Why Bigger is Better for Family Camping Tents
I think one of the most interesting aspects of the lockdowns during Covid-19 has been the huge increase in families looking to camp and go RVing. Obviously, travel restrictions play a huge role in this, but in the near term, I think this is a trend that will stay around a while. Just recently the CEO of Thor Industries said they have a $14 Billion Dollar backlog. These are the people who make the RVs most of you see on the road, Airstream, Heartland RV, and Jayco. But let me say that again….$14 Billion in backlogs. That is huge!
As a result of this, so many people have had to get creative with what they want in order to go camping, myself included. A family of any size and certainly;y ones with young kids, can appreciate the added benefit of some elbow room in a tent. Nothing ruins a night quite like getting stepped on in the crotch.
So the middle ground for this type of camping is commonly referred to as “car camping”
It is a pretty apt description except for the most part you don’t really sleep in your car. It just means you use your car as a base of operations, and because all your gear would be too involved to hike it into a forest our campground. So your little slice of heaven has most of the luxuries you might need to make your family outing about as smooth as possible. But if you really want to make a statement go big or go home, at least that is my opinion on camping tents.
I realize some purists will see something like that and scoff. In their mind camping is supposed to be a backpack and not much else. Well, if you have a toddler, the last thing you want to do is dig is a latrine for your family. I change enough nasty diapers at home. No, I want the sites with a water hook up and electricity, and of course a readily accessible bathroom. That to me is car camping and if a purist wants to take my kids with them, feel free to contact me. I think you’ll change your opinion mighty damn fast.
Enter the world of “multi-room tents”
Yep, you read that right. Camping tens with multiple areas inside them that can be closed off. Some have screened-in front entryways that act like a small porch, where you can sit in a nice chair and forget about the bugs and rain for a while. Clearly using the term “multi-room” is a bit of stretch but whatever you choose to call it, I call it nice.
Here is the one I bought last year to serve our purposes. It’s been terrific.
With an interior living area just under 200sq ft, this one has 2 rooms and is pretty easy to put up. It’s easy in the sense that if you have some help and the weather isn’t foul, you’ll get it done in a few minutes. The description often times will say “2 minutes”, we both know that is nonsense. But it does have a nifty screened-in front porch which is actually really helpful in terms of a place for kids to take their shoes off before they come into the tent. I’d call it a portico, but that’s way too fancy for a tent.
It’s not lite, and the only way you could take something like this into a campsite that requires you to think into, you would need a four-wheeler or some kind of off-road transportation. It’s heavy, and what would you expect with a tent this size.
I have bought a few tents in my time and one thing I always look at when buying a tent is an image like this….
These people look like Egyptian mummies, and if you think a tent can hold a certain number of people this is how that’s determined. Which is ridiculous, because if you have a cot or an air mattress, there is no way it would work.
So my rule of thumb, and it has served me well, is to half the number of occupants on the tent’s description. If a tent lists it can hold 10 people, it really can comfortably hold 5 people.
Most families sleep with air mattresses or cots, and tons of other stuff, so common sense should tell you that is a pipe dream for everyone to sleep like mummies.
But for our family, the beauty of a tent-like this is the huge amount of elbow room, plus if you are not crazy tall, you can stand straight up inside the tent as well. It really is a much different experience in a tent when you can move around not be hunched over all the time.
Just as you might imagine a tent like this is not small, and as such you need a fairly decent-sized piece of ground to set up this tent. I lay a large tarp down before I do anything. I like to have this under the tent floor for several reasons, but mostly for dealing with rain and wet ground. It works, and a side benefit is that if the tarp is big enough it can cut down on the number of leaves and dirt that get tracked into a tent.
Like most things in life, it is easier to take something down than it is to build it.
The breakdown on a tent-like this is pretty quick, and I’m not a neat freak, so if I can get it into some kind of manageable folded cube, I’m happy. I’ve seen some reviews that mention you can’t really get it back into its travel sack, which I have found to be true as well. This is where some bungee cords work great in terms of keeping everything wrapped together even though you can’t get it all into just one sack.
These days you can practically buy tents as big as you can imagine, and obviously, you’d pay handsomely for them as well. I bought this tent for under $250, which I realize is not a small number for most people. I justified it because I know from the sheer size and comfort of using it we will get a lot more trips out of it than if I bought one-half the size. So far that has been the case.
I’m a huge believer in value, wherever you can find it. Car camping to me is a great example of value. You don’t have the costs of ownership with an RV, and it’s easier to go camping when the entire family wants to go as well. More room equals means more happy campers. Go try it out, get one that works for your family and enjoy some time in a place where technology is not consuming their time and kids are plunged into a world full of nature and beauty.
I hope you try it, and I would love to hear about it as well. I’m more than happy to answer questions, so don’t let anything hold you back, and have fun!