In this guide we cover what everyone ought to know before buying a family tent
These days there is a huge choice of family tents, but that’s also a problem: which one do you choose?
A lot will depend on your circumstances: number of kids, age of kids, boys/girls/a mixture, and type of camping trips you want to undertake.
This guide provides you with information to help you choose your ideal family tent.
[We’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right tent for your family.
which one do you choose?
This is quite a comprehensive guide over a number of pages. You can either read it from start to finish, or if you wish, jump ahead by clicking on the contents below.
The Family Tent Buying Guide Contents
- Tent size – make sure you get one that’s big enough but not too big
- Tent layout and bedrooms – did you know that the age of your children can help determine the best tent layout for you?
- Tent living space – Will you have enough room?
- Tent entrance – Don’t overlook this important part of the tent
- Tent windows – These can have a big impact on how your tent feels
- Other Design Details – Here’s a list of other useful items to look for in a tent
- Tent Fabrics – What matters and which is best
- Tent Poles – Read this to see if you have a preference
- Traditional Tents – Are you after the retro look?
The first thing to ask yourself is what size of tent do you need?
Tent materials and designs have improved over the years, but so has the size of family tents. There are some massive ‘tent palaces‘ available. They’re so big that they can make caravans look small and cramped.
These big tents are ideal for family camping holidays as there is plenty of space for your family, plus all the gear to make things comfortable. But they have their downsides:
- They can be heavy and bulky to take. Do you have enough space in the car for one? Is it too heavy even for a trailer?
- They can take a long time to put up and will need at least two of you. Who will supervise the kids while you are both putting up the tent?
- Because they are so large, you buy more things to fill them, and the more stuff you take, the more time you need to set up camp.
- Some campsites will not let you pitch a really large tent, or insist you hire two pitches.
If you are planning a camping family holiday where you are staying a handful of nights or more at one campsite, then investing in this type of tent is worth considering.
some families have two tents
Think of it as a mobile holiday home.
On the other hand, if you are just planning the odd one-nighter, a much smaller tent will be better. Some campers have two tents for both types of camping, leaving their big tent for one or two weeks camping in the summer, and using a smaller tent to for quick overnight stays at weekends.
At the end of the day, it is very similar to buying a house: you have to choose what is right for your circumstances, what your budget can afford, and be ready to make some compromises.
In our video below, we take you through some large and some smaller tents.
Read on to see other things to consider when buying a tent that may help you decide.
When choosing a family tent, start by thinking about the number of bedrooms you need, instead of the number of people the tent accommodates.
Tents with a higher number of bedrooms also tend to have more storage space – an important aspect for family camping.
Some manufacturers, such as Outwell, report a ‘Comfort’ level for the number of people a tent sleeps. For example, a tent reported as a 6 person, may only have a comfort rating of 5 people.
If you have a young child (baby up to early school age) consider getting a tent where Mum and Dad’s bedroom is next to their’s, and the divider between the bedrooms can unzip.
The reason you want to consider a separate room for them is so that you can put them down to sleep earlier without them being disturbed (or distracted) by others.
Unzipping the divider is a godsend in the night as you can quickly and easily reassure them if they wake, often without even needing to leave your sleeping bag!
The four-person two-bedroom tent is fine for a family of four, but as kids get larger, or if you have 3 or more kids, then you need more bedrooms in your tent.
Many three-bedroom tents have the layout above, where you still have a side-by-side layout but also an extra bedroom.
We point out these limitations in our family tent reviews. In the example above, the bedroom in the right is narrower and so we suggest it’s best just for a single child.
When children hit secondary school age they want a lot more independence. If you have a mix of teenage boys and girls, you are going to need separate bedrooms, and they won’t appreciate a dividing wall that is easy to remove. The ability to have some independence from Mum and Dad, and independence from each other, may be a way to ensure they still want to come camping when they reach that age.
If you have older children, then a good tent to look out is the Outwell Middleton 8A.
Of course, an alternative is to get your older kids their own small tent for maximum independence. One such tent is the Easy Camp Antic range, that is ideal pop-up tents for teenagers and are great for summer camping.
Next Page: Tent Design Details >>
Get the Family Camping Planner
Enter your name and email address and we'll send you the family camping planner.