Family tents are a must for parents looking to whisk the kids off for a weekend of relaxing in nature. Unlike small one or two person options, these tents act as a living room of sorts for the family while out camping. This means you need to use a different approach to selecting the best tent for your family.
There are different types of family tents. There are two basic styles – cabins and domes. Each style has pros and cons you need to evaluate in light of your family and the type of trips you intend to take. With this in mind, let’s briefly consider each design.
Dome Designs – As the name suggests, the shape of this tent is a dome. Stability is the number one benefit of this design. In stormy conditions, the wind tends to hit the walls of the dome at an angle, which puts less pressure on the tent. Given this, it is rare for dome tents to fail in a storm. This positive aspect, however, can also be a negative. With the walls sloping down from the top of the tent, there tends to be a feeling of minimal headroom and even claustrophobia in these tents.
Cabin Designs – The cabin tent is the equivalent of putting up a room in the middle of your camping space. This tent is essentially a large room you place in the camping area. Depending on the specific tent, the internal area can often be divided into sub-rooms, which is nice on longer camping trips when people need their space a bit. The negative of the cabin design again boils down to weather. The vertical walls are put under significant stress when confronted with win. Also, the roof of the cabin tent can be subject to water pooling in rain, which can add stress to the structure. This is true even when using rain covers.
Which tent is better for your family? There is no “right” answer. You need to view examples of each style and determine the best choice for your particular situation.
When considering family tents, it helps to focus on certain objective issues to determine which tent is best for your family. The following checklist will help you to do just that.
Setting Up – A family tent is only useful if you can set it up without a mechanical engineering degree. We strive to provide you with tents requiring simple set up steps, but this issue really boils down to your comfort level with tents. As a general rule, the number of poles included with the tent is indicative of how difficult it is to put up. The more poles, the more complex things can be. Before you start looking for the tents with the fewest poles, keep in mind there is a trade off in this area. While fewer poles indicate an easier set up process, they also indicate a less stable tent. When the wind is howling, you want the most stable tent possible.
Bang Your Head – Smaller tents have no headroom at all. They are designed pretty much for you to crawl in and go to sleep. This is not the case with family tents. You can and should select a family tent with plenty of headroom when you stand in the tent. Give some thought to your family. If everyone is under six feet tall, pretty much any family tent should work fine. If one or more members are over six feet tall, however, you need to carefully examine the headroom on any tents you are considering. Being forced to hunch in a tent can lead to back pain, which will ruin any camping trip. If nothing else, hunching constantly is definitely annoying.
The weight of a tent is a critical factor because it has to be carried, correct? Actually, this is not a factor you need to really consider when selecting a family tent. The reason for this is most of these tents act as a base for the camping trip. This means the tent is set up close to where you park. The difference between a 25 and 35 pound tent is really irrelevant if you are only carrying it 10 feet.
Modern family tent designs do not include stakes. The tents are designed to act as a module, meaning there is nothing connecting them to the ground. Typically, the weight of items inside the tent such as sleeping bags will keep the tent anchored. You may want to purchase and bring stakes, however, if you anticipate being in a windy area. This is true for both the cabin and dome styles of family tent.
Family tents have come a long way over the years. Whether you go with a dome or cabin style tent, the wide variety of designs available means you should be able to find the perfect design for your family.