Tent Reviews

By: Lisa Maloney on October 04, 2016

Editor's note:
We are thrilled to be bringing back our report on tents! Our experienced outdoor writer found the perfect tents for every group size and camping style. Standouts include the Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 for families, the Eureka Copper Canyon 6 as a cabin tent, and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX for backpackers.

Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 18 lbs. Floor space - 90.5' squared Peak height - 5'6"

Best family tent

The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6 tent offers a great combination of spaciousness, easy setup and sturdiness for car campers. It's the best of all the family tents when it comes to handling snow, wind and rain, and there's plenty of room for kids, teens or even pets to have their own space in the second, smaller "room," which can be partitioned off with a removable divider. Reviewers love that the vestibule's storm door can be turned into an awning on sunny days.

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Eureka Copper Canyon 6 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 24 lbs. Floor space - 130' squared Peak height - 7'

Best cabin tent

The cabin-style Eureka Copper Canyon 6 tent offers 7 feet of standing room at its peak, with an all-mesh roof that lets everybody stargaze on clear nights. This tent isn't designed for weathering storms, but zip-up windows and a partial rainfly do help it ride out wind and rain. The Copper Canyon 6 is full of thoughtful touches like lots of pockets for organizing, a removable interior divider, and a zippered access port for a power cable. Overall, it's a great value for car campers.

Buy for $219.99
Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Tent Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Weight - 54.5 lbs. Floor space - 72' squared Peak height - 6'1"

Best canvas tent

The Kodiak Canvas 9 foot by 8 foot Flex-Bow Tent stands out for how well its waterproof, breathable canvas performs. Four big windows and funnel vents offer great ventilation, while the heavy-duty canvas and flexible steel poles help the Flex-Bow bend, instead of breaking, under heavy wind and rain that destroys lesser tents. Users love how the privacy screens over the windows unzip from the top down, and the way the canvas cloth helps mute noise from wind or people in the next tent.

Buy for $699.00
MSR Hubba Hubba NX Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 3 lbs., 13 oz. Floor space - 29' squared Peak height - 39"

Best backpacking tent 

The MSR Hubba Hubba NX is a great all-around backpacking tent for most camping styles and types of weather. It's freestanding and big enough for two people in close quarters, but small and light enough for one person to carry easily. This tent offers the best combination of light weight and sturdy build in this category, plus great ventilation, a roll-back rainfly for stargazing, and a fast-pitch option that doesn't require an extra footprint -- just a little creative staking out.

Buy for $399.95
Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 MtnGlo Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 4 lbs., 2 oz. Floor space - 27' squared Peak height - 40"

Best two-person tent

The Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL2 MtnGlo is an excellent lightweight backpacking tent, with steep walls to increase livable space, good ventilation, well-placed guy points for strength in the wind, and a clever vestibule design that funnels water away from the big doors. It also pitches easily. That said, it's the "MtnGlo" strings of flexible LEDs that really make this tent stand out. They come in handy for everything from reading to lighting late-night pit stops or finding your way home in the dark.

Buy for $324.95
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 5 lbs., 5 oz. Floor space - 57' squared Peak height - 50"

Best four-person tent

The lightweight Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 tent is an excellent choice for a group of three or four backpackers that want an ultralight shelter with plenty of living space. The near-vertical side walls, dual doors and vestibules all make this tent feel roomy, while one reviewer proclaims it "light enough to disappear in your pack." The steep walls can catch the wind a bit, but a strong, hubbed pole design and good guy points help keep this tent standing strong.

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The right tent will keep you comfortable and dry in the worst conditions.

When you're camping out, a tent becomes your home away from home. It's the shelter that you depend on not to leak, fall over, blow away, or take so long to set up that everyone's exhausted by the time it's done. There is a tent for every adventure and every group size, from the solo adventurer to the family on a camping trip.

Types of Tents

Family-Style Tents

They may not be tall enough to stand up in or light enough to carry on a backpacking trip, but this sort of tent is noted for its convenience and comfort features. There's room for everybody to sleep without ending up crammed together like sardines, or to lounge around and read a book or play board games if the weather is bad. Some family tents even have multiple "pods" -- almost like separate rooms -- or can be connected together with other tents. Family tents often have a spacious vestibule, too -- a place for hanging out in nice weather or storing wet gear in bad weather.

Cabin Tents

These are great for long-term excursions, especially if you're traveling by some sort of vehicle -- whether that's car, plane or off-road vehicle. Cabin tents often have to be staked out, and are large and heavy enough that they're not good prospects for backpacking trips. Rather, a cabin tent's near-vertical walls and high ceilings are great for maximizing comfort and livability during long trips.

Canvas Tents

Tents made of canvas offer the benefits of a cabin tent -- they're roomy and comfortable -- but are better suited to camping in bad weather. Their sturdy canvas is waterproof and acts as a giant rainfly, unlike the single, flimsy nylon of most cabin tents.

Backpacking Tents

A backpacking tents most important feature is weight -- and it should be as light as possible. Because you're going to be using them in remote locations, it's also important that backpacking tents be able to handle any bad weather that could reasonably come your way. Ideally, they're well-ventilated for hot conditions and waterproof enough not to leak on rainy days, with enough room inside to wait out bad storms but still small enough to fit in your backpack. Lightweight backpacking tents are available in sizes to fit singles and in two- and four-person configurations.

Freestanding tents are easiest for beginners. Most of the tents in this report are freestanding, which means that the tension of their poles keeps them upright without any other support. However, a few of the tents we cover are non-freestanding, which means they rely on the tension from stakes to keep them upright. Beginners can use non-freestanding tents, too; it just takes a little practice and also more space to spread out the stakes and guylines that keep the tent in place. Even freestanding tents will benefit from being staked out, though, for better weatherproofing and to keep them from noisily flapping in the wind.

Tent prices vary based on size, style and features. Heavy, less-durable tents meant for the occasional weekend family trip can be found for $200 to $300, while large tents meant for housing campers on a month-long adventure or enduring harsh winter conditions often cost thousands of dollars. You also pay a premium for the sort of light weight and small packed size that makes a tent good for backpacking; these cost around $300 on average for a single-person tent, but get more expensive as their capacity (the number of people they can house) increases.

Finding The Best Tents
Our Sources
"The 14 Best Tents of 2016"
"Best Camping Tent"
"Best Tents of 2016"

To find the tents that really deliver on their claims of shelter, durability and livable space, we first examined thorough expert reviews from sites like Backpacker.com, OutsideOnline.com, OutdoorGearLab.com and TheWirecutter.com. We also consulted reliable blogs like SwitchbackTravel.com. Finally, we took into account on-the-ground reports from real-world owners, who

offer the best read on how the tents performed in bad weather under the average user's care.

Depending on what you're using your tent for, you may need other outdoor gear too. Our in-depth reports on headlamps, binoculars, insect repellent and hiking shoes will help you find the right product for your outdoor adventure.

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Tents buying guide

What every best Tents has:

  • Complete waterproofing.
  • Good ventilation.
  • Wind resistance.

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