So you want to go camping with the kids this summer, but how do you choose a tent? Here’s our guide to the best tents for family camping.
The five tents in our review all have very different qualities and we use all of them for different things. There are so many options for family tents now, ranging from blackout fabrics and inflatable poles to classic teepees and structures that also double up as play great tents when you’re not sleeping in them. We’ve even chucked in a little lightweight backpacking tent for good measure!
As ever, if you’ve got any questions on anything we’ve reviewed get in touch via the comments or contact form, or on social media. Here are our favourite picks of the best tents for family camping…
The Robens Fairbanks Tipi tent is one of the best bits of outdoor gear we’ve ever reviewed. It looks retro and cool, is easy to pitch, and is perfect for family camping with one or two small kids. We’ve used it on campsites and on garden camping adventures at home, and as well as always performing well you also get lots of envious looks from other campers.
The key things I look for in a tent are ease of pitching, sturdy design, and plenty of space; and the Robens Fairbanks Tipi ticks every box. Officially this is a four-person tent, and although it would be a very tight squeeze if you slept in it with four adults, it’s great for parents and one or two kids. The headroom is good too. I’m 6ft 1ins tall and can pretty much stand up with no problems in the centre.
There’s a lot to like about this fun family tent from Coleman. The Octago feels like it’s been designed with multiple uses in mind, because it wouldn’t look out of place on a campsite, at a music festival, or simply pitched in your garden as a place for your kids to have fun on warm summer days and nights. As pitching tents goes, this is about as simple as it gets, with a sturdy frame built from colour-coded steel poles that clip together really easily.
All you have to do then is clip the inner of the tent to the underside of the poles, then drag the flysheet over the top, and the Octago is fully deployed. You get a big door and options for windows on all eight sides, because you can roll up individual sections of the flysheet to let in light, or simply remove the whole thing so you can lie and gaze at the stars on warm clear nights. In terms of internal space, you can’t beat it. We’ve managed to fit a large double airbed and a single airbed inside ours, so easily space for parents and two small kids to sleep. Love it!
This excellent air tent from Easy Camp was our first dabble into inflatable camping last summer, and it’s without doubt the most popular tent with our kids. They love everything about it, from the ease of setup and helping us pump up the different chambers, to the spacious porch and the two bedrooms that make this a proper family camping classic.
This 5-person twnt comes with its own powerful pump and pitching is as simple as pegging out the base, then blowing up the three inflatable ‘poles’ that run horizontally across it. Then simply tension the guy lines and you’re ready to camp. The Easy Camp Base Air 500 sits towards the lower end of the price scale for inflatable tents, so you’ll be able to get a lot more in terms of features if you pay more, but for basic family camping trips it’s fantastic and feels very sturdy despite the lack of poles.
Spacious, relatively easy to pitch, and containing two bedrooms with the huge benefit of blackout walls, the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus is a great option for a family of four heading away for a weekend on a campsite. It has a huge porch/living area where you can easily fit a camping table and chairs, so even if it’s raining outside you can all stay dry inside for meals.
That living space also doubles up as a great play area for the kids, so they don’t have to trash the bedrooms while they’re charging about. One really nice touch is the full-height main door, which drops down totally flat to the floor so you can easily manouvre a pushchair or wheelchair inside. The whole thing feels incredibly sturdy and reliable, with great waterproof credentials and fire retardant fabrics. This feels like a tent we’ll be using as a family for a lot of years!
OK, so this isn’t really a family tent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it with your kids. If you know anything about MSR tents then you’ll already know that as a rule they’re generally fantastic, and the Hubba Hubba range is up there with the best of them. This lightweight, easy-to-pitch and very durable tent is perfect for doing something adventurous with one of your kids.
I used it for a winter camp in the garden with my 4-year-old and we had a fantastic time, cramming a full double inflatable mattress inside and properly hunkering down for the night. One of my favourite features is the ability to remove the flysheet and sleep completely open to the elements – perfect for those warm, starlit summer nights. And also very importantly, it’s great to have a top-spec smaller tent in your collection so you can sneak away on camping trips without the kids every now and again!