Camping is a wonderful activity for family, friends or organizations. While it offers quality time together and an escape from the stress of everyday life, it can be a hassle to plan for, especially if you need new equipment and supplies. Purchasing a tent can be difficult. They are often expensive and vary in structure, material and functionality. Depending on your needs, maybe you can get away with a less expensive tent, or maybe a high-end tent that costs more up front will be a worthwhile investment for you. Here we have compared five tents with three rooms to make your big decision a little easier.
How We Rated the Tents
To most people, a tent may be a tent, but there are actually many differences between them, even if they are all good options. We have broken down the differences into six important categories:
Money doesn’t grow on trees, and we know it’s important for you to consider how this decision will impact your wallet in the short and long term. Prices can vary greatly among tents for different reasons, from the number of seasons they’re designed to weather, to the brand and its popularity. We are comparing quality tents that are worth the investment.
Tents are frequently categorized according to the number of people they are meant to accommodate. However, this number doesn’t always accurately reflect how much room is in the tent. Sometimes, the number is based on how many air mattresses or sleeping bags can fit on the floor, but it doesn’t allow any additional space for equipment. Because of this, we look at floor space by square feet.
Different materials, features and seasonal purposes mean tents have different waterproof ratings and weather conditions they are intended to handle. This is a critical feature in making your plans and your purchase decision. While most of the tents we compare have a good level of waterproofing, there is some variation within the list.
We have all seen scenes in films where characters struggle endlessly to erect a tent, only to fail and have the structure collapse on top of them. Setup can easily be the most frustrating part of a camping trip and take the joy out of the overall experience. Because of this, we consider the time and effort it takes to put up each of these tents so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
This category is a bit of a catch-all for features that don’t apply to every one of the tents, especially features that may make a specific tent stand out from the other tents in the list.
No matter what a company says, the real answers come from consumers. Reviews offer honest opinions and observations about a product based on its performance during use. If hundreds of people have purchased a tent and rave about it online, you can trust that it is a safer bet than one that has a lot of mixed reviews. Online ratings and customer reviews are a key component in how we ranked these tents and our recommendations about each one.
Each 3-room tent is listed below by overall rating in descending order. Each rating is out of five stars based on the six categories.
Vango 6-Person Odyssey Air 600 Tent
The Odyssey Air 600 is one of the largest tents on the list, with 190 square feet of floor space. The sleeping spaces include a lights-out feature, similar to blackout fittings, with dark fabric to keep sunlight out. The floor is detachable and easy to clean. The setup is incredibly easy with air beams and no metal poles. Air-beam technology means that instead of poles running through the structure for support, air flows through tubes in the tent to hold it up. Along with the air beams, the tent includes tension bands for extra support. It also packs into a compact bag you can put over your shoulder. The design is ideal for carrying, but it is rather heavy.
Along with great stability, the waterproof ratings are outstanding, so the tent is durable for all kinds of weather conditions. At roughly $500, this tent is an investment, but it will be worthwhile for a family that enjoys camping and needs a sturdy and reliable option. While reviews for this tent are sparse, there have been some issues in the past. Most customers reported a good experience, but there were a handful of dissatisfied users. However, all recent reviews are positive and it seems that the problems mentioned in negative reviews have been resolved.
There is a smaller version of this tent, the Odyssey Air 500, which is smaller by about 30 square feet and less expensive by roughly $60. Other than size and price, these two tents have the same features and durability.
Vango AirBeam Capri 600XL Tent
The Vango AirBeam Capri 600XL is a single-layer tent with air-beam technology. This allows for a quick setup, taking roughly 10 minutes for the structure. Like most other Vango tents, it uses tension bands for extra stability in addition to the air beams, and has an outstanding waterproof rating. Together, they offer very strong weather resistance. Keep in mind that the single layer design and level of weather resistance make this tent great for cooler temperatures, but less ideal for summer heat.
The Capri 600XL has a tunnel shape, so it is long and skinny with the floor space equaling 194 square feet. This tent can be found for as little as $600, but the average online price is between $700 and $800. The reviews for this tent are wonderful, and multiple users would purchase it again. The price difference between this tent and the Odyssey Air 600 for similar amounts of floor space is the reason we scored it less than 5/5.
Moose Outdoors 6-Person Inflatable Family Tent for Camping
Like the Capri 600XL, the Moose Outdoors Family Tent is a tunnel-shaped tent supported by air beams. This tent is great for cold and windy weather, because it has wonderful insulation and is very strong against harsh-weather conditions. It’s smaller than other tents on the list, with 150 square feet, but still large enough for an average-sized family to sleep comfortably. It is easy to set up, taking less than 10 minutes to inflate, and comes with a manually operated pump. It is a reliable three-season tent, a simple and sturdy structure, with plenty of standing room and zippered walls. This is a more expensive tent for its size at roughly $550.
While customer reviews were difficult to locate for this tent, it appears on multiple expert lists of the top tents of its kind.
Ozark WT172115 Trail 10-Person Family Tent
This tent is an affordable option for a family that wants to go camping occasionally for a few nights in mild weather conditions. At 178 square feet, the structure is roomy, and it includes an electrical cable port, a great additional feature. The waterproof rating indicates it would not be desirable for an area that receives much rain. However, it would be great for summer camping, due to lots of windows and great ventilation. It also has dark panels, so you can cover the ceiling and windows to block out all light for a better night’s sleep.
The instant setup makes it almost effortless to erect. It’s also a wonderful value for the space it provides. This tent is far less expensive than many others, generally with a cost of $100 to $150. However, this tent would best serve casual campers rather than dedicated and serious campers who wish to spend more than one season of the year camping.
The customer reviews for this tent are impressive for such an inexpensive structure. Many users reported that, though the waterproof rating is not extremely high, they were pleasantly surprised at how well it kept out the rain during a storm.
Ozark Trail 15-Person 3-Room Split-Plan Instant Cabin
This is, by far, the largest tent on the list. With a whopping 250 square feet of floor space, this tent is great for large families, or multiple families who like to camp together. Like the Ozark Trail 10-person tent, the money you spend for the amount of space is a great value. You can find it online easily between $200 and $300. It has lots of windows, and includes sewn-in divider walls for two private sleeping rooms and a central sitting space.
The frame of the tent is pre-assembled, so setup is surprisingly quick for such a large structure. If everything is functioning correctly, setup should be done in five minutes or less. Though you won’t always need stakes because the tent is freestanding, it comes with stakes and ropes for added stability.
Unfortunately, this tent has one of the least impressive waterproof ratings on this list, so it should not be used much outside of summer months. If you are taking a road trip in the summer and merely stopping at campsites each night, this tent may be a good choice for you, but it is not the best option for those who would like to spend a generous amount of time in an environment with harsh weather.
Most reviews of this product are favorable, but there were a small number of users who were disappointed. A couple of customers reported that setup and takedown were not quite as simple as described, but that it was still a good experience and they would purchase this tent again.
Making the Big Decision
Whether you’re a casual camper who wants to try something new with your family or a seasoned adventurer, there are great options in tents for you to consider. If a 3-room tent is right for you, this top-five list will be a great asset in narrowing down the choices. But if you still need some extra help, there are things you can think about outside of tent features.
Think about where you live and where you would like to travel and camp. If you live in a very dry area of the country, you likely don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a tent meant for cold weather and lots of rain. On the other hand, if you will be staying somewhere like Florida, where many areas get almost daily summer rains, you will want to forego pinching pennies to make sure your tent has good waterproof ratings.
Think about who you would like to travel and camp with. If you and your partner are planning a trip with another couple, a smaller tent like the Moose Outdoors Inflatable Tent will provide plenty of room for all four of you. But if your son wants to go on a weekend trip with eight of his fraternity brothers, one of the Ozark Trail tents would be far more appropriate.
Consider how often you will use the tent when you calculate its true cost. For three weekends a year, a tent under $300 may be the most prudent decision for you. However, if you love to camp every time you get a chance, investing in a more expensive tent will be wiser in the long run, because you will get more features out of it to maximize your camping experience. You may also be able to use it longer and travel to a wider variety of places with it than would be possible with a one-season tent.
Regardless of which tent you choose, each of the tents listed is a spectacular option. But a tent is more than just a tent. It is a place for spending quality time, building relationships and rejuvenating your spirit. You and your family deserve a high-quality tent for a high-quality camping experience.