With summer tantalisingly close and staycations in the UK still the most reliable option for a family holiday this year, now is the perfect time to invest in a family tent that will sleep your whole clan in comfort.
Camping is the key to enjoying the gradual easing of restrictions this spring and summer. Some campsites in Wales are already open and many in England are due to reopen from 12 April, albeit without any shared indoor facilities. This means that you need to bring your own toilet, shower and washing-up items, but don’t feel daunted: a small utility tent can house a camping toilet as lavish as your family needs, or even a portable shower.
Campsites with shared facilities are due to reopen on 17 May, but that date is dependent on government guidance. This season, it’s worth putting in a quick call to your favourite campsite a few weeks before you go to see what items you might want to bring with you.
Whether you’re packing your own en-suite or holding off until the promised easing later in the year, a good family tent is a must. Unlike one- or two-person models, these are spacious, roomy and customisable, sleeping up to eight people (or more) in as many bedroom configurations as you need. Unless specified, they are all very heavy – up to 41kg across the range we tested – so you will need to camp by your vehicle or pack a trolley if you need to travel across the site.
Some of these tents are old favourites that have survived multiple camping trips with pets, toddlers and teenagers; newer tents we put through their paces (because of Covid restrictions) in our reviewers’ gardens, in the full range of English spring weather.
Because one family’s “glamp” might be unlivable for another, we’ve included a wide range of options across the models we tested. Tunnel tents are the standard: they are normally long (but still tall) and typically have compartmentalised living and sleeping areas that you access through a main entrance. We also included some yurt- and tipi-style tents, which are ideal for families that need to sleep in one room, or who enjoy having more communal space.
If your family likes to pitch for a week or more, look for a heavier, multi-compartment tent with weatherproofing, plenty of guying options and living space. You’re not going anywhere, so you might as well be as comfortable as you would at home. If you plan to move around – or even hike – look for a lighter tent, or an airbeam (instead of poled) tent that inflates and deflates quickly and needs fewer people to set it up.
Whether you’re raring to get glamping or cautiously planning your first family trip, these are the best tents to keep you comfortable, whatever the weather.
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Outwell Jacksonville 5SA
Palatial. This extravagant model is among the most comfortable family tents we’ve ever tested.
Usually, a rule of thumb with tent sizes is to size up for the most comfortable experience (so a four-person tent would sleep three easily, and four in a pinch). But with this tent, we felt we could easily sleep a sixth person in its customisable bedroom area.
Because you can choose how many rooms you want by rolling up or down the inner dividers, this tent is perfect for a young family, or anyone whose needs might change (from one big room to two, for example) over the course of its lifetime. Little details – protected cable entry points, a groundsheet that stays flush to the ground to avoid trips, tinted windows, silent zips and excellent ventilation – are lovely finesses to a supremely durable tent that is well worth the price tag.
Buy now £1330.00, Outwell.com
Robens Chinook ursa
One of the most beautiful tents we’ve ever tested, the tipi-style Chinook ursa will net you the best compliments at the campsite. It is easy to put up, with excellent colour coding and a simple structure. The fabric is top quality – cool in the sun and warm at night – which adds to how lovely a space the Chinook ursa is to be in.
Good vents and a flap for a stove chimney mean you can customise this tent for any weather. Sensationally roomy, it fits eight people comfortably, or two to three people with a full glamping kit (think double camping bed by the warm stove). Our littlest reviewer said it “more fun” than a normal tent.
Buy now £1079.99, Robens.de
Easy Camp moonlight yurt
If you’ve always wanted to be one of those yurt families, with their hand-woven tent carpets and boho lanterns, but weren’t sure your own clan would survive a night together in one big dome, this is a beautiful gateway to glamping. Elegantly simple, it’s a very tall, yurt-style tent with plenty of storage, large windows and doors, and good weatherproofing. But it’s also well under £1,000, which means you might not worry about giving it a bit of rough treatment– at a festival, for example – or it being reincarnated as a play tent or living area as your family grows and needs more space and privacy. It’s heavy and poled, which makes it sturdy, but that does mean it needs at least a couple of people to set it up.
Buy now £220.00, Easycamp.com
Coleman weathermaster 4 air blackout
This is an outstanding, feature-packed family tent, released to celebrate the brand’s 120th anniversary. As the name implies, it’s designed with the English summer in mind: whether you have scorching sun and long days or bitter cold and driving rain, this tent has it covered.
Its robust fly is exceptionally waterproof, with a 6,000mm hydrostatic head (HH – a measure of how tall a column of water the fabric can hold before it seeps through the weave), and is treated with a UV guard that provides up to SPF50 protection.
Tall, roomy blackout bedrooms help kids (and adults) sleep longer and more comfortably, while voluminous, hanging storage means you can keep toys within reach and valuables safely out of reach. The light, spacious living area is ideal for drizzly days and cooler nights, while the air pole system means it goes up quickly and easily.
Buy now £699.00, Norwichcamping.co.uk
Coleman castle pines 4
With its tough but lightweight fibreglass poles, this new tent from Coleman is ideal for families who need something more durable than an air tent, or for camping in consistently bad weather. A tunnel tent with two tall compartments – fitted with Coleman’s blackout material to keep them comfortable and dark at night – we loved its spacious storage and zipped window shades that are perfect for controlling the light at nap time and shutting out bouts of drizzle.
Durable and weatherproof, it takes two people to set up, but feels so secure when it’s pegged out that even the worst summer weather wouldn’t shake it, making it ideal for lighter sleepers.
Buy now £439.00, Outdooraction.co.uk
Vango osiris air 500
Tents, because of their weatherproofing and materials, can come with a high environmental cost, which is why it’s always worth buying a durable and sturdy model that will last many trips. Vango is leading the way with a new line of eco-friendly tents made from recycled single-use plastic, and we absolutely love this roomy, versatile, five-person tent from its Earth collection. Most importantly, it is just as durable – and toddler-proof – as Vango’s tried-and-tested models, with taped seams, good waterproofing (3,000mm HH) and tension banding for use in stronger winds. Vango’s trusty airbeam system means it goes up quickly and without any struggle; the supplied double action pump and quick action valves are fantastic.
Buy now £525.00, Vango.co.uk
Quechua arpenaz 4.2 F&B
Traditional tunnel tents, where all the sleeping areas are in one segment, are great for families with younger children, but for older kids, a tent that splits across two sleeping areas can be a lifesaver, with one wing for later-rising adults and another for talkative larks.
This attractive tent from Decathlon’s trusty Quechua range sleeps four people comfortably, and while it isn’t as robust as pricier tents, its durable poles and tough fabric are perfect for summer camping in variable weather. The living space is a little tight if you end up having to move inside, but large, floor-to-ceiling roll-up doors (with insect-proof mesh options) stop it from feeling claustrophobic.
Buy now £219.99, Decathlon.co.uk
MSR habitude 6
Still the best hiking/biking-friendly family tent that we have tested, the habitude is a stripped-back but expedition-ready shelter for active families. At 6kg, it is significantly lighter than any other six-person tent we tested, and splits across different packs easily (so one person can carry the poles and another the fly and canopy, for example). With (just about) standing room, plenty of hanging loops and storage as well as door pockets, it’s easy to keep tidy with a bit of planning, and provides a comfortable night’s sleep. But it really comes into its own with multi-pitch holidays – whether you’re driving between campsites or hiking, it’s as fast to put up and take down as all MSR tents, and thoroughly weatherproof.
Buy now £610.00, Openair.co.uk
Berghaus air 6 tent
This is a bright, spacious tent with acres of living space. We loved the tall rooms and big windows of this tunnel-style tent, which felt breezy and comfortable even on the very warm day we tested it, largely thanks to the big vents in the walls (which you can collapse on colder or rainy days). Sturdy guy ropes mean it can stand up to bad weather, and the tough air pole system means it goes up effortlessly. It comes with a good pump that has a pressure gauge – this is a helpful addition if you’re staying put for a while but want to maintain the tent’s sturdiness with air top-ups. Darkened rooms and plenty of storage make it perfect for younger families.
Buy now £660.00, Millets.co.uk
The verdict: Family tents
It comes with a price tag, but there’s no escaping how incredibly comfortable and secure Outwell’s new Jacksonville 5SA tent is. It has enough room for proper camping beds and a kitchenette inside. Coleman still makes the best blackout rooms we’ve slept in – the Coleman castle pines model is a brilliant tent for a family trying out camping together for the first time.