What is Best Tent for Families?
The best tent for families, whether for backyard camping or trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) is the REI Co-op Trail Hut 4.
REI Co-op Brand Tents
We are huge fans of REI brand tents. In our experience, they are the right blend of performance, ease of use, and, more importantly, price. We are big believers that the experience itself makes the trip great, not the gear. That being said, you can never go wrong with a solid and trustworthy roof over your head.
Best Tent for Two adults
In our pre-kid days we used an REI Taj 3 tent (discontinued). This was really just a two person tent plus some extra space for the dog and gear. We always recommend sizing up slightly. Going from a 4 person to a 4-plus person tent adds negligible weight and bulk while giving you extra room to move. Hence the 3 person tent for two people and a dog. We’ve since upgraded but still keep this one around as a spare or to lend to friends. After almost 10 years of hard use, it is starting to smell a bit musky but is still fully operational!
Best Tent for the Family
If you are a family of 3 or 4 (or 5 with one tiny human), look no further than the REI Co-op Trail Hut 4. It is very similar to our Half Dome (see below) . It is reasonably priced ($299) and weights eight pounds. In our opinion it is the best tent out there for families looking for a good workhorse for short and long trips.
We upgraded to the REI Co-op Half Dome Four-Plus tent (discontinued) once the kids were born. This tent was reasonably priced at $319, is super easy to set up, and has just enough extra space to be able to keep gear inside, play cards, and let the little ones roll around. It is also pretty light at a little over 7 lbs. We love the easy pole system that locks into the tent and footprint. We can have this tent set up (after plenty of practice of course) in about two minutes, rainfly included. It has plenty of hanging storage for tucking away your essentials and has proven quite durable. You can see it used here, here, and here!
Whatever you do, try to avoid the old-school Coleman style tents. Look for proper backpacking tents, which are lighter, sturdier, and easier to set up. Remember, the tent is there to provide you with a safe and dry sleeping environment. Apart from unusual circumstances (i.e. age, bad knees, etc.) there is no need for something so large or tall that you can stand up! You just need to be able to crawl in, play some cards, cozy up, and sleep, all while staying dry! At the same time, there is also no need for the very expensive ultralight mountaineering tents, that is unless you plan on hitting Denali or Everest base camp anytime soon!