You’re just getting into camping, and we love that about you. You may not know where to start, or you may feel like everyone already knows how to pick a tent and get out there. If you’re worried or embarrassed, it’s not a big deal.
Different tent brands are good for different things, and we know there’s a tent brand out there for you. You may be ready to invest in a big-name brand, or you might want to try out some budget options before you go big.
We’ve reviewed ten of the best tent brands, and we’re ready to help you decide.
Coleman was started by a young traveling salesman who came across a new type of lamp fueled by gasoline that produced a clear, bright light. Since then, Coleman has been a big name in outdoor fun and produces tents and shelters that are family oriented and budget-orientated.
Coleman’s current claim to fame for tents is the Weathertec system. The company built an actual rain room to experiment with waterproofing tent materials, and now, all Coleman tents come with coated polyester materials, inverted seams, better guy out triangles for wind resistance, and waterproof floors. The zippers are covered to prevent leaks of all kinds, even accidental ones.
Coleman makes three-season tents of all sizes from smaller, two-person backpacking style tents to huge cabin style family tents. They even have a real tent built in proportion for a child.
The Coleman frame is sturdy, but the tent poles are usually fiberglass or basic aluminum. With some of the tent frame tech that’s out there now, that makes the frame of Coleman a weak point.
Who it’s for: Families who do fair weather camping close to the car and want a budget tent to cover those needs.
Peaktop is another fair weather, family-style tent from the Quictent family. Quictent is a UK based tent and shelter manufacturer that creates everything from two-person instant shelters to huge temporary shelters and gazebo style structures.
Peaktop’s tent line is a budget family style with tents in a four-person to nine-person configuration. The big draw is that the tents are arranged into distinct “rooms” giving every person in the family or group a private space to move around.
There’s plenty of room to store gear, and the shelters go up quickly. Most of the tents are sleeping sections surrounding a common room.
Once again, the frame is the weakest spot here because they use fiberglass. Fiberglass poles are certainly cheap, but they won’t withstand much wind or inclement weather. They also can be heavy.
Who it’s for: Larger families or friend groups who value separate spaces
Big Agnes is a small company based in Colorado born of a need to get outdoors and create better, smarter equipment. The company still does much of its own testing in its own backyard, and the result is gear meant to withstand a lot of harsh conditions from weather to camping with children.
Big Agnes is a huge proponent of camping smarter. It uses things like proprietary MtnGlo tech, which is a system of LED lights sewn into a tent for great ambient light that won’t interfere with the view. Fabrics include Dominico Textile, one of the strongest and lightest fabrics around, used in things like parachutes. DAC poles, which upended the camping world with a blend of aluminum alloy and pole structure, creating sturdy, weather resistant frames without adding any extra weight.
The downside to Big Agnes? You’ve got to have the budget to match the materials. If you’re just getting into camping, you might be priced out of your comfort zone here.
Who it’s for: Individuals or families with a lot more know-how concerning camping and need flexible options.
MSR (Mountain Safety Research) started as one man’s search for the best, safest mountaineering equipment out there. Since 1969, MSR has made it its mission to create tents (and other equipment) that can stand up to inclement weather and other dangerous conditions with a little extreme backpacking on the side.
MSR’s tents are not all-purpose. They’re intended to withstand snow loads above the tree line or reduce the weight in your pack to practically nothing. If you aren’t comfortable being uncomfortable out in nature, these tents aren’t for you.
The fabrics and construction are the highlights here. Most of the tents have high hydrostatic heads or waterproof ratings, and durable coatings to withstand different types of terrain. They can be pitched creatively to account for uneven ground, all while folding up into tiny packs for hiking in several miles or building out to expedition style, long-term shelters.
Who it’s for: People who regularly hike in for miles, camp above the tree line, or professional alpinists
Black Diamond sounds fast and loose, right? That’s because it is. This company’s claim to fame is small, light tents and shelters meant to be thrown up and packed up at a moment’s notice.
Black Diamond uses DAC Featherlite poles for many of its freestanding tents, while others use a simple aluminum allow. You also have plenty of choices for ultralight tents that use only trekking poles and guy lines. For the super weight conscious, bivy sacs require no poles at all.
The biggest tents they have are only four-person tents, but if you’re out there trekking fast and light, these are the ones to go for. Weight is the overriding issue for every tent Black Diamond makes. Some of their materials are a bit delicate (for camping equipment) because of the weight preferences, so families of small children may need something that can withstand both rain and a curious child.
Who it’s for: Ultralight campers who need to cut down on the pack weight or campers ok without full shelter (Hike-Thru or bivy only).
Kelty makes a range of tents and outdoor products with fun and pleasure in mind. Some tents can withstand inclement weather, but really Kelty is all about those views. If you’re interested in getting your children to the great outdoors and like to do so without much fuss, Kelty is a good option.
The company started in 1952 and currently makes a variety of tents from one to six person. For the most part, these are three season tents. One of the biggest draws for Kelty is the stargazer fly. Many tents have mesh bodies for ventilation and views, but Kelty’s mesh is built to withstand a greater amount of abuse while outdoors. The company even designed the rainfly to adjust from inside the tent, so you never worry about getting caught in the rain.
Some of the larger, family-style tents use steel poles, but for Kelty’s smaller line, DAC Pressfit eliminates both weight and weak spots at joints. There isn’t a lot of variety for tent configuration, so if you’re looking for a mansion style tent, the company can’t help you.
Who it’s for: Smaller families or groups needing all-purpose tents that don’t block the view.
Nemo’s primary claim to fame is ultralight backpacking tents. That said, they also offer an alternative to canvas tents with the same durability and footprint. The target group for Nemo is experienced campers looking for long-term solutions to shelter.
Most of Nemo’s tents require a bit of experience to set up, although this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. They shave off pounds for their backpackers and use durable, water and wind resistant materials.
If you’re shaving off weight but still dealing with snow loads, Nemo is your tent. Most of their tents use DAC Featherlite poles, both lighter and stronger than traditional aluminum frames. Even their four seasons tents weigh less than six pounds, which is quite an accomplishment for this category.
Nemo isn’t cheap. Going this route gets you some of the lightest, toughest tents on the market, but you will have to invest.
Who it’s for: Backpackers who need to keep weight down but may experience three-season plus weather, or hunters/fishers requiring a home away from home.
Wenzel is a 130-year-old company with plenty of history on the open range. Their designs are classic and designed for families looking for weekend getaways. Affordability and tradition are the big selling points here.
These tents use fiberglass poles, which add good structure while cutting down on cost. The fabrics are moderately waterproof and set up quickly. They have teepee style tents, cabin styles, and other shelters, but the Ridgeline is the classic dome everyone pictures when imagining a tent.
The downside is Wenzel’s tent isn’t going to get you through any extreme weather. It’s best suited for weekend camping during fair weather when you won’t have to be carrying a lot of things. The open floor plan is suitable for families who all want to be in the same space anyway.
Who it’s for: Beginner campers or families with children.
Mountain Trails is an ultra-budget tent company great for absolute beginners and families who don’t camp that often. They have everything you need to get out for a weekend or two a year without killing your wallet.
They make everything from two-person to ten-person tents in classic shapes that maximize floor space. Polyethylene floors and polyester canopy fabrics are durable without being too expensive. Fiberglass poles offer structure without the expense. Large doors and plenty of internal space should satisfy most campers and their families.
The main draw is the cost. They’re incredibly affordable and offer an entry into camping you may not get with other types of tent companies. What they don’t have in long-term durability or weather resistance, they give you back in affordability.
Who it’s for: Beginners and families that maybe camp once or twice a year.
The North Face creates bomber, all-out assault-style tents that are extremely durable and are designed to withstand a ton of weather and snow. Nylon ripstop and DAC frames give the tents a ruggedness that you may not get with other types of tents.
These are overkill for most casual campers, but if you’ve ripped through a few tents and left them in shreds, The North Face may be your next tent option. They aren’t cheap, but they are made to take a beating.
Most of the tents are the same durable fabrics and frames. The expedition-style tents are-particularly heavy duty and can handle winds, snow loads, and terrible rains without budging. They’re rugged for a reason.
Again, these aren’t for beginners, and many of them rely on masterful guy lines to get all the weather resistance available. However, if you’ve torn up more than your fair share of tents, this is the company for you.
Who it’s for: People who are hard on tents and like to push what’s possible.