Here are the most important features and factors to consider when choosing the best family tent.
Size and weight
Most family tents are designed to be carried in the car, so are larger and tend to be heavier than smaller pop-up tents or expedition tents. Look at the packed size of the tent to make sure it will fit in your car boot and that when erected it will fit on the pitch you've booked on the campsite - don't forget to factor in any extensions.
An easy-to-erect tent will get your family camping trip off to a stress-free start. The kids may want to get involved with erecting the tent, but for families with younger children, a tent that can be put up with fewer than three people is essential.
It’s a fairly universal opinion among campers that the claimed maximum capacity of a tent is often a little on the cosy side. That's why it’s important to see a tent first-hand to ensure it has enough space for your family.
It's important to have a decent amount of living space in your family tent, both to prevent the feeling of claustrophobia and to make your stay more comfortable if the weather is poor. Your tent should offer good head height so you don’t need to stoop down once inside. You should be able to fit a table and chairs inside, both for eating at and for playing card or board games with the family.
Flexibility of sleeping compartments
The age of your children is likely to affect your preferred sleeping arrangements within your tent. Choosing a tent with flexible bedroom compartments, with a central zip separating the two chambers, means campers with young children can sleep in one large compartment, or split the compartment in two for added privacy once the children are older.
A vis-à-vis style tent may appeal to families with older children, as the two sleeping areas are at either end of the tent, separated by a living area in between.
Ventilation and insect protection
Ventilation is an important factor when choosing a family tent. A well-ventilated tent will make for a more comfortable camping experience and well-positioned vent panels will allow for the free flow of air throughout.
Vent panels should have a mesh covering so that air can enter the tent but bugs are kept out.
Doors with fly screens attached are appealing as they allow fresh air to enter the tent but keep out bugs and flying insects.
Number of doors
A family tent with more than one door can help with the free flow of air through the tent, helping to improve ventilation. It can also allow for a welcoming through breeze in warmer weather.
Having two doors can also give flexibility for family campers to easily enter and leave the tent through the most convenient doorway – especially handy for night-time trips to the toilet blocks.
In poor weather, doorways can get muddy, so having more than one can reduce the foot flow through a single door.
Large windows can help make the interior of your tent lighter and increase the sense of space. Pre-attached curtains will block out light when needed.
Tents with ample storage are a real bonus for family campers. Your tent should have enough storage space for your camping equipment, helping to keep the main living and sleeping areas of the tent clutter-free.
A tent with an integral porch or an optional porch or canopy extension is a good option for families as it can be the ideal place to take off muddy boots and outdoor clothing before entering the main living area.
Tents that have extension options are worth considering for family campers. They give the flexibility to add more space as your family grows, or to camp with or without the extension depending on the type or length of trip you're planning.
An awning or canopy can also provide protection from the sun, creating a shaded area from which to enjoy the outdoors. Larger tent extensions are available for families wanting separate cooking areas, additional storage space or a greater living area.
Many tent features are designed to make your camping experience as simple and comfortable as possible. Features such as lantern hooks make lighting the tent at night easier, and entry points for electric hook-ups benefit campers who need to charge their mobile phone or power other electricals.
A tent carpet is not a camping essential but will make your family tent feel more homely, while also acting as an insulator. Custom tent carpets are designed to fit specific tent models.
Sewn-in grounds sheets are a fairly common feature of family-style tents and are seen as an effective way of keeping out water, drafts and insects.