Mom Goes Camping

Cheap Family Tents (Which Are Still Great for Camping)

best cheap family tents for camping

If you are just getting into camping, there is no reason you have to spend a fortune on a tent.  Heck, I go camping often and still sometimes bring my cheap tent (I’m less worried about someone stealing it when wild camping).  But you do need to be careful with cheap family tents because so many of them are really bad quality. Rain leaking, broken poles and condensation can ruin a camping trip!

Below are my favorite affordable family tents which are good (or good enough) quality.  All are at least 6P – which is the minimum size tent a 4-person family needs.  The tents all cost less than $260 (at time of writing at least; prices change often).

 

Quick Picks:

 

Comparison Table

*Not sure which type of tent to get? See this guide to tent type.

TentSleepsTypeRoomsFootprintHeadroomWeightDoors
Ozark Trail10Mod. Dome320x10'7827lbs3
Coleman Instant Cabin6Cabin110x9'7224lbs1
UNP10Mod. Dome218x9'7823.1lbs1
Campros10Tunnel216x97220.9lbs1
Campros12Tunnel320x97224.3lbs2
Coleman Montana8Mod. Dome116x7'7424.5lbs1

Best Brands of Cheap Tents

The brands Coleman, Ozark and Campros all make cheap tents which are still decent quality.  There are also a lot of generic brand cheap tents which can end up being good quality. The problem is that the quality with generic brands is often inconsistent – you never know what you are going to get.  If buying from an unknown brand, make sure you carefully read their return policy.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for a smaller, lightweight family tent, then check out REI Outlet.  You can find insane deals on last-season’s tents.

 

Can a Cheap Tent Still Be Any Good?

Yes, it is possible to get a good family tent without spending a fortune.  However, cheap camping tents often have some problems or are a pain to use compared to more expensive tents.  If you don’t go camping often, you’ll be fine with a cheap tent.  Once you start camping often, you’ll probably want to invest in a tent which better suits your style of camping.

Common problems with cheap tents include…

  • Heavy and bulky: Low-quality tent fabrics are thick.  The tent can end up weighing more than 40lbs!
  • Prone to failure: Most cheap tents are generic brands made in China.  The quality can be inconsistent.  Don’t be surprised if poles break, fabric rips or stakes bend.  Bring some duct tape so you can fix gear fails!
  • Lack features: Cheap tents usually won’t have features like pockets, organizers, extra windows, port for electrical outlets…  I personally will pay extra for a tent with a lamp hook.
  • Condensation issues: Cheap tents often don’t have any vents, which means condensation can build up in the tent.  You end up wet from all that condensation dripping down on you from the ceiling!  Read about tent condensation here.
  • Not weatherproof: The windows may leak.  You may need to use seam sealer to prevent seams from leaking.
  • Cheap Stakes: Really cheap family tents come with plastic stakes which immediately snap.  Less-cheap tents will have metal stakes, but they inevitably bend. I recommend you swap out the stakes which came with the tent for steel ones.

 

Best Large Tents for Family Camping

1. Ozark Trail 10P Tent

Best for: Spacious, easy setup and good layout

ozark trail 10p large family camping tent

Features

  • Type: Modified dome
  • Rooms: 3 with removable divider
  • Footprint size: 20×10 feet
  • Max height: 78 inches
  • Weight: 27lbs
  • Buy Here

Review

This is a great affordable tent for a family with two or three school-aged kids.  It has a fantastic layout which lets you use the center area for gear storage.  You can even put a little table in there.  The side rooms are for sleeping.  Because each room has its own door, you can even enter/exit the tent without bothering sleeping campers.

It’s a modified dome tent (two long poles are criss-crossed to make a dome). It’s fairly easy to set up once you get the hang of it – but it will be easier with 2 people.

The dome shape means it withstands high winds better than a cabin tent.  However, it is a cheap tent so expect some leaking around the windows in heavy storms. The zippers also snag.  I also hate that there isn’t a zip or magnetic closure on the room divider, so you’ve got to completely unhook it to go between rooms.  Also see these best 3-room family tents.

Pros

  • Three rooms
  • Each room has its own door

Cons

  • Windows may leak in heavy rain
  • Cheap materials
  • Takes time to set up
  • Low headroom in side rooms
  • Room divider doesn’t zip open

Buy Here


 

2. Coleman 6P Instant Cabin Tent

Best for: First family tent, entry-level summer camping

Coleman instant cabin tent for family camping

Features

  • Sleeps: 6 (4p size also available)
  • Rooms: 1
  • Footprint size: 10×9 feet
  • Max height: 72 inches
  • Weight: 24lbs
  • Buy Here

Review

This is one of Coleman’s most popular family tents.  It is a basic cabin tent which is just large enough for a four-person family using sleeping pads or cots (It will fit two queen size mattresses but there won’t be much room for anything else).

Minimalist campers will like this tent because it’s relatively lightweight, sets up and packs up quickly and isn’t too bulky.  There are also massive windows which provide good ventilation when open.  Even though there is a vent in the roof,  expect some condensation if using in cooler weather. See our other picks for best 6P family tents.

Pros

  • Instant setup
  • Affordable
  • Big windows

Cons

  • Only one room
  • Condensation in bad weather

Buy Here


 

3. UNP 10P Tent

Best for: Large tent on a tight budget

UNP 10P large family tent

Features

  • Type: Modified dome
  • Rooms: 2 with removable divider
  • Footprint size: 18×9 feet
  • Max height: 78 inches
  • Weight: 23.1lbs
  • Buy Here

Review

The UNP tent is one of the cheapest family tents you’ll find (without it being complete crap).  It is a modified dome, so you’ll have to cross two long poles to set it up.  There are two other poles for the side rooms.

You’ll either love or hate the layout.  There is a divider which you can hang donw the middle of the tent to create two rooms. There are two doors (right next to each other) — one door goes into each room.  You’ll be able to enter/exit the tent without bothering people in the other room. The room divider doesn’t zip, so you have to take it down completely to walk between rooms.

Without the room divider, you could fit two queen air mattresses in the tent.  It will be a tight fit though.  You’d be better off using a full air mattress on each side.  Or just use pads or cots and you’ll have lots of room for gear storage.

For a cheap tent, the UNP actually handles rain pretty well.  The floor is pretty thin though (hence why the tent is so lightweight) so you might want to use a groundsheet with it to prevent tears.

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Handles bad weather okay
  • Two rooms

Cons

  • Hard to fit mattresses through small doors
  • No zipper on room divider
  • Not many windows or ventilation

Buy Here


 

4. Campros Tunnel Tent (9P and 12P)

Best for: Large families

campros 9 person large family camping tent

Features

  • Type: Tunnel
  • Rooms: 2 (9P), 3 (12P)
  • Footprint size: 16×9′ (9P), 20×9′ (12P)
  • Max height: 72 inches
  • Weight: 20.9lbs (9P), 24.3lbs (12P)
  • Buy 9P Here and 12P Here

Review

Campros is another good brand of cheap camping tents.  They make this tunnel tent in two sizes.  Both sizes are very spacious.  The 12P version can fit a queen mattresses on each side and still have room for gear in the middle area.  The 9P will fit one air mattress and the kids on sleeping pads.

The tent comes with room dividers to make multiple rooms.  The 9P has just one divider which can go on either side.  The 12P has two room dividers.  I personally find the room dividers annoying though.  They don’t zip down the middle. Since the side areas don’t have their own door, you actually have to remove the divider completely to get in/out.

Despite its design flaws, the Campros is well-made (for a cheap tent at least).  It withstands rain without leaking and there’s enough ventilation to prevent condensation in cold temps. Just remember that tunnel tents need to be staked out very well!

*Campros also makes an 8P version of this tent.  It has straight walls on the side. This gives you a bit more headroom in the sleeping areas, but means the tent doesn’t withstand windy weather well.  I’d personally stick to the 9P or 12P version!  Also see these other large family tents.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Tunnel tents need to be staked down well
  • Only one door
  • Low headroom
  • Room divider doesn’t zip down middle
  • Must unhook divider to get in/out of rooms

Buy 9P Here and 12P Here


5. Coleman Montana 8P

Best for: Families who don’t need privacy

Coleman Montana family tent review

Features

  • Sleeps: 8
  • Rooms: 1
  • Footprint size: 16×7′
  • Max height: 74 inches
  • Weight: 24.5lbs
  • Buy Here

Review

The Montana is one of Coleman’s most popular family tents and it’s been around forever.  Chances are you’ll see other people using it at campgrounds (it’s good conversation starter!).

Overall, the Montana is a pretty basic tent.  It doesn’t have room dividers and there’s only one door – so don’t count on any privacy.  The windows are tiny so it’s dark inside.  The headroom is also pretyt low, so you won’t want to hang out inside the tent.  As for space, you can fit 3 queen size beds inside but there literally won’t be room for anything else.  I wouldn’t use air mattresses in this tent at all.  If using pads, it will actually feel spacious.

Pros

  • Good weatherproofing
  • Handles bad weather well
  • Easy one-person setup
  • Hinged door

Cons

  • Dark inside
  • Low headroom
  • Doesn’t fit air mattresses well
  • Need two people to set up

Buy Here


Image credit: “Camping #1” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by patrick_fowler1
Tagged with:     ,

About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

Related Articles

Post your comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *