Family Tent Types

When it comes to buying a family camping tent, think of it as buying your weekend home for your family. In my opinion, it’s one of the most crucial pieces of camping equipment that you will buy. Before you purchase one, you need to ask yourself some simple questions so you and your family can enjoy the outdoor experience to the fullest.

1. How many people will be sleeping in the tent?

You need to consider this simply because it doesn’t make any sense to buy a camping tent that only sleeps 3, if your family has 5 members. I’m assuming you’d hate to say to one of your children, “I’m sorry, you have to sleep in the car because we don’t have room.” Most family camping tents can sleep 3-7 people. However, you can purchase larger ones that can sleep up to 10 or more people.

2. What type of weather can you expect?

You must consider the weather of your camping trip because that will impact the type of material you want your tent to be made of. Most camping shelters are made from polyester taffeta or rip-stop nylon. Both of which should have a waterproof polyurethane coating to keep you dry. If you’re going to be in very warm weather, you want to ensure that your shelter has plenty of ventilation which requires nylon mesh panels (comparable to window screens on your house). If you’re expecting rain, be sure to purchase a rain fly. The fly should cover most of your shelter and be at least one inch above the roof so everything will stay dry.

3. What style of tent do you want?

The most common style of tents are either dome, which have round arched ceilings, or cabin, which have angular roofs and steep vertical sides. Generally speaking, cabin tents are larger and more suitable for larger families, but also come at a larger price. They have steep sloping walls that allow for more room between sleeping family members. Many also have optional inside walls so you can create ‘bedrooms’. They also work well if you prefer to sleep on a cot since the walls are more vertical than that of dome tents. Cabin tents are also more difficult to setup.

Dome tents are great for families that like to keep it simple and ‘rough it’ a bit more. Normally, they’re cheaper and don’t offer the spacious aspect of camping. They can be setup in minutes and offer a wide variety of pole configurations. This is important if you’re going to be camping where strong winds can be a factor. Dome tents are more popular with hikers and backpackers simply because they weigh much less than cabin tents.

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4. How much are you willing to spend?

Pricing on tents can vary dramatically. You can buy a 2 person dome as low at $49.00 and as much as $700.00. The determining factors come down to how many people it can sleep, manufacturer, and material. To be frank, you get what you pay for. I personally won’t spend any less than $100.00, regardless of how many people can sleep in it. My main reason is cheaper ones are made of cheaper materials. For example, the seams along zippers tend to rip. Also, the waterproof coating generally doesn’t repel rain as well as more expensive tents. When it comes to buying one, think of it as buying a house. You probably wouldn’t cut corners when building your house so why would you want to cut corners on your tent?

5. What are some reputable name brands and retailers?

There are literally hundreds and thousands of camping gear retailers out on the web. Some of the most reputable manufacturers of tents are The North Face, Cabela’s, Eddie Bauer, Kelty, Eureka, Sierra Designs, and REI. Eureka is probably the most affordable while The North Face ranks among the most expensive. Cabela’s, Eddie Bauer, and REI all offer a wide range of styles and cost to match almost anyone’s needs.

The Final Point

Your tent may be the most important camping equipment you buy. You don’t want to make the mistake of spending too much (or too little) on a tent that won’t meet your needs. Do yourself a favor and spend some time researching the different styles, materials and manufacturers so you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors