability, and more. To see how the REI Co-op Kingdom stacks up, see our article on the best camping tents.
With a long tunnel-like shape, 2 large doors, and near vertical walls, the REI Co-op Kingdom offers fantastic livable space. Unlike dome-style tents that taper along the outside, the Kingdom’s unique hubbed-pole system stretches the sidewalls to maximize the interior area. Additionally, the long square design allows for most people to stand up throughout the tent (peak height is 75 inches). For sleeping, the 100-inch length fits 4 standard sleeping pads side-by-side with a little room to spare. And the open interior also works well with a large airbed or tall items like cots or a portable crib.
As with all camping tents, if you’re on the fence in terms of capacity, it’s a good idea to size up. Camping in the Kingdom 4 with 4 people doesn’t leave any additional room for changing or daytime activities without pushing the pads and sleeping bags to the side. We’ve found the Kingdom 4 is suitable for 2 to 3 campers and a dog, and the Kingdom 6 is a great match when your numbers climb into the 3 to 5 range. For large groups, REI also makes the Kingdom 8, which has a massive 150-inch long footprint.
In rainy conditions, the Kingdom is a strong performer. The tent’s rainfly provides solid coverage almost all the way to the ground, and the seam sealing along the fly and floor has yet to fail us. One end of the tent body is completely protected by the rainfly and vestibule, while the other has an awning that provides partial coverage. But REI beefed up the weatherproofing of the door on this end, and we’ve found it does a fine job fending off moisture. That being said, adding the large Garage vestibule (covered below) on the awning end is a nice way to ensure full waterproof protection.
The Kingdom is designed to withstand a lengthy rainstorm, but its upright design does not make it the best option in heavy wind. Despite using quality materials and thick aluminum poles, and including guylines for hunkering down, the Kingdom’s very tall sides are simply not as sturdy as a dome-style tent in truly rough conditions. This won’t be an issue for most car campers—and properly set up, the Kingdom is still a formidable tent. But for those who find themselves in remote places, camp in all 4 seasons, or need a very strong design, Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model, Big Agnes’s Flying Diamond, or REI Co-op’s own Base Camp might be better options.
The REI Kingdom offers very good ventilation overall, with a double-wall design and plenty of mesh throughout the tent body. In particular, we like the adaptable rainfly that can be set up in 3 ways: fully deployed to provide maximum protection, rolled back halfway to reveal part of the mesh ceiling, or rolled up along the sides all the way to the mesh to create awning-like protection. With either rolling option, you can generate a lot of airflow and still easily secure the fly if weather moves in. Tack on the doors that can be unzipped halfway to reveal even more airy mesh, and you have a complete, summer-ready build.
Organization is typically a strong suit on a premium tent, and the Kingdom is no exception. Conveniently placed mesh pockets line the entire length of the interior on both sides, so it’s easy to keep personal items close at hand. There are also pockets along the ceiling at either end for storing the door when it’s completely unzipped. Stepping up the 6 or 8 person Kingdom tent adds a room divider, which can be zipped closed for privacy or to create a separate sleeping space.
Along the exterior, the Kingdom includes a single vestibule that covers the non-weatherproof door. The vestibule is fairly large for a camping tent at 29 square feet, and we like the fact that it zips open from either side. The other end only comes with an awning, but you can purchase an accessory Garage add-on for a big jump in storage space (see our section on the Kingdom Garage Accessory below for more information).
Something that immediately stands out in setting up and using the Kingdom is its quality construction. The fabrics have a premium and substantial feel, the aluminum poles and hubs are sturdy, and the stitching and seam sealing are top-notch. We’ve used our Kingdom tents a lot over the years, including numerous trips with kids and dogs, and have yet to experience any significant durability issues. The 150-denier floor is thick enough that you won’t necessarily need to add a footprint, though it’s still a good idea if you’re hoping to extend the tent’s life. Over time, one of our Kingdoms has gotten a few snags in the mesh—possibly from some careless packing—but otherwise everything looks brand new.
Weight and Packed Size
Tipping the scales at 18 pounds 8 ounces, the Kingdom 4 is a lot to haul around and store. The good news, however, is that REI includes a very convenient carry bag. The interior of the bag is divided vertically into 3 sections, so you can divvy up the poles, rainfly, and tent body. Pockets along the exterior fit the stakes and guylines. Importantly, it’s all generously sized and can accommodate less than perfect packing (the carry bag is also large enough to fit the Kingdom’s footprint if you decide to pick that up). And finally, backpack straps make it very easy to transport the bag to and from camp, which leaves your hands free for carrying more items from your car. Among tent bag designs, the Kingdom’s is one of our favorites.
Set up and Take Down
We’ve owned 4 and 6-person versions of the REI Kingdom and have found them to be very intuitive to set up. REI attaches the instructions to the included storage bag, but it’s still a good idea to give the tent the backyard test before heading out on a trip. The main hang-ups to be aware of are that you need to slide the 2 hubbed poles underneath the sleeve at the middle of the tent before connecting them. And you’ll want to ensure that you cover the non-weatherproof door with the vestibule (the awning and rainfly are color-coded to help match them up). Because of its sheer size, it’s a good idea to pitch the Kingdom with two people, but we’ve set ours up solo on a number of occasions in good weather.
Additional Capacities: 6 and 8 Person
We tested the 4-person version of the Kingdom for this review, and have also used a 6-person model extensively over the years. Between the two, the 6-person is the more versatile option if you’ll be camping with 3 or more people. We’ve found it’s always nice to have a little extra space for changing or hanging out. REI also offers an 8-person version for large families and groups. All 3 designs share a lot in common, but the 6 and 8-person models include a room divider, and one of the “rooms” has mesh sides (the 4-person only has mesh on the ceiling). In choosing between the different models, we think it’s worth erring on the side of a little extra space as long as the tent’s footprint won’t be too large for your camping adventures. Having room to change, set up a table, or just spread out are welcome luxuries on a trip.
Kingdom Garage Accessory
As mentioned above, one end of the Kingdom’s rainfly does not completely cover the door. On this awning is their Connect Tech zipper, which gives you the option to leave the tent as-is or to add an accessory for improved weather protection and storage. In the past a standard vestibule was available, but currently REI only offers one accessory: the massive Kingdom Garage. This large, pole-supported cover zips directly to the tent and comes with a door on either side. It’s large enough to store bikes, set up chairs, or even fit a small table. Further, the doors on the Garage can be unzipped and propped up like an awning if you bring trekking or tarp poles. It’s a big investment at $100, but we think the Garage is a functional addition for those that get out a lot. The main downside to be aware of is that it adds an additional 120.9 inches in length—and even a bit more when staked out—so it may be too large for some campsites.
What We Like
- We love the Kingdom’s premium construction as well as its very roomy and livable interior.
- With a 75-inch peak height and a tall, tunnel-like shape, it's easy for most people to stand up and move around inside.
- Adaptable rainfly and mesh along the tent body and doors can move a good amount of air in hot weather. The tent and fly also offer solid protection in rainy conditions.
- Easy to set up, take down, and haul around with the backpack-style storage bag.
What We Don’t
- One end of the tent only has an awning and weatherproof door for wind and rain protection. Purchasing the Garage add-on is an additional $100.
- The tall, tunnel-shaped design isn’t as strong in the wind as a well-built dome or hexagonal-style tent.
- You’ll have to step up to the Kingdom 6 or 8 to get the room divider.
|REI Co-op Kingdom 4||$389||69.4 sq. ft.||2||18 lb. 8 oz.||75 in.||4P, 6P, 8P|
|Marmot Limestone 4||$359||60 sq. ft.||2||11 lb. 11 oz.||63 in.||4P, 6P, 8P|
|Cabela's Alaskan Guide 4P||$350||60 sq. ft.||1||24 lb. 11 oz.||56 in.||4P, 6P, 8P|
|Kelty Trail Ridge 4||$290||57 sq. ft.||2||11 lb. 4 oz.||59 in.||2P, 3P, 4P, 6P, 8P|
|REI Co-op Base Camp 4||$369||60 sq. ft.||2||17 lb. 1 oz.||60 in.||4P, 6P|
For us, the REI Co-op Kingdom stands out as the best all-around premium camping tent. But there are certainly a number of formidable challengers. One popular option is the Marmot Limestone, which is a twist on a traditional dome-style tent. The Limestone features X-shaped cross poles, but adds separate poles along the upper portions of each side to increase interior volume. With tons of mesh and large doors, it has an open feel and offers impressive ventilation. But for $30 more, we prefer the Kingdom’s larger interior (it has 9.4 additional square feet of floor area), 12 inch taller peak height, and more adaptable rainfly.
Another big seller in the camping world is Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model. Inspired by mountaineering tents, this 4, 6, or 8-person tent features a hexagonal shape and provides fantastic wind protection for a camping design. We don’t love that it comes with fiberglass poles—aluminum is stronger and less prone to breaking overall—but the sturdy structure is a better performer than the Kingdom in strong wind. For the 3-season camper, we give the overall edge to the Kingdom. It’s tough enough to handle most weather conditions, and with its tall tunnel-like shape and generous storage, is the more livable option.
A final option is REI Co-op’s own Base Camp. The two models use similarly high quality materials but have completely different designs. The Base Camp is intended for 3+ season weather with a sturdier dome construction and overlapping poles, while the Kingdom’s design maximizes airflow and interior space. And unlike the Base Camp, the Kingdom has the Connect Tech zipper, a useful accessory that gives the option of adding a vestibule or garage for increased floor space and protection. A decision between the two should come down to priorities. For us, the Kingdom’s more vertical walls and rich feature set make it our favorite camping tent on the market.
Editor’s note: We usually provide a live price comparison table below our outdoor gear reviews, but the Kingdom is sold exclusively by REI Co-op. You can see the Kingdom 4 page here and support us in the process. Thanks!