How to Choose Tents for Camping

Car camping with family or friends is a summer pastime for many of us. Whether the campground itself is the main attraction or it’s simply your base camp for nearby activities, this article will help you find the right camping tent—your home away from home. (Prefer backcountry camping? See the REI Expert Advice article, Backpacking Tents: How to Choose.)

Tent Sleeping Capacity


When choosing your tent, first choose a model based on your group’s size and whether or not you might need additional space for extra friends, gear or dogs. Keep in mind, however, that no industry standard exists that defines per-person tent dimensions.

When evaluating tent capacity ratings, our general advice is this: Assume a close fit. If you seek more room, consider upsizing your tent capacity by 1 person, particularly if you or your usual tent companion(s):

are large people
are claustrophobic
toss and turn at night
sleep better with more than average elbow room
are bringing a small child or a dog