If you love the outdoors but aren't into the idea of carrying all your equipment on your back, you've probably figured out that car camping offers the best of both worlds. The best car camping tents are easy to set up and made from water-resistant polyester to keep you dry in any weather.
Polyester is a popular material for tents because it’s water-resistant, durable, and lightweight. Some tent brands will specify the fabric’s denier, which is a measurement of thickness. Tents with a higher denier tend to be more durable, and while a polyester tent’s denier can range all the way up to 200, a denier of 65 is a good starting point for beginners and casual car camping.
Even though polyester is water-resistant, the seams still need to be protected to keep the tent’s interior dry. Many tents have inverted or taped seams to help with this, but if you're worried about a sudden downpour, look for an option with a removable rain fly for extra protection against the elements.
Since weight is not a primary concern when car camping, you can often find a tent that’s easier to set up. Some tents have the poles permanently attached, so all you need to do is snap them open. If you really hate pitching tents, look for one with a pop-up design that does most of the work for you. Other car camping tents have conventional designs that can be pitched in around 15 minutes, and they usually can be packed into smaller bags for easier storage.
Finally, think about how many people you'll typically have on your camping trips. Most tents specify the number of people that can comfortably fit inside, but it's never a bad idea to check the tent's dimensions before you make a purchase.
If you're ready to explore the outdoors, here are some of the best car camping tents you can buy — and they're all available on Amazon.
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1. The basic tent
- Capacity: 2 people (also available in 3-, 4-, and 6-person sizes)
- Size: 7 x 5 feet
- Setup time: 10 minutes
This budget-friendly tent has the essentials you need for a car camping weekend away from home. Perfect for one or two people, it measures 7 by 5 feet and has a conventional two-pole pitching design that's easy to set up alone or with a friend. The tent is made of 75-denier polyester with inverted seams, a removable rainfly, and zippered windows to help keep the rain out. The inside of the tent also has convenient storage pockets for any essentials you need to keep handy, like your flashlight, phone, or car keys. If you need a tent for a bigger group, this one also comes in three additional sizes.
One reviewer wrote: “Can't beat this tent for the money. Easy set up. Walls nice and tight. Fly a little marginal, but it'll do. Perfect for a single sleeper with lots of gear inside. My use is for car camping - love the small footprint in my trunk. Haven't tested in rain, but I will spray it down with sealer before actual use. That should take care of any minor problems.”
- Available colors: 2
2. The pop-up tent
- Capacity: 4 people
- Size: 9.5 x 7 feet
- Setup time: 10 seconds
If you want to get to the relaxing part of camping quicker, this instant pop-up tent is the one for you. It has a convenient pop-up design, so all you need to do is remove it from the bag and then stake down the support ropes. To put the tent away, it has to be folded in a specific manner, but many reviewers noted that it's simple to get the hang of it. This tent has enough space for four people, and it can fit a queen-size airbed. While the exact denier isn't listed, it's made of rugged polyester with taped seams to help you stay dry even in moderate rainfall, and you can easily shut the two doors and four windows from the inside.
One reviewer wrote: “When I ordered this tent I was really excited about the option to have a tent that I can put up and take down quickly. My concern was that I did not know if it would have enough room. I got it last week and went camping a couple of days later. It was AMAZING! Set it up in the backyard in just a minute. When it was time to go to bed we [all got in], 2 adults, 2 kids, and a dog. [...] It rained that night and it was just fine. The next day I let it dry in the sun and when it was time, it folded right up again and I had it put away during a commercial break on TV. I could not be happier with this purchase.”
- Available colors: 2
3. The two-room tent
- Capacity: 9 people
- Size: 14 x 9 feet
- Setup time: 60 seconds
This large car camper tent is the way to go if you're camping with a big group but still want a bit of privacy. It not only has enough space for nine people, but it also has a privacy panel that can be zipped up to create two separate rooms. This spacious tent features 68-denier polyester with sealed seams and a PU coating for added water protection. Even though it's large, it can still be set up in just a minute because the poles come pre-attached. Between uses, the tent and removable rainfly can be stored in the included carrying bag.
One reviewer wrote: “Just buy this tent. It went up in under 90 seconds by myself. The poles are attached already and you simply take it out of the box and pull up. It also went back in the bag with zero effort and profanity. This is the perfect car camping tent.”
- Available colors: 2
4. The one with a screened-in porch
- Capacity: 8 people
- Size: 15 x 12 foot interior, 10 x 5 foot screen room
- Setup time: 15 minutes
Another solid choice for larger groups, this roomy eight-person tent has a 15-by-12-foot interior plus an attached screened-in porch that can be used for eating, hanging out, or corralling your pet. The tent is made from coated 75-denier polyester with welded corners and inverted seams to keep water out, and it has an easy-to-attach rainfly that creates awnings over the two side windows. This tent has a conventional pitch design, but it can still be put up in around 15 minutes.
One reviewer wrote: “Super easy setup! Love the little entryway... helps keep everything clean. Entryway is big enough for 2 people to hang out in with chairs. Sleeping area is SUPER roomy... My sis ended up using a giant full sized blow up mattress and we still had enough room to fit 2 more people. We didn't use it in bad weather but it seems like its super sturdy... and condensation was a non-issue. Love it... recommend!”
- Available colors: 2