Sleeping under the stars sounds nice in theory, but it’s not very practical.
That’s why the 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 best brands and manufacturers to start with.
At 27 years old, Alps Mountaineering is actually one of the newer camping brands on the market. It started in 1993, focusing on making durable and lightweight tents for hikers.
Alps Mountaineering is best known for its Lynx and Taurus branded tents. There are more than a dozen of models available today which come in a variety of sizes.
The company’s most popular model is the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 2-Person Tent. Many of its users are backpackers who need a reliable, lightweight tent for their big adventures.
Pricing-wise, Alps Mountaineering finds itself somewhere in the middle. The largest models top out around $400.
Recently, Alps Mountaineering recently announced its Trail Tipi tent. It is for those who want to save even more weight. It weighs in at about 3lbs.
Big Agnes designs technical tents with the backpacker in mind. While they deliver on their ultra-lightweight tent promise, they also don’t scrimp on tent durability, size, and features.
Its most popular model for backpackers and campers is the Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum. Campers like it because it features two doors and it can be set up in about two minutes. As expected, though, the top feature is its weight at under 2lbs.
We like how Big Agnes separates their tents into different categories. Backpacking is where you will find the smaller and ultralight tents. Car camping is where you’ll find larger, heavier tents because you have the luxury to add a little comfort.
When compared to other top brands, Big Agnes 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 brand has been around for 120 years and is famous for producing high-quality camping gear. They will last you years, if not decades and you can rely on them.
Our top pick from the brand is the Coleman Sundome 2 tent because it’s such a great value. It comes in a variety of sizes to fit two to six people, with the four-person tent only costing you $70. Many 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.
Several consumer groups have rated Coleman one of the most reliable for camping gear. So expect that tent to last a long time with proper care and maintenance.
Eureka Camping is a long-time outdoor recreation brand that has been selling tents and other camping 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.
Eureka Camping offers everything from lightweight backpacking tents to large-scale eight-person tents. Their tents aren’t the lightest on the market, and that includes their backpacking lineup. So, if weight is important to you, you may want to look at other brands.
Eureka Camping excels in its K2-XT Tent, which is super tough in the harshest of weather conditions. Its heavier weight makes it a better option for car campers. The extra weight, durability, and unique engineering will keep you safe while in the tent in the most inclement of weather.
Look no further than Kelty if you’re after a high-end tent. Kelty tents are quick to set up and will last you for many, many camping trips in the future.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Kelty uses its Rocky Mountain backyard to design super-tough tents. They do come at a more premium price, but that’s for good reason.
One of our favorite models is the Kelty Dirt Motel 2 tent because of its spaciousness. It can be set up in three minutes. The stargazing fly lets you take in the beauty of the great outdoors as you fall asleep.
Kelty tents usually cost between $250 to $350 with a handful of models under $100. They also offer cheaper sunshades and shelters to complete your camping experience.
Marmot is an outdoor sporting and recreation company. It is famous for its lineup of extreme-weather jackets and apparel. But they also make high-quality, premium tents that sell above $500.
Marmot tents for the experienced camper who’s looking for technical upgrades. Marmot’s tents are durable, easy to set up and transport.
Many campers like Marmot’s dedication to sustainable camping. Their tent lineup is environmentally friendly and free of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
The Tungsten Ultralight Hatchback 2-Person tent is their best-selling backpacking tent. The more luxurious model, the Marmot Orbit 6-Person tent is suitable for car campers.
Mountain Hardwear is a young outdoor equipment brand. It is the subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear. Recently, they managed to make a tent that’s luxurious enough for car campers, and light enough for backpackers.
Mountain Hardwear tents are fast growing in popularity and they look pretty cool. They feature great waterproofing technology for their tents along with innovative manufacturing technologies. One example is their durable seam construction that will keep your tent lasting a long time.
The Californian company’s most popular tent is its Mineral King 2 tent that sells in the mid to high $200s. The Mineral King 3 tent is for three people, weighs under 8lbs., making it a usable option for a group backpacking trip.
Mountain Safety Research (MSR)
MSR (Mountain Safety Research), is a 51-year-old outdoor company that makes camping, hiking, and mountaineering equipment.
One of our favorites is the MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent. 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 like the rain gutters, which do a great job of keeping any rainfall away from the tent.
You can also find several great options geared toward winter camping. Most brands make three-season tents, but MSR also makes four-season options. These feature double walls to help keep heat inside.
MSR finds itself on the higher-end of the pricing spectrum, especially with its four-season tents. Its family tents for car campers are going to run you north of $500.
NEMO Equipment has made quite an impression on campers in 18 years since its founding.
You might have some sticker shock with NEMO-branded tents, as they’re likely going to cost you $300 to $600. Their tents are very durable and have plenty of features, like storage pockets, that make it great for car campers and backpackers.
The NEMO Dagger Ultralight Backpacking Tent weighs 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 air beams to use in its tents instead of the traditional aluminum poles. The technology helps keep the tent weight lighter.
To many people, Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, is a retail shop where you buy tents. But the retailer also makes a great lineup of tents and other camping gear. REI tents have made their way on several best tent lists over the years.
One of our favorites is the REI Co-op Kingdom 6 tent. It looks modern, chic, and is very practical for larger group camping. The big interior features plenty of storage and for the size is quite light at 21lbs.
REI tents are best known for their price. You can find a solid two-person tent for $80, while its largest eight-person tent sells for under $500.
If you’re an REI member, you can take advantage of cash-back offers and special sales throughout the year. This will help bring 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.