Qualities of a Best Family Tent


Posted BY Ian under tent-qualities

I've held off on this article for a while in that it is so difficult to generalize about family camping. What one tent can be the best family tent without taking account of different family sizes, camping styles and budgets. This article will therefore be more of a discussion piece, raising issues to be considered, with even more emphasis of you to consider how these relate to your own needs.

Size

If only it was as simple as saying 'We are two and have three kids so let's get a 5 person tent'. That could work if you are all standard sizes and like a standard amount of space, but ...

Instead of thinking purely about the number of spaces, think first about the sleeping arrangements. Many family tents are divided up into 'rooms'. How would you use these?
  • Are there the right number for you and your children to separate?
  • How big are the children? Can more fit into a standard room if necessary?
  • Are the rooms set out in a way that allows privacy?
  • Are you able to monitor the younger children? (and provide them with comfort easily if required)
If you are planning more than an overnight stop it would be nice to have a communal area for meals, reading, games etc - sheltered from the sun or rain. Many family tents specifically include one of these. Check out how big that area is:
  • Is the floor space adequate for you all to sit around a table? (if you want one)
  • Is it high enough to stand up in? (if that's what you like)
Another factor to consider is the overall size. It would be nice to take a massive tent with bags of room but:
  • Will it fit on a standard pitch at your chosen campsite?
  • How small does it pack down? Can you carry it with all your other luggage?
  • Will you be able to set it up quickly, on your own, in all weathers?

Style

It would be easy to presume that all family camping was of the weekend away on a campsite variety. You may have other plans.

For a longer trip it is definitely worth having rooming arrangements that suit everyone and offer opportunities for some changes. You can expect some extremes of weather and so the communal area becomes vital - unless you take some alternative. There's nothing to stop you taking an awning or other means of making a sheltered area for cooking or recreation.

If you are planning on cooking frequently (rather than relying on local restaurants and cafes) then it is important to consider shelter for doing that, and for storage of your ingredients. A spare bedroom is better than having food in with you or the children.

For a wilderness trip, or more basic campsite, you may need to consider how easy it will be to set up your tent. Don't presume that standard pegs will suit all surfaces. Sand is particularly useless for holding pegs and only special pegs (or special tricks for camping on sand) can help you out. A tent that can stand on its own is more suitable in such cases.

So far, I have presumed that you will take your tent away in a car and that weight is therefore not an issue. You may choose to travel by train or bus, in which case weight would be much more important. Most of the excess weight could be saved by choosing the smallest size that you could be comfortable in, but do look out for special lightweight models. You could even consider taking several lightweight backpacking tents, which have the added advantage of being more easily shared out.

Budget

Top spec family tents can be pricey. They offer lots of nice little touches that can make your trip that bit more convenient and they certainly use quality materials so will last for the time before your brood leave the nest. The fact that family tents are relatively expensive does offer the chance for some great bargains if you can choose a good time to buy.

With small quantities of a large number of configurations, family tents are probably the most frequent classification to be found in Clearance Sales. If you can choose your moment to buy then you may find yourself picking up a great deal.

If you have listed the qualities you are looking for, and have a clear order of priority, then looking around for a best family tent to suit your budget shouldn't be too difficult.

Comments please

Comments are particularly welcome on this article. Share your experiences, good or bad, with other family campers and help them get the most out of the great outdoors.