Taking the family camping can be a hugely rewarding and relaxing experience that connects children and adults to nature. A decent family tent offers excellent weatherproofing, a good amount of indoor space and headroom, and a few handy features to make it feel like home, whatever the weather is doing.

Advertisement

Whether you're planning to invest in a high-spec family tent that will last for years to come, or looking for a tent for the odd family festival, we've road-tested what's out there right now in real conditions, looking at how easy each tent is to put up, its durability, weatherproofing and internal space.

Which family tent is right for me?

To work this out, think about how long you want to camp for, how big your boot space is, and what your family aesthetic is. Bell tents look lovely and are often used as classic 'glamping' accommodation. But the only headroom is in the centre of the tent, which means long stays can be hard on adult backs. Tunnel tents offer better headroom and there are many recycled options out there now, but the sound of plastic can rustle underfoot and feel less natural. They're often trickier to put up.

Another factor to consider is the fly sheet material. Tents with a polyester fly get extremely hot inside when in direct sunlight, whereas polycotton or cotton fly sheets tend to be more breathable and therefore less unbearably hot in the sun. They will usually last longer too, being more UV-resistant.

More like this

On the other hand, polyester or other synthetic fabric is cheaper, lighter, more compact and quicker to dry, especially useful before storage.

What to look for in a family tent

A 6-person tent means that there is enough room for six people to sleep next to each other, which is different from how many people can comfortably inhabit the space. So even for two adults and two children, a 6-person tent usually offers just the right amount of space. Many have detachable walls between the sleeping compartments, which can give a sense of privacy that's handy for teenagers and kids wanting a bit of independence.

Think about whether you need electric hook-up, for which you might want a tent with access to a charging point. Bell tents don't offer compartment walls, but are very easy and quick to put up. It will come down to your personal preference which type you go for.


Best family tents for camping in 2023

Outwell Airville 6SA tent

6-person multi-room tent

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

A spacious family tent that's at the heavier end of the family air tent range (at 49.8kg), but built to last. This tent has some thoughtful and clever design touches, such as magnetic doors that open and close silently (useful with younger kids), large tinted windows, a hook track system across the ceiling to hang lights from and a carry case with wheels at one end of it. Worth the investment if you have the boot space.


Easy Camp Palmdale 600 Lux tent

6-person tunnel tent

A star rating of 3.8 out of 5.

A fibreglass pole family tent at the cheaper end of the market that offers plenty of space for family adventures, and good protection against the elements. This is a great option if you want to try out camping but don't want to commit to a high-spec tent, and it has all the right features – such as pockets in the inner compartment, lamp hooks, a side door and mesh windows inside and out – to be a practical living space whatever the weather is doing. Highly recommended for families on a budget.


Vango Aether Air tent 600XL

6-person tunnel air tent

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Vango Aether Air in field with chairs in porch in full sunshine
The Vango Aether Air 600xl has a generous porch and a good sized living area for families to kick back in, whatever the weather.

A roomy family tunnel tent that's built to last, Vango's family air tent – made from recycled water bottles – goes up easily and is well designed with useful features throughout. There are lantern hooks, a mains access point for chargers, black-out inners for the sleeping compartments and a large porch, which makes camping less weather-dependent. It's not as heavy as some of the other offerings on the market, which is another bonus. A great investment.


Zonda 6EP family tent by Wild Country

6-person tunnel air tent

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

A spacious three-zone tunnel air tent that's easily adaptable to suit all weather conditions. Once it's rolled out, the Zonda 6EP is easy to put up, and like most air tents it comes with a double-action hand pump to inflate and deflate the 'poles'. It sleeps six, and has three black-out bedrooms to protect your eyes from the early morning sun. It's more than spacious enough for bad weather, and features such as the extendable porch and removable groundsheet mean you can adjust your flooring depending on what the weather's doing.


Buxton Waterproof 4 Man Tent

4-person tunnel tent

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

An excellent, compact 4-man family tent with allows full headroom and space in the car. Useful features include two sleeping compartments, a series of pockets on the inner, colour-coded poles and a lantern hook – so despite its size, it has everything a young family might need. At 13kg, two people could carry it to the pitch – only one person need assemble it.

Advertisement

How much space do I need in the car?

Most 6-person family tents will take up most of the boot of a small hatchback, so be prepared to use a roof box or a trailer if all the seats are occupied. Air tents – with a structure made of inflatable tubes – have wider 'poles' and take up the most room. Pole tents are more compact, meaning you can probably squeeze in a double air mattress and possibly a double sleeping bag as well. Make the most of collapsible camping equipment, as you may be able to get a few extra things in under seats.

Authors

Tanya Jackson in red checked shirt and rucksack standing by a wall with a big smile
Tanya JacksonDigital editor

Tanya Jackson is a digital editor and writer for countryfile.com. She lives in Wiltshire and loves campfire cooking, swimming in the sea, rural folklore, barn owls and walking her Welsh collie in the misty hills. Tanya also has a passion for English food and drink – although nothing tastes as good as tomato soup out of a thermos on a crisp woodland walk.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement