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How to Buy the Right Tent for Your Next Adventure

You can sleep under the stars, slip into a bivvy sack or hang a tarp, but if you want a more substantial shelter, get a tent. What kind of tent should you get? Here are come variables and features to consider so you can choose the right tent for your trip.


CLIMATE. What kind of weather will you be camping in? Four-season tents are designed to withstand strong winds and loads of snow. If you’ll be in milder climates, a three-season tent will do the job.

SPACE. How many people will share the tent? How much personal space do you all want? Tents can accommodate one, two, three or four sleepers — keep in mind that this label doesn’t consider backpacks or extra gear. It’s helpful to check out the tent at the store before you buy. Ask a salesperson if you can set it up so you can crawl inside and see how much room you’ll have.

Want some headroom? A dome tent might be best because of its design. Think about the ease of moving around, entering and exiting, but also the need to balance a tent’s living space against the following factors.

WEIGHT. Look especially at a tent’s packed size, considering how much other gear you have to pack. Need something lightweight? Seek out tents specifically
designed for backpacking (see below).

EASE OF SETUP. Larger tents usually require more time and effort to pitch and take down, which can feel tedious in nice weather and miserable in rain. Think about your tolerance for that versus your desire for more space.

STABILITY. Tall tents with vertical walls are much more vulnerable to damage from strong winds. Those tents are best for calm weather and campgrounds protected from the wind. Low-profile models with angled walls and guylines are best for all weather. Want a tent that’s sturdy and simple to set up? Look at A-frames.

RAIN. Some car-camping tents have a rainfly that doesn’t extend to the ground, which is fine for fair-weather camping. Get a full-coverage rainfly for camping in mixed weather; those tents usually have better stability in wind.

Want one tent for car camping and the occasional backpacking trip? The BSA BASECAMP 3-PERSON TENT ($200, hits a nice balance for both purposes at a good price. Designed for backpackers, it sports a hub pole system made of sturdy aluminum that’s similar to many pricier tents, good living space for three people with nearly 40 square feet, and a 41-inch peak height and two doors. For car camping, it will handle windy campsites, pitch and come down easily, and provide livable space, especially for two people. The weight and bulk are reasonable for backpacking. 7 lbs.

For campers who prefer a home away from home, the BIG AGNES BIG HOUSE 4 ($380, provides space to stand up (70-inch height) and spread out (57 square feet). Large mesh windows on both doors ventilate the tent, while solid panels zip over them for privacy and warmth. It features smart details like pockets that can also stow the unzipped doors out of the way. The simple pole architecture makes this freestanding tent easy to pitch and allows setting up the partial rainfly as a sun shelter. 11 lbs. 2 oz.

The COLEMAN SUNDOME 6-PERSON DOME TENT ($140, is a good inexpensive choice for fair-weather campers. Measuring 10 by 10 feet with a peak height of 6 feet, this tent could sleep six but offers welcome extra space for fewer occupants — it fits a queen-sized inflatable mattress. It’s easy to set up and doesn’t require a lot of campsite space like some larger tents do. A rainfly that covers the upper half of the tent — along with solid wall fabric on the tent body’s lower half and a waterproof, bathtub-style floor — provides protection against a rain shower, just in case. 16 lbs. 4 oz.


WEIGHT. Pack weight matters and your tent is one of your heaviest pieces of gear, but it also has the most potential for reducing the total weight you have to carry. Many two-person tents weigh less than 4 pounds, and some are less than 2 pounds. Trade-offs for lower weight often include a higher price and less living space and durability.

SPACE. The interior and vestibule space, peak height, number of doors, and details like vents and pockets all affect your experience. For example, two doors offer more convenience and ventilation than one.

STABILITY. For backpacking (or car camping) in windy places, look for a more elaborate, sturdier pole architecture and a low-profile, aerodynamic shape.

SETUP. Freestanding tents are usually easier and faster to pitch and dismantle than non-freestanding. That’s convenient, especially when setting up in the rain. But non-freestanding tents are often lighter and just as sturdy when pitched and staked properly. Tip: The best way to slash tent weight is to get a tent that pitches using trekking poles.

For lightweight backpacking without a heavyweight budget, the SIX MOON DESIGNS SKYSCAPE SCOUT solo tent ($145, represents a super value. A hybrid single-wall design pitches using trekking poles (or two tent poles, sold separately) to create a sturdy A-frame. The mesh walls are covered by an integrated nylon rainfly that rolls up to create a bugproof shelter with an almost-unobstructed view of the stars. The 100-inch length, 23 square feet of floor space and 45-inch peak height make it very livable. Downside: It’s a bit bulky. 2 lbs. 8 oz.

If you place equal importance in a tent’s living space, weight and price, take a close look at the MARMOT TUNGSTEN ULTRALIGHT 2-PERSON TENT ($350, Although just ounces heavier than other models, it sports a spacious 31 square feet — more than virtually all competitors in its weight class. Tent poles bent at the corners and a short eyebrow pole over the top create vertical walls that expand your headroom for a 42-inch peak height. The sturdy pitch shrugs off strong wind, and the two doors and vestibules provide convenience while minimizing condensation. 3 lbs. 7 oz.

The REI QUARTER DOME SL 2 ($349, justifies its popularity by striking a keen balance between low weight and livability. While it’s snug, the trapezoidal floor shape makes it feel roomier than its nearly 29 square feet, and the steep walls similarly enhance the headroom for its 38-inch peak height. The hubbed aluminum poles offer good stability in a quick, semi-freestanding pitch facilitated by color-coded attachments. Two doors and large vestibules improve ventilation and livability. 2 lbs. 8 oz.

52 Comments on How to Buy the Right Tent for Your Next Adventure

  1. iamdizzy29 // May 7, 2015 at 4:07 pm // Reply

    Where in South Africa can I buy a 20 persons tent

  2. i1rudedog // May 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm // Reply

    Maybe the govt could buy some for the homeless. Bulk purchase so that they can assist with giving them some shelter, albeit still its not a house.

  3. I would really love to own that 20 person tent. Where can I get one and does it have to be ordered on line?

  4. Anonymous // May 4, 2015 at 7:32 am // Reply

    How can we buy it, not seem to be in stock at

  5. Need one of these it would make a awesome summer home lol if there is place to plug necessary items.

    • Angel Baby // May 9, 2015 at 6:32 pm // Reply

      For 20 person tent if you click walmart under picture you will go right to their site to buy it.

  6. Where can I buy the 10 room tent ?

  7. Crispynoodle // May 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm // Reply

    sick tents

  8. this would be awesome for a big family to go camping withI would definitely buy one of these if I knew where to get one

  9. Id love to have a large tent 10 rooms in it.

  10. I love all the tents u show but the best is the one w 20 persons inside.where can i get one. Thank you for the info. Nikki.

  11. This is a really cool tent. Would be even better if you discovered a way to make it more light weight

  12. I’m gonna get one

  13. This tent would be good for large family gatherings and a place for the children to sleep

  14. Groups that go on motorcycle vacations. They usually have a chase vehicle in case something goes wrong with a bike and to carry extra gear. If it’s a small group, they could use some of the rooms to park their bikes. Or a Bike Club could use it just for their bikes on overnight runs.

  15. the Artist living in the woods // April 30, 2015 at 7:14 pm // Reply

    This monster doesn’t have a floor

  16. I don’t think this is a silly idea at all. I live out of a tent almost year round; and I believe this tent is PERFECT for groups of friends, or even a large family! Everyone could go all in, and to make sure you got your money’s worth, you could make several trips with the same people. Make it an experience! Ideas like these are steps towards a better world!

    • Anonymous // May 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm // Reply

      The bedrooms seem to have floors just not the common area which is nice actually you wont get the rooms dirty. Just put your shoes on the grass . there is still rain coverage 🙂

  17. I want me one of those

  18. SC Girl Scout // April 30, 2015 at 5:00 pm // Reply

    Has anyone actually found this tent for sale and in stock? It appears on Walmart web page but cant seem to actually buy it

  19. That extra large tent would be great for camporee events. Our troop would need 2 or 3 of them. We love it.

  20. i love this tent . Our whole family could camp together

  21. love all the tents am interested in two person tents thank you

  22. Yes I so want to get one for our family outdoor activities.. I just want to know how much it will cost to get it shipped to New Zealand if possible..

  23. I want one of the ten man tent for me and my fam

  24. Mickey mouse // April 30, 2015 at 3:36 am // Reply

    I like it we have a big family it would be nice for.everyone to have their own space..thanks Michael

  25. I want that. 💪👌✨

  26. Has anyone purchased this tent yet I would like more info on it set up time and is it one big room with deviders hanging things like that and if anyone from the scouts has input on the old canvas style compared to this I’m interested in your opinion

  27. The tents from LLBean are the best bargain, since they have a hundred percent satisfaction guarantee.You can return anything anytime.

  28. Dang, can’t some of you read, it’s$

  29. Napal could use several 10 man tents!

  30. very good i like

  31. I have a tent and during the summer will be to hot with too many people inside …. It’s nice but with plastic your twice as hot

  32. We need to send some of these to Nepal!

  33. i would like to buy one please

  34. support first responders // April 29, 2015 at 11:04 am // Reply

    I LOVE this tent. The potential for it’s use goes way beyond camping and family gatherings.

  35. The Scoutmaster // April 29, 2015 at 10:28 am // Reply

    Yeah, putting the entire troop in one or two of these? Forgetting for a second about all the Scout skills that would be lost, that would be one crazy motel. Have you ever camped with 30 Boy Scouts??

  36. Looks like the rooms can de broke down to give you more living space and to give you storage and even a personal hygiene area

  37. where can I get the 10 person tent?

  38. where can you get this tent ? Wal-Mart does not have it

  39. Squatch Hunter // April 29, 2015 at 1:54 am // Reply

    I need this Big Tent

  40. That’s cool

  41. these are so darn awesome….

  42. Questionable // April 29, 2015 at 12:55 am // Reply

    Is it worth it?

  43. How can I order?

  44. I would buy this seems alittle heavy but prefect one tent not four or even six at times

  45. festival survivor // April 28, 2015 at 11:18 pm // Reply

    Ozark trail doesn’t make the greatest quality of tents but if there’s no rain and taken care of. Its a good fit for providing for the whole family and friends

  46. I think is an awesome Tent. It could be used for an outdoor fashion show for changing rooms. This could also be set up on site of a dance recital and people could have plenty do their of rooms to Changing of outfits…..So many POSSIBILITIES !!!

  47. black solider // April 28, 2015 at 9:50 pm // Reply

    I do like ideas for bigger crowd of people in tents

  48. Does every Walmart handle this tent ?it would be awesome I have family that stays with me every time we go to the lake !

  49. Ozark Trail is Walmart brand

  50. want this so bad:)

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