What Are The Best Tent Brands?

tent in the wilderness

Let’s face it – there are a TON of tent brands out there. And, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which ones are the best.

Without considering the brand, looking for a tent is hard enough. Between all the features, bells and whistles, and even color schemes, it’s easy to get “analysis paralysis.”

To help make the process easier, I suggest narrowing down your search by choosing a solid tent brand first.

Is it a reputable company?

Do they have a track record of reliable performance?

Once you find your favorite brand, it’s much easier to choose a tent.

In this article, we’ll be sharing our opinion on what the best tent brands are. We’ll also share some of our favorite tents from these companies along the way.

Let’s go!

Coleman

Our winner for the best tent brand is Coleman. Since starting production in 1900, Coleman has embedded itself as a landmark camping brand, and for good reason.

Coleman gets criticized online for being sold in big box stores like Bass Pro Shops and Target, but I don’t see it that way. In reality, these stores put in painstaking effort to choose the best tent brands, so I view it as a positive that they sell Coleman.

There are tons of great options when it comes to Coleman tents. My personal favorite is the 6-Person DarkRoom dome tent.

This is a quick-pitch camping tent, meaning it can be set up in minutes. It also comes with a dense rainfly and a thick ceiling. The materials it’s made of block 90% of sunlight and cool your tent by 12%, which Coleman calls “DarkRoom technology”.

On top of that, it’s got a big screen room and a small price, making this my chosen Coleman tent.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of tents to fulfill everyone’s camping desires
  • Modern technology like WeatherTec, DarkRoom, and FastPitch bring new takes to classic designs
  • Unparalleled customer service – a reputable brand since 1900
  • Affordable for any camper or family, yet created with skillful craftsmanship
  • All tents come with perks like electrical outlets, ventilation flaps, and storage pockets

Cons:

  • Few options for ultralight backpackers or extreme weather tents, but great options nonetheless

Best for: people looking for an overall great tent brand that is surprisingly affordable.

SpringBar

Next, I have to mention this canvas tent brand. I’m a pretty big fan of canvas tents for their durability, breathability, and awesome aesthetics.

Be forewarned: canvas tents are very different to synthetic tents. They require a slightly higher level of care but provide a significantly higher level experience (kind of like a cast-iron pan).

The main difference between SpringBar tents and standard nylon tents is (obviously) the material. SpringBar’s 100% duck canvas is a much nicer material to sleep in thanks to how well the cotton airs out. At the same time, this canvas tent is epic for the winter because it holds heat and is thick enough not to fold under falling snow.

If you haven’t already, check out our article on tent materials to learn more.

SpringBar’s tent options only differ in their size. I recommend the SpringBar 6-person tent because if you’re going to buy a canvas tent that you’ll have for years, you want one large enough to fit the whole gang.

Pros:

  • Breathable, insulating canvas material means you’ll stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer
  • Enables you to use a wood-burning stove inside your tent (never recommended in nylon tents)
  • Heavyweight duck canvas provides protection from high winds, harsh weather, and heavy snowfall
  • Cabin-style design (with straight walls) provides tons of room, and tall center heights mean anyone can walk around inside
  • Lifetime warranty offered by SpringBar makes sure you’re covered against damage

Cons:

  • Although these tents will last decades, the upfront investment is more than with other tents
  • Canvas tents are much heavier than nylon tents and should not be used for backpacking

Best for: car camping families who want to buy an all-season camping tent they can pass down to their kids.

MSR Gear

MSR, also known as Mountain Safety Research, has been making quality camping gear since 1969.

MSR specializes in lightweight backpacking tents. To do this, they’ve absorbed other tent brands like Moss, Walrus, and Armadillo. This lets them use other brands’ tech to improve their own tents.

Recently, MSR celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, but don’t think you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As mentioned, MSR is known for its ultralight tent models. These tents might cost a premium, but you’ll be glad you made the investment when you’re carrying less weight on your back.

Our favorite MSR tent is the Hubba Hubba NX 2-person model. It’s super light (less than 4 lbs), extremely weatherproof, and doesn’t come with an insane price tag.

Pros:

  • 50 years of experience makes MSR gear super high quality
  • Heavily involved in philanthropic efforts through their Global Health initiatives, making the world a better place while also making great gear
  • Ultralight tents that are so light you can carry them in your backpack with no issues
  • Xtreme Shield Waterproofing lasts three times longer than standard coatings
  • Made out of cutting-edge aerospace composite materials, MSR’s Syclone Poles are near impossible for wind to snap

Cons:

  • Not priced for beginners
  • Large options (six people and above) are limited

Best for: experienced backpackers who want a lightweight tent with premium features.

Core Equipment

Not long ago, a group of buddies quit their big-name outdoor brand jobs and set out to do more for the camping world. That’s how Core Equipment was born.

Today, their small team of camping enthusiasts makes gear that everyone can enjoy at a great price point.

Core’s tents vary in design, but their specialty is in larger, cabin-style tents for families. If you’re camping with 6 or more people, Core is the brand for you. Their sizes go from 6-person tents all the way up to twelve!

Of course, when tent manufacturers say a tent fits 6 people, that’s 6 people sleeping within inches of each other. Remember to always size up 2 people. So, camping with 10 people calls for a 12-person tent.

Out of all their tent options, our favorite is the 9-person instant cabin tent. It’s an affordable tent with tons of space that sets up within minutes. Highly recommend.

Pros:

  • Affordably priced, but long-lasting
  • Lots of options – size, color, instant/traditional, screen room/porch
  • All tents have great ventilation thanks to many doors, windows and vents
  • Most tents come with a port for electrical cords, great for charging your kids’ devices
  • Mostly large tents, but optimized for lighter weight and faster setup

Cons:

  • Weather protection is not suitable for severe weather
  • Floors are not very thick, so I recommend using a tarp underneath

Best for: families who don’t need extreme weather protection, but want lots of space at a great price.

ALPS Mountaineering

Launched in 1993, ALPS Mountaineering was birthed by ex-Kelty Outdoors executive Dennis Brune. After working on Kelty’s outdoors gear for 14 years, Dennis left to do more for camping. Brune’s mission statement is to make “premium outdoor products whose performance exceeds the expectations of their price points.”

In our opinion, they’ve done a great job of achieving that goal.

ALPS trademark is their freestanding, aluminum two-pole design. This style means less weight and easier setup, which are both great to have in a tent.

This structure is used in their 1-person tents all the way up to their 6-person model, so ALPS has a freestanding tent for camping groups of every size.

When it comes to ALPS Mountaineering’s tents, our pick of the litter is the 2-person Lynx model.

Pros:

  • The simple design is easy to carry and even easier to set up
  • Two pole construction gives you a strong frame without having to lug around hefty poles
  • Despite smaller sizes, many ALPS tents come with plenty of vestibule space
  • Lifetime warranty gives you unparalleled support that ensures this tent will last for years
  • Factory-sealed seams and strong #8 zippers keep the rain out like a champ

Cons:

  • No tents are available in super-large configurations – largest tent sleeps 6 people

Best for: backpackers who want to save on weight, but don’t want to splurge on MSR’s premium weatherproof tents.

What To Look For

4 people with their legs sticking out of a tent

Now that we’ve shown you the best tent brands, let’s talk about what you should look for when selecting at a tent brand.

As you know by now, different camping tent brands have different strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, every camper has different wants and needs. There is no one, singular “best tent brand.”

So, the goal of this section is to help you find the “best tent brand” that matches you.

Style (Backpacking vs. Car Camping)

The first thing to decide is what style camper you are.

Are you a family of 6 who needs a tent to match the mini-van? Then you’re a car camper.

Are you a solo explorer whose goal is to trek the whole Appalachian Trail? Then you’re a backpacker and you need a lightweight backpacking tent.

Once you decide what style of camping suits you, you can better explore your tent options and weed out the tents that don’t fit you.

A backpacking tent prioritizes weight over everything. There’s no need for a backpacker to fit 8 people in their tent if that means carrying an extra 20 lbs on his or her back.

On the other hand, car campers prioritize size over everything. A super weather-resistant tent is worthless if it’s too small, and little Timmy has to sleep outside.

Choose your style of camping, then filter for tent brands that specialize in that style.

Also, note that there are tents for your truck-bed that might suit you better if you happen to drive a pick-up truck.

Size

Now that you’ve chosen your camping style, pick what size you want. This will easily help you narrow down your choices.

Many of the ultralight brands (like MSR) do not offer large options. Instead, look to the family-oriented tent brands like Core Equipment or Coleman.

Seasonality

You’ve picked your style and your size, now it’s time to get into the details. Determine where (and when) you’ll be camping, and you can narrow down your search quickly.

Campers looking to brave the winter months and sleep out in the cold should consider brands like MSR or SpringBar. Their 4 season tents are built to give top-notch snow shelter.

If you’re camping in hot and humid climates, you want to look at a 3 season tent. Consider brands like Coleman that focus on breathability and ventilation.

Lastly, even if you buy a waterproof tent, you can never be too sure. It’s always a good idea to treat your tent with a waterproofing spray to make sure you stay dry if it rains during your trip.

a tent on a snowy hillside

Specifics

At this point, you’re probably looking at only a handful of tent brands. Now it’s time to look at the specifics of the tents and see if you can find one that matches you.

Here are some of the details to consider.

  • Tent poles – what are they made out of? Aluminum poles are stronger than carbon composite or fiberglass poles but are more expensive and heavier
  • Tent fabric – canvas is a lot heavier than nylon but is definitely stronger and more breathable
  • Rainfly – how big is it, is it integrated, or does it not come with one at all?
  • Bells & whistles – is it an instant tent, does it have electrical ports, a vestibule, a gear loft, or extra doors?

The above factors are more so up to personal preference. Choose which ones matter most to you, and select a tent that has what you need.

Structure

When using any outdoor gear, it’s crucial that you consider the quality of the gear’s construction.

Outdoor gear is used… well, outside, and unlike office gear like desks, chairs, or computers, these items need to be able to withstand rain, sun, wind, and snow!

Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to judge the construction of a product, especially when you’re checking it out on the internet.

The best way to make sure you’re buying from a reputable tent brand is to check out the reviews online. You’ll quickly be able to tell if the tent is well made by reading other people’s experiences.

Value For Money

Last but not least is everyone’s favorite topic: price. You don’t want to buy a tent that breaks the bank, but you also don’t want to buy something that’s gonna fall apart the first time you use it.

For this article, I tried to choose only the brands that were worth their salt.

That means the affordable tents won’t fail under pressure, and the premium tents will be well worth the investment (if you make it).

The last thing we’d want is for you to waste your money on an overpriced tent that provides a poor camping experience. No matter which tent brand you end up pledging allegiance to, I know you’ll be satisfied with our recommendations.

Our Verdict

To sum things up, our pick for the best tent brand is Coleman.

Coleman has a tent for every size, style, or season. Whatever you want, odds are that there’s a Coleman tent for you.

Coleman might not offer ultralight tents that weigh less than 3 lbs, or super-winter tents that can resist 200 mph winds. But, at the end of the day, for your regular run-of-the-mill camping trip, these are spectacular tents.

Obviously, there are tent brands that beat Coleman in one area. For example, MSR knocks Coleman out of the park when it comes to portable backpacking tents.

That said, Coleman provides a wider breadth of options, so I chose Coleman as the best tent brand.

To get started, I recommend the Coleman DarkRoom tent. Available in both 4-person and 6-person configurations, this tent is an affordable option that sets up easily, keeps you cool at night, and won’t break the bank.