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Family sized tent reviews

We test 14 family sized tents ranging in price from $199 to $830.
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14 family tents tested, ranging in price from $199 to $830

A family outing using a tent can be a wonderful event. The surrounds, the expected great weather and the prospect of some family time are aspects most look forward to. A good camping tent can make or break this experience, so when you start preparing for your outing look over your current tent to make sure it’s in good repair. If you don't already have one, which tent should you buy?

For more information on camping and hiking see Outdoors.  

Capacity claims

If you need to buy a tent, be wary of the capacity claims.

  • We find the four person tents on test are comfortable for two adults.
  • The 5-6 person tents are reasonably comfortable for a family of four.

Tent capacity is based on the number of sleeping bags that will fit in, rather than storage space for luggage and other camping gear. Good camping retailers have samples of their tents erected in store so you really know how much room you will have. Take the family when buying and get them to try to fit inside the tent, this will give you an idea of just how tight the fit is, and  you want a tent with separate rooms for the kids and yourselves.

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We found

  • Most of the tents on test have a vestibule, or annex where you enter the tent and store your gear, then most have a zipped doorway to the sleeping compartment.
  • All of the tents have a power cord entry point and a hook for hanging a light.
  • Pricing was erratic when we purchased the tested tents, some twice the RRP and others half the price. It really does pay to shop around. We included a more expensive sample to see what kind of bang you get for your buck and it was purchased at half the price.

What about the weather?

Looking at the tent won’t tell you whether it will leak if that perfect weather turns sour, so check out the rain test scores in the table. Anything less than 70% means we had leakage into the tents to an uncomfortable degree - no one wants to wake up in a soggy sleeping bag.

We had heavy gusts of wind during testing and all the tents managed to stay erect, though some needed their guy lines (the ropes that attach to the tent pegs) re-tightened in the morning.

Some tents specify what weather they are best for – some manufacturers argue that better ventilation is important for Australian weather so its water resistance is less important. We don’t pretend to know which way the weather will turn however, so it would be best to plan for the best and worst weather in a tent purchase, water proof when needed and good ventilation when not.

You’ll also find that tents are being constantly redesigned so you may find minor differences between what we test and what you find on the shelves, such as colour and features.

Brands and models tested

BlackWolf Tanami 6EV
Caribee Kestrel 4
Caribee Kestrel 5
Coleman Overlander 4 CV
Coleman Timbertop Geo 6 CV
Diamantina Escape Duo
Diamantina Fraser 6
Kathmandu Retreat 270
Koda Inspire 6P Dome Tent
Outdoor Connection Weekender Dome
Oztrail Breezeway Family 6 (A)
Oztrail Peak Twin Dome 6 (A)
Roman Tracker 6 TTRACK6
Spinifex Huon Geo 90028976

(A) Discontinued.

How we test

Usability Our tester, Peter Horvath, rates the tents on how comfortable they are to live in and use, taking into account: the usable area of the inner tent and vestibule (height and floor area), access to the tent, the number and size of doors and windows and ventilation.

Rain test The tents are also assessed for water resistance, in this case by a heavy downpour of natural rain on all the tents over two nights. The morning after Peter checks the tents for any leakage. Tents with puddles on the inside are scored at 60% or under depending on the extent of the leakage.

Ease of assembly This measures how long it took to put the tents up and take them down. Times ranged from 15–25 minutes to put up and 10–20 minutes to take down the second time around. These times are only a guide because they’re based on the times of experienced users putting the tent up in ideal conditions. Times will vary depending on experience, weather and ground conditions.

Other tests During the period of heavy rain, we also had heavy gusts of wind throughout the night. All tents stood up well to this test, though guy lines needed to be re-tightened the morning after.

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