Buying a family camping tent is like buying a vehicle: You should think about your family's needs and wants.
When it comes to vehicles, if you're going to be hauling children and their gear, you go for the minivan or SUV rather than the small, sporty car.
With tents, if you'll be backpacking your equipment long distances, you'll need the lightest-weight tent that will still protect you from the elements. You might choose one- or two-person tents, and let each camper carry his or her own shelter.
But if you're driving to within a few yards of where you'll pitch your tent, and you want adults and children together, then you want a family camping tent.
Then, other questions arise. Will you be camping only during the summer? If so, you will be interested in a tent with plenty of mesh windows and vents. Most tents are made of some combination of mesh and nylon or polyester, with different combinations for different seasons.
Are you more interested in having an inexpensive place to stay near vacation destinations, or in having a back-to-nature experience? Will you break camp frequently and drive to new destinations, or will you pitch the tent once and spend the whole vacation there? The answers to such questions might help you decide whether you're more interested in how easy the tent is to pitch or in how spacious it will be.
Even if you're likely to use the tent only once a year, it's important to choose one that will make camping a pleasure for the whole family. Read on to learn more about your choices.