Camping is one of the very few activities that the pandemic has left untouched and uncomplicated. Is there a more social distancing-friendly adventure than setting up your own tent in the middle of nowhere, leagues away from all your neighbors?
Just like before, though, the tent you choose to spend your camping trip in is crucial to the comfort, safety and success of your outing into nature. Whether you’re backpacking on your own, you’re driving the whole family out for car camping, or you’re simply setting up camp in your backyard, your tent can either help you enjoy camping to the fullest or wreak havoc on your attempts to escape and unwind.
The best camping and backpacking tents of 2022 come in many different shapes and sizes, with different pros, cons and intended uses. Here is everything you need to know to pick the best top-rated camping tent for you:
- Best 1- to 2-person car camping tent
- Best ultralight 1- to 2-person backpacking tent
- Best family tent for car or backyard camping
- Best lightweight family tent for backpacking
- Best extra-large camping tent for huge families and groups
- Best rooftop camping tent
- Best trunk car camping tent
- Best luxury camping tent
- Best budget car camping tent for under $100
- Best budget backpacking tent under $100
How to choose the right tent, according to an expert:
Choosing the right camping tent involves quite a few moving parts—size, cost, weight, ease-of-assembly and intended camping environment are all factors that manufacturers take into account when they design tents.
JD Tanner, director of education and training at Leave No Trace, had some considerations for us when choosing the right tent for the environment you’re in, plus other tips and tricks for the best outdoor experience.
“A couple of basic considerations for choosing a tent include size and comfort, how many people or pets will be sleeping in the tent, how much head space you want, the season/climate you plan to use the tent, and —for me personally — ease of use/set up,” said Tanner.
We also wanted to know what happens when the weather is less than ideal. Do we cancel the trip and go bowling instead?
“The weather should play a role in your tent selection,” said Tanner. “Three season tents are ideal for mid-spring to mid-fall, depending on where you plan to camp. Three to four season tents are built to extend that full spring to the full fall schedule. Four season tents are built to withstand stronger winds, snow and more.”
Last, but certainly not least, choosing where to set up your campsite is of the utmost importance, as you want to be both safe and respectful of Mother Nature, too.
“Avoid camping close to water and trails, and select a site that is not easily visible to others. Even in popular areas, the sense of solitude can be enhanced by screening campsites and choosing an out-of-the-way site,” recommends Tanner. “In pristine places, it is best to spread out tents, avoid repetitive traffic routes and move camp every night. The objective is to minimize the number of times any part of the site is trampled. In setting up camp, disperse tents on durable sites. Watch where you walk to avoid crushing vegetation and take alternate paths to water.”
The 10 best tents to buy in 2022 for your next camping adventure:
1. Best 1- to 2-person car camping tent: NEMO Aurora, $280
Want to find a camping tent that balances capacity, quality and smart design for your next trip into nature? The NEMO Aurora is a car camping tent that offers it all, provided you’re not trying to fit a huge group in it:
- Customizable rain-fly: You’ll be able to optimize this camping tent for ventilation in the heat and coverage during rainier trips.
- Smart design: The two-door, two-vestibule design allows for more headspace.
- Not ideal for backpacking: This tent’s pack weight is five pounds seven ounces, which makes it heavier than most 1- to 2-person backpacking tents. If you want a lighter tent for backpacking, see our pick for the best 1- to 2-person backpacking tent.
- Not a budget camping tent: This isn’t the cheapest camping tent on the market, either. For a budget-friendly option, see our pick for the best budget car camping tent of 2022.
- Only suited for one to two campers: You’ll either need to be camping solo or to be very familiar with your camping partner to sleep comfortably in this tent. For an option with more space, jump to our picks for the best family car camping tent or the best huge camping tent.
2. Best ultralight 1- to 2-person backpacking tent: Big Agnes Scout 2 Platinum, $262, original price: $350
If you’re planning a backpacking trip, you’re probably looking for the lightest tent possible. The Big Agnes Scout 2 Platinum is a smartly designed tent that weighs essentially nothing, and it’s our pick for the best backpacking tent for one to two campers:
- Lighter than air: A one pound one ounce on-trail weight is one of the lightest available.
- Utilizes trekking poles: Experienced backpackers who are already working with trekking poles rejoice! This design lets you avoid the extra weight and space tent poles entail.
- Spacious for a backpacking tent: Every ounce and inch counts with backpacking tents. This 2-person option is lighter and packs smaller than most 1-person backpacking tents.
- Not a budget tent: This isn’t the cheapest backpacking tent on the market. For a lower price point, see our pick for the best budget backpacking tent.
- No poles included: Though the trekking pole design is a pro for some, newer backpackers might need to invest in trekking poles for this tent to be a feasible option.
3. Best family tent for car or backyard camping: Eureka! Copper Canyon LX, $315
Perhaps you want to fit more than a couple of campers in your new tent during your next trip. If you’re looking for a car camping tent that will fit the whole family, then our pick for you is the Eureka! Copper Canyon LX. Here’s what to know about it:
- Multiple capacity options: This tent comes in multiple sizes — 4-person, 6-person, 8-person and 12-person — so you’ll be able to adjust based on your capacity needs and ideal price.
- Cabin-style design: The steep walls allow for standing room and greater space for cots and air mattresses. Plus, the tent’s peak height of seven feet make the space more hospitable for even the tallest campers, along with those who find it difficult to crouch.
- Complicated set up: Customer reviews reference difficulty getting the rainfly onto the tent because of the tall cabin-style design. Reviews also reference hard-to-follow instructions but admit that the setup process is worth enduring for the tent’s quality. For an easy camping tent to assemble, check out our pick for the best trunk car camping tent, which also happens to boast pop-up instant assembly.
- Too heavy for backpacking: This tent weighs 21 pounds 15 ounces, so it’s not meant for backpacking. Setting it up in your backyard or driving it out to a campsite shouldn’t be a problem, though. See our pick for the best family backpacking tent just below.
4. Best lightweight family tent for backpacking: Kelty Late Start 4 Tent: 4-Person 3-Season, $240
If you’re brave enough to venture on a backpacking trip with the entire family, and you’re the one who’s researching tents in preparation, you’re probably also the one who will be carrying the tent in your pack. You deserve the lightest backpacking tent that can also fit your whole crew. Our pick for the best backpacking tent for you and your family is the Kelty Dirt Motel:
- Lightweight for capacity: With a 6 pound 4 ounce trail weight, this backpacking tent is remarkably light for its 4-person capacity.
- Customizable rainfly: Rather than the all-or-nothing rainflies that many tents offer, this option allows you to stargaze and feel the breeze through a foldable rainfly.
- Lightness and spaciousness come at a cost: If you’re looking to find the cheapest backpacking tent possible, this one isn’t your best option—read up on our choice for the the best budget backpacking tent instead.
- Not as light as other options: If you’re trying to optimize for the lightest accommodations possible, consider purchasing two of the Big Agnes Scout 2 Platinum tents we feature above for similar capacity at less than a third of the weight.
- Not the most spacious family tent possible: Backpacking tents aren’t known for their roominess. Consider our picks for the best family car camping tent or the best extra-large camping tent if the whole family wants to stretch out more.
5. Best extra-large camping tent for huge families: Ozark Trail 16×16-Feet 12-Person 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent, $373, original price: $497
Camping in multiple separate tents is fine, but if you’ve got a big group to accommodate, one giant tent can make the social dynamics of a camping trip much more inclusive and community-focused. For this very reason, you might be searching for the biggest camping tent possible. The best option for giant camping groups is the Ozark Trail 16×16-Feet 12-Person 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent
- Lots of elbow room: This camping tent accommodates 14 people, with 4 separate wings connected by one common area. Each wing will fit queen size air mattresses.
- Customizable rooms: You can zip or unzip room dividers as you see fit for any given trip to create your ideal private and communal spaces.
- Setup process could be lengthy: The massiveness of this camping tent inevitably means more rods and fabric to deal with in the setup process. Hopefully you have a lot of helping hands if you’re using a tent this big. Our pick for the best trunk car camping tent is also a remarkably easy pop-up tent, if you’re looking for a camping tent with easier assembly.
- Might be bigger than your campsite platform: Truly, this is a huge camping tent. If you’re heading to a camping ground with concrete platforms, this tent’s floor might be too big for it to contain Our for the best family car camping tent takes up less space if your campsite can’t accommodate this behemoth.
6. Best rooftop camping tent: ARB 803804 Simpson Tent, $1,996
Rooftop camping tents leverage the height and sturdiness of your car to create comfy, above-ground campsites. Such tents are particularly great for camping in destinations with pesky wildlife or regular flooding. That said, typical rooftop camping tents are usually too cramped to comfortably sleep two. Our pick for the best rooftop tent, the ARB 803804 Simpson Tent, has a clever and unique design that addresses this common flaw:
- Above-ground camping: If you’re venturing out into habitats of creatures you’d rather not interact with while camping, then this rooftop tent could help you avoid such encounters.
- Annex: Most rooftop tents offer straightforward tent designs, elevated a few feet. This rooftop camping tent’s annex surpasses the norm and offers room for standing privacy.
- Included foam mattress: This camping tent also offers a built-in foam mattress for added comfort.
- Easy setup: Once you mount this tent’s base to the roof rack of your car, setup at your campsite will simply entail unfolding the tent and pulling down the annex.
- Not a budget tent: As with most rooftop tents, the cost of this one can be a considerable downside. Rooftop tents typically carry price tags in the thousands, so get ready to spend if you’re determined to purchase one. If you’re shopping within a cheaper price point, then check out the next option, our pick for the best trunk car camping tent.
- Doesn’t have a stargazing roof: This pick doesn’t have a mesh roof option, so you’ll have to spot constellations outside of your tent if you end up choosing it.
7. Best trunk car camping tent: Carsule Pop-Up Cabin, $300, original price $380
Trunk camping is a common road-warrior option for traveling without worrying about the cost of accommodations. Nonetheless, sleeping in your stuffy trunk isn’t necessarily the comfiest setup. The Carsule Pop-Up Cabin is a unique camping tent that attaches to an open car trunk to create a spacious, insect-free campsite that’s way breezier than your trunk on its own:
- Cabin-style design: This tent pops up to be a perfect square, which allows for much more overhead space than a traditional tent.
- Above-ground sleeping: The trunk-attached design allows for comfortable, ventilated and above-ground sleeping.
- Pop-up assembly: The pop-up framework means this tent’s assembly process is free of poles and much easier than a traditional tent’s.
- Slim packing dimensions: Packing this tent up means folding it into a slim disk that can slide ride in between gear in your trunk.
- Free-standing setup option: If you’d prefer not to sleep in your trunk, you can also choose to set this tent up as a free-standing cabin separate from your car.
- No stargazing roof option: If you’re determined to fall asleep gazing at the stars from your tent, then this truck tent won’t be your best option. Even the cabin tent setup that extends from your car’s trunk has a totally opaque ceiling.
- Not a budget tent: Though this car camping tent offers a more affordable, above-ground sleeping alternative to a rooftop tent, it still isn’t the cheapest option on the market. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly camping tent, then check out our pick for the best budget car camping tent.
8. Best luxury camping tent: The North Face 2-Meter Dome, $1,500
You’re taking time to research the best camping tents of the year, so odds are, you want to at least learn the very best tent that money can buy. Luxury camping tents are a whole other ball field, both for their cost and for their durability. They’re also the only way to camp comfortably during harsh Winters and sweltering Summers. If you’re looking to invest in the highest quality tent possible—and to never have to spend money on another tent again—then the best luxury camping tent for you is the iconic North Face 2-Meter Dome:
- Unmatched durability: This camping tent is meant to last. Customer reviews reference their 27 years going strong camping with this tent. If you decide to invest in this tent now, you’ll likely never have to worry about spending on another tent in the future.
- Shelter from the elements: This tent is also meant to keep you warm, dry and happy even in the most unfriendly of camping environments. If your camping adventure hits you with torrential downpours, whipping winds, freezing temperatures or arid heat waves, this tent will shield you from the elements.
- Capacity: As an 8-person camping tent, this pick is big enough to comfortably accommodate large families and teams.
- Height: The tent’s peak height is also a value-add—at 83 inches (almost seven feet), it allows even the tallest campers to stand easily.
- Really not a budget tent: This luxury pick is the most expensive on our list of the best camping tents of 2022, and we don’t add it lightly. However, this tent is the gold-standard of camping tents for its durability, capacity, ease of assembly and imperviousness. So, if you’re looking to invest in the best tent possible, this is your chance. If you’re looking for more affordable options, every other camping tent we feature on this list is cheaper than this one.
- Not suited for backpacking: This tent is by no means meant for backpacking. At 51 pounds, the tent will work best for base camp accommodations and car camping. If you need the option to carry your tent long distances to campsites, then every other tent on this list is a lighter option for you to consider.
9. Best budget car camping tent for under $100: Coleman Sundome Tent, $70
Infrequent adventurers and music festival campers deserve high-quality tents, too—even if they don’t use those tents enough to justify investing in fancy ones. The best budget car camping tent—the Coleman Sundome Tent—gets glowing reviews and costs much less than other top options:
- Cost is super budget-friendly: This budget camping tent is ideal for new campers who are looking for an affordable option to use every now and then. The price can’t be beat for a high-quality tent with solid reviews and specs.
- Offers Capacity options: You can choose your ideal capacity for this tent—2-, 3-,4- or 6-person—based on your camping crew size and the amount you’re willing to pay.
- Tons of stellar reviews: At the time of writing, this tent gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from a whopping 11,766 reviews on Amazon.
- Short peak height makes standing tough: Due to its traditional design, this tent is only 4 feet 11 inches at its tallest.
- Durability is questionable: A few reviews mention this camping tent blew away in strong winds or leaked during light rains. Do your best to avoid turbulent weather while camping in this tent.
10. Best budget backpacking tent under $100: ALPs Mountaineering Koda Tent, $72
If you’re new to backpacking and only plan on making intermittent trips, then you might hesitate to shell out tons of cash for a new tent. And that’s totally fine—our pick for the best budget backpacking tent, ALPs Mountaineering Koda Tent, costs less than $100 and is still high-quality and lightweight:
- Cost is super budget-friendly: This pick is super affordable, with a price tag of under $100 at the time of this writing.
- Ultralight for a budget tent: For a budget backpacking tent, this 3-pound 4-ounces tent is an extraordinarily lightweight option.
- Only accommodates one camper: This 1-person tent aims for an optimal balance between lightness, quality and affordability. You’ll notice that sprawling sleeping space isn’t one of those three main aims. If you’re looking for more space, check out our pick for the best 1- to 2-person backpacking tent or the best family backpacking tent.
Check out New York Post Shopping for more content.