Best Cabin Tents for Car Camping in 2021 – With Reviews and Buying Guide

maroon and white cabin tent set up for family camping

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In a hurry? If you are looking for a cabin tent and just want to know what our top pick is, we recommend the Wenzel Klondike-8 Tent.

It’s time to pack for your camping trip and you are tired of trying to cram all of your stuff into the small tent you’ve used for as long as you can remember. You want some extra room. Actually, make that rooms, so that you can change clothes in privacy or put the baby down for a nap or just have some space to chill by yourself. So, you start looking at cabin tents and are quickly overwhelmed by all of the options out there. No worries. We have been there and done that already. And here are the results of our research.

Our Picks for Cabin Tents:

Wenzel Klondike-8 Tent:

The 8 in this tent name does claim a sleeping capacity of 8 persons but we prefer to enjoy some extra room for walking around and keeping our supplies readily available. One of the features we really like is the pocket for storing the fabric of the door while open instead of letting it flap around. We also appreciate the guyed-out vent at the back of the tent encouraging air circulation. There aren’t enough storage pockets but with the extra room we just plan accordingly. At least with an interior height of 6’6”, we can stand up straight in this tent.

Pros:

  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Huge porch area
  • Is well-ventilated

Con:

  • Limited storage pockets

Browning Camping Big Horn Tent:

This tent comes with plenty of ventilation and a large interior that can be left as is or divided into two rooms. We like all the little storage pockets as well as the six windows and two doors. It also comes with factory sealed seams, a rain fly, and a 2000mm water-resistant coated floor. Don’t forget to put a tarp under the floor though for extra protection against rips and tears. With a 7’3” interior height, this is the tallest tent on our list.

Pros:

  • Lots of windows
  • Doors have awnings
  • Framework is fiberglass poles with steel uprights

Cons:

  • Floor is flimsy
  • Divider is not removeable

Alpha Camp Cabin Tent:

This tent is probably the largest of the tents on our recommended list. It claims to sleep 12, although you can read below how we feel about capacity claims. We do like that the main room can be left as is or divided into two. With an additional porch area there are plenty of places to hang out and have a little alone time. This one also comes with excellent ventilation, which is great during the warm months. If you are camping during colder weather, this would not be your best choice. Having said that, we do offer some ideas on keeping a tent warm. Last, we do love the interior height of 6’8” as well.

Pros:

  • Large capacity
  • Reflective guy ropes
  • Room divider

Con:

  • Poor waterproofing

Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent:

This instant tent really does open quickly. Once you know what you are doing, you can typically get it up in under 2 minutes. It also packs up reasonably quickly. The detachable room divider allows for separation as I prefer or a large communal area as others might like. One fun addition is the mesh ceiling which can be covered with the rain fly or left off to enjoy some star gazing from your sleeping bag. With an interior height of 6’5” we can stand tall in here.

Pros:

  • Truly instant pitch
  • Access port for cords
  • Lots of wall pockets

Cons:

  • Weak stakes
  • Side door zippers meet at bottom

Kazoo Pop-Up Cabin Tent:

This tent is designed to pop open like an umbrella which makes it very simple to set-up at the campsite. While it is a very short tent, only 6’1” for the six-eight person tent, porch setup allows for an outdoor living space that can be protected by an awning. This design makes up for the lack of interior height in our eyes. We also appreciate the lightweight aluminum poles and the rip-stop material.

Pros:

  • Simple set-up
  • Porch area
  • Well-ventilated

Con:

  • Short ceiling height

Coleman Tenaya Lake Lighted Fast Pitch Cabin Tent:

This is truly a luxury tent in our eyes. While it is not the most expensive tent available, it is definitely on the pricy side and comes with a lot of extra features that turn a camping experience into a glamping experience. We love that the door is not just a piece of material to flap around. It has poles that turn it into a rigid structure for opening and closing which is much easier for kids to manipulate on their own. The closet seems a bit extravagant, but having that area means dirty clothes can easily be kept separate from the clean clothes. Plus, the interior height of the tent is 6’8” which means we can stand up with no problem. Pure luxury.

Pros:

  • Built-in closet
  • Structured door
  • Optional room divider

Cons:

  • Poorly made door zipper
  • Confusing instructions

What we looked at while researching cabin tents:

The three most important factors, outside of price, we find in researching any type tent would be:

  1. Capacity
  2. Setup
  3. Weight

Capacity:

Dome tents talk about being a two-person, a four-person, etc. tent. While technically this could be true, the numbers are based on the maximum rated sleeping capacity or how many sleeping bags can fit on the floor of the tent. We have always cut that number in half because we want room to walk around and store our gear comfortably.

Cabin tents also come in a variety of sizes with a number that either denotes the length of the tent walls or the maximum rated sleeping capacity. We still don’t want to have a floor of sleeping bags that must be walked on to get to our sleeping bag or gear. Which means we typically halve the sleeping capacity number. Luckily, if we choose a cabin tent with an additional room, we have a place to store our gear outside of the bedroom.

Therefore, when it comes to capacity, first you need to determine how many people you plan on sleeping in the tent. Second you need to decide how many rooms you wish to have. Then you can look at the various models available as most of them come in a variety of sizes and you should be able to select one with the floor dimension you need.

Setup:

Ah, setting up the tent. This does not need to be dreaded, although we do highly recommend you practice at home a time or two before heading out with any new equipment. Because you never know if you will be delayed getting to the campsite and setting up a brand-new tent for the first time in the dark or rain is no fun for anyone. Luckily most popular brands of camping tents are geared to make setup easy and having practiced once or twice you will have already figured out how to work together to set up camp.

The opposite of setup also comes into play when choosing a tent. It might be difficult to pack the tent all the way back down into the small size it was when first opened. However, being able to pack a tent back down into its container, or at least into a compact size, helps when it comes time to pack the car.

Weight:

The weight of your tent can be a huge deal if you are backpacking or hiking into a primitive campsite but thankfully here, we are looking at tents for car camping which means we can handle a bit more weight. On the other hand, we don’t plan on strength training with it so we still want to take into account how heavy it will be while packed away. So, what makes up most of the weight of a tent?

  • Size
  • Material (think canvas vs. polyester)
  • Type (think cabin vs. dome)

Most tents on this list are 30 pounds or less to help get them in and out of the car. But, if you do want the lightest tent, the Kazoo Pop-up Cabin tent is the one to buy. Alternately, the Coleman Tenaya Lake Lighted Fast Pitch Cabin Tent with Closet comes with its own wheeled carry bag for easy storage and transporting.

Other factors to consider when researching cabin tents:

Materials:

Any tent for camping outdoors will need to be made from high-quality materials. We don’t want cheap items which will be easily ripped or torn. Polyethylene makes a great floor material. It offers water resistance which helps stop moisture from penetrating up from the ground.

Polyester is a standard material used for the walls of the tent and the rainfly. This is a good choice although the water ratings do vary depending on the quality of the polyester. We are not going to dive into deniers or thread counts as it is out of the scope of this article. Just know that denier is used to determine the thickness of the fibers while thread count is the sum of vertical and horizontal threads in a square inch of fabric. We learned a lot while reading this article on the MSR (Mountain Safety Research) website.

Framework is the last bit of a tent in which we look at the materials used. These tend to be made from either fiberglass or steel although there are fiberglass poles with steel hinges. Fiberglass is obviously lighter and easier to carry while steel is heavier and more stable. Because we are car camping, we don’t allow this to greatly affect our decision.

Number of rooms:

One of the reasons we upgraded to a cabin tent was to have more than one room in our tent. This allows us to have a sleeping area and a living/store our gear area. It is really nice to have this division so that Mama can get dressed in privacy. And, while we tend to do our living outside the tent, during rainy weather it is nice to have that extra room to sit inside with our books or games.

Ventilation:

We do not sleep well when it is too hot, so ventilation is important to us. If air can’t circulate, there will be more humidity and the body heat of sleeping campers will build up. Many of the current tent designs provide a lot of options to release hot air and remove humidity. There might be ground vents, multiple mesh windows, even a mesh roof or upper vents. These are all useful features to have in your tent.

Extra features:

Cabin tents have a lot of fun with the extra features they have to offer. These can be a closet, built-in lighting, fans, and ports for electric cords. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the upgrades to a glamping experience but do keep an eye on the overall price of the tent and be sure these features are ones you will actually use!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What exactly is a cabin tent?

A cabin tent uses vertical walls to create a tent which looks more like a cabin than the dome or triangle tents. Because of these vertical walls, cabin tents have more space inside of the tent. And they have a higher center height which is nice for tall people like us.

What are the benefits to a cabin tent?

We love the higher center height in a cabin tent because we can actually stand up to get dressed. Additionally, because cabin tents have steep walls, we will be able to fit camping cots inside when this mama is no longer able to fathom sleeping on the ground. Bunkbeds are another option. We go camping with a family that has five kids and they use bunkbeds for their children. And don’t forget the dividers that allow multiple rooms. I love having a sleeping area and a living area.

How long does it take to set up a cabin tent?

The answer to this would be that it varies depending on the model of the tent and the experience of those setting it up. However, with some practice, all of the tents on our list should be able to be set up in 10-15 minutes. Some instant pitch models can actually be set up in under a minute once you know what you are doing.

What does instant pitch mean?

Instant pitch models have all of the framework pre-attached, so you just extend it out, stake it down, and your tent is pitched.

The Answer:

Cabin tents are a great introduction to camping for any new family who wants to bring at least some of their creature comforts along. Any tent on this list could be the right one for you. For us, our top choice is the Wenzel Klondike-8. It met all our criteria for capacity, setup, and weight, as well as being a reasonable price for the value it provides. As long as the family size and activities don’t change, we think it will last for several years and by then the children might be in their own tents.

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