Sleeping in the backcountry is one of my favorite aspects of family backpacking. There is nothing quite like falling asleep with the setting sun and waking up to beautiful sunrises and the sounds of birds to get you in a healthy rhythm. With the right gear, it also can be comfortable and cozy sleeping outdoors, no matter what mother nature throws at you. Many options are available for backpacking tents, and if you are just starting out purchasing gear, a visit to your local REI would be helpful to better understand what’s out there. The people that work there are passionate about outdoor adventures and they genuinely like helping you make the right purchases for your own travels. If there isn’t an REI near you, their website has great information to help you choose how best to spend your hard earned cash. They even have rental equipment, including tents and backpacks, available in many of their stores so that you can try out backpacking without investing a large amount of money. I’ve also purchased much loved gear on both Amazon and Sierra Trading Post. So no matter where you live, family backpacking tents and gear is easily accessible.
Family Backpacking Tents:
Camping and backpacking gear can be extremely pricey, so you want to be content with the purchases you make. Your family backpacking tents will probably be your most expensive gear purchase, at least it was for us. When purchasing tents, you must decide what is most important to you- cost, comfort or weight. Weight is usually the biggest factor when it comes to choosing a tent because you’ll be carrying in on your shoulders, and generally the less weight a tent has, the more you can expect to pay for it. Since we are always looking to make budget-friendly purchases, we chose as one of the two tents we carry the Big Agnes Lynx Pass 4, a large backpacking tent that falls somewhere in the middle of price and weight, while at the same time being quite comfortable. At almost 8 pounds, it isn’t light, but since three to four people share the large space, it’s per person weight is more than adequate. I cannot say enough about this tent- we absolutely LOVE it. Three people sleep with lots of room for gear, and the vestibule keeps boots left out dry out of the weather. It has kept us warm and dry in torrential downpours and stayed upright in harsh winds. It is roomy and comfortable and all the extra storage pockets keeps the night time fumbling for gear to a minimum. I will always buy tents from Big Agnes in the future because this one is awesome. Sadly, they no longer make this model. But while this exact tent is no longer available in stores, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 4 Person Tent seems comparable in both price and comfort and at only 5.5 pounds and real weight savings to boot. This tent is on my wish list for when we upgrade our second tent. They also make both two and three person models as well. Since this is a substantial purchase, you want to make sure to take good care of your tent. We always use a footprint to better protect the floor, make sure it is completely dry before storing it and are diligent about sweeping out all debris when we return home. You can click here to read about proper tent care on REI’s website.
As I said before, we are budget conscious about our gear purchases, and have only purchased one high quality backpacking tent. It is not always feasible to spend upwards of five hundred dollars on a tent. Our other tent (we actually have two of these) is a cheap two person tent we picked up online- the Embark Red 2 Person Dome Tent. Using two of these tents, the six of us were very comfortably spread out to sleep with room for gear as well. At about 6 pounds and less than 50 bucks, this tent has been a treasure to us on many backpacking hikes. We’ve used it in the Grand Canyon, on the A.T., in Zion and in Capitol Reef and they have held up great. However, when we had heavy rains during a hike in Michigan, this tent finally failed us and the unlucky people sleeping in it got soaked. I have since used Kiwi Heavy Duty Water Repellent to better waterproof it, and so far- so good. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tent for desert camping or when skies are clear, but if heavy rain is at all possible, save your pennies and purchase a good quality backpacking tent.
There are countless choices for family backpacking tents available, so no matter what your priorities are- weight, cost or comfort, you should be able to find a tent right for you to have many wonderful backpacking adventures!