Author Topic: Family tent for overnight camping  (Read 919 times)

bobble

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
Family tent for overnight camping
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:45:15 AM »
I'm looking for a family tent for camping overnight in the local forests. We're two adults, two preschoolers, and one dog. We are n00bs and have never camped together and we're in Europe (Sweden.)

My goal is to make camping a fun and easy activity that we can do spontaneously when we are in the mood and conditions are good. I'd ideally like a tent that one person can easily put up, that won't leak, that isn't too heavy to transport by backpack or bike trailer, and that doesn't have major features that we don't need.

Can anyone suggest particular styles of tent, or specific models, and features that are we do / don't need?

How do we choose between a dome or a tunnel tent? How much value would we get out of a vestibule verses (say) a tarp outside? How do we judge quality and find a tent we'll enjoy setting up and using?

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8886
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2020, 11:36:56 AM »
We bought a 6 person Coleman tent for our family of 4.  It fits cots :)

It's an "instant" tent, meaning the poles are attached and it's pretty easy to set up (no threading of poles).

I'd say, look for something like that - an easy up, dome tent, but not too expensive.  If you really enjoy it, you can upgrade later.  Until we bought this tent, we were using a 3 person tent we got as a wedding gift...Used it for 20 years.

KiloRomeo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2020, 11:45:36 AM »
I second the cheap Coleman idea but against the easy up. The time savings are minimal and they are significant heavier, bulkier and not as strong. My standard $80 coleman has lasted us many years and still has plenty to come.

Fishindude

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2752
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2020, 11:55:35 AM »
Problem with the cheap Coleman tents is you will get wet if you have to deal with much rain.   They look pretty and work fine for nice weather, but just are not built to be very weatherproof.
I've got a Cabelas Outback lodge tent that I really like.   Packs up pretty small, not real expensive, but it's a big tent and tall enough to stand up and walk around in, use cots, etc.  Have also endured some horrendous wind and rain and stayed dry and intact.

In tents, bigger is better.   If they say (4) man it is probably only good for (2).
And sleeping on cots is so much better than being on the ground on a mattress.

KiloRomeo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 97
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2020, 12:05:14 PM »
Problem with the cheap Coleman tents is you will get wet if you have to deal with much rain.   They look pretty and work fine for nice weather, but just are not built to be very weatherproof.
I've got a Cabelas Outback lodge tent that I really like.   Packs up pretty small, not real expensive, but it's a big tent and tall enough to stand up and walk around in, use cots, etc.  Have also endured some horrendous wind and rain and stayed dry and intact.

In tents, bigger is better.   If they say (4) man it is probably only good for (2).
And sleeping on cots is so much better than being on the ground on a mattress.

Depends on how extreme of camping you do. I will say that we camp around 2-3 trips a year and the current setup is the ~$80 8 person coleman (our goto for "glamping" for my wife, dog and I), a $11 Kmart 4 person (wife dog and I but trying to minimize gear) and a $150, 16 person (230 sq ft!!!!) walmart tent when we have the family, nieces and nephews(I bring a window unit for this one). Our last trip we got DUMPED on with rain and thunderstorms at like 2 AM for a couple hours in the Walmart tent. We we're completely dry and the tent took it like a champ.

If you're car camping in normal conditions the walmart specials will do just fine with a little care.

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2020, 12:16:33 PM »
I bought the Coleman instant tent but like other reviewers mentioned, it is easy to jam the mechanism and basically break the tent. We broke it on second use despite a lot of care. I returned it to Costco.

Now I have a Member's Mark instant tent from Sam's Club. Got it on clearance for $100. It's a 10 man tent 10x14 that sleeps 4 comfortably. Not crazy about every feature but the instant design is better than the Coleman one. Still there are several features I don't like so I am still shopping for a tent. I figure I can resell this for a similar price to what I paid.

My preference is for a Coleman because I am obsessed with their hinge door. Makes such a difference and I smile every time I use it.

I had a fabulous Coleman weathermaster II tent from Costco that I used heavily for several years. It wasn't instant, but it would take me max 20 mins to set up (although I did need a second person). It had the hinge door and the half of it was a giant floored screen room. I loved sleeping with floor to ceiling windows. The cabin walls were straight, making it much more spacious.

Unfortunately I sold it on a whim thinking I could buy another one just like it. The poles were starting to crack so it seemed time to upgrade. Been hunting for 2 years now and there is nothing quite like it on the market. The giant windows are less bad weather proof but was never an issue for us in the areas we camped in and it survived major thunderstorms. 

I recently tried out a cheap Ozark Trail tent and it didn't survive all day rains - even though I know what I'm doing when setting up tents.

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk


starbuck

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 394
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Small Town Connecticut
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2020, 12:34:11 PM »
Another option is two 2-person tents instead of one giant family tent. We also have small children and this is my preferred setup. Kids go to bed at dusk in their own tent, and then adults can stay up til whenever they'd like, and don't have to try and sneak into a tent with sleeping children! We've also done oldest in his own small tent, and baby in the adult tent. Even as the kids get older my preference would be for an adults only tent, and a kids only tent.

Small 2-person tents are dead simple to set up by yourself. And it might be easier to borrow one or both from a fellow camper. We have a cheap Coleman tent from our college days, and a lighter 'backpacking' tent from when we thought we would become backpackers. (We didn't but the tent is still useful.)

K_in_the_kitchen

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 266
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2020, 01:25:43 PM »
My guys liked their Coleman Instant Tent just fine, and true to it's name, set up and take down were super fast.  I'd say it's good for family car camping that doesn't happen all the time.  But it was huge and heavy.  We could've towed it with a bike trailer, but not easily.  It sounds like you want a backpacking tent -- but you'll pay for the lightweight feature.  Make sure you choose something the dog won't easily destroy.  You'll also need everything else to be lightweight and stow smaller, which adds more cost.  I'd borrow from others first if you can, or rent from a sporting goods store.

We camped spontaneously all the time when our children were young, but we did it by having a folding/pop-up trailer already loaded with everything we needed.  Friday at lunch DH could suggest we camp, and by the time he came home at dinner time I'd packed food and clothing and we were ready to go.  Used folding trailers cost more than a tent, and you can't fit them in as many places, but by having one we were camping 60+ nights per year.

bobble

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2020, 01:58:17 PM »
Yes we will need a light tent because our trailer will be filled with kids and blankets so I'll have the tent on my back when I'm riding. I don't think we'll ride more than an hour so the 8-12kg options I've seen sound okay.

We also have an REI Dome 2 tent. It's great and easy to setup but too small on its own and seems to leak in rain (lightly used but ten years old.)

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2107
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2020, 02:08:36 PM »
Quality tents are not cheap. I've never understood why anyone would by a cheap, low-quality tent as they leak and blow down/break poles when the weather picks up. What's the point of a tent if it doesn't perform when you need it most? If you only camp in mild weather then sleep out under the stars and/or setup a tarp shelter.

Since you are noobs, I highly recommend starting by renting. This lets you try out lots of different tents (and other gear) to see what works for you.

When you're ready to buy, REI's gear is all solid and reasonably priced, albeit a bit heavier and with less features than competitors.

On the higher end, based on what you've described, I would go with something like the Big Agnes Bunk House 6. The flexible vestibule area would work well for gear and/or a place for the dog to sleep... don't think I would want a dog (unless small) walking around inside a tent with a floor as their nails could damage it.

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2020, 02:29:07 PM »


Quality tents are not cheap. I've never understood why anyone would by a cheap, low-quality tent as they leak and blow down/break poles when the weather picks up. What's the point of a tent if it doesn't perform when you need it most? If you only camp in mild weather then sleep out under the stars and/or setup a tarp shelter.

Since you are noobs, I highly recommend starting by renting. This lets you try out lots of different tents (and other gear) to see what works for you.

When you're ready to buy, REI's gear is all solid and reasonably priced, albeit a bit heavier and with less features than competitors.

On the higher end, based on what you've described, I would go with something like the Big Agnes Bunk House 6. The flexible vestibule area would work well for gear and/or a place for the dog to sleep... don't think I would want a dog (unless small) walking around inside a tent with a floor as their nails could damage it.

I still haven't found a quality tent that meets my needs and wants and while Coleman doesn't last forever, it lasts quite a few years and has generally suited my needs and kept me dry, even in bad thunderstorms. I don't have the need for a $600-$800 tent that lasts me 10 years when I can have two $150 tents that last me 5 years each.

But, I don't camp in areas with extreme weather or strong winds. So I don't tend to need all the extra protective features quality tents have. So ymmv.

E.g. ppl go on and on and on about how important a full fly is. For the type of camping I do, it would be so hot in the summers. Plus, I get reasonable protection from my cabin tent with a tiny fly, giant windows, and tons of airflow. I like to look out and you just can't get that with a full fly unless you roll it up. Then it's a pain to roll it back down from the outside if the weather turns. Sure I get some tiny puddles here and there in my cabin tent. I keep everything a foot from the walls and do a quick mop up with a towel when necessary.  Worth dealing with a few drips to have big windows IMO.

I'm not brand loyal but am really, really missing the hinged door on my old Coleman. I also find they offer a reasonable mix between quality and value for the regular car camping family. I can totally understand that serious campers and backpackers, etc would need more specialized gear.

That said, one day I might splurge and buy a pricey tent and realize u have been right and I have been wrong all along :)

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk


mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8886
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2020, 02:58:49 PM »


Quality tents are not cheap. I've never understood why anyone would by a cheap, low-quality tent as they leak and blow down/break poles when the weather picks up. What's the point of a tent if it doesn't perform when you need it most? If you only camp in mild weather then sleep out under the stars and/or setup a tarp shelter.

Since you are noobs, I highly recommend starting by renting. This lets you try out lots of different tents (and other gear) to see what works for you.

When you're ready to buy, REI's gear is all solid and reasonably priced, albeit a bit heavier and with less features than competitors.

On the higher end, based on what you've described, I would go with something like the Big Agnes Bunk House 6. The flexible vestibule area would work well for gear and/or a place for the dog to sleep... don't think I would want a dog (unless small) walking around inside a tent with a floor as their nails could damage it.

I still haven't found a quality tent that meets my needs and wants and while Coleman doesn't last forever, it lasts quite a few years and has generally suited my needs and kept me dry, even in bad thunderstorms. I don't have the need for a $600-$800 tent that lasts me 10 years when I can have two $150 tents that last me 5 years each.

But, I don't camp in areas with extreme weather or strong winds. So I don't tend to need all the extra protective features quality tents have. So ymmv.

E.g. ppl go on and on and on about how important a full fly is. For the type of camping I do, it would be so hot in the summers. Plus, I get reasonable protection from my cabin tent with a tiny fly, giant windows, and tons of airflow. I like to look out and you just can't get that with a full fly unless you roll it up. Then it's a pain to roll it back down from the outside if the weather turns. Sure I get some tiny puddles here and there in my cabin tent. I keep everything a foot from the walls and do a quick mop up with a towel when necessary.  Worth dealing with a few drips to have big windows IMO.

I'm not brand loyal but am really, really missing the hinged door on my old Coleman. I also find they offer a reasonable mix between quality and value for the regular car camping family. I can totally understand that serious campers and backpackers, etc would need more specialized gear.

That said, one day I might splurge and buy a pricey tent and realize u have been right and I have been wrong all along :)

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk
Yeah, we have had a really good experience with the Costco Coleman 6 person tent.  If anything, we've slowly been upgrading other things - like now we have 3 camping cots.  The tent fits 3 cots + a fold out sleeping pad + our bags pretty easily.

But, we are old and kids aren't really into camping.  We always car camp, the car is usually packed (it's a small car), and we don't camp if it's pouring or super windy.  Although we did get stuck in a couple of wind storms in Joshua Tree NP in the tent.

I always recommend finding something cheap that works, and upgrade later.  Then I never upgrade, ha!

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2107
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2020, 06:48:45 PM »
That said, one day I might splurge and buy a pricey tent and realize u have been right and I have been wrong all along :)

Not everything is about who's right or wrong :) Do whatever works for you. Which is why I recommend renting when starting out. It takes hands-on experience and trial-and-error to learn what works, what you like and dislike. For most of my childhood we camped only in the summer in a hot climate, so I just slept outside on a tarp.

Now we do a lot of camping in the mountains where the weather is unpredictable and often windy. And we go on month long camping road trips where the tent is literally our home and it would be difficult to pack up and retreat if bad weather moved in. A couple of years ago we were at a campground in Bryce, UT and a windstorm hit overnight, gusting at least 50+. Our tent held up fine and we all slept well. But there were a lot of collapsed and broken tents and bleary-eyed people the next morning.

I also don't like the disposable nature of cheap tents. Last archery season I was backpack hunting a wilderness area and ended up packing out someone's cheap abandoned tent -- broken pole. I'm sure no one here would do such a thing, but it irks me that these things are used until something like a pole breaks and then discarded. Very common to find cheap tents in campground trash bins. But if folks here are getting 5+ years from these then that seems reasonable. 

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2020, 09:51:54 PM »
Note to self - if camping in Utah... get a GOOD tent! 50mph winds sounds crazy!

So far in my 20 years of fairly mild car camping, I've found the mid-range priced Colemans work just fine and did not like the (much cheaper) Ozark Trail I tried. I still have an old Coleman cabin tent I picked up 15 years ago for $25 from a yard sale! Used it 2-3 times a year for 10 years and it's still my spare tent and works with a tarp over top although it is a wee bit leaky (nothing a towel doesn't take care of).

Right now I pretty much only buy my tents from Costco/Sams Club because I feel safer with their generous return policy.

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk


FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2107
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2020, 10:41:22 PM »
I guess it all depends on when and where one is going to camp.

That campground in Bryce is at nearly 8000' elevation on an exposed plateau. One night we're literally holding onto our dinner to keep it from blowing away, the next night it was perfectly nice and calm. There was a wildfire nearby (which the windstorm made worse) so on our last night there we were treated to a sunset of brilliant red, orange, and pink. As the sun was setting a mule deer buck came down into the meadow in front of our tent, followed by a group of whitetail deer, and then a group of pronghorn. We watched them doing their thing in the meadow as we ate dinner.

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2020, 11:47:24 PM »


I guess it all depends on when and where one is going to camp.

That campground in Bryce is at nearly 8000' elevation on an exposed plateau. One night we're literally holding onto our dinner to keep it from blowing away, the next night it was perfectly nice and calm. There was a wildfire nearby (which the windstorm made worse) so on our last night there we were treated to a sunset of brilliant red, orange, and pink. As the sun was setting a mule deer buck came down into the meadow in front of our tent, followed by a group of whitetail deer, and then a group of pronghorn. We watched them doing their thing in the meadow as we ate dinner.

Amazing. Utah has been on my bucket list for some time now. Everything I have heard and seen sounds incredible. 

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk


kpd905

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1904
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2020, 05:54:00 AM »
We've been really happy with this Kelty Outfitter Pro: https://amzn.to/2ALCQdf

More expensive than Coleman for sure, but it has kept us dry in some pretty intense rain storms.

FINate

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2107
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2020, 08:28:40 AM »
Kelty makes quality products at reasonable prices. Would put them in the same category as REI.

A note about sizes: Apparently tent makers design for teeny-tiny people sleeping on top of one another. Backpacking tents are the worst in this regard (really, that's a 3 person tent?!), buts many car camping tents suffer from it as well. I'm tall, so is the rest of my family, so we go up a size. 2 adults + 2 kids + dog would mean 6 person tent for us. YMMV.

ETA: Is it just me, or are a lot of tents sold out online? I know there' normally a seasonal summer rush, but this year seems worse than past years. Has everyone decided to go COVID camping?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 08:31:27 AM by FINate »

ontheway2

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2020, 09:04:29 AM »
I had a large Coleman tent (Red Canyon 8 person) for a family of 4 plus a dog and gear. It was roomy with a tall center height for changing/etc. The footprint is something like 17x9 though so it required a large level area and two people to set up. Since I recently became single, I wanted something smaller that I could set up myself but that still did not feel cramped and allowed me to stand. I highly recommend the newer tent attachments that hook on pop-up canopies. I have a 1 person set up canopy and can easily set the whole thing up myself. While a 10x10 footprint, it feels super roomy.

I have this one: screen house 2-in-1 so we can be bug free during the day https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-7-Person-2-in-1-Screenhouse-Connect-Tent-with-Sewn-in-Floor/677979266

I was eyeing this one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-6-Person-ConnecTent-Straight-leg-Canopy-Sold-Separately-6-Person-Tent/46271757

elaine amj

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Ontario
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2020, 12:46:59 PM »
I had a large Coleman tent (Red Canyon 8 person) for a family of 4 plus a dog and gear. It was roomy with a tall center height for changing/etc. The footprint is something like 17x9 though so it required a large level area and two people to set up. Since I recently became single, I wanted something smaller that I could set up myself but that still did not feel cramped and allowed me to stand. I highly recommend the newer tent attachments that hook on pop-up canopies. I have a 1 person set up canopy and can easily set the whole thing up myself. While a 10x10 footprint, it feels super roomy.

I have this one: screen house 2-in-1 so we can be bug free during the day https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-7-Person-2-in-1-Screenhouse-Connect-Tent-with-Sewn-in-Floor/677979266

I was eyeing this one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-6-Person-ConnecTent-Straight-leg-Canopy-Sold-Separately-6-Person-Tent/46271757
I REALLY like the first one you posted. Those floor to ceiling windows are exactly what I love when I camp. The only thing holding me back is the fact that straight leg popup canopies are heavy and bulky and would take up more space in my already pretty fully loaded up minivan. Thanks for posting - I have seen the second design many times but vastly prefer the first design.

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk


habanero

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2020, 12:54:37 PM »
If you need to save space (and weight) while camping, especially with a family, one of the most effective things you can do is to buy sleeping bags filled with down instead of synthetic material. They are way more lightweight for the same amount of insulation and compress much, much better. The only downside is cost and that they don't work very well if they get wet.

ontheway2

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 197
Re: Family tent for overnight camping
« Reply #21 on: July 10, 2020, 01:06:19 PM »
I had a large Coleman tent (Red Canyon 8 person) for a family of 4 plus a dog and gear. It was roomy with a tall center height for changing/etc. The footprint is something like 17x9 though so it required a large level area and two people to set up. Since I recently became single, I wanted something smaller that I could set up myself but that still did not feel cramped and allowed me to stand. I highly recommend the newer tent attachments that hook on pop-up canopies. I have a 1 person set up canopy and can easily set the whole thing up myself. While a 10x10 footprint, it feels super roomy.

I have this one: screen house 2-in-1 so we can be bug free during the day https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-7-Person-2-in-1-Screenhouse-Connect-Tent-with-Sewn-in-Floor/677979266

I was eyeing this one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-6-Person-ConnecTent-Straight-leg-Canopy-Sold-Separately-6-Person-Tent/46271757
I REALLY like the first one you posted. Those floor to ceiling windows are exactly what I love when I camp. The only thing holding me back is the fact that straight leg popup canopies are heavy and bulky and would take up more space in my already pretty fully loaded up minivan. Thanks for posting - I have seen the second design many times but vastly prefer the first design.

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk

I was torn about this type of tent also, but I already wanted to get a canopy to start bringing for some shade during the day. I figured this would serve multiple purposes with the shade, screen, and tent. The canopy is a little bulkier that I anticipated, but I wanted to start bringing one either way