The 7 Best Camping Tents | Tested by GearLab
mountain hardwear mineral king 3
The Mountain Hardwear Mineral King 3 is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a versatile tent that can be used while camping or going up a hill for a short backpacking trip. It’s also great as a solid backer, sitting in the garage ready to toss in the car at a moment’s notice. we launched it in an impressive 4 minutes and 30 seconds and have improved on that time as we learned the design. This tent has a mesh structure for great views, and the tarp can be configured in multiple ways, allowing for both landscaping and quick weather protection at any time.
The included space adds additional value to this well-constructed tent. the mesh is 40d polyester, the cockpit floor is 68d ripstop polyester and the poles are dac pressfit aluminum. interior square footage is small, but dual mudrooms help keep everything you don’t need for sleeping in its own area. And while it’s very light, you’ll sacrifice headroom in return. All in all, this tent is small but mighty and a great addition to any camper’s toolbox, depending on your needs.
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read more: mountain hardwear mineral king 3 review
why you should trust us
To prepare for this review, we scoured the internet, read personal accounts, and delved into the opinions of bloggers and YouTubers about the best tents on the market. After selecting the most promising options, we bought 16 of the best tents on the market and got to work. We measure, weigh, and inspect each one before taking them out into the woods and desert for proper testing. We tested them side by side in various locations around the Lake Tahoe area, in the hot, harsh conditions of Joshua Tree National Park, and in the gut-wrenching wind of Reno, NV. our team conducted over 60 individual tests to help you find the perfect gazebo to suit your needs and budget.
- space and comfort (35% weighting of overall score)
- weather resistance (25% weighting)
- Ease of use (15% weighting)
- family friendly (15% weighting)
- quality (10% weighting)
The center of any great outdoor adventure is the base camp. and having the best tent is a crucial part of that (besides good food and good people). Our head of testing, Rob Gaedtke, put these tents through their paces so you can choose your next home-away-from-home with confidence. . Rob is no stranger to the outdoors or adventure. he has raced across india, done an ironman in mexico and jeeped on the african safari. he is also a climber, backpacker, and avid camper. Over the past 20 years, Rob has established hundreds of base camps in various terrains. We took this experience, along with a rigorous and detailed test plan, and went to work finding a diverse set of tents to consider.
analysis and test results
We pitch these tents against the elements, fighting off kids, wind, dogs, dirt, heat, and a very stubborn husband and wife team. from set up and breakdown to weather resistance and durability to space quality for both hanging out and sleeping, we put these products to the test to help you find your best fit.
value here is all about getting the most tent for the least amount of cash, or at least what feels like a good amount of cash. we like to see a solid balance between performance and price. As a general rule, when the price goes up in the world of tents, so does the performance, although there are some notable exceptions.
A notable competitor for value in 4-person tents is the Marmot Limestone 4, which performed well but is still on the lower end of the price spectrum. But what really stands out is the Kelty Wireless 6. Rarely do we find a quality 6 person tent at such a low price. however, if you can spend a little more, the north face wawona 6 is an amazing balance of price and performance.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a small but extremely versatile tent, the mountain hardwear mineral king 3 packs tons of value into a small package. And when you consider that this tent can be used for both short backpacking trips and car camping, the value simply increases.
once you get down to the lower price ranges, things start to get a bit tricky. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a great value nod to the Coleman 4-Person Cabin with Instant Setup. This little tent is cheap, sturdy, and a great option for hanging out at just a moment’s notice.
space and comfort
This is arguably the most important category when it comes to motorhomes. When your campsite is only a few feet from your trunk, a little extra weight in exchange for more comfort and space is an easy option. For this metric, we look at the total space in each store, including lobby space. We reviewed headroom and headroom, doors and windows, and general airflow with and without rain. and finally, we look at pockets, clips, and storage options.
Let’s dive into the north face wawona 6 first. When you combine the spacious, tall interior (6’6″ max height and 85 sq. ft. of floor space) with the grand double-door foyer (and an additional 44.7 sq. ft.), you have a comfortable masterpiece. The new design too allows the wawona to be used without the vestibule, adding a great option for warm weather camping.We also love the full-size, tall gate feature that allows you to get inside without bending over.
The Marmot Limestone 8 occupies the largest floor space in our tent line and fits a ton of kids, dogs and more. it also comes with a whopping 22 pockets scattered throughout the store. As if that wasn’t enough, Marmot also added a removable room divider with a private door, perfect for when you need a little more privacy.
although not as big as the others, the marmot torreya 6 still shines in the comfort zone. this tent has more comfort features than any other tent in this review. an external floor mat, external storage pockets, gear loops and included awning poles are just a few.
There are a few other tents that have earned respectability in this category. The large Agnes 6 Bunk House has a maximum height of 6’9″ and offers a unique shelter option giving you more versatility. But the tallest tent in our line is the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 with a 7″ headroom ‘ in height. And, thanks to the nearly vertical side walls, that height isn’t just in the center.
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rei 6 co-op base camp stands out for its spacious lobby and well-designed large interior space. these tents make great use of space while providing exceptional comfort.
We don’t often see a 4-person tent score this highly in this category, let alone two. The msr habitude 4 and north face sequoia 4 have enough space, features and amenities to rise to the top. The Habitue 4 offers 62.4 square feet of floor space, a perfectly sized vestibule, and seven pockets, making this tent well worth it for those who aren’t interested in 6+ person configurations. The Sequoia 4 has a 6’3″-tall profile and a larger-than-average foyer, making the 58.1-square-foot space feel big. And when you raise the awning, it feels even better.
both big anges bunk house 6 and the north face wawona 6 have huge outdoor storage areas. These tents offer plenty of storage space and covered stations for cooking and cleaning, and are large enough to hold plenty of gear.
Getting wet, the poles break in the wind and roast under the scorching sun. These are all make-or-break factors when camping, especially if you have kids. So for the weather resistance category, we considered all of the following: hot day options, cold day options, rain cover, aerodynamics, stakes, poles, and guy lines. we tested them in a mix of real-world situations and manufactured situations, thanks to a sprinkler rig and backpack blower. we’ve got these hot, cold, wet, breathless tents. this is how they stood up.
we put the marmot limestone 4 against the hot desert days of southern california and the windy nights of reno, nv. its shape held up perfectly on both, and the fully covered rain kept everything dry. Two additional poles on the roof of the tent add just enough extra height to feel open without turning it into a flat-sided sail.
The rei base camp 6 is the only tent in our line rated for 4 seasons, so as you might imagine, this tent includes the extra girth needed for winter camping. The classic dome shape, along with two additional posts for added strength, instills confidence that should the worst happen, you’re in good hands. But this tent isn’t just good in cold weather: getting rid of the rain fly adequately exposes stargazing, and the door covers can be closed halfway for more airflow. That being said, we don’t plan on taking this tent anywhere that is too hot.
breaking the dome shape mold, but still scoring the best points is the msr habitude 4. This tent is very capable in both hot and cold weather. and while a touch on the side, the included guy lines and sloped vestibule face make this tent very wind resistant.
Several other tents ranked among the best in the weather resistance category. The wawona 6 waterproof fabric only covers the side mesh a bit, allowing moisture to seep through in windy situations, but it’s still a robust tent in every other way. one of the most amazing tents to score so highly in this category is the very tall rei co-op wonderland 4. thanks to a ridiculous amount of stakes and guy lines, this tent stays strong in inclement weather, and with the large mesh upper and large side vents, the tent breathes quite well.
The turreya 6 has an asymmetrical shape that helps divert the wind and a large awning area with poles included so you can enjoy the outdoors protected from precipitation. the limestone 8 is equally well conceived (both are marmot products) with fantastic bracing, thick high quality materials and a great canopy, although you will need to bring your own poles, they are not included with this one.
ease of use
setting up and breaking down camp can make or break your trip. we’ve all been there, arriving at camp at 11 p.m. m., tired and ready to relax; The last thing you want is a fight with your store or your partner over the store. we took one for the team here and took the frustration out of it so you can be prepared. We also note whether each tent easily fits in its bag, the total size of the package, and the weight of the package.
Before we go any further, we should point out that any tent you pitch enough times will be easier. However, we made it a point to judge the first release, as many people only use their store once or twice a year, and who knows what you’ll and won’t remember after most of the year has passed. especially if you threw away the instructions.
the coleman 4-person drop-in cab scored highest here. This thing went up in less than 60 seconds and came down almost as fast. But ease of use isn’t just about setting up and taking down: we took a point here due to its weight being too heavy for a small 4-person tent and the difficulty required to put the tent back in the bag. We also hope that the mechanisms that make this tent so quick to set up will remain smooth and easy to use over time. but if you’re looking for a tent that you can pitch after a few beers or in the dark, check this one out.
The mountain hardwear mineral king 3 not only climbed fast, but was also easy to disassemble and put back in the bag. Add to that the simple fly deployment, perfectly sized bag, and intuitive center clip, and you’ve got yourself a hassle-free tent. while not our favorite, the center also allows for easy solo casting.
Although nothing compares to the setup time of an instant or small 3-person tent, the rei co-op base camp 6 had impressive setup and takedown speeds for a 6-person tent people, and the marmot limestone 4 was simple and super light at just 11.3 pounds.
plus, the rei co-op base camp 6 is one of the most intuitive tents we’ve ever set up. It has posts that fit together almost independently and easily slide through the fabric holders. we set up base camp 6 in just over 7 minutes. a great time for a 6 person tent with a vestibule you can sit in.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t share two features of the kelty wireless 6 that speak directly to ease of use. kelty added what they call quick corners to help in the solo setup. these are essentially pockets in all four corners that make the poles stand upright without needing to support them. they are also color coded on one side only. While this seems strange, having only one color to search for instead of two is a huge simplification that we hope other brands will copy.
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While this category of tents is primarily focused on motorhomes, weight is still a factor in the equation. hauling a heavy tent across a field or a few campgrounds away can add up when you’re hauling more than 20 pounds.
hands down ore king 3 takes the cake here. and better, since it is the only 3-person tent in the lineup. Weighing in at just 7.1 pounds for the full pack and weighing in at 6.2 pounds, this tent is light enough to hike a few miles in the wilderness.
family friendly means not only a real family, but also how useful the tent is if you want to camp with more than just yourself. can you bring two dogs and a friend or three and still be comfortable? We looked at how comfortably each tent could fit at least four people, whether it had phone/jewelry storage options, whether it provided a space to wipe your feet before entering, whether it had multiple room options for privacy, and whether it was for dog/animal friendly, among other things. although some of these aspects fall under other categories, we felt it was important for our readers to review them again, but with this point of view in mind.
This is where the Nemo Wagontop 6 shines. This is the largest 6-person tent we reviewed, and it features a vestibule, small bedroom, and living room. oh yeah, and it has a nice size foyer too! wagontop is also the tallest tent, with a whopping 6′ 8″ headroom. this tent will fit two full mattresses with some room to spare and plenty of room for dog beds. the only thing that’s not ideal about wagontop in the family category is the storm factor.this is a fair-weather tent and it didn’t hold up well in our wind and rain tests, thanks to non-zip windows and a 7-foot vertical wall ( Also known as sailing.) Other than that, if you’re a beach camper looking for space to lounge, you found your soul mate here.
the north face wawona 6 ticks most of the boxes for families, easily sleeping a family of four with great headroom, storage and covered outside space. Because of the large, tall vestibule, we were able to set up a camp shower for a quick rinse after a sweaty day of climbing. just remember not to ask your kids to remove the fly, as the locking mechanism requires a lot of force to pop out.
The marmot limestone 8 also gets high marks for being family friendly. What’s not more familiar than a room divider, 22 pockets, and enough floor space to carry whatever you want? the extra door to go to the bathroom late at night is also a nice touch.
The torreya 6 is another of the best in this regard, especially due to its characteristics. Not only is the interior space ample, but there are also 32 gear loops and 19 pockets. one secret to happiness when you have a group of people in a small space is easy organization. no one will stumble, break something, or lose their car keys with everything safely stowed away.
The only 4-person tent that ranks among the best for familiarity is the north face sequoia 4. With its tall, open interior, large flexible vestibule, included footprint with a built-in doormat, and nine pockets, the Redwood is a great smaller option.
The kelty wireless 6 comfortably fits two adults, two children, and two dogs, and dual vestibules allow for even more storage and organization. Add in the ease of setup, a nice carry bag, and wonderful stargazing capabilities, and you have a solid tent. And given the wireless 6’s bargain price, it’s hard to pass up.
For this metric, we look at the materials used, the overall feel of the posts and stakes, and details like how the stitches and seams are constructed. we also use our experience and knowledge to judge the overall quality and possible long-term durability. But let’s face it, when it comes to buying durable equipment these days, the old adage stands: you get what you pay for.
Several of our stores performed well in this category. but the torreya marmot 6 is at the top of the food chain. Every detail was well thought out, from the aluminum DAC poles to the high-end stakes to the durable crazy bag. add to that a polyester/taffeta tent and polyester ripstop fly. And if that’s not enough, they added some fancy zipper pulls and a plush canopy with poles included.
The msr habitude 4 checks all the boxes for quality materials. From the 7000 series aluminum poles to the 68D DWR polyester taffeta on the floor, everything down to the guy line turnbuckles is top notch. The only complaint you’ll have in the quality department is the included porch light and bag, but these are minor issues.
The rei base camp 6 is a step above the quality of your typical rei tent. It has a 150 denier polyester floor that is abrasion and puncture resistant. The thick aluminum poles, fabric, stitching, and zippers look and feel top-notch. the wawona 6 is a long-standing champion in our review for many reasons, one of which is how well it has stood the test of time. The main tent is made of 150d polyester taffeta, the floor is 68d polyester and the poles are dac mx, strong and light. and of course all seams are taped with a bathtub style floor. the sequoia 4 is built almost identically to the wawona 6, with only a few differences in the posts and stakes.
note: if you want to install something with feet in your tent and you don’t want to drill holes in the base, the nemo wagontop 6 has a 300d polyester floor and the marmot limestone 4 strong> and coleman instant setup feature floors made of 150d polyester material.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive tent, the single best upgrade for durability is to swap out the fiberglass poles and get an aluminum kit. Poles and mesh are where cheap tents fail. Except for the impressive kelty wireless 6, the mesh areas on the budget tents we reviewed are at least twice as large as the other tents and feel significantly cheaper in quality. get better poles and be careful with mesh, and an inexpensive gazebo can last for years.
A tent is the most important item you’ll buy when it comes to camping, so choosing the right one is key to a successful adventure. think about the type of camping you plan to do and what you consider most important in a refuge. Innovations are happening all the time, so if there’s a feature you want, chances are you can find it. now go find a tent and head outside!
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