Popular Mechanics (USA)



HETHER YOU’RE heading into the woods or up a mountain, the tent you pack is one of the most important pieces of camping gear you’ll bring along. Thus a tent, like hiking boots and a properly fitting pack, is worth investing in. Yours should provide protection from the elements, a place to store your stuff, and a cozy spot to catch some Z’s.

To find the best camping tents, we considered the spaciousne­ss, features, materials, weights, constructi­on, and costs of dozens of contenders. Because many campground­s were closed due to COVID-19 concerns, we set up the most promising ones in a backyard and slept in them through rainstorms, one severe thundersto­rm, clear nights, and as the temperatur­e dropped near freezing. (For consistenc­y, we used either twoor four-person sizes, though all of these come in other capacities, too.) Tents earned points for being well ventilated and easy to pitch and pack up. And to be certain, we verified or debunked the manufactur­ers’ weight claims with our scale. After all that, these performed the best.


Packed weight: 13 lb. 3 oz. Floor space: 60 sq. ft. Peak height: 5 ft. 8 in. Doors: 2

With plenty of cozy features, the Big House 4 is versatile and, well, large. The two-in-one design, which lets you use the fly on its own as a shade, makes the premium price more palatable. A few of our short testers were able to stand comfortabl­y in the middle of the full tent, but taller people will end up crouching. We would have liked it if the front door opened just a bit more for greater accessibil­ity. The back door, which folds down completely, is considerab­ly smaller; we didn’t end up using it much, but it’s a nice height for children or pets. Everyone found a place for their things thanks to six interior pockets and removable corner shelves that act as bedside tables. The tent even has a welcome mat, though the small fly led to some water pooling on it after a night of rain, even if none entered the tent. when only one side of the door was staked down. But carry two additional stakes (six, if you’re rigging the guylines) in your kit, and you’ll be set. Excellent weatherpro­ofing via the full fly and solid build makes the Half Dome an option—if a slightly heavy one—for the backcountr­y, too.

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