Gear & Equipment

The 14 Best Basecamp Tents for Family Camping

email this page

the best tents for family camping

Sleeping to the mountain sounds while snuggling with your precious den of children and a lovely inamorata has few rivals for time well spent. Some summer nights I'd much rather go without the shelter and toss a bag on good ol' terra firma plus nature's own pine needles, but those opportunities are so few when camping as a family. So a tent it is. But which tent is the best for family camping? It's a harder question to answer than you might think. What's the criteria? Standing room? Waterproofiness? One-person pitch? Bang-for-buck? Space for adult hanky-panky? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Right?

So, I think I've found them. Here are 14 sweet basecamp family tents you might want to consider for your tribe, each with several important elements that aim for comfortable family camping. Alas, some have standing room, built-in shade awnings, privacy areas, speedy pitch, one-person set up . . . Still, the tents you'll find here house between 4 and 14 people. All tents come in several sizes. So if one catches your eye but seems too big or small, your size is available. I do include data on square footage, maximum interior height, and price to help guide your hunt, but I just didn't include every size available for every family tent — this list would be endless. Weight is not much of a consideration here because we're talking about basecamping, but some of these would work for backpacking.

There are four undeniable facts about family tents:

  1. Good standing room, ability to hold up to significant wind, and ease of set-up are a trifecta of magic that's hard to come by. To gain in one category you give up in another. Unless you're willing to pay for it all.
  2. All tents are either dome style or cabin style. Domes, of course, handle the wind much better than cabins, but the wall slope reduces your livable space, and frequently reduces the maximum height in a tent. Cabin style tents have steeper walls, therefore improved use of square footage, but worse durability in wind, snow, and heavy weather.
  3. Family tents are big and require a big, flat space
  4. You get what you pay for.

Good people of the internet, knock yourself out. Gallery follows of some of the best family camping tents:

Browsing tip: click a thumbnail to see a larger version and a full description below the photo. Control arrows are lower left of photo.


Wyoming Trail 4 by Big Agnes

Capacity: 4 person
Tent area: 65 sf (32.5 each side)
Vestibule area: 49 sf
Max height: 72" inside the vestibule
Price: $499

Eventually, and when the kids get old enough, you come to a crossroads even if you are into attachment parenting. Children grow up and want their own space. Perhaps you'd like to keep the magic of your marriage kindled with some private snuggle time? Big Agnes has a solution in the Wyoming Trail 4 family camping tent. A slightly improved take on the "privacy screen" that large cabin tents incorporate, the Wyoming Trail 4 is more like two tents that share poles, making set up as painless as possible while improving some privacy.

In fact, a review by Outside Magazine's Raising Rippers reveals it: "It went up on the first try, which is saying a lot for a tent this size. For starters, there are only four poles . . . The poles attach with clips, not sleeves, which makes set-up even speedier. It took two of us to sling the rain fly on, which attaches easily with buckles to the base of the tent." (Read the rest)

The tent comes with the fly that creates the covered vestibule in the middle, and there's a door on both sides of the shared vestibule so you can prop up either side (or both) for a shady retreat.

Big Agnes earned an Editor's Choice Award from Backpacker Magazine for the exceptionally comfy Q-Core insulated sleeping pad, which should speak to the fact that this tent comes from a serious player.

Info / Buy >>>


+7 / -15
# Gavin 2013-09-29 14:22
We used a BA Big House 6 for our 16 trip up the coast to Victoria and other parts of BC last year. Set-up was about 5 minutes in a rush, and tear down was about 7-8 to get everything folded. That was us, the two kids, and we had plenty of room.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Nathan Woods
+14 / -3
# Nathan Woods 2013-11-26 21:37
Mark, nice list, some cool tents in there indeed. However, I feel that omitting the REI Basecamp is something that you might wish to address. It's doesn't have the headroom of the Hobitat, but it is far more wind and storm resistant. My family has been using our BaseCamp 6 for nearly a decade now, supplemented occasionally with our BaseCamp 4 when it's fewer of us on the trip. Remember the snowy Mojave run a few years ago?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Mark Stephens
+4 / -2
# Mark Stephens 2013-11-26 21:57
Simply put, I preferred the Kingdom series over the Basecamp. But you're not the only one to give me the ol' what-about-the- tent-I-use routine. I think it might be time to collect another list of tents for a Part II.

On another note, Nathan, it really makes me happy to hear from you once again. I haven't seen you in a long time. Another thing that ought to be addressed.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Nathan Woods
+2 / -2
# Nathan Woods 2013-11-26 22:03
LOL, i know. I died for three years when we had to sell all our offroad stuff. I now have Montero, but still struggling to get the gas money to go places. I need a different career! However, I have been on ExPo a fair amount. So where have YOU been, eh?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
# Guest 2014-02-18 01:16
This comment has been flagged
# Guest 2014-02-19 14:22
This comment has been flagged
+1 / -3
# mountaineerman 2015-03-26 11:46
I have the 12X12 Outback Lodge from Cabela's. We are a family of 6 plus a lab, Yorkie, and westie. We absolutely love this tent. Plenty of room for gear. IF you set up under a tree branch you can omit the center pole and use a rope thrown over limb and tie off to tree. I have Elk Hunted in Washington State, to Bear hunting in West Virginia in wind, snow, rain, and spent the last few weeks Feb 4, 2015 till March 22, 2015 on the beach at Camp Pendleton, CA and can't wait to get to West Virginia April 6-25 on Williams river trout fishing and eating ramps. Then to Kentucky July 3-12 then to Wisconsin 13-24 then back to Summersville, WV 25 -31 then back to Camp Pendleton August 3 - ? The tent is amazing. Add the floor saver inside and UNDER and oh the comfort.
We set up our 14x17 screen house just out the front door to our table and chairs with kitchen and dag gummit I have a blast. The heat off the butane stove making coffee takes just enough of the morning nip off to enjoy outside.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
+1 / -1
# Philip 2015-04-06 07:44
The Kelty Cabana Basecamp Shelter has really held up well for me!
REI link
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
CA Hill
+2 / 0
# CA Hill 2015-06-21 18:05
We are looking at getting the Kingdom. We have been looking at so many tents. Some things we keep coming across in less expensive tents is the need to weatherproof with Camp Dry and seam seal. According to REI website, the Kingdom comes factory seam sealed. So is that enough or would I need to seam seal on top of the factory seam seal? What about weatherproofing the tent? According to REI is comes that way.

Sorry for the simple questions....lo l....kinda new to all this.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Nathan Woods
+6 / -1
# Nathan Woods 2015-06-21 21:04
CA Hill, the Kingdom has a decent rain for all but the gustiest types of storms. If you get the base mat/foot print, you won't need to do anything else. The key to a dry tent includes a few simple things besides the rain fly design and tent construction:

1. Don't set up your tent in a drainage area! You'd be shocked at how often this happens, even to veteran campers. It might be dry when you set up camp, but it rains in the middle of the night, is all that ground runoff going right through your tent site? When in doubt, dig a small moat around it. Seriously!

2. The ground mat MUST be smaller than the "footprint" of your tent! Otherwise, water will run off the fly, puddle onto the ground mat, and soak the bottom of your tent. This is a common rookie move, particularly when people use a common blue tarp under the tent. Always get a ground mat fitted for your tent. Don't Skimp on this!

See next post for Tip #3:

Happy camping!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Nathan Woods
+4 / 0
# Nathan Woods 2015-06-21 21:08
tip #3:
3. Replace the original tent stakes. Get good ones, such as the red anodized alum stakes by MSR (REI carries them, among many other stores too). They will hold your rain fly securely in a wide range of soil conditions.

Bonus tip:
Always keep Mom warm, and the kids dry. Bring more water than you'll EVER expect to use, and get good quality sleeping bags and insulated ground pads, and life will be golden!

Happy camping!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
CA Hill
0 / 0
# CA Hill 2015-06-22 12:05
Nathan, Thanks for the insight. Have continued to search and research. Am slowing understanding it all. Have you reviewed any of the Kodiak tents?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator
Nathan Woods
+1 / -1
# Nathan Woods 2015-06-22 13:33
Nope, haven't been too interested in the Kodiak's, Springbar's, etc... They are excellent tents, but take up far more room when stowed in my rig than I have available.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote | Report to administrator


We'd be honored to see your thoughtful opinions, so please share them.

If you wish to display a slick avatar with your comment, this connects to Gravatar as long as you use your email address (email addresses used here remain private).

Security code

Don't-Miss Daily Deals