Camping and spending time in nature is often considered a “lone-wolf” or introvert activity. Well, guess what? I am a people’s person.
I have a lot of friends, I love spending time in crowds, and I bond with complete strangers easily. Also, I absolutely adore camping, and I spend more than a month a year out there in the woods. Lastly, I do like to take my friends, family and my dog with me. So, as you can see small tents are not exactly my thing.
Twelve person tents and bigger, on the other hand, seem to be just about the right size. That is why I am here today to share my knowledge and experience with these family or group friendly tents and help you purchase one for yourself. I’ve tried out a lot of them, I’ve spent time in the best and the worst ones, and I talked to people who own them, so I know every little secret manufacturers won’t tell you.
I will present you the five of the best tents you can currently get on the market, which, in my opinion, meet the needs of every sociable camper out there. So, let’s dive in!
What To Consider When Buying A 12 Person Tent?
When you are buying a tent, there are different factors you should take into account. However, I won’t be talking much about general guidelines this time, yet I will focus on specific tips that will help you during your search for ideal family/group camping tent. These are the things you should look for:
1. Higher-quality tents can bear any weather conditions
If you are planning to camp during spring or summer when the weather is nice, rain is infrequent, and winds are light, most family tents will serve you right. Usually, they are rated as 3-season tents, which means they are inappropriate for winter. They are often made of light materials, great for dealing with high temperatures, and they can withstand some rain.
However, if you know rain, strong winds and maybe even snow will be a regular part of your camping trips, you should look for more expensive tents that offer higher quality and better protection during such weather conditions.
2. Always go bigger
You shouldn’t fool yourself, buying a 12 person tent doesn’t mean you will comfortably fit 12 people in it. Maybe twelve children, or twelve tiny persons, but with twelve average adults, it would get seriously crowded. So, pay attention to tent’s measurements rather than alleged capacity. Also, be aware that odd-shaped tents offer a lot of floor area, but little space for people to stretch out their sleeping bags and place their equipment.
3. Choose cabin style tents for more headroom
You will notice that twelve or more person tents come in two basic shapes. First one is the cabin style, and it probably offers the best camping experience. Its walls are nearly vertical so that you can have maximum headroom. The second one is the dome style. Its most significant advantage is the fact it sheds wind better, but at the same time offers significantly less headroom.
So, before you choose your tent, think about how much space do you need and which weather conditions will be the most common on your camping trips.
4. Size is more relevant than weight
When you are backpacking, everything needs to be lightweight. However, group/family tents are made for car camping, so their weight is not that relevant. Still, the size of a packed tent matters, because you will have limited storage in your car, and it needs to fit there. So, make sure that the tent is not too bulky when packed.
5. Look for sturdy materials
Nylon is an excellent choice for both the sides and the bottom of the tent, as it breathes and offers good durability. However, heavier nylon will always work better than the thinner one. When it comes to the rain fly, polyester might be the best option. The material of the poles also matters - aluminum is stronger than fiberglass, but it comes at a higher price.
Choose taped floor seams rather than the ones that are merely sewn together and make sure the zippers are sturdy as well. If you want to be safe, go with a bathtub design. It is a rarity among such large tents, but it offers the best water resistance.
6. Easy construction is a big plus
These tents are huge. They can usually fit three or more queen beds, which is bigger than some studio apartments I’ve seen. This means you will need help assembling it. Two people working together is usually all it takes, however, clear and straight-forward instructions are more than welcome.
You will notice some family/group tents come with poles held in sleeves, while others clip to the pole skeleton. The clip design is generally easier to set up, while sleeve design makes a more stable tent.
7. Always buy back-up stakes and ground tarp
If you want to prevent your tent from collapsing during strong winds, sturdy stakes are a must-have. Also, preserving your tent’s bottom is only possible if you don’t place it directly on the ground, which means you’ll have to consider buying a high-quality ground tarp.
How to set up a 12 person tent?
There are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years that will make the tent assemble more comfortable for you, and the whole camping experience less complicated. Here it comes:
If you need a detailed instruction on how to set up your tent, this video might be helpful.
Top 5 12 person tents on the market – My 2017 Reviews
#1 Ozark Trail 16x16-Feet Three Room Tent
If you are looking for a reliable 12 person tent, Ozark Trail’s 16x16-feet model is definitely a product you should consider. For the amount of money you invest in it, you will get a spacious, three-room tent that can fit three queen airbeds plus the rest of your equipment. Rainfly is also included, along with seven fully closeable windows.
What I really appreciated while I was using Ozark’s tent is the simplicity of its set up. It can be done by one person, without any problem, because of its sleeve design. Also, it is entirely waterproof, with factory sealed seams and rainfly doing their job perfectly. I noticed its heat retention properties are exquisite. Wall storage pockets are a useful addition.
However, Ozark’s tent is not perfect. The floor and the stakes are a bit flimsy, so I would recommend you to buy backup foot-long stakes and separate tarp to place it on the ground before setting the tent up. Also, you have to use both hands for opening and closing the zippers on the doors. Otherwise, it will get stuck in the fabric.
#2 CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent
Core’s twelve-person tent is probably one of the most comfortable tents on the market. It comes with numerous useful features, such as adjustable ground vent, room dividers, wall storage pockets, gear loft and electrical cord access port. For the money spent on Core’s cabin tent, you will get a three-room tent with sturdy construction and included rainfly.
When you first take a look at Core’s tent features, you will realize it is very similar to Ozark’s tent, by its general design. However, when I tried it out, I realized the assembly and take-down are even easier with this one. Also, it comes with an electrical cord access port that has a strong Velcro, which comes in handy because once your cord is in, you can tighten it to prevent leaks.
Open-ceiling design comes in handy during the day, because it keeps your tent well-ventilated, however, during the night, when the temperature drops, you will have to bring a few extra blankets to stay warm. Again, Core’s tents also have issues with zippers and stakes, not being sturdy enough. At last, I noticed that after just a few uses, the tent wears off significantly, which means it might not be ideal as a long-term solution.
#3 Tahoe Gear Prescott 12 Person Family Cabin Tent
Tahoe Gear’s Prescott tent offers comfortability and a lot of room. It is 6'6" high, easy to assemble and comes with sturdy guy ropes on each side for extra security during windy weather. It might not look as fancy as previous two models, but it undoubtedly offers a great value for a price that anyone can afford.
If you are looking for a spacious tent that won’t collapse during strong winds, Prescott is your guy. It is easy to assemble if you are not doing it alone. In comparison to similar tents, Prescott’s zippers perform much better, not getting caught in fabric every few seconds. It is bigger than it seems at first, and it is significantly more affordable than other tents on this list.
Even though it is stable, if you are planning to go camping in rough weather, you should buy a pack of backup stakes. Also, this tent does leak in various places, which means it can bear the strong winds, but long, heavy rains will leave a damage to it. At last, once you are done with your camping, and you start packing your equipment, you will have a problem fitting Prescott back into his bag.
#4 Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent
If you are a tall person, looking for a family tent you can comfortably stand up in, Browning Camping’s tent might be the right choice for you. With a center height of 7.2 ft, freestanding design and steel uprights for extra support, this tent is the one you can count on. If you purchase it, you will get a fully equipped spacious tent with two room dividers, six windows and two doors.
The height and the stability of Browning’s tent are its most important advantages. If you set it up correctly, powerful winds or rain won’t be able to touch you. Fortunately, instructions are clear, and the whole assemble easy. The floor is made of nylon, so an extra tarp underneath it might be a good idea, but it is still thicker than the ones in other tents.
Unfortunately, Browning’s tent lacks a few pockets and latches. The rainfly is a bit flimsy so that it might get holes in it after a few uses.
#5 Ozark Trail Base Camp 14 Person Cabin Tent
Here comes another, ever more spacious model from Ozark. With four rooms and the capacity of 14 people, this is the largest tent in this group. Just as all of the other models, it comes with mesh ceiling, rainfly, reliable zippers, and convenient opening for electric cords. At the same time, it is affordable and offers excellent value for the money spent on it.
One extra room is what sells this tent; I really liked the idea of having room for each friend I bring along, or setting it up as a living room. Also, every room has its own entrance, so the privacy is guaranteed. The setup and the teardown are pretty straightforward and can be done within a few minutes, but it’s a two-person job. This tent can withstand severe rain, and it gives a reasonably good performance in windy weather too.
However, you should be aware that it is not a tent made for winter because it cannot bear snow and its poles are too thin, so they might end up snapping. Also, you will need a vast camping area if you want to set it up, so make sure to find a good space before starting anything.
After taking a closer look at each one of these tents, I decided to go with Browning Camping Big Horn Family/Hunting Tent. It is made of high-quality materials, it can withstand various weather conditions, and I liked how it can be easily packed back into its original bag. Also, the fact it is taller than the other tents and easy to assemble is a big plus for someone who goes out camping often and with a different company each time.
Whichever tent you choose, make sure you protect it for the maximum durability. Go out and have fun!
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