The Best Camping Tents for 2020

Camping Tent Near Mountain

Are you looking for a new camping tent?

Then you’ve come to the right place. Our ultimate guide to the best camping tents breaks down everything you need to know to find the right tent for your needs, preferences, and budget.

Our reviews focus on the comfort, ease of use, weather resistance, packed size/weight, and durability of each tent. Although this guide focuses on car camping in particular, we do offer suggestions for a range of budgets, from high-end models to the best budget camping tents available now.

Here is exactly how to choose the best camping tent in 2020.

Table of Contents

  1. Best Camping Tents
  2. Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide
  3. Best Camping Tent Accessories
  4. Tent Camping Tips
  5. Alternative Camping Shelters

7 Best Camping Tents for 2020

Here are the 7 best camping tents for 2020:

1. The North Face Wawona 6

The North Face Wawona 6

$398.95  in stock
5 new from $398.95
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of February 19, 2020 8:43 pm

The North Face Wawona 6 is arguably the single best family camping tent available in 2020.

This 3-season single-wall tent fits up to 6 people, although it’s more comfortable sleeping just 4. That said, it’s very spacious with lots of vertical height. In fact, the majority of the interior is over 6-feet tall. A large built-in vestibule adds even more livable space, although it’s not tall enough to stand fully upright in.

The Wawona 6 is also notable for its superior ventilation on hot days and its excellent weatherproofing on rainy ones. Add a dedicated tent footprint (sold separately) for even more rain protection. 10 interior pockets give you space to stash your valuables. The tent itself and all its components (stakes, poles) are durable and long-lasting.

What We Like:

  • Spacious Interior
  • Large Built-In Vestibule
  • Easy to Set Up

What We Don’t Like:

  • Can’t Stand Upright in Vestibule

2. REI Kingdom 6

REI Co-op Kingdom 6 Tent

$499.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of February 13, 2020 12:32 am

Another standout family camping tent, the REI Kingdom 6 boasts a ton of livable space for the maximum in comfort.

This 3-season double-wall tent fits up to 6 people. Unlike other 6-person tents that are better suited for 4 sleepers, this one can actually fit 6 sleepers relatively comfortably (especially two adults and four children). The tall peak height and vertical sides make for plenty of livable space. An adjustable vestibule, movable interior room divider, and tons of pockets further increase livability.

Set up is easy if a little time-consuming. The Kingdom 6 has a simple, straightforward design without any bells and whistles. It’s not flashy but it gets the job done. The rainfly provides top-notch weatherproofing and the entire tent is built to last.

What We Like:

  • Versatile
  • Spacious & Tall
  • Great Weatherproofing

What We Don’t Like:

  • Takes Longer to Set Up Than Other Models

3. Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6

Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6

$299.99
$177.65  in stock
23 new from $177.59
3 used from $152.51
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of February 19, 2020 8:43 pm

The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 is our top choice for the best camping tent on a budget.

Although it’s billed as a 3-season tent, it’s really best for summertime use only. In fact, it excels in the hot sun thanks to its superior ventilation and ability to block out the sun’s rays better than most other family tents. That said, it does stand up well in light rainstorms but it’s not the ideal choice for camping when rain is expected.

The Carlsbad Fast Pitch 6 is quick and easy to set up. Like most 6-person tents, it comfortably sleeps 4 people unless you want to pack everyone in like sardines. As a budget camping tent, we were surprised by the overall workmanship. This tent should last for a long time with proper care and maintenance.

What We Like:

  • Affordable
  • Stays Cool in Hot Sun
  • Great Ventilation

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not Best in Rain

4. Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6

REI Co-op Kingdom 6 Tent

$499.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of February 13, 2020 12:32 am

The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 is expensive but it excels for camping in the rain.

In fact, if you can get over the initial sticker shock, this 6-person, 3-season tent is one of the best tents for rain. Not only is it weather-resistant to rain, but to heavy wind and even mild snow as well. It’s not a dedicated winter tent, but it still works well for mild winter camping.

The Flying Diamond 6 is spacious and well-designed. It has a versatile and unique layout with two rooms. Everything about this tent is high-quality and this quality is evident in all of the components. Other than the high price, our only gripe with this family camping tent is that it’s a little more difficult to set up other others.

What We Like:

  • Spacious
  • Great in Rain
  • Durable

What We Don’t Like:

  • Expensive

5. REI Camp Dome 4

REI Co-op Camp Dome 4 Tent

$199.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of February 13, 2020 12:32 am

The REI Camp Dome 4 is another top-notch family camping tent from REI, this one less than half the price of the above-reviewed Kingdom 6.

This 3-season tent is perfect for budget campers. It’s a great choice for newbies and others that don’t want to dish out a lot of money on a new tent. Despite the affordable price, the tent is durable, reliable, and waterproof. Sure, it lacks the features of high-end tents, but it still gets the job done for casual family camping.

Setting the Camp Dome 4 up is quick and easy. Like most 4-person tents, it’s not really well-suited for four adults. You can certainly squeeze four sleepers in, but the tent is better for three, or even two, adults. That said, the double doors increase livability and make the tent easier to use, despite the somewhat cramped interior.

What We Like:

  • Affordable
  • Classic Design
  • Easy to Set Up

What We Don’t Like:

  • Somewhat Cramped

6. Marmot Limestone 4

Marmot Limestone 4P Tent

$370.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of February 13, 2020 12:32 am

The Marmot Limestone 4 is one of the best camping tents for those who want an upgrade from an entry-level model without paying for a top-of-the-line tent.

This 3-season tent has a spacious interior and a large vestibule. Two doors further add to livability. It’s a great camping tent for two or three campers and works in a pinch for four adults, although it will be a tight fit.

The Limestone 4 is stable and reliable in all conditions. It’s durably constructed and should last for years on end. It’s breathable in the summer but has a great coverage rainfly to keep you dry in rainy weather. The classic pole design, something of a blast from the past, ensures the tent is quick and easy to set up.

What We Like:

  • Spacious
  • Classic Design
  • Full-Coverage Rainfly

What We Don’t Like:

  • Few Interior Storage Pockets

7. Eureka Boondocker Hotel

Eureka! Boondocker Hotel 6

$649.95  in stock
2 new from $649.95
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of February 19, 2020 8:43 pm

The Eureka Boondocker Hotel 6 is a unique and innovative camping tent with plenty of room for extended camping trips.

As the best large camping tent in 2020, this 6-person tent is ideal for families and large groups of friends. In addition to ample interior space, made largely by relatively vertical walls, this tent boasts a massive vestibule. Dubbed the “garage,” this covered exterior space is the perfect place to stash your gear, take off your boots, or even pull up a few chairs to hang out in the shade.

The Boondocker Hotel 6 has plenty of mesh for ventilation in summer. Yet the full coverage rainfly keeps you protected in the rain. However, water does tend to pool in the garage area in heavy rain, although it doesn’t seem to seep into the tent. A footprint is included (which isn’t the case for most tents on this list). Although the tent isn’t the quickest to set up due to its large size, the entire set up process is very intuitive.

What We Like:

  • Most Spacious
  • Huge “Garage” Vestibule
  • Durable

What We Don’t Like:

  • A Few Minor Problems for Full Rain Protection

Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide

Camping Tent at Sunset

Buying a camping tent can feel overwhelming. There are just so many different models available, each with its own list of features and specs. To help you better understand our top choices above, a basic understanding of the main features and components is a must.

Here’s what you need to know to buy the best tent for camping:

Camping vs Backpacking Tents

Some campers are actually better off with a backpacking tent, even if they plan to only go backpacking once in a blue moon.

The main benefit of backpacking tents is their lightweight, compact design. Although camping tents are typically much more comfortable, their backpacking counterparts pack down much smaller if space is a major concern.

That said, backpacking tents are best for one or two campers while camping tents can suit larger groups that all want to sleep in a same tent. If you know you’re only ever going car camping, then a large camping tent is the right choice for you.

Capacity

Tent capacity is the number of people that a tent will comfortably sleep.

Remember, however, that tent capacity ratings are usually a snug fit. In other words, they state the recommended maximum number of users. It’s often better to size up, especially if you’re car camping where tent size and packed weight isn’t a concern.

Extra space also gives you a place to store your gear at night. This way you don’t have to trek back and forth from your car. It’s also ideal for camping with dogs, so everyone has a little more wiggle room.

Seasonality

Tent seasonality is the type of weather that a tent was built to withstand. Your four main options are 2-season, 3-season, 3-season+, and 4-season.

  • 2-Season – For dry, warm weather only. Won’t hold up to rain or wind. Ideal for camping in hot summer conditions.
  • 3-Season – For mild year-round weather. Will hold up to wind and rain. Ideal for spring, summer, and fall.
  • 3-Season+ – For three-season use, plus mild winter weather. Will hold up to heavy rain, snow, and wind. Best for early spring and late fall.
  • 4-Season – For winter-use. Will hold up to extreme snow, cold, and wind. Best for winter camping and mountaineering. Often only suitable for winter, although some double-wall models are versatile enough for year-round use.

A 3-season tent is the best choice for most family campers. These tents are breathable and well-ventilated for warm weather but waterproof enough for unexpected rain storms.

Size & Weight

Packed size and weight isn’t as big of a factor for camping as it is for backpacking. Yet it should still be considered. If you often car camp at campgrounds that require you to hike in, a relatively lightweight and compact tent is a must.

Livability

Livability refers to the interior space of your tent. It basically boils down to how comfortable a tent is to spend time inside. A number of factors influence tent livability:

  • Volume – The total amount of interior space inside a tent.
  • Floor Dimensions – The shape and size of the tent floor. Most tent floors are rectangular, although some are tapered to reduce weight.
  • Peak Height – The highest point in a tent.
  • Wall Shape – Can influence how much interior space. Steep walls equal more livable space.
  • Room Layout – Division of interior space. Some family tents come with room dividers to create separate living areas or bedrooms.
  • Doors – One door works well but two doors definitely makes getting in and out of a tent easier, especially for camping with large groups.
  • Windows – Not only do windows give you a better view, but they let in light and improve ventilation, sometimes even making a small tent seem larger.
  • Ventilation – Mesh windows, ceilings, and doors makes for improved cross ventilation to keep a tent cool on hot days.

Other Factors

Here are a few additional factors to consider when choosing a camping tent:

  • Cabin Tent – Designed with vertical walls to maximize height and vertical living space.
  • Dome Tent – Stronger and more durable than cabin tents but offer slightly less vertical living space.
  • Poles – Pole structure dictates how easy it is to set up and take down. Almost all family tents are freestanding (no stakes required to pitch).
  • Rainfly – Never buy a tent without a rainfly. Two options exist: a roof-only rainfly for better visibility or an extended-rainfly for better weather protection.
  • Vestibules – Also known as a tent garage, a tent vestibule is an overhang outside your tent’s door to store dirty hiking boots and other gear without getting the inside of your tent dirty.
  • Interior Loops/Pockets – Ceiling loops give you the perfect place to hang a lantern while side pockets give you a place to store keys, cellphones, wallets, etc.

Best Camping Tent Accessories

Tent Camping On a Hill With Milky Way in Background

A quality camping tent is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to an enjoyable camping experience. The following additional gear will ensure a pleasant night outdoors:

Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is a rugged piece of material that goes on the ground underneath your tent. Unlike a regular tarp, they’re custom-fitted to your tent’s specific dimensions. It’s their job to your tent from rocks, twigs, and other debris as well as provide an additional layer of waterproofing.

Tarp

A plain old tarp is a cheap alternative to a tent footprint. It provides protection and waterproofing without the extra cost. In addition to their heavier weight and bulkier size, a standard tarp will stick out from under the edges of your tent. This can allow water to pool between the floor of your tent and the tarp when camping in rain.

Gear Loft

Most tents come with one or two interior pockets. But many campers need more storage space. A gear loft can help you better organize your tent. It enables you to tuck away gear on the ceiling of your tent. Some tents come with gear lofts while others can be bought separately.

Canopy

A pop-up canopy or similar camping shelter provides additional coverage. It will help keep the rain at bay and/or provide shade from the sun.

Stakes & Anchors

Almost all tents come with stakes and anchors. However, depending on the model, these can be relatively flimsy. It can be smart to invest in a strong pair of stakes and anchors, especially if you often camp in the wind.

Tent Heater

Camping in the winter? Then a winter tent heater will help keep you warm. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is one of our favorite propane models.


Best Tent Camping Tips

Camping Tents Seen Through Trees

Here are some additional tips for maintaining and using your new camping tent:

Using Your Tent

Proper tent care starts with using your tent right. Here are the basics on how to use your tent correctly:

  • Read the Manual – Read the provided owner’s manual from cover to cover when you buy a new camping tent.
  • Pitch at Home – Don’t head out into the field without first pitching a new camping tent at home. Doing so ensures you actually know how to use it before you set up camp.
  • Check the Bag – Never leave the house without first checking your tent bag to make sure all the components are there. Driving all the way to the campsite only to realize you forgot the poles is one of the worst feelings in the world!
  • Find a Campsite – It’s always a smart idea to choose an established campsite. Clear out small rocks, twigs, or other debris from the campsite, but always adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. And make sure you don’t set up your tent underneath widow makers.
  • Pitch in the Shade – Pitch your tent in the shade if possible. Sun exposure can cause premature wear to your rainfly. Keep your tent out of the sun whenever possible to prolong its lifespan.
  • Use a Footprint – A tent footprint (or tarp) keeps the bottom of your tent from getting jabbed or poked by debris. It also provides another layer of protection from water.
  • Keep It Clean – A clean tent is a long-lasting tent. We recommend taking off dirty boots before entering. Pack a camping broom and dustpan to clean up before you pack up the tent at the end of your trip.
  • Repack Your Tent – Shake your tent out before repacking it. Rocks or twigs that cling to it can rip holes once it’s packed. Don’t fold your tent or rainfly against the same creases each time. Doing so can cause them to become brittle and rip in the future.

Storing Your Tent

Proper tent storage is just as important as using your tent correctly. Here are the basics on how to store your camping tent:

  • Clean It Out – Never store a dirty tent. Take it out of the bag and shake it off when you get home.
  • Dry It Out – Make sure your tent is completely dry before storing it. Even if it didn’t rain on your trip, your tent could still be damp. Your best bet is to hang the tent in a dry, shady spot (like your garage) to air dry overnight. Even a hint of dampness invites mildew.
  • Store in Cool, Dry Place – Never store your tent anywhere it might come into contact with moisture. A cool (but not cold), dry storage place is best.
  • Store Unpacked – If you have the space, it’s always a good idea to store your tent unpacked outside its bag to further prevent mildew growth.

Cleaning Your Tent

A clean tent is a long-lasting tent. Here are the basics on how to clean a camping tent:

  • Use Right Products – Clean your tent with a non-abrasive sponge, cold water, and an unscented non-detergent soap. Never use scented soap as the scent will attract bugs, mice, and other animals. Scented soap also breaks down the waterproofing on your tent.
  • Scrub by Hand – Scrub your tent very lightly with your non-abrasive sponge. Rinse it off with cold water.
  • Let Air Dry – Air dry your clean tent in a cool, dry area out of the sun. Your garage is a good bet.
  • NEVER MACHINE WASH – Machine washing your tent damages the waterproofing, stretches out the fabric, and pulls apart the seams.

Repairing Your Tent

Minor damage to your tent is remarkably easy to fix. Here are the basics on how to repair a tent:

  • Leaking Seams – The wear and tear of camping can open up tent seams, letting in moisture. Use a special tent seam sealer to reseal leaky seams.
  • Reduced Waterproofing – A well-used tent loses its waterproofing over time. Use a spray-on waterproofing treatment to add a new layer of weather protection to aging tents and rainflies.
  • Broken Tent Pole – Make a sleeve out of duct tape to fix a broken tent pole in the field. Alternatively, many tents come with a pole repair sleeve that acts as a sort of splint for the pole.
  • Minor Rip or Tear – Once again, duct tape is the best way to quickly fix a minor rip or tear in your tent in the field. Another option is to use a designated tent repair kit that come with fabric patches.
  • Major Rip or Tear – If your tent has a major rip or tear, it’s most likely time to buy a new tent. Another option is to send your tent to a repair center. I’ve successfully used Seattle’s Rainy Pass Repair in the past. Look for tent repair in your local area.

Alternatives to Tent Camping

Glamping Tent at Dusk Illuminated from Inside

There’s not much better than tent camping. Yet it’s not always the best option. Here are some of the best tent camping alternatives you might like to consider:

  • Bivy Sack – Basically a minimalist tent, a bivy sack slips over your sleeping bag to provide protection from the elements.
  • Hammock – A camping hammock is another lightweight and extremely packable overnight shelter that works as an alternative to a camping tent.
  • Tarp – Keep your camping gear list very simple by hanging a tarp as a shelter between two trees or simply using it as a ground cloth to sleep under the stars.
  • Glamping Tent – For a luxury camping experience, try a glamping tent, like a canvas wall tent or teepee.
  • RV – RV camping is a fun way to experience the outdoors with your family. Our RV rental tool will help you find an RV rental in your local area.

Now We’d Like to Hear From You

Camping Tents on Beautiful Bluff in Forest

You now know what it takes to find the perfect tent for camping in 2020.

But did you know that many serious campers have more than one tent? In fact, it’s quite common for backpackers to have a cheaper car camping tent and a more expensive (read: lightweight) backpacking tent. Heck, some campers even have a third tent, a winter tent, for cold weather conditions.

What about you? Do you have a single tent for camping or multiple tents for various applications? Do you use the same tent for camping and backpacking?

Let me know in the comments below! And please ask if you have any questions!

3 thoughts on “The Best Camping Tents for 2020”

  1. You are right about getting a cheap tent. I will never forget one of my first campouts. I woke to an inch of water on the tent floor in some low spots and it was a very rude awakening! Thank goodness I was camping during moderate temperatures.

  2. Are you in any way affiliated with outdoorgearweb.wordpress.com? They have copied and pasted your article verbatim, and we recently got a product request from them.

  3. Thank you for the tutorial. Your info is super useful for the novice to the experienced tenters. Things have evolved a lot since I started camping 50 years ago. Great job on the descriptions and definitions. Cheers.

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