The 6 Best Camping Tents for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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Our Also great picks, the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 and Base Camp 6 tents, have been temporarily phased out for the season. They are set to return in spring 2024. Geodesic Dome Glamping

The 6 Best Camping Tents for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Whether you’re thinking of hitting the road or staying close to home for your next car-camping adventure, you and your loved ones will need a comfortable place to sleep.

After researching nearly 100 tents, talking to tent designers and tent-pole manufacturers, and sleeping in a total of 51 tents on 12 weekend camping trips over seven years, we’ve concluded that the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 Tent is the best car-camping tent for two people, and the Kelty Wireless 6 is the best choice for most families.

Easy to set up and pack away, the Mineral King 3 is a lightweight, two-door tent with a generous footprint and a sturdy dome shape. It’s the perfect choice for three-season multipurpose camping.

Spacious and easy to pitch, this dome tent also has other features most families need: two large doors, roomy vestibules, and an affordable price. The tradeoffs: bulky fiberglass poles and flimsy stakes.

With nearly 60 square feet of floor space plus two large vestibules, the Tungsten 4 is roomier than our top-pick tent for couples. It also costs more, though, and is less forgiving of a careless set-up.

Great for backyard overnights, this simple dome-style tent is for anyone who doesn't want to spend more than $150 on a tent but also doesn't want to buy another one next year. It has a partial rain fly, but only one door and no vestibule.

This dome-style tent has nearly vertical walls, high ceilings, and a single vestibule the size of an actual mudroom. It’s also straightforward to set up, and it is made with sturdy, light materials. It’s expensive, but you get value for your money.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for couples who want to get outside in any weather. It’s pricey, though, and unless the other couples’ tents we recommend, it doesn’t include a footprint.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for families who want to get outside in any weather. It's the most expensive of our picks, though.

Easy to set up and pack away, the Mineral King 3 is a lightweight, two-door tent with a generous footprint and a sturdy dome shape. It’s the perfect choice for three-season multipurpose camping.

The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 Tent is the best car-camping tent choice for couples. It has everything you need for three-season camping, with the bonus of being light enough to double as an occasional backpacking tent. Although it’s designed to accommodate three people—hence the “3” in its name—we found that at 42.5 square feet, the tent is more comfortable for two, plus gear and maybe a medium-size dog. A classic polyester dome tent, the Mineral King 3 uses two high-quality pre-bent aluminum poles, which maximize head and shoulder space, making this tent feel less cramped than other dome tents we tested. Two large doors provide easy entry and exit, and a vestibule—that’s camping speak for “mudroom”—outside each door adds significant sheltered storage. The Mineral King 3 has a full rain fly, which you can roll up halfway or completely remove for epic stargazing. It also comes with a groundsheet (aka footprint) to protect the tent floor.

Spacious and easy to pitch, this dome tent also has other features most families need: two large doors, roomy vestibules, and an affordable price. The tradeoffs: bulky fiberglass poles and flimsy stakes.

The Kelty Wireless 6 is a spacious tent that is easy to pitch, and it offers solid weather protection and durability for a reasonable price. Like the Mineral King 3, it has a simple, dome-style design that maximizes livability and minimize headaches. With 87 square feet of interior space, plus 28 square feet of vestibule space, the polyester tent fits four adults comfortably, or two adults with two or three children, with plenty of room to store gear and muddy boots. (As its name indicates, it’s meant to house six people, but we wouldn’t recommend that.) The Wireless 6 has two large doors and a full rain fly. Like most tents we saw in its price range, the Wireless 6 uses cheaper materials: Its poles (two, plus a “brow” pole that supports the two vestibules) are fiberglass, and its stakes are too light for their size (two bent during testing). Unlike the competition, this tent is functional, durable, and a joy to inhabit in most weather conditions. (We did notice that the fly took longer to dry than others we tested; don’t put it away while it’s still damp, or it’ll mildew.) It packs into a duffle with a handy shoulder strap and weighs about 17 pounds—manageable for most people across short distances. As with most six-person tents we’ve seen, this tent’s footprint is sold separately.

With nearly 60 square feet of floor space plus two large vestibules, the Tungsten 4 is roomier than our top-pick tent for couples. It also costs more, though, and is less forgiving of a careless set-up.

Though the Marmot Tungsten 4-Person Tent lacks the Mineral King 3’s adaptable fly, which makes access and protection from the elements such a breeze, the Tungsten 4 provides more living space and equal protection against the elements. A full rain fly with easy-attach color-coded clips covers the tent body and adds two large vestibules. Like the Mineral King 3, the Tungsten has aluminum poles that are connected at the top (for lightning-quick pitching) and pre-bent, which increases the dome tent’s headroom. With pentagonal doors and a fly scaffolded by two brow poles—as opposed to the Mineral King 3’s single one—this tent provides excellent shielding from multidirectional wind and rain, providing you follow the setup instructions faithfully. The Tungsten 4’s poles are bent at a more acute angle and closer to the ground, which, we discovered, can cause the tent to collapse in windy conditions if you don’t attach the poles to the fly using the Velcro tabs running under the seams. You can also set up the tent without the fly while retaining some privacy, since the tent body has a high polyester wall on one side. Like the Mineral King 3, this tent comes with a footprint.

Great for backyard overnights, this simple dome-style tent is for anyone who doesn't want to spend more than $150 on a tent but also doesn't want to buy another one next year. It has a partial rain fly, but only one door and no vestibule.

The best-selling Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent has a footprint larger (100 square feet) than that of our top-pick tent for families, but it felt smaller because it has a lower ceiling, no vestibule, and only one door. Nevertheless, it still comfortably accommodates four people, and it’s a roomy choice for two. This no-nonsense tent is intuitive to set up, has mesh on the top halves of two walls, includes a partial rain fly that’s easy to put on and stake out, and feels cheery inside and out. (We don’t recommend the smaller version of this tent for couples who might actually take it on the road; it was just too flimsy in our tests.) Also note that this tent does not come with its own groundsheet. Coleman says that the tent doesn’t need one, probably because its floor is a crinkly (though tough) tarp-like polyethylene, not a taped-seam polyester as in our other picks.

This dome-style tent has nearly vertical walls, high ceilings, and a single vestibule the size of an actual mudroom. It’s also straightforward to set up, and it is made with sturdy, light materials. It’s expensive, but you get value for your money.

The North Face Wawona 6 costs $200 more than the Wireless 6, but if you can swing the price, the tent offers a superior combination of livable space, smart design, and durable, high-quality materials (aluminum and heavy-duty polyester and mesh). Its fly extends into a huge front vestibule that can store large items like bikes, or even accommodate a table and chairs. Adults over 6 feet tall will be able to walk upright inside this tent—which has almost-vertical walls that can easily accommodate beds, cribs, and cots—as well as in the vestibule. We also appreciated the tent’s construction, which combines good ventilation (the upper part of the canopy walls are mesh) with campsite privacy (those mesh bits are covered by the fly, which reaches only halfway down the tent on the back and sides). And this tent is easy to set up and pack down, especially considering its size. (It comes with a carrying bag equipped with duffle-style handles.) You’re unlikely to find a similar-sized tent that matches the Wawona’s quality and features for less money—most comparable tents we tested cost much more. As with most six-person tents, the Wawona 6’s footprint is sold separately.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for couples who want to get outside in any weather. It’s pricey, though, and unless the other couples’ tents we recommend, it doesn’t include a footprint.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for families who want to get outside in any weather. It's the most expensive of our picks, though.

The REI Co-op Base Camp 4 and Base Camp 6 tents have been temporarily phased out for the season. They are set to return in spring 2024.

Car campers who plan to brave miserable weather will appreciate the extra strength and protection of the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent. The main bodies of our other picks are structured with two main poles with added support from smaller brow poles. The Base Camp, by contrast, has four full-size aluminum struts woven throughout it, somewhat like a basket, plus an additional brow pole that frames the front entrance and supports the larger of the two vestibules. The Base Camp also offers more privacy compared with our other picks—with or without the rain fly. Our other favorite features are the tent’s two wide doors, which you can open halfway from either direction or open fully (you can tuck the doors into “roof pockets” to keep them out of the way), turning the tent into a useful beach tent or sun shade.

Families who regularly pitch their tent in rainy locales need a wind-fighting tent with a good-size vestibule for storing wet shoes and gear, as well as a full rain fly for added weather protection. With almost 45 feet of vestibule space and four stability-enhancing criss-crossing poles, the next size up of REI’s Base Camp, the Base Camp 6 Tent, offers the best combination of space and features among the six tents we tested that fit those criteria. A footprint for each model is sold separately.

An avid hiker, camper, and long-haul road-tripper, Claire Wilcox has slept in (and occasionally improvised) tents in 11 states. She covers outdoor gear for Wirecutter and worked on the most recent update of this guide, testing couples’ tents and family tents. She lives on Oahu, Hawaii.

A senior staff writer at Wirecutter, Kit Dillon has written about everything from backpacks and cooking gear to luggage and road-tripping. When he was younger, he worked for five years on oil rigs as an NDT (non-destructive testing) inspector, testing metal and welds for signs of corrosion, rust, and whatever other breakdowns and chaos might happen to the steel in the ocean. It is oddly relevant work for testing aluminum tent poles.

This guide also builds on the work of Kalee Thompson, a senior editor at Wirecutter.

For this guide, we focused on tents that suit the most common terrains you’re likely to encounter when car-camping—grassy lawns or clearings, beaches, dirt campsites, and basic platforms—in spring, summer, and fall. We’re not looking at tents designed for such specialized activities as mountaineering, backpacking, or winter camping, though some of our recommendations have cross-over potential.

Even if you’re not seeking any extreme-weather adventures, you’ll still need something that can withstand whatever the elements throw your way. The tents we discuss here are designed to keep you comfortable in wind, rain, and even light snow. (If you find yourself in a lightning storm, it’s best to seek shelter in your car or abandon the adventure for a motel, especially if you’re camping in an exposed area.)

Finding a small, light tent is the logical approach when you’re backpacking. But with car camping—the industry term for what most people consider just camping—you’ll likely be parking next to your campsite and unloading. If you won’t be carrying your tent more than a couple hundred feet, more space means more comfort (as well as more room for your stuff).

After putting in about 40 hours studying online reviews and company websites, as well as spending time consulting with frequent campers (both with and without kids) and considering our own diverse car-camping experiences, we evaluated the options (about 100, in the course of the past seven years) according to the following criteria:

The right capacity: Tent makers measure tent capacity by how many people can fit in them sardine-style, lying inside mummy bags. That means you can fit six adults in a six-person tent—but you probably wouldn’t want to do that, because those adults would be sleeping hip to hip, with little spare room for gear.

We concluded that the best option for two people is actually a large three-person, or smaller four-person, tent that’s 40 to 60 square feet in size. For families with three to five members, we concluded that the best option is a tent rated for six people that’s between 80 and 100 square feet. Also, the height should be at least six feet, which allows most adults to comfortably stand upright inside. “When you camp with kids, you camp with a lot of gear,” Helen Olsson, author of The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids, told us. Olsson has three kids, a dog, and a six-foot-two husband. Bigger is better when it comes to car camping, she said: “Look for a base-camp-style tent that is meant for when you pull up in your car and pitch your tent right there.” All of the tents we considered fall into that category.

A dome shape: Usually designed around two- or three-pole arches, dome-style tents tend to be stronger than cabin-style designs, which maximize ceiling height by sacrificing some structural integrity. The dome shape does reduce overall livable space, but it’s better at deflecting winds and shedding rain, something you’re likely to appreciate if an unexpected storm hits. Our picks are all dome-style tents.

Adequate weatherproofing and durability: A good dome-style tent should be able to withstand high winds and driving rain without pitching or collapsing. We assumed that most car campers would likely not be camping in snow, so we focused on three-season models instead. Most of the tents we looked at could handle an unexpected flurry or a coating of frost, but we wouldn’t intentionally take them on a winter-camping trip.

Tent makers generally treat the fabrics with a water-repellent coating described in millimeters; 1,200 mm to 3,000 mm is the typical range found on family tents. That number does not refer to the thickness of the coating or the fabric; instead, it measures a specific test of water pressure, namely, how many millimeters of water can sit on top of the material before water starts leaking through. (As a Coleman product manager told us, “Nothing’s waterproof, not even submarines. Given the right conditions anything will leak.”) A higher number means better water resistance, but such stronger coatings aren’t always necessary: As this MSR blog post explains, “the more coating you add, the heavier and more rigid the fabric becomes, and—after a point—the more susceptible to tearing.” A typical umbrella has a rating of only 420 mm, the company’s experts point out, and it does just fine at keeping you dry.

It’s natural to focus on the quality of a tent’s rain fly—you need that piece to work when the skies open up. But according to our experts, the durability of the floor of your tent is actually more important.  Tent designer Bob Howe, who has developed models for nearly every major tent maker, including Easton, Marmot, The North Face, REI, and Sierra Designs, said that when it comes to a tent floor, two lightweight layers are often stronger than one heavy layer; he suggested using a groundsheet or footprint, even with a high-quality tent floor. If the tent you buy doesn’t come with a footprint (two of our recommended tents, the Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 and the Marmot Tungsten 4, do), we recommend purchasing a companion footprint, if one is available. A footprint doesn’t take up much space, is relatively inexpensive, and is much easier to repair or replace than a tent bottom if it tears. A basic tarp can do in a pinch.

The right materials for the job: On most tents, the walls and flies are made of either nylon or polyester. Nylon weighs less but more susceptible to UV damage, which makes it better for backpacking, when a tent spends most of its daylight hours packed up. Car campers generally leave their tents up for much longer periods of time, increasing the material’s UV exposure. As polyester is stiffer and heavier than nylon but not as susceptible to UV damage, Howe told us, and it doesn’t absorb water like nylon does, it’s generally better for car camping. It’s also less expensive.

To compare tent fabrics, you also need to know their overall rip strength. For most fabrics, rip strength is expressed as a measurement of the diameter of the fibers in their thread, or a denier—the higher the denier, the stronger the fabric. We found 40 denier up to 150 denier to be typical for car-camping tents; you can read more about these measurements in gear manufacturer MSR’s blog post and in this Outside article.

As for poles, Howe explained to us that each material has its advantages and drawbacks: Aluminum poles are far lighter and slide together more easily but cost more, while fiberglass-and-steel poles are often trickier to fit together and can leave splinters in your palms. They can, however, be stronger in high winds.

Ease of setup: We looked for dummy-proof tents that were intuitive to set up and that a lone person could erect fairly quickly. If you’ve ever arrived at a campsite after dark with two small kids who have been stewing in the backseat for hours, you know that dealing with a tent is often a one-person job. We’ve also found that a car-camping tent is the kind of item your friends may want to borrow from time to time. Those friends may well be novice campers, so we wanted something that the uninitiated but reasonably intelligent could erect, even if the original instructions had disappeared long ago. (You’re going to lose the instructions. Everyone loses the instructions.)

We also wanted self-standing tents, which can stay up on their own. Even so, you should, ideally, stake down each corner securely; in some crowded campgrounds, however, finding a flat spot with soil soft enough to do that can be difficult. A tent that requires staking to stand up—especially a larger, six-person tent—is unwieldy, and it’ll be impossible to set up on a hard surface such as blacktop or on raised wooden tent decks.

It is also important to consider the way in which the tent poles attach to the tent. Many of our picks use grommet attachments, which are more secure and simple to repair than key attachments if anything should break.

Some of our tent picks also have guy-line systems that secure their outer rain fly—although most people probably won’t need to use those often. Guy-line systems are somewhat unique to each tent, with every model boasting its own specific rope bites and tie-downs. (Kit scoured YouTube tutorials and found this video to be the most informative tutorial on guy lines. With this video and a little practice, you’ll soon be pitching tents like a pro.)

Affordability: Car-camping tents should be relatively inexpensive. They don’t need to be the top of the line or made of the lightest possible materials or the most advanced fabrics (something you’d likely look for in a pure backpacking tent). We decided that the tents for this guide should not be precious items—but they shouldn’t be disposable, either. When we researched couples’ tents in 2022, we found no tents below $150 worth considering; our cap was $400. For our 2023 family tent testing, after completing our research we realized that $500 was now the average price for a good-quality tent. Below this amount, the flaws and tradeoffs started to mount. Still, we felt that $500 was a lot to pay for a family tent, so we looked for options that were more affordable and didn’t sacrifice too much.

Extra features: Stake design, pole strength and arrangements, rain-fly tie-downs, door construction, zipper strength, and gear-loft placements all play a role in the overall comfort and enjoyment of your tent. We also considered privacy, vestibules, extra headroom, and any other bonuses.

Once we had our criteria nailed down, we scoured Amazon reviews of four- and six-person tents, as well as owner reviews on retailer sites such as Backcountry, Cabela’s, Campmor, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Eastern Mountain Sports, L.L.Bean, and REI, plus professional reviews from GearJunkie and GearLab. We perused the lines of outdoor companies like Big Agnes, Marmot, and The North Face. And we studied the offerings of big-box stores including Costco, Sears, Target, and Walmart. We then requested test samples of the models that met our criteria and also had a consistent record of positive reviews.

For earlier incarnations of this guide, we tested tents in Arizona (alongside Lake Mead and just south of the Hualapai reservation, near the Grand Canyon) and southern California (near Joshua Tree National Park; at the Mountain Oak Campground, an hour or so east of Los Angeles; and at Wheeler Gorge Campground, outside Ojai, California).

After our longtime top-pick tent for two people ran into some stock issues in 2021, we researched new models and redesigns, and we assembled a batch of small tents for testing in March 2022, on Oahu. Over two blustery March weekends, we pitched eight tents in an exposed ocean-fronting yard on the northwestern coast of the island by Kaena Point State Park, leaving the tents up for 48 hours to face the salt air, the wind, and the rain while we tested. During this period, winds rose up to 35 to 40 knots, and we experienced passing showers as well as direct sunlight and 80-degree temperatures. To mimic heavier rain and to test the tent’s ability to withstand soggy ground conditions, we also soaked our tents with a garden hose. A few weeks later, we brought the front-runners to a platform in an area that had higher elevation, near the Waianae Mountain Range, and camped out overnight in intermittent but consistent rainfall.

In 2022–2023, we tested 15 six-person tents on Oahu, pitching them once again in both coastal and higher mountain locations, where they encountered the full range of Hawaii’s mercurial winter weather patterns, including winds ranging from 10 to 40 mph, passing squalls, direct sun, and good old fashioned buckets of rain. Temperatures ranged from the 50s at night to the 80s during the day.

To test the tents, we first opened them, splayed out their parts, and tried to put them together without consulting the instructions. We assembled and disassembled the tents on all of our testing sites multiple times. We tried the rain fly for each tent as well, one time rushing to get several of them up during an unexpected rainstorm at night. When heavy trade winds buffeted our Oahu-coast testing site, we pitched each tent in full face of the blast. We then rotated the tents looking for structural weaknesses, and we tested their guy lines and tabs to see which tents had the best and most intuitive design for withstanding wind.

Throughout all our testing, we wanted to know how it felt to be inside the tents for long periods of time. Did we feel claustrophobic or rejuvenated? If we had to spend a day in the tent during a storm, would it be comfortable? After first removing the models that failed the structural tests, we slept, watched the stars, and ate our meals in all of the tents, as well as planned hikes from them.

Easy to set up and pack away, the Mineral King 3 is a lightweight, two-door tent with a generous footprint and a sturdy dome shape. It’s the perfect choice for three-season multipurpose camping.

The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 Tent was the favorite tent of testers at our Oahu coastal and mountain locations. Through rainy nights and soggy mornings, on windy afternoons, and under an intense midday sun, this tent’s primarily polyester mesh body, two large doors, and adaptable polyester fly kept us dry, well ventilated, and in good spirits.

We were surprised at first to see the Mineral King 3 come out on top because it was the smallest tent in our test group. But all our testers, including our tallest panelists, gravitated toward this tent.

What sets the Mineral King 3 apart is its combination of easy setup, solid weather resistance, and livability in variable conditions. It comes with its own footprint, and is made of high-quality materials that are easy to handle. Simply put, it was the most effective, user-friendly tent in any situation we encountered. It also delivered a little something extra: Not only did the Mineral King 3 keep us sheltered in shifting weather, but key design features—such as a barely-there mesh canopy, generous vestibule space, and a well-placed toggle on top of the rain fly—kept us connected to the environment.

One night during testing, for example, clouds loomed in the distance with clear skies overhead. After we pitched the tent, the Mineral King 3’s adaptable fly let us leave half the mesh dome uncovered. We watched as night fell and the first stars appeared. At the first sign of rain, it took only a few seconds—and a quick hand stuck outside the tent—to unfurl the fly and secure it for a dry night’s sleep. When we awoke, we could roll back one part of the vestibule, make coffee, and watch the sky lighten even though it was still raining.

Despite having the smallest capacity of the tents we tested—42.5 square feet—the Mineral King 3 easily fits two people with a full-size mattress, or two sleeping pads, and gear. Two large vestibules add nearly 40 square feet combined—that is, 18.75 square feet on either side.

Setting up this tent is simple: You stake out the four corners, extend the tent’s two pre-connected poles, and dock them into grommets. The tent’s body attaches to the poles via plastic clips, and a third pole (the “brow”) fits into two grommets sewn into a seam above the tent’s two doors. These now-common clip-style setups are generally intuitive and can be accomplished in minutes. Certainly this was true of the Mineral King 3. Under good conditions one person pitched the tent in under five minutes. In high winds, it took us 10 minutes to pitch and fully secure the tent fly with extra lines and stakes.

All three poles—two main poles and the shorter brow pole—are made of strong, lightweight aluminum and come pre-bent and pre-connected. The bend in the poles has a subtle yet significant affect on the tent’s structure and interior feel: As you clip the tent fabric to the poles to create the dome, bends pull the mesh outward in the head and shoulder area. Where traditional dome tents often feel cramped, the Mineral King 3 offers a little extra space. Only one other couples’ tent we tested had this feature—our runner-up, the Marmot Tungsten 4—and we found it made both tents more livable.

We also appreciated the shepherd’s hook stakes that come with the tent. Most of the tents we tested came with basic L-shaped stakes, which tended to spin around in the soil and slip a line. The shepherd’s hook design, in contrast, held lines secure.

Underneath the fly, the Mineral King 3 has a full mesh dome with a waterproof, tape-seamed bathtub-style polyester floor. The overall feeling inside the tent is airy and comfortable. The tent doors are nearly wall-sized, and after you unzip them, you simply stuff them into pockets, rather than having to roll and toggle-tie the fabric. Another two hanging pockets plus loops for a ceiling hammock provide simple yet effective interior storage.

The Mineral King 3’s fly attaches intuitively with plastic buckles and has well-placed guy tabs. You can secure the fly to the poles with Velcro ties underneath the fly, so that the extra lines anchored the whole tent, not just the thin protective fabric, but we only needed to do so in very windy conditions. When the fly is fully deployed, the tent has two vestibules, which provide additional gear storage and also help ventilate the tent in inclement weather. And in a stroke of design brilliance, a small loop sewn into the top of the fly makes it possible to roll up one half of the fly, exposing the full mesh canopy while still providing shade and privacy.

When the weather permits, it’s fun to omit the fly entirely, but a word to the wise for those planning a fly-less night: Besides providing protection from rain, the fly also helps manage condensation. Though condensation (video) occurs in all conditions, it’s worse when your surroundings are wet and humid, and anytime you have a large temperature difference between the inside and outside of a tent. But if your tent has a breathable inner layer, like the mesh walls of the Mineral King 3, condensation will gather on the fly instead of on the interior of the tent itself.

At $350, the Mineral King 3 isn’t cheap. But it’s one of the least expensive tents we found that had no significant drawbacks and will truly cover your bases for three-season camping. The tent also comes with its own footprint, a groundsheet that protects the tent from abrasion, which we recommend that you have.

Weighing just 7 pounds, the tent is light enough to double for backpacking trips, especially if you divide the pieces among hikers.

Note: The Mineral King 3 was the only tent in our test group free of fire-retardant chemicals. That means it’s less likely to contain potentially hazardous materials, but it is also less fireproof than tents coated in flame retardants. As always, it’s a good idea to pitch your tent far away from any open fires.

Our only quibble with the Mineral King 3 is that it comes with only six stakes. (Our runner-up pick comes with eight.) Six is enough to secure the tent and fly but not to fully secure the tent’s extra lines in very windy conditions. This shouldn’t be an issue in most situations, but if you’re headed into a particularly windy place or simply want some backup, we suggest picking up four extra tent stakes at your local outdoor shop or online. These inexpensive stakes are comparable to the ones that accompany the Mineral King 3; these slightly more expensive stakes will serve you well in any car-camping terrain.

Claimed weight (including fly, tent poles, and carry bag): 7 pounds 1.2 ounces

Claimed packed size: 25 by 7 inches

Tent floor area: 42.5 square feet

Spacious and easy to pitch, this dome tent also has other features most families need: two large doors, roomy vestibules, and an affordable price. The tradeoffs: bulky fiberglass poles and flimsy stakes.

After researching 30 six-person tents and testing 15 side by side on a total of five trips, we chose the Kelty Wireless 6 as the best entry-level camping tent for most families. It’s spacious, easy to set up, has weather protection, and is durable, all at an affordable price. The Wireless 6 lacks some of the premium materials found in pricier tents, but it features solid workmanship and should provide dependable, comfortable shelter in most three-season camping situations.

Like our couples’ tent pick, the Wireless 6 is a dome-shaped tent with a tried and true two-pole design. It has an interior footprint of 87 square feet, which sleeps four adults on single pads, or two adults and two or three children, and can accommodate a crib. It has two large doors, and a peak height of 6-foot-3. That wasn’t the tallest we encountered—the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 and the Alps Mountaineering Camp Creek 6 each topped out at 7 feet—but it’s enough space for most adults to maneuver standing up. The tent comes with a full rain fly that adds two vestibules for storage (each 14 square feet), totaling 115 square feet of livable space—which is fairly generous yet still practical for most campsites.

The Wireless 6 goes up easily, using the same kind of intuitive pole and clip method as our couples’ pick. The fly is equally simple to attach and orient with color-coded clips. A single person can pitch the tent in 10 to 15 minutes. (Users under 5-foot-5 may need some help fastening the highest clip. At 5-foot-3, Claire managed with a little hop.) Instead of grommets or keys, reinforced fabric sleeves hold the tent-pole ends, a particularly thoughtful feature that suits the tent’s budget fiberglass-and-steel poles. This type of pole tends to be less flexible and bulkier than pricier aluminum, and it can be a pain to handle.

Like most dome-style tents, the Wireless 6 withstands wind like a champ—it fared noticeably better than the Camp Creek 6 in 15-mph gusts. The continuous curve of the dome shape allows for wind to pass over and around it. You can also get a nice cross breeze going by leaving the vestibules open. On sunny days and clear nights, take off the fly and enjoy the sky through the tent’s clear mesh canopy. Some testers, though, thought the tent was stuffy when the fly was fully closed and the sun was out.

The Wireless 6 kept us dry in everything from scattered showers to serious downpours. As always, the vestibule is useful in rain: It gives you extra breathing room and a place to store boots—or tired feet still wearing boots.

The Wireless 6’s drawbacks have mainly to do with material quality. First, it uses fiberglass poles. These can be as strong, or even more so, than aluminum poles (especially cheap ones), but they’re always bulkier, heavier, and not as nice to handle. However, the Wireless 6’s poles were the best fiberglass ones we tested—they left no splinters, unlike those on the Camp Creek 6 or the Copper Canyon LX 6.

Though the Wireless’s fly kept water out of the tent’s interior, it took longer to fully dry once the rain stopped than some others we tested. It uses a 1200mm waterproof coating on 68 denier fabric, which didn’t seem to bead as well as higher-rated fabrics, such as those on the The North Face Wawona 6 or the REI Co-op Base Camp 6 (each of those have 1500mm coatings). If you don’t have time to let the fly dry before you pack the Wireless in its duffle, we recommend laying it out when you get home so it doesn't mildew in storage.

We were not particularly impressed by the quality of the Wireless 6’s stakes: They felt light, and two of the eight bent during our testing. The Wireless 6 also doesn’t come with a footprint, so you’ll have to purchase or make that separately. But to be fair, only one six-person tent we tested comes with a footprint, and that tent costs $950!

Claimed weight (including fly and tent poles): 17 pounds 3 ounces

Claimed packed size: 27 by 8 inches

Tent floor area: 86.9 square feet

With nearly 60 square feet of floor space plus two large vestibules, the Tungsten 4 is roomier than our top-pick tent for couples. It also costs more, though, and is less forgiving of a careless set-up.

If the Mineral King 3 is out of stock, or if you’d like a slightly larger tent, we recommend the Marmot Tungsten 4. The Tungsten 4 shares many of the Mineral King 3’s best features, and provides 10 square feet of additional living space as well as excellent weather protection—as long as you set it up properly. Like our top pick, the Tungsten 4 is a sturdy, two-door dome-style tent that can be deployed in about 5 minutes. It uses high-quality materials such as aluminum poles, breathable mesh, and water-resistant polyester fabric, and it comes with a full fly and a footprint. The Tungsten 4’s larger size accounts for the higher price tag (about $40 more), but campers who would like that extra room may find the expense worthwhile.

The Mineral King 3 and the Tungsten 4 have similar shapes, and their pitching process is nearly identical, except that the Tungsten 4 uses two brow poles instead of one. Both tents feature pre-connected poles, and they use the same clipping method to attach the tent body. Marmot provides color-coded buckles to help users orient the Tungsten’s fly, a feature the Mineral King 3 lacks.

Like the Mineral King 3, the Tungsten 4 has a mesh canopy, though the opaque polyester part of its walls go higher, and provide more privacy, than the Mineral King’s. Its tape-seamed bathtub floor and fly had no problem handling rain. The Tungsten’s fly is not adaptable in the same way the Mineral King 3’s is, but it is treated for extra UV protection, which should help lengthen the tent’s lifespan.

In terms of how the two tents feel, the Marmot Tungsten 4 is more geared toward hunkering down and providing stalwart defense against wind, rain, and sun. In contrast to the Mineral King 3’s triangular vestibules, the Tungsten 4’s vestibules are trapezoidal, opening via a central door with protected areas on either side. This design does a better job shielding the tent from incoming—and sideways—wind and rain. The Tungsten’s two brow poles create an especially effective awning over the tent door, so very little water gets in when someone comes or goes.

Marmot uses color coding smartly to help you position the tent as well as set it up. Both of the doors zip open to the side that’s color-coded blue, as opposed to zipping open to opposite sides. This means the vestibules equally protect the doors, rather than providing opposite entries and exits—the latter creates a situation where, in stormy weather, one side of the tent is always more exposed to blustering wind or rain. In other words, one partner—or one partner’s gear—is always going to get a dose of weather when they head out. The Tungsten 4 design equalizes exposure and protection.

In the current version of the Marmot Tungsten 4, we did notice a weakness in the tent’s pole design absent in earlier versions of the tent: The pre-bent joints seem sensitive to the wind. Here's what we observed. Without the fly, the tent’s poles were stable in windy condition. With the added weight of the fly, the poles sometimes twisted, causing the tent to accordion inward and lose its shape wherever it was most exposed. If we Velcroed the fly directly to the poles in these areas—as the directions say to—the tent regained its structural integrity. We suspect that the bends in the current Tungsten’s poles, which are lower to the ground than in the Mineral King 3’s poles, are too acute. (Neither the Mineral King 3 nor any straight-poled dome tent we tested collapsed in this way.) Also, like the Mineral King 3, this tent is short on stakes. Ideally, Marmot would provide another six, in addition to the eight that come with it.

Like our top pick, the Tungsten 4 comes with a footprint. Unlike our top pick, the Tungsten 4 is coated with flame retardants.

Claimed minimum weight (including fly and tent poles): 7 pounds 15 ounces

Claimed packed size: 24.8 by 8.3 inches

Tent floor area: 52.7 square feet

Great for backyard overnights, this simple dome-style tent is for anyone who doesn't want to spend more than $150 on a tent but also doesn't want to buy another one next year. It has a partial rain fly, but only one door and no vestibule.

The square footprint, ample windows, and functional fly of the Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent make it a good choice for occasional or backyard campers who want an inexpensive tent that is easy to put up, and looks and feels reasonably nice to camp in.

Unlike some cheap tents we’ve tested over the years, the Coleman Sundome has a simple shape and pole design that should be easy for even inexperienced campers to figure out. The base is a square: Two identical fiberglass poles feed through sleeves on the tent roof to form an X. Pegs at the corners of the tent slip into the ends of the poles, and then the dome-shaped tent pops up (video).

The separate fly, which covers the upper half of the tent, uses a third, shorter “brow” pole to form protective peaks over the door and the back window. In our tests, an experienced camper took only about six minutes on the first try to set up the tent body alone and stake it out. Getting the fly placed and staked properly took about five more minutes. That’s pretty fast.

Measuring 10 by 10 feet, the Sundome covers an area larger than that of our family-tent top pick though its lower roof leaves it with less headroom. (The Sundome’s center height is exactly six feet, while the Wireless 6 and The North Face Wawona 6 each reach six-foot-four.) The Sundome has only one door, which can be inconvenient, especially for someone trying to slip out of the tent without waking anyone.

Like the REI Co-op Base Camp tents, the Sundome combines high polyester walls with mesh higher up to facilitate stargazing, should you use the tent without the fly, without sacrificing privacy (two of the four walls have mesh from about thigh height up to the roof). That mesh also keeps the tent feeling airy and cool in hot climates.

The biggest material difference between the Sundome and our other picks is its crunchy, tarp-like polyethylene floor. The other tents in this guide all have bathtub-style tape-seamed polyester floors, which is the standard among high-quality tents. The Sundome’s tarp is clearly a budget material, but for what it was, we found it user-friendly. It’s easy to mop up after wet paws and spills, and it doesn’t hold moisture. It’s unlikely to be as durable, though, as the softer, stronger polyester found in our other picks.

Coleman makes no dedicated footprints for its tents—the idea being that the polyethylene is tough enough not to need one. (Still, we suggest that you buy a groundsheet.) The tent has two small, internal pockets—fewer than on any of our other picks—and a loop at the ceiling center to hang a small, lightweight light. It also comes with a little doormat. The tent weighs just 16 pounds, less than any other family tent we tested for this guide.

Although our test tent lasted through two moderate showers with no leaking, be aware that a couple of Amazon buyers have experienced leaking in rainstorms and poles breaking in high winds. When it comes to tents, you tend to get pretty close to what you pay for. If you’re likely to be camping in downpours or high winds, don’t rely on a sub-$150 tent.

Claimed weight (including fly and tent poles): 16 pounds

Claimed packed size: 23.89 by 6.22 inches

Tent floor area: 100 square feet

This dome-style tent has nearly vertical walls, high ceilings, and a single vestibule the size of an actual mudroom. It’s also straightforward to set up, and it is made with sturdy, light materials. It’s expensive, but you get value for your money.

If you can afford to spend more on a family tent, we recommend The North Face Wawona 6. Everyone who tested this tent loved it, and it’s not hard to understand why. With plenty of interior space, near-vertical walls, and a gigantic vestibule that could accommodate a golf cart, the Wawona feels more like a tiny home than a tent.

At $500, this modified dome-style tent isn’t cheap, but it represents substantial value. Many tents with similar profiles—such as the Big Agnes Dog House 6—either cost more or require you buy the tent body and attachable vestibule separately. The Wawona doesn’t come with a footprint—few tents this size do—but it’s otherwise all-inclusive, and it is compact considering how much livable space you get. The price also reflects the high quality of the materials, such as the four reinforced aluminum poles, which weigh little yet result in a remarkably strong tent.

The Wawona 6 is more complex to set up than a classic dome-style tent like the Wireless 6, but not by much. We recommend doing it with two people, but one person can manage in about 15 minutes. As with any free-standing tent, with this one you stake out the four corners, and then you feed the two main tent poles through the Wawona’s fabric sleeves, which go halfway down the tent’s body. The North Face’s color-coded poles make this process easy to navigate. Orienting the fly took us a minute on our first try. (We were stubborn and didn’t look at the instructions.) Once you identify the front and back, the process is straightforward. The fly goes up and over the tent body, covering only the upper half of the mesh dome, and then forms the glorious vestibule with the aid of a third pole. Use the extra stakes and guy-lines provided to stabilize the vestibule as much as you need.

Once you set up the Wawona 6, you may not want to leave. Adults as tall as 6-foot-3 can move about this tent standing upright. With a 44-square-foot vestibule, and 86 square feet of interior living space, the tent has plenty of room to house beds, cribs, gear, pets, and camping furniture. Zippered doors can enclose the vestibule fully, so it serves as a separate room for the tent, or you can leave one or both open, so the vestibule can act like a porch or mudroom. The main tent body has a giant front door that’s oriented to make entry and exit easy for all the tent’s occupants at night, and a smaller back window that doubles as a second door.

The Wawona 6’s side-walls are high and straight, but the structure stays very stable in wind thanks to a final pole that wraps around the front and sides—and thanks to the absence of any acute angles in the poles. We were skeptical about the vestibule’s ability to handle wind, since it’s big and supported by a single pole, but it stood fast in 30 mph oceanside gusts and 15 mph hilltop winds.

The Wawona did equally well in rain. Its walls are 75-denier polyester fabric (tougher than the Wireless 6’s 68-denier polyester and the same as the REI Co-op Base Camp’s) that extends about two-thirds up the tent’s sides, and then is topped with mesh. The partial fly does a great job of keeping rain out of the upper, mesh areas, and cleverly placed vents maintain airflow so it never feels too stuffy. (You can also roll up the fly on the two sides to expose the mesh and let in more light.) Thanks to the high opaque walls, users have the privacy to change standing upright and plenty of storage options to stash their gear, including ceiling pockets and a three-pocket back window organizer.

The Wawona 6 uses no flame retardants. This is great for avoiding potential exposure to hazardous chemicals, but you should pitch the tent well away from any open flames.

In terms of flaws, there aren’t much to speak of with the Wawona 6, apart from the price. The North Face offers a limited lifetime warranty on the tent, and will repair most flaws and damage at its discretion.

Some campers might find the Wawona 6’s footprint unwieldy in smaller campsites, or they might simply prefer a tent with a more straightforward design. If you want a six-person tent made with high-quality materials but a traditional profile, we recommend the similarly priced Big Agnes Spicer Peak 6, or Nemo’s Aurora Highrise 6. MSR’s Habitude 6 is also a good tent, but it costs about $200 more. Unfortunately, you have to buy a separate groundsheet for the Wawona 6 and for most other tents its size as well.

Claimed weight (including fly and tent poles): 20 pounds 5 ounces

Claimed packed size: 32 by 10 inches

Tent floor area: 86.11 square feet

The REI Co-op Base Camp 4 and Base Camp 6 tents have been temporarily phased out for the season. They are set to return in spring 2024.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for couples who want to get outside in any weather. It’s pricey, though, and unless the other couples’ tents we recommend, it doesn’t include a footprint.

A full rain cover, two vestibules, and an extra-sturdy pole structure make this the best choice for families who want to get outside in any weather. It's the most expensive of our picks, though.

If you’re a more heavy-duty camper heading into an area with unpredictable weather and can afford to spend a bit more, the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent (for two people) and the REI Co-op Base Camp 6 Tent (for families) are both excellent choices. After many hours of testing, we found that the Base Camps’ reinforced four-pole structure and ultra-spacious interior and vestibules made them the most sturdy, flexible, and reliable models in our test group. (Unlike with our top and runner-up picks for couples, however, you do have to purchase a footprint for your Base Camp 4 tent separately, as well as for the Base Camp 6. REI makes dedicated ones for both the Base Camp 4 and the Base Camp 6. We recommend that you buy one to protect your tent’s floor.)

Superior vestibule space helped both the Base Camp 4 and the Base Camp 6 rise to the top of their respective test groups. On the Base Camp 4, the two vestibules (front and rear) add up to 44 square feet (the area of the tent itself is 60 square feet). That’s the most of any couples’ tents we tested. As for the Base Camp 6, the vestibule area covered by its front fly and rear fly is also 44 square feet (the interior measures 84 square feet). Only one six-person tent we tested had a larger vestibule: the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6. (The Big Agnes Big House 6 and the REI Co-op Wonderland 6 also have large vestibules, but you must purchase them separately, for an extra $200 and $125, respectively.)

The Base Camp tents include a low side vent and multiple stuff pockets on the walls and ceiling, which are made of 75D polyester treated with 1500mm of polyurethane waterproofing. Note that these tents are strictly meant for car camping; the Base Camp 4 and the Base Camp 6 weigh 16 and 21 pounds, respectively, so you won’t want to carry either one very far. Both come with storage sacks that you sling over one shoulder.

Both Base Camp tents have two doors and lots of mesh in the main tent body. But unlike the Mineral King 3 and the Tungsten 4, the mesh on each Base Camp tent starts high on the walls—more than 4 feet from the ground. This design is a big plus for people who regularly camp in crowded campgrounds and don’t like to get naked in front of strangers. And you can unzip the front door, remove it, and neatly stash it into one of the tent’s internal pockets—a useful feature if you’re feeling sociable.

The geodesic structure of the Base Camp tents is built to withstand wind and rain. It has two main that thread through sleeves, stretching between the four corners of the tent. Generally, we like clip-on designs better, since those are easier to put together, but in the case of the Base Camp models, the sleeves add extra tension and stability throughout the tent fabric. There are also two poles that arch over each doorway and down the sides of the tent to add extra shape and support; these attach to the tent body with clips. The rain fly has an additional tent pole, too, to support the vestibule. Overall, these poles—all of them aluminum—contribute to a particularly sturdy structure, with or without the rain fly. During our testing, our Base Camp shrugged off both a rainstorm and a desert windstorm as if they were nothing. Despite losing some headroom in comparison with the Kelty Wireless 6 and The North Face Wawona 6, both of which measure six-foot-four in height, the Base Camp 6 offers a substantial six-foot-two.

If anything happens to your Base Camp, REI’s warranty and replacement program has an impressive reputation. Kit lived in the 2013 version of the larger Base Camp 6 for seven months, and it stayed up the entire time, with the tent poles under constant tension—that is, until two of the poles snapped within a week of each other. After a short phone call, REI offered Kit a full replacement. (This was before Kit started reviewing tents for Wirecutter, so REI didn’t know who he was.)

Claimed weight (including fly and tent poles): 16 pounds 14 ounces

Claimed packed size: 20 by 10 inches

Tent floor area: 59.7 square feet

Claimed weight (including fly and tent poles): 20 pounds 10 ounces

Claimed packed size: 24 by 11 inches

Tent floor area: 84 square feet

If you need to save money and don’t need two doors: Try the Kelty Grand Mesa 4. When we first tested tents in 2016, the Grand Mesa was one of the few tents with a large mesh canopy. As this design became more common, the Kelty tent became less unusual and ultimately couldn’t compete  two-door models, which are more convenient for couples and have better ventilation. We think our top pick is a more well-rounded choice, but if you’re looking for a reasonably priced tent that’s just as easy to pitch, and you’re not fussed about having two doors, the Kelty Grand Mesa 4 is a good choice. It comes with a full rain fly but no footprint.

If the Coleman Sundome 6 is out of stock: Try the Core 6 Person Straight Wall Cabin Tent. Core Equipment is a relatively new company, popular on Amazon, whose products seem designed to compete directly with products from Coleman, an outdoor legacy brand that has been around 1900. We tested Core’s basic six-person dome-style and cabin-style tents, and each performed as well as the Coleman tent did. (The Core 6 Person Dome Tent that we tested has since been replaced by Core’s 6 Person Dome Plus Tent, which we plan to take a look at.) We can’t yet speak for the long-term durability of the tent—or the company—which is why we’re not making it our budget pick, but we’ll continue testing it.

If the Wireless 6 is out of stock or you’re camping in fair weather and prefer more indoor space: Try the Big Agnes Dog House 6. Although technically a dome tent like the Wireless 6, the Dog House 6 has walls that are more vertical, and more head and shoulder space as well—its peak height is 80 inches, taller than any of our picks. It also was the most affordable family tent we tested to use high-quality aluminum poles. So why is it not our top pick? Well, the Dog House 6 lacks a full fly and has no vestibule space.  Instead, it comes with a pre-attached, non-removable cap fly, and short awnings that don’t do much to protect the entry. We weren’t psyched to be in this tent even in light rain or when the wind picked up significantly.

If The North Face Wawona 6 is out of stock: Try the Big Agnes Spicer Peak 6 or the Nemo Aurora Highrise 6. Both of these tents are well-structured, dome-style tents with high-quality workmanship and design. We preferred the single huge vestibule of the Wawona 6 to the smaller front and back vestibules on these two tents, but either tent would be a good runner-up. Both contain about 83 square feet of space, but the Aurora has more of a bread-loaf shape with two big doors running lengthwise—great for kids who want to run in and out—and a peak height of six-foot-five, while the Spicer Peak has doors at the narrower ends, and a peak height of six-foot-eight.

For longer stays or families with older kids: Try the REI Co-op Wonderland 6. This is the redesign of REI Co-op’s beloved Kingdom 6 tent, which was a favorite among many family campers, including Wirecutter’s deputy editor Christine Cyr Clisset. Like the old Kingdom, the Wonderland is a delightful wagon-shaped tent with two round doors on either end. It has a massive interior, and comes with a room divider for privacy, good for families with older kids. REI Co-op changed the Wonderland’s pole design to increase its stability in wind, a weakness of the old Kingdom. We don’t yet know how well it stands up over time, but it handled 35 mph winds on the North Shore of Oahu without a problem. The tent has a partial fly and lots of interior storage, but no vestibule—and it costs a hefty $600. You can purchase an attachable mudroom for an additional $125; this substantially increases the footprint of an already large tent if you’re headed to a campsite with limited space.

If you want something that goes up instantly: Try the Coleman 6-Person Instant Cabin, which, thanks to telescoping, pre-attached poles, goes up and comes down much faster (in less than two minutes) than any other tent we tested. It also has no standalone fly, instead relying on a solid roof, which helps make setup easier. The drawback here is that this tent offers less protection from the elements and does less to reduce condensation than models with a separate fly. Although we were impressed by the Instant Cabin’s ease of setup, we thought that it was darker and less well ventilated than the Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent.

The North Face Wawona 4, which we used to list in our Other Good Tents section, has been redesigned; it's now made of polyester, not nylon. We’ll take another look at it soon.

We’ve tested (and recommended) Eureka tents in past versions of this guide. In October 2023, Eureka’s parent company, Johnson Outdoors, announced that it was discontinuing the Eureka brand. The product line, including its tents, should remain available through the end of 2024.

Alps Mountaineering Meramac 4-Person: Though this tent was sturdy (its poles were much heavier and of better quality than some of the other fiberglass poles we saw), it has no vestibule, and it didn’t offer as good ventilation as our picks when fully closed.

Eureka Kohana 4 Person Tent: The poles were finicky to insert and left the tent looking decidedly off-kilter.

Sierra Designs Tabernash 4: We had high hopes for this $150 tent, but the pole (once again, a fiberglass-and-steel design) meant to frame the Tabernash’s doorway and vestibule kept jumping out of its grommet, repeatedly collapsing the only point of entry.

Stoic Madrone 4 Tent: Although the Madrone 4 features lots of fun colors, it didn’t quite match similar tents in its price range in the overall quality of its construction and design.

Coleman 4-Person Pop-Up Tent: The Pop-Up Tent is packed into a 3-foot-wide carrying case that, when opened, shoots the tent forth like a snake-in-a-can gag gift. Presto—there’s your tent. The only problem is that it’s not a very good tent—only for backyard duty at best. Also, packing the tent back up is a nightmare.

Big Agnes Big House 4: This is a cabin-style tent that we tested as a control; we wanted to know whether a dome-style tent was really better than a cabin-style tent for two people. Though this tent offered a little more livable space, the broad, flat walls had some trouble during high winds.

Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent: We recommend this tent in its six-person design, but the four-person model we tested was too weak to support itself when subjected to even mild wind or rain.

We dismissed several tents because their fiberglass poles were too flimsy to offer support against anything but the lightest breeze: the Amazon Basics Outdoor 4-Person Camping Tent, the Coleman Hooligan 4-Person Backpacking Tent, and the Eureka Tetragon HD 4 (it’s since been replaced by  the Tetragon NX, which has similar fiberglass poles).

REI Co-op Skyward 6 Tent: This did perform well overall for a cabin-style tent, but like many of its brethren, it didn’t handle wind well, and we didn’t like how much we had to wrestle its poles to dock them during setup.

ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek 6: This spacious cabin-style tent met its downfall the same way almost every other cabin-style tent we tested did—in wind. Its fiberglass-and-steel tent poles also left splinters in our palms.

MSR Habitude 6: This pricey tent has some of the most impeccable workmanship and nicest materials we encountered, but it has only one door. Its red and turquoise color scheme also absorbs a lot of heat and feels overly intense, at least in warmer climates, and the tent lacked options for ventilation.

Mountain Hardwear Bridger 6: What is a $950 six-person tent like? Quite nice, unsurprisingly. The Bridger 6 is the only six-person tent we encountered that can actually house six people, it’s made of high-quality polyester, and it has powder-coated aluminum poles and endless storage options. It features a large front-facing porch-style vestibule, which can accommodate a table and multiple chairs without blocking the entry. It was also the only six-person tent we saw that came with a groundsheet. But the tent’s striking sea-foam green walls show every scuff and mark—not in the least practical for camping with kids. When we pitched the tent alongside our upgrade pick, we still gravitated to the Wawona’s more versatile vestibule. Also, $950.

Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 Person Tent: This tent was our family-camping pick for a long time, and served Wirecutter editor Kalee Thompson’s family well during many camping trips in California. It’s a spacious, robust tent for fair-weather camping, but its windows let in wind and rain in less temperate climates.

Eureka Jade Canyon 6 Person Tent: In the severe gusts of a windstorm, one of the Jade Canyon’s aluminum poles bent badly, while a couple of other poles bent slightly but remained functional. (Eureka will replace poles for around $10 each.) We also had an issue with two of the Jade Canyon’s poles sticking together at takedown and making it impossible to get the whole tent back in the already-way-too-snug carrying bag. (The Jade Canyon 6 has since been replaced by the Jade Canyon X6 Person Tent, which has similar poles.)

Big Agnes Big House 6: Although we liked the look and feel of this brightly colored tent, it costs $600 and the vestibule is a separate purchase ($200), making the full package significantly more pricey than our family-tent picks.

Cabela’s West Wind 6-Person Dome Tent: This tent has a more complicated design than many other six-person models. Our testers struggled for well over half an hour to get it up, eventually attracting the attention of other campers, who came to their rescue.

We found that company representatives are reluctant to estimate the lifespan of their tents. When pushed, most of the reps we talked to estimated five to 10 years, though the actual lifespan will vary widely depending on care and frequency of use (for more advice, read REI’s excellent tips). In conducting research for this guide, we heard multiple tales of careful campers who had been using the same tent for 15 years or more.

There are several straightforward ways to make any tent last longer:

This article was edited by Eve O’Neill and Christine Ryan.

Bob Howe, tent designer, phone interview, March 10, 2016

Helen Olsson, author of The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids, phone interview, March 10, 2016

Ryan Flynn, salesperson for Johnson Outdoors, parent company of Eureka, phone interview, March 7, 2016

MSR Tents Frequently Asked Questions, Mountain Safety Research (MSR)

Tent Fabrics Part 1: Fabric Specs, Mountain Safety Research (MSR), November 16, 2015

Tent Fabrics Part 2: Waterproof Ratings, Mountain Safety Research (MSR), November 22, 2015

Claire Wilcox contributes outdoors coverage to Wirecutter. An avid swimmer, surfer, hiker, and camper, she currently lives on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, where she can be found, as much as possible, in water.

Kit Dillon is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He was previously an app developer, oil derrick inspector, public-radio archivist, and sandwich shop owner. He has written for Popular Science, The Awl, and the New York Observer, among others. When called on, he can still make a mean sandwich.

Kalee Thompson is the senior editor heading up the team responsible for health, fitness, baby, and kid coverage at Wirecutter. She has previously been a writer on the emergency prep and outdoor beats and is the author of two non-fiction books: Deadliest Sea and The Border Within.

When the Wirecutter outdoor team goes car camping—as opposed to backpacking and carrying gear into the wilderness—this is the gear they bring.

Investing in some high-quality basics can get kids excited about camping out—and help you avoid a mid-trip detour to the nearest big-box store.

The easy-to-set-up REI Co-op Screen House Shelter is our canopy tent pick, with good sun and insect protection and a bright, roomy feel.

A good tent is one of the most important pieces of camping equipment you’ll buy. Here’s how to make it last for years.

The 6 Best Camping Tents for 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Geodesic Dome China Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).