Best Tents for Big Families

Whether you are car camping, backpacking, or somewhere in between, finding a larger tent to home your big family for a night or few can get tricky. The larger a tent is, the harder it can be to find quality when it comes to waterproofing or durability, and yet they will be more expensive just because they’re larger. 

It can get frustrating trying to find the right tent, so we decided to help out by finding five of the best tents for big families and showcasing them here in this article. Due to the nature of these tents, they’re mostly either eight or ten-person capacities and so whilst they are generally ranked for features, quality and pricing, there’s still a spread there for you to choose from. In short, our four might be the number one for your family, based on your family’s specific needs. 

We’ve also written up a buyers’ guide and an FAQ that allows you to see what is valued when it comes to the features that family tents have. It also explains generalities about tentmaking. This way you should be able to find the best deals on your next tent, whether it’s a family one or not.

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Our Pick

Got a family vacation to plan? If you’re too busy with the family to stay with us for a while, then don’t worry because we have our number one pick right here. That way you can check it out and, if it’s what you need, go about your day.

We chose a tent from a reputable brand, the Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon, simply because it existed at an intersection of brand quality, affordability and capacity. See why we chose it in more detail below:

  • It fit our capacity spec, being spaciously designed at 17x10 feet to accommodate a maximum of eight people, more than enough for your average family and hopefully enough for yours too.

  • It has dividers to create three separate rooms, great for privacy during a family vacation.

  • Coleman put some patented tech into this product such as WeatherTec welded floors and inverted seams to keep the wet out, and Polyguard fabric made to withstand seasonal changes.

Best Tents for Big Families - Reviews

The first product on this list is one from a brand you should recognize if you know anything about tents, it’s the Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Tent. It’s 17x10 feet and six-foot-high and is designed to accommodate eight people, which should have most of you out there covered but if you need more then take a look at the rest of this list. What we find cool about this product is that it can be divided by lightweight walls into three separate rooms so that different members of the family can have privacy.

This product, like many of Coleman’s tents, benefits from their WeatherTec system whereby a patent secures the right for their products to have welded floors and inverted seams in order to waterproof this tent at the very first stages of construction. They also use trademarked Polyguard fabric which has been made to withstand the rigors of seasonal weather, making this tent more versatile than many of its more fragile large tent competitors.

Pros

  • A spaciously designed 17x10 camping tent that affords room to a maximum of eight people
  • Dividers let you turn this tent into three separate rooms for privacy
  • WeatherTec system uses patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep water out of the tent, to keep you and your family dry
  • Durable trademarked Polyguard fabric made to withstand across seasons

Cons

  • The walls get condensation during wet weather sometimes

Our second tent is something a bit bigger this time around, for if an eight-person tent wasn’t enough capacity for you and yours. It’s the Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent and it measures in at 20x10, or three queen air mattresses if that’s the metric you swear by. This should be more than enough to fit your whole family, but as always be aware that the number of people who can fit in will decrease if gear is stored in the tent. 

Affordable for its size, this tent also has plenty of ventilation between its three doors and six mesh windows. Those doors allow a big family to easily come and go without much fuss, the two side doors leading to their own little rooms with interior doors too for maximum privacy. The rainfly works thanks to taped seams which prevent water from seeping in, but it’s a common complaint with this product that the rainfly doesn’t cover the entire tent.

Pros

  • Fits three queen air mattresses with room to spare, should fit your family

  • Multiple doors at the center and sides for easy and private entrance and exit
  • Six windows increase ventilation and allow for more visibility
  • The rainfly has taped seams to prevent water from getting in, useful for rainy conditions
  • Affordable

Cons

  • The rainfly doesn’t cover the tent in its entirety

Our next option is a great one for big families who don’t want big price tags attached to their big tents. It’s the Wenzel 8-Person Klondike Tent, a large tent featuring two rooms, one of which is made almost entirely from no-see-um mesh so that it looks like a porch. This tent has more than enough room for a family of five, if gear is involved and is to be stored inside the tent, or it can fit the full eight if you’re car camping with less gear. It can fit two queen-sized beds inside. It has a rainfly cover that features Weather Armor fabrics which consist of breathable polyester coated with water-resistant polyurethane. This means that you can trust it won’t get too hot inside and will also keep out rainfall, and it also stands up to wind quite well.

Part of the secret to this tent’s rough weather stability is the fact that it is constructed with steel upright supports and a shock corded fiberglass roof frame, combining durability at the base with flexibility at the top. You’ll only need to conscript two of your family members into pitching this tent, and when you do you may want to be aware that the plastic stakes that come with the tent aren’t the strongest. You may be better off bringing your own heavy-duty ones.

Pros

  • Can accommodate five to eight happy campers, depending on how much gear you have

  • Weather Armor fabrics use polyurethane coated polyester to ward off rain and wind
  • Combination of steel upright support and fiberglass roof frame give both durability and flexibility where they count
  • Only requires two people to pitch this tent

Cons

  • Plastic stakes come with this tent and are flimsy. Bringing your own is advised

Here we have the Core Lighted 10-Person Instant Cabin Tent complete with a Screen Room, which is what you could consider the luxury option on this list. Why? This tent has its own lighting system that can last up to 50 hours max, and has dimmer settings for evenings, that’s why. You turn them off by flipping switches on the interior and exterior of the tent. As for the space of the tent, it’s 14x10 and should fit nine or ten people in with minimal gear, otherwise if there’s a lot of gear coming in then that number drops to around six or seven. This is a large tent more designed for car camping or glamping with the family rather than hardcore backpacking, however. 

You could probably tell that for yourself though, given how this tent has its own electronic lights and a ventilated porch made from no-see-um mesh. It’s also very quick to set up and once it is set up, you’ll have compartments for batteries and other random gear that kids could bring camping with them. The doors are made with 68D polyester, but this tent’s hydrostatic head rating is only 600mm. This is below the threshold to be considered waterproof, so this should be kept in mind when planning where to go as it’ll only withstand light showers

Pros

  • Can fit ten people or less, depending on how much gear is stored in the tent

  • LED lighting in this tent runs for 50 hours and has different, darker settings for evenings
  • Has an outdoor ventilated porch made out of a screen room
  • Lots of storage areas such as battery compartments and gear storage nets to stash all of the family’s loot

Cons

  • This large luxury tent isn’t suited to intense camping, only good for car camping
  • Only has a hydrostatic head rating of 600mm, under the waterproof threshold
  • Expensive

Last but most certainly not least is the Ozark Trail 20-Person Cabin Tent, being a massive capacity tent designed for those of you who bring the entire clan to your camp gatherings. Its 283 square foot of interior space can be divided between four rooms to split this gargantuan tent into smaller, functional but interconnected habitats, allowing for privacy and some snugness. For such a large tent, it is obviously more practical to be set up for the purposes of car camping, glamping or tailgating, as evidenced by the fact that this tent has an extension cord port for any electronic amenities you may want to set up. There are also two storage hammocks for you and your family’s other gear. 

With up to 20 people camping out in the same tent, you’ll need some ventilation and luckily Ozark Trail thought the same, building this tent with eight windows and a roof made of meshed fabric so that rising hot air can escape. This product is a giant tent for those who need the capacity, and whilst it’s one of the more expensive products on this list it is a budget option where tents of its size are concerned. It’s not very waterproof, so avoid using this in heavy rainfall or during winter. It’s best used as a large capacity tent during fair weather for non-intensive camping, so if you have a chilled event coming up and need an abundance of space, this is the product for you.

Pros

  • A very large, four-roomed tent with a huge 20-person capacity, more than you should ever need

  • Has an extension cord for electronic appliances, perfect for glamping or car camping
  • Eight ventilating mesh windows and meshed fabric ceiling regulates the temperature for all its occupants

Cons

  • Not to be used in heavy rainfall or winter, the product isn’t very waterproof
  • On the expensive side of this list

Best Tents for Big Families - Buyers Guide

Big families will obviously need bigger tents, and to understand how those tents work will need some rudimentary understanding of tents in general. That’s why this guide exists, to see you through the basics of tents and what makes them good so that you can identify these in bigger tents on the market. We’ll be talking about material, size, and specialization mainly. 

The Material

Tents need to be made of durable materials due to the intense weather they must face, and so come in a variety of weights depending on which material used. For example, polyester and nylon are common because they’re lightweight and relatively inexpensive for the consumer, but cotton canvas is much heavier and so much more expensive to buy. You shouldn’t see cotton canvas too much on lists such as these, and you won’t see them below either.

The Size

Tent sizing is an interesting subject. Whilst you can size a tent just using feet and inches, manufacturers like to use the person capacity measurement as it allows them to be as charitable as possible towards the tent. What we mean by this is that, if you’re trying to camp properly, then you’ll be bringing a lot of gear. That gear will take up place inside the tent usually, and so a ten-man tent becomes a six-man tent. 

The person measurements can still be useful, however, as a ten-man tent can hold ten people if they’re car camping or glamping, where their gear is stored elsewhere. A general equation that will help you to estimate a tent’s lowest possible capacity is to half the person rating, treating each person as if they have one person’s worth of gear, which cancels out the other half of the capacity, and then adding one or two depending on the size of the tent. For example, an eight-person tent will generally hold five people plus gear.

The Purpose

The specialization of tents is important in the context of this list as we’re directly targeting one of them. Tents aren’t created equal and they’re created for all different purposes, and today we’re concerned with larger, leisure-based tents intended for families, often ones that can separate into multiple rooms. 

Other tents are lightweight and hardy for backpacking and may vary in shape which might help them achieve those specializations. For the purposes of this list we only focused on the larger ones, though there may be some small crossover but generally the above products are leisure tents for families to camp in.

These larger tents will have different features such as more storage area or a space set aside for batteries or extension cords to run electrical appliances, something backpacking tents simply do not cater to. There also seems to be a positive correlation between the number of people in a tent and the number of doors that tent seems to have, as this increases the traffic potential of that tent, so it doesn’t feel so crowded. 

Ventilation also increases along this pattern, though more doors are in and of themselves more ventilation for the tent, but the number or size of dedicated mesh windows increases in larger tents too. Some in our list above even have entire mesh rooms as porches.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do larger tents take to assemble?

It varies depending on the tent, but high-quality ones should be a two to three-man job for about ten minutes to a quarter of an hour. Setting it up yourself will obviously extend this time drastically, but you wouldn’t be wrestling with overly large tent fabrics if you didn’t know you had some family members to rope into the ordeal, would you?

How do I heat a larger tent?

If you have electricity access, you can use camping heaters, electric blankets, and portable radiators inside the tent which will make your tent warm. If you don’t have access to electricity, you’ll need to insulate your tent to the best of your abilities to conserve natural heat. This can be difficult if you have no-see-um ventilation meshes. Otherwise, hot water bottles should do fine, or you can heat rocks by placing them around the campfire so that they absorb extra heat.

How do I pack larger tents?

Packing larger tents up can be a daunting task, especially if you’re used to trim, lightweight backpacking tents that fold down into themselves for neat carrying. A good start would be to keep it away from sharp surfaces, and that includes tent poles so that abrasion and subsequent tearing won’t happen when in transit. To stop mold and the weakening of the fabric, make sure that the material is dry when you store it.

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