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Best tent 2021: Reliable and waterproof tents to suit any adventure, group size or budget

Sian Lewis
10 Aug 2021
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Stay dry, protected and warm wherever you set up camp with our choice of the best garden, hiking and backpacking tents

The best tents will serve you for many years to come. Whether you’re looking for a storm-proof shelter or a cosy family tent for your garden at home, you need to choose wisely. A high-quality tent will keep the warmth in, keep the weather out and let you enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep wherever you pitch up, be it a windswept mountainside or a muddy festival field.

There used to be little choice outside of traditional A-frame designs, but the variety of tents available now means there’s something to suit everyone. And don’t let the idea of fiddly pitching put you off – the new breed of pop-up and inflatable tents make it easier to pitch a tent than ever before.

In this article, we’ve chosen our favourite tents for practically every camping situation, from the best budget tent to buy for a weekend trip to a luxurious, spacious family tent that you’ll use again and again. Whatever adventure you're planning, we’ve reviewed a tent to suit you.

If you just want to buy a tent and get pitching, scroll down the page. Not sure what features and specifications you need to look out for? The quick buying guide below will run you through all the factors you’ll want to consider.


UPDATE: Tents are hot property at the minute. Many of the products we rate below are currently out of stock across all major retailers, perhaps due to the number of us heading off on camping holidays in lieu of a trip abroad this year. While we wait for stock to replenish, here's a list of the products we've reviewed that are still available to buy.

The best tents still available:

  • Decathlon Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black: The best fast-pitch tent | Buy now
  • Vango Soul 200: An affordable and compact two-man tent | Buy now
  • Mountain Warehouse Festival Dome: The best budget festival tent | Buy now
  • Quechua Arpenaz 4.2 F&B: The best budget family tent | Buy now
  • Outwell Knoxville 7SA Air Tent: The best tent for big families | Buy now

READ NEXT: The best waterproof jackets you can buy

How to choose the best tent for you

What type of tent should I buy?

When looking for a tent, your decision will depend on where and when you’re planning to pitch it. Do you need a lightweight tent that you can carry easily while backpacking, a mountain tent that can withstand severe weather, a pop-up tent that you can put up in a couple of minutes or a family-sized tent that can handle a barrage of kids and adults? Take some time to work out which suits you best – each type is designed to work best for its purpose.

What size tent do I need?

Check the manufacturer’s suggested berth or person capacity. Put simply, this is the number of people a tent can take – so far, so straightforward. But don’t get caught out: a tent’s berth is given based on the number of people the tent can sleep without taking any baggage into account, so a four-man tent, for example, might be a squeeze for four adults in practice.

If you’re looking to sleep two people, a small tent will suffice, but if you’re looking for a family tent, a four or six-man model with more than one bedroom is your best bet. Family tents will be much heavier than other types too, so it’s worth checking the all-in weight if you have a lot of walking to do to get from the car to the campsite.

How can I choose a more weatherproof tent?

Look out for a specification called the hydrostatic head (HH): this is a figure indicating how waterproof a fabric is in millimetres. To be considered waterproof, a tent’s fabric should have a minimum HH of 1,000mm – and the higher the better, so aim to choose a tent with a HH rating of 2,000mm or more.

Some tents have just a single layer and are known as “single-skin” tents, while “twin-skin” tents come with an inner and outer layer for water protection. If you go for the latter, make sure the two layers aren’t touching when you pitch the tent, as this could impact the water protection.

What other features should I look out for?

As with almost anything, the more you’re willing to spend on a tent, the more options you’ll have. Many higher-priced models come with a range of extra features – such as space for storing dirty gear and internal pockets to keep everything organised.

If you’re just looking for a basic, everyday tent for fair-weather camping, there are plenty of effective, budget-friendly options, but if you want to stay warm and dry in severe weather – and let’s face it, predictability isn’t a strong point of the UK’s climate – consider spending a little extra for proven waterproofing technology from the bigger manufacturers.

READ NEXT: The best chairs for camping

The best tents to buy in 2021

1. Decathlon Quechua 2 Seconds Easy Fresh & Black: The best fast-pitch tent

Price: £100 | Buy now from Decathlon

Stylish, packed with features and fantastically fast to pitch, this style of pull-up tent could spell the end of the standard pop-up design. It’s just as quick to pitch but packs away in next to no time.

To pitch, you simply pull on two chords that clip and bend the poles into position. With the flysheet, bedroom and groundsheet already fitted, you’re ready to go in 30 seconds, if that. Once pitched, you can move it into position and peg out.

With a bedroom of 205 x 145cm, it's just big enough for a couple, and with two doors offering storage space you can both get out or get to your kit without wrestling. Having two doors and a mesh bedroom compartment also means it's great for ventilation in the summer. The blackout fabric works well, and we like the internal storage pockets and hooks that mean keeping a torch close by is easy.

It is a sturdy design with good waterproofing for summer storms, but the pop-up mechanism doesn’t have a lock, so cheeky campers (or well-oiled festival-goers) could collapse your tent with a firm press. But it’s this mechanism that also makes it a dream to put away, and we were able to get it back in the bag in less than a minute.

Key specs - Man size: 2; Weight: 4.7kg; Waterproofing: 2,000mm (5,000mm groundsheet); Packed dimensions: 59 x 20cm

Buy now from Decathlon


2. Vango Soul 200: An affordable and compact two-man tent

Price: £56 | Buy now from Cotswold Outdoor

You can always rely on a tent from Vango and, despite its compact size and simplicity, the Soul 200 is no exception. Yes, it’s basic, but it’s a fully functional tent that’s perfect for first-time campers, festival-goers and children who want to camp out in the back garden. The Soul 200 is a two-person tent with just about enough room for a comfortable sleep, so you might want to consider stepping up to the three-person Soul 300 if you plan to spend any length of time inside as there’s not enough room to do much else.

With a tunnel design that uses just two poles and inner first pitching, the Soul 200 is simple to set up in a matter of minutes, so you won’t waste your time trying to prepare your shelter for the night. The dark interior lining is also a handy feature if you’re not straying too far from the bright lights of civilisation or don’t want to be woken up by the morning sun.

Key specs – Man capacity:2; Bedrooms: None; Weight: 2.17kg; Packed dimensions: 52 x 15cm; Pitched dimensions: 95 x 135 x 270cm; Waterproof rating: 3,000mm

3. Mountain Warehouse Festival Dome: The best budget festival tent

Price: £32 | Buy now from Mountain Warehouse

While it won’t win any awards for spaciousness or extra frills, Mountain Warehouse’s Festival Dome tent does everything you want it to. Namely, it’ll withstand a sudden change in the weather and make a small but cosy home at your next festival, despite weighing little more than 2kg. It also won’t take away hours of your time when it comes to setting up camp, with colour-coded fibreglass poles for quick and easy pitching.

The Mountain Warehouse tent is designed to sleep two people, with storage space in the porch. The porch is a little on the small side for anything more than the bare essentials, but the tent is more than good enough as a place for two people to crash after a day spent dancing or exploring. And at such a cheap price, you can always donate it to charity at the end of the festival rather than dump it back at home.

Key specs – Man capacity: 2; Bedrooms: None; Weight: 2.2kg; Packed dimensions: 159 x 13cm; Pitched dimensions: 130 x 270 x 100cm; Waterproof rating: 2,000mm

4. Quechua Arpenaz 4.2 F&B: The best budget family tent

Price: £220 | Buy now from Decathlon

While so many "family" tents take up most of a car boot, the Quechua Arpenaz 4.2 F&B is surprisingly portable, and packable. You won’t want to go backpacking with it, but one person can easily carry it from the car park to the pitch site at even the biggest festival.

Despite being compact, this tent has two double bedrooms (140 x 210cm), 3.9sqm of living space and a height of 1.95m, which makes a huge difference, especially when getting dressed. The living area in the middle has a waterproof groundsheet and is just large enough for two adults and two young children to sit in if the weather turns.

With just four colour-coded poles, pitching is quick and simple, with the bedroom pods clipping neatly to the poles once you’ve erected the outer fly. And brilliantly, the bedrooms have excellent blackout fabric for a long night’s sleep.

This is an ideal tent for anyone who wants maximum space when camping but doesn’t have much storage room at home.

Key specs – Man size: 4; Standing room? Yes; Bedrooms: 2; Pitch time: 10 minutes; Weight: 12.3kg; Waterproofing: TBC; Packed Dimensions: 60 x 30 x 30cm

Buy now from Decathlon


5. Vango Antrim Air 600XL: The best eco-friendly family tent

Price: £788 | Buy now from Go Outdoors

Part of a collaboration between the National Trust and Vango, this mightily impressive six-person inflatable tent is designed using 301 recycled plastic bottles, making it one of the most eco-friendly designs we’ve seen. Vango has calculated that in its initial year, the collaboration will see over 269,700 bottles collected and recycled.

It’s huge and will fill a modest car boot, but once at the campsite, thanks to the AirBeam inflatable tubes and pump, it will be ready to go in not much more than ten minutes.

Both large bedrooms - each person gets a generous (for a tent) 60cm width sleeping area - have blackout liners to keep early risers asleep for a little longer. As we’ve come to expect from the latest range of Vango tents, the innovative hanging system throughout the tent makes it easy to hang up lighting and storage. Once everything is neatly stored, the massive 10.45m² living space and 3.8m² porch is a blessing in bad weather.

Key specs – Man size: 6; Standing room? Yes; Bedrooms: 2; Pitch time: 10 minutes; Weight: 24.3kg; Waterproofing: 4000mm HH; Packed dimensions: 70 x 43 x 39cm

Buy now from Go Outdoors


6. Snugpak Ionosphere One-Person Tent: The best tent for solo campers

Price: £190 | Buy now from Amazon

Snugpak’s Ionosphere bivvy tent is ideal for adventurers setting out alone on wild camping trips and multi-day hikes when you want to travel fast and light. It’s small, lightweight and will leave space in your backpack for all the other essentials you need on your trip.

Despite its small size and ease of setup, the Ionosphere is surprisingly roomy compared to other bivvy tents on the market. That means it’s a little heavier at 980g, but it’s worth carrying an extra half a kilo to guarantee a comfortable night’s sleep. The Ionosphere is well ventilated and big enough for even the tallest campers to squeeze in. It also comes with a high hydrostatic head rating (5,000mm) so you won’t have to worry about leaks, whatever the weather.

Key specs – Man capacity: 1; Bedrooms: None; Weight: 980g; Packed dimensions: 48 x 12 x 12cm; Pitched dimensions: 225 x 75 x 35cm; Waterproof rating: 5,000mm

7. Outwell Knoxville 7SA Air Tent: The best tent for big families

Price: £1,500 | Buy now from Outdoor World Direct

It’s an investment buy, but with three bedrooms and enough living space to host Strictly Come Dancing, this is a tent that will grow with you, no matter how large your family gets.

The list of clever features here is extensive, with a hanging rack system for lights and blackout bedrooms. These come with ingenious magnetic closing doors that do away with the need to fumble about for noisy zips in the night. The side doors each have a small canopy to keep the rain off, there are loads of pockets for storage and organisation and, being inflatable despite its monster dimensions, it pitches so much easier than a similar-sized pole design.

Key specs – Man size: 7; Standing room? Yes; Bedrooms: 3; Pitch time: 10-20 minutes; Weight: 46kg; Waterproofing: 6,000mm HH

Buy now from Outdoor World Direct


8. Nemo Dagger Ridge Porch Tent 3P: The best tent for backpacking in all conditions

Price: £650 | Buy now from Treckitt

Protecting yourself from the elements, and still enjoying yourself when the rain falls, is easy when you take a huge tent or gazebo, but when you’re travelling light, bad weather can often mean sitting hunched up in a tiny tent for hours. Thankfully, with the Dagger Ridge Porch Tent, Nemo offers a brilliant compromise in the form of a generous funnel style porch that has room enough for all your bags, even a bike and a couple of camping chairs.

With simple colour-coded construction and pre-bent JAC poles for fast pitching, plus a waterproof 15D ripstop nylon flysheet, you stay dry whatever the weather. Inside there’s impressive ventilation, several hooks for lighting and stash pockets for essentials and two zipped entrances, so you can get out of the tent without clambering over backpacks, chairs or partners in the night.

Measuring 53 x 18cm when packed, and weighing just 3.32kg, you get a lot of tent in a very small stuff sack. And while we wouldn’t generally recommend carrying a three-person tent for multi-day trips, Nemo has included what they call a "Divvy sack", which enables you and your partner to split the contents of the tent in two, halving the weight on your backs. Brilliant.

Key specs – Man size: 3; Standing room? No; Bedrooms: 1; Pitch time: 10 minutes; Weight: 3.32kg; Waterproofing: 1,200mm HH; Packed dimensions: 53 x 18cm

Buy now from Treckitt


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