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On the hunt for the best tent for your camping adventure? We’re here to help. The right tent can easily make or break a trip, so before you invest, take a little time to choose carefully – there is a vast array of options on the market, ranging from surprisingly cheap to astonishingly expensive, and teeny-tiny and ultra-packable to downright palatial.
Perhaps you’re on the hunt for the best 3-man or 4-man tent? Or something more luxurious that’ll happily house the whole family, even if it rains solidly for the whole trip? Our guide includes a wide range of options, at price points to suit everyone, although we’re focusing more on family and casual group trip tents here – for specialised adventuring options, head to our best backpacking tent guide instead. We’ll start with some buying advice, then move on to our roundup of 2022’s best tents.
Best tent 2022: what to look for
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Aside from the number of sleepers (self-explanatory), think about weight. While this is most relevant if you’re backpacking, even if you’re driving it’s worth taking a look at how heavy and bulky your tent is before you buy – especially if you need to walk any distance with your tent. If you’re car camping then reliability, pitch time and extra luxuries like blackout bedrooms to keep the sun out, head-height living areas, and mesh doors for warm evenings should inch up your wishlist.
A final consideration is the pole type. For most, traditional poled tents will be the best bet, but now you can also opt for ‘air poles’ that you simply pump up – you’ll have to pay extra for the convenience though. (If it’s minimal effort you’re after, and you’re willing to skim a little on quality, head to our guide to the best popup tents instead). Whatever category of tent you go for, you’ll get what you pay for, and a good tent is one of the outdoor items you’ll never regret spending a little more on. Now let’s kick off our list of the best tents around.
The best tents 2022, reviewed
Coleman’s Castle Pines 4L BlackOut Tent is a palatial home-from-home for a young family, with two spacious bedrooms complete with light-blocking drapes, a generous living area and a vestibule for cooking under when rain threatens. It’s an old-school, pole-based tunnel tent, but has plenty of room and enough innovations inside to make an extended camp-out comfortable.
Coleman’s Castle Pines 4L is definitely a tent primarily designed for car camping escapades with the family. So long as your family is the stereotypical two-parents-and-two-children variety, and the kids don’t mind sharing, that is. You might squeeze an extra little one in somewhere, but it’s perfectly proportioned for a square-shaped nuclear family, with two equal-sized bedrooms, each large enough to take a double camping bed/mattress, or two singles very closely arranged.
One of Coleman’s newer family shelters, the Castle Pines 4L follows a tried-and-tested tent design, based on five fibreglass poles that thread through dedicated sheaths in the flysheet and slot into pockets on either side to form, once tensioned, a long tunnel structure. It’s a simple and effective design, which means almost everyone can comfortably stand up straight in the bedrooms and living areas.
Inside, the sleeping quarters are created with the use of blackout material walls, which are suspended from the outer shell of the tent by hoops and toggles. There are two bedrooms, but if you want to join them up to make one large sleeping area, that’s easily done by unzipping the wall between them. There is no need to remove the bedrooms when dropping the tent, so each time you pitch it, they’re already in place and ready to be used.
In front of the sleeping area there’s a large communal room, at least as big again as the bedrooms combined, with a floor-to-ceiling side door and multiple transparent windows, which can be shuttered to keep out the light. The main front door opens to a reasonably large, semi-covered vestibule area with no floor, where you can safely cook in any conditions, protected to some extent from the elements.
If camping appeals to you but you’d quite like to have a bit of space, Outwell’s Pinedale 6DA could be what you’re after. It’s a six-person inflatable tent that’s easy to pitch (you should be able to manage it inside 20 minutes) and provides plenty of room in the form of a big ‘blackout’ bedroom that can be divided into two, a spacious living area and a small porch area at the front, with big clear windows providing excellent views.
It’s well weatherproofed with an outer flysheet that’s waterproofed to 4,000mm (which means it can cope with heavy rainfall), and to stop things getting stuffy in fine weather there are wide vents all through the tent to improve air flow.
The Outwell Pinedale 6DA’s not cheap, and it’s far from lightweight; you’ll need plenty of space for it in the boot of your car, and packing it up when you head home could well be a challenge as well. But it’s big and versatile with plenty of room for a family of four and lots of nice touches such as luminous guy ropes and slightly tinted windows to give you a bit of extra privacy. Need to know more? Get all the details in our Outwell Pinedale 6PA air tent review.
The Coleman Meadowood 4L boasts a bright, airy living space, cosy blackout bedrooms that block the light startlingly well as well as helping to regulate temperature inside. Coleman has packed in lots of thoughtful extras to make life under canvas that much more comfortable – think mesh doors that can be deployed on warmer evenings, lots of pockets, step-free access and more. The reason we’ve gone for the ‘L’ version is because of the spacious porch area, which extends the living space considerably, as well as providing covered storage. Head to our Coleman Meadowood 4 tent review to see what we thought of this tent’s slightly smaller sibling.
Others in the range: The Meadowood is also available as a 6L (large, 6-person), 4 (smaller 4-person) and Meadowood 4 Air (small 4-person with air poles).
The 2021 Sierra Designs Meteor Lite 2 is one of the very best backpacking tents right now. Available in 1, 2 and 3-man variants, this our favourite smaller tent right now. Quick and easy to pitch and pack away, it packs down very small and light but offers a surprising amount of space when pitched – thanks in part to the smart design, which includes two porches where you can store kit, keeping the sleeping area clear. It also has a hidden surprise: you can remove the outer waterproof ‘fly’ (either entirely or half-way) when the weather is warm and dry, and engage in a spot of stargazing. A solid investment for years of lightweight adventuring. Head to our Sierra Designs Meteor Lite review to find out more.
If you’re looking for a quick-pitch option, the Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black (2-person) is perhaps the most faff-free tent we’ve tested. It sits right at the top of our best pop up tent guide, and with good reason. Pitching is a simple matter of pegging out the four corners, then pulling on two red drawcords until they click into place, and thanks to some kind of interior witchcraft you’re pretty much done. If you want, you can add two more pegs to create little porches either side of the sleeping compartment (great for keeping muddy boots away from your sleeping bag), and if it’s windy you can also pop on some guy ropes for security. There are two layers, which means no morning condensation issues, but it’s all connected together, so you can easily put it up in the rain without the interior getting wet. Blackout fabric means you don’t have to wake up with the dawn, and it’s great value too. Find out more in our Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black popup tent review, or if you need more space, check out the 3-person version (opens in new tab)).
From the same family as Vango tents, the Lichfield Eagle Air 6 is a tunnel tent with two bedrooms, a large living room and a wide porch without a groundsheet. It’s designed 6 people, but with only two bedrooms (or one, with a removable divider), we’d say it’d be better for a family of 4-5. Like most family air pole tents, it’s a cinch to put up but slightly more of a faff to put down. On test, the study air beams took on blustery conditions with ease. The sandy colourway lends it a safari-tent vibe that makes this tent look pricier than it actually is, and the living area feels light and airy, with big clear windows. The doors have mesh layers to keep bugs out, and there’s good headroom throughout. For a more detailed look at what’s included and how this tent performs, head to our Lichfield Eagle Air tent review.
Looking for something a little more spacious than the average backpacking tent but don’t want to go all-in on an extravagant glamping option? The unusual-looking Robens Yukon Shelter might just hit that sweet spot for you. Inspired by simple wood refuges found around the Scandinavian countryside, its boxy design stands out from the usual glamping tents you might come across, and it gives you plenty of room with standing height in part of the bedroom and a decent-sized porch.
It’s well-made with plenty of attention to detail, including reflective guy lines, insect-repelling mesh screens and solid toggles for tying up the main door. Putting it up for the first time could be a challenge thanks to frankly inadequate instructions (we ended up watching an online video to figure it out), but once you’ve cracked its secrets it’ll be much easier in future. And once it’s up it’s a roomy and breathable shelter that’s ideal for summer camping holidays, or for putting up in your back garden as a sun shade or playhouse.
As a low-fuss tent suitable for a family of four’s summer camping holiday, Vango Rome II Air 550XL is a tough one to beat. Just the right size for two adults and a pair of kids, this air tent has plenty of living space, it’s easy to pitch thanks to its inflatable poles, and as it’s made of recycled fabrics it’s an eco-friendly option, too.
Unlike most large inflatable family tents, this Vango genuinely is quite easy to pitch; once you’ve found your spot it’s a matter of pegging out the corners, inflating the poles with the included pump, then pegging the main and side tent into place. Vango reckons it takes 12 minutes; expect it to take a bit longer, especially on your first try.
There’s lots of room inside, including two blackout bedrooms with standing room, plus a well-sized living area and porch with room for a dining table and loungers, however we found that the storage space was just a little on the small side; don’t count on being able to use it as a spare bedroom.
Yes, it’s heavy, bulky and pricey, but this tent ticks most of the boxes for a good family tent. You can find all the details in our Vango Rome II Air 550XL tent review.
The Coleman Weathermaster Air 4XL is an outstanding family tent. The living space is roomy, light and airy, with a spacious porch area and mesh door layers you can close up at night if you want airflow without the bugs. The all-important blackout bedrooms are very effective: not only do they block out evening and early morning light, they also help regulate the temperature inside the sleeping compartment.
An all-in-one design and air poles mean this tent is extremely quick and easy to put up, so you can get on with your holiday as quickly as possible (let’s face it, wrangling with a tricky tent after hours in the car can be fraught at the best of times, let alone with grumpy kids in tow). At a push, one person could even do it on their own – let’s say, if the younger family members aren’t cooperating at the time. In short, the best family tent for comfortable and relaxed family camping, whatever the weather’s doing.
This kind of convenience does cost though, and you’ll find many similar design features in the cheaper Coleman Meadowood range, so check that out too if you’re on a tighter budget. Or head to our full Coleman Weathermaster Air review for a more detailed look at what we thought when we tried it out.
Others in the range: The Weathermaster is available in XL 4, 6 and 8-person versions.
Sitting in Vango’s 2021 Earth Collection, the Vango Joro 450 uses Sentinel Eco Fabric, which is made from recycled single-use plastics. As well as those admirable green credentials, the Joro includes lots of features to make family camping simple and enjoyable. There’s a large living area including a roomy porch (the poles are cleverly angled to maximise usable space), two doors both with mesh layers that can be deployed to keep the bugs out and let the air in. A slight drawback here – for light sensitive campers, anyway – is that the bedrooms aren’t blackout, although Vango has deployed a ‘Nightfall’ fabric that’s designed to reduce early morning light. Head to our full Vango Joro 450 tent review to find out more.
Also in the range: Alongside the 4-person Joro 450, the Joro 600XL (larger, and sleeps 6), and both of those sizes are also available with air poles (browse all Joro tents here (opens in new tab)).
If you’ve ever had trouble finding your tent at a festival, that’s not a problem you’re likely to run into with the Decathlon Forclaz Trekking Dome Tent. It comes in one colour option – a dazzling white – which should make it easy to find at any time, although the downside is that after a few outings it’s likely to have settled into a grubby grey with hints of grass stains.
There’s a good reason for this eye-catching look: it avoids the use of dyes, which reduces CO2 emissions and avoids water pollution in manufacturing, making it a much more eco-friendly tent. But there’s more to this tent than green credentials; it’s easy to put up, it has plenty of room for two people, as well as two porches for keeping your gear dry and four pockets for storing gear, and it packs away nicely when you’re ready to move on. We found it to be good and waterproof even in heavy rain, and its low profile means it’ll stand up to high winds too.
The all-white design isn’t going to be for everyone; it’ll let in light on early summer mornings, and it’s totally unsuitable for covert wild camping. But if that’s not an issue for you, this is a lot of tent for a reasonable price; get all the facts in our Decathlon Forclaz Trekking Dome Tent – Minimal Editions review.
To save on the cost, make sure you check our Decathlon discount codes.
The Tentsile Safari is a tent with a difference – instead of messing around finding flat ground and hammering in pegs, simply take to the trees. The basic premise is a triangle of trees, ratchet straps and a bouncy hammock-type number, upon which the tent poles, inner and flysheet are positioned. The result is a magnificently comfy tent, as there are no hard spots or cold ground to deal with, and with the 70D PVC coated nylon flysheet protecting you from rain, you’re set for anything short of a major flood. The downside is the need for three trees, and a bit more setup than a standard tent, but the newest iteration (v3) has a ground conversion kit that allows you to pitch on terra firma if you’re dedicated to missing the point. In use, it’s a solid combo, with anti-roll straps preventing the heaviest person creating a slope for the other to slide into, and a decent flysheet to keep the weather out. However, peering up into the night sky through the insect mesh is a real treat.
Next up in our rundown of the best tents is the Coleman OctaGo. As the name suggests, this octagonal tent has more than a little hint of the glamping lifestyle, but in a robust steel framed, sensibly priced package. Sling some bunting around it for that Bestival vibe, tie the windows open for a kid’s playhouse, or cover up for when rain strikes, this is a cheerful all-rounder. There is quite a weight here though, so this is car-camping and festival-trollying territory only, and although the steel poles are robust and the polyester fly has a hydrostatic rating of 2000mm, use in serious storms is not natural territory for the OctaGo. However, with plenty of space for three adults or a family with smaller ones, this is a flexible and fun choice for less serious camping enjoyment.
Alternatives to consider: If you love this panoramic style design, but want something you can walk around in, Coleman has you covered with its Octagon 8 tent. It’s a very similar design but much bigger, and comes in blackout and non-blackout versions.
No roundup of the best tents would be complete without at least one brilliantly priced offering from French outdoor brand Decathlon, and this is a doozy. One of the cheapest family tents you can buy, the Quechua Arpenaz 4.2 might not deliver luxury but you do get a lot of tent, with two bedrooms and a decent living area in between. Sleeping four with ease, this has all the mesh fly screens, random pockets and portability (11kg) you’d expect, with none of the excess or quirkiness of more costly models. For simple, car-based family campsite action you could spend a lot more and get a lot worse.
What are the different types of tents?
Modern tents for camping, backpacking, hiking and for general outdoors living come in a range of shapes and sizes. The most popular ones are:
- Basic ridge tent
- Dome tent
- Geodesic and semi-geodesic
- Inflatable tent
- Bell tent
- Tunnel tent
Some of the major brands you’ll come across in your journey to find the best tent for you include Big Agnes, Vango, Coleman, MSR, Terra Nova, Outwell, Decathlon, Hilleberg and The North Face. There are lots of newcomers entering the (muddy) field too, with innovative designs coming from brands such as Tentsile, with its sublime floating tree tents, and Cinch, with its nifty pop up modular tent.
What’s the best HH rating for a tent?
HH stands for Hydrostatic Head, and it’s a measure of how waterproof a fabric is. It’s given in millimetres; the higher the number, the more waterproof. You should look for a bare minimum HH of 1500mm for a tent. 2000 and above will be fine for even the worst UK weather, and 5000 and above is getting into specialist territory. Here’s more on what a HH rating is.
How we test
How we tested the best tents
At T3 we place a high value on the authenticity of the product advice we offer, and each of the tents featured here has been extensively tested by our outdoor-expert reviewers. The tents have been taken out and tested on various car camping and backpacking adventures, in a range of conditions, to assess how easy they are to pack, carry and put up, as well as their performance as a shelter. Each has also been tested against a set of criteria, including design, functionality, features, waterproof protection, material quality and robustness.
How to find the best tent for you
The key thing you’ll want from your tent here is protection from the elements, as well as durability, as light weight as possible, and a bevvy of other considerations to follow. Fortunately, the world of tents is a competitive place, and choosing the best tent for your needs might be initially confusing, but rest assured there will be an ideal answer to your needs.
The first and easiest question to answer is how many people need to sleep in your ideal tent, and the second (as ever in the outdoors industry) is the type of conditions you’ll be camping in. If you’re car camping (ie: driving to a campsite and pitching near or next to your car) then you can choose anything that fits in your car, weight isn’t an issue. This, in turn, means you can choose larger size accommodation and heavier materials with impunity, which can keep costs down, and also leads to needing furniture and the like. Conversely, if you’re cycle touring or hiking you’ll want lightness pretty high up the spec list, as well as compactness.
In a similar vein, it’s worth keeping a firm eye on tentmakers ‘season’ ratings, and be suspicious of anything with a two-season rating that isn’t a festival tent if you plan to use it in the UK. It’s well worth spending more on a better tent that will last for years, rather than a budget cheapie that might do the job once or twice, but then has to be scrapped – not only for ethical reasons, but also for your own sanity. Learning to pitch your tent just as you like it is a whole art form in itself.
These are all great things to keep in mind when reading through our picks for the best tent below. During our research and testing, we considered tents of all shapes and sizes, but each of them has one thing in common: they’re designed to keep you and your gear warm and dry, no matter what the elements throw at you.