The Best 4 Person Tent For Camping And Backpacking

Roomy, durable, and ready for anything: That’s how we’d describe all the best 4 person tents. These are some of our favorite shelters for their balance of comfort, versatility, and portability.
Best 4 person tent: Big Agnes Bunk House 1
Our Best Choice Overall: the Big Agnes Bunk House 4

As one of the most popular tent sizes available, there’s no shortage of 4 person tents on the market today to consider in your hunt for the perfect car camping companion. After testing and analyzing countless makes and models, we’ve finally settled on the six tents we think have something to offer for every kind of camper.

Our favorite of the test by far was the Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4. It’s got everything that makes a four person tent great (space, materials, storage) but then adds in the most versatile vestibule we’ve seen. All around, it’s a strong performer and a fantastic value to boot.

Of course, it won’t be everyone’s first pick, and that’s where the rest of our list comes in. Believe it or not we’ve got something below for backpackers, families, and festival-goers alike… You name it, we’ve found a 4 person tent that fits the bill. If want to know more about how we evaluated the tents, don’t forget to check out our buying guide!

TentBenefits
Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4: Best OverallRoomy, durable, well-designed, and reasonably priced. Throw in the added utility of a standalone vestibule, and you’ve got a clear winner. See Review
Nemo Wagontop 4: Highest QualityCombining a 300D floor with a rugged single wall design (and a lifetime warranty) tells us this tent means business. The added comfort of tall ceilings and a massive floor plan is just icing on the cake. See Review
Kelty Discovery Basecamp 4: Best On A BudgetThe most bang for your buck Kelty has ever crammed into a tent. Four-person space from a name we trust that undercuts department store tent prices. See Review
MSR Habitude 4Big floorspace, stand-up ceilings, and simple setup delivered in a no-nonsense package. An extremely durable tent that’s not pulling any punches. See Review
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4: Best For BackpackingIf you want a four person tent that doubles as a legitimate backpacking shelter, there’s no better option. Its high price tag is justified by its spec sheet. See Review
REI Co-op Basecamp 4: Best Four-Season ModelAn all-around excellent family camping tent with added features for wintertime use. Year-round usability adds value and versatility. See Review
Nemo Aurora Highrise 4PA roomy 4P tent with excellent livability and premium materials. Unique four-pole frame design boosts interior space. See Review
REI Wonderland 4High ceilings and a big square floor plan make this tunnel/cabin hybrid a joy to hang in. Provides 360-degree views even with the rainfly on. See Review
Marmot Limestone 4An excellent value for top-shelf materials and build quality. Some of the best weather resistance we’ve seen in a three-season camping tent. See Review
The North Face Homestead Super DomeIt’s got a cool shape, comes in cool colors, has three doors, and delivers panoramic views. A unique tent that won’t break the bank. See Review

Best 4 Person Tents

Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4: Best 4 Person Tent Overall

Big Agnes Bunk House 4 - 2

Specs:
Weight: 14.2 lbs (6.5 kg)
Packed size: 27” x 16” x 9” (67cm x 41cm x 24cm)
Floor size: 92” x 90” (233cm x 228cm)
Peak height: 70” (178cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Cabin
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$

The Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4 is a super spacious camping tent with all the livability and quality you’d expect from the folks at Big Agnes. There are some great tents on this list, but there was really no contest for the best tent overall.

With a roomy 58 square feet of floor space and high 70” ceilings, this 4 person tent certainly feels more like a house than a tent, especially if you’re only using it for two people. It’s even got a nice “front porch” built into the extended vestibule, which stretches out over five feet and converts into a breezy awning for when the weather is nice.

Big Agnes also goes a step above with their vestibule by making it pole-supported, rather than just staked-out, which gives you both added space and added headroom when you’re hanging outside the tent. And, because the entire rainfly is also pole supported (the tent body itself clips in underneath), you can actually use it all by itself like a high-tech EZ-Up, bringing some portable shade to your next beach outing or backyard BBQ.

Other premium features of the Bunkhouse include a nice big “welcome mat” attached to the front door that gives you a spot to leave your muddy shoes or any gear you don’t want sitting in the dirt, and tons of internal storage including 8 internal mesh pockets. We also have to mention here that the Big Agnes Bunkhouse’s carry bag is probably our favorite of all time: It’s designed to be worn like a backpack, keeping your hands free while hauling the tent to and from camp. It’s even got adjustable shoulder straps! Read our full test and review…

Pros:Cons:
– Fantastic weatherproofing with taped seams throughout, a polyurethane coated fly and floor.
– Vestibule is top-notch, and doubles as a standalone shelter from the sun
– Great materials + DAC aluminum poles
– Gear loft options sold separately
– More expensive than the Big Agnes Big House 4



Nemo Wagontop 4: Best Overall Quality

Nemo Wagontop 4

Specs:
Weight: 20 lbs (9.1 kg)
Packed size: 27” x 10” x 10” (69 cm x 25cm x 25cm)
Floor size: 100” x 100” (254cm  254cm)
Peak height: 80” (203 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Cabin/Wagontop
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$$

We’ve been outspoken fans of both the 8 person and 6 person versions of Nemo’s Wagontop tent, and wouldn’t ya know it, we like the Nemo Wagontop 4 person just as well.

That’s because it’s got all of the same design features that makes its larger siblings great. Most notably is the “wagontop” design itself, which makes for a tent with near vertical walls and standing height ceilings throughout. That’s great on a big family tent, but nearly unheard of on a four person model. Kudos.

The Wagontop 4 also shares the same rugged materials throughout its design, including the bulletproof 300D floor and 75D fly/canopy fabric. Combine that with thick but flexible 14.5mm aluminum poles, and it’s easy to see how Nemo can afford to offer a lifetime warranty on these premium tents. Needless to say the Wagontop was an easy choice for best overall quality.

You’ll also note the Wagontop 4’s large vestibule, which takes full advantage of the Nemo’s single wall design, clipping into the main tent frame to offer standup height and then some for entry/exit. Of course if the four feet of vestibule isn’t quite enough for your needs, the Wagontop 4 is compatible with the same extended gear garage as the rest of the Wagontop line, meaning you can zip on an extra covered outdoor space large enough to park a car inside of if you really want to.

The Wagontop 4 shares the same fundamental downsides as Nemo’s other tents in this line: Its high/vertical walls are prone to catching wind, which means the Wagontop wouldn’t be our first pick in a serious storm. Waterproofing is absolutely top-notch though, so steer clear of hurricane season and you should be fine. Read our full test and review of the 6-person model

Pros:Cons:
– Best interior space of the lot
– Optional garage really ups the ante
– Lifetime warranty!  
– Single wall design means the rainfly stays on
– Expensive



Kelty Discovery Basecamp 4: Best 4 Person Tent On A Budget

Kelty Discovery Basecamp 4

Specs:
Weight: 8.5 lbs (3.9 kg)
Packed size: 23” x 6” x 6” (62cm x25cm x 25cm)
Floor size: 97” x 79” (246cm x 201cm)
Peak height: 58” (147 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: 3 season camping on the cheap
Price: $

The folks at Kelty are known for making great camping gear for bargain prices, but they may have outdone themselves with the Kelty Discovery Basecamp 4, a new design for this spring.

That’s because the new Discovery Basecamp 4 is literally the least expensive tent in the Kelty lineup this year aside from their one-person Discovery Trail model, and that includes both two and three-person models. Four sleepers’ worth of space on a one-person tent budget? We’ll take it. Kelty gear at Coleman prices? We’ll take that too.

The price-to-quality ratio is by far the most attractive aspect of this tent, but affordability isn’t the only thing the Discovery Basecamp has going for it. Kelty included their “quick corners” system in the Basecamp design, which makes setup about as quick and easy as it gets outside of an instant tent. The same goes for the tent’s guylines, which are pre-attached to the rainfly for easy pitching in less than ideal conditions. We’ll also point out that although Kelty doesn’t advertise the Discovery Basecamp 4 as a hybrid camping/backpacking tent, its impressively low weight and compact packed size make it every bit as pack-friendly as other popular cross-over models like the REI Trail Hut 4.

Unfortunately, it’s the very same aspects of the Discovery Basecamp that make it packable that take away from its overall value. The fly, canopy, and floor are all made from 68-denier polyester, which cuts overall weight but calls long-term durability into question. Like most Kelty tents, the Discovery Basecamp also uses fiberglass poles for its frame. This is fine for typical camping duty, but doesn’t bode well for the rough-and-tumble lifestyle most backcountry shelters lead. You’ll also notice the floor of the Basecamp is nice and long, but leans on the narrow side, which makes cramming 4 campers inside a little claustrophobic. Ultimately you’re still getting a ton of space for the money, which means you’ll have plenty left over to shell out for the (very affordable) Discovery Basecamp footprint, which we highly recommend for longevity’s sake… Read our full test and review of the 6-person model…

Pros:Cons:
– Brand name quality at a department store price
– Small and light enough for occasional backpacking duty
– Quick and easy set-up
– Four person tent with one door
– Materials limit backcountry durability
– Floor plan on the narrow side  



MSR Habitude 4

MSR Habitude 4

Specs:
Weight: 12.8 lbs (5,4 kg)
Packed size: 23” x 9” x 9” (58cm x 23cm x 23cm)
Floor size: 95” x 95” (241cm x 241cm)
Peak height: 73” (185cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$$

While many of the best 4 person tents are nice and roomy, most of them aren’t actually tall enough to stand up in. Let’s just say the MSR Habitude 4 doesn’t have that problem. With a peak height of over six feet and over 62 square feet of floor space, it would be fair to call the Habitude “cavernous.”

In addition to its overall size, this MSR also made our list due to its all-around reliable construction. With tough DWR-treated 68D polyester fabric in both the canopy, floor, and rainfly, every square inch of the Habitude is built to last. The same goes for the zippers, which are all YKK branded stainless steel units, as well as the pole set, which is made from 7000 series aluminium.

While there are no real “problems” with the Habitude, it’s worth pointing out that MSR intended its simplicity as a feature, but not everyone will appreciate the lack of premium touches. For example, the Habitude 4 uses a single door/single vestibule construction, which keeps setup fast and straightforward, but limits the tent’s versatility.

And although the single vestibule stretches out to a generous 23 square feet of space, it doesn’t have any cool tricks up its sleeve like an extendable awning or retractable center, so it’s limited to standard vestibule duties like keeping your gear out of the weather and the weather out of your tent. All things considered the MSR Habitude 4 is a great tent that’s tough as nails, but we’re a little hesitant to spend this much money on a tent with a single door. Read our full test and review of the 6-person model

Pros:Cons:
– Standup indoor height
– Rugged construction will go the distance
– It’s got a front porch light!
– A little expensive for what it is
– Vestibule is large but basic
– Single door design



Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4: Best 4 Person Backpacking Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4

Specs:
Weight: 5.7 lbs (2.4 kg)
Packed size: 22” x 7” x 7” (56cm x 18cm x 18cm)
Floor size: 96” x 86” (244cm x 218cm)
Peak height: 50” (127cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Three-season backpacking
Price: $$$

Although most folks buying 4 person tents will be shopping for car camping duty alone, there are actually a few options at this size that can handle legit backpacking trips. If you’re one of those who wants to explore the backcountry but also wants the roomiest tent possible, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL4 is our favorite option on the market.

It’s got all the premium tent essentials like DAC aluminum poles (it comes with DAC stakes as well!), double doors, double vestibules, and fantastic weatherproofing thanks to fully taped seams throughout and a silicone-treated rainfly and tent floor.

Storage on the Copper Spur is great, especially for a backpacking tent, and includes a large pocket Big Agnes calls the “mezzanine”, which is cleverly placed at the foot of the tent so as not to take up anymore living space than necessary. You’ll also find a nice big gear loft and additional side pockets made for electronics that allow you to hang your phone/tablet/power bank up off the ground with a little slot to run any wires or headphones through.

Just like its smaller siblings in the Copper Spur lineup, the HV UL4 gets two large vestibules that both convert to awnings with the addition of a couple trekking poles when desired. And, like all Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL models, the four-person variety includes the option of “Fast Fly” setup for folks who want to keep it as light as possible. This basically converts the Copper Spur HV UL4 into a “tarp-tent” style shelter, foregoing the tent body entirely and simply using the rainfly, poles, and a footprint to create a simple shelter. This approach to shelters obviously isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth noting that the fast-fly configuration cuts tent weight down by a full pound and a half to just 4.2 pounds.

Pros:Cons:
– A 4 person tent built for backpacking
– Dual awning vestibules
– Fast-fly setup option for ultralight versatility
– Less durable than dedicated camping tents
– Very expensive for a four person tent



REI Co-op Base Camp 4: Best Four Season Model

REI Co-op Base Camp 4

Specs:
Weight: 16.8 lbs (7.6 kg)
Packed size: 20” x 10” x 10” (51cm x 25cm x 25cm)
Floor size: 100” x 86” (254cm x 218cm)
Peak height: 60” (152 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Four-season car camping
Price: $$

If you’re looking for a family camping tent that’s ready to go any time of year, the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 is our top pick for four-season camping.

Typically when a tent is labeled “four-seasons” it’s actually built for one thing specifically: Cold weather. We love the REI Co-op Base Camp 4 because it’s actually a great shelter year-round. With double doors, double vestibules, and excellent interior organization, the Base Camp gets the nod for livability. We also love that the Base Camp includes a surprising amount of interior mesh, and manages to include a window on every wall of the tent.

That’s not something you can typically get away with in a four-season model, but the folks at REI were clever with the Base Camp’s design: With the exception of the mesh ceiling, every mesh panel inside the Base Camp includes a zippable solid backing, which means you get mesh and airflow when you want it, and more warmth when you don’t. REI also thought to include the side windows at the floor of the tent, so even in the summer months ventilation is great thanks to the floor-to-ceiling “chimney effect” this creates.

In terms of drawbacks, the Base Camp has two main sticking points for us: Although it’s designated as a “four-season” shelter, the base camp isn’t cut out for heavy snow. Granted most folks looking to book a weekend family camping trip in December aren’t looking to sleep in three feet of snow, but just know that the Base Camp isn’t designed for heavy snow loads. Apart from that, the main drawback for the Base Camp is interior space: Cold weather tents tend to be a little smaller than their warm-weather counterparts to save weight and help keep the interior of the tent as warm as possible. As such, the Base Camp is a bit narrower than some, and isn’t the tallest of the bunch either. Still, it’s plenty roomy for four sleepers inside, and if you want one tent that works well all year, there’s no better option. Read our full test and review…

Pros:Cons:
– Great overall livability
– One tent that works all year round
– Adjustable ventilation adapts to the seasons
– Ready for winter, but not heavy snow
– Winter-ready design sacrifices a little interior space.



Nemo Aurora Highrise 4P

Nemo Aurora Highrise 4P

Specs:
Weight: 15.9 lbs (7.2 kg)
Packed size: 25” x 9” x 9” (64cm x 23cm x 23cm)
Floor size: 100” x 90” (254cm x 229cm)
Peak height: 75” (191 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$

The Nemo Aurora Highrise is a completely new model in the Nemo lineup for this year, and we think it knocks the camping tent essentials out of the park.

For starters it’s big and spacious, and its unique four-pole layout dramatically boosts interior space. It’s got two big doors with two big matching vestibules (each with nearly 20 square feet of storage), high-quality materials throughout (it’s a Nemo, after all), and of course, it’s backed by Nemo’s lifetime warranty.

In addition to those features (along with several others common to Nemo tents like headlamp diffusing pockets, oodles of interior storage pockets, and that nifty door jamb pocket), there’s just something cheerful about the Nemo Aurora Highrise that makes it well suited for family camping. If we had to guess, we’d wager it’s got something to do with all the color-matched mesh and that sweet plaid-pattered floor cloth (why don’t more companies do that???), but whatever it is, it works.

As far as drawbacks go, we’re kind of at a loss with this one. Sure, the two extra poles Nemo uses to stretch out the walls add a little complexity to the setup, and no, the Aurora Highrise doesn’t come with a footprint (also classic Nemo), but there’s really not much else to gripe about here. Truth be told if you want Nemo quality and features, but don’t want to splurge on the Wagontop above, the Aurora Highrise is an absolute home run. Read our full test and review…

Pros:Cons:
– Unique frame boosts interior space
– Double vestibules provide tons of storage
– How cool is that plaid floor though???
– Extra poles add some extra complexity to setup
– No footprint included in typical Nemo fashion



REI Wonderland 4

REI Wonderland 4

Specs:
Weight: 21.8 lbs (9.9 kg)
Packed size: 32” x 12” x 12” (81cm x 30cm x 30cm)
Floor size: 100” x 100” (254cm x 254cm)
Peak height: 75” (191 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Cabin/tunnel
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$

Next up on our list is the REI Co-op Wonderland 4, REI’s new replacement for the popular Kingdom series of camping tents.

Inside the Wonderland you’ll find many of the same features carried over from the Kingdom, including the same big square floor (it’s literally the exact same size at 100” x 100”), the near vertical walls, and the tall peak height (again, the exact same 75” measurement as the outgoing model). What’s different is the Wonderland’s new cabin/tunnel hybrid design, which uses a revised pole structure to provide a similar shape with an even easier set-up.

Other standout features include a revised rainfly design, which replaces the Kingdom’s large storage vestibule approach with a scalloped open-vestibule design. This new rainfly translates to a more airy and open feel inside the tent with the fly on, thanks to the “open but protected” mesh windows along the sides of the tent.

Unfortunately, it’s the same updated pole and rainfly design that we consider the main drawbacks of the tent. Although most campers will appreciate the more open feel of the new setup, rain-or-shine campers will likely mourn the outgoing Kingdom’s approach to weather protection. Less intersections in the pole structure translates to lower wind resistance, and the fly provides less protection (and zero exterior storage) when the rain’s blowing sideways. Still, the interior space and livability are as great as ever, and fair-weather campers in particular will appreciate the new fly. Read our full test and review of the 6-person model…

Pros:Cons:
– Big square floor plan is excellent
– Near vertical walls, tall ceilings
– Scalloped awnings give an open feeling with the fly on
– No vestibule storage- Not our first choice in serious weather



Marmot Limestone 4

Marmot Limestone 4

Specs:
Weight: 11.7 lbs (5.3 kg)
Packed size: 28” x 10” x 10” (71cm x 25cm x 25cm)
Floor size: 100” x 86” (254cm x 218cm)
Peak height: 61” (155cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$

Marmot is one of those brands that’s often overshadowed by larger companies in the outdoors realm, and that’s a shame because they make high quality gear with some unique twists. Their Limestone 4 tent is a great example of that ethos, and is one of our favorite dome tents on the market.

First and foremost, we love that the Marmot Limestone 4 is made from top-shelf materials, yet comes in at a surprisingly attractive price. It’s not the cheapest or the most expensive, yet with a 150D polyester oxford floor, thick DAC aluminum poles, and tough 40D polyester mesh, its spec sheet reads like a $500 shelter.

The Limestone 4 also gets high marks in our book for its fantastic weather protection. The combination of its rounded dome shape, sturdy poles, and hybrid clip-in/sleeve pole attachment design make it one of the most wind-resistant three-season camping tents we’ve seen. The same goes for rain protection thanks to a full-coverage rainfly and a nice long vestibule that does a great job of shielding gear outside the tent.

Our main complaint with the Marmot Limestone 4 is its height: Although the lower 61” height likely contributes to this shelter’s standout wind resistance, it’s also a good foot shorter than many of our other favorites on this list, and nowhere near “standup height” for most adults. We’d also like to see a proper second vestibule included at the rear door, although as far as storage goes there are plenty of interior stash pockets scattered throughout the tent. All things considered, the Limestone 4 is an incredibly well-built tent that will last for years, a fact made that much sweeter by its modest price.

Pros:Cons:
– High-quality materials throughout
– Superior wind and rain protection
– Excellent all-around value
– Less headroom than some
– Single storage vestibule



The North Face Homestead Super Dome

The North Face Homestead Super Dome

Specs:
Weight: 11.8 lbs (4.9kg)
Packed size: 25” x 12” x 8” (64cm x 30cm x 20cm)
Floor size: 96” x 84” (244cm x 213cm)
Peak height: 80” (203 cm)
Rooms: 1
Shape: Dome
Best for: Three-season car camping
Price: $$

Let us start by saying, The North Face Homestead Super Dome is easily the coolest 4 person tent we’ve seen. Not only does it come in a sweet dome shape, but it’s also available in some cool-looking prints (cloud camouflage and cactus flowers, to name a few), AND comes with a bottle opener. It’s basically a tent that knows how to party.

Specifically, the Super Dome is a party for three. We say three because the unique hexagonal layout of the Homestead has plenty of floor space for three adults (not just two adults and a child), and has the truly unique feature of having three doors in a triangle arrangement.

Ventilation is another high point of the Super Dome thanks to the giant mesh front wall and 360-degree mesh on the ceiling. It’s a great star-gazer in good weather and breathes surprisingly well with the rainfly on to boot.

We will point out that although technically the peak height of this tent is 80”, that measurement is taken at the main entry door, so don’t expect that height throughout the tent. The good news, however, is that the ceiling is just over six feet pretty much everywhere, so the Homestead Super Dome still gets serious points for interior space.

We’ve really only got two minor complaints with the North Face Homestead Super Dome that kept it from topping our list: First, setup is a little more involved than average. Although the poles are color-coded, their intersecting design has a steeper learning curve than anything else on our list, so you’ll want to take a few practice runs in the backyard before setting it up in, say, a rainstorm. And speaking of rainstorms, weather protection is our other concern here. Because the rainfly doesn’t fully extend over the rear of the tent, the tent body itself is the only line of protection for the back half of the body. Granted, it’s made from a PU-coated, heavy-duty 75D polyester, but we’d still prefer to have the fly extend all the way around.

Pros:Cons:
– Ceilings over six feet tall throughout
– Three doors!
– Sweet prints!
– Setup takes some practice
– “Single-wall” waterproofing on rear portion



Buyer’s Guide For 4 Person Tents

Well there you have it, those were all our favorite 4 person tents on the market today. Of course there are others out there, each with their own pros and cons, and you may very well find a tent that didn’t make our list that suits you just fine.

Below we’ll list all the criteria that we consider when evaluating the best 4 person tents for our list. Any tent that performs well in the following metrics is a good investment in our book.

Floor Size

Photo from Ivan Torres

Your average four person tent is used to sleep two adults comfortably, with or without the addition of a small child or two and/or the family dog.

Depending on the number of occupants/species you’re planning on sleeping in your 4 person tent, you’ll likely have one of two sleeping options: One big ol’ queen mattress for you and your partner, or multiple sleeping bag/sleeping pad setups on the floor. Every tent on this list will hold your average queen camping mattress, but some will do it better than others (the Alps Engineering Queen, for example, measures 80”x56”).

Consider your sleeping arrangements carefully (along with any gear you plan on storing inside the tent) and select your floor plan accordingly. You really can’t go wrong with a 100” x 100” monster like the Nemo Wagontop 4 above, but whether or not you’re willing to spend the extra money for those precious inches may be another story. If you feel you need a slightly bigger tent, check out the post we wrote about the 5 person tents, you might find a great compromise there!

Center Height

Because most 4 person tents are dome designs, you’ll find a lot more with sub-six-foot ceilings in this category than you would in say six-person or eight-person tents.

Obviously we prefer a stand-up height ceiling whenever we can get it, but it’s definitely not as important in this category as it would be for dedicated “family size” camping tents. With a few notable exceptions, most of these tents are dome-shaped, meaning even the highest ceilings tend to taper down quickly from the center of the tent towards the sides.

Still, it’s a useful spot to be able to stand up and change clothes, and a feature taller folks will especially appreciate. No one enjoys pulling on a pair of pants all hunched over and precariously balanced. Just saying.

Shape

Photo from Ichem Megha

Pretty much every tent in this category is a large dome, but not all domes are created equal.

Look closely and you’ll see a few of the dome-style tents on our list look a little (or a lot, in the case of the Agnes Big House) less round than the others.

That’s because some tents use a pre-curved pole design, which allows them to have straighter walls and more gently sloping ceilings. Even without a stand-up height ceiling, this can be an important comfort feature, because it creates more space near the ground where you do things like sleep, sit up and chat, or play a game of cards while you wait on rain to pass.

Weight And Packed Size

Ok, so here’s the deal: Most backpackers aren’t interested in hauling around a four-person tent, even if they’re splitting it between two packs. With that being said, four-person tents are technically the largest size tent you can buy specifically for backpacking.

If you have zero interest in backpacking, or already have a good backpacking tent, congratulations: You have no real reason to care how big or how heavy your 4 person tent is, because you won’t be carrying it very far.

If you are interested in backpacking, however, and you don’t already have a backpacking tent, you may want to consider killing two birds with one stone and buying a 4 person backpacking tent. If you do decide to go this route, just remember (as with all things backpacking) the lighter it weighs and the smaller it packs down, the better. At the time of this writing, there’s really no tent out there that compares to the Big Agnes 4P backpacking tent above, but it’s also very expensive. There are a few alternatives out there for less money though (the Marmot Tungsten, for example), but we’re talking backpacking equipment here so don’t confuse “less money” with “inexpensive.”

Storage Space And Organization

Photo from Vince Benediti

Four person tents are a nice step up in space and comfort from your typical two person tent, but they aren’t the same bottomless pit of gear storage you get with larger camping tents. For that reason, internal storage options play a big role in getting the most out of your interior space.

The sheer volume of storage is the first thing you’ll want to consider here. The best 4 person tents have room for each sleeper to stash their essentials like a phone, keys, headlamp, and powerbank. In addition to the total number of pockets, you’ll also want to consider both the type and location of your storage space.

An overhead gear loft, for example, is a go-to storage option for many backpacking tents, because it gets a few crucial items up off the ground, and doubles as an easy spot to hang a headlamp for a little interior lighting as well. If you value a tent with high ceilings, however, a gear loft might not be the storage solution you need.

Personally we prefer a tent with well designed pockets along the walls, preferably in places that don’t impact the day-to-day livability of the tent. So pockets that hang in front of windows or encroach on your sleeping area, for instance, could be more trouble than they’re worth.

Vestibule Design

In the world of 4 person tents, there are essentially two types of vestibules: The first is your tried-and-true classic vestibule, which keeps bad weather away from the door(s) of your tent and provides a space to store wet/dirty gear outside your living space. Those are great, but they aren’t exciting, ya know? Then, you’ve got those other vestibules.

While premium vestibules come in a few different flavors, you know one when you see one. We find the best are pole supported (like the Nemo, North Face, etc.) rather than simply guylined out. That might mean they’re supported by a pole in the tent frame, that they’re supported by trekking or utility poles, or that they’re some combination of the two. Either way, these extended/supported vestibules create a better/larger living space overall, and offer more versatility (and often more head space) than the basic design on tents like the MSR above.

Seasonality/Weather Protection

Photo from Michael Crosno

Most 4 person tents are primarily intended for car camping, but that doesn’t mean they don’t mean business when it comes to weather resistance. Because their comparatively compact designs tend to handle wind and rain better than larger models, we pay particularly close attention to the weather features of these tents.

As always, tents with fully-taped seams throughout their construction (not just in the rainfly) are better than those without. Tub-style floors are a bonus, of course, as they help keep splashing and runoff at bay.

Beyond that, we like seeing materials in the tent body that are water repellent/resistant themselves, as this adds another layer of weather protection to the shelter overall. Technically polyester is more water resistant than nylon, but both materials improve more overall resistance as their thickness increases. Fabrics that are treated for water resistance are always better than those that aren’t. Look for materials labeled as DWR, PU, PE, or silicone treated for extra peace of mind.

Ventilation

On warm, clear days and nights, ventilation is easy: Pull the rainfly off and bask inside your mesh palace. Done & done.

On those other days, however, ventilation really becomes an art form, and your rainfly/vestibule setup is the pièce de résistance. Remember, the main goal of ventilation is to keep condensation from forming inside the tent. Even if your rainfly is 100% waterproof, ambient humidity, moisture from your breath, and any wet gear inside the tent all contribute to condensation. So whether you’ve got your fly on because it’s raining outside or just plain cold, you want to give all that warm, moist air somewhere to escape.

We look for tents that have (a) as much space as possible between the tent body and the vestibule (another reason why staking a tent out properly is important) and (b) as much cross-ventilation as possible (having two vents directly opposed to each other gives air an easier path to enter/exit).

Durability/Materials

Photo from Julian-Hans Maier

Unlike backpacking tents, which tend to use lighter materials to save space and weight, most 4 person tents have the luxury of being exclusively for car camping. This makes their overall size and weight negligible and clears the way for the manufacturers to splurge on more durable materials. This plays a huge factor in deciding whether or not a tent is “worth the money” or just overpriced due to a brand name.

We look for all the usual markers of quality here: For fabrics, we prefer a higher denier material to a lower one (75D polyester is stronger than 50D polyester and so on). Keep in mind this is a good measure for comparing apples to apples, but there’s a difference between 75D nylon and 75D polyester (nylon tends to be stronger, for instance).

Ease Of Setup

While pitching most 4 person dome tents is pretty straightforward, some models do it better than others.

The easiest tents to setup have a freestanding pole design with a tent body that clips onto the poles rather than having to do that awkward “feed the pole through the sleeve” thing. As simple as this may seem, it’s hugely convenient and shortens setup time a good bit. Not a huge deal if they don’t, but definitely a perk nonetheless.

There are some other innovative features out there that further simplify things, and for many campers they’re worth spending a little extra on. Big Agnes, for example, uses a single piece stake and clip buckle system that acts as both a mounting point for tent poles and a clip-in point for the rainfly. Bonus points to Big Agnes. Same goes for Kelty and their “quick corners” system. These added features aren’t essential, but are always appreciated.

Conclusion

Clearly there’s a lot that goes into making the best 4 person tents. No tent is perfect, but for our money, the Big Agnes Bunkhouse 4 comes awfully close.

Its roomy floor plan, generous ceilings, fantastic materials, and reliable weatherproofing all combine to deliver the best camping experience we’ve seen in this category. The fact that it (a) packs into its own backpack and (b) doubles as a standalone sun shade is almost too good to be true. If you’re looking for a little more headroom, the Nemo Wagontop, North Face Super Dome, and MSR Habitude are all great choices. They’ve all got their own price points and depending on the features you’re looking for, they can be worth every penny.

Nemo Wagontop 4
Our Highest Quality Pick: The Nemo Wagontop 4

If you’re shopping on a budget but don’t feel like taking a gamble on a department store shelter, give the Kelty Discovery Basecamp a try. It’s a simple yet spacious tent that’s made from quality materials that should last you for seasons to come with a little love.

Leave a Comment