Where Camping Meets Comfort: Choosing the Best Tent

Night camping on shore. Man and woman hikers having a rest in front of tent at campfire under evening sky full of stars and Milky way on blue water and forest background. Outdoor lifestyle concept

Key Points

  • There are four main types of tents: dome, cabin, tunnel, and backpack.

  • The most important factor when choosing the best camping tent is selecting one that is comfortable for you.

  • Coleman, Kelty, Marmot, and Eureka! are quality companies worth checking out if you want to find the best camping tent.

The folks down in Hollywood pat themselves on the back every year at the Oscars. People slap each other, get an award immediately after, and everyone goes home with their overblown ego more inflated. Outdoorsy people need to start their own award show. The best camping tent is this hypothetical show's first and most important category.

Opinions on the best camping tent vary from tree-hugger to tree-hugger. Various factors inform preferences. It's impossible to say which is the world's best tent, but it's much easier to determine the best sleeping tent for you.

Just ask: What kind of tent do you want to sleep in?

The Four Main Types of Tents

Within the umbrella term "tent" falls a kaleidoscope of outdoor shelters. The genres, sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres of tents extend to the far reaches of human knowledge. Take a step back. There's no need to head first into this downward, complex spiral.

Understanding the four main types of tents is enough.

Dome Tents

Dome tents are the most popular tent because they are sturdy, wind-resistant, and easy to set up.

Most dome tents are free souls, unshackled from stakes and other grounding items. The material is lightweight yet tough, making dome tents both a breeze to carry and easy to carry through any breeze, however strong.

Sizes range. There are smaller tents for the besmirched couple and larger ones for a family of eight.

Dome tents come in a variety of shapes. One of the most popular is geodesic. A geodesic dome tent has five or more crossing pole sections. These work together to maintain the tent's structural integrity and keep it upright when nature lays siege on you.

Man sits outside near tent and fire looking at night sky

Cabin Tents

Cabin tents are for people who want the pleasure of the outdoors without the confining nature of small living quarters. These bad boys are enormous, ideal for big families or those needing more space and privacy.

They have vertical walls that offer more headspace for lengthier Homo sapiens and other add-ons that make the camping experience much richer. Get a model with a built-in awning or a porch. Now that's luxury.

Given the five-star experience of a cabin tent, they are pricier, bulkier, and take much longer to set up.

Tunnel Tents

Tunnel tents are long and narrow, ideal for windy camping environments. Due to their shape, they aren't the tents to take in heavy rain or snow.

They have a ridgepole running the length of the tent, which keeps it upright and creates the tunnel shape. Thanks to their elongated nature, there's more space to move around.

Some have multiple entrances and extra nooks and crannies to store your equipment.

Backpack Tents

Backpack tents are for campers on the move, thus in need of a lightweight, compact shelter that easily fits in a backpack. Backpack tents are small, with the largest holding at most three people.

It's easy to pitch them, break them down, and store them. What backpack tents offer with portability, they lose in durability. These aren't the type of tent you want when a tornado hits or even something milder like a heavy rain storm.

Best Camping Tents on the Market

Legions of tents saturate the outdoor gear market. Here are a few worth checking out.

Coleman's Sundome 6-Person Tent for Camping

Experience the perfect balance between compactness and spaciousness with Coleman's 6-Person Tent for Camping.

You're covered in all weather, guaranteed to stay dry and cozy because of the rain protection. The ground vent and two windows allow air flow, so you're not hot-boxing in your own fumes.

The snag-free continuous pole sleeves make the setup process easy. Once set up, it allows you adequate room to fit two queen-size airbeds. Storage pockets are available throughout to stow smaller items.

Coleman's Sundome 6-Person Tent for Camping Photo source: Amazon.com

When it's time to head home, the disassembly phase is quick, and the included bag gives you the perfect place to store the tent.

It's a tent with enough space for a party. It's your responsibility to make the party happen.

If your soirée is on the small side, Coleman sells a variety of other tents, like the 4-Person Coleman Dome.

4-Person Coleman Dome Photo source: Amazon.com

Kelty's 2-Person Late Start Backpacking Tent

Kelty's 2-Person Late Start Backpacking Tent offers everything a backpacker needs.

Two pre-bent aluminum poles create extra room and extra ease. The corner pockets keep the ends of the pole secure and prevent the all-too-common problem of poles jumping out of their grommets.

It has a single door, yet airflow is plenty, given the mesh walls. They keep the insects out and give you front-row seats to the most glorious show in the universe: the stars.

If it rains on your parade, bust out the rainfly. It keeps you nice and dry and is easy to set up.

The freestanding design gives you complete freedom to pitch the tent wherever you want. Be careful, though. If a gust catches the tent and you're not inside, it's going for a ride.

Affordable, lightweight, and easy to set up, this is the prime tent for every backpacker.

Kelty's 2-Person Late Start Backpacking Tent Photo source: Amazon.com

Marmot's 4-Person Trekking Tent

If you're in the market for a comfy, affordable, and spacious tent for your family of four, look no further than the Marmot 4-Person Trekking Tent.

The two apses in the tent accommodate your gear while leaving you enough space to sprawl out. It has only one entrance, but it's large, meaning you and the family will have no problem leaving and entering the tent. Once you're inside, the near-vertical walls offer a hefty amount of headspace for everyone except those towering individuals standing 6'5" or taller.

Marmot says the tent can withstand strong winds. This claim is backed up by someone who bought the tent — they say it held up in 50+ mile-an-hour winds. If Mother Nature decides to cry on your camping trip, the included rain tarp is perfect for deflecting her tears, leaving you snug as a bug in a rug while the rest of the world gets drenched.

It's a fantastic outdoor abode made for camping veterans and non-campers alike.

Marmot's 4-Person Trekking Tent Photo source: Amazon.com

Eureka!'s Jade Canyon X

The Eureka! Jade Canyon X is a Jack of All Trades. It's designed for all types of camping: car, beach, campground, backyard, family, or backwoods camping. This spacious tent does it all.

The 4-person version offers 8×8 square feet of space, while the 6-person option gives you 10×10 square feet. That's a lot of space to set up your camping table, use an Ouija board, write the next Great American Novel, or simply sleep.

The best part: You don't have to skulk around, bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The peak height is seven feet, so you can extend your spinal column to the max.

It also has storage pockets, a lantern loop, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a zippered power port, allowing you to run an electric cable to power any devices you brought along.

The Jade Canyon X is the best option if you want a cabin-styled tent, bar none.

Eureka!'s Jade Canyon X Photo source: Amazon.com

Camping and Comfort

The author of many backpacking books, Ryel Kestenbaum, smacked it out of the park when he said:

"The old school of thought would have you believe that you'd be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn't what being in nature is all about. Rather, it's about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization — not bringing them with us."

Ryel is correct. Ventures to nature are about decoupling from the suffocating safeties and comforts modern society provides. Buffets are wonderful. Healthcare is superb. The modern world, despite its flaws, is good. However, sometimes you need to drop that riffraff and book it to the great outdoors.

While you don't need every conceivable measure of safety and comfort, you do need some. Top of that list is a quality camping tent. It's hard to say what kind is the best. It's much easier to look in the mirror, examine the handsome primate staring back, and figure out what kind of camping tent is best for you.

It doesn't matter whether it's a dome, cabin, tunnel, or backpack tent: If the tent provides comfort while you're camping, then you've got yourself a winner.

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