While two-person tents are extremely popular they’re also small. Very small. If you think you’d like a little more elbowroom in your camping accommodations, you may want to consider going a little bit larger. Three-person tents are the perfect size of tent for a lot of situations and they aren’t just for when three people go camping! Sure, they are designed to sleep three full size adults but they are also a great choice for couples that camp with a dog or small child and for folks that just want a little more room to roll around in their sleep.
If you’re considering purchasing a three person tent, it’s important to keep in mind that while a 3-person tent will be bigger than a two person tent, it will still be far from large! The square footage of a 3 person tent is typically around 40-50 feet while the floor area of a 2-person tent is usually in the range of 25-40 square feet. In other words, a three-person tent is bigger but not by much. If it’s just the two of you, that little bit of extra space will give you more room to spread out, just don’t expect palatial living quarters!
- 1 How do you plan to use your tent?
- 2 Will you be camping in the winter?
- 3 Will you be backpacking?
- 4 Is a freestanding tent better for you?
- 5 One door vs. two doors
- 6 Is there a footprint to match your tent?
- 7 Our Top Picks for Best Three-Person Tents
As with any tent selection, you want your tent to be sturdy and stable, as well as weatherproof and well ventilated. Here are some additional things to consider when selecting a three person tent!
How do you plan to use your tent?
Before making your purchase it is helpful to know how you will be using your tent. While you don’t have to have everything figured out up front, a general idea of where you plan to camp will be extremely helpful in the decision making process. Think about things like how hot or cold it is likely to get in your chosen locale and how close to the car you will be sleeping.
Will you be camping in the winter?
This question isn’t relevant to folks living in tropical climates but for those of us who live in places that get bona fide cold weather it is helpful to consider just how cold and snowy your camping trips will be. For the vast majority of camping trips that people do, a three-season tent will work just fine. If you plan to do winter camping in seriously cold and snowy climates, consider upping the ante and picking up a four-season tent which will be heavier on both your back and your pocketbook.
Will you be backpacking?
If you plan to use your tent for backpacking trips you will want to place a very high priority on finding a lightweight tent. While almost any weight of tent will do if you are sleeping next to your car, any extra weight will quickly become burdensome if you have to carry it on your back for any considerable distance. When it comes to a backpacking tent, the lighter the better. While a 3-person tent is likely to be a little heavier than a two-person tent, you should still be able to find one that is light enough for backpacking. If your outdoor plans include hiking in to your campsite, try to find a tent that is less than 7 lbs.
Is a freestanding tent better for you?
Tents generally come in two different types: freestanding and non-freestanding. While non-freestanding tents are held up by tension placed on the stakes, freestanding tents can quite literally stand on their own. Non-freestanding tents can be more cumbersome to set up, especially if you are camping on rocky or frozen ground where it will be difficult to get a stake pounded into the dirt. The benefit of non-freestanding tents is that they are typically a little lighter than their freestanding counterparts. Freestanding tents can be set up anywhere and don’t require the use of tent stakes to keep their shape, although you will still want to stake your tent down to keep it from blowing away!
One door vs. two doors
The number of doors on a tent may seem like a silly thing to consider but it is actually pretty important. The benefit of a tent with one door is that, all other things being equal, it will be slightly lighter than a tent with two doors. The benefit of a tent with two doors is that it will make life a whole lot easier. When you are crammed into a tent with other people it really helps to have multiple entrances and exits. The last thing you want to have to do is crawl over your buddy to get to the door when you have to use the facilities during the night! You’ll feel bad about waking your friend up and chances are they won’t be too happy about the disruption either! Multiple doors can help solve this problem. Also keep in mind that with an extra door comes an extra vestibule and more space for gear storage.
Is there a footprint to match your tent?
Tent bottoms tend to be pretty tough but they can still take a serious beating. This is especially true if you are camping with a dog or small child that runs in and out of the tent at top speed on a regular basis! It is always a good idea to have something between the bottom of your tent and the hard, rugged ground. A generic tarp will work just fine for this purpose but one that is designed to specifically match your tent is an even better solution. Many tents manufacturers make “footprints” which are basically fancy tarps that perfectly fit the bottom of a specific tent. Footprints do a great job of protecting the bottom of your tent while also helping to keep water out!
Our Top Picks for Best Three-Person Tents
The Chaos 3 is a 3 person, three-season tent that is designed to go wherever you go, even if where you go is a long way from the car. Weighing in at just over 6 lbs., the Chaos makes a great backpacking tent for those that want or need more room than a typical two-person tent can provide. With two doors, two vestibules, and 41 square feet of floor space, the Chaos 3 is both comfortable and roomy. Because ALPS Mountaineering knows you’d rather spend your time taking in the views than wrestling with tent poles, this tent sets up in mere minutes. The Chaos 3 is the perfect choice for the backpacker that wants a high quality lightweight tent and isn’t afraid to drop a little bit of coin to get one! Pick up the Chaos 3’s matching footprint to help protect your investment.
With 56 square feet of floor area and a maximum center height of 59 inches, the Hooligan 3 is the perfect option for car campers that want a little more room than is provided by the more lightweight backpacking tents. With the tent weighing in at just under 12 pounds you won’t want to carry it very far, but if your plans include setting up the tent within just a few feet of the car, the Hooligan is a stellar choice. The tent’s mesh sides will help keep you cool on hot days and prevent condensation from building up on the walls. The Hooligan only has one door but, due to the size of the tent, this is less likely to be less an issue than it would be with some of our smaller options. This tent is easy to set up and easy on your wallet!
Kelty designed the Trail Ridge 3 to be a lightweight backpacking tent that won’t break the bank. With a slightly larger floor area than other tents in its class, there is ample room for you to spread out (for a backpacking tent!). With two doors for ease of entrance and exit and two roomy vestibules to store all your gear, the Trail Ridge 3 is a comfortable option for folks wanting to travel light. The Trail Ridge 3’s footprint (sold separately) will help keep this tent in great condition no matter how often you use it. When compared to tents of a similar size and weight, the Trail Ridge 3 is also light on your wallet! This is a great tent for the budget minded backpacker.
What the Ridgeline 3 lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in price and weight. With a footprint of 49 square feet and a weight of just over 7 pounds, this tent has an excellent size to weight ratio for its price. This one-door tent sets up easily and stands up well to poor conditions. Because the Ridgeline 3’s rainfly does not go all the way to the ground it does not have a vestibule, but seeing as the tent is only $56, it’s hard to complain too much about that! The Ridgeline 3 is a great choice for people who want to try out car camping without spending a lot of money in the process.
We hope that this guide has helped you to select the perfect three-person tent for your next camping adventure!