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- Best Overall: MSR Elixir 3 Tent with Footprint at REI "Comes with a lot of weather protection, plenty of room, and a price tag that won’t cause apoplexy."
- Best Budget: Coleman Sundome 3P at Amazon "The perfect combination of space and the right price."
- Best Floorless Tent—or For Some Extra Campsite Space: Nemo Apollo 3P Tent at Amazon "These tents tend to be easier to pack and store than traditional tents."
- Best Ultra-Lightweight: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3 at REI "A tried-and-tested go-to for ultralight backpackers."
- Best for Families: Marmot Tungsten 3P Tent at Amazon "Impervious to the elements and to the falls, trips, snags, and general abuse that can come from kids."
- Best in Bad Weather: Hilleberg Anjan GT at Moosejaw "It has plenty of protection against harsh elements — and that’s something that’s hard to compromise on."
- Best for Four Seasons: Marmot Fortress 3P at REI "The Marmot is a great defense against any and all of the elements — and lives up to its protective name."
- Best for Sleeping Under the Stars: Mountain Hardwear Vision 3 Tent at Amazon "The fly comprising the tent’s canopy rolls back halfway so you can get a panoramic view of the stars."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: MSR Elixir 3 Tent with Footprint
For a tent that comes with a lot of weather protection, plenty of room, and a price tag that won’t cause apoplexy, MSR’s Elixir is a great all-rounder. The company’s new tent design gives this tent 35 percent more elbow room than its previous incarnations and features smartly designed fabric construction that lets air through when it’s needed and keeps campers warm inside when temperatures drop.
It’s quick and easy to set up, thanks to a freestanding design (so you can pitch it virtually anywhere) with color-coded poles, clips, and webbing. There’s also plenty of headroom thanks to pole placement, with a peak height of 41 inches, and it boasts a total of 39 square feet of floor space (there’s also built-in gear lofts and vestibules to store gear).
If you want to go ultra-rugged or need a lighter weight than its five pounds, 14 ounces, you can lose the body and take the included footprint, poles, and rainfly out with you for a stripped-down camping experience.
Best Budget: Coleman Sundome 3P
A favorite with value-conscious campers, Coleman’s Sundome is the perfect combination of space and the right price. With enough space inside for three without mattresses or one Queen-sized air mattress, the 49-square-foot tent also boasts huge windows for ventilation, as well as a ground vent that keeps air circulating throughout the day and night.
The Coleman WeatherTec system protects campers from the occasional spate of bad weather, with a tub-style floor, inverted seams, and welded floors that keep moisture out — though you might want to consider a stronger tent if you’re going into more severe weather. Getting the tent set up is quick and easy, too: The tent’s dome-style architecture, Insta-Clip pole attachments (that double as a defense against wind), and continuous pole sleeves that are designed not to snag together make for a 10-minute set-up.
Inside, mesh pockets keep items like flashlights and sunglasses off the floor and easily accessible.
Best Floorless Tent—or For Some Extra Campsite Space: Nemo Apollo 3P Tent
It might seem counterintuitive to buy a floorless tent, but Nemo makes a great case with the Apollo. These tents tend to be easier to pack and store than traditional tents, which makes them a hit with bikepackers and those who like ultra-light, back-to-the-elements camping. That’s not to say it shouldn’t have a floor, but it’s up to you what kind you go for: You can pair it with a bivy sack or groundsheet for maximum weather protection and to keep body heat from escaping into the ground — and bring along a mosquito net for bug protection if you need it.
Although sleeping arrangements can be awkward with the Apollo, thanks to the center-pole construct, three can sleep against the walls — or two can sprawl out with gear across the 108-inch long, 90-inch wide footprint. (You can also hang it from a tree.)
Ready to go? This compresses down into the size of a cantaloupe. Those who don’t want to use this primarily as a shelter also love it as a supplemental space for cooking or relaxing.
Best Ultra-Lightweight: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3
Big Agnes’ Copper Spur tent is a tried-and-tested go-to for ultralight backpackers, whose focus is on reducing ounces versus having a ton of room to sprawl out. The 41-square-foot Big Agnes Copper Spur offers two or (a snug) three backpackers enough space — especially when considering its super-light weight of three pounds, seven ounces.
Set-up goes quickly, thanks to color-coded poles and precut guylines attached to the included rainfly, which makes pitching the tent in less-than-pleasant weather a breeze. Speaking of, should the skies open up, you’ll be protected under this roof: The tent’s aluminum poles are strong in the face of gusts and gales, the brand’s ripstop canopy is 25 percent stronger than others, seams are sealed with waterproof tape, and the four-way hub design offers 25 percent more space compared to older versions of the tent.
We love the two vestibules for storing gear, as well as the clever details built into this tent: The media pockets above the sleeping area are built so you can route your earbuds from phones (and drown out your companion’s snores). One last bonus: This tent is freestanding, so you can pitch it anywhere.
Best for Families: Marmot Tungsten 3P Tent
With great value for the money, the Marmot Tungsten is both impervious to the elements and to the falls, trips, snags, and general abuse that can come from kids excited to be in the great outdoors. We also love the mesh canopy that the family can gather under to spot constellations through on nice nights (though if the weather turns, it’s not quite as easy to recover as the Mountain Hardwear tent below).
The 41 square feet of floor space provide plenty of room for the family, with two vestibules included (one 11 square feet, one eight square feet) that hold gear. There’s also plenty of headroom for parents tucking little ones in for the night, thanks to a height that clocks in at 46 inches. The tent’s PU-coated, seam-taped, 68-denier polyester floor and fly can also withstand whatever kids can throw at it. The rainfly comes included, but do consider buying sturdier stakes.
Best in Bad Weather: Hilleberg Anjan GT
The Swedish tentmaker is famed for tents that can withstand even the toughest of conditions, so if you frequently camp or backpack in the worst weather can throw at you, the Anjan is a great pick. It’s a little on the pricey side, but it has plenty of protection against harsh elements — and that’s something that’s hard to compromise on.
At 4.2 pounds, the tent is super lightweight for all it has to offer, thanks to thin-but-extremely-durable Kerlon tent fabric and 9mm poles. The 13-foot tunnel-style construction — a hallmark of Hilleberg’s sturdiest tents — is what really offers a lot of strength, since wind can scoot right on over the tent’s profile without buffeting it around (like it would with the more common dome constructions).
Due to its length, it can be hard to find the right spot to pitch it, but it offers plenty of room for backpackers and gear — plus unbeatable weather protection — once you do.
Best for Four Seasons: Marmot Fortress 3P
If you want something that will hold up throughout the year in harsh wind, torrential downpours, and even light snow, the Marmot Fortress three-person tent will do the trick for summer, spring, fall, and light winter camping. The Marmot is a great defense against any and all of the elements — and lives up to its protective name.
It’s modeled after the brand’s excellent line of Tungsten tents but takes the design into a four-season model, thanks to a seam-taped, full-coverage fly that also comes with extra durable guyouts for weather protection and a tent floor that comes pre-coated with a waterproofing solution.
The doors let in plenty of air on hot days, but block out cold air if temperatures dip at night. All these features don’t make it complicated to pitch, however: Instructions are easy to follow and the clip-on poles are a breeze compared to traditional sheath set-ups.
Best for Sleeping Under the Stars: Mountain Hardwear Vision 3 Tent
Sleeping outside, directly under the stars, is an idyllic summer dream, but unfortunately, there are mosquitos and the occasional nighttime shower to contend with. Enter the Mountain Hardwear Vision three-person tent, which allows you to have the best of both worlds.
The fly comprising the tent’s canopy rolls back halfway so you can get a panoramic view of the stars through the tent’s mesh upper, while it blocks biting bugs and creepy crawlies from getting in and can easily be rolled back down should the weather turn for the worse. (This also means that the tent has pretty superior ventilation capabilities).
We also like the two full-size vestibules for gear storage, which also have great air circulation for smelly hiking boots. It’s also a lightweight tent at under six pounds, but the tradeoff is the floor space: 37.5 square feet make it best for two or three sleeping head to toe.