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two camping tents in the forest

There’s nothing like camping in a tent in the woods. Photo: Nathan Lemin//The Inertia


The Inertia

So you want to sleep under the stars. Well, you want to sleep with a piece of mesh (and probably nylon) between you and the stars, and you’re excited to see them away from all that city light. Us too. Camping — whether it’s deep in the backcountry or nestled around a car-filled cozy campground with a roaring fire and endless bags of s’mores — is one of the best ways to spend a long weekend. And while sleeping au natural certainly has its time and place (warm summer nights with no bugs), camping tents are usually required.

But the tent market is rather crowded. There are endless models, colors, add-ons, material thicknesses, pack sizes, and brands to consider. Then there’s the type of tent — are you going backpacking, car camping, or something in between? What season tent do you need? These are the questions we are here to help answer.

Below are the best camping tents we tested this year, and for more detailed information, check out our Comparison Table and Buyer’s Guide. If you’re looking for more lightweight tent options to bring backpacking, you’ll be better served by our complete guide to the Best Backpacking Tents.

Best Camping Tents of 2024

Best Overall Camping Tent: The North Face Wawona 6
Runner-Up Best Overall Camping Tent: REI Base Camp 4
Best Budget Camping Tent: Coleman Sundome 6
Best Hybrid Tent: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+
Best Backpacking Tent: NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P


Best Overall Camping Tent

The North Face Wawona 6 ($500)

our best car camping tent winner was the north face wawona 6

Weight: 20 lbs 15 oz
Peak Height: 76″
Floor Area: 86.1 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 120″ x 96″
Packed Size: 10″ x 32″

Other Versions: 4P8P

Pros: Really big, weather resistant
Cons: Need more than one person to set up

The North Face Wawona 6 is an absolutely giant camping tent. It’s got a massive 76-inch peak height and walls that are almost as tall, despite the dome design. Multiple people can stand up or set up chairs inside the tent. It’s made with thick, durable materials, has two full doors, and substantial aluminum poles. You’ll be surprised when setting it up that poles so thick bend that much — but they do! Plus, they are color-coded to match the sleeves for a relatively easy setup. That said, you will likely need two people to set it up due to the height and the bend of the poles.

Beyond the extra-large interior and quality components, the real kicker of the Wawona 6 is its huge vestibule. It’s more than a vestibule — it’s an entire room. The North Face decided to turn the obligatory “extra space” feature into a connected tunnel of sorts, which has to be staked separately and offers two extra-large side doors. This means you can have a private room, a spacious place to eat lunch in the shade, or simply throw all your dirty sandals after a full day of river-rock-hopping.

We said it, we meant it: The Wawona 6 is really, really big. It’ll fit six adults, which is impressive, but it seems best suited to family camping. Due to its size, the setup does require two people and a bit of know-how. The North Face thought ahead with color-coded poles, though we’re never a fan of pole sleeves, and there are lots on this tent. However, plenty of backpacking-style clips allow for a quick pitch despite the size, and the included guy-out lines are excellent. The extra vestibule takes some finagling to get used to, but for the trade-off in space, it’s definitely worth it.

The typical issue with large car camping tents like this is weather resistance. The vertical nature of these tents means a strong wind can knock them sideways, but we didn’t worry about the Wawona 6. It retains a dome shape despite the height, is built with thick nylon and even thicker poles, and has plenty of guy-lines that, when staked properly, will secure it. The extra-large vestibule allows cooking, reading, and even playing games in the rain, so you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. This tent is well-made and is built to last, and the quality is ultimately why it took our top spot.

Check Price on REI Check Price on Backcountry 


Runner-Up Best Overall Camping Tent

REI Base Camp 4 ($474)best all weather car camping tent was the rei base camp 4

Weight: 16 lbs 14 oz
Peak Height: 60″
Floor Area: 59.7 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 100″ x 86″
Packed Size: 10″ x 20″

Other Versions: 6P

Pros: Can be set up alone, weather resistant
Cons: Tight fit for four adults

The Base Camp 4 is REI’s classic weather-resistant domed car camping tent. It can hold four adults, though with that group it’ll be pretty tight, so we’d recommend a smaller family or sizing up to the 6P version if you need more. The benefit of a slightly smaller tent is that you can set it up with a single person, and it’s more weather-resistant with a true dome design. There are two extra-large doors, and the stakeout style of the vestibules gives it ample exterior space. Plus, much like our top pick (but to a lesser extent), the extended front vestibule makes for a great all-weather area.

For a car camping tent, it’s quite comfortable, though not quite as large as the Wawona or Wonderland. The Base Camp has more of a dome design than a maximal standing-height design, which some people won’t love (but does make it a bit more resistant to wind and weather). It’s almost like an oversized backpacking tent but with car camping credo and weight. If space isn’t your main concern, it’s very comfortable. This sizable tent can be set up with a single person, and REI has locked in the pole structure. That said, the extra pole to extend the front is a little tricky, so you’ll need to try it a few times before you feel comfortable.

REI is known for providing tent pockets, and the Base Camp 4 does not disappoint. Pockets along the ground, at head height, and clips for lights make this tent excellent for organization. Add the extended vestibule up front, which doesn’t always come with car camping tents, and you’ve got yourself a mini-garage of sorts.

The Base Camp 4 takes its design queues from mountaineering tents, and while it’s not quite that weatherproof, it’s close. The materials are burly, but it’s really the dome design and excellent extra-pole feature that, when combined with guy-lines, can survive strong weather. REI has a winner with this design when it comes to durable materials. That said, some online reviews reported occasional aluminum pole bends in high winds, so make sure to stake out your tent properly.

If less space and more weather-resistance fit your needs, then this, our runner-up best camping tent pick, is the best option for you.

Check Price on REI


Best Budget Camping Tent

Coleman Sundome 6 ($129)our pick for best budget car camping tent is the coleman sundome 6

Weight: 14 lbs
Peak Height: 72″
Floor Area: 100 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 10′ x 10′
Packed Size: Not Listed

Other Versions: 2P, 3P, 4P

Pros: Affordable, large, sturdy floor
Cons: Bare bones rainfly, fiberglass poles

Does a tent that costs more than $300 less than its competitor stand up? Yes. Listen, Coleman has been doing this for nearly a century, and the Sundome 6 is a solid tent, price notwithstanding.

The Coleman Sundome has been the classic budget tent line for many years. The Coleman Sundome 6P is the largest version and is very large. You can stand up if you’re under six feet, it’s a full 100 square feet (larger than some New York apartments) and has one door for easy entry and exit. It’s definitely a budget model: fiberglass poles, a bare-bones rainfly, no vestibules, etc. That said, the floor is built of a heavy-duty tarp-like material that eliminates the need for a footprint, and there are pockets and acceptable ventilation.

Setup is not particularly difficult, but Coleman doesn’t provide the same niceties as the other brands, like color-coded poles and special grommets. But then there are no extra poles, so it’s a pretty quick process. Pockets are lacking on the Sundome 6, especially compared to the competition. They exist but won’t blow you away. And the standing room is minimal (really only in the center of the tent).

The lack of a real vestibule means rain will definitely hit the front of your tent, and you don’t have an “outside” area that’s safe from the weather. It gets decent marks due to the tarp-like floor, which is very rugged and will keep water out. Thinner materials and fiberglass poles do indicate a tent that may break sooner than you want. That said, if you’re a fair-weather camper only, it’ll survive many seasons. It’s not fancy, but it works and it’s cheap (and often on sale for less than a hundred bucks).

Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Coleman


Best Hybrid Tent

REI Half Dome SL 3+ ($399)

one of our top picks for the best tents was the rei half dome sl 3

Weight: 5 lbs 11.7 oz

Peak Height: 44″
Floor Area: 48.75 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 90″ x 78″
Packed Size: 23″ x 7″
Vestibule Area: 22.5 sq. ft.

Other Versions: 2+

Pros: Simple design, easy setup, spacious
Cons: Doesn’t perform great in super heavy winds

As ever, with the Half Dome SL 3+, REI hit a sweet spot on space, ease of setup, well-thought-out features, and price (though the price is creeping up over the years). Generally, if someone is asking for a versatile tent recommendation, we point them toward the Half Dome SL 3+. It’s simple, excellent, spacious, and quite light for the specs.

With each new version, REI ups the ante. When they added a “plus” in their Half Dome line, they increased head space. Now you’ll notice they are tagged “SL” — that’s for super light. We are impressed with both the two-person and three-person models, as well as their spacious vestibules, which enable exterior storage (and in turn more interior space). The Half Dome has all your premium features (even DAC PF poles, now), yet plenty of space.

Large and in charge, the Half Dome SL 3+ will feel glamorous in the backcountry. Its fully rectangular floor plan makes this tent comfortable for three adult sleepers (or two adults and three dogs, trust us, we’ve tested it). You may have trouble finding enough space to pitch it, honestly. That space, plus the roll-back fly which allows for easy star-gazing, makes for a lovely shelter. Like all hybrid/backpacking tents on this list, setup is a breeze. The Half Dome SL 3+ has one pre-bent pole hub (no need to fiddle with multiple poles) and color coding to aid your setup.

While there is still ample storage in the latest Half Dome tents, we preferred the pocket setup of the previous generation. We hypothesize they simplified pockets for weight savings, after all the newer SL versions are over a pound lighter than the old models. That said, the lighter materials do seem to flex in strong winds, so keep that in mind and set up your tent with a helpful wind block, if possible.

All in all, for a one-and-done tent that boasts plenty of space for car camping adventures yet is still light and packable enough for the occasional backpacking trip, look no further than the REI Half Dome SL 3+. Nothing beats it at this price ($399 at the time of publishing, though often marked down during REI sales).

Check Price on REI


Best Backpacking Tent

NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P ($530)our favorite backpack tent was the nemo dagger osmo 2p

Weight: 4 lbs 2 oz
Peak Height: 42″
Floor Area: 31.3 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 90″ x 50″
Packed Size: 19.5″ x 6.5″

Other Versions: 3P

Pros: Made from recycled materials, lightweight
Cons: Expensive

The Dagger OSMO 2P is our favorite backpacking tent for most people due to its excellent blend of quality, weight, internal space, vestibule space, and ease of use. While it has plenty of competition in the backpacking tents segment, we found its combination of specs to be the most versatile.

For a two-person backpacking tent, you can’t “live” more comfortably. The Dagger 2P doesn’t taper at the feet — it’s 50 inches wide from end to end and therefore fits two 25-inch sleeping pads side by side. Trust us, this is a luxury in a backpacking setup (standard sleeping-pad size is about 20 inches). NEMO invented the “shaded pocket,” in which you put your headlamp to create a tent-wide glow, making the tent a nice place to hang at night.

Premium backpacking tents were designed to be set up in the dark with icy hands and hungry bellies. The NEMO Daggger OSMO’s off-end pole is color-coded, the fly goes on quickly, and you’ll be snug as a bug just minutes after you unroll it. For a two-person lightweight backpacking tent, there is also a lot of storage. Overhead pockets, side pockets, and extra-large vestibules make for more than enough room when backpacking.

We don’t have much bad to say about the Dagger. Sure, it’s not the lightest backpacking tent ever, and it’s pricey, but we believe this features the best specs for your money.

Editor’s Note: Looking for our full list of backpacking-specific tent options? Check out our guide to the Best Backpacking Tents.

Check Price on REI Check Price on Backcountry


Best of the Rest

Best Extra-Large Camping Tent

REI Co-op Wonderland 6 Tenta huge camping tent

Weight: 22 lbs 15 oz
Peak Height: 78″
Floor Area: 83.3 sq ft
Dimensions: 120″ x 100″
Packed Size: 32″ x 13″

Other Versions: 4P

Pros: Gigantic interior space, can stand up throughout the tent
Cons: Durability is a concern

Have a penchant for glamping? That’s okay! When you’re out in the elements all day, sometimes it’s nice to crash with creature comforts. The REI Co-op Wonderland 6 features space for you and the whole family to stretch out. This massive tent features the best headroom (78 inches!) of any on this list. And while it doesn’t have quite the same durability or ease of use as our top pick, the Wonderland 6 makes an excellent option if loads of space and standing room are a priority.

One of our testers noted that someone six feet tall could stand up comfortably nearly everywhere in this tent — a rarity for even the largest camping tents with dome structures. The Wonderland’s headroom is thanks to its unique structure: Three prominently arching pole systems create nearly vertical sidewalls. The upright structure paired with loads of mesh and huge doors makes this tent feel even bigger than it is (and trust us, it’s huge). As for floor space, we were able to comfortably fit two double sleeping pads, two camping chairs (yes, inside), two duffel bags, a dog bed, a power station, and a dirty clothes pile, all with room to walk around. And surprisingly, we were able to set up this camping tent with just one person.

As for drawbacks, there were a couple. Some reviewers on REI’s site reported issues with wind and pole damage (likely due to its upright shape). While our team experienced gusts of 15-20 miles per hour with no issue, we can’t say how the tent performs beyond those numbers. Also, the rain fly positioning has a couple of weak spots (over the side windows), so heavy rain may cause leaks. That said, for pure space and comfort the REI Co-op Wonderland 6 is really tough to beat.

Check Price on REI

Runner-Up Best Hybrid Tent

NEMO Aurora 3P ($359)

our pick for the best backpacking tent is the nemo aurora 3p tentWeight: 6 lbs 14 oz
Peak Height: 44″
Floor Area: 44 sq. ft.
Dimensions: 88″ x 72″
Packed Size: 23″ x 7.5″

Other Versions: 2P

Pros: Easy to set up, reliable rainfly, upright wall design
Cons: Not as roomy as traditional camping tents

The Aurora 3P tent is an excellent shelter for those who want a slightly larger backpacking tent that works well for car camping too. While you won’t get the tall interior height of an extra-large camping tent or the ultralight experience of a smaller backpacking tent, you get a decent amount of space, thoughtful design, and a relatively light package (though not as light as our favorite hybrid camping tent, the Half Dome above).

The NEMO Aurora 3P boasts solid interior space, is very easy to set up with the singular aluminum pole hub, and includes a very large, very secure rainfly for inclement weather. The main feature that makes it comfortable for car camping is the upright wall design, which increases the usability and comfort of the overall interior space. Then, it has NEMO’s key tent features, like light pockets and snaps for dog-proof floors. Footprint inclusion is a nice touch, especially for a family tent. Plus, the pole hub could not be easier to set up, and the rainfly snaps on in a few minutes, a bonus regardless of camping experience.

Really, we love and highly recommend this tent. Our only reason for giving it runner-up hybrid status is for its rather heavy weight (nearly 7 pounds). That said, if you want slightly more vertical walls than the Half Dome SL 3+, the NEMO Aurora 3P makes an awesome hybrid tent option.

If you like the upright design but want something with even more features and space for car camping, check out the Aurora Highrise.

Check Price on REI Check Price on Backcountry 


Great for Sleeping In Late

Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh and Black 3P ($349)

Decathlon Fresh and Black Tent

Weight: 18.1 lbs
Peak Height: 50″
Floor Area: 46.7 sq ft
Dimensions: 81″ x 83″
Packed Size: 28″ x 8.6″ x 8.6″

Other Versions: 2P

Pros: Fresh and Black technology keeps out light and (some) heat, super simple setup, 5-year warranty
Cons: Heavy, low tub floor could be an issue in heavy rains

It’s rare to see a value-oriented brand take the lead when it comes to innovation, but French outdoors-gear juggernaut Decathlon has some interesting and innovative ideas going on in their R&D department, not the least of which is their line of tents. Their tent offerings range from large family-style tents to small and light backpacking tents, with a variety of interesting technologies for easy setup and comfort.

Two such innovations are integrated into their 2 Second Easy Fresh and Black Tent. The first: pop-up technology that, while it may not take two seconds, delivers a fully set-up tent in under a minute. And the second: Decathlon’s Fresh and Black tent construction that features a white, semi-reflective tent exterior to ward off heat and a blackout interior that helps keep things dark inside when the sun comes up so you can sleep in longer.

We tested this tent at a camping festival in Bakersfield, California in early-summer conditions, and were quite impressed with just how well the tent warded off heat. While it wasn’t exactly cool inside during the heat of the day (outside temps rose above 80 degrees with little to no shade) it was certainly better than any of the other tents at the campsite. However, where this tent truly shines is during the morning. It holds in the cool morning air (and darkness) during those critical few hours when, especially after a late night at a festival or just hanging around the campfire with friends, you’d rather be asleep than tossing and turning in the heat and sunlight. It’s not going to hold that cool air for the entire day (like you might expect from the legendary ShiftPods that have become a staple at desert camping festivals like Burning Man), but for a third of the price, the bang for your buck you get with one of Decathlon’s Fresh and Black tents is hard to beat.

The only downside to this camping tent is that, although it’s billed for “camping and backpacking” the 18-pound weight of the three-person version that we tested is likely going to keep you from hauling it too far away from the car. However, for car camping, this tent fits the bill nicely. We also have yet to test this tent in the rain, but the very low tub-style floor of the tent has us a little worried about how well it will fare in truly wet conditions.

This “Fresh and Black” technology comes in a few different tent styles from Decathlon. The one we tested here is the higher-priced version, coming equipped with a door on either side of the tent, which can be used to get a nice cross-breeze going. You can also get your hands on a pop-up Fresh and Black tent for as low as $150, but you’ll be sacrificing the two-door setup.

Check Price on Decathlon

Stoic Madrone 4 Tent ($160)

stoic camping tents

Weight: 8 lb 8 oz
Peak Height: 52″
Floor Area: 63.75 sq ft
Dimensions: 90″ x 102″
Packed Size: 22″ x 7″

Other Versions: 4P

Pros: Easy to set up, two doors/vestibules, inexpensive
Cons: Rainfly leaks a bit after a few years of use

The Stoic Madrone 4 Tent is a no-frills tent available for an affordable price. Designed with families in mind, the Madrone is a spacious dome tent that’s easy to use.

The Madrone 4 features snap-in clips that make it quick to set up. The tent also includes guy-lines and stakes which come in handy in windy conditions. The tent has a mesh ceiling, which we really enjoyed on warm and storm-free nights for stargazing straight from the tent. The tent also comes with a rainfly that snaps quickly into place when storms hit. Our tester has been camping in the Madrone tent for three years now and recently found that it drips a bit when it’s raining hard, so it loses points for durability. However, at the great price ($160 at the time of publishing), a quick wash with a waterproof treatment is worth the savings.

The Madrone 4 has two doors and good-sized vestibules which come in clutch when you’ve got the tent packed full of friends. There are small gear pockets inside, which work perfectly for stashing headlamps, keys, and other small essentials. At the end of the day, the tent packs into a duffel-style bag. Pack-up is easy and doesn’t require precision folding, which is ideal.

While the Stoic Madrone doesn’t boast any standout features, it’s really reasonable, especially for a well-made tent. Plus, though similarly priced, it’s nearly 6 pounds lighter than our budget pick, the Coleman above.

Check Price on Backcountry


Marmot Limelight 3P Tent w/ Footprint ($359)this marmot camping tent has unique vestibules

Weight: 7 lbs 2 oz
Peak Height: 45.3″
Floor Area: 45.2
Dimensions: 88″ x 70.1″/63.2″ head/feet
Packed Size: 6.3″ x 24.4″

Other Versions: 2P

Pros: Super spacious for hybrid tent, cool interior vestibule design
Cons: Not as taut as we’d like, door design is wonky

For a unique, spacious hybrid camping tent option, the Marmot Limelight 3P Tent is one of our favorites. While it’s a touch heavy (over 7 pounds for packaged weight), you could use it for backpacking. We think it shines brightest as a packable car camping tent, though. Its unique vestibule design creates interior wings that allow you to stash gear inside the tent for full protection (these vestibules also make great spots for dogs to curl up).

One of our editors bought the Marmot Limelight about a year ago and has since had a full testing team use it for camping on about a dozen trips. Throughout testing, we found it to be an awesome choice for couples camping with dogs, or three adult sleepers. Although the tent narrows at the feet, its super-wide design at the head (including its winged interior vestibules) doesn’t make this tent feel small or stuffy. The pre-bent poles create an upright wall design, especially near the head. And the color coding on the poles and tent makes it easy to figure out what goes where.

There are, however, two significant drawbacks to this tent (though we still like it a lot, despite these). First, the interior vestibules don’t have any pole support, so staking them out is necessary to achieve a taut and fully set-up tent. This makes them a little floppy in any wind and requires dialed-in tent staking. Second, the door design is wonky. Basically, the zippered tent door opens from the feet to the head, but the zippered rainfly door opens only near the head area. This means you have to open the rainfly door, move it fully to the side, and then access the tent door. This isn’t a total deal-breaker because a) we love to camp with the rainfly off when the weather allows, and b) this design makes the tent weather-resistant (the high walls and door design help keep out wind and rain).

Basically, we love the idea behind this Marmot Limelight 3P tent but think it could be executed even better. For a couple (especially with dogs), this makes a great hybrid camping tent option, but we’d love to see Marmot make a few refinements to improve this design even more.

Check Price on REI Check Price on Backcountry


The North Face Stormbreak 2 ($185)

the north face tent

Weight: 5 lbs 14 oz
Peak Height: 43″
Floor Area: 30.6 sq ft
Dimensions: 87″ x 50″
Packed Size: 7″ x 22″

Other Versions: 1P, 2P, 3P

Pros: Easy to set up, lantern loops, packs down small
Cons: Heavy for backpacking

The North Face Stormbreak 2 is listed as a backpacking tent, but we felt that it was better suited for camping. Weighing 5 pounds 14 ounces, the Stormbreak is a little heavy for trekking through the backcountry but makes a great hybrid option.

Setting up the Stormbreak is a breeze. The poles clip into the tent, allowing you to erect the tent in minutes. There are also other thoughtful features like a gear loop at the top for hanging a lantern and an interior pocket for stashing small essentials. While we found no particular issue with the tent, the Stormbreak can’t quite match our favorite hybrid camping tents due to its smaller interior space and less-premium feeling materials. That said, this tent from The North Face is under $200, well below the NEMO and REI options that we prefer. So, all things considered, at the price you’re getting a quality tent with the Stormbreak 2.

Check Price on REI Check Price on Backcountry


Best Camping Tents Comparison Table

Model Price Type of Tent Height Weight Packed Size Vestibule Area Versions
The North Face Wawona 6 $500 Car Camping 76″ 20 lbs 15 oz 10″ x 32″ 44.7 sq. ft. 4P, 6P, 8P
REI Base Camp 4 $474 Car Camping 60″ 16 lbs 14 oz 10″ x 20″ 27 + 17 sq. ft. 4P, 6P
Coleman Sundome 6 $129 Car Camping 72″ 14 lbs N/A N/A 2P, 3P, 4P, 6P
REI Half Dome SL 3+ $399 Hybrid 44″ 5 lbs 12 oz 23″ x 7″ 22.5 sq. ft. 2P, 3P
NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P $530 Backpacking 42″ 4 lbs 2 oz 19.5″ x 6.5″ 11.4 sq. ft. x 2 2P, 3P
REI Co-op Wonderland 6 $500 Car Camping 78″ 22 lbs 15 oz 13″ x 32″ N/A 4P, 6P
NEMO Aurora 3P $359 Hybrid 44″ 6 lbs 8 oz 23″ x 7.5″ 23″ x 7.5″ 2P, 3P
Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh and Black 3P $349 Car Camping 50″ 18 lbs 2 oz 28″ x 8.7″ N/A 2P, 3P
Stoic Madrone 4 Tent $160 Car Camping 52″ 8 lbs 8 oz 22″ x 7″ 63.75 sq. in. 4P
Marmot Limelight 3P Tent $359 Hybrid 45.3″ 7 lbs 2 oz 24.4″ x 6.3″ N/A 2P, 3P
North Face Stormbreak 2 $185 Hybrid 43″ 5 lbs 14 oz 7″ x 22″ 30.6 sq. ft. 1P, 2P, 3P

How We Tested Camping Tents

When it comes to a guide this large that covers so much (tent-based) ground, it’s important to understand how these products fit into their respective use-categories and how they were evaluated.

We describe the categories in detail below, but here’s the short and sweet of it: We split the tents up three ways: tents specific to car camping, tents built for true backpacking, and tents that can handle either category but inevitably won’t master either. For more backpacking-specific tents, refer to our full guide.

We specifically chose freestanding tents for this guide. When you get into ultralight backpacking with pole-less tents that expect you to use your own trekking poles or rooftop car camping, you end up with models that don’t really fit the standard mold for camping. A freestanding tent is standard and can be set up anywhere. Our team of experienced gear testers prefer them in all scenarios for ease of use, except in great weather on extremely ultralight adventures.

camping tents set up at the beach

Testing the tents. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

To write this guide, we leaned upon the institutional knowledge of our testing staff, including Danny Zweier, Rebecca Parsons, Will Sileo, and Nathan Lemin. This team is comprised of accomplished hikers, campers, and backpackers, as well as the former editor-in-chief of a backpacking website. We got our hands on camping tents and tested them over dozens of camping trips.

Editor’s Note: We first ran this review in the spring of 2023. We updated it in May of 2024 to correct links, expand our Buyer’s Guide, add new camping tents, and remove picks that we no longer recommend. We also shifted some tent picks to our Best Backpacking Tents guide. 


Best Camping Tents Ratings Table

Tent Living Comfort Setup Storage Space Weather Resistance Durability Overall
The North Face Wawona 6 5 4 5 5 5 4.8
The Base Camp 4 4 4 5 5 4 4.4
Sundome 6 5 4 3 3 2 3.4
REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+ 5 5 5 4 4 4.6
NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P 5 5 5 4 4 4.6
REI Co-op Wonderland 6 5 4 5 4 3 4.2
NEMO Aurora 3P 4 5 4 5 5 4.6
Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh and Black 3P 4 5 3 4 4 4
Stoic Madrone 4 Tent 4 4 3 4 4 3.8
Marmot Limelight 3P Tent 4 5 4 5 4 4.4
North Face Stormbreak 2 4 4 4 5 4 4.2

backpacking in the mountains of british columbia for our best camping tents review

A good ultralight tent should be able to go with you deep into the backcountry. Photo: Lindsay Gough//The Inertia

Camping Tents Buyer’s Guide

Categories of Camping Tents

The first and most important question to ask: What style of tent do I need? This guide covers a wide swath of campsite styles: from large-scale family camping that includes bringing your own BBQ (BYOBBQ) to finding a flat nook next to a river in a quiet corner of the backcountry.

You don’t need the same tent for those scenarios. One requires a portable palace, the other a thin strip of fabric between you and the wilderness. There are tents built for each, and then tents that reside somewhere in the middle. We have split these categories into three main areas: Family Car Camping Tents, Backpacking Tents, and Couples Car Camping/Large Backpacking Tents (Hybrid).

Car Camping Tents

Car camping tents don’t require a family; they’re just built for large groups. It could be six college kids heading out on their first under-the-stars party weekend or the annual family campout. Car camping tents are usually made in four, six, and sometimes eight-person models (written as 4P, 6P, 8P when you buy them). They have much higher ceilings, often topping six feet, and will take up a large chunk of the campground. Our favorite is the The North Face Wawona 6 for its space, durability, and functionality.

The benefit of a family car camping tent is that everyone can sleep in one shelter: you can play games in a protected, well-lit space well into the night, you don’t have to try to find the gear that has been spread across a messy campsite, and you have ample room to roll around. They’re also much easier to change clothes in, which might seem minor, but in a busy campground sometimes it’s nice to have some privacy.

The downsides of such a large tent are that you won’t be alone if you’re with a group, it’s heavy and often requires two-plus people to set up, and the high ceiling can make for a less stable structure in high winds.

the best camping tents of 2023

We got our hands on the best camping tents and put them to the test. Photo: Daniel Zweier//The Inertia

Backpacking Tents

Backpacking tents are the opposite of a family car camping tent in every way. They prioritize weight above all else because you will need to carry them for miles on your back. You’ll also need to set them up quickly, sometimes at night, and break them down the next morning as you continue on your way. Backpacking tents are made in one-to-four-person versions, though the two-person and three-person are the most popular. Ease of setup, vestibule storage space, and durability are the important tenets of a backpacking tent. For these needs, no tent provides a better combo than the NEMO Dagger OSMO 2P.

kelty tent at the beach

Hybrid tents like the Kelty Discovery Trail 2 can be used for backpacking but they’re on the large side. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Hybrid Camping Tents

Finally, there are the hybrid tents, which are also called couples car camping tents or extra-large backpacking tents. We have car camped with large groups, ultralight backpacked, and taken yearly backpacking trips with all ranges of ages: It’s the hybrid tents that you see most often for most campers. And the majority of people are casual campers.

This category takes the extremes of the other two and mellows them. You get a tent that is moderately heavy but never too heavy to be carried by two or three people when you split it up. There is enough space to sleep comfortably for the recommended size, and often a bit more than necessary. These tents also usually have a decent rainfly and lower height so that they can survive any serious storms, but they can also be set up without any rainfly on a beautiful evening so you can see the stars.

If you’re the type of person who sleeps in nature once or twice a year and wants a tent that could be taken on that random backpacking trip but also can pop up easily in most camping scenarios, this is what you want. And since most people only want to buy a single tent, this is probably your best bet. We’re huge advocates for hybrid camping tents, as we think they suit most people. Our top option is the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 3+.

REI Co-op hybrid camping tent

Hybrid tents are both lightweight enough for backpacking and spacious enough for camping. Photo: Nathan Lemin//The Inertia

High-End Tents vs. Budget Tents

Once you figure out what kind of tent you need, you’ll look primarily at your budget. The unfortunate reality is that a “nice tent” these days usually means an expensive tent. The quality of materials, design, and feature set is better than it has ever been, but we’d argue that the cost is higher, too.

A high-end tent for any of the categories above will start around $250, going up to $600. If those numbers make you squirm, look for a budget tent. If you’re thinking, well, my puffy jacket cost about that much, then high-end may be perfectly fine for you.

A budget tent will range from $100-$250. Anything less than $100 will be used, heavily discounted, or come from an unreputable brand. And while those tents may work, we tend to question their durability and don’t recommend them.

Which to Choose

The big question is: do you get what you pay for? Kind of. A high-end tent will absolutely have more durable and lightweight materials, better thought-out storage and features, and more usable space than their budget counterparts. However, a budget tent will have the same basic things and will serve you decently in most of the same scenarios.

The truth is that you don’t need a high-end tent for a beautiful sunny weekend with no weather. You may prefer the brand bump for your trail neighbors, and you may love storing your sunglasses in a super special pocket right near the front, and you may exult in the lightness of your backpacking pack or the obscene space of your tent palace, but those things aren’t necessary for outdoor life: to sleep under the stars and enjoy the wild.

The place where we find a high-end tent to matter is when the going gets tough. Part of interacting with the wild is that it may sometimes get downright, truly wild. Hail may find its way to you; the sky may deluge; perhaps it’ll get so swampy hot that you can barely move, or your body will fail you in some way.

For any of those reasons, having a shelter that is more durable, easier to set up, more lightweight, and has more space will make things much easier. There are plenty of stories of heavy rain leading to a soaked tent floor and therefore soaked clothing and sleeping pad, and if you couple that with near-freezing weather, you could be in trouble. If the tent had properly held out water, you might not be in that situation.

When to Buy

We always advocate for buying camping tents when they go on sale. Because tents are a costly piece of gear, try to knock off as much money as possible. Even a 20 percent sale can mean a difference of $100 or more. Also, tents aren’t updated as regularly as some other gear. Because of that, a well-made camping tent will last you for years, and you won’t have to fret about a new model coming out every year after you buy it.

Camping Tents packed

Packed size and weight matter if you’re carrying your tent on your back. Photo: Daniel Zweier//The Inertia

Tent Size and Weight

We covered the philosophy of this concept when deciding what type of tent to buy, so we’re going to give some general parameters here. These are our team’s own opinions but are heavily informed by decades of industry research and testing.

In general, size and weight are the most important aspects of any tent. The size determines how many people can sleep in a tent, and weight is critical, specifically for backpacking. Weight is not critical for car camping, though you do need to be able to fit the tent in your car. And if you ever plan to backpack (or walk away from the car) with your car camping tent, weight does matter.

Large car camping tents weigh 10-25 pounds and come in four-person, six-person, and eight-person models, with four and six being the most common.

Hybrid tents, or tents that can work for car camping as well as backpacking, weigh between 5 and 10 pounds and come in two-person, three-person, and four-person models.

Backpacking tents usually weigh less than 7 pounds and come in 1P, 2P, 3P, and 4P models.

Best Overall Camping Tent
Best Overall Camping Tent

The North Face Wawona 6 is an absolutely giant camping tent. It’s got a massive 6.3-foot peak height and walls that are almost as tall, despite the dome design. It’s made with thick, durable materials, has two full doors, and a bag full of extra-large, extra-thick aluminum poles.

Price: $500

Check Price on REI

How Many People Fit in a Tent?

Now, a word of warning: all tents list their size based on the number of “people” they can fit, but that number is a white lie. As in, it’s sort of true, but not all the way true. As marketers have honed in on the best way to sell a tent, it’s clear that the lowest weight and greatest space is the ideal buzzword.

Backpacking Tent Size

A two-person backpacking tent these days will technically fit two moderately fit people 6 feet or under while storing all gear in the vestibules, but they won’t fit an elbow more. When our team goes out with our dogs, we usually count the pup as a person (or at least half of a person), as far as how much space they’ll take up. So we take a 2P tent for one person and one dog, or a 3P for two people and one dog (or two smaller dogs). If we’re traveling with a partner or a child, we’re looking at a 3P tent, and it would have to be a spacious one at that.

You’ll notice that REI did a funny thing by adding a “+” to their Half Dome and Quarter Dome series. To the uninitiated, this might seem like it’s a tent on steroids. To those in the know, it’s REI’s way of saying, “We built this tent to fit the number of people listed on the specs.”

Car Camping Tent Size

Car camping tent numbers are more honest, but then again, you’ll likely have more stuff, larger sleeping pads, and want more elbow room. Our general rule of thumb is to buy a tent one size bigger than you’ll most commonly need unless you’re fine with the squeeze.

What is Trail Weight and Packaged Weight?

A note on trail weight vs. packaged weight: You will see manufacturers list these two weights, with the trail being less and being sold as the real “weight” of the tent. That’s misleading, as trail weight usually refers to only the tent body, rain fly, and poles. It doesn’t include the stakes, the bags that they are carried in, any extra guylines, or a footprint. All those things, plus the main tent, rainfly, and poles, total up to the “packaged” weight.

We think most people want to wrap their tent in a bag and will bring the stakes it comes with and a footprint if it’s there, so we find the packaged weight to be much more accurate. Trail weight is the bare minimum and also serves as a great advertisement for an even lighter tent!

Camping Tents set up

A large dome is the most comfortable tent-roof style but doesn’t do as well in the wind. Photo: DZ//The Inertia

Floor Area, Height, and Doors

Weight and size of a tent will be somewhat indicative of how big the tent is, but when you get into the details of your home-away-from-home, there are three things you’ll notice immediately: the floor area of your tent, how high the highest point is (and how steep the slope is), and how many doors your house has.

Floor Area

In the U.S., floor area is listed in square footage, just like your Zillow rental app, and you’ll want to look for overall size and ample width for the size of the sleeping pad/air mattress you have. The other critical factor in your overall tent area is the slope of your tent; if the square footage is large, but the sidewalls slope heavily immediately, you won’t be able to use much of that space unless you’re sleeping. This is fine for backpackers who only sleep in their tent, but if your idea of a campout is card games and Heads Up until the stars are bright, you will want steeper walls.

Peak Height

Peak height is a clear metric for any tent, and it means the tallest point of the tent, right in the middle. Backpacking tents hover around 40 inches, and camping tents range from 45 inches to over six feet (fully standing).

Again, the dome’s structure is important; a backpacking tent could have a decent single peak height but a very slopey design so that you don’t have much headroom overall. The best backpacking tents are those that have a decent peak height and maintain much of that height through the rest of the tent. Camping tents allow a full stand for almost any individual, but remember that taller tents tend to be more vulnerable to whipping winds. Upright camping tents like the REI Co-op Wonderland 6 are designed so that you can stand up nearly anywhere inside.

Camping Tent Doors

Then there are doors; those portals of perception that lead, in this case, to the wild. And to your middle-of-the-night pee spot. Two doors are ideal, and most tents have two doors. Some car camping tents only have one door, and truly budget backpacking tents have one. This matters more for your group size and comfort level — if you’re OK with someone stepping over you in the night to pee, then maybe one door is fine.

But for most people, two doors are convenient. Usually, two doors are easier given the space, and there are two vestibules instead of one, and they provide better airflow.

a tent set up at the beach

The ideal tent packs down small but is spacious when set up. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Camping Tent Poles

Back in the day, tent poles were a real liability. They weighed more than those cans of baked beans you hauled into the wild, threatened to snap if you pushed too hard, and could quickly become impossible to rethread if you weren’t careful.

Aluminum

These days, tent poles, especially the nice ones, are a dream. Most of the tents on this list use aluminum poles, which is the preferred middle-range material when it comes to pole construction. Aluminum allows for low weight, solid strength, excellent flexibility, and structural integrity. Sometimes aluminum can bend easily in the wrong situation, so you want to be sure to stake your tent correctly and use tension to protect against winds rather than the pole alone.

Fiberglass

Some budget tent poles still use fiberglass, which is the material of old, but they are better made than they used to be. Still, fiberglass poles do sometimes bend and splinter in heavy winds and weigh a lot more than aluminum.

DAC Tent Poles

Then there are DAC poles, used primarily in ultralight backpacking tents. Yes, this is a specific company, and no, they aren’t the only manufacturers of excellent ultralight tent poles, but they’re the gold standard, sort of like GORE-TEX for waterproofing. These are made with a proprietary high-strength alloy and are now in pre-bent pole hub configurations, creating optimal headroom and ease of setup. Nowadays, even more mid-range camping tents like the Half Dome SL 3+ feature DAC poles.

kelty tent at a campground with a rainfly

Rainflys that buckle in are nice for easy setup but they aren’t typically as effective. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Footprint and Rainfly

Footprint

Although it’s not essential, putting down a footprint or some sort of tarp can be a good idea as it can help protect your tent. The footprint is the outermost layer that will protect your tent from rocks and dirt. A footprint can also help add extra warmth and waterproofing. A few of the tents on our list came with a footprint, but most didn’t. If there isn’t an option to purchase a compatible footprint a tarp or drop cloth works great. Remember that a footprint adds weight, so tents sold with one might seem heavier than competitors – something to factor in when deciding your weight needs.

Rainfly

A rainfly is an essential piece of equipment when camping. Even if you’re camping somewhere dry, it’s always a good idea to have your rainfly handy just in case. A rainfly can also trap in warm air while you’re sleeping and help keep you warmer. A few of the tents on our list had the rainfly built in, but for most of the tents, the rainfly was a separate piece of material. Some rainflys attach to the tent by simply buckling them in whereas others must be staked out. We found that the buckles made it easy to throw on the rainfly last minute, but when your rainfly is fully spread out and staked down it is the most effective.

Camping Tents Storage

We’ve touched on storage elements throughout, so we’ll be brief. You’re looking for vestibules with enough room to keep your extras dry and pockets with enough room to store all your little valuables that will otherwise get lost at night.

Vestibules

Two vestibules are ideal, and for backpacking tents, you need them to protect your backpack and shoes at night and maybe allow a quick boil if it’s raining during the day. We can’t stress how nice a good vestibule is: our tester has backpacked in tents that provide shallow, ill-fitting vestibules and woken up to damp shoes and soaked-through backpack lids, which is annoying. A tent with a large vestibule that provides solid, real coverage for your gear is great.

For car camping, vestibules are less common because you can store all your important goods in your car or a bear box, but they are still nice, especially if it’s raining. And some tents, like the Wawona, have decided to upgrade the entire vestibule experience into a full-on room. You’ll see large tents do this, and it makes for a weatherproof changing, cooking, and hanging station that’s out of the wind, rain, bugs, and any other odd weather. Great for those who don’t want to experience that much nature.

the north face tent at the beach

Tents like The North Face Stormbreak 2 are easy to set up and tear down. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Set Up and Tear Down

Most tents are straightforward to set up but we found that some tents required that we pull out the instruction manual. Generally speaking, a simple design is preferred as it makes it easy to get things set up. Although it’s not a race, it’s nice to have a tent that goes up quick and easy. The easiest tent to set up on our list was the Decathlon Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh and Black Tent, which went up in about a minute. We found that poles that clipped in were much easier than poles that had to be inserted into slots. And, as we mentioned before, rainflys that clipped in with buckles were the easiest to set up but rainflys that were staked down were the most effective.

Taking down a tent is almost always easier than setting it up, but with some tents getting it back into the bag can be a mission. Through our testing, we found that tents that could be stuffed back into their bag instead of carefully rolled up were our favorite as it was much easier to get everything to fit. If your tent is challenging to get back in the bag and space isn’t an issue, you can simply store your tent in a duffel bag or garbage bag.

Editor’s Note: Looking for a place to plant your tush? The Best Camping Chairs can help with that. Got a camping trip planned with you S.O.? The Best Camping Gear for Couples can help with that. Or, if you need more gear, check out The Best Car Camping Gear or The Best Camping SlippersFor more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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