Sleeping under the stars sounds nice in theory, but it’s not very practical.
That’s why the camping tent is one of the most talked about, most scrutinized and probably the most difficult purchasing decision you’ll have when it comes to camping gear.
We’re here to give you some solid starting ground for your tent-buying journey.
If you’re looking for a camping tent, these are the 10 best brands to start with.
At 27 years old, Alps Mountaineering is actually one of the newer camping brands on the market. When it started in 1993, the company focused on making tents for hikers, meaning they were durable, but also extremely light.
Best known for its Lynx- and Taurus-branded tents, Alps offers dozens of tents today, all of which come in a variety of sizes.
Perhaps the company’s most-popular model is the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent. As expected, many of its users are backpackers who needed a reliable, lightweight option for their big adventures.
In terms of price, Alps finds itself somewhere in the middle. The largest models top out around $400.
For those looking for something a little different, the company recently announced its Trail Tipi which allows backpackers to save even more weight because the tent is assembled using trekking poles. It weighs in at about 3lbs.
Big Agnes designs extremely technical tents with the backpacker in mind. And while the company delivers on its ultra-lightweight promise, it also doesn’t scrimp on durability, size and features.
It’s most-popular model for backpackers and campers is the Tiger Wall 2 Platinum. Campers really like it because it features two doors and because it can be set up in about two minutes. As expected, though, it’s top feature is its weight at just under 2lbs.
We really like how Big Agnes separates their tents into different categories, like backpacking, where you will find the smaller, ultralight tents, or car camping, where you’ll find larger, slightly heavier tents because you have the luxury to add a little comfort.
When compared to other top brands, Big Agnes certainly delivers on performance, but that comes at a cost. Several of its models are in the $500 to $600 range, with the most expensive ones topping out close to $1,800.
Coleman is about as American as apple pie. The camping gear brand has been around for 120 years and has consistently put out solid products that you can rely on and that will last you several years, if not decades.
So, it should come as no surprise that Coleman, along with its great cooking gear for camping, makes some very popular tents.
Our top pick from the brand is the Coleman Sundome 2 because it’s such a great value. The Sundome comes in a variety of sizes to fit two to six people, with the four person tent only costing you $70. Thousands of campers have praised its durability, ease of setup and use, and, of course, its price.
Coleman offers about 60 different tent models, with the most expensive topping out at $400.
Perhaps most importantly, several consumer groups have rated Coleman one of the most reliable for camping gear.
So expect that tent to last a long time if properly cared for.
Eureka is another long-time camping brand that has been selling tents and other gear since 1895. And over the past 125 years, the company has gotten pretty darn good at making a tent that’s super-easy to set up at camp.
In terms of specific uses, the brand offers everything from lightweight backpacking tents to the large-scale tents that a group of eight people can sleep in.
While the quality is there, Eureka tents aren’t exactly the lightest on the market, and that includes their backpacking lineup. So, if weight is extremely important to you, you may want to look at other brands.
Where we think Eureka really excels is its K2-XT Tent, which is super tough in the harshest of weather conditions. Yes, it is heavy, which makes it a better option for car campers, but that weight, along with its durability and special engineering, will keep you safe in the tent in the most inclement of weather.
If you’re looking for a higher-end tent that’s quick to set up and will last you for many, many camping trips in the future, look no further than Kelty.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Kelty uses its Rocky Mountain backyard to design super-tough tents that do come at a more premium price, but for good reason.
One of our favorite tents by Kelty is the Dirt Motel 2 because it’s quite spacious, it can be set up in about three minutes and it features a stargazing fly, which lets you take in the beauty of the great outdoors as you fall asleep without worrying about rain making its way inside.
While you should be prepared to spend $250 to $350 on a Kelty tent, they do offer some options under $100. Like other brands, they also offer cheaper sunshades and shelters to complete your campsite experience.
Marmot tents are designed for the experienced camper who’s looking for technical upgrades that makes set up and transportation easier, and who’s willing to pay for great durability.
First, many campers like Marmot’s dedication to sustainable camping. If being environmentally-friendly is at the top of your priority list when it comes to camping, Marmot is a great company to support because it features a lineup of tents that are free of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
In terms of overall use when it comes to tents, the company offers lightweight backing tents for two, like the Tungsten Ultralight Hatchback 2-Person Fly (3.25lbs), or more luxurious options, like the Orbit 6-Person Tent (23lbs.) for car campers.
Marmot actually may be better known for its lineup of extreme-weather jackets and apparel. But if you’re in the market for a higher-end tent and are comfortable spending $500+, many campers agree you’ll find one that lasts you a long time.
Another relatively young brand that has somehow figured out how to make a tent that’s luxurious enough for car campers, but light enough for backpackers, Mountain Hardwear tents are growing in popularity. Plus, they look pretty cool.
The California-based company’s most popular tent model is its Mineral King 2 (or 3) Tent. These tents are priced modestly in the mid to high $200s.
In terms of weight, the Mineral King 3, which is designed for three campers to sleep in, weighs under 8lbs., making it a usable option for a group backpacking trip.
As its name suggests, though, Mountain Hardwear is designing tents, backpacks and apparel for mountain climbers. But the brand is certainly not limited to those activities.
Mountain Hardwear has developed great rain-fighting technology for its tents along with innovative manufacturing technology, especially with how the seams are designed, to keep your tent lasting a long time.
Mountain Safety Research, better known as MSR, is a 51-year-old company focused on camping, hiking and mountaineering equipment, including some high-quality tents.
One of our favorites is the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. Designed for backpackers, this tent weighs in at 3.5lbs. But campers say the best feature is the stuff sack, which makes packing it away super easy.
We really like the rain gutters, which do a great job of keeping any rainfall away from the tent.
Because MSR focuses on mountaineering, you can also find several great options geared toward winter camping. Most tent-makers provide three-season tents, but MSR also makes four-season options that feature double-walls to help keep heat inside.
In terms of price, MSR finds itself on the higher-end of the spectrum, especially with its four-season tents. But even its family tents for car campers is going to run you north of $500.
NEMO Equipment has only been around for 18 years, but has made quite the impression on campers in that short amount of time, especially for backpackers.
First, you might have some sticker shock with NEMO-branded tents, as they’re likely going to cost you $300 to $600.
That being said, the brand offers incredible durability and plenty of features, like storage pockets, that make it great for car campers and backpackers.
NEMO’s Dagger Ultralight Backpacking Tent weighs in around 3lbs., making it perfect for backpackers. If there’s no rain in the forecast, you can take off the rainfly and stargaze as you fall asleep.
The company’s Wagontop Camping Tent lineup goes up in size to accommodate eight people. Even better, it’s priced at $750, which is a great value for that large of a tent.
NEMO developed low-pressure airbeams to use in its tents instead of traditional aluminum poles. The technology helps keep the overall tent weight lighter.
To many people, Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, is a retail shop where you purchase tents. But the retailer also makes a great lineup of tents and other camping gear.
REI tents have made their way on several top tent lists over the years.
One of our favorites is the REI Co-op Kingdom 6, which not only looks modern and chic, but is also very practical for larger group camping. The big interior features plenty of storage and for the size is relatively light at 21lbs.
REI tents are probably best known for their price. You can find a solid two-person tent for $80, while it’s largest eight-person tent is priced under $500.
Plus, if you’re an REI member, you can take advantage of cash-back offers and special sales throughout the year, bringing the price of those tents down even further.
Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.