The Best Tents for Every Camping Trip

Our top pick is the REI Half Dome 2 Plus for its durability and helpful features.

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Best Tents Tout

Amazon and REI

Choosing a tent, whether you want a compact one-person setup or a tented party palace for big groups, is key to how comfortable and enjoyable your trip will be. Your choice of tent should fit your preferences and the trips you take it on; it’s an investment that will help make your present and future camping adventures that much more enjoyable. To help with your tent search, we researched dozens of options and spoke to Dan Purdy, a professional hiking and backpacking guide with Wildland Trekking.

The REI Half Dome 2 Plus is our go-to recommendation for duos of campers who want a roomy, durable tent that’ll stand up against the elements and is loaded with features. But there are plenty of other great options.

These are the best tents for every type of camping trip.

Best Overall: REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+

 REI Coop Half-Dome SL 2+ Tent

Courtesy of REI

Why We Love It: The Half Dome 2 Plus is roomier than most two-person tents and adjustable for different camp conditions.

What to Consider: It doesn’t come with a tent footprint to shield your tent from the ground; you’ll want to purchase one separately.

We love the extra space that the three-season REI Half Dome 2 Plus offers campers, with an added 10 inches in length and 4 inches in width compared to most two-person tents. As the “big and tall” of the camp world, it manages to make a two-person tent feel not quite so tiny. It’s easy to set up and take down, with luxurious features that don’t break the bank. You’ll find ample ventilation in the rainfly, two doors, internal pockets and hang loops for organization, and improved aluminum poles for better headroom. The rainfly is also quite versatile, making it easy to tailor exposure to your liking. It's great no matter whether you plan on stargazing or zipping it closed for warmth. 

The floor is bathtub style, designed with heavy-duty material that extends up a few inches to the sides of the tent. This helps prevent water or moisture from the wet ground from seeping inside, keeping you, your sleeping bags, and your other items dry. The thicker materials will be a trade-off with weight to carry, though, something to keep in mind when considering backpacking trips.

Wildland Trekking guide Dan Purdy

“I’ve been guiding with the REI Half Dome for years. As a big guy, I very much appreciate the generous proportions of this tent, and the materials are thick and bombproof. Now, I pay the price for these pros since this tent is heavier than many other two-person tents, but to me, it’s a worthwhile trade-off.”

— Wildland Trekking guide Dan Purdy

Floor dimensions: 92 x 56 inches | Packed size: 7 x 20.5 inches | Packed weight: 5.3 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 1,500 millimeters

Best Budget: Stoic Madrone 2 Tent

Stoic Madrone 2 Tent

Courtesy of Backcountry

Why We Love It: This versatile tent is great for multiple climates and camping styles. 

What to Consider: The Stoic Madrone 2 doesn’t have as many interior features as some tents on our list.

The three-season Stoic Madrone is a dependable, budget-friendly, two-person tent that makes comfortable camping an option for those not looking to spend too much. It lets you stay dry in a rainstorm, cozy in the cold, and cool in warmer weather. Two doors and a spacious interior make this tent suitable for two adults, or an adult and a child or dog. The snap-in clip design makes it a breeze to set up, so you can get to the enjoyable parts of your camping trip quickly. Taking it down is just as simple — within a few minutes you’ll have your outdoor abode back in its duffel bag. If the camping gods bless you with ideal weather, take the rainfly off and sleep under the stars with the refreshing mesh lining. 

Floor dimensions: 60 x 90 inches | Packed size: 6 x 22 inches | Packed weight: 6 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 3,000 millimeters

Best for Warm Weather: Coleman 4-Person Darkroom Sundome Tent

Coleman 4-Person Darkroom Sundome Tent

Courtesy of Coleman

Why We Love It: This tent blocks out light to keep the heat down inside and has a ground vent for airflow.

What to Consider: Although it’s categorized as a four-person tent, it would be a tight fit comfort-wise.

Keeping things cool when camping in warm weather situations can be tricky, but it’s certainly possible with the right tent. Coleman’s “darkroom technology” blocks 90 percent of sunlight and features strategically placed ventilation to keep air flowing. It’s a perfect tent for a beach day, a summer overnight trip, or an all-around warm weather weekend camping expedition. Sleeping well past sunrise or taking a midday nap can be a part of your camping getaway with the Sundome. 

The tent is also weatherproof with a bathtub floor in case rain becomes more of a problem than the sun. The Sundome is large enough for a queen-sized airbed, and the e-port allows you to bring electricity inside. Along with the quick setup and teardown, the ability to keep temperatures in check makes this tent a no-brainer for beach camping. Note that it also comes in a six-person size.

Floor dimensions: 108 x 84 inches | Packed size: 7.2 x 24.7 inches | Packed weight: 10.25 pounds  | Hydrostatic head rating: Not listed

Related: The Best Camping Coffee Makers

Best for Cold Weather: Mountain Hardwear 4-Season Trango 2 Tent

Mountain Hardwear 4-Season Trango 2 Tent

Courtesy of Backcountry

Why We Love It: This two-person tent was designed with a vestibule for removing gear before entering your sleep space. 

What to Consider: The price point is on the higher end.

This four-season tent snagged the top spot for best cold weather tent due to its superior weatherproof design and durability. With fully sealed seams, snow flaps, double wall protection, and bathtub-style floor, this tent can hold its own against Mother Nature. Despite being able to withstand alpine weather conditions, it also manages to be somewhat lightweight with DAC Featherlight NSL poles, making it suitable for mountaineering and climbing endeavors. Interior pockets and hanging loops provide organization, and a big entry vestibule is perfect for taking your boots off and storing your gear before going into your sleeping space. The Trango 2 fits two adventurers and has two doors for easy entry. 

Floor dimensions: 92 x 64 inches | Packed size: 7.2 x 24.7 inches | Packed weight: 9.6 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 10,000 millimeters

Easiest to Assemble: Mobihome 6-Person Tent

Mobihome 6-Person Tent

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: It goes up in seconds so you have more time for camping fun.

What to Consider: This tent does better in warm weather than it does in colder temperatures.

We can’t get enough of the easy setup method that the Mobihome 6-Person tent offers. This spacious tent is great for families or small groups, and with a few fast steps utilizing the “special hub system,” you’re ready to roll at your campsite. In fact, one adult can successfully set it up on their own. Two queen-sized air mattresses fit inside, and ventilation won’t be an issue with the tent’s three windows and breathable mesh roof. Storage pockets and a loop to hang a lantern make this outdoor home nice and cozy too. Whether you’re embarking on a family weekend by the lake, a festival with friends, or a night of backyard camping and s’mores, the Mobihome will make your adventures easy and comfortable. 

Floor dimensions: 161.42 x 82.68 inches | Packed size: 9.06 x 35.4 inches | Packed weight: 14.3 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 1,500 millimeters

Best Pop-up: Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

Courtesy of REI

Why We Love It: Most campers can stand up in this tent thanks to its 6.5-foot height.

What to Consider: It’s heavy, which makes it best for camping trips that don’t require much walking or hiking. 

Nothing makes camping easier than a pop-up tent. Built for four, the square-shaped Gazelle T4 Hub Tent sets up quickly and with minimal effort so you can sit back and enjoy the view from the six mesh windows and two doors. It comes fully assembled with a smartly designed framework, allowing it to pop-up in a jiff. A gear loft and extra pockets aim to keep things up high and out of the way to maximize the already generous 61 square feet of interior space for relaxing and sleeping. Don’t need the extra storage and prefer more head space? The gear loft is removable for precisely that reason. 

Heavy-duty zippers, a removable rainfly, strong fiberglass poles, and waterproof floor material make the Gazelle Hub tent a protected haven against the elements. Take-down is a breeze as well; within minutes you’ll have your tent back in its handy duffel bag, ready to rest in between trips. 

Floor dimensions: 94 x 94 inches | Packed size: 9 x 68 inches | Packed weight: 30.6 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 5,000 millimeters

Related: The Best Folding Chairs to Bring Camping

Best Lightweight: Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Sea to Summit Telos TR2

Courtesy of Sea to Summit

Why We Love It: It’s lightweight but roomy and includes several items that serve more than one purpose.

What to Consider: The price point is on the higher end.

We love this supremely functional three-season freestanding tent for its lightweight, spacious interior, and incredible ventilation (apex and baseline) which does a stand-up job at keeping condensation and moisture out. The tension ridge and vertical wall design offer more headroom and taller doors than a typical tent, making crawling inside much easier, too. Two can fit comfortably with plenty of room above or below sleeping pads for bags and other items you want inside the tent. Illuminate the inside with the nifty Lightbar pole storage sack, which can be hung from the tent ceiling with up to two headlamps for soft lighting. 

The versatile rainfly makes switching between stargazing on a clear night to taking cover on a rainy one a straightforward process. During the day, the rainfly can also be converted to a partially open shelter by using your trekking poles. Weather protection and durability are impressive as well, with a bathtub floor, strong YKK zippers and a tear- and water-resistant rainfly. It should be noted that this model does not come with a footprint, though one that fits the dimensions exactly is available for purchase.  

Wildland Trekking guide Dan Purdy

“We tested this tent for the Wildland Gear Review project, and it’s a fresh design in the world of tents,” Purdy says. “Solidly built, surprisingly spacious with lots of head room and good ventilation.”

— Wildland Trekking guide Dan Purdy

Floor dimensions: 84.5 x 53.4 inches | Packed size: 5.1 x 18.9 inches | Packed weight: 3.6 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 2,500 millimeters

Best Two-person: The North Face Stormbreak 2 Two-Person Camping Tent

The North Face Stormbreak 2 Two-Person Camping Tent

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The North Face Storm Break 2 is a tent that maximizes your camping views.

What to Consider: This tent is a little on the heavier side for hike-in camping or longer backpacking trips.

The North Face Storm Break 2 is an all-around pleaser. Whether you’re car camping or heading out on a short backpacking trip, this freestanding tent makes for a solid companion. It’s easy to set up with a spacious interior, and will keep you dry in wet conditions thanks to the polyurethane coating and fully seam-taped canopy and floor. Two large doors with twin zippers amplify views and make accessing the tent easier for two people. Airflow isn’t an issue with both high and low ventilation built in as well.

The Storm Break balances reliability and affordability quite well. “I once guided for a non-profit outfit in Nicaragua, and the Storm Break was a budget-friendly yet reliable tent that we often used,” Purdy says.

Floor dimensions: 87 x 50 inches | Packed size: 7 x 22 inches | Packed weight: 5.8 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 3,000 millimeters

Best Vehicle Rooftop: Thule 3-Season x Tepui Foothill Tent

Thule 3-Season x Tepui Foothill Tent

Courtesy of Backcountry

Why We Love It: This tent can be set up on either the driver or passenger side of the vehicle.

What to Consider: It tends to run on the warmer side.

We like how the Thule 3-Season x Tepui Foothill Tent is compact for packing but roomy enough for two people. When folded up for traveling, the small size and softshell design allow other items such as bicycles and kayaks to be transported on the roof as well. Although the compact, low-profile nature of this tent is fantastic, perhaps the only downfall is that the ladder has to be stored inside your car for traveling. The skylight and panoramic-style windows maximize views and ventilation capabilities, ideal for stargazing or sunrise watching from your sleeping bag. Sleep comfortably on the 4-centimeter foam mattress included with the tent. Both interior and exterior hanging loops and pockets help with storage needs, too. The Foothill tent is great for smaller cars and ideal for solo or duo travelers due to ease of setup, as well as its low and lightweight profile that won’t weigh you down. It’s a prime example of holding up to Thule’s reputation for superior durability and weather-proofing, keeping you warm and dry from the elements. 

Floor dimensions: 84 x 47 inches | Packed size: 83 x 24 x 9.5 inches | Packed weight: 122 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: Not listed

Related: The Best Hiking Backpacks for Women

Best Yurt: Danchel Outdoor Lightweight Yurt

Danchel Outdoor Lightweight Yurt

Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The tent’s large capacity fits up to eight people comfortably.

What to Consider: There is no stove jack in this tent, so cooking cannot be done inside.

For those interested in backyard camping (or glamping) with larger groups, the Danchel Yurt Tent fits the bill for its ample room and height. Easy to assemble and well-ventilated, this yurt-style tent with center pole is perfect for hanging out and playing cards, eating, sleeping, and sheltering from bugs. The silver-coated fabric means hot days with strong sunlight won’t transform the interior into an oven, while the sizable windows keep air flowing. Waterproofing saves the day during a rainstorm. Although it’s too heavy for hike-in camping or backpacking trips, this large tent works well for standard car camping endeavors, particularly with bigger families or groups.

Floor dimensions: Irregular round shape approximately 197 x 197 inches | Packed size: 33.5 x 10.7 x 10.5 inches | Packed weight: 30 pounds | Hydrostatic head rating: 5,000 millimeters

Tips for Buying a Tent

Consider the material

One of the main things to pay attention to when shopping for a tent is the hydrostatic head rating. It sounds super technical, but really it’s just about waterproofing. “This rating measures how much water needs to accumulate before it seeps through the tent material,” explains Purdy. “So a rating of 1,000 millimeters means that the testers had a column of water 1,000 millimeters high before any seeped through the material. Translating that into buying a tent, the higher the hydrostatic head rating is, the more waterproof the tent material is. But beware, the thicker and burlier the material, the heavier the tent.”

Choose ventilation wisely

A hot and stuffy tent is the last thing you want to deal with when trying to enjoy camping. Waking up in a puddle of sweat can be avoided by buying a tent that has solid air-flow and extra ventilation. “As a large guy who sleeps warm, ventilation is key! Without it, the moisture you exhale all night long will accumulate on the inside surfaces of your tent, and you can wake up with everything inside your tent slightly damp — not a good start to the day,” Purdy says. “So look for tents that have ventilation at the top and bottom of the tent. Having two vent points top and bottom allows the warm air at the top of your tent to escape and be replaced by cold air being pulled in from the bottom vent.”

Remember ease of setup

Wrestling with various poles, fabric, and stakes can be extremely frustrating when all you want to do is get set-up so you can relish in the outdoor experience and finally relax. Finding a tent with a balance of sturdiness and ease of set-up is key. Usually, practicing at home in your living room or backyard before heading out on your first camping trip with a new tent is a good idea. That way, you’ll have the hang of it when you arrive at your site. “For assembly, freestanding tents tend to be the easiest. These can be set up entirely with their poles and maintain their shape without needing to be staked out. Non-freestanding tents tend to be a little bit more complicated but also [mean] less weight,” says Purdy.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a tent footprint?

    A tent footprint is a piece of fabric the same size as your tent’s floor that you place underneath it to help prevent rips, tears, moisture, etc. “These are sometimes an additional purchase, but I highly, highly recommend them to maximize your tent’s lifespan,” Purdy says.

  • How do I make tents warm and comfortable?

    Losing sleep because you’re cold and uncomfortable can ruin an otherwise amazing camping trip. In addition to getting a tent for your appropriate ventures and temperature range, Purdy has some tips and tricks you can employ to make your experience comfy and cozy. “First, make sure you also set up your tent’s rainfly (the highly waterproof outer shell). This will help keep the chilly wind out and your body heat in. Second, an inflatable camping mat combined with a good quality sleeping bag goes a long way to keeping you comfortable all night. On very cold nights, you can also fill a Nalgene bottle with warm water and throw it in the bottom of your sleeping bag, this will work wonders for keeping you warm,” he says.

  • How do I clean a tent?

    As nice as it would be to just tear down your tent and throw it in a bag until next time, exposure to the elements of wind, rain, dirt, etc. need to be taken care of before storing. Otherwise, your tent’s lifespan will be shortened significantly, and you might deal with mold issues. So, how do you clean a tent? “Carefully,” Purdy says. “Always always always read the manufacturer’s instructions as many common cleaners can remove the waterproofing treatment from your tent. Often, a quick rinse with just water is all you need to get the normal dirt off. But after every single trip, always hang your tent to dry even if it doesn’t feel that wet. Storing your tent with just a smidge of dampness can turn that dampness into mold within just a few days.” 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Camping enthusiast and travel writer Lauren Breedlove used her personal experience with finding the right tents and camping in various conditions to create this list. In her research to select the best tents for every type of trip, she interviewed professional hiking and backpacking guide Dan Purdy, who works with the well-known company Wildland Trekking.

Up Next: The Best Air Mattresses for Camping

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