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The Best Camping Tents of 2019

North Face Wawona 6
Tuesday May 7, 2019
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Are you looking for the best camping tent you can buy in 2019? Want to stretch your camping dollar as far as you can without sacrificing quality? Look no further. We've researched over 30 camping tents and tested 15 top models - subjecting them to everything from Pacific Northwest rainstorms to Oregon's high desert, Joshua Tree National Park, and even a few cold fall Tahoe nights. All the while, we paid attention to critical features. Keep reading to see which are our favorites and specific recommendations for those on a budget or who need a seriously waterproof outdoor shelter. We've even added a selection of smaller family camping tents because we know that not everyone is looking for a palatial estate in the woods.


Top 15 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 15
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $469.00 at REI$329.00 at REI$499.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$399 List$254.25 at Amazon
Compare at 4 sellers
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Pros Tall and long, barn-shaped, versatile front vestibule, adjustable room divider.Roomy feel with vertical walls, tons of storage space, good fly and vestibule.Easy, quick set-up, expansive vestibule, spectacular storage designFast set up, built-in large vestibule, lots of ventilation, tall ceiling heightRoomy, large vestibule, simple, classic design.
Cons Only one vestibule, back door is more exposed to the elements, more poles than most.Not the cheapest four-man tent out there, extremity poles are a little thin.Odd placement of interior pockets, more expensive than many of its contemporariesCan't stand in vestibule, limited views when laying or sitting, poor duffel/stuff sackNot overly innovative, could use more storage.
Bottom Line A top-notch tent with tons of room and tons of versatility.REI has taken the dome tent to a new level.One of the best tents on the market, the Tensleep has great features that are done well.This one of the best family camping tents we have ever seen at a reasonable price.The Marmot Limestone 4P is great at keeping it simple. A high-quality tent, with a design that will be familiar to experienced campers.
Rating Categories REI Kingdom 6 REI Co-op Half Dome 4 Plus Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 The North Face Wawona 6 Marmot Limestone 4
Comfort (40%)
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Ease Of Set Up (15%)
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Workmanship (15%)
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Specs REI Kingdom 6 REI Co-op Half... Big Agnes Tensleep... The North Face... Marmot Limestone 4
Weight 19.6 lbs 7.8 lbs 17.8 lbs 20.9 lbs 10.6 lbs
Max Inside Height 6 ft 3 in 4 ft 75 in 6 ft 6 in 8 ft 4 in
Floor Dimension 10' x 8'4" 7' 8" x 7' 8" 10' x 9'5" 5' 3" x 7'
Floor Area 83.3 sq ft 58.7 sq ft 90 sq ft 86 sq ft 59.7 sq ft
Seasons 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season 3-season
Windows 1 0 2 2 1
Pockets 22 16 4 6 8
Number of Doors 2 2 2 3 2
Room Divider Yes No No Yes No
Vestibules 1 2 2 2 2
Vestibule Area 29 sq ft 22.5 sq ft 38.5 sq. feet (front) 10 sq. feet (back) 21 sq ft; 44.7 sq ft 21 sq ft
Packed Size 9.5 in x 16.5 in x 25.5 in 7 x 24 in 5 x 15 x 27 in 9.5 in x 16.5 in x 25.5 in 27.5 x 10in
Floor Materials Coated polyester oxford 70D Nylon taffeta WP Polyester 75D polyester 150D Polyester
Main Tent Materials Nylon/mesh 40D Nylon ripsto/mesh Breathable polyester & polyester mesh 150D polyester taffeta 40D Polyester/mesh
Rainfly Materials Coated polyester taffeta 40D Nylon Polyester 68D polyester 68D Polyester taffeta
Number of Poles 2 Hubbed Sets, 1 Straight 1 Hubbed Set 4 4 4
Pole Material 6061/7001 Aluminum DAC Pressfit Aluminium Aluminum DAC DA17 14 mm aluminum
Pole Diameter 14.5 / 11 mm 12.8mm x 3, 11 mm x 1 14 mm
Design type Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding Freestanding, dome Freestanding
Extras Internal dry lines, hang loops, Velcro lantern loop

Best Overall


REI Kingdom 6


Editors' Choice Award

$469.00
at REI
See It

90
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 7
  • Workmanship - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 9
Inside Height: 6'3" | Floor Dimensions: 10' x 8' (83 sq ft)
Fast and easy set-up
High ceiling and two rooms
A huge vestibule and lots of pockets
Backpack-style carrying bag
Small awning over the second door
Only one vestibule
The optional second vestibule is cool but makes it more expensive

The REI Kingdom 6 remains on top another year as our Editors' Choice award winner, but it certainly has some close competition (see the Tensleep and Wawona reviews below). The Kingdom stayed at the top of the podium due to its unique, spacious, and well thought out design. Hooped poles through the middle of the tent give it more of a barn shape and a lot more room than your typical dome tent, and greater head clearance throughout (6 ft 3 in!). It was surprisingly wind-resistant. Usually taller equals less stable in high winds, but the Kingdom stayed strong and also kept us dry in torrential rains. The adjustable (and zippable!) room divider is a great feature, as is the fact that one end of the tent is primarily mesh while the other is primarily solid fabric, giving you options for both privacy and ventilation.

There are two doors, but there isn't much of a vestibule at the back door. It's not a deal-breaker, given that there is so much more to love about the Kingdom, but anything you'd like out of the elements had better find its way inside the tent or under the expansive vestibule up front. You can purchase a couple of different variations on a vestibule for the back door, but they all come at an extra cost, adding to an already reasonably spendy tent.

These are, of course, small issues, the bottom line is that the Kingdom has enough size, quality, and thoughtful touches to impress even the most expert campers. REI also makes the Kingdom in four- and eight-person models.

Read review: REI Kingdom 6

Simple with a Versatile Vestibule


Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 9
  • Workmanship - 15% 9
  • Packed Size - 5% 9
Inside Height: 6'3" | Floor Dimensions: 90 sq ft
Large vestibule with various useful configurations
Easy to use, innovative storage bag design
Impressive mesh ceiling for venting and stargazing
Simple design, speedy set-up
Interior pockets unevenly distributed
Setting up the vestibule as a veranda can be tricky

The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 comes with a large vestibule included. (You have to purchase the REI Kingdom 6 vestibule separately). It's also made with quality materials by a company that has a long history of outstanding tents. In both of these ways, it's very similar to the Wawona. It sets itself apart with the versatility of its vestibule. The Tensleep offers double vertical zippers on the vestibule, meaning you can zip the vestibule apart into three separate pieces and then configure them to suit your needs. It can be directional, with one side open and the other side closed (think side wind and afternoon sun). It can be open in the middle and still up on the sides, giving you a little privacy while still maintaining your view. While it takes a little practice (and your hiking poles), you can even pull the front flap up veranda-style and enjoy an afternoon cocktail in the shade of your vestibule. The Tensleep also has large mesh ceiling, offering a brilliant view of the night sky on warm, clear nights.

The only complaints we can conjure up are that the interior pockets orient to one tent door only and that the vestibule's veranda configuration can be troublesome to set up. Again, the Tensleep and the Wawona are very similar, and if you're intrigued by one, we'd recommend reading through both reviews. They're both great tents, and what sets one apart from the other will likely come down to your personal preference.

Read review: Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6

Most Spacious Vestibule


The North Face Wawona 6


Top Pick Award

$399 List
List Price
See It

81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 8
  • Workmanship - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 9
Inside Height: 6'6" | Floor Dimensions: 86 sq ft
Largest built-in vestibule we have ever tested
Many ways to ventilate the tent and reduce condensation
Good wind and rain protection
Fast setup time
No room divider
Hard to ventilate vestibule if cooking

The North Face Wawona was the first tent to challenge the Kingdom 6's dominance in a long time. Now the new Tensleep is also creeping up in the ranks. While The Kingdom and Tensleep edged ahead in our overall scoring, the Wawona impressed us in all of our testing metrics. It has great ventilation, with two large picture windows and vents at the top, and its weather resistance was also solid. Setup was fast and easy, and we were even able to do it with only one person, which is impressive for a larger tent, and key if one parent needs to be wrangling kids while the other is setting it up. Best of all is its vestibule, which is almost as tall as the tent, very spacious, and has a huge door.

We did have issues venting the vestibule when we tried to cook in there in bad weather. The only option is to open the door, but you don't want to do that when it's raining hard. The Wawona also lacks a few of the creature comforts found in the Kingdom, like a room divider. However, the TNF Wawona saves you a little over the Kingdom 6 and Tensleep and includes the excellent vestibule.

Read review: The North Face Wawona

Best Smaller Family Tent


REI Co-op Half Dome 4 Plus


Top Pick Award

$329.00
at REI
See It

85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 9
  • Workmanship - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 7
Inside Height: 4' | Floor Dimensions: 59 sq ft
Near-vertical walls make for a roomy feel
Eighteen separate storage pockets
Expansive fly and large vestibule
Corner poles a little thin
Not the cheapest tent in the four-person category

As we added more four-person options, for smaller groups and families, this year it became quickly apparent that the REI Half Dome 4 Plus was going to be a powerhouse. The Half Dome has been a flagship tent at REI for years. This latest version takes a formerly simple design and maximizes a great many aspects. The dual-hub central pole stretches the Half Dome beyond a standard dome shape, and accessory poles along the sides pull the side walls nearly vertical, making the inside more roomy than the 59-square-foot floor space.

Storage abounds in the Half Dome 4 Plus. We were blown away to find 18 individual pockets in the corners and along the ceiling. Staying organized and having a place for everything (and everything in its place) will never be a problem. At 7 lbs., 13 oz., the Half Dome 4 Plus is the lightest tent we tested. While we mostly consider these tents for more car-camping situations, you could take the Half Dome backpacking. It's certainly not lightweight by backpacking standards, but it's versatile enough to pull it off.

Read review: REI Half Dome 4 Plus


Best Buy in Smaller Family Tents


REI Co-op Camp Dome 4


Best Buy Award

$138.99
(31% off)
at REI
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 9
  • Workmanship - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 5% 7
Inside Height: 4'6" | Floor Dimensions: 60 sq ft
Classic dome tent design
High-quality fabric from tent floor to mesh upper to rainfly
Very easy to set up
Good entry level tent
Lacks high-end innovation
Slanted walls make it less roomy overall than others in this category

The REI Camp Dome 4 isn't going to impress you with its innovation. Words that kept coming up in our tests were things like, "Old School," and "Classic," and that's not a bad thing. The Camp Dome isn't trying to be the latest fad. It's sticking with a successful and time-tested design and producing it at a high level. The classic dome shape with two crisscrossing poles means the Camp Dome 4 goes up so easy. Many will swear they can do it blindfolded and/or in their sleep. Two large doors should make getting everything in and out of the tent a breeze. With 60 square feet of floor space, the Camp Dome is larger than our favorite overall four-person tent, the REI Half Dome4 Plus. Although to be fair, the walls on the Camp Dome do slant in more than the Half Dome (as standard dome tents are wont to do), meaning you lose a little bit of that interior volume. The material quality of the Camp Dome stood out to us. Thick floor and fly fabric that will resist rips and tears, seam taping to keep the wet out, and sturdy poles that should stay straight and true for many a season make this a highly functional tent.

We did find that, while the fly does a fine job on the sides of the tent, on the front and back, there's just an extended overhang. No vestibule or actual fabric coverage down the length of the doors. The overhang is enough to keep dripping rain off the front and rear of the tent. So long as you don't experience sideways rain often, this shouldn't be an issue. In the end, it's the price tag and quality build of the Camp Dome 4 that make it a great value.

Read review: REI Camp Dome 4


Best Bang for the Buck


Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6


Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6
Best Buy Award

$173.86
(38% off)
at Amazon
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 8
  • Workmanship - 15% 7
  • Packed Size - 5% 6
Inside Height: 5'8" | Floor Dimensions: 10' x 9' (90 sq ft)
Excellent UV blocking - stays cool and dark
Fast and easy setup
Inexpensive
Partial fly and mesh "front porch" less ideal for rain
Sloppy carrying bag design
Not easy to seal against blowing dust/sand

The Carlsbad Fast Pitch is a tent that lives up to its marketing claims. It took us only 12 minutes to set it up for the first time, solo and in the dark. Wow! It is also noticeably cooler and darker in the sun, allowing us to sleep in late, or get out of the hot midday sun. The front mesh "porch" increases the sleeping area on dry evenings, providing bug protection but still giving you that sleeping-under-the-stars feeling.

This tent is not the best for cold or inclement weather. The fly doesn't cover the entire body or the mesh porch, and it's also permeable to sand and dust. It's a perfect beach-camping tent, but not for windy locales. We were less than impressed with the carrying bag, which, while compact, is virtually impossible to get the tent back into once everything has expanded. However, since you're spending so little on the Carlsbad, you could also buy a small duffel bag to go along with it. Our Best Buy winner is half the price of some other models! Check out the Coleman Instant 6 below for even more savings.

Read review: Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch

Best Buy for Easy Setup


Caddis Rapid 6


Best Buy Award

$279.95
at REI
See It

76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 10
  • Workmanship - 15% 8
  • Packed Size - 5% 7
Inside Height: 6'8" | Floor Dimensions: 10' x 10' (100 sq ft)
Super quick set up
Roomy
Plenty of pockets and storage space
Nearly full fly is better than close competitor's
Packed size is bulky
Susceptible to heavy wind if not staked
Door is exposed in rain

The rapid in Caddis Rapid 6 Tent is not hyperbole. It is the Usain Bolt of family camping tents. It's The Roadrunner and The Flash combined in tent form. The design of the Caddis is very similar to the Coleman Instant Tent 6. Both have pre-attached, extension poles. Both utilize joint-like corners to create their shape. And both can be set up in under a minute, by one person, probably even while blindfolded and hopping on one leg. What sets the Caddis apart from the Coleman, and justifies the slightly higher price tag, is its more protective rain fly, roomy interior, high ceiling, well-spaced storage pockets, gear loft, and Velcro electric cord access point. While the Coleman will get the job done admirably on calm, warm days, its fly is little more than a top hat. The Caddis, on the other hand, comes with a fly that goes nearly to the ground on three sides, making it much more weather-ready.

The only small issue we found is that, despite its small vestibule, the Rapid 6's front door is vulnerable to rain. It's certainly not perfect, but it's leaps and bounds better than the Coleman when the weather goes south. While the Caddis storage bag is slightly larger, we found this to be positive. It eliminates the need to either pack with OCD-like precision or stuff and zip with Hulk-like strength. Put — the Caddis is an elevated, even luxurious, version of the Coleman.

Read review: Caddis Rapid 6 Tent

Top Pick for Weather Resistance


Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6


Top Pick Award

$524.95
(25% off)
at MooseJaw
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 40% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 6
  • Workmanship - 15% 9
  • Packed Size - 5% 8
Inside Height: 5' 6" and 4' 1" | Floor Dimensions: 12' x 7' x 6" (90.5 sq ft)
Big and versatile vestibule
Two rooms that are well ventilated
Well-designed carrying bag
Great in wind and storms
More complicated setup with lots of poles
Low ceiling

The Flying Diamond 6 is the only model in this roundup that is a genuine four-season tent. It would not be our first pick for polar expeditions, but it's a great choice for a family snow camping trip. There's a "kids-room" or storage compartment at the back, and the whole thing folds into a handy carrying case.

The main downside to this tent is its internal height. At only 5'6" in the main room and 4'1" in the cubby, it's not the best for tall people. The setup is a bit involved as well. Big Agnes color-coded the poles and corners to help make it go faster, but it takes significantly longer to get it set up than tents like the Coleman Instant 6. However, once it is set up and guyed out, this tent can withstand a lot, so if you love year-round camping even in miserable conditions, the Flying Diamond is our top choice. If you need even more space, check out the larger Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8.

Read review: Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6

We purchase the tents we test outright for side-by-side comparison
We purchase the tents we test outright for side-by-side comparison

Why You Should Trust Us


Our expert panel of testers consists of Rock Guide and Mountaineer Lyra Pierotti and multi-sport outdoorsman Wes Berkshire. In addition to being an AIARE Avalanche Instructor, Lyra is undergoing further training with the American Mountain Guides Association. About six months each year, Lyra is pursuing objectives in mountain ranges all over the world. Wes holds a degree in journalism from CU Boulder and spends roughly 150 days each year outside, whether that be backpacking, skiing, biking or running. A solid camping tent is something that these two have the know-how to identify and appreciate.

Lyra and Wes spent several months testing these tents side-by-side at four primary locations, each chosen for its unique and consistent conditions. Rain and humidity were in ample supply for the Pacific Northwest portion, while the tents were up against plenty of heat, wind, sun, and sand in places like Joshua Tree National Park and the high desert of Oregon. Rounding it out were some cooler conditions at the higher elevations around Lake Tahoe.

Related: How We Tested Camping Tents

The Caddis Rapid 6 (here on the left) offers significantly more fly coverage than its closest competitor  the Coleman Instant Tent 6 (right).
The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6.
North Face Wawona 6

Analysis and Test Results


We assessed the performance of 12 popular camping tents by subjecting them to wind, rain, sun, heat, cold, late nights, late mornings, and energetic young campers. Below, we'll delve into the criteria that we rated them on and explain how all of the different models compared to each other.

Related: Buying Advice for Camping Tents

Value


There are many important things to consider when purchasing a camping tent, and the price is certainly one of them. The models that we tested ranged from a few hundred dollars to nearly one thousand, a pretty staggering difference. And while a higher price tag usually correlates to higher-quality materials or bomb-proof construction, sometimes there is a sweet spot where you can find exceptional value. In short, a lower price doesn't always equate to a better value, nor does a higher price necessarily mean a worse value.

Of our favorite camping tents, The North Face Wawona 6 and REI Kingdom 6 both offer the highest levels of performance for less than the Big Agnes Tensleep. On the budget end of the spectrum, you get a surprising number of amenities for one of the lowest costs with the Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 and the Caddis Rapid 6 is a simple, high-quality tent that goes up in seconds.

The North Face Wawona 6 provides plenty of space to spread out the sleeping bags and let the kids play. Large pockets keep things organized.
The North Face Wawona 6 provides plenty of space to spread out the sleeping bags and let the kids play. Large pockets keep things organized.

Comfort


Comfort is one of the most important considerations when purchasing a camping tent, and counted for 40% of the overall score. Most camping trips are meant to be fun, stress-free, family bonding experiences, or a chance to catch up with friends over a beer or smores. Different campers will have different ideas of comfort and will define livability according to different standards. Larger families might want separate rooms. Mountain lovers will want a sturdier and more reliable tent with a spacious vestibule. Beachgoers need windows, air circulation, and shelter from the sun. But some comfort features, like lots of space, organizational pockets, airflow, and sun protection are universal. Those are the factors we consider here.


Our overall winner, the REI Kingdom 6, is the most comfortable tent in this review. It is a top performer for a broad range of camping scenarios. There is ample headroom (6'3"), a room-divider, a large vestibule for your gear, and lots of pockets inside.

The Kingdom 6 easily fits oversized sleeping pads lined up in multiple orientations. This was the most spacious  airy  and comfortable tent in our review.
The Kingdom 6 easily fits oversized sleeping pads lined up in multiple orientations. This was the most spacious, airy, and comfortable tent in our review.

The North Face Wawona 6 came in just behind the Kingdom for comfort. It has tall ceilings and a substantial built-in vestibule. The three large doors and four windows/vents helped with air circulation and kept us comfortable on hot days. You can add a vestibule to the Kingdom but it will cost you extra (even more with awning poles) and adds one more step to the setup process.

Comparing the Wawona vestibule (left) with the REI Kingdom 6 vestibule (right).
Comparing the Wawona vestibule (left) with the REI Kingdom 6 vestibule (right).

The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 also scored high in comfort, due in large part to the versatility of its vestibule. Dual front zippers that split the vestibule into three parts give you a ton of different configurations. Storage? Done. Privacy? Got it. Sun-shaded veranda? Oh yeah.

The vestibule's "veranda" can stand alone or employ the side panels as wind or rain breaks.
Side panels can mitigate sun  wind or blowing sand.

The Wagontop 6 has a high ceiling and great ventilation, but it's not very stable in high winds. We loved the "dark-room" in the Coleman Carlsbad, which let us sleep in on sunny mornings without overheating. So if you need shelter from the scorching hot sun in the desert, you might prefer the Carlsbad. The Coleman Instant Tent 6 and Caddis Rapid 6 are also comfortable in warmer weather due to its high ceiling. However, while they scored well, their dark materials soak up the heat, making it uncomfortable in scorching weather.

The Nemo Wagontop 6 is a spacious and comfortable tent. It's so broad and high though that it doesn't do well in high winds.
The Nemo Wagontop 6 is a spacious and comfortable tent. It's so broad and high though that it doesn't do well in high winds.

It's worth pointing out that some of the more unique tents we tested offer specific features that might appeal to one crowd, and genuinely annoy others. The Big Agnes Titan 6 mtnGLO, for example, can double as a sun/rain shade by merely removing the tent, leaving the exoskeleton and rainfly. We can see people at music festivals or larger get-togethers enjoying this feature as it allows more people to gather under the shade. The hitch, however, is that you can't set up the tent without the rainfly, something that will be a real drawback for some.

The Big Agnes Titan 6 mtnGlo doubles as a rain/sun shade when you remove the tent. Great feature or not worth the hassle? You decide.
The Big Agnes Titan 6 mtnGlo doubles as a rain/sun shade when you remove the tent. Great feature or not worth the hassle? You decide.

Similarly, for sheer size alone, the Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 scored well for comfort. With 82 square feet inside, a front vestibule that adds another 22 square feet, and the very nifty Gear Garage at 36 square feet, you will have no shortage of space to pitch gear or bodies. I mean, it's got the word Hotel in the name so it has to be huge, right?

The Boondocker is spacious for four adults  maybe a little cramped for six. Of course  there's always more room in the gear garage.
The Boondocker is spacious for four adults, maybe a little cramped for six. Of course, there's always more room in the gear garage.

Be sure to check out the floor plan images with each tent, in case you need specific sleeping arrangements or patterns. Most of these tents say they sleep six, but that is six packed in like sardines. If you use a comfortable bag or a good-sized air mattress, you can usually only sleep four adults comfortably in a "six-person" tent. This applies to the "four-person" tents we tested.

The Wawona will sleep six  but most people will only want to sleep four  in order to keep a little breathing room between sleeping pads.
The Wawona will sleep six, but most people will only want to sleep four in order to keep a little breathing room between sleeping pads.

Weather Resistance


When we considered the weather resistance of each model, we look at more than if these tents will keeping us dry in the rain. Campers are outside in all types of weather, from scorching heat to blowing sand and dust, wind, and even hail storms.


The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 is the burliest tent in this review. It's the only tent we reviewed here that we'd consider taking on a winter camping adventure in a pinch. It has a low profile and reliable guylines to keep it stable in high winds. The North Face Wawona scored highly as well with its aerodynamic design, solid guylines, and burly poles. The Wawona also had the best built-in vestibule for hanging out and cooking in during storms. The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 crushed the competition when it came to keeping cool in the hot summer sun.

The Boondocker's Gear Garage can be your own private lounge  out of the elements.
The Boondocker's Gear Garage can be your own private lounge, out of the elements.

The Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 offers an innovative way to deal with adverse weather. The attached gear garage also doubles as an enclosed patio with enough room for a couple of chairs, a small table, and a cooler full of your favorite beverages. It gives you more room, and more options when the rain rolls in.

A number of the tents we tested including the REI Kingdom 6, the Big Agnes Titan 6 mtnGLO, and REI Camp Dome 4 offered great rainfly coverage on the sides of the tent, but neglected either one or both of the ends. In all cases the exposed doors (front and/or back) were reinforced, seam taped, or weather resistant in some fashion, but it still hurt their rating here.

While the fly covers the sides of the Titan 6 mtnGLO adequately  it leaves the front and back (the two doors) somewhat exposed.
While the fly covers the sides of the Titan 6 mtnGLO adequately, it leaves the front and back (the two doors) somewhat exposed.

The Coleman Instant Tent 6 was our lowest rated tent for weather resistance. This is mainly due to its rain fly, which acts more like a cap than a full rain fly, covering only the top of the tent. While Coleman's WeatherTec technology makes the walls weather-resistant, that's not the same as water-proof. So you're going to get wet in much more than a brief sprinkle. On the plus side, the Instant Tent has one of the more durable floors tested, basically a sewn-in tarp, which will help if the ground is wet.

Wind resistance often depends on how well you stake down a tent and use guylines to keep it taught. For most tents, we recommend buying extra cord, burlier stakes, and a mallet.

The Instant Tent 6 has more of a hat than a rain fly.
The fly on the Rapid 6 covers significantly more of the tent than its nearest competitor  the Coleman Instant Tent 6. It comes nearly to the ground on the sides and rear and provides a small sun shade/vestibule in the front.

Ease of Setup


When you arrive at the campground late at night after a long and stressful week followed by a long and stressful drive, you want your tent ready to go. Some are extraordinarily intuitive to set up, while others reminded us of an adult-sized erector set. We weighed ease of setup at 15% of the overall scores.


The Caddis Rapid and Coleman Instant are both extremely easy and fast to set up. Both tents can be erected by one person in under a minute with ease. They share a design that includes fully-integrated poles. All you have to do is take the tent out of the bag and pull the poles to length. It doesn't get much easier than this.

The Instant Tent 6 can be easily set up by one person in under a minute.
The Instant Tent 6 can be easily set up by one person in under a minute.

Of the top-scoring models, The North Face Wawona 6 is the easiest to set up. There is no extra fly to install, and the pole design is relatively easy for one person to raise. The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 is close on the Wawona's heels. The only issue is that the Tensleep has a separate fly. It's not difficult, the webbing and clips are color coded, it just adds one more step to the process. Both the Wawona and the Tensleep feature a similarly simple design, making them straightforward and intuitive.

The Wawona 6 is fairly easy to set up with one person  quite a feat for a high-performing  small packing  six-person tent.
The Wawona 6 is fairly easy to set up with one person, quite a feat for a high-performing, small packing, six-person tent.

Both the REI Kingdom 6 and Big Agnes Titan 6 mtnGLO gave us issues with the peak height of the tent, specifically attaching the clips on the tent to the highest points of the poles, but one had a solution.

The Kingdom 6 has a couple of small zippers in the ceiling of the tent that allows you to reach up and through from inside the tent to hook those otherwise hard to reach spots. It's a small touch, but one that makes a world of difference.

Ceiling zippers in the top of the tent make attaching those high  hard-to-reach clips super easy.
Ceiling zippers in the top of the tent make attaching those high, hard-to-reach clips super easy.

The Titan 6 mtnGLO on the other hand, offered no solution to this issue, leaving us stretched out on tippy toes, leaning precariously into and over the rest of the tent, or looking for alternative ways to set it up.

Reaching the top clips requires a little height (or a stepstool).
Reaching the top clips requires a little height (or a stepstool).

In general, we found the four-person tents we tested to be easier to set up for what should be obvious reasons. You don't have to stretch to get to the apex of the tent or do your best parachute toss to get the fly over the top of the tent.

Among those four-person tents, the REI Camp Dome 4 was the easiest to set up. As a classic dome tent, anyone who has so much as seen a tent should be able to get their head around two poles going into opposite corners and meeting in the middle.

Your standard two-pole  criss-cross design. The Camp Dome is an easy up.
Your standard two-pole, criss-cross design. The Camp Dome is an easy up.

Having multiples poles in different configurations slowed down the setup on the Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6. Main tent poles that protrude and catch on the rain fly made the Marmot Limestone 6 setup more complicated. And a vast rain fly demands multiple people to get it over the Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6.

Things that made some tents more arduous to set up were multiples poles in different configurations and massive rain flies. The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 has main tent poles that protrude and catch on the rain fly as does the Marmot Limestone 6. The Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 has a vast rain fly that demands multiple people, or a lot of patience, to get over the tent.

Struggling to get the fly over the top of the Marmot Limestone 6 tent. The fly often got caught on the two small tensioning poles that stick out at roughly head height.
Struggling to get the fly over the top of the Marmot Limestone 6 tent. The fly often got caught on the two small tensioning poles that stick out at roughly head height.

Workmanship


The overall quality of materials, design, and manufacturing give us a good idea of the long-term durability and shorter-term reliability of these tents. The workmanship is an important category to consider if you want your tent to last for more than one trip.


We are very impressed with the rugged Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6. It has clean and durable stitching, tensions nicely, and the fly fits snugly around the tent body. The same can be said for the other Big Agnes tent, the Tensleep Station 6. The REI Kingdom 6 is close behind, with big, sturdy poles, a straightforward and sturdy design, and secure guyline attachments.

The poles on REI Kingdom 6 are beefy! When weight is not a consideration  we like our tents to be durable and well-made.
The poles on REI Kingdom 6 are beefy! When weight is not a consideration, we like our tents to be durable and well-made.

In general, you get what you pay for when it comes to outdoor gear. The Coleman tents are the cheapest and scored the lowest in this category. That's fine if you only camp a few times a year. However, if you plan to use a tent with a poor workmanship score regularly, expect things to start unraveling and breaking after a dozen uses. An exception seems to be the Caddis Rapid 6. For nearly the same price as a Coleman options, it seems better made, and we think it will last longer.

The Tensleep's storage bag splits into two sides  one for the tent  one for the fly. The attached pole bag runs down the middle and the zippered storage bag for the stakes is attached to the side.
The Tensleep's storage bag splits into two sides, one for the tent, one for the fly. The attached pole bag runs down the middle and the zippered storage bag for the stakes is attached to the side.

Packed Size


We accept that camping tents are big and heavy, but only to a point. You still have to fit it in your trunk, and you might have to carry it a few hundred feet to a walk-in campsite. As such, we took each model's packed size into consideration, but not too heavily at only 5% of the overall weighting.


Despite not being the smallest, nor lightest tent we reviewed, the REI Kingdom 6 still managed a high score because the backpack design makes transporting it to and from the car very easy.

With dual compartments for the tent and fly  and backpack-style shoulder straps  the packing and storage of the REI Kingdom 6 is impressive.
With dual compartments for the tent and fly, and backpack-style shoulder straps, the packing and storage of the REI Kingdom 6 is impressive.

The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 scored well for its innovative storage bag. It has two open pockets, one for the tent and one for the fly, that then fold over a sewn-in pole bag and an attached, zippered stake and guy line sack. Gone are the days of looking all over camp for those tiny bags.

The Boondocker's storage bag has two sides  one for the tent  one for the rain fly.
The Boondocker's storage bag has two sides, one for the tent, one for the rain fly.

Similarly, for an otherwise massive tent, the Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 packs down into a duffel bag size, with two pouches and Velcroed pockets for the poles and stakes. They're not all attached like the Tensleep, but still pretty handy.

The Marmot Limestone 6, and all of the four-person tents we tested have a more traditional, long, cylindrical storage bag with a closure that cinches at the end. You have to roll everything back up efficiently to get it back in the bag, but in all cases we found the bags to be somewhat oversized, so it's doable with a minimum of frustration.

From top to bottom  the Marmot Limestone 4P  the REI Camp Dome 4  and the REI Half Dome 4 Plus. All packed  post-use.
From top to bottom, the Marmot Limestone 4P, the REI Camp Dome 4, and the REI Half Dome 4 Plus. All packed, post-use.

The North Face Wawona uses an open-topped, oval-shaped bag that cinches. It works, but some precise folding or rolling is required to get it all back in the bag.

While it's packed size is undoubtedly not petite, the slightly larger storage bag on the Caddis Rapid 6 Tent made the act of packing easier. There is no need for precise and exacting folding and rolling, and we don't have to wrestle, shove, push, pull, or otherwise fight tent, bag, and zipper to get it back in its home.

The North Face Wawona 6 is a welcoming home on the range.
The North Face Wawona 6 is a welcoming home on the range.

Conclusion


Finding the right tent can be a completely overwhelming task. There are seemingly endless features, designs, and options. We aim to narrow the myriad of choices down to the best tents currently on the market, test them thoroughly in all relevant areas, and provide you with a complete rundown so that you can make an informed purchase, hopefully ending up with the best tent for you, your family, and friends. Happy trails!


Lyra Pierotti and Wes Berkshire