How to Select Your Next Family-sized Tent

Camping with the family is fun, provided your shelter is large enough for everyone to sleep comfortably.

family-sized tents
These days, family-sized tents are large and easy to set up compared to the gigantic tents of yesteryear.Core

Of all the ways to get kids into the great outdoors, nothing has as much lasting impact or influence as a well-organized family camping trip. On any such expedition, the most important piece of gear is a shelter. Fortunately, a quality multi-person tent is an affordable investment in your family’s love of the outdoors. Modern construction materials and techniques have produced reliable, economical shelters that can serve as a basecamp for just about any outdoor family adventure, depending on your needs. Here are a few types of tents to consider, along with pros and cons of each style.

Dome Tents

Dome tents
Dome tents are easy to set up, take down, and pack from campsite to campsite.Coleman

From backpacking to park-and-pitch camping, dome tents are the most ubiquitous camping shelter on the market. They rely on a rounded geodesic framework of shock-corded poles, which makes them more wind-resistant than cabin tents and as easy to pitch as they are to strike, usually by one person. Besides simplicity of use, the advantage of a dome tent is that it is smaller and therefore lightweight. But size is also their downside; with a dome, weight savings and convenience come at the expense of interior space.

Cabin Tents

Cabin tents
Cabin tents are large enough to accommodate creature comforts like cots, but remember the weight of the shelter might make it tough to carry for long distances.Core

If roominess is the most important factor, then consider a more spacious cabin-style tent. You’ll get maximum headroom in a cabin tent, which may comfortably sleep eight or more people. Cabin tents are also more likely to accommodate cots or multiple inflatable mattresses. But expect that extra room to mean more bulk and weight to the package, with a more elaborate framework and greater set-up time often requiring more than one person.

Screen-room Tents

6-Person Tent
If you’re overnighting in a place where biting bugs are especially aggressive, a screen porch attached to your tent makes it easier to enjoy fresh air without applying bug spray.Coleman

For buggy or especially sunny campsites, a cabin tent with an attached screen room or vestibule is a fine way to enjoy the living space of a full-size cabin tent while providing a bug-free shelter from the elements during the day. Screen rooms are perfect for reading, relaxing in the shade, or preparing meals in foul weather. The screen rooms can even be used as sleeping quarters on fair nights, though a screen tent of comparable size to a cabin tent will generally be rated for fewer people.