buying guide tents

set up camp
with the right tent.

You'll enjoy your s'mores even more when you have the proper tent for your camping event. Next to a sleeping bag, a tent is the most important piece of camping equipment you'll purchase. Before purchasing a tent, consider two key things: the number of people that need to fit into the tent, and where and when you'll be camping.

get ready for a great adventure.

Make sure your camping experience is fabulous with our Camping Buying Guide and Camping Checklist.

camping buying guide camping checklist

easy tent setup.

Make sure tent setup is a breeze by choosing the right tent for your camping style, location and level of expertise. Look for a "setup time" estimate on tent product pages so you can plan accordingly.

scout out your choices.

  • how many people need to fit in
    your tent?

    Look for the sleep capacity number on the tent's packaging—then buy a tent that can fit one more person. This will give you a little extra room, plus extra space for any gear you'd like to keep inside. Look for diagrams on individual tent product pages showing how many people can sleep in a tent.

    shop all tents for 2–4 people shop all tents for 5–7 people shop all tents for 8+ people
  • where will you be camping?

    From mountaintops and deserts to your own backyard, find the right tent for any terrain. Planning to hike to your site? A dome tent is ideal for small or rugged clearings. Their rounded shape prevents snow, rain or leaves from accumulating, and they have flexible poles for strong winds. Heading to a family campground? A larger tent with multiple "rooms" will give you privacy and space—they can often fit up to 10 people, plus extra storage.

    shop all dome tents shop all family tents

keep your tent upright.

Educate yourself on these important tent elements to create a comfortable indoors in the great outdoors.

  • tent poles.


    Often included with inexpensive, lighter-duty tents, fiberglass poles are easy to carry and assemble.


    Aluminum poles are a great mid-range option. Because they're strong and lightweight, they're ideal for backpacking trips. While they're more expensive than fiberglass, they're easier to replace.

    shock cord

    Shock-cord tent-pole sections are threaded together with elastic cord. If you don't have much experience pitching tents, shock-corded poles are great because it's obvious how the pieces connect. Pole sections are hard to misplace, and the sections fold up for compact packing.

  • guy lines.

    Guy lines are ropes that anchor the tent and keep the walls taut, preventing sagging and providing more space inside the tent. Should severe weather strike, they help the tent keep its shape. Not all tents come with guy lines—check the packaging if this feature is important to you.

anticipate precipitation.

Waking up to standing water in your tent or returning to soaked gear can dampen the fun of a camping trip. Most tents are weatherproofed to help keep you comfy in any weather.

  • rain fly.

    No, this isn't an exotic insect. A rain fly is an additional layer of fabric that attaches just above your tent for extra water and wind protection. Look for
    flies that touch the ground—water can't splash up them as easily. Attach the fly even if rain isn't in the forecast. Should a storm pop up, you may not have time to put it up.

  • vestibule.

    A vestibule is an extension that shelters a small area in front of your tent, similar to an awning. Attaching one to your tent can help keep shoes and other gear dry and out of the sun. A vestibule can also help keep rain, snow and dirt out of your tent—think of it as an entryway for your tent.

  • taped seams & water-resistant coatings.

    Taped seams are coated with additional waterproof material to help prevent leaking. You can also apply your own seam sealer if your tent doesn't feature this extra protection. Polyurethane-coated tent fabrics help keep moisture out. They also allow the tent fabric to breathe, keeping the tent interior feeling and smelling fresh. Look for "600mm PU coating" or similar on the packing. The higher the number, the more water-resistant the coating.