Car Camping Tents: Key Features to Look For

car camping tentPictured: Kodiak Car Camping Tent

Car Camping tents come in all sizes from a two-person tents to roomy family tents. And since weight is not going to be the controlling factor in your choice of tent, as it often is in backpacking, you can choose the style of tent and features that suites the particular needs of you and your family without worrying about how much they add to the total weight of your trip. Here are some key features to look for in car camping tents.

Tent Shape: Your Basic Choice in Car Camping Tent

What shape tent is right for you, dome or vertical wall called “cabin style” tents by some manufacturers? Dome shaped tents are usually easier to set up and are better in windy conditions They are more stable and quiet. Cabin style tents, on the other hand, have more usable space, more headroom and more room to walk around in. They generally have more of a “home away from home” feeling.

eureka midori basecamp 6 car camping tent

Pictured: Eureka Midori Basecamp 6 Car Camping Tent

The Eureka Midori Basecamp 6 Tent is a good example of a dome style camping tent. It’s an adaptation of the Midori backpacking tent. It has two doors and two 19-square foot vestibules.

car tent REI kingdom 8

Pictured: REI Kingdom 8 car camping tent

The REI Kingdom 8 Tent is a candidate for becoming the gold standard for car camping and family camping tents. It has 104 square feet of floor space and two doors. It has a zip-in divider that creates one or two rooms. It has a 33.3 square foot vestibule area and a weather protective awning. The rain fly can be adjusted so that it covers all, half or a quarter of the tent.

Tent Dimensions

Pay attention to the the floor space dimensions of your car camping tent.  A 10’ x 9’ or 90-square-foot tent tent has enough room for two queen sized air mattresses. Or in a cabin style tent with those dimensions you may wish to include a table and chairs inside the tent. Compare the 104 square foot REI Kingdom 8 Tent, above, to the 140-square-foot Coleman Prairie Breeze 9-Person Cabin Tent below.

Tent Headroom

How much headroom your tent provides is an important considerations. Do you want to be able to stand up straight in the tent or are you comfortable in a tent that’s less than head high. The peak height of the REI Kingdom 8 Tent above is 6’5”. The peak height of the Eureka Midori Basecamp 6 Tent is six feet.

coleman prarie breeze tent

Pictured: Coleman Prarie Breeze Tent

The headroom in the Colemen Prairie Breeze 9-Person Tent, below, is 7 feet. Whatever style tent you choose, be sure you’re going to be happy over the long-term with the peak height measurement.

Tent Dividers

Some car camping tents have dividers so you can increase privacy, create a closet or have separate sleeping areas and eating areas. You can catch a glimpse of how this works in the photo of the REI Kingdom 8 Tent above.

Screened Windows

Screened windows let in light and maximize ventilation. The Coleman Prairie Breeze 9-Person Tent has six windows. It has 140-square-feet of floor space, and a 7-foot center height. Another big plus of the Coleman Prairie Breeze is that it can be set up by one person in just a little over 20 minutes, an achievement confirmed by several YouTube demonstration videos.

Tent Doors

The size and placement of a tent’s doors make a big difference in convenience and accessibility. More than one door means that you and your tent mates will not be stepping all over each other and each other’s gear getting in and out of the tent or answering a bathroom call in the middle of the night.

kodiak canvas flex bow tent

Pictured: Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow 8 Person Tent

The Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow Deluxe 8-Person Tent has large D-shaped doors front and back with #10 YKK zippers that provide convenient access front and back. The tent has a 10’x14’ floor space and a ceiling height of 6.6 feet that gives you walk around convenience. This is a classic “wall” or “cabin style” car camping tent that has many other features that are desirable in car camping tents.

Tent Vestibules

Vestibules are a real asset when you want to be “outside” and at the same time protected from rain and bugs. Or when you want to keep gear protected from the elements and increase sleeping space.

big agnes flying diamond 8

Pictured: Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 Car Camping Tent

The Big Agnes Flying Diamond 8 is one of the best examples of a camping tent with a large usable vestibule space. It sets a high standard for car camping tent vestibules.

Tent Rainfly

A rainfly is a waterproof layer between the roof of your tent and the sky. In some camping tents the rainfly covers the entire roof of the tent. In others, like the REI Kingdom 8 above, it can be adjusted to cover one-half or even a quarter of the tent

Pockets in a Tent

Plenty of pockets and netting inside the tent allow you to keep frequently used items close at hand. Look for tents with lots of them.

Built-in Tent Lights

Some tent have lights including an off-on switch at the door. The Coleman Prairie Breeze Tent has a light and fan which operate off of 4D batteries The light alone can produce 75 lumens for 195 hours. With the fan on the run time is reduced to 20 or 27 hours depending on the speed of the fan.