Fun fact: when you leave the house with a toddler, you take 350 percent more stuff with you than when you go out by yourself.
We exaggerate, but parents of small children know it can feel like you pack your whole house when you leave for the park.
When you have children, the days of lightweight, backpack-style camping disappear into the past. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take our children camping. Instead, camping changes.
Rather than bringing only your tent, sleeping bag, and bare essentials, you also carry toys, food, mats, and all your other kid essentials.
You also need the right one. The best tent for camping with toddlers is lightweight and spacious (because your kiddo may be small, but their energy takes up the space of an NFL linebacker).
Are you looking for the perfect tent to introduce your little ones to the joy of getting lost in nature? We put together a list of products that easily meet the requirements of being the best tent for camping with toddlers.
Comparison Table for Best Tent for Camping with Toddlers
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How We Made Our Choices
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The most significant contributor to your success rate in camping with toddlers is the suitability of your tent. It’s where you’ll sleep, nap, take time-outs, and chill.
Our primary criteria for tents was finding one that offered the space to do all that and more, so don’t expect to see any lightweight, backpacker products on our list.In addition to sticking with oversize tents, we also focused on toddler-friendly features like straight walls, dark room technology, and of course, safety features like weather protection.We also combed reviews to see how spacious the tents are. We looked for tents that comfortably fit a mattress and a pack-n-play regardless of what the manufacturer says.Overall, our decisions came from well-rounded reviews of product specs, reviews, and our own experience of wrangling our toddlers while also trying to set-up a tent.
The 6 Best Tent for Camping with Toddlers
The perfect tent is the difference between a camping experience that came straight out of “Moonrise Kingdom” or one that looks more like “Without a Paddle.”We listed six of our top picks best tent for camping with toddlers below.
ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek 6 Person Tent
The ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek tent is an excellent tent for campsites or the trail because it offers all the toddler-friendly features we look for in a tent.
With a base size of 10-by-10 feet and a maximum center height of 84-inches (or seven feet), the tent offers enough surface area and center height for free movement even with a toddler.
We particularly like that the walls include only a minor slope and provide space for putting a pack-n-play or a toddler cot in the tent without sticking it in the center.
Customers say that they set up a queen size mattress and a pack-n-play in the tent and still have room to move.
Unlike other tents on the list, this one only features a single large room. However, we think this is perfect for particularly mobile children because there’s no space for sneaking out.
For better or worse, you know where your toddler is at all times. The only downside of a single room is that you need to keep it tidy, which becomes complicated when you have toys and extra gear.
An easy set up is essential when camping with kids, and the ALPS tent delivers. The design and pole clips help you get set up in no time.
The simplicity of the set up also means you can invite your toddler to participate in the smaller tasks to give them chores at the campsite.
ALPS also promises to keep the weather out of your tent. The seams are sealed, and it comes with a rain fly. The floor also uses a 1500 mm coating to keep the rain out.
As the same time, the combination of the mesh doors, windows, and roof offer plenty of ventilation, which is essential when you pack the whole family in a tent.
Finally, the tent is large, but it only weighs 23 pounds and it packs down to a compact size, so it’s easy to fit in the car and carry to a campsite.
Coleman Montana 6 Person Tent
The Coleman Montana is a spacious budget tent perfect for those who intend to camp only once or twice a year.
The tent offers a large surface area of 12-by-7 and a sloped center height of 5 feet 8 inches, so it’s large enough to fit two queen mattresses or a mattress and a pack-n-play.
The Montana offers basic features found on all Coleman tents. It includes the WeatherTec system, including inverted seams and corner welds, for keeping the interior dry. It also packs down neatly into the provided carrier bag.
We like the Montana because although it is a one-room tent, it includes an extended door awning. These awnings are perfect for leaving shoes and other items outside and freeing up floor space in the shelter.
Other features we appreciate include the e-port, which is an opening used to run an extension cord into the tent, and the storage pockets.
Customers repeatedly say that the Montana kept them warm and dry even in torrential rain and severe weather. However, it will take at least 15 minutes to set up, and some people say it requires two pairs of hands to get the job done.
Skandika Daytona Large Group Tent
So far, we included six-person tents that technically fit six people but are better suited for four. The Skandika is probably the first genuinely six-person tent on this list.
The cavernous interior features three sleeping pods that accommodate six people at night or fit nine children during the day time. It also offers 6.5 feet of headroom in the center of the tent.
Although it is a one-room tent, you can convert the front door into a canopy during the day with the two steel canopy poles.
Skandika focuses heavily on using quality materials and including everything you need with the tent.
In the package, you get:
- Carry bag
- Sleeping pods with a sewn-in groundsheet
- Separate groundsheet
- Guy ropes
Thanks to the size, you’ll need two people to set up and break down the tent.
Vango Capri 600XL
Heading out for a week-long adventure or looking for some outdoor living space at home?
The Vango Capri 600XL is a behemoth of a tent, but it is perfect for families with one, two, or three (or more children).
Vango markets the tent as a six-person tent, but because it includes so much space, you could easily pack a few kids into each bedroom.
We like the Vango Capri because it divides space comfortably to give everyone privacy and still offers a communal area. You’ll get two inner tents with dark fabric that blocks out the sunlight and keeps toddlers asleep past sunrise (maybe).
The interior is bright thanks to diamond clear windows, and the pre-angled beams maximize visibility and headspace.
One of the issues that come with large tents is stability. Tall shelters catch in the wind, and there’s little you can do about it.
The pre-angled sections help keep the tent sturdy during storms and using internal connection points also supports the structure of the tent even when the wind picks up.
Even though the tent is large and complicated, it only takes about ten minutes to set up or take down even on your own.
The only issue for American buyers is that Vango is a UK brand, which means dealing with UK or European-based customer service. However, it is a solid introduction into a non-American brand and the wonders of a market that isn’t dominated by Coleman.
CMARTE Many Person Big Camping Tent
The CMARTE 6-8-person tent is a super-sized tent that we think is ideal for party use or backyard camping but could also be used on the road as well.
It comes with a 9.8-by-9.8 base and nearly seven-foot ceiling height across the tent. It says it sleeps six to eight people, but it offers the same dimensions as other six-person tents that in reality sleep two adults and two children.
The reasons we are unsure of its usefulness in remote camping grounds are the large windows and the lack of rain protection. The windows are enormous, which is great for ventilation but can also lead to a drop in the internal temperature.
The tent also claims to be waterproof with material made from waterproof PU coated polyester, but it doesn’t include many other storm-proof features.
People who buy it tend to use it in warm climates and mainly as a substitute for a screen room. The lack of privacy afforded by the windows makes it difficult to use in public.
Still, if you aren’t worried about that type of thing, then you will find the tent to be generous in ventilation and space that stays upright in the wind.
Wenzel Kodiak 9-Person Tent
Our last tent is the biggest of the bunch: a nine-person tent with a 14-by-14 footprint and over seven-feet of ceiling height in the center.
Along with the Vango Capri, the Wenzel Kodiak is the only other two-room cabin tent on the list, and it presents a budget alternative to the Vango.
However, while the Vango offers two sleeping cabins, the Wenzel Kodiak is one large room that you can divide with a room divider if you choose.
It comes with straight walls to offer maximum space inside and plenty of ventilation. You’ll get two picture windows, two bay windows, and a screened roof for maximum cross-breeze.
We particularly like the Dutch style door, which is well suited to small children.
Unlike other tents of this size, Wenzel insists that set-up remains simple. It uses the Wenzel’s steel pin-and-ring set for easy set-up, but people who are new to tents and camping may find that you need time and three to four people to set it up correctly.
Others say that Wenzel tells the truth and that set up takes one person, but it may take them half an hour to do it.
The tent comes with steel stakes, two gear lofts, two pockets, a mud mat, and a carrying duffel. It is missing some horizontal supports, so try to avoid using it in inclement weather if you can.
Best Tent for Camping with Toddlers: What You Need
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If you’re not careful, you’ll leave the house with your entire playroom and then some. So how do you bring only what you need without being caught short?
Here are a few things you shouldn’t leave home without.
Even if you plan to camp in traditionally overcast destinations, bring plenty of sun protection to prevent sunburn and heat stroke.
An umbrella, plenty of sunscreen, or even a sun shelter outside the tent make a huge difference in keeping kids safe and giving them somewhere to retreat to when temperatures soar.
Familiar Items and Toys
Whatever your child uses to relax and fall asleep needs to follow you to your campsite. Whether its stuffed animal, lovie, or blanket, you can’t leave home without it.
If you’re worried about losing it, try bringing a second one (or buying a replacement) to have on hand in case of an emergency. It’s not the same, but a substitute is always better than nothing.
Don’t forget to bring a few outdoor toys that they enjoy playing with at home. It adds a sense of familiarity and gives them confidence in a new setting.
More Food and Snacks Than You Think You Need
A hungry toddler is a cranky toddler, and they’ll burn more energy playing outside all day than they might at home.
Bring plenty of low-maintenance, simple, and toddler-friendly foods to snack on when meal time feels far away.
Your pack-n-play will be your savior. It’s a safe place to relax or sleep when you want to keep them out of the tent, and it’s great for sleeping inside the tent if you aren’t a co-sleeping family.
Tip: it’s a great place to stash toddlers when you are busy doing things like setting up the tent or cooking on the fire.