Tiny backpacking tents are great but when your outdoor adventures involve longer stints in the wilderness or a growing family, you’re probably going to want to invest in a larger tent. But just because you’ve outgrown a tiny two-person backpacking tent, doesn’t mean you have to sleep in a fortress! 4 person tents are the perfect solution for folks who will be camping with friends, a couple kids, or even a few large dogs. They’re also a great option for people looking for additional room to spread out or even the ability stand up because let’s face it: while small and sleek backpacking tents certainly have their place, they can lead to some pretty cramped quarters.
Just because you’re looking at a larger tent doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice weight and portability. As with all things outdoor gear-related, you have options. While bulkier tents exist for those who never want to stray too far from the car, it is definitely possible to find a 4-person tent that you can throw on your back and take out into the woods, provided that you’ve got a few other people among which you can share the load!
Which four person tent is right for you will largely depend on how and where you plan to use it. In this article we’ll give you some things to look for when picking the perfect 4-person tent and tell you a little bit about some of our favorites!
Weight and packability
While all the extra elbow room that you’ll have in a 4-person tent will certainly make you more comfortable, that roominess comes at a price, and that price is weight. 4-person tents are generally heavier than their more svelte counterparts. This is not a big deal if you plan on camping right next to the car but if your goal for your 4-person tent is to take your family on a backpacking trip deep in the woods, you’re going to want to look for a tent that is as light and packable as possible. Backpacking can definitely be accomplished with a tent of this size, but you’re probably going to have to spend a little more money to make it happen.
Weatherproofing and durability
The more squirmy creatures you pack into a tent, the more wear and tear will occur to its floor. When choosing a 4-person tent you’ll want to look for a model that has a rugged floor that will tolerate a lot of abuse and you should definitely consider investing in a tarp or footprint to help protect it even more. A tent with high-quality zippers and sturdy poles will stand up to the rustling around that inevitably happens when several people (or a couple people and a few dogs!) share the same space.
One of the nicest things about some 4-person tents is the fact that many of them are tall enough to stand up in. This is great news for people who like to have a little more freedom to move around or who have a special situation such as a baby who needs a little extra cajoling to get to go to sleep. While the maximum height of the tent probably shouldn’t be your number one consideration in picking a 4-person tent, it is a great feature to look for if all other things are equal. The extra overhead air is also helpful if you have limited mobility and find it helpful to stand up straight to get dressed or if you will be camping in an area prone to rain, which will increase the chance of your needing to hunker down “indoors” for a longer period of time.
Vestibules and other storage space
While a 4-person tent will likely provide you with ample storage space for just two people, additional features like roomy vestibules and overhead gear racks will make for a more comfortable stay when camping with a couple more of your nearest and dearest. Vestibules have the added benefit of giving you a place to store wet and muddy gear while keeping it from getting even more went and muddy! Pockets and gear racks will help you keep your belongings in easy to find locations and prevent them from getting lost in the dark abyss of your tent.
Best 4-Person Tents – Our Favorites
Now that we’ve talked about some important things to look for when selecting a 4-person tent, let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
The Coleman Sundome 4-Person tent is a classic and for good reason. It is roomy, sturdy, tall enough for most people to stand up in, and it comes in at a great price. The tent holds up well to wind, rain, and the wear and tear caused by lots of warm bodies coming and going. While it does not have a vestibule, the interior does feature two large mesh pockets for organization and a hook in the ceiling to hang a lantern. Weighing in at around 10.5 pounds, this tent is light enough to take on short backpacking trips if you have enough people with whom you can share the load. While this tent lacks some of the bells and whistles of it’s more expensive cousins, at $70 it is an excellent option for the budget-minded car camper or short distance backpacker.
Kelty is known for making high-quality products that are well-designed and built to last and the Trail Ridge 4 is no exception. Kelty improved on the standard dome style by giving the Trail Ridge 4 steeper sidewalls, which gives the feeling of more interior space. This tent’s full rainfly gives each of the two doors a roomy vestibule and four interior pockets and a gear loft provide places for even more storage. Coming in at over 11 pounds, this tent is not great for backpacking but car campers will love this sturdy and comfortable tent’s excellent design. Consider picking up the Trail Ridge 4’s matching footprint to help protect your purchase!
Weighing in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, the Genesee is the perfect choice for folks who plan to take their tent on the trail. This tent is extremely lightweight, easy to set up, and contains two full vestibules to store all your things. While the peak height of 52 inches isn’t tall enough to allow adults to stand upright, it’s a small price to pay for this tent’s feather weight and packability. This tent is a perfect option for family backpacking trips and it costs a small fraction of what you’ll pay for its competitors! There is a reason that Camping Life Magazine named the Mountainsmith Genesee 4-Person Tent one of its “Top Picks” in 2011! The Genesee’s specially designed footprint (sold separately) will help protect your tent and keep you camping for years to come!
The Timberline 4 by Eureka! features a classic A-frame design and loads of interior space. With a 63-square foot floor area, this tent will easily sleep four people as well as all of their gear. The Timberline 4 has been a popular tent in Eureka!’s product line for a very long time due to its durability, weatherproofing, and classic design. While this tent’s rainfly does not provide any exterior vestibule space, you can easily add it by purchasing the Timberline 4’s matching vestibule, which will give you an additional 14 square feet of storage space. Weighing in at just under 8 pounds, the Timberline 4 can be used for short backpacking trips if the weight is distributed among several people. Car campers will love this tent’s large floor area and classic silhouette!
Slumberjack’s 4-Person Trail Tent has a lot of the bells and whistles of its higher end competitors but at a much more appealing price point. Among those bells and whistles are two doors, two vestibules, super quiet zipper pulls, and an easy color-coded set up system. With a weight of 11 pounds, you won’t want to carry this tent too far from the car, but for most car campers, a few extra pounds is a more than fair tradeoff for a lot of great features! The Slumberjack 4 is ideal for folks whose idea of camping involves a little bit of luxury, a lot of room, and a really great price.
4-Person tents are a great option for both families camping with kids, people camping with dogs, or anyone that would like a little extra elbowroom. They are big enough to be comfortable while still being light enough to be highly portable. The right 4-person tent can take you deep into the backcountry or give you a spacious home base for adventures that happen closer to the car. While picking the right tent can be a daunting process, we hope that this guide has given you an idea of what to look for in a 4-person tent and helped you to narrow down some of your options!