A Dual Purpose Investment

If you’re in the market for a new, family-size tent, consider the advantages of getting one that could double as emergency shelter.

If your home were damaged, you might prefer to stay on the property rather than leave it entirely. And a tent could make that possible.

Here are some of the most popular family-sized tents on the market. Prices range from $120 to well over $500, so you’ll need to shop carefully to get what you need in your price range. Naturally, every family’s needs will be different based on where they live, how many people are involved, etc.

We have selected these tents in order to highlight different features that will help you pick the right tent for your family.

And before we start, many long-term campers recommend putting Waterproofer/Seam Sealer on all the seams of any new tent you buy!

And one more update: if you consider a tent with a canopy or a porch, you may want to add a see-through shower curtain to your supplies.  Fasten it up on the outer edge to keep the rain out but still give you a “window” for light and a sense of security!

Disclaimer: If you click on the image, you’ll go directly to where you can continue to shop. If you purchase a tent thanks to our recommendation, we will be paid a (small!) commission by Amazon as one of their affiliates.


This is the most popular family-sized tent being bought today on Just looking at the picture, you will notice several important features.

Frame - This tent has an external frame of aluminum. I was surprised to see that the frame and tent don’t come apart, so you never lose any parts.

Rain fly - There’s no extra rain fly (a cover meant to deflect rain) – although apparently one is being designed. Not having an extra cover gives the tent a full 360 degree view.

Weight - This is one of the heaviest of the tents shown here – more than 43 pounds. Heavy means sturdy (per the manufacturer, heavy-duty fabric is two times thicker than standard tent fabric), but it also means that carrying and putting up the tent is at least a 2-person job. How many people will be on your “set-up team?”

Height - Highest point is 6 ft. 5 inches, meaning it will be comfortable for most to stand and walk. Living in a tent is different than camping overnight!

Flexibility - You can divide the tent into three separate rooms. How many rooms will you need for your family? Will you need one room just for storage? How about an entry room where you can store wet boots?

The Coleman Montana 8 weighs only 25 pounds. It’s a modified dome style, with fiberglass poles that run through continuous sleeves.

Its one large room has living space of 112 sq. ft. (They say, big enough for 3 queen-sized mattresses.) and a center height of six feet, two inches.

Windows/doors - The tent has an innovative hinged door that makes it easy to go in and out. People rave about this door. And the rain fly is constructed so the windows can stay open even when it’s raining. Would one door suffice for your family, or would you want two? Keep reading for more info about doors.

Power port – In a long-term camping situation, you will want to be able to safely connect an extension cord to the tent in order to power accessories, like lights and fans. A built-in power port means you don’t have to cut a hole in the tent wall!

Note: Coleman has a second version of this tent called the Coleman Elite Montana 8 Person Tent. This tent has the same hinged door that everybody seems to like, plus self-rolling windows, but the main difference seems to be LED lights that are already installed. The Elite costs about $100 more than the standard.
We have included this tent because of its size. It’s the biggest tent on our list, with nearly 240 sq. ft. of living space – probably larger than your current bedroom!

Size - Would you have enough space to put up a tent this large???Would you be able to move it to another space to keep the vegetation underneath from rotting?

The tent is so spacious that it has lots of flexibility. You can create up to three separate rooms; the front floor can be removed so you could turn that area into storage or parking for an ATV.

Weight is what you'd expect, at 40 pounds. Poles are "shock-corded fiberglass."
This tent has many features of the others listed above. It has a living area of 128 sq. ft.; hangs from a self-supporting aluminum frame. Weight 32 lbs. Interior height 84 inches.

We have included it here because it seems to offer the best collection of:

Storage/organization features For example, the Eureka is described as having a corner closet, rings for hangers, clothesline rings along the eaves, and mesh storage pockets on ceiling panels. Most tents will have SOME storage features. If you're camping for a while, a variety of handy storage features would be very valuable.

(Other tents mention the occasional storage pocket or center hook for a lantern.)

How much storage would you need for your family?

And while we’re on that topic, consider how much room you will need for:

Beds --Would you use air mattresses to sleep on? (Not very popular.) Memory foam is more comfortable. Many experienced long-term campers swear by low cots for ultimate comfort – but that requires headroom.

Naturally, the type and number of beds will ultimately determine the floor space you need.
This tent is the least streamlined of all, but seems to have some very attractive features. And it got the best reviews of them all!

The picture says it all. (When you go to Amazon, you'll be able to see a much better image. This one is NOT up to the standard we'd prefer, but it's all that we were given!). Look for completely vertical walls, high ceiling (8 feet at center!). Separate canopy top.

(You need to buy your own canopy frame at an extra cost.)

The tent has two Power Ports (that Velcro shut), plus four storage pouches. Comes in black, brown or blue.

Expandability - What makes real sense: these tents can be combined to create double the living space. One reviewer even mentioned connecting two tents with a simple canopy between them to create a “suite!”

And here are more, recommended by Amazon.