Camping tents come in all shapes and sizes. While it is easy to click “buy” on something from a well-known brand or something you like the look of, it doesn’t mean the camping tent will be a suitable size.
So how exactly do you choose the best camping tent size for you and your family? What considerations should you keep in mind?
Camping Tent Sizes Considerations
When considering the camping tent size you need, factor in these aspects in your decision:
Area Space Per Person
The best place to start when thinking of how much space you need inside the tent is to work out how much space a person needs.
You’d want to sleep in your tent, so the dimensions of a sleeping bag is a good place to start. The average width of a sleeping bag is 60 inches. The length of a sleeping bag is for people who are between 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet in height.
So you’d want to work on a minimum area space of 20 square feet per adult, but this is a tight squeeze. Between 30-40 square feet per adult is a well sized area per person.
Remember that children and young teens take up less space, but they also grow. So take this into consideration when tent shopping.
How Many People
Now that you know how much space in a camping tent you need per person, you can work out how much you need for your family.
Two people need a comfortable 60-70 square feet, while a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) need 90-100 square feet.
Purpose and Gear
Another important consideration when choosing your tent size is the purpose.
Are you taking a camping tent for sleeping purposes only? Or will part of the tent be allocated for living quarters? What about if it rains?
Will your gear be stored inside or outside the tent? How much gear do you have? What are their dimensions?
General dimensions of some camping gear:
- Single sleeping cot: 75” x 26”
- Full air mattress: 75” x 54”
- Backpack: 30” x 17”
- Shoes: 12” x 12”
Also consider cooking gear, chairs, toys, and more.
For all the extras you want to store or keep inside the tent, increase your tent’s floor space.
For example, think of getting a 6-person tent for you and your partner so you can comfortably fit in 2 cots, 2 folding chairs, and have some room to move around comfortably.
Part of the tent size is the height of the camping tent. If you use your tent as a space to sleep only, you can crawl in and out.
But if you are planning to store all your stuff and have some chairs in there for when it rains, then you might want to consider a tent in which you can comfortably stand and walk around (without it feeling like you are breaking your back).
A Low-Profile Tent
A 3 or 4-foot high tent is called a low-profile tent.
You need a camping tent that’s at least 3 feet high to crawl, lie, or sit inside. If you want to get dressed inside the tent, you won’t be comfortable.
A camping tent that’s 4-feet high allows you to crawl, sit, lie, and kneel inside the tent. Adults who are petite and kids will be able to get dressed inside the tent.
Many 3 or 4-person camping tents are kneeling height.
A High-Profile Tent
High-profile tents are those that are 5, 6, or 7 feet high.
A stooping height is a 5-feet tent. In these tents, you can get dressed and move around; however, you can’t completely stand tall. A tent that’s 5 feet high is commonly found in a 4 or 5-person tent.
A standing height tent is 6 feet high. Adult campers are able to completely stand tall in the center of the tent while stooping when they move away from the center. You’ll be able to dress comfortably. A standing height tent is usually found in 6-person tents.
A tent that’s 7 feet high is called a roaming tent. Campers can comfortably walk around in these tents without their heads making contact with the ceiling fabric.
However, these tents are not as windproof as those that aren’t so high. But how windproof these tents are can be improved with a strong tent frame and setting up an outfitter tent.
Peak vs Eave Height
Another consideration with the height of your tent is whether you look at the peak height or the eave height.
Cabin and dome tents have a peak height – the center of the tent is generally the tallest point inside.
The eave is where the tent walls meet the ceiling, and this height can be as much as a foot less than the peak height of a tent. So for a 5-feet high tent, the peak height is 5 feet while the eaves are possibly 4 feet.
A dome tent doesn’t have eaves because the tent body canopy is continuous; there are no real tent walls and ceilings per se.
Available Camping Tent Sizes and How to Choose the Right Size
When looking at camping tents to buy, the size of the tent is usually denoted as an X-person tent.
A 1-person tent is only suitable if you need to sleep inside it. It will be a tight squeeze, and there’s no space for your gear inside the tent with you and your sleeping bag.
In terms of floor area, a 1-person tent offers you 20 square feet.
In general, a 2-person tent is great for one person. When inside, you’ll be able to store your gear and not feel like you are suffocating.
Two sleeping bags can fit side by side; however, this is a tight squeeze for two people.
A 2-person tent provides the floor area of 30 square feet.
A 3-person tent means that 3 sleeping bags can fit inside, side by side, with no room for gear or anything else. So if there’s no other option, 3 people can sleep in a 3-person, but it’ll be tight.
A 3-person tent is better suited for 2 adults.
This tent’s floor size is generally around 40 square feet.
A 2 or 3-person tent is commonly used as a secondary family camping tent and used for teenagers or guests.
Seen as a starter tent for novice campers, couples will opt for the 4-person tent.
If you want more space, then a 4-person tent is a great option for 2 adults. If need be, you can share your tent with your baby, small child, or small breed dog.
Three adults would find a 4-person tent small.
A 4-person tent offers you 60-70 square feet in floor area.
The 6-person tent works well for a family of 4, provided the kids are small. You can even store your gear here and not feel too cramped.
A 6-person tent gives you 90-100 square feet in floor space.
So if you want more space for your family and to use the camping tent during the day too should it rain, you’ll have 45 square feet per adult for a family of two. This means there is ample space for sleeping cots, 2 folding chairs, your gear, and not feeling like you are living on top of each other.
An 8-person tent works well for a family of 6, or if you want lots of space, then 4 people can comfortably share a tent of this size.
For a family of 4, your gear will also have space, and it won’t feel like you are tripping over stuff.
An 8-person tent provides 120-140 square feet of floor area.
If you want enough space for your gear and family of 6-7, then a 10-person tent works. It is a tight fit for 8 people to sleep in a 10-person tent.
A 10-person tent has a floor area of 150-180 square feet.
Camping Tent Sizes FAQs
How Do You Pick The Right Size Tent?
A camping tent is sized according to the number of people it can accommodate; however, this includes no room for gear or the ability to comfortably move around.
A 2-person tent is big enough for 2 sleeping bags side by side, but this tent is more comfortable for one adult. It is recommended to choose a tent size that is rated for 2 people more than how many people are in your family or camping party.
What Size Tent Do I Need For Camping?
Work at an area size of between 30-40 square feet per adult and about 20 per child when choosing the best camping tent size for your trip. You can also use the person rating of the tent but add “2 people” – so 2 adults can comfortably use a 4-person tent.
Should You Get A Bigger Tent?
In the world of tent sizes, bigger equals more comfort; however, also look at what you are using the tent for. If it is just a sleeping space, you don’t need a big tent, but if you also spend time in the tent during the day, then you need to sit, stand, and walk around comfortably.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Camping Tent Size
Choosing a tent size isn’t too difficult, provided you know what factors to look at. Remember to take the floor size per person, the purpose of the tent, how many people will sleep inside, and the tent ceiling height into account.
Tents are rated according to the number of people they can accommodate, but this is a “tight squeeze” rating. If you see a tent is for 4 people, don’t think 4 people will be comfortable inside. Or not at the same time.
So if you have a family of 4, that is 2 adults and 1-2 small kids, then a 6-person tent is ideal, especially if you want to store gear inside.
Happy tent sizing!