Best Camping Tent of 2021
|Price||$642.95 at Backcountry|
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Check Price at REI
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|Check Price at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Massive interior, great construction, easy to pitch||Spacious, great layout, durable, very family friendly, high value||Huge doors and large vestibule, lots of pockets, highly weather resistant||Tall and spacious, quonset hut-shaped, lots of pockets, adjustable room divider||Large vestibule, simple, excellent weather resistance, classic design|
|Cons||Expensive, odd ceiling pockets||Not the easiest to pitch, only one door, odd bag||Runs warm, views are a bit more restricted||Only one vestibule, back door is more exposed to the elements, lots of poles||Low ceiling height, could use more interior storage|
|Bottom Line||A great pick for those looking to balance size and quality with ease of use||It's hard to imagine a better use of space at this price point||A great choice for those looking to camp in less pristine weather||Feel like royalty in this kingdom that offers space galore||For a simple, high-quality tent, this classic criss-cross design is recognizably comfortable|
|Rating Categories||Marmot Halo 6||The North Face Wawona 6||REI Co-op Base Camp 6||REI Kingdom 6||Marmot Limestone 4|
|Space And Comfort (35%)|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Family Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Marmot Halo 6||The North Face...||REI Co-op Base...||REI Kingdom 6||Marmot Limestone 4|
|Weight||21.0 lbs||21.9 lbs||20.625 lbs||20.6 lbs||11.3 lbs|
|Max Inside Height||6' 4"||6' 6"||6' 2"||6' 3"||5' 3"|
|Floor Dimensions||9'10" x 9'10"||10' x 8'6"||9'2" x 9'2"||10' x 8'4"||8'4"x7'2"|
|Floor Area||96.7 sq ft||85 sq ft||84 sq ft||83.3 sq ft||59.7 sq ft|
|Windows||Mesh top||2||Mesh top||1||1|
|Number of Doors||2||3||2||2||2|
|Vestibule Area||32 sq ft||44.7 sq ft; 21 sq ft||40 sq ft||29 sq ft||21 sq ft|
|Packed Size||25" x 14"||9.5" x 16.5" x 25.5"||11" x 24"||9.5" x 16.5" x 25.5"||27.5" x 10"|
|Floor Materials||70D nylon||75D polyester||Polyester||Coated polyester oxford||150D Polyester|
|Main Tent Materials||40D polyester No-See-Um mesh, 68D polyester ripstop||150D polyester taffeta||Polyester||Nylon/mesh||40D Polyester/mesh|
|Rainfly Materials||68D polyester ripstop||68D polyester||Polyester||Coated polyester taffeta||68D Polyester taffeta|
|Number of Poles||4||4||5||2 hubbed sets, 1 straight||4|
|Pole Material||Aluminum||14 mm aluminum||Aluminum||6061/7001 aluminum||Aluminum|
|Extras||Vented fly and color-coded poles||Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop||4-Season||22 Pockets!||Hidden key/phone pouch on fly|
Best Overall Camping Tent
Marmot Halo 6
Pound for pound, the Marmot Halo 6 is the best camping tent we tested. Looks, check. Durability, check. Space, check. We tossed weather, dogs, kids, and a marriage at this tent, and it asked for more. And thanks to the halo design feature, you may just have the biggest tent at camp without looking like you do. The Halo 6 will easily fit two twins and a full blow-up air mattress with room for bags, dogs, and more. And thanks to the beefy poles that easily slide through the dome-style slots and some color-coated assembly help, you and your partner will feel like a team putting this thing up.
About the only real complaint we have about this tent is its price. That and maybe a little knock for including backpack-style stakes with a 21-pound tent that clearly won't be hauled up a trail. You can also expect to put the fly on backward at least once (yes, there is a front and a back on this tent even though it looks perfectly symmetrical) and some pockets on the ceiling that act more like shelves than anything else. But if you are looking for a rock-solid tent with nearly 100 sq ft of floor space and a 32 sq ft vestibule fit for proper cooking protected from the elements, the Halo 6 is hard to beat.
Read the full review: Marmot Halo 6
Best Bang for Your Buck
REI Grand Hut 4
The REI Grand Hut 4 is a great value. This camping tent is a solid compromise for those looking to maximize their tent and wallet at the same time. Breezy when you need it and protected when you don't, this outdoor home is on the lighter side and offers a good number of pockets. Tall and user-friendly, the Grand Hut is extremely well built, comfortable, and a bit easier on the wallet.
On the flip side, this tent does have some flaws, most notably, its size. Coming in at just under 60 sq ft and sporting an undersized vestibule, space will be tight for a larger family and their gear. Because of its height and fairly vertical walls, this tent is also prone to catching the wind, so we wouldn't recommend it for those who plan on camping in exposed, gusty locations. All things considered, the Grand Hut 4 is a great buy, especially if tent height is a priority.
Read the full review: REI Grand Hut 4
Best for Usable Space
The North Face Wawona 6
Are you a camper with a hobby? Then this is your tent. The Wawona 6, a long-standing favorite in this review, is the perfect basecamp for mountain bikers, rock climbers, fisherman, hunters, or anyone packing lots of gear that needs to be protected. Why? The vestibule is like a two-bike garage. The main tent packs an additional 85 sq ft, creating a truly fantastic living space. The Wawona literally has you covered and all for a very fair price.
All this space does come at a cost. Setting up the rain fly and garage in moderate wind isn't as intuitive as it could be. The North Face went with a pin and circle locking mechanism that requires some effort to lock, and because of the height and length of this tent, the guylines are a requirement unless you enjoy watching your tent sail away into the sunset. That said, once this tent is set up, it is massive, comfortable, and withstood some howling winds and rainy nights in Joshua Tree with ease.
Read the full review: The North Face Wawona 6
Best for Weather Resistance
REI Co-op Base Camp 6
The REI Base Camp 6 is a great choice for those looking to dip their toes into colder, windier, and rainier adventures. With a study 4 pole structure and thick, strong materials, this tent is ready to take on the harsh world of both teenagers and bad weather camping. And thanks to a 27 sq ft front vestibule, you'll have options to cook and store your gear safely out of the elements. You can always count on REI tents to have boatloads of pockets, great headroom, and a clean aesthetic style — the Base Camp boasts all of that and more.
Unlike most REI tents, though, the Base Camp 6 sides and doors are not open mesh. This means no nice views while lying down, and you can expect to be fairly toasty on warm days if you're hanging out inside. There are, however, some half zip coverings on the doors to give you a little extra view. All in all, this is a great option for those needing a well-priced weather-ready shelter. Snag this tent for your next stay in the rainy Pacific Northwest or thunderstorm-prone Rocky Mountains.
Read the full review: REI Co-op Base Camp 6
Why You Should Trust Us
Basecamp. It's the center of any outdoor adventure, and having the right shelter is the most important ingredient for making great outdoor fun (besides beer, marshmallows, and good people). Our tester Rob Gaedtke put these tents to the test so that you can choose your next home-away-from-home with confidence. Rob is no stranger to the outdoors or adventure. He has raced across India, done an IronMan in Mexico, Jeeped through the African safari, and backflipped off the pyramids. He is also a rock climber, backpacker, and avid camper. Over the past 20 years, Rob has set up hundreds of basecamps across a variety of terrain. We took this experience, coupled with a rigorous and detailed testing plan, and got to work finding a diverse set of tents for consideration.
First, we scoured the internet, read personal accounts, and dug into bloggers' and YouTubers' thoughts on the best tents on the market. After selecting the most promising options, we purchased all the tents and got to work. We measured, weighed, and inspected each one before carting them out to the woods and desert for proper testing. We used five primary metrics for assessing our tents: space and comfort, weather resistance, ease of use, durability, and family friendliness. We tested them side-by-side in various locations in the Tahoe, CA area, in the hot and harsh conditions of Joshua Tree National Park, and in the ripping wind of Reno, NV. Read on to learn how each model measured up in each of our metrics and why.
Related: How We Tested Camping Tents
Analysis and Test Results
We put these camping tents up against the elements, battling kids, wind, dogs, dirt, heat, and a very opinionated husband and wife team. From setup and breakdown to weather resistance and durability to the quality of the space for both hanging out and sleeping, we put these products through a lot to help you find your best match. Read on to see which tents scored the highest in each category and why.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Tents
Value here is all about getting the most tent for the least amount of cash — or at least a fair amount of cash. We like to see a solid balance of performance and price. As a general rule, in the tent world, when the price goes up, so does the performance, though there are some notable exceptions.
The clear winners for value go to the Marmot Limestone 4 and the REI Grand Hut 4. Both of these tents performed well yet still fall on the lower end of the price spectrum. To be fair, however, both are 4-person tents which will almost always cost less than a 6+-person option. If you are looking for a larger, 6-person tent, then The North Face Wawona 6 has the highest value per square foot.
Once you step down into the lower price ranges, things do start to get a little more complicated. That said, we would be remiss if we didn't give a huge value nod to the Coleman 4-Person Cabin with Instant Setup. This little tent is cheap, sturdy, and a great option to put up with only a moment's notice.
Space and Comfort
This is arguably the most important category when it comes to car camping. If you are only hauling your tent a few yards from your trunk, then trading a little extra weight and size for better comfort and space is an easy choice. For this metric, we looked at the overall footprint of each tent, including the vestibule space. We checked the height and headroom, doors and windows, and the general airflow with and without the rainfly. And finally, we looked at pockets, clips, and storage options.
The Wawona, Halo, and Kingdom take top marks here. Let's dive into the Wawona first. When you combine the spacious and tall interior (6' 6" max height and 85 sq ft of floor) with the large double-doored vestibule (and additional 44.7 sq ft), you have a comfort masterpiece. The new design allows the tent to be used without the vestibule, adding a great option for warm-weather camping. We also love the tall, full-sized door feature that allows you to enter without ducking.
The REI Kingdom 6 has a unique, longer footprint that makes fitting a family of four with one full and two twin blow-up mattresses pretty easy. The pole structure allows for near-vertical walls with a peak height of 6' 3". The Kingdom also has some exceptional pocket action. We counted 22 in this tent, many big enough to fit a small child in. Add in the removable room divider, and you have some pretty awesome comforts. Our only wish is that the vestibule was as cool as the tent. At only 29 sq ft, you won't be doing much in here other than keeping your shoes and a few bags out of the elements.
The Halo 6 has the second largest floor footprint in our lineup, a max height of 6' 4", and with a vestibule that easily fits two chairs, it's a delight to use. It also packs in 14 pockets and enough room to fit three air mattresses (one full and two twins) AND a dog bed comfortably.
There are a few other tents that scored respectability in this category. The NEMO Wagontop 6 is the biggest, tallest tent in our lineup with a more than 125 sq ft floor plan and a max height of 6' 8". It also has a suitable vestibule and a two-room interior fit for royalty. The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 comes with an incredibly versatile vestibule that allows for multiple configurations based on the weather. That, paired with its 80 sq ft interior and massive pocket options, earned it a respectful place in this metric. And finally, the Base Camp 6 is notable for its roomy vestibule (though not quite as versatile) and large, well-designed interior space. All three of these tents make great use of space while providing outstanding comfort.
Be sure to review the floor plan images for a tent before committing. If you are like us, you have air mattresses and chairs that you would like to use inside, so the floor plan can help you map it out. And remember, most of these tents say they sleep six, but that is six elbow to elbow.
Getting wet, poles breaking in the wind, and roasting in the hot sun. These are all deal-breakers when it comes to camping — especially if you have children with you. So for the weather resistance category, we considered all of the following: hot day options, cold day options, rainfly coverage, aerodynamic-ness, stakes, poles, and guylines. We tested these in a mix of real-world situations and fabricated ones thanks to a sprinkler rig and backpack blower. The bottom line, we got these tents hot, cold, wet, and winded. Here is how they stood up.
We put the Marmot Limestone 4 up against the wicked hot days of the southern California desert and the windy nights of Reno, NV. Its shape held up perfectly to both, and the full-covered rainfly kept everything dry. Two extra poles on the tent's roof add just enough extra height to feel open without turning it into a flat walled sail.
The REI Base Camp 6 is the only tent in our lineup rated for 4-seasons, so, as you might imagine, this tent packs that extra girth needed for winter camping. The classic dome shape, paired with two extra poles for strength, instills confidence that, should the worst come, you are in good hands. But this tent isn't just good in cold weather — ditching the rain fly exposes adequate star gazing, and the door covers can be zipped down halfway for more airflow. That said, we wouldn't plan on taking this tent anywhere too hot.
The Marmot Halo 6 is another classic dome shape that stays securely on the ground in the wind. The Halo comes with DAC DA17 poles, meaning they are of superb quality. It also comes with unique sliding guylines that give two points of contact on the vestibule but only one point of contact on the ground. Both are connected via a metal ring that keeps the guyline tight yet still allows movement. These features combine to make for one tank of a tent. The Halo also does a little better job than the Base Camp in warm weather as it is better equipped (aka, has a heck of a lot more mesh) for chilling out when you ditch the rain fly.
Two other tents that scored among the best in the weather resistance category are the Wawona and the Tensleep Station. Both are powerful weather contenders. The Wawona lost a few points for the new rainfly that only covers the side mesh a little bit, allowing for moisture to sneak through in windy situations, but it remains a burly tent in every other way. The Tensleep Station is also excellent, but the stakes are thin, and the top ventilation could be improved.
Wind resistance often comes down to how well you stake down a tent and use the guylines to keep it taught. Unless you're assured of a balmy, windless night, staking out the guylines as you set up is a good habit to get into as it will keep you from scrambling around (and likely getting soaked) if bad weather hits. For most tents, we highly recommend buying extra cord, burlier stakes, and a mallet.
Ease of Use
Setting up and tearing down camp can make or break your trip. We have all been there, rolling into camp at 11 pm, tired and ready to relax — the last thing you want is a fight with your tent or your partner about the tent. We took one for the team here and got the frustration out so you can be prepared. We also took note of whether each tent easily fit back into its bag, the total packed size, and the packed weight.
Before digging in further, we should point out that any tent you pitch enough times will get easier. However, we made it a point to judge the first pitch, as many folks only use their tent once or twice a year, and who knows what you will and won't remember after most of a year has passed. Especially if you happened to throw out the directions…
The Coleman Cabin with Instant Setup scored among the highest here. This thing went up in under 60-seconds and came down nearly as fast. But ease of use isn't just about setup and tear down — we took one point away here due to its weight being on the heavy side for a small four-person tent and the struggle required to fit the tent back in the bag. We also hope the mechanisms that make this tent so quick to set up stay as smooth and easy to use over time. If you're looking for a tent you can toss up after a few beers or in the dark, check this one out.
Though nothing will compare to the setup time of an instant tent, the Grand Hut 4 went up — staked, rainfly on, and fully guylined out — in under 4 minutes. This tent is about as simple as it gets and light to boot at only 13.7 lbs. REI was also kind enough to color code the clips and pole, taking 100% of the guesswork out of pitching.
Other tents worth mentioning here are the Base Camp 6 (impressive setup and tear down speed for a 6-person tent), the Limestone 4 (simple and super light at only 11.3 lbs), the Coleman Sundome Dome 4 (9.8 lbs and not much to mess up), and the Halo 6 (a 6:04 pitch time for a 6-person tent).
Additionally, the Halo 6 and the Base Camp 6 are two of the most intuitive tents we have ever put up. Both share very similar experiences with poles that snap together almost on their own and glide through the fabric supports with ease. The Halo was pitched in just over 6 minutes and the Base Camp in just over 7. These are great times for 6-person tents with vestibules you can sit in.
Make sure to seriously consider buying a ground cover — a.k.a. "footprint" — for your tent and laying this out first. It not only helps keep moisture and mud off the underside of your tent (thus making re-packing a much more pleasant task), it also helps your tent last longer because it protects it from abrasion. Most manufacturers sell a footprint separately (usually made of the same material as the tent) designed to fit the exact floor size of whichever model tent you have. Despite the extra cost, it's a great thing to take along. The savvy camper's alternative is a cheap plastic tarp, like something you'd throw down to paint your living room. You can often pick one of these up for a fraction of the cost of an official manufacturer's footprint, though it won't have features like rivets to accommodate your stakes.
Honesty and transparency are important here at GearLab, and that is why this category is weighted at only 15%. We can't spend months or years testing each tent (though we do use them hard), so judging their true durability over time isn't what this is all about. Here, we are looking at the materials used, the general feel of the poles and stakes, and details like how the stitching and seams are constructed. We also tap into our experience and knowledge to judge overall quality. But let's face it, when it comes to buying long-lasting gear these days, the age-old saying does tend to hold true: you get what you pay for.
Several of our tents scored well in this category. From the moment you roll the Halo 6 out, it screams quality, and it dang well better for the price you pay. It sports the thickest poles in our lineup, the smoothest and silkiest mesh surrounded by 68D polyester ripstop, and is covered with a bomber rain fly. The stakes are the weakest link here — they are still extremely nice, just better suited for a backpacking tent, not your massive car camp tent.
Just a touch below the Halo is the Base Camp 6, Wawona 6, and Limestone 4. The Limestone shares many of the same durability characteristics as its bigger brother, the Halo, with slightly skinnier but still very wind-worthy poles, the same great fabric, and the same catch-free zippers.
The Base Camp 6 is a step above in quality over your typical REI tent. It has a 150-denier polyester floor that is both abrasion and puncture-resistant. Thick aluminum poles, fabric, seams, and zippers all look and feel top-notch. The Wawona 6 is made by The North Face, a well-known brand for quality, and this tent is no different. The main tent is made out of 150D polyester taffeta, the floor out of 68D polyester, and the poles are DAC MX — strong and light. And, of course, all seams are seam-sealed with a tub-style floor.
Of note: if you are looking to set up anything with feet in your tent and don't want to puncture the base, the Wagontop 6 has a 300D polyester floor and the Limestone 4, the Grand Hut 4 and the Coleman Instant all sport 150D polyester material floors.
If you are looking for a budget camping tent, the single best upgrade to your durability is swapping out the fiberglass poles and getting a set of aluminum ones. Poles and mesh are where the budget tents fail. In the budget tents we reviewed, the mesh areas are at least twice as large as the other tents and feel significantly cheaper in quality. Get better poles and be cautious around your mesh, and a budget tent can last you years.
Unless you're only planning on going camping once or twice a year on an idyllic beach, it's worth taking the long view when it comes to the quality — and often thus the price — of your tent. We are fans of quality gear that performs well season after season.
The final category we considered was family friendliness. This doesn't just mean actual family — it means how useful is the tent if you want to camp with more than just yourself? Can you bring two dogs and a friend or three and still be comfortable? We looked at how comfortably each tent could fit at least four people, whether it has phone/jewelry storage options, if it provides a space to clean your feet before entering, if it has multiple room options for privacy, and if it is dog/animal friendly. Among other things. Though some of these aspects do fall under other categories, we felt it was important to our readers to look at them again but with this viewpoint in mind.
This is where the NEMO Wagontop 6 shines. This thing is the largest 6-person tent we reviewed and boasts a mudroom, a small room, and a living room. Oh yeah, and it has a good-sized vestibule too! The Wagontop is also the tallest tent, at a whopping 6' 8" of headroom. This tent fits two full mattresses with some room to spare, along with plenty of dog bed space. About the only thing not ideal about the Wagontop in the family-friendly category is the storm factor. This is a fair-weather tent and didn't hold up well in our wind and rain tests thanks to windows that don't zip and a 7-foot vertical wall (a.k.a sail). That aside, if you are a beach camper looking for some room to sprawl out, you found your soulmate here.
For those looking for a different multi-room option, the REI Kingdom 6 is another good choice. Because of its longer and skinnier profile, sleeping four people is a breeze. We were able to fit two twin mattresses on one side and a full-size one on the other with some room to spare between the twin beds. You can also tack on some points for a sweet backpack-style carrying case and 22 pockets. The only bummer is the lack of space in the newly downsized vestibule.
The Wawona 6 checks most of the family-friendly boxes, easily sleeping a family of four with great height, storage, and covered outside space. Because of the large, tall vestibule, we were able to set up a camp shower for a quick rinse after a sweaty day of climbing. Just remember not to ask your kids to take the fly off, as the locking mechanism requires some serious force to get out.
Another notable performance for the family-friendly category is the Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6. This tent sports a large 2-chair front vestibule, great pocket/storage options, and two bonus super-sized pockets. The setup time was very smooth at just over 7 min; however, the bag that this tent comes in isn't friendly to pack, so what you gain in setup time is easily lost in the teardown.
When it comes to camping, a tent is the most important item you will buy, so picking the right one is key to a successful adventure. Think about the type of camping you intend to do and what you find most important in a shelter. Innovations are happening all the time, so if there's a feature you want, you'll likely be able to find it. Now, go get yourself a tent and get outside!
— Rob Gaedtke