The great thing about car camping is you can bring anything you want without having to sacrifice room or weight as you would with a backpack. However, it’s still best to prioritize the best gear you can get, so it helps to check out the best 3-season car camping tents.
The 10 best 3-season tents for car camping are:
- Ozark Trail 6 Person Dome
- Coleman Sundome 4-Person
- Wenzel Torrey 2 Person
- Moon Lence 2/4/6
- Beeksy 4 Person Dark Room
- ALPS Mountaineering Targhee 3 Person
- Eureka Copper Canyon LX 4
- Kelty Tallboy 4
- Wenzel Klondike 8-Person
- REI Co-op Kingdom 6
Car camping typically involves staying at campgrounds with pre-made campsites, and many campers aim for days with fair-weather. That means fishing, hiking, kayaking, and all the equipment for such activities. But what about your tent? Below, we discuss car camping tents in more detail.
What To Look For In A 3-Season Tent For Car Camping
Car camping tents come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, and functionality, and knowing what to look for in a tent will help you make the right decision when you purchase one. Key criteria to consider include price, size, ease of use, headroom, and door, window and wall arrangement.
You could spend several hundred to even several thousand dollars on a tent, but you don’t have to spend a lot for a good quality car camping tent. Because car campers often use ready-made campsites, it usually means less wear and tear on your tent. Some people do just fine with a cheaper tent, while others feel the need to spend more money for the added quality.
For the most part, the lighter the tent, the more you’re going to pay. Since car campers don’t need to be concerned with weight, it’s a good opportunity to save on price for a heavier tent. You will also pay more for a larger tent, so depending on your budget and personal needs, you’ll have to find your own happy medium between weight and size.
The great thing about car camping is you can use tent as big as you want and not have to worry about lugging it in a pack. If you can afford it, it’s always a good idea to upgrade the size simply because tents never comfortably sleep as many as they’re designed for.
Perhaps you want a multi-room tent to separate the kids and the adults, or the humans from the animals. Maybe you just need something for yourself, the spouse, and the kids. Regardless of what you’re looking for, always check the floor dimensions to ensure the square footage is sufficient. Twenty square feet per camper is a good rule of thumb.
Ease Of Use
Depending on how many people are in your party, you want something that can be put up and taken down easily. When you go camping, you’re ready to start having fun, so it’s a real downer to spend an absurd amount of time putting up your tent. It’s even worse when you spend the majority of your last day tearing it down. A tent one person can set up and take down is best.
Some people like to be able to stand up in their tent. This is especially important if you’re an older or disabled camper. You want the freedom to move around without feeling confined. Being hunched over is unnatural and uncomfortable and you’re more likely to trip and fall. Make sure your tent has enough center height to suit your comfort level.
The walls of your tent can also help to maximize the space inside your tent. Look for cabin-style walls or near-vertical walls to maximize your interior room. The higher the center point, the more room you will have on the inside. Even dome tents can be roomy if their center point is high enough.
Smaller and shorter tents are more difficult to move around in. Young children can be especially rowdy and move about quite a bit. If you confine children toa smaller tent, it might inhibit people’s overall camping experience.
Large doors are your friend when car camping, especially if you like to bring amenities. If you choose to camp with air mattresses, cots, or fans, you want your door to be big enough to move your gear in and out without difficulty. Some people like to put coolers or even bikes inside their tent. Make sure the doors are functional enough for your desires.
Many people don’t like to have to duck, hunch over, or crawl in and out of their tent. Doors are usually proportional to tent size, so keep that in mind if you choose to go with a smaller tent. You’ll typically find larger doors on cabin-style tents and larger dome tents.
Also, look for doors that are relatively low to the ground. Tents with higher bathtub style floors have doors that are unnaturally high making them trip hazards when entering and exiting the tent. This is particularly true for younger children and older campers.
Zippers And Windows
The most common problem attributed to tents are zippers hanging up on fabric or breaking altogether. It’s also the part of the tent that’s most often overlooked. Zippers are an extremely important feature of your tent and can make or break your entire camping experience.
Many larger tents have windows that can be zipped open for fresh air or zipped closed to stay dry and warm. Make sure they can be zipped from the inside. If you need to go outside in the middle of the night to zip up a tent window in a downpour, you won’t be a happy camper.
A lot of tents have fabric overlaying the zipper, which is designed to help keep water out. However, this overlap is prone to getting hung up on the fabric. Always check your tent zippers for functionality and ease of use.
Car campers like their convenience and their amenities, and they usually like to bring a little bit of the indoors with them. Whether it’s an air pump for the mattress, a charger for the phone, or a fan to keep you cool at night, having a tent that allows you to run an extension cord is a wonderful amenity.
Storage pockets are excellent for housing gear such as glasses, flashlights, cell phones, and wallets. Without pockets, the only place for these items is the tent floor, and that’s a good way for something to get lost or broken. Make sure your tent has sufficient storage space.
Weatherproofing And Durability
Tents come in varying degrees of denier (the thickness and number of threads) and waterproofing. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you buy. The higher the denier number, the more durable the tent, and the higher the waterproofing, the easier the tent will repel the rain.
While car camping tents don’t necessarily need to be as durable as backpacking tents, it’s still a good idea to get a quality-built tent. Some tents are just downright cheap and aren’t worth your money. However, don’t assume that a tent is poorly made just because it’s cheap. Remember, a good majority of your price is attributed to weight and size.
3-Season Tent vs 4-Season Tent For Car Camping
A good 3-season tent will keep you warm in the cold months, and cool in the warm months. Regardless of where you camp, it will protect you from the most basic elements. It should also provide good ventilation and minimize condensation. A good tent should be able to withstand rain and light snow without difficulty.
You don’t need to have a 4-season tent to camp in the winter. They are simply designed to be more durable and sturdier during inclement weather. They typically have stronger poles and heavier fabric, but they don’t necessarily insulate you any better. If you camp in alpine or highland areas where high winds and snow are abundant, you might need a 4-season tent. Otherwise, they aren’t necessary.
10 Best 3-Season Tents For Car Camping
1. Ozark Trail 6 Person Dome
This tent can be found on most affordable store shelves for cheap. It offers a massive 102 square feet of space and 72 inches of headspace. It’s challenging for one person to set up, but it can be done. It has X-frame construction and clip-on attachments. Packing up is easy as well.
It has a single D-shaped door at the entrance with an additional zipper window for airflow. There’s an attached mud mat at the entrance and a shoe locker that can be accessed from inside and out. This is quite handy for keeping your tent clean. There is a slight duck required to enter and exit the tent, but it’s not bad for people of average height. The remaining three sides of the tent are mesh.
The rainfly extends two-thirds of the way to the ground and provides a canopy over the door. The backside of the fly can be unzipped for additional airflow, but it’s only accessible from the outside. It has plenty of storage pockets inside and an E-port for extension cords.
- Extremely affordable
- Very spacious
- E-port included
- Challenging for one-person to set up
- Zippers can snag
- Can get stuffy when rainfly is closed
2. Coleman Sundome 4-Person
The Coleman Sundome is another affordable tent. It has 63 square feet of space and a center height of around 59 inches. Its simple X-frame construction with clip-ons at the base and sleeves at the roof make for easy set up. The backside offers a zippered window and ground vent for added airflow, and the other two sides are mesh.
The rainfly extends about halfway down and provides a canopy over the window and door. It has a D-shape entrance with a zippered window and offers sewn-in storage pockets and an E-port. This model is available in other sizes, so you can size up or down depending on your needs. It’s weatherproofed with welded corners and inverted seems.
- Good price
- Easy set up and tear down
- E-port included
- Not as roomy as other 4-person tents
- Limited headroom
- Door is narrow
3. Wenzel Torrey 2 Person
This is an affordable, economy 2-person tent. It offers 33 square feet of floor space and a peak height of 40 inches. It’s a simple X-frame construction with sleeves, which makes for easy set up and tear down.
Its dome construction offers one D-shape door with a zippered window, three mesh sides, and a mud mat at the door. The interior has two gear pockets and a rain loft, as well as an E-port for your electronics.
The fly extends two-thirds of the way to the ground and creates a slight canopy over the entrance. The body and fly are made with 68 denier fabric, while the floor is made with welded polyethylene.
- Easy setup and tear down
- Great Price
- Only good for 1-2 people
- Limited headspace
- Must duck to enter and exit
4. Moon Lence 2/4/6
The Moon Lence Camping Tents come in 2-person, 4-person, or 6-person models. Focusing on the 4-person tent, you can get one for a good price. It’s just under 49 square feet and 60 inches tall. It’s super easy to set up and can be done with one person without difficulty. The dome construction limits the interior room, but the headspace isn’t too bad.
It features one D-shaped door that sits low to the ground, a ground vent, and two windows for increased ventilation. It’s made with 63 denier fabric and a 1000 mm waterproof rating. There is some debate as to how well the waterproofing works, so you may want to consider adding an extra layer yourself.
Mesh pockets are sewn into the tent walls for gear. This is a great tent for a quick and easy getaway without a lot of cost. It’s a decent size and can comfortably fit two twin mattresses.
- Easy setup
- Decent headspace
- Smaller 4-person tent
- Must duck to enter and exit
- No E-port
5. Beeksy 4 Person Dark Room
For around the same price as the previous options, this tent offers 56 square feet and a center height of just over 56 inches. It can be a little difficult for one person to set up. The Beeksy fits a full-sized airbed, but that leaves very little walking room.
It has near-vertical walls, and except for the door side, it has mesh roofing all around. The fly extends about halfway down the sides and creates a slight canopy over the door. It’s waterproof and windproof and has an E-port.
The Beeksy has a large D-shaped door with a two-way zipper making it easy to get in and out. It can get a little warm with the fly down. The tent features its own multipurpose footprint that can also be used as a shoe mat or picnic blanket. The manufacturer touts darkroom technology that blocks 90% of the sunlight, and it offers 20% more headroom.
- Decent price
- Near-vertical walls
- Challenging for one person to set up
- Lower center height
- Snug for four people
6. ALPS Mountaineering Targhee 3 Person
The most expensive option so far, this tent offers just under 50 square feet of space. Its peak height is on the short side at 52 inches. It offers two doors, though, which is very convenient. It’s roomy for one, comfortable for two, and snug for three.
It’s dome-shaped and doesn’t have any windows, so the only airflow is through the doors. The rainfly covers the whole tent and extends to the ground on both sides while providing an extended canopy above the two doors. You may have to duck under the canopy to get in and out.
There’s no E-port or vestibule, but the tent offers a gear loft and side mesh pockets for storage. It has an X-frame and is super easy to put up with one person by attaching the clips to the frame.
The Targhee 3 is very durable with an 85-denier floor and a 75-denier fly with a 1500 mm waterproof rating. It has a sturdy support system and is stable against the wind. The zippers operate nice and smooth.
- Quick and easy setup
- Two doors
- Very durable
- A little pricey
- No E-port
- Less than ideal headspace
7. Eureka Copper Canyon LX 4
This cabin-style tent is a bit pricey, but it’s great for car camping. It offers plenty of headroom at 84 inches and provides 64 square feet of room. It’s easy enough to set up for one person, but easier with two. It has an exterior steel frame system with clip-on attachments and pole sleeves at the roof.
It has near-vertical walls with one door and three windows, making it less sustainable in windy conditions. It comes with a gear loft at the top and plenty of inside pockets. The fly covers the mesh roof and four corners of the tent, providing canopies for the three windows. Windows can be opened and closed from the inside.
The large D-shaped door sits low to the ground, making it easy to enter and exit the tent without much ducking. It easily fits two twin mattresses, leaving a decent walkway in the middle. Windows can be opened and closed from the inside.
The zippers tend to snag on this one, but if you use two hands when opening and closing the tent, it makes it less likely. This tent also offers an E-port, allowing you to run an extension cord to your electronic devices.
- Plenty of room
- Lots of height
- Zippers snag
- Thin floor
8. Kelty Tallboy 4
Less expensive than the Eureka, this tent offers about 56 square feet of space and 70 inches of peak height. The dome shape limits interior space, and you will have to duck to get in and out. This tent is ideal for two people and maybe a small child. It’s snug with four people.
Its X-frame construction makes it user-friendly and can easily be set up by one person in a matter of minutes. The door has a mesh window for extra venting and sits low to the ground. It also has a mesh rooftop for increased airflow.
It has a top gear loft for lights or storage, but no E-ports. The floor and fly are made from lightweight, but durable, 68-denier polyester.
- Easy setup and tear down
- Sufficient headspace
- Durable 68-denier material
- No E-port
- Small for 4 people
- Pricey for the size
9. Wenzel Klondike 8-Person
The Klondike is a giant 8-person tent with a total of 158 square feet. It costs substantially less than the REI Kingdom Co-op (see below). It’s not quite as tall as the Co-op offering just over 72 inches of headroom, but the size of this tent is its main selling feature.
It also has the added feature of two separate rooms. It has a main room of 98 square feet with a smaller 60 square feet screened-in room. This is great for additional sleeping quarters, a picnic area, or gear.
This tent is challenging to set up because of its size, but it can be done by one person. The cabin-style walls are less likely to sustain fierce winds and rains, but it’s great for fair-weather use. It has a full mesh roof with two additional mesh windows, and a rear vent to allow plenty of ventilation.
The exterior door is large, extending almost floor to ceiling and split down the middle. The interior door is circular and not screened. The fly is merely a roof cover. It does not have an E-port of any kind. The floor and fly have polyurethane water-resistant coating, and the seams are double-stitched and lap-felled.
- Fair price for the size
- Large exterior door
- Not good for high winds or inclement weather
- Challenging setup
- No E-port
10. REI Co-op Kingdom 6
This is the most expensive tent on this list, but it’s also one of the larger tents at just over 83 square feet. Its hubbed pole assembly makes it easy to set up.
It has a whopping 75 inches of peak height with tons of headroom and features vertical walls. It has two huge doors (one with a vestibule and one with an awning), which are near to the ground, making it easy to enter and exit. The only zippers are located on the door entrances.
The Co-op Kingdom is extremely durable with a 150-denier floor and a 75-denier rainfly, which is seam-sealed and waterproof. The fly can be rolled up from the sides or ends to adjust visibility and ventilation.
Not only does it have interior storage, but one of the doors also has a good-sized vestibule. This tent can also be divided into two private rooms. It sleeps up to six people and is great for large groups.
- Plenty of space
- Can have two separate rooms
- Very durable
- No E-port
- Drafty in cold weather
Because there are literally thousands of tents to choose from, finding the perfect car camping tent can be quite overwhelming. But by focusing on a few select features that will make your experience most enjoyable, these 10 tents are a good place to start. There are options for all budgets, and they are designed with all of the amenities that car campers would ever need!