If you have a big family, a large group of camping companions, or you just generally like to have a lot of room, rest assured, there’s a tent out there for you. While tiny backpacking tents certainly have their place when you want to travel fast and light, if you’re looking for a tent that feels just like home you’re going to want something big. Tents designed to hold 8 or more people are super spacious and come with a variety of features to meet the needs of large groups of campers. Read on to see our criteria for the best 8 person tent for camping.
For the sake of this article we will refer to tents designed to hold 8 people (or more!) as “family tents” but don’t be fooled by that term. There is absolutely no reason that you can’t take your family of four camping in a tent built for four people and in fact a smaller tent is optimal in many situations. But for those who really need a lot of room, an 8+-person tent is probably where it’s at!
How big is too big?
Family size tents are generally around 150 square feet, which qualifies as palatial in the portable shelter world. While extra large tents give you the benefit of having lots of elbow room and floor space for things like inflatable mattresses and chairs, they do come with some downsides that you should be aware of before buying a tent of this size.
Many campgrounds have specific areas where tents can be set up. These tent pads can be marked with railroad ties or even elevated off the ground a bit. This is fine if your tent is of average size but sometimes a tent built for 8 or more people just might not fit onto the pad. This isn’t always a problem. Many campgrounds have large grassy areas for you to set up your tent, giving you lots of space to spread out. Whether your tent will fit into the campsite at your favorite campground is something to keep in mind when purchasing a family size tent!
Also worth considering is the fact that a larger tent generally won’t stay as warm as a smaller one in cool weather due to the fact that there will be a lot more ambient air in the tent for your bodies to heat. This may be a blessing in warmer climates but it can be a bit problematic if your adventures will be taking you some place a little chillier. This situation can be easily remedied by purchasing a warmer sleeping bag or even heating a bottle of water and stowing it down by your feet to help keep your toes warm during the night.
Once you’ve decided that a family size tent is right for you, what other factors should you consider?
Many tents in the family camping category have divider panels in them to help create the feel of separate rooms within the tent itself. This can be a great option for friends who like to go camping together (but who don’t want to camp that close together!) or parents who would like to have a little bit of privacy when camping with small children. The added benefit of separate rooms is that kids love having their own space too! Keep in mind that while the dividers are useful they really only provide limited amounts of privacy because it’s still just a thin layer of fabric between you and your nearest and dearest.
Number and type of doors
The more people that you pack into a tent, the better the chance that you’ll need to crawl over someone (or that you’ll be the one being crawled over!) in the middle of the night. The more doors you have, and the easier they are to wrangle with, the happier you’ll be when things get tight. While most tents have simple zippered flaps that get rolled to the side when open, some companies up the ante by giving their doors some structure or even a hinge. These more advanced doors, typically called “D” style doors, will make your ingress and egress from the tent much easier!
Focus on packed volume, not weight
Let’s face it, a tent of this size is almost always going to be heavy. You’re most likely not going to be taking these tents backpacking so weight is not really an issue. What can be an issue, however, is the size that the tent packs down to when it’s stowed in its carry bags. If you’re going car camping with your family or a bunch of friends, chances are that your car is already going to be pretty packed with people and their possessions. If you think space in your vehicle will be a concern, look for a tent that packs down as small as possible.
Tents of this size come in a variety of different shapes from your typical dome tent to those that are built to look more like cabins. Which shape you choose is a matter of personal preference but there are a few things to keep in mind. Tents with steeper walls tend to give the feel of more interior space while dome shaped tents can be lighter and easier to set up. Most tents in this category will be tall enough for the average person to comfortably stand up straight in but if that’s a feature that’s extra important to you, be sure to check the maximum height of the tent before you purchase it just to be sure.
Tents for 8+ Persons
Now that we’ve talked about some of the things you should look for in an 8+-person tent, let’s talk about some of our favorites!
The Coleman Montana 8 is a solid family camping tent that comes at a great price. This weatherproof and sturdy shelter is the perfect option for everything from short family camping trips to extended campground stays. The classic dome shape makes it super simple to set up and the attached guy lines provide extra stability in stormy conditions. The hinged “D style” door on this tent is great feature that makes ingress and egress extra easy. This tent even includes a covered “porch” area right off the front door that will let you kick back with a cold one while staying out of the sun!
Rain is always a possibility in the great outdoors but if your camping plans are taking you to a place where it is more likely than not, you will love the Wenzel Klondike 8 tent. This tent improves on its large interior sleeping space by adding a covered and fully screened in porch (with a canvas floor!) to keep you comfortable when things get soggy. And while the porch is a great place to get out of the elements, it can also be used to store your gear or even sleep additional campers. Because the mesh windows on the screened in porch zip up, the porch area can easily be turned into extra sleeping space!
The Mountain Trails Grand Pass is an enormous two-room tent designed to comfortably sleep 9-10 people. This 180-square foot portable palace features two doors, tons of mesh for ventilation, and ample room for you, your family and friends, and all of your gear. Mountain Trails has gone above and beyond in making this tent easy to set up and take down by adding markings on the tent itself to show exactly where it should be folded for storage! At just under $150 this is a great tent with an even better value!
Wenzel makes so many great tents for family camping that we couldn’t help but add another one to our list. The Family Kodiak Tent features 162 square feet of living space and steep walls that make it feel a lot bigger. This tent features a lot of the bells and whistles that make family tents great such as an interior divider to create two separate rooms, mesh pockets for organization, and a gear loft for storage. The D-shaped door will make getting in and out of this tent easy and the ample mesh on the walls allows for excellent ventilation!
Designed to sleep you and up to 13 of your nearest and dearest, this baby is a behemoth … but it’s an awesome one! With 240 square feet of floor space and a peak height of over 7 feet, this puppy is big. This tent isn’t all about size, however. Tahoe went the extra mile to provide a great camping experience by outfitting this tent with tons and tons of mesh on the sides and the top so that, when the rainfly is off, you’ll have great ventilation and an almost totally unobstructed view of the stars. Attach the rainfly and zip up the windows when things get wet and you’ve got yourself a weatherproof shelter that you’ll feel comfortable hunkering down in for many hours. While this tent certainly isn’t the cheapest one on our list, it provides so many great features that it’s a worthwhile investment for families or large groups of friends that want to camp in comfort.
Once you’ve decided to make the plunge and purchase a tent in the family camping category, you’ve got a lot of great options. We hope that this guide has helped you find the perfect tent to keep you and all of your family and friends camping comfortably for years to come!