Welcome to the “pretty darn big but not officially mammoth” tent category. If you’re looking for a whole lot of space to take your children (or your friends who act like children!) camping, 5-6 person tents are a pretty safe bet. These babies are big enough to easily move around in while still allowing you to fit into most normal campsites. Even if you’re not actually sleeping 6 people, a tent of this size will give you plenty of room for a blow up air mattress (and we’re not talking about the little backpacking kind) or a pack and play for your kid (but maybe not both).
Is a 5-6-person tent right for you?
Tents designed for 5-6 people generally give you around 100-square feet of floor space and, because they’re so big, it’s often possible for an average sized adult to comfortably stand up in them. Being able to stand up straight makes life a lot easier when you’re crammed in tight with several of your nearest and dearest or trying to get a crying baby to sleep. While no one will mistake these large tents for sleek backpacking shelters, they still have a valuable place in your camping gear quiver.
- 0.1 Is a 5-6-person tent right for you?
- 0.2 Weatherproofing and ventilation.
- 0.3 When it comes to doors, the more the merrier!
- 0.4 Bells and Whistles
- 0.5 Guy Lines
- 0.6 Footprints
- 1 5-6-person Tents
So what things should you look for in a 5-6-person tent?
Weatherproofing and ventilation.
No matter what size of tent you have, it’s important to keep moisture from the outside outside where it belongs while also letting any water that accumulates inside out. To keep the rain from soaking you and your belongings you’ll want to look for a tent with a sturdy rainfly and sealed seems. A tent with good ventilation (and thus, lots of mesh) will help to keep you dry by giving all that moisture that you exhale when you breathe an easy way to escape. Nothing is worse than being soggy in your tent!
When it comes to doors, the more the merrier!
Simply put, the more people you pack into a tent, the more entering and exiting will be happening. For this reason, the more doors your tent has, the better. The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of the night is waking up your buddy (or worse, your sleeping kids!) because nature is calling. A tent with two or more doors will give you more options for how to get in and out without bothering your neighbors. In a tent with a full rainfly, having more doors will also give you more vestibule space for storing your gear!
Bells and Whistles
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. Tents that are equipped with places to store stuff have a big advantage over their more basic counterparts. When you pile a bunch of people and all of their stuff into a cloth shelter for a few nights, something is bound to get lost. Features like mesh pockets and overheard gear lofts will help keep this from happening. There’s nothing worse than rolling around in the middle of the night searching for your headlamp in a sea of sleeping bags while everyone else is snoozing away. Additional features like lantern hooks in the ceiling can also help to make your tent feel like home.
Guy lines are cords that attach to the outside of the tent that give you an additional way to secure the tent to the ground, keeping it from sagging and helping it (literally) stand up to the elements. Guy lines are extra important in these larger tents because, due to their increased size and height, they sometimes need a little more support. Guy lines are a great feature on a tent because they add almost nothing to your weight while adding a lot to your comfort and security.
Having a lot of people coming and going can cause a lot of wear on the bottom of your tent. It’s always a good idea to use some extra protection to help extend the life of your tent’s floor. Sure, a generic blue tarp will work, but a “footprint” specifically designed to match the shape of your tent is even better. Because a footprint is made to fit the exact dimensions of a given tent, it will also do a great job of helping to keep water from seeping into the bottom of your tent.
Now that we’ve talked about some of the features you should look for in a 5-6-person tent, let’s take a look at some of our favorites.
Boulder, Colorado, based Kelty is known for making high quality products that last and last and the Acadia is no exception. With 80 square feet of floor area, this tent is one of the smallest on our list, but don’t let that deter you. The Acadia 6 boasts two doors and two large vestibules, ample space for gear storage, and noiseless zippers to help make sure that your sleeping family stays asleep when you head out to the cooler to grab a beer or answer the call of nature. The factory sealed seems and full rainfly will definitely keep you dry when the weather turns soggy. Pick up the matching footprint to help extend the life of your purchase.
The Eureka! Tetragon 5 is a simple five-person dome tent that comes at a great price. If you want a large (but not too large!) high quality tent for taking your family car camping (but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do it!) the Tetragon 5 may be the perfect option for you. With 81 square feet of interior floor space and a center height of 6 feet, this tent is a comfortable size that is easy to move around in. While this tent lacks exterior vestibule space, it does have two mesh pockets and a gear loft for storage. Let’s face it, vestibules would make this tent even better but at only $150 it seems like a worthwhile sacrifice to make.
If you’re looking for a large, inexpensive tent with a lot of extra features for your car camping adventures, look no further than the Coleman Evanston 6 Screened Tent. This tent improves on the classic dome design by adding a screened in front “porch” to keep the bugs out. You will especially love this feature if you find yourself camping in a place with loads of mosquitos or other creepy crawlies that would like to make you their supper. While the screened in porch isn’t waterproof, it can be used for gear storage in good weather or to house things that can tolerate getting a little wet. The downside of this tent is that it isn’t light but you probably weren’t going to take it backpacking anyway!
With a floor area of just under 100 square feet, the Slumberjack 6 Person Trail Tent is one of the largest on our list … and it’s also one of the cheapest! This baby comes with all the features of its more expensive cousins but at a fraction of the price. When the rain fly is off, this tent’s mesh walls will allow for loads of ventilation and a clear view of the stars and when the rainfly is on you can sleep sound knowing that you and your belongings will stay nice and dry. With two vestibules, and more than enough floor space for an inflatable mattress, the Slumberjack 6 will let you camp in comfort, whatever your camping companion situation may be! Pick up the specially designed footprint to protect the floor of your tent and further ensure that you stay nice and dry.
If you’d like to give car camping a try but don’t want to spend your life savings to do it, check out Wenzel’s Pine Ridge 5 Person Dome Tent. While this 80 square foot dome tent lacks some of the features of the other tents on our list, it does have one very compelling plus (besides its price!) and that is the fact that it’s actually a two-room tent! This tent comes with a hanging divider to let you have some privacy from your friends or make your kids feel like they’re camping on their own. The tradeoff that you make to achieve this tent’s low price point is that it lacks features like vestibule space but at just over $80 it’s hard to get too upset about that! This tent is the perfect inexpensive solution for families who want to give camping a go!
While other tents may be bigger or lighter, 5-6 person tents tend to hit the sweet spot between being large enough to accommodate a small family and being so big that they take up a ton of room in the car or don’t fit into an average campsite. Which tent you decide to purchase will depend largely on how many people you’re planning to sleep, how much you want to spend, and what additional features you think would be useful for your situation but at the end of the day what matters most is that you and your family will be out together enjoying the great outdoors!