The best family tent 2020: take your whole clan on your next trip

Wave goodbye to wonky poles and leaky canvas – these are the best family tents right now

best family tent: Octagon BlackOut
(Image credit: Coleman)

Welcome to T3's guide to the best family tents. Family camping: a simple, wholesome-sounding concept, but one that can so easily become a living nightmare if you're not properly prepared. 

The equipment required for a family camping trip will differ somewhat from what you'd need for your average expedition, particularly if you have young children or grandparents in tow. The best family tents offer space to sit down inside and out, as well as a touch more headroom, inner rooms for some degree of privacy (and to allow for different bedtimes), and a porch area to accommodate exhausted family members and bikes / scooters / footballs too.

Obviously, the most important thing is weatherproofing. You need a family tent that's both waterproof – to fend off the guaranteed showers – and wind-resistant – so Granny isn’t unexpectedly lofted, along with the tent, into the treeline. Blackout material is also highly recommended, unless you enjoy being woken at 4am by family members who don't yet know how to read a clock, or by the sun itself. 

To complete the experience, you probably also want to check out our guides to the best camping stoves, so no one goes hungry, and the best camping chairs.  

How to find the best family tent

Family tents are a varied breed, covering a range of accommodation from oversized mountain tents with a few extra pockets, to sprawling fabric mansions. So if you're trying to find the best family tent for your brood, there are a couple of essential questions that'll help narrow your hunt. How adventurous do you plan on being? And how big is your family? 

The mega-sized family tents are about as portable as a circus marquee, so you’ll be restricted to staying at 'proper' campsites within driving range of home. In this category, inflatable designs are popular, and with a car-powered compressor you’ll be pitched in minutes. However, these types of family tents tend to be costly, heavy, and run the risk of punctures.

Lighter, more portable family tents offer more flexibility in use – if your children are old enough for it, some are light enough to hike around with. However, these are inevitably smaller in scale, which can make things a little less fun if the weather isn't on your side you find four of you crammed into a tiny space, along with your wet clothes and boots.

Luckily, there’s something to suit every purpose and budget in our round-up of the best tents for a family. Read on to find the perfect one for you...

These are the best family tents right now

best family tent: Outwell Airville 6SA

(Image credit: Outwell)

1. Outwell Airville 6SA

The best family tent for space and easy pitching

Reasons to buy
+So big has extension+Fitted carpet as extra+Air poles for speed
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Weighs more than 40kgs

The new Outwell Airville 6sa is our pick for the best family tent right now. It sleeps six in two master bedroom pods, both equipped with near-blackout ‘dark inners’. The tent is also standing-height throughout, with masses of non-bedroom space. So much in fact that there’s a sizable wing lounge side pod, as well as a large living/dining area and a fully opening front zip onto a covered veranda. Many a city house will seem small on your return. 

But the spec list hasn’t even started yet. The easy-inflate air structure ensures there’s no battling bent poles, and taped seams keep and a wind brace system keep things stable and weatherproof. There are also dedicated power hook-up inlet points, and even an (optional) fitted carpet. This really does leave nothing to be desired. 

The only downsides are the hefty weight and equally hefty price ticket, but if you want to compromise on absolutely nothing else, the Outwell Airville 6sa is the family camping palace for this summer and well beyond.

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best family tent: Octagon BlackOut

(Image credit: Coleman)
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best family tent: Octagon BlackOut

(Image credit: Coleman)
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best family tent: Octagon BlackOut

(Image credit: Coleman)
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best family tent: Octagon BlackOut

(Image credit: Coleman)

2. Coleman Octagon blackout tent

The best tent for a family wanting space to swing cats

Reasons to buy
+Biiiig on space+Blackout for better sleep
Reasons to avoid
-Sizable footprint-Steel poles

The 2020 Coleman Octagon Blackout Tent offers a lot of tent for not very much money. For a very reasonable price tag this behemoth sleeps up to eight in a yurt-type setup, hitting around 4m square. 

At just over 2m high there's acres of headroom too, giving a very flexible family tent with cheery festival-vibes to boot. A decent packsize and weight of 20.6kgs might not make this a trekking contender, but does mean a short ramble from the carpark is doable.

There's more good news for family campers too. There's blackout material to help you scavenge a couple more hours of precious sleep, robust steel poles, and an improved Hydrostatic Head of  4500mm, which should keep even British wetness at bay for the weekend. 

Outwell Phantom 5sa family tent

3. Outwell Phantom 5sa

This family tent has a cool, palatial vibe

Reasons to buy
+Enormously spacious+Reliable, high tech design
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy (32.9 kg)-Comparatively expensive

If your attitude is ‘go big or go home’, this stylish family tent will see you happily ensconced on any campsite across the land in an extensive canvas palace. Featuring two bedrooms and a sizable living area, this beast sleeps five with ease, and utilises an inflatable structure (so there are no poles to break or to leave at home). 

As with the very best tents for a family, the Outwell Phantom 5SA has panoramic windows, integrated doormat, optional carpets, and a power-hookup entry point make this a real home-from-home. Although the price is almost comparable to that of a rural cottage...

Robens Field Station tent for a family

4. Robens Field Station

The best family tent for camping on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Undeniably cool+Ample capacity+Simple to pitch
Reasons to avoid
-Single living/sleeping area

There’s an undeniable romance to the tipi, and Robens brings modern practicality to the table as well. There are downsides to having a single communal space, such as noise and small children arising before dawn, but there are upsides too – warmth being a big factor. 

The Robens Field Station is easy to pitch, with a single central pole and an integrated groundsheet to help cut down on faff when putting it up. A total weight of 7.7kg, for a sleeping capacity of eight, makes it pretty portable too (in theory that's less than 1kg per person). If height is of paramount importance in your search for the best family tent, you’ll be quids in here. The height is a lofty 1.8m (although bear in mind this is only in the centre!), and this tent comes with a reasonable price tag too.

MSR Papa Hubba NX family tent

5. MSR Papa Hubba NX

The best tent for a family looking to pitch anywhere

Reasons to buy
+Lighter than some two-man tents+Super-flexible
Reasons to avoid
-Low headroom-Single living/sleeping area

The Papa Hubba might not have the airy, palatial grace of some of its peers, but it has a surprising trick up its sleeve: a total weight of 2.67kg. This epically low figure means the Papa Hubba is super-portable, making it an ideal choice for more rugged and remote camping trips where you have to lug a tent and equipment for miles. With a respectable three-season rating, this MSR family tent is a genuine go-anywhere double-walled space.

The Decathlon Quechua Arpenaz 4.2 tent for a family

6. Decathlon Quechua Arpenaz 4.2

The best family tent offering premium build for a budget price

Reasons to buy
+Amazing value for money+Simple but solid build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Undeniably basic-Pitching requires practice

No roundup of the best family tents would be complete without at least one fiendishly priced offering from French outdoor brand Decathlon, and this is a doozy. The cheapest family tent here by a country mile, you might not get luxury but you do get a lot of tent, with two bedrooms and a decent living area in between. 

Sleeping four with ease, this has all the mesh fly screens, random pockets and portability (11kg) you’d expect, with none of the excess or quirkiness of more costly models. For simple, car-based family campsite action you could spend a lot more and get a lot worse.

Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes 6L tent for a family

7. Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes 6L

The best family tent for those who loathe early mornings

Reasons to buy
+Inspiring looks+Plenty of practical touches
Reasons to avoid
-This is one heavy tent -Costly to buy

With a name straight out of Hollywood, and a structure that appears to accelerate into the future, the Coleman is all ingenuity and cutting-edge tech. Gone are the days of being woken by sunlight and birdsong at 4am, as the FastPitch Air Valdes has blackout bedrooms that promise to block 99 per cent of light from the two sleeping areas. One of these can be removed (taking the six-man tent down to a four) if extra living space is needed, although a large porch already provides plenty of cover. At two metres high there’s headroom for all, and the ‘FastPitch’ inflatable air poles means it can be put up by just one person when using the included pump.

The best tents for a family: Vango Beta 450 XL

8. Vango Beta 450 XL

The best tent for a family looking for no-frills camping

Reasons to buy
+Wallet friendly+A small towing caravan in canvas form
Reasons to avoid
-Mid-range in size and spec -Can get a little cramped

The Vango is a brilliant family tent at a keen price point, sleeping four in comfort and with a good size living area to boot. You'll thank us for this when you're three days into a family camping trip and craving your own space. Although headroom is relatively low at 1.55m, that’s sufficient to sit and relax of an evening, even in the worst weather. Weighing in at a reasonable 7.9kg, Vango's entry into our best tents for a family round-up is an old-school campsite classic, and as it’s from Vango, it’ll probably last a lifetime.