The best tents for car camping
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- When you're car camping, gear weight isn't an issue, so choose a tent with plenty of space and all the extra features you and your camping buddies could want in a home away from home.
- The Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Dome Tent is our top choice because it sets up in minutes, reduces interior brightness and heat, and has a screened-in vestibule.
When you're trekking miles into the backwoods or making your way up a mountain, every once of gear weight counts, and you often must balance comfort against practicality. Overland hiking or mountaineering means using the most compact, lightweight tent that suits the conditions. Luxuries like enough space to sit up are sacrificed to keep your pack weight down. When you're car camping, on the other hand, you only need to haul your gear a short distance from the back of your vehicle, so go ahead and bring along a big, bulky tent with all sorts of special features.Choosing the best car camping tent starts with simply considering the size of the tent you need. As all tents tend to comfortably accommodate one or two fewer people than they state, a four-person tent is ideal for a party of three, a six-person tent perfect for a group of four, and so on. You should choose a car camping tent that will easily house the people and gear in your party, but there's no reason to choose a tent that's dramatically bigger than you need. The larger the tent, the larger the campsite required, and the more hassle it is to set up and break down.
After tent size, you should consider the likely environment in which the tent will serve as a shelter. If you're camping where it could be cold, wet, windy, snowy, and so forth, then you need a rugged, reliably waterproof tent that can be fixed fast to the ground that that is rated to withstand the elements. For summertime camp outs in cozy, prepared ground, you can probably opt for a less expensive, easy to pitch tent that can block some rain and breezes but that wasn't designed for use in a blizzard.
With tent size and environmental suitability established, finally, you can look at the unique features of each potential car camping tent. I own six tents (and have had three others in the past), which I admit seems excessive, but each really does serve a different purpose. One is extra large and spacious and has a separate screened-in vestibule in which my wife and I can relax after the kids are asleep within. Another is spacious enough for four campers yet relatively squat to the ground and able to resist driving winds and pouring rain. Still another was specifically designed for use during cold weather. Some of my tents have huge mesh windows for airflow, others smaller openings that preserve heat. One has a slot through which power cords can pass while another is large enough for several sleepers yet light enough for short hikes into the woods from the parking site.
Oh, and also there's the budget to consider. That's always a factor when you're, y'know, buying things.
Here are the best tents you can buy in 2019:
- Best tent overall: Coleman Carlsbad Fast Pitch Dome Tent
- Best tent for bad weather: Kelty Gunnnison 4 Tent
- Best affordable tent: Wenzel Shenanigans Teepee Camping Tent
- Best tent for three seasons: Slumberjack Roughhouse 4-Person Tent
- Best tent for big groups: Ozark Trail Family Cabin Tent
Updated on 04/25/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formatting.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
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