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5 Tips for Buying Family Camping Tents

Trying it on for size

Togetherness can be great, but don't overdo it. Make sure the family's tent is big enough; each person needs about 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) of space. Choose a tent that could hold at least one more person than you'd expect. If you camp with children, the tent may be living room as well as bedroom -- especially if it rains. You'll want space for the children to play games, read and move around.

Stored size can be a factor. Consider how compactly the tent and poles fold and whether they will fit into your vehicle. Vertical space can be almost as important as horizontal. Do you want everyone to be able to stand up inside the tent? Do you care if adults can stand only in the middle? Will people need room to change clothes?

There are three basic styles of family tents:

  • Dome-style. These are strong and resist wind and rain well. On the other hand, they have less headroom and usable space because of the slope of the walls.
  • Cabin-style. They have the most space and headroom. They're easy to get into and out of. Some have room dividers. However, they can be harder to put up and may not be as reliable in extreme weather.
  • Screen-rooms. Often used to cover picnic tables or sitting areas, screen-rooms with weatherproof roofs protect against bugs but not rain. They can expand the living and sleeping area in good weather.