Car Camping Tent Suggestions


Jun 11, 2017
Having sold my RV, I'm going back to the simplicity of car camping. I'm wondering if any of you have recommendations for a good solid tent with the following criteria:

Can stand up in (I'm 5'7")
Easy to pitch
4 person (since I travel with dogs and cats)
Wind/rain proof (as much as a tent can ever be)
Some mesh on top so I can stargaze

I want to use a cot and be able to set up dog/cat beds etc. So far, I've had a Springbar Traveler (which I loved and used for a long time but it got to be too heavy after I broke my back) and a Paha Que (which I liked, but ended up giving away to someone who needed it more than I did).

I'm considering the Eureka Space Camp, and North Face also makes one (can't recall the model). Will just be three-season camping. I don't mind paying for a good tent that will last. TIA
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we have a big old 4-person Marmot tent that even I (6 foot) can more or less stand up in. I don't remember the model but it's very similar to the current Limestone 4 person model. I've not setup a cot inside the tent but I don't see why this wouldn't work.
I seem to remember seeing @IntrepidXJ and @Udink post some camp site pictures that had solid looking stand-up height tents in them. With how much car camping they both do, I'd imagine they'd have good recommendations.

I use an REI Camp Dome 4 and really like it. It's not tall enough to fully stand up in though. I'm 5'7" and have to bend over a bit when standing to put on pants and stuff.

REI Grand Hut looks pretty solid.
I own the Kingdom 6, and have used it for car camping twice and on multiple backpacking trips with my family. It has been a good tent for us. It has withstood rain, hail and wind without a problem.
I'll second the Kingdom Series - we have a Kingdom 6 as well and have used/abused it significantly. We love it.

As far as your requirements go, it checks most boxes:
  1. Lightweight - not really, but quality carry system is fine for travel/car camping.
  2. Can stand up in (I'm 5'7") - not a problem; I'm 5' 11" and stand up w/ room to spare.
  3. Easy to pitch - the length of the poles makes it nice to have a second person, but it's not difficult even solo.
  4. 4 person (since I travel with dogs and cats) - we like the Kingdom 6 for me, my wife, and 2 kids, but there's plenty of room to spare.
  5. Wind/rain proof (as much as a tent can ever be) - in addition to regular wear/tear, we spent a week in Denali with constant rain and were comfortable as can be; it can be a bit of a kite in really high wind, but a good pitch mostly solves this and short of a mountaineering tent I'm not sure any standing room tent would do better.
  6. Some mesh on top so I can stargaze - not sure about the Kingdom 4, but the Kingdom 6 has one half that is mesh (w/o the rainfly). We've used it specifically for stargazing trips on multiple occasions.
I seem to remember seeing @IntrepidXJ and @Udink post some camp site pictures that had solid looking stand-up height tents in them. With how much car camping they both do, I'd imagine they'd have good recommendations.

REI Grand Hut looks pretty solid.

We have the Grand Hut 4 and it's a pretty good tent. I'm 6'5" and can stand up in it.

You might consider much cheaper sub-$200 options like the Coleman 6 Instant Cabin or Core 6 Instant Cabin. I don't car camp often, but I love how one person can completely set up a huge tent in a minute. The Coleman has a built-in rain fly (even less work), whereas I think the Core has a separate rain fly with partial mesh on top--but the windows are so big on both you could probably see stars easily. I spray cheap tents with silicone and never have leaks. The only problem I found with my old Coleman is that over time folded in storage, I think the built-in poles put too much pressure on the center of the floor. I sprayed some of that black "as seen on TV" rubberized stuff on it and it was fine again.
I have the REI Basecamp 4 and it's a great car camping companion. I can stand up in up and have a queen-size air bed in it. It has a large vestibule area where I have a table and chair. I lived six weeks in it last summer and it withstood strong winds and rain and hail.
I'm short but I never had issues pitching the tent and setting it up.


Thanks for all the suggestions - have been reviewing each one. But does anyone have experience with the Snow Peak Alpha Breeze? It looks like a really nice tent with lots of ventilation. Does anyone know if it's freestanding?
Just looked at the Alpha Breeze on the intertubes. Sure looks free-standing with the way the poles attach but at 24 pounds, yikes!
I wish I could find out what the tent itself weighs, as 24 lbs. is really heavy. If the tent itself minus poles is really heavy, it would be too hard to set up. I really like the ventilation and viewing possibilities, plus the company has a good rep. Maybe I'll call them tomorrow. It is kind of pricey.

ETA I really like some of the above tents, but I have a MAJOR restriction on some (don't laugh) - my cats have to be able to see out so they can birdwatch, and those with the privacy nylon wouldn't allow for that.
@Rockskipper - hope you find a nice tent! Good luck. Interesting to read all the great suggestions. I will throw another tent into the mix:
We love the Gazelle tent: it's super quick to set up & pack up, we can stand up in it and it has a great big open screened roof and 4 big windows for ventilation and stargazing. Ventilation is going to be very important, when it gets hot too.

* Your cats would love the 4 screened windows and 2 screened doors in the Gazelle! D-shaped doors are double layered, so either a mosquito screen to zip close or the solid material. The floor is removable, so easy to clean, which is also nice with the dogs and cats. But if your cats and dogs get too smart with the velcro, they could also pull an escape act on you.

* Only thing I'm not crazy about is getting in and out of the D-shaped doors in the corner of the tent. It's narrow where you step across, see photo.

* I can quickly set it up alone, though it weighs 30 lbs (so it's not lightweight and @Outdoor_Fool will laugh now, ha). I would have trouble getting it into the roof box alone. If I traveled alone, it would need to go inside the car.

We have the smaller T3- it can go across the seats in the Jeep if needed, but the T3 is not big enough for a cot. We are considering getting the T4 now instead.

The T4 folded is 67.5" long, so it would need to go lengthwise in your car. Floor dimension is 94x94, so enough for a cot. Stakes have to be replaced and you need more guy lines than provided. The folded Gazelle tent might be too bulky and heavy for you, especially with the dogs, cats and a cot inside the car too. But it does have great cat birdwatching capabilities!

View from cat height in the smaller Gazelle T3 (you can see the screen material & solid door material untied in this photo. One of 4 windows is closed here, but when open the tent has great views AND ventilation when the windows and doors are open:

With rainfly, (notice Bears Ears in the background):
gazelle T3.jpg

You can probably better see the screened doors, roof and windows here in the T3:
T3 on the edge.jpg
Wow, that's a cool tent. It works on the same principle as my Clam screen tent. I really like all the windows. The door does look like it would be hard to haul things through, but once you're setup it would be OK. Thanks for the suggestion, definitely a consideration. I have a small fiberglass trailer I'm thinking of using for my gear.
@Titans After reading some reviews, have you guys ever had one of the hubs blow in during high winds?

One time, 1 hub in 2020, yes, because we didn't use any guy lines on the "hubs" back then. We had 1 hub come in during the early arrival of a super windy front. Now I place guy lines on every side and we haven't had a problem since. You have to use guy lines. We had high winds rip through at night in Organ Pipe in mid December 2021 and everything held up. Notice I got some cool green guy lines that blend in instead of the ugly white ones? Only problem with the nice green ones? They blend in really well, so we now trip over them in the evening and at night. The white lines we can see at night.

The rainfly is noisy in the wind, but I slept through it.

Coming back to the D-shaped doors, my biggest issue with the Gazelle T3. It's not only getting things through the door, it's also getting yourself in and out through the door. We tend to hold mid-high at the hub side, as we step out of the T3. It's possible that the T4 has a bigger, and likely taller door, so it's easier to step in and out of, but I wont know till we get the T4 in. Again- it's fabulous stargazing through the roof, doors and all those windows, we absolutely love that! But if it's full moon, then we sometimes use the rainfly as "moon-fly", as it otherwise gets way too bright in the tent.

T3 without rainfly, new guy lines.
T3-guy lines.jpeg
so something that I think is pretty important for car camping tents, that many people neglect, is to get some real stakes, not those jokey little wire things that come with most tents these days. for example Kirkhams in SLC used to sell these 8" or 10" iron spikes that probably weigh a quarter-pound each, and if you have a good two-pound hammer they'll go right through the sort of hidden rock that stops or bends a crappy stake. like, weight isn't an issue when car camping and the soil in the desert doesn't want to hold down a big tent -- solution is obvious