When buying a tent for a family of three people, size is not the only thing to consider. You need to evaluate several factors, like ventilation and strength of the structure, to prevent your kids from being cold and wet when the first surprise storm pops up in the middle of the night.
Gazelle T4 Pop-Up Portable
Big Agnes Copper Spur
Core 10-Person Cabin Tent
Best Value Tent for a Family of Three
Best Backpacking Tent
Best Cabin Tent for Families
Orange or Green
Orange or Wine
28 - 31 lbs
Sneak Peek: Best Value Tent for a Family of Three
Factors to Consider When Buying Tents for a Family of Three
For starters, since it’s a three-person tent it is not just about your comfort, it’s about picking the one that makes all of you the most comfortable. For that, you want to know a little bit about functions and materials. Let’s go through the buying guide so that you know how to avoid the obvious trappings.
Most tent manufacturers list the capacity as number of people but only a few of them actually consider the amount of gear you’ll need to have with you. While you may be looking at three person tents for your family of three – we’d recommend going for a four person one to give yourself some room to move around and bring a friend or pet in the future!
This is an important factor because it is pertinent not only to the time of the year when you want to go camping but also the weather of the place you are going to. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable when the temperatures take an unexpected dip.
You will find that three-season tents are a popular choice in the market because they are essentially shelters in place and although they are big enough for more than a couple of people, they are still lightweight.
These tents have the ability to keep up with temperatures in spring, summer, and fall. To make that happen, manufacturers construct them with enough mesh panels so that the tent has good airflow.
These panels are also very useful in keeping bugs and other insects out of the tent even though they are less great at keeping sand out. If you get a rainfly and pitch it well, a good three-season tent can handle a decent downpour. Of course, if you are stuck in windy weather or worse, like snow, there isn’t much you can do.
Then there are three to four-season tents. These tents are meant for those times of the year when a little snow is expected. Three- to four-season tents are meant to balance ventilation, retain warmth and be strong.
You will notice that most of them, if not all, come with one or more poles but don’t have as many mesh panels as three-season tents. That’s why they are relatively more sturdy and warm. Also called extended-season tents, these models are good for those who like camping in high-elevation campsites that are slightly more exposed.
The next level is four-season tents. Now, these can handle fiercely windy weather and a good deal of snow load. They are mountaineering tents and are good for use throughout the year. The main goal of these tents is to be firmly grounded when the weather above the treeline is really unkind, which you’ll find when camping in mountain ranges primarily.
These tents, as you would expect, use heavier fabrics and have more poles to help them secure. They have a dome design on the top to prevent snow accumulation. The rainflies will be closer to the ground which means you will feel warmer in mild winters but if the wind is howling, you will be safe inside the tent.
Speaking of rainflies, a good rainfly is critical to guarding you from rain or dew. It can also help add some extra warmth to the tent. When you are going to tricky campsites with family or friends, you want to make sure you have this as a back-up for unexpected weather changes.
There are two types of rainflies in the market. The roof-only rainflies will offer a little protection from rain but still allow some amount of light into the tent. Full-coverage rainflies will cover significantly more of the tent sides and offer full protection from rain and wind.
This is where you need to consider the number of mesh panels. These panels are usually found on the doors, windows, and ceiling of a tent. When you have three people in a tent, you want to make sure there is enough ventilation so that it does not get too hot in the dead of summer.
Mesh panels make room for cross ventilation and also manage condensation. If you don’t manage condensation, your clothing, cots, and anything that has come into contact with the surface of the tent are going to be damp. And if you are going camping during the hot and humid months of the year, you want to get a tent that has large mesh panels.
This is the height of the tent and is very important if you like to be standing up when you’re changing your clothes or like to stretch in the morning. And when there is more than one person in the tent, you definitely want some space over your head.
There are a couple of types of tent styles in the market, that will affect the peak height. First, there are cabin-style tents with sides that are pretty much like walls. They increase the overall height and space inside the tent. Some cabin tents also come with features like dividers and vestibule doors which can be useful for creating a semblance of privacy when camping with friends or family.
Then there are dome-style tents. These models have an advantage when winds pick up and the weather turns for the worse. They are tall in the middle and have slanted walls that reduce the space inside the tent but will still be big enough to house a family of three.
After height, you must consider the length of the tent’s floor. If you are over 5′ 10″, you’ll likely want the floor-length to be at least 90 inches.
The number of doors and their orientation is an important factor when camping with friends or family. If your tent has multiple doors, you won’t have to cross each other while exiting the tent, say when someone else is taking a nap. Cabin-style tents typically have more access points than dome tents.
Also, keep in mind that doors are zipped and you want them to make as little noise as possible each time you open or shut them. Look for YKK zippers that don’t easily snag or break.
You must look for the denier count. Tents that are made of high denier fabric are more rugged. You must also choose the ones with seam tape for the floor of the tent to prevent leakages.
Now that you are caught up on the basic specifications of evaluating the best tents for a family of three, let’s show you some of the best models in the market.
1. Eureka! Timberline SQ Three-Season Backpacking Tent
Best Value Tent for a Family of Three
- The classic tent design
- Durable and easy to use
- Made of high-quality fabrics
- Warm and thick
- Comes with good upgrades
- Peak height isn’t very impressive
- Some customers said a few seams were not well sealed
Our first choice is this backpacking tent from Eureka! The excitement is not just limited to the brand name but extends to the features of the tent too. The manufacturer claims that the strength and stability of this tent is unmatched. It is a three-season tent and provides ease of entry too. It is a four-person tent which means you will have more legroom than you initially hoped for.
The interior of the tent is 60.8 square feet and its poles are made of aluminum alloy. The design is proprietary and the tent itself is built in an A-frame style with plenty of space on the inside.
Frame tents are designed such that there is no pole in the middle of the tent which means the layout has no obstructions. So, if you are going to have children in the tent, you don’t have to worry about them knocking it down accidentally.
This is a full-coverage tent which means the tent is safe against elements of the weather. It has a 15.3 square foot vestibule in the front which is a great place to keep wet boots, cooking gear, and such.
The ventilation system of the tent is meant to have controlled airflow regardless of the outside weather thanks to the high/low vent. It has two D-style doors and large windows which make it easy for you to move in and out of the tent.
The peak height is about 59 inches. When you pack it down it comes to 7 x 26 inches. The tent weighs 9 pounds and 12 ounces along with the body, poles, stakes, fly, and guylines.
Eureka! Has been around for over a century making gear that ranges from cooking systems to sleeping bags to tents. Their aim is to provide camping furniture that is reliable and easy to use.
2. Gazelle 22272 T4 Pop-Up Portable Camping Hub Tent
Tents for a Family of Three Upgrade Pick
- Very easy to set up thanks to the pop-up design
- Unique boxy design gives a lot of space
- Good peak height
- Comes with water-resistant technology
- Durable zippers
- Comes with rainfly and integrated poles
- Has a removable floor
- Not very good for windy nights
- Doesn’t come with the strongest stakes
Our upgrade choice when looking for tents for a family of three is the Gazelle hub tent meant for four people. It is so easy to set up that it actually takes only 90 seconds. When it is not standing tall, this square-shaped tent can be packed into a 67.5-inch duffle bag.
The peak height is 78 inches and the floor space is 61 square feet. It is made of a 50+ UV-rated material and can resist water, wind, and mildew, which not only makes it impressive but is also extremely convenient.
This tent comes with a waterproof rainfly that has integrated poles and taped seams. You must insert the poles in all corners before you pop it on the roof. The tent itself comes fully assembled which means you just need to pop it open for set up. The innovative framework uses metal hubs and fiberglass for the structure and it resists strong winds quite well.
The floor is held together by a hook-and-loop tape that can be seen on the interior thanks to the extra strip which also gives it strength. And it can also be removed easily if you want to shake the dirt and sand. And by the way, the two doors of the tent are equipped with durable YKK zippers which are known not to snag or break.
3. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL
Best Backpacking Tent for a Family of Three
- Great fabric, good color
- Very high-quality proprietary materials
- Vestibule gives more options during rain
- Lots of space and easy to set up
- Pockets on the inside are a bonus
- Low peak height
- Might need more stakes to set it up
- Might need to get an extra footprint for the floor
This tent is designed such that the walls are steep and the poles are high. This increases the overall volume of the tent and creates a nice living space also because it is a freestanding model. This is a full-featured tent from the Copper Spur HV UL series and it is ultralight, strong, and easy to set up. This particular model has a few new features and is made of proprietary materials.
The floor and the fly are made of silicone-treated double rip-stop mixed denier nylon and have a 1200 mm waterproof polyurethane coating. The tent has two doors that open and close quickly and easily with the well-made dual zippers. Those zippers come with an easy grip for ease of entry and exit from the tent and are also easy to access. There is also a quick stash doorkeeper which means unzipped doors can be easily stowed.
You will also find a two-tone mesh that gives you privacy while making room for stargazing. This tent comes with a Copper Hotel HV UL2 Accessory Fly but it can be interchanged with a standard fly. Convenient, huh? The fly can be connected to the pole structure with velcro tabs that are perfect for pitching and extra stability.
The two vestibules, also called awnings, are well protected from both sun and a little drizzle and both of them have storm flaps on their zippers. They have double zippers for multiple access.
You can set up the tent using trekking poles or regular tent poles and use extra guylines to stabilize the structure. The low-vent vestibule doors also help reduce condensation and the high fly vents make both active and passive airflow possible.
There are 3D bin pockets that make it easy for you to store your gear without taking away sleeping space that can be hard to come by with tents for a family of three. These are at the foot but with elevated storage. There is an oversized ceiling pocket too for extra storage. You will also find media pockets for your electronic devices.
It also has a TipLok Tent Buckle which combines three functions into one. The pole tip is secure and won’t release while you are still setting up the tent. That’s comforting, right? A rainfly is attached to the tent along with a tensioner and a stakeout loop. You will also find reflective guylines—which are pre-cut by the way—and webbing on the corners of the tent which is convenient for visibility at night.
There are several interior loops if you want to attach gear and accessories inside the tent. And the lifespan of the floor of the tent which measures 29 square feet can be extended with a footprint but you will have to buy it separately.
4. Core 10 Person Straight Wall Cabin Tent
Best Cabin Tent for Families
- Great for those who want a cabin on their camping trip
- Set up is easy thanks to the color-coded poles and sleeves
- Has space for air mattresses or sleeping bags
- Gear loft keeps the space on the ground available
- Comes with 8 guylines and 6 two-way plastic pole joints
- Rainfly has very limited coverage if it starts raining
- Does not come with a footprint or tarp
The final tent on our list is a 10-person tent from Core. This can fit two queen-sized air mattresses or four Core sleeping bags inside the tent. It has ground vents and a room divider that can partition the tent into two.
You will find two doors in the front and back each. The tent itself is made of H2O block fabric which is coated with polyurethane and is water-resistant. It also has taped seams that keep the moisture out.
There is a gear loft with pockets in this tent which makes it easy for you to store your knick-knacks. And it has a lantern hook too. There is an electrical cord access port that is water-resistant and can be used from outside the tent to inside or vice versa. When you are not using it, the port is fully closable. You will get the package with the tent, rainfly, gear loft, tent poles, stakes, room divider, and a carry bag. It also comes with a one-year warranty.
Is that it? Not even close.
This is a 14 x 10-feet tent with an 86-inch center height which makes it very convenient to walk around the tent rather comfortably. The walls are straight, which makes it spacious. All the doors and windows come with mesh panels for privacy. You will also find a fully-taped rainfly that can be removed when the weather is warm. And even then, you will have a mesh on the ceiling.
Each side of the tent is equipped with adjustable ventilation which keeps the hot air out and lets cool air in. The poles and sleeves of the tent are color-coded which makes setting it up that much easier. And the storage pockets are all strategically placed.
That’s a Wrap
We hope you found our detailed buyer’s guide helpful in figuring out what to look for when purchasing sifting through all of the best tents for a family of three. Our curated list of some of the top three-person tents on the market should make your purchasing decision a lot easier too!