Updated 5th January 2022.
Family staycations have become more popular over the past few years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down yet. 55% of tourism businesses reported an increase in domestic tourism from 2017 - 2019, and more and more dads are making the most of the opportunity to go camping with the kids.
If you’ve never camped with children, or even camped at all, it can seem be daunting at the very start of planning. Choosing the best family tent for you and your trip is an essential step in ensuring your child is, first and foremost, safe, and secondly, is able to fully enjoy themselves.
In this handy guide we'll tell you everything you need to consider when buying a tent, as well as our reviews of the best family camping tents for babies and toddlers.
Why has camping become so popular?
There's been a significant growth of the family camping holiday for a couple of main reasons:
What to look for when buying a family tent?
Camping with babies or toddlers might seem crazy at first to a lot of people. But like anything else, it can be a breeze if you have the right equipment and buy a family tent that is fit for purpose.
Here's what to look for:
The 10 best family tents for camping
Camping with babies
A baby might not take up the most room in the tent, but you still need plenty of space for everything that comes along with it – a travel cot, wash basin, changing area etc. You’ll need either a large single-room tent capable of sleeping mum, dad, baby and all the gear, or a multi-room tent that has a sizeable bedroom, big enough to fit all of your family, while the living space stores everything else.
Here are five of the best:
"A great balance between size and price."
For size and price, it’s hard to beat this one. The Coleman Octagon offers a huge single room capable of housing a large airbed with plenty of room for a travel cot and all your baby’s gear. Its height also makes it more than comfortable to move around. Six of the eight sides open fully, ensuring maximum air circulation and the two remaining sides hold unique hinged doors for easy access.
“Strong and durable ensuring comfort even in strong winds."
The Copenhagen from Skandika is a top of the range spacious dome tent, that features a large living space with three bedrooms separated by zipped dividers. With three large entrances and big windows coupled with a breathable fabric, it’s airy even in the warmest weather, while still warm for the cooler nights. The poles are made from shatterproof fibreglass ensuring durability and flexibility, while tear resistant material, taped seams and reinforced eyelets make it a worthy investment without breaking the bank.
“Its relatively low price makes camping accessible to anyone.”
It may not be the largest on this list, but this tent from CampFeuer can amply accommodate a travel cot and plenty of baby supplies between its living space and zipped separate bedroom. Waterpoof up to 3000mm (more than double the threshold), its more than capable of resisting a sudden downpour. And it will fall into just about everybody’s budget with a fantastic price.
“The screen room is an amazing feature to help baby to play safely outside.”
This tent from Alpha Camp offers a little extra in the way of features. Internal pockets are perfect for storing essential items for the baby, and large windows and doors offer great ventilation and natural light. With sun and weather protection, the separate floorless screen room is brilliant for baby to explore the grass and play.
“Excellent size for larger groups, and seriously good build quality.”
One of the more expensive out there, the NTK Super Arizona GT is an impressive combination of size and build quality. Its sturdy steel poles offer maximum headroom and internal space, perfect for dealing with a cot. Super strong materials, seams and zips make it excellent in all conditions. It also has a dark roof and side panels to reduce light that helps prevent an early wake-up call.
Camping with toddlers
You may not need anywhere near as much equipment when camping with a toddler, but you definitely still need plenty of space to keep them happy and entertained, especially during longer trips.
Without the need for a bulky travel cot, you’re more likely to favour larger living spaces and perhaps separate bedrooms for toddlers more comfortable sleeping on their own.
Here are our five favourites for camping with toddlers:
“Super lightweight making it easy to transport.”
This Scouts Association-recommended option is a great mid-sized tent that doesn’t cost a bomb, making it perfect for a camping break. The bedroom will comfortably sleep two parents and a toddler, with a living space suitable for some play time. Diamond Clear windows ensure fantastic light during the day, while darker lining helps to prevent early morning sunshine.
"The large bedrooms and full height make it a more than comfortable tent however long your trip is."
The Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus XL is perfect for a longer stay, perhaps with more than one child. It has two XXL bedrooms, capable of sleeping five adults, and a sizeable living space with outdoor canopy to allow for shaded outdoor play. Full height makes it easy and comfortable to move around, while pockets and hanging points provide excellent storage options.
"Relatively cheap, meaning anyone can try camping for a night."
The HEWOLF Automatic Hexagonal Tent is ideal for camping newbies looking to try their hand at camping without committing to an expensive tent. The automatic hydraulic system ensures quick assembly and more time with the family. Not the biggest, it would suit two parents and a toddler for just the one night. Two doors makes it light and airy during the day, and they can also be pitched to create a canopy outside the tent.
"Very reasonable price for so much space!"
This massive tent from Costway is best suited to families with two or three children, or even bringing other family along too. With three separate bedrooms capable of holding three people each, a large central living space and full height, there is more than enough space for larger groups to live comfortably for longer trips. Although there’s only one door, each room has its own window and breathable lining, making sure heat is never an issue.
"Opening that living space and the bedroom door means you can comfortably enjoy your stunning surroundings."
The Peaktop Shape Six is a great mid-range tent that offers a superb balance between sleep and living space. The living space has mesh sides, creating a large and safe place for the toddler(s) to play (although it means you’ll have to store everything in the bedroom for security and privacy). The living space can be opened up completely to offer a more open environment for the children to explore.
How to set up your family tent
Get it wrong and putting up your tent could lead to more arguments than a trip to IKEA!
With more types and styles of tent than ever before, each one can be slightly different to assemble. Most manufacturers recommend two people to assemble the tent, but some can be can with just one and a bit more time. With these basic steps, you’ll be on the right course: