Here is our roundup of the best camping tents of 2021.
We spent countless hours researching the best tents for car camping based on ease of setup, weather resistance, and durability.
Our recommendations are broken down by tent size (2 person, 4 person, and 6 person) as well as budget (budget friendly or top dollar).
Continue on to our favorite tents of 2021 – or skip down to our tent buyer’s guide for more info on what to look for in a new tent.
Looking for a family tent? Check out our separate roundup of the 9 best family tents for 2021!
The Best Camping Tents for 2021
There are a lot of great tents out there – so we’ve narrowed down our list from well over two dozen to just 7 of the very best.
1. REI Co-op Base Camp Tent
The REI Co-op Base Camp 4 is our favorite tent for car camping in 2021.
We love this tent because of its heavy-duty construction with high-quality materials that doesn’t go overboard.
What we mean is that this REI tent is super duper durable, but it’s still relatively lightweight at 16 lbs 14 oz.
Another highlight is the geodesic dome shape. Not only does this maximize livable space inside, but it also helps the tent shed rain and hold up well in strong winds.
We also love that the Base Camp Tent has two doors. As a 4-person tent, the two doors minimize the need to crawl over each other when entering and exiting the tent. They also maximize ventilation on hot days.
Finally, we have to mention the full-coverage rainfly with vestibule. This helps the tent stand up well in all weather (including winter camping) and gives you a dry outdoor place to stash gear, like hiking boots.
Prefer something slightly larger? The REI Base Camp 6 is just as good as the 4-person model.
2. REI Co-op Kingdom Tent
The REI Co-op Kingdom 4 is our favorite car camping tent for those that want a lot of interior space.
Seriously though, this tent is designed to maximize livable space with near-vertical tent walls and a very tall peak height.
For example, the 4-person model of this REI tent boasts a peak height of over 6 feet (75 inches) to increase comfort. It’s so nice to be able to stand up inside your camping tent to change clothes!
Looking for something a little larger?
Then you’re in luck. The REI Co-op Kingdom 6 is our choice for the best 6-person camping tent in 2021.
Not only that, but the REI Kingdom 8 is arguably the best camping tent for large groups with plenty of space for 8 people (it even divides into two rooms).
Every version of the Kingdom tent has two doors so you don’t have to crawl all over each other to get in and out. They all boast extensive mesh paneling for great ventilation in summer while keeping bugs out.
Additionally, every model in the Kingdom line comes with a full-coverage rainfly for camping in the rain.
Need even more room? Check out the Kingdom Mud Room and the Kingdom Porch to add even more livable space to an already roomy family tent.
3. The North Face Wawona Tent
The North Face Wawona 4 is a stellar camping tent.
In fact, it we rated it as the best camping tent for 2020.
But, because we’ve slightly changed our rating system (to favor livable space), it’s slipped to third place in our rankings for 2021.
That said, it’s still an awesome tent for car camping.
We love this The North Face tent because it’s almost tall enough to stand up inside (58 inch peak height) and it has a super intuitive pole design that makes it very easy to set up.
What’s super cool about the Wawona is that it’s pretty dang lightweight compared to other car camping tents on this list.
The Wawona 4 clocks in at just 13 pounds (compared to the almost 17 pounds for the REI Base Camp 4 and over 18 pounds for the REI Kingdom 4).
Part of the reason it’s so lightweight is a unique hybrid construction…
The lower portion of the tent is completely waterproof thanks to a partial double-wall construction. This allows for a partial rainfly (instead of a full-coverage rainfly) while still ensuring 100% waterproofing.
The North Face Wawona 6 is also available.
4. REI Co-op Grand Hut Tent
The REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 is another top-notch tent for car camping.
With near vertical walls, it’s ideal for campers that want a lot of space. It even has a peak height of 75 inches, allowing most campers to stand fully upright inside the tent.
Another factor that improves livability is the two-door design. We’ve said it already, but we’ll say it again – two doors is seriously nice for camping with any more than just two people!
We also love the Grand Hut’s unique single pole design. The hubbed pole makes setting up and taking down the tent a breeze.
Finally, we have to mention the full coverage rainfly which makes this REI tent ideal for use in 3-season conditions, including heavy rain.
Those looking for a 6-person car camping tent are in luck. The REI Co-op Grand Hut 6 is a slightly larger version of this 4-person model.
5. Big Agnes Dog House Tent
Perhaps our favorite 6-person tent in 2021, the Big Agnes Dog House 6 is fantastic to use as a basecamp for all your family camping adventures.
It has steep walls for lots of livable interior space plus a peak height of 80 inches. Unfortunately, this tent only has a single door, which is its sole drawback in our opinion.
Other highlights include the single-wall design which is excellent for weatherproofing (when combined with the heavy-duty rainfly). But the tent still boasts a lot of breathability thanks to the large front door and back windows with mesh venting.
6. Marmot Limestone Tent
If you’re looking for something a little different than the rest, the Marmot Limestone 4P might just be right for you.
It’s a solid family camping tent for car camping (a 6-person model is available for larger families), although it is a bit on the pricier side of things.
Like all of the best camping tents in 2021, the Limestone is very easy to set up and take down. When family camping, no one wants to spend more than 10 minutes or so setting up their tent. So this ease of setup is much appreciated by us!
Other highlights of this Marmot tent include the two-door design, huge amount of mesh ventilation for hot days, and full coverage rainfly with vestibule for those rainy camping trips.
Finally, we just have to mention that this is one of the lightest tents for car camping on this list. It clocks in at 11 lbs 11 oz.
7. Yakima SkyRise Rooftop Tent
Rooftop tents are all the rage these days – and for good reason. They’re super easy and convenient, especially on road trips.
Although a lot of options are available, the Yakima SkyRise HD 2 is our favorite for 2021.
It might be on the smaller side, but this rooftop camping tent is more than spacious for two campers (you can even add a dog or a child into the mix with plenty of room to spare).
Not only is it quick and easy to set up, but it’s extremely rugged. It’s excellent for use in all weather conditions, including snowy winters.
The Yakima SkyRise HD 2 comes with a built-in foam sleeping pad and adjustable steel ladder for easy access.
2021 Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide
Here is some basic advice for buying a new tent for car camping answered in FAQ style.
What’s the Difference Between a Camping and Backpacking Tent?
A backpacking tent is simply a lightweight and compact version of a normal camping tent.
Although the increased portability is a must for backpacking, one huge downside for car camping is a lack of interior space.
Most car campers prefer extra interior space over saving weight, especially for camping with kids.
How Many People Can Fit in a Tent?
The number of people a tent will comfortably sleep is known as tent capacity.
All tent models come with a capacity rating. In fact, this is usually included as part of the model name, such as the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent.
However, the manufacturer’s recommended tent capacity isn’t always accurate.
It’s usually for a tight fit – the most people you can cram into the tent (without extra room for gear or pets).
We usually like to size up by at least one user so everyone has plenty of space inside. So, for example, a 4-person tent is better for three people while a 6-person tent is ideal for four to five people.
Do I Need a Waterproof Tent?
It’s always smart to buy a tent with a rainfly, even if you only plan to go camping in the summer.
Beyond that, we recommend most car campers go with a 3-season tent (which is pretty standard across the board in 2021).
Although 2-season tents are available, 3-season models aren’t much more expensive and are much more versatile.
Leave the rainfly on when camping in the rain or take it off for extra breathability on hot summer days. Most 3-season tents work great in all but the most serious winter weather – they even hold up in minor snow.
If you want a tent for winter camping, we have a best winter tents guide just for you!
What Makes a Tent Comfortable?
Everyone wants a comfortable tent – but what exactly makes a tent comfortable?
It all boils down to livability. Here are the factors that influence a camping tent’s livability:
- Volume – The total amount of interior space.
- Floor Dimensions – The shape and size of the tent floor. Most are rectangular, although some are tapered to reduce weight.
- Peak Height – The highest point in a tent.
- Wall Shape – Steep tent 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 multiple people.
Best Tent Accessories in 2021
Consider buying the following tent accessories for your new camping tent:
- Footprint – A rugged piece of material that goes on the ground underneath your tent to protect the tent floor from damage and provide additional waterproofing.
- Gear Loft – A lightweight storage area that attaches underneath the peak of your tent to stash gear inside the tent.
- Rainfly – A rainfly attaches over the top of your tent to shed rain and snow.
- Vestibule – Many rainflies extend well past the front door to your tent to offer a waterproof storage area for hiking boots and other gear.
- Stakes – Metal stakes allow you to stake down your tent for camping in high wind.
- Tent Heater – A small propane heater is super helpful to keep your tent warm when camping in winter.
Luckily, most new camping tents come with a footprint, rainfly, vestibule, stakes, and even a gear loft.
The only accessory you have to buy separately is a tent heater. Luckily for you, we have a tent heater buyer’s guide to help you make a selection.
Some Quick Tent Camping Tips
We know this is a tent buyer’s guide, but we wanted to provide a few quick tips on 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.
What Car Camping Tent Are You Using in 2021?
Now you know what it takes to find the perfect tent for car camping.
Although a ton of great options are available, we’d like to once again recommend the REI Base Camp 4 (a 6-person model, the REI Base Camp 6 is also available) as our favorite tent of 2021.
But, what about you?
We’d love to hear which tent you’re using for 2021 – or which tent you’re planning to buy soon.
Let us know in the comments below!
Sunday 19th of March 2023
Whats Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads. I am hoping to give a contribution. Paul Brown
Thursday 2nd of January 2020
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.
Wednesday 24th of May 2017
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.
Tuesday 17th of January 2017
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.