The tent market contains multitudes of models, but comparing the best-camping tent brands is made much easier by considering the following factors: campers, campsite, and weather conditions.
Tents vary drastically according to materials including fabrics and poles. Campers almost universally prefer a tent that features a simple pole design and easy setup. These tents can be easily pitched using just one or two tent poles and will save you plenty of time in the long run.
When it comes to tent poles, generally speaking, there are two varieties; fiberglass poles that are ultralight; and aluminum tent poles that are sturdy but typically weigh more.
Canopy materials are either ultralight (in the case of 3-season tents), or heavy and insulated as is the case with 4-season tents. Although water-resistant materials such as polyurethane are often used for weather protection, campers who tend to find themselves in extreme weather conditions often prefer an ultralight rainfly with weather protection rather than weather protection in the tent itself.
Some of the best tent brands are more effective in one specific application and have some kind of trade-off in another. For example, some brands have mastered the art of ultralight construction with superior fiberglass tent pole design but can’t offer the same stability in high winds and bad weather conditions that heavier camping tents can.
Campsites are important as well. Some tents are simply too heavy to be backpacking tents but make great car-camping tents.
Campers who pack lots of camping gear or other outdoor gear will want enough room for gear storage, and taller campers will want plenty of headroom and ample floor space to accommodate longer sleeping bags. Weather conditions are critical to consider when examining the best tent brands, especially for campers who enjoy winter camping and mountaineering. Snow-covered campgrounds have many more innate challenges than standard campsites. 4-season tents are often constructed with tighter seams and additional insulation against cold weather conditions.
For beginner campers, Coleman tents are the most common. They are neither ultralight nor decked-out with additional design features like gear-lofts and storage pockets. That being said, Coleman tents can take a beating and the aluminum poles used in most models are less likely to break, making Coleman tents ideal for mishaps common in novice campers. On the other end of the spectrum is The North Face which manufactures tents with all the trimmings.
Large groups of campers will find that The North Face offers enough room in its family tent models but has miraculously not sacrificed too much in terms of weight and certainly has built one of the sturdiest tents on the market. High winds and bad weather conditions aren’t going automatically ruin camping trips for campers with a tent from The North Face.
Just like they do with other brands of outdoor equipment, campers who have been out in the backcountry many times have strong opinions about which tent manufacturers make the best camping tent. Some campers start camping in Coleman Tents and haven’t tried anything else. Others swear by an MSR Hubba tent or a Big Agnes they’ve had for a decade.
Ultimately the most important takeaway is that there is definitely a tent that will provide you with shelter on your next camping trip. Now that you know what considerations matter most in comparing tent-makers, go on out and try to decide which you think are the best tent brands.