Big Camping Tents: The Ultimate Guide
When you’re hiking solo, you only need a small tent big enough to fit you in when you sleep overnight. That’s not going to cut it if you’re going with your large family or group of friends and you all want to stay inside the same tent. Inside big camping tents, however, you can talk or play poker while it’s raining outside. That’s more fun than each one having an individual tent dying of boredom.
Sometimes your tent can be really roomy, and in a literal sense. You can go for big tents for camping with rooms, so it’s as if you’ve got an apartment unit in the outdoors.
Of course, there’s a practical limit to just how big your camping tent can be. After all, someone still has to carry it and the extra weight can prove too much for a long height. So you better make sure that you can deal with the weight (and with the packing space in your car) if you’re picking among extra-large camping tents.
Factors to Consider
If you play your cards right, you should be able to find awesome tents for camping with enough room to accommodate your entire party. To find that particular tent, here are some factors you need to consider:
Many tents state how many people they’re designed for. However, for maximum comfort you may want to mentally divide this number by 2. So if the manufacturer says the tent is for 12 people, figure that it’s only good enough for 6 people.
Keep in mind that the size of the tent isn’t all about the sleeping area. Some large camping tents with rooms have separate bedrooms as well as a living room where everyone can congregate. You should have enough bedrooms for everyone, while the living space should also be ample enough for everyone to gather in.
The bigger the tent is, the more likely it’ll be heavier. So make sure you have someone in your party who can carry that load on your hike to your camping site. Some of the big camping tents with rooms can weigh almost 50 pounds.
Some tents may be designed to keep you cool during the summer, while others are made to keep you warm even in extremely cold conditions. But there are tents that are meant to be used for all 4 seasons.
The tent poles are often ignored by the average shoppers of extra-large family camping tents, since they’re often preoccupied by the size and color of the tent. But the quality of the tent poles ultimately decides the overall quality of the tent itself.
It helps that if a tent manufacturer takes the time and effort to come up with high quality tent poles, it also tends to make sure that other parts of the tent are of similar quality as the tent poles. On the other hand, manufacturers which often put too much emphasis on how “pretty” their tents are may not have bothered to make reliable tent poles.
The tent poles are the components that actually keep the tent standing. This they can do even when strong winds are blowing and the rains are blasting down from the sky. While some fiberglass tent poles are good enough, on the whole you should go with aluminum poles instead as they’re both lightweight and strong.
Some tent manufacturers like to boast about how their tents don’t need stakes. While they may be right, stake down your tent anyway. It’s better to be sure in case of strong winds.
So what’s your tent fabric made of? Tent manufacturers offer several choices:
This is the classic fabric for tents, and you can still find them for functions like weddings and graduations. But nowadays it’s not a classic for camping tents—it’s downright obsolete. Even if they may be treated to increase its water-resistance, it’s not inherently waterproof. What’s more, canvas is very heavy which makes it impractical for long hikes.
Rip Stop Nylon
The problem with nylon fabric is that if you have a tear in the fabric it will eventually get bigger. But in this particular version of nylon an extra fabric is woven into the nylon. This keeps the rip from getting larger and ruining the whole tent. This rip stop nylon is very common among 4-season tents, since they’re more likely to be used for harsher weather conditions. Even if you have branches flying about the campsite, your tent should survive.
The main problem here is that you’re supposed to pitch your tent in the shade. The nylon doesn’t do well with the UV damage from sunlight.
In many ways, polyester is similar to nylon. One main difference though is that polyester is better at resisting UV damage. So this is a great material for tents when you expect the tent to stay for many hours under the summer sun.
This is actually a kind of plastic, which makes it absolutely waterproof. The polyethylene in these tents is generally tough as well, although it can be a bit heavy. Because of the weight, very rarely are tents made entirely of polyethylene. The fabric also doesn’t really look good when you’ve folded and refolded it a number of times.
Still, many amazing camping tents use polyethylene for the flooring of the tent. Its strength and waterproofing makes it great for the role.
The tent is generally rectangular in shape, but there are several exceptions to this trend. Some have oval shapes and others have a square shape. You can pick depending on your personal preferences, though you may want to consider how the shape will accommodate your chairs, camping table, and coolers.
Since we’re talking about big camping tents, we want these tents to at least let us stand inside. That’s better than the tents where you can only lie down and sleep. So you need tall camping tents where even the tallest in your party can move around without looking like Hagrid inside a small house. Most of these large tents offer at least a height of 6 feet, but some may have a higher ceiling.
The Rainfly Quality
The rainfly is much like the tent pole—people don’t really realize how important it is. The rainfly is a flysheet over your tent that acts like an overhanging roof. This keeps the rain from hitting the actual ceiling of your tent so that the water is diverted to the sides of the tent instead.
The rainfly is essential, as you don’t burden your ceiling with the weight of the rain drops. What’s more, you can keep dry when you only have a water-resistant fabric for your tent. The rainfly can even help to keep the heat in your tent which is quite nice for camping in the cold.
Ease of Setup
A tent is useless if no one can figure out how to set it up properly. It should be easy, and ideally it shouldn’t take a lot of time. Some tents are designed so that they can be set up by a single person, although in general you need at least 2 people to do it right and quickly.
Some of the simpler tents may be set up in just 10 minutes, though 20 minutes is probably more realistic for most of us. In general, the entire setup process shouldn’t really go for longer than half an hour.
If you have a tent with an overly small or a poorly placed door, then getting in and out can be bothersome and this can color your entire camping experience. The best doors have tough, silent, and waterproof zippers that you can pull on in the dark without breaking down.
Some tents even have doors that open like the door in your home, though they may still have zippers. You will want to secure the door when you sleep, so you can keep small critters from getting in.
During the day you may want to keep the door slightly open for ventilation, but at night time you need to lock up. But you can still have fresh air if you have windows in your tent. These are often mesh windows to keep out insects.
You may want some windows in the ceiling as well, especially if you’re camping in the summer. Hot air rises, so you have an escape valve for the warm air.
Storage Pockets and Loops
People tend to bring lots of items with them when they’re camping. So where do you put these things? A great tent will have some ample storage spaces for your stuff, along with loops for easy access to your jackets or your binoculars.
The Overall Look
The look of your tent may seem inconsequential, and admittedly it’s not as important as the other factors you need to consider. But your tent is your home away from home, and it’s natural for you to want to have it look nice.