Family Camping trips are often the best holidays of all offering a sense of adventure, freedom as well as the convenience of self-catering and a home away from home. For kids, camping is almost like building a real-life den along with cooking outdoors and enjoying smoors over the open fire making for a real-life adventure. The type of tent you choose can make or break your camping trip, with our unpredictable weather, one bad experience, can turn you all off camping for good. Therefore, we have created a guide for our top tips and ideas for the Best Family Tents in 2021.
If I can give you one tip, make sure you put up your tent a few times in the garden before you set off and set out your living area. It’s a tad less mortifying making mistakes in your garden, too. May be even have a night away in the garden to utterly understand your tent and if you need anything else. A fellow camper of mine also suggested throwing a notepad and pen in the car so you can jot down anything else that may come in handy on your next trip.
When purchasing a family tent there are lots of little things that can help improve a tent which are not essential but make all the difference such as storage pockets, lantern hooks, non-trip entrance, entries for electric cords but most importantly easy to pitch so that the ordeal of just putting up the tent while your kids run around unsupervised won’t turn you off and believe me research well and this will not be the case. Finally, a tent that takes a long time and a lot of work to pitch will put you off heading away for just one night. Therefore, I would highly recommend not buying a cheap run of the mill tent and while I do appreciate buying a tent can be expensive you will get more use out of it and everyone in your family will enjoy camping when you make an investment wisely.
Best Family Tents 2021
As a general rule of thumb, large tents are best for camping holidays when you are staying a number or nights, and smaller tents for one-night weekend camping. However, there is a reason why there are all different layouts, sizes, and designs and the right one for you very much depends on your family size and circumstances. We have trialled and tested two well-known and popular family tents with quite different features to help you decide which would suit you.
Layout and Design
Buying the tent is the single largest investment so take your time to get it right and think about the layout that suits you best. The correct layout and design for your family will depend on your family size and circumstances. For younger children, you may want the kids alongside mum and dad with a divider in between so you do not disturb them when going to bed. It is critical here that you go for tents with blackout features to enable sleep in the evenings and so they do not wake too early. Trust me, I learned this the hard way on a camping trip many moons ago, I was up at 5am with two young kids who were disturbed by a neighbour heading to the toilets and with the sun streaming through there was no way of settling two excited kids ready to greet another day.
For more nervous children, they may prefer to sleep in this area without a divider so they are close to you until they become more confident and if you have a detachable divider, you can add it later. This layout would have a single sleeping area to the back and living area to the front. However, for teenagers or older kids, two separate sleeping areas on either side of the living area allows for greater independence and privacy. If you have a mix of teenage boys and girls, you are going to need separate bedrooms, and they won’t appreciate a dividing wall that is easy to remove. The ability to have some independence from parents and each other, may be a way to ensure they still want to come camping as they move into the teenage years.
We had the privilege of reviewing two tents so whether you are heading off on a camping trip for the first time or just upgrading your equipment I hope our reviews below will be of help to you.
QUECHUA Air seconds 4.2 xl Tent
This award-winning inflatable tent is designed for four people who want plenty of space and something that’s easy to assemble/disassemble. We are a family of five including a toddler and it was a small bit tight as she would of fitted along the the top but would not. However it is a four man tent and perfectly adequate for that. It has two bedrooms on either side, a large living room you can stand up in (particularly important), a detachable zip-in ground sheet and equipped with blackout technology boasting up to 99% darkness. The detachable zip-in ground sheet is an excellent feature as we can clean the tent out so easily before we pack up and the blackout rooms are a necessity for our family.
However, it goes without saying the ease and simplicity of erecting and dismantling was the feature that stood out the most for us. On our third attempt we had it up and ready to go in 8 minutes and if you have young kids or kids of any age and they are going to be excited and want to explore the minute you arrive, so this is a great benefit. The last thing you need is two adults stressing and kept busy for too long putting up the tent if young kids need to be supervised. Furthermore, when we arrived it was raining and it was up in no time at all. You could easily do this with one adult so if you are thinking of taking the kids away on their own and or want to head away last minute for one night this is the perfect solution. I would be more confident taking this tent away on my own without Craig and I have a point to prove here so I will have to do it soon! The only downside is, it is a bit tight so you would need a gazebo or a living room which we also have from Decathlon. However if you are on a budget you can add this later.
The QUECHUA Air seconds 4.2 is very affordable at €420.00 and you have the option to add extra rooms or living space later if you require it. Decathlon pride themselves on making camping accessible to the many while not compromising on quality so many of their tents have add on options available. At such great value the air seconds 4.2 had to make our best family tent 2021 list.
Vango Aether 600XL
The Vango Aether 600XL is a 6-man poled tent within the new Earth Collection. The Earth collection is made from Sentinel Eco Fabric (recycled single use plastic) therefore purchasing an Aether allows you to do your bit for the environment and reduces plastic waste. The biggest benefit of this tent was the height and sense of space in the living area. While this tent is on the larger side, it is not a monstrosity that many campsites are banning or requesting you take two pitches for.
A key feature which I enjoyed was that the double living area with a large front door, which can be fully rolled back, and the side door can be King-Poled open to enjoy the good weather and keeping the tent cool in the warmer weather. Renowned for innovations in camping and the outdoors, Vango strive for continual improvement and consistently develop award winning tents, with ground-breaking features. You can see the quality in every small detail. The Waterproof groundsheet is attached to the flysheet with an external storm skirt to provide all round protection and is robust and hard-wearing fabric which crucial to stand up to the rigours of a busy family and our unpredictable weather.
I absolutely love the Front canopy for the extra living space and offering you protection while still sitting outside. Moreover, when the heavens do open, it offers protection so that you can open the door in the rain without water pouring off the roof of the tent directly on you and creating an instant puddle on your tent floor.
Again, for us, we were delighted to see that the bedrooms have the all-important blackout quality and there are convenient little pockets in the bedrooms for storing some essentials and personal items. The Vango Asther 600 XL offers a side-by-side sleeping arrangement at the rear and been able to detach the divider is a blessing in the night as you can quickly and easily reassure a child woken out of their sleep even without even needing to leave the warm sleeping bag! This layout offers a more spacious living area with added privacy from outside. For me I felt the extra-large living area is not only convenient for storing your camping essentials but when five of us are all in and out of the tent there is plenty of room to spill out. Without dampening the mood, it is going to rain in Ireland from time to time and when the kids come flying in the door to take cover while you are trying to make sandwiches this is a GODSEND. Furthermore, if the rain continues for a while this space is just what you need to avoid blue murder. Even though this is a pole tent, it was easy to assemble and only take us 25 minutes to put up but you would need two adults.
Both tents had features such as zipped entry point for the power cable, conveniently positioned Lantern Hanging Points to attach your lighting and their drop-down doorsteps, ideal for easy pram access along with all the above are the many reasons why they are well-designed and practical tents for families, making our list for the best family tents in 2021.
Regarding Vango as a company I love that they are consistent in their environmental and sustainable approach with their Spares and Repairs division specialising in tent repair and parts replacement. If your product is not covered under warranty, they can offer replacement tent parts to prolong the life of your tent.
The Vango Aether 600XL can be purchased from several Irish stores including online with the Outdoor Adventure Store, located in Liffey Street Dublin, Paul Street Cork and Killarney Road Bray or on their website below, for €580 down from €640!
Buying a tent can be very daunting with all the designs and layouts on offer so I hope I have made it a little easier for you and if you have any other recommendations and tips, I would love to hear them or any suggestions for the best family tents 2021. We also have a post on the essentials for family camping in Ireland which you can check out here!