Gear & Equipment

The 14 Best Basecamp Tents for Family Camping

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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 >>>


+4 / -10
# 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.
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Nathan Woods
+8 / -2
# 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?
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Mark Stephens
+1 / -1
# 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.
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Nathan Woods
0 / -1
# 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?
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