Is your next camping tent worth a splurge? That depends on how you plan to use it. If you’re a casual car camper or fair-weather weekend backpacker, you may not need to pay more for a quality product. A solidly constructed, budget-friendly camping tent will probably do you just fine.
If you’re an avid backcountry explorer who camps year-round in all sorts of weather, it’s worth paying more for a top-shelf camping tent – and you’re probably willing to make more room in your budget for the purchase.
Your camping tent budget also depends on the type of camping you plan to do. If you’re a fan of long-distance bike rides, hikes, or paddling trips, you know that every pack pound counts. Weight is likely to be a key – perhaps the key – consideration as you evaluate your tent options. Stored size matters too; your tent can’t take up more than its share of pack space. If you prefer car camping, weight isn’t as big of a deal, and you can invest in a heavier, sturdier tent that sleeps larger groups.
This list of the best camping tents for North American buyers includes camping tent models for a variety of applications, from bare-bones backpacking to comparatively luxurious car and RV camping. Whatever your needs, you’re likely to find an option for you.
The Best Camping Tents on the Market Today
Here’s what you need to know about the best camping tents on the market today.
1. Kelty Salida 2-Person
The Kelty Salida 2-Person is a compact, lightweight backpacking tent that feels more spacious than it looks. That’s thanks in part to its generous 10-square-foot vestibule, which comprises about a third of the total square footage. Is it overkill? Not after a long trek through a buggy, soggy swamp.
With just two poles, color-coded clip and fly attachments, and a packed size of 13 inches by 15 inches, the Kelty Salida 2-Person is a breeze to carry and set up, making it ideal for first-time backpackers. It’s also lightweight at under 4 pounds. Use the internal suspended storage compartments to hold everything you need for the night.
Compared with other high-quality backpacking tents, the Kelty Salida 2-Person is quite budget-friendly. Its one main drawback: As a three-season, super-lightweight sleeper, it’s not suited for rough or frigid weather.
2. Coleman Sundome 4-Person
The Coleman Sundome 4-Person is another budget-friendly tent that’s surprisingly spacious inside. With the capacity to sleep four people comfortably, it’s great for quick car camping or family backpacking trips. However, despite water-resistant WeatherTec material and Coleman’s claims of all-season versatility, the weatherproofing is unsuitable for overnighting in high wind or heavy rain.
While it might not be the tent of choice for serious backpackers, the Coleman Sundome 4-Person has some bells and whistles worth noting. A sturdy carry bag earns high marks from car campers, an internal electrical access port comes in handy at sites with electrical hookups, and interior gear pockets provide easy storage. At about 10.5 pounds, you can carry this tent to walk-in sites, but it’s not ideal for spots too far off the road.
3. Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2
The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 is an ultralight, three-season two-sleeper that retails for more than double the Kelty Salida 2’s sticker price. But it’s backed by Big Agnes’ 100% guarantee, which promises to make things right if you’re not completely satisfied with your purchase.
The Fly Creek HV UL 2 weighs under 2 pounds, packs down to a cozy 4 inches by 19 inches, and boasts a decent-sized 8-square-foot vestibule on a total floor area of 28 square feet. A vertical door and proprietary “high volume architecture” increase interior volume without adding weight or overloading the profile. Three interior pockets offer plenty of temporary storage capacity. To further reduce weight in fair weather, opt for Fast Fly mode, which shaves 8 ounces off the tent’s trail weight by omitting inessential components.
4. Marmot Limestone 4P
The Marmot Limestone 4P is a four-person, three-season, two-door tent that’s ideal for family car camping. At nearly 11 pounds, you won’t want this tent loading down your pack all day, but it’s perfectly manageable for walk-in sites. Priced roughly in line with the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 but with double the capacity, it’s a solid, quality deal.
Why invest in a Marmot Limestone 4P? For starters, the vestibule is ample: 21 square feet on a total floor area of 60 square feet. It boasts two doors, an oversized front opening leading into the vestibule, and a D-shaped rear escape hatch. Color-coded poles and clips make setup a breeze. And the 61-inch peak height is more than enough for kids to stand upright and adults to sit comfortably at the apex.
5. REI Co-op Kingdom 6
The six-sleeper REI Co-op Kingdom 6 certainly feels like a world unto itself. With an apex height of 75 inches, a total floor area of 83 square feet, a 29-square-foot vestibule, the Kingdom 6 is among the most spacious tents on this list. At nearly one and a half times the cost of the Marmot Limestone 4P, it’s also one of the priciest tents on this list, but at capacity, the per-person cost is pretty reasonable. A zip-up floor-to-ceiling divider creates two interior rooms for privacy.
While the Kingdom 6 is a great group car camping tent, the redesigned-but-still-tricky setup process means it’s not ideal for novices or campers in a hurry. Also, the 2019 model year redesign is not compatible with any earlier model years, a significant drawback for campers looking to cut costs by buying accessories used. Also, its three-season rating rules out winter camping.
On the bright side, the oversized doors have adequate weather protection, and a slew of interior storage options should satisfy everyone sleeping inside. If you’re looking for a high-quality car camping tent to fit your entire group, you could do much worse.
6. REI Co-op Half Dome 4 Plus
The REI Co-op Half Dome 4 Plus four-sleeper is a more affordable, smaller version of the Kingdom 6, without the center divider. It’s easier to set up and includes two oversized doors for easy access and gear storage. Four strategically placed roof vents ensure adequate airflow on muggy nights. However, the 48-inch peak height could make for a cramped experience.
At just over 7 pounds, the Half Dome 4 Plus is light for a car camping tent and heavy for a backpacking tent. That said, it’s appropriate for both, though you’ll start to feel its weight on extended backpacking trips over rough terrain.
7. Nemo Losi 4
The Nemo Losi 4 is another four-person hybrid tent that works equally well on the trail and in the trunk. Although it’s a few ounces heavier than the Half Dome, the nearly 61-square-foot floor area and 61-inch peak height make up for the added weight. One of its two doors leads into a roughly 19-square-foot vestibule that’s great for storing stuff you don’t want to leave out in the open or bring into the sleeping compartment. A convenient roll-up stuff sack keeps stakes and other accessories organized on the trail.
The Nemo Losi 4 is priced roughly in line with the Kingdom 6; you’ll pay a premium for quality construction and interior space here. Think of the added expense as a down payment on Nemo’s generous lifetime warranty. If you don’t need four-sleeper capacity, spend a little less for a two- or three-person Losi.
8. Kelty Dirt Motel 4
The Kelty Dirt Motel 4 is a budget-friendly four-sleeper that’s ideal for car camping in spring, summer, or fall. Each door opens into a 9-square-foot vestibule; the total vestibule area is 18 square feet on a total floor area just shy of 56 square feet. The apex reaches 46 inches, allowing adults to sit comfortably, albeit cozily, and smaller kids to stand straight up. A hubbed pole set makes for easy setup.
The Dirt Motel 4’s airflow is above average for a two-vent design, and the easily retractable rain fly provides total coverage, making this a fine rough-weather choice in the warm season and a great option for stargazing in fair weather too. The nearly 7-pound trail weight is acceptable for weight-conscious backpackers but not ideal on minimalist excursions.
9. Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin
Coleman’s 6-Person Instant Cabin tent lives up to its name. It sets up and breaks down in barely one minute flat, making it a fine choice for inexperienced campers dreading the pitch. Inside, there’s enough room to fit two queen airbeds, music to the ears of anyone who’d prefer not to sleep on a ground pad. Water-resistant fabric and WeatherTec rainproofing keep things dry inside, though the tent’s high, boxy profile isn’t great in strong winds. Reflective guylines add visibility at night.
Due to its weight (a bulky 25 pounds) and size, the Instant Cabin isn’t suitable for backpacking or walk-in sites. But it’s just about perfect for high-capacity car camping adventures. And the price – roughly half the cost of the REI Kingdom 6 – is hard to overlook.
10. Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model 6-Person
Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Model 6-Person is another spacious six-sleeper with a unique design, but that’s about where the similarities end between it and other large tents.
The product of a quarter century of field testing in the Alaskan wilderness, the Guide Model is the most durable, weatherproof tent on this list, bar none. Its geodesign configuration and super-tough fabrics withstand punishing winds and extreme cold. You can absolutely trust the Guide Model on your next winter camping excursion, though you’ll also want a cold-rated sleeping bag and plenty of layers for thermal protection.
With the Guide Model’s center height of 61 inches, you probably won’t be able to stand up fully inside it. And the 33-pound pack weight all but eliminates backpacking applications. But thanks to four conveniently placed cup holders, you’ll at least have a safe place to stash your drink when the weather precludes outdoor socialization.
The Guide Model is one of the pricier tents on this list, but for serious campers willing to endure whatever Mother Nature throws at them, its ruggedness more than justifies the cost.
11. Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe
The Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe is a spacious six-sleeper with 78 inches of clearance at the apex, the most generous height on this list. Though it’s not rated for year-round camping, a storm fly provides some measure of protection in nasty weather. A dozen storage compartments, including side pockets big enough to hold an iPad and two bin pockets that double as bedside tables, make internal organization a breeze.
The Big House 6 Deluxe isn’t perfect. The vestibule is an accessory that’s sold separately, and the high clearance presents some risk in windy settings. And at a trail weight of nearly 13 pounds, the Big House 6 Deluxe is better for car and walk-in base camping than backcountry luxuriating.
12. The North Face Wawona 4
The North Face Wawona 4 is a mid-priced four-sleeper tent that’s ideal for family car camping trips. Inside, two doors lead into two full vestibules totaling more than 27 square feet. The 68-inch centerline height is ample enough for shorter adults and more than enough for even the tallest occupant to sit comfortably. Six interior mesh pockets should offer enough storage, even for over-prepared campers.
The Wawona 4 isn’t great for all scenarios. Its nearly 12-pound trail weight isn’t ideal for backpacking, and the vestibules account for nearly half the total floor area, making the sleep area decidedly cozy at full capacity. If you like your space, consider keeping the total occupancy to two or three.
13. MSR Papa Hubba NX 4-Person
The MSR Papa Hubba NX 4-Person is the most spacious backpacking tent on this list. It’s built to hold four adults comfortably – a rarity on the trail – and offers plenty of organizational space for highly accessorized groups. It weighs in under 7 pounds, or under 6 pounds with the optional light body configuration, and packs down to 21 inches by 7 inches. It’s not the lightest or most compact tent on this list, but it could save you the trouble of setting up two tents after a long day on the trail.
Inside, two doors lead to 22 square feet of vestibule space on 53 square feet of total floor area.
A unified hub-and-pole system simplifies setup, and built-in rain gutters wick water away from the already impermeable fly. The waterproof fabric coating is specially designed to resist moisture and rated to last up to three times as long as conventional tent waterproofing.
As the most expensive tent on this list by a considerable margin, the MSR Papa Hubba NX 4-Person’s obvious drawback is price. But if your four-person group is committed to life on the trail, or you and your partner regularly backpack with another couple, the price tag may not be a dealbreaker.
My wife and I still use the five-person tent she slept in as a child. While it’s a little worse for wear, and its clunky design is dated, it holds up well against the elements and keeps out the bugs. We recently purchased a smaller tent for more adventurous applications, but we have no plans to get rid of our five-person, and we expect to enjoy it for many more seasons.
With proper care, your new camping tent should last you many seasons too. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be in the market for a new outdoor sleeper sooner than you think. Camping tents make great wedding gifts for the outdoorsy couple in your life. A budget-friendly tent is a fantastic high school or college graduation present. And if you’re willing to splurge on a big gift for an active friend or family member’s birthday, you could do worse than a two- or three-person sleeper.
What’s your favorite tend brand and model? What do you like about it?