10 Expert-Recommended Car Camping Tents

Published on 07/28/2022 · 8 min readSearching for a new tent? Look no further! Here are 10 tents that will have you sleeping like a baby during all of your car camping adventures this season.
Jessica LaPolla, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Jessica LaPolla

Photo by Christian Schrader

As the blustery winter season comes to a close and warm hints of spring begin to tease, many of us campers and hikers are planning our first trips of the year. I can’t wait to pull out my tent and look up through the trees when I wake up and gaze out at the stars on a clear night.

Of course, the perfect car camping experience wouldn’t be complete without the perfect car camping tent. That’s why I have put together a list of 10 fabulous, Expert-recommended tents to choose from, whether you are heading out for the weekend with the kids or you are taking your four-legged friend on a weeklong road-trip adventure.

What Is Car Camping?

Some of you may be wondering about the terminology of “car camping.” It simply means that you drive your car up to the place you’ll be camping. While it can mean literally sleeping or camping inside of your car, many people opt to pitch a tent at their campsite while using their car to store gear and periodically charge their phones.

Car camping has many advantages, the foremost being that it is pretty accessible for most people. Just drive up to your campsite and pitch a tent. So let’s get started with some of our favorites:

Eureka Copper Canyon LX 4-Person Tent

This spacious four-person, cabin-style tent offers full-standing height and a super-easy setup for the whole family. Large mesh windows with waterproof curtains give you lots of versatility while numerous pockets and a hanging gear loft to hold your gear make organizing your gear simple. Sixty-four square feet of floor space and a 7ft high ceiling make this three-season tent the ideal option for a weekend of family fun. The StormShield fly increases durability and keeps bad weather at bay.

At 20lb, 4oz, this hefty tent is best used for car camping (as opposed to backpacking). For larger groups, the Copper Canyon is also available as a six- or eight-person tent.

Coleman Skydome Tent

Coleman’s 6-Person Skydome tent sets up in just five minutes thanks to pre-attached poles and near-vertical walls that create tons of headspace. For the couple that wants to camp in luxury to the group of friends planning a weekend of campfire bonding, the Skydome is an awesome choice.

With a bathtub floor that provides extra protection against rain and flooding, inverted seams, and welded corners, you can rest easy knowing that weather won’t spoil your trip. Extra-wide doors offer versatility in the type of bedding you choose, including enough space for a queen-size air mattress.

Despite its roominess, this tent packs down nicely into the included carry bag, which makes taking it in and out of the car a breeze. This tent comes in two-, four-, six-, and eight-person versions.

Big Agnes Dog House 6 Tent

This six-person, three-season, freestanding tent is a versatile base/car camping tent for the whole family. The single-wall design and vertical walls make the interior of the tent feel spacious, while the oversized back window increases ventilation and nature viewing opportunities. The Dog House is ready to pitch with reflective guy lines and reflective webbing.

At 13lb, 7oz, this tent is much lighter than some of the other car camping tents on the list, making it ideal for car camping or campsites that require a short walk or approach. This tent doesn’t have many extra features, but if you are looking for a no-frills, super-efficient, and easy-to-set-up tent, this is the one for you.

Marmot Limestone 4-Person Tent

This 60-square foot, four-person tent is built for three-season use and offers two large doors for easy entry and exit. The near-vertical walls make standing up and moving around easy, while the floor space offers plenty of room for four people to sleep or even more to hang out and play games until bedtime. There are two vestibules (mini mudrooms) and storage pockets for gear and a lampshade pocket for your headlamp or lantern at night. The seam-taped catenary cut floor prevents water from pooling and offers extra weather protection for you and your gear with plenty of vents built in to reduce condensation.

At 11lb, 3oz, this tent is light and versatile. Use it for car camping, or divide the weight amongst the group and head into the backcountry for a weekend.

MSR Elixir 3 Backpacking Tent

Looking for a tent that you can use for both car camping and backpacking? The MSR Elixir three-person, three-season tent has you covered, whether you’re driving or hiking into your campsite. The spacious interior fits three people comfortably, perfect for a small family, group of friends, or a couple with a couple of four-legged pals.

The tent is freestanding and has color-coded poles, clips, and webbing for fast and easy setup. Constructed with both mesh and solid fabrics, you will have plenty of privacy if you want it without compromising on ventilation. The Elixir comes with a footprint (a special tarp that is normally placed under your tent to protect the floor) that allows for a “fast and light” setup option, so if the weather is looking good, pack just the footprint and rain fly for a lighter, streamlined option.

Weighing just 7lb, this three-person tent is both highly functional and versatile.

Exped Outer Space II Tent

The Exped Outer Space two-person tent is a versatile, do-anything-and-go-anywhere tent that is built to adapt and adjust to any situation. Though the tent is built for two, the enormous pole-supported front vestibule porch area can easily fit three or four camp chairs and a small table for all of your card-playing, campfire-story shenanigans.

Exostructure poles ensure a quick and easy setup, while the fly can remain attached to the tent body in storage, making everything even more streamlined. A rear awning-style vestibule provides more space for storage.

Looking to host a party at your campsite? Flip this tent into party mode by detaching the inner portion using the outer poles, creating tons of space under the fly. At 6lb, 5oz, this is a lightweight car camping option and a slightly heavy backpacking option for two people.

Mountainsmith Bear Creek 4 Tent

Go from the festival to the campground with this versatile, four-person tent. Designed for three-season use, the Bear Creek is a budget-friendly tent with tons to offer. With 70 sq ft of floor space, four adults can easily fit inside and store gear in the rear-panel closet door and storage vestibule. Waterproof coatings on the floor and fly and the bathtub-floor design protect against bad weather, while reflective guylines and stakes make for an easy setup.

At 8lb, 9oz, this tent is a good size for car camping and festival camping, or you can divide the weight among friends for a backpacking trip. The only downside to this tent is its single door, which makes entering/exiting/hopping over friends in the middle of the night tricky. For the price, though, this tent is well worth it.

Nemo Wagontop Camping Tent

If you are looking for the ultimate luxury camping experience, set up your base camp with the Nemo Wagontop™ four-person family tent. The unique pole structure allows for comfortable standing space in the nearly 70-sq-ft living quarters, with almost 27 extra square feet of garage and vestibule space to store all of your gear and supplies. Massive screened panoramic windows open and close easily from the inside, offering bountiful ventilation and viewing pleasure. The 300-denier floor fabric and waterproof fly make this three-season tent ultra-protected in the event of a storm.

At 20 lb, this tent is best used for car camping. Though the price is on the high side, the luxurious features make it full of value.

Kelty Grand Mesa 2 Tent

Designed as a three-season backpacking tent, this two-person tent is perfect if you are looking for an all-around tent. At 4lb, 1oz, this is one of the best lightweight tents; easily split the weight with a friend and hit the trail, or toss it in your car for a weekend of camping with your dogs. Lightweight aluminum poles and Kelty Quick Corners make for an easy set up, while the Shark Mouth carry bag makes packing up in the morning even easier. With mesh walls and lots of headspace, you won’t feel cramped inside.

Perhaps the best thing about this tent is the price. If you are balling on a budget but don’t want to compromise in quality, you can’t go wrong with this one.

ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek Two Room Tent

Your home away from home, this massive instant-cabin-style tent has a wall divider that creates two rooms for privacy and comfort, and vertical walls that make placing cots or air mattresses inside a breeze. Six large windows offer plenty of airflow, while the freestanding design and fiberglass poles offer extra support. With two large doors, you can utilize your own private entrance to your side of the tent.

The factory-sealed fly and floor seams offer weather protection on rainy days, and the polyester fly resists sun damage. The only downside to this tent is that it weighs a hefty 31 pounds 11 ounces. The ultimate car camping tent for large groups or families, the Camp Creek Two-Room tent will give you the best glamping experience while still keeping you connected to nature.

With so many fantastic options in every category, your next car camping adventure is sure to be a success. If you are looking for something different or need help choosing which tent is best for you, reach out to a Hiking and Camping Expert here on Curated. We are always available and love geeking out about gear. We can’t wait to hear from you. Happy camping!

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