8 best tents 2017 for camping, festivals, family and more

If you want a quick recommend rather than perusing our curated guide of the best tents you can buy, then our ultimate all rounder tent is the Coleman Instant Dome 3, which is fantastic and well-priced. It has a durable design that will mean it withstands most conditions.

 Whether you're camping, glamping or have been thrown out by your spouse and lost your job, we've got the canvas temporary abodes you crave: tents. There's nothing like sleeping out, but you still need protection from the elements. 

How to buy the best tent for you

These tents fit the bill, whether you're sheltering on the side of a tough mountain, chilling at a festival, or living the life of a latterday gypsy. Ultimately, the type of trip you embark upon will dictate the type of tent you need. So, if you're hiking up the side of the mountain you're going to need something light, packable and sturdy in inclement weather, while a more relaxed kind of vacation calls for something as big and comfortable as possible.

There are absolutely loads of tents out there and all sorts of shapes and sizes. We've rounded up the best available, from one-man bivvy bags to sprawling family canvas stockades. Grab your guy ropes and get hammering.

The best tents you can buy today

1. Coleman Instant Dome 3

Easy to set up

Easy to set up
Cheap
No inner
Not for heavy usage

Pop-up tents are pretty much synonymous with festivals these days, thanks to the speed and simplicity of pitching, but they're not really designed for the more mature audience looking for a little more comfort. Coleman has come up with a grown-up alternative – the Instant Dome 3, with space for three people and a 1-minute pitching system thanks to poles that are already attached to the tent.

2. MSR Carbon Reflex 2

Our favourite light choice

The lightest tent
Roomy inside
Pricey
May not be as durable

The MSR Carbon Reflex is a technical, three-season tent designed to be as ultralight as possible while remaining roomy and reliable.

One of the tricks MSR has used is to employ Easton carbon fibre poles and lightweight fabrics, which propel this two-man tent down to a frankly gobsmacking 840 grams in total, or slightly heavier than two cans of Coke.

If that's too heavy for you, you can pitch it with just the outer fly and a footprint to get the weight down to 660 grams. Despite the lack of heft, you still get decent headroom, taped seams, anti-mozzie mesh and gear storage space.

3. Nordisk Alfheim 19.6

For those who'd like a Yurt instead

Huge tent
Internal cabins to help you share
Heavy
Not the design for everybody

Sometimes, only a yurt or a circus top will do the job, and in the former case, the Alfheim is the big tent you're looking for.

Sporting a super-heavyweight 18kg cotton construction, the Alfheim is for car camping trips and semi-permanent dwelling only, unless you're a circus strongman, but it will sleep 8-10 people in luxurious comfort.

Named after the home of the light elves in Norse legend, obviously, it proffers enough room for a stove or a campfire in the centre, and the top of the tent opens like a chimney for just this purpose.

Don't worry about draughts as a result: there are a series of internal 'cabins' available to sleep up to 4 people, as well as a zip-in floor - also handy for keeping the cobras out if you're on safari.

4. Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1

For just one person

Easy to carry
Premium materials
Expensive
No privacy when with others

When you're already laden with 30 kilos of hiking equipment, the last thing you want strapped to your already-aching back is a tent that weighs another 10 kilos. Serious walking requires a very specific tent – one that's light enough so that you barely notice it's there, and one that's small enough so that you can easily carry it with the rest of your gear.

Enter the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1: the world's lightest 1-person tent when it launched at just 552g. With titanium pegs, carbon fibre poles and a transparent outer cover, nothing has been comprised. Not good for privacy, but perfect for carrying up a mountain.

5. Outwell Montana 6

One for the family

Lots of space
Cheaper option
Large design may not suit all
Customisation options cost extra

When you've got a family to think about, your camping needs are pretty simple – you want as much space as possible. Outwell makes tents exclusively for families, and its range is vast – there are over 40 to choose from on the website, ranging from simple to out-of-this-world.

The Montana hits the middle sweet spot, with space for up to six and loads of room to relax inside. It also has a range of customisation options, such as a porch extension and a beefed-up roof for when the weather turns extreme.

6. Rab Group Shelter

For emergencies

Portable design
Cheap
Only room for two people
Emergency uses only

If this looks to you like a large plastic bag that you take shelter in, well, that's because it is.

If you suddenly find yourself facing torrential weather on a hike, but you've no-where to find cover and don't fancy getting soaked or blown away trying to pitch a tent, an emergency shelter is the perfect solution. The Rab Group Shelters come in various sizes, to keep you and up to nine close friends safe from the elements. The two-man one takes up only a small amount of space in your backpack, and even the largest is decently portable.

7. Decathlon Quechua Arpenaz

Basic but does the job

Good value
Easy to put up
Boring design
No room to stand

The thought of spending more than £100 on your first camping trip is probably a little off-putting for most people, especially if you don't need a load of space or a tent that folds down to the size of an orange.

Decathlon's sizeable Quechua range offers solid options in just about every size and type of tent, starting with this perfectly fine two-man job, the Arpenaz 2. Easy to put up and good value, it won't let you down.

8. MSR Pappa Hubba NX

Something completely different

Durable design
Fits in your rucksack
Expensive
Strange design

Adventures can be a little boring without other people to share the experience with, so if you want to swap stories of bravery and dare do before bedtime, get yourself a tent that's light but spacious for more than a few people. MSR's Pappa Hubba is capable of accommodating up to four friends in relative comfort, while keeping weight and packed size down to a level that's possible to carry with a backpack.