Under Review – The Best 4 Person Tent On The Market Today. For most of us, the camping season is May to October. It also goes by the name of summer. There’s something about the warmer months that makes so many people want to escape the comfort of their homes, get closer to nature and breathe the air of adventure. This yearning for a tent over a house must be something about connecting with our distant ancestors but I’m getting carried away with theorizing.
Camping is much more fun when going in a group so in this article I’m focusing on the best 4 person tent. A 4 person tent may not necessarily be for four people, but it is a recognized size category that is popular among all types of campers and backpackers.
Many years of camping and backpacking have allowed me, and many of my fellow campers, a particular insight into the world of the 4 person tents which has enabled me to collate the data, make real-world comparisons and list the top 5 best 4 person tents on the market today starting with my personal favorite.
1: ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 Person Tent
Lynx, being the name of a magnificent wild cat, is a name others are keen to appropriate. We have Lynx deodorant and the Lynx military helicopter. Now we have the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 Person Tent. It doesn’t smell nice (nor badly) and it doesn’t fly. But it’s a great four person tent.
It’s a conventional polyester dome tent. It was easy to put up. It took about 8 minutes. This 4 person tent has a free-standing, aluminum two-pole design. The clips, zippers, and poles all seem to be of excellent quality. The stakes are a bit basic – I’m not sure how they would fare on a more challenging terrain. I’d suggest you replace them with MSR GroundHog stakes – these also happen to be lighter.
Before putting the tent up, the most noticeable thing was its weight. It weighs in at a mere 7 lbs 15 oz. This makes it attractive to the backpacking camper who may see a 4 person tent as the preserve of the car camper. Backpacking tents can be too small and car camping tents too heavy. This one straddles both worlds so if you do both types of camping, this could well be your one-tent-solution.
The height is a little lower than others but still enough to sit up and even have a small table and a couple of chairs. The tent is fine for 2 adults and a small child but 4 adults would not be much fun. The dimensions given by the manufacturer are confusing. The 7’6 x 8’6 figure includes everything covered by the fly whereas most measure the actual chamber we sleep in which is a little over seven square feet.
There is a lot of mesh in the tent’s walls and doors so the sleeping area is well ventilated. Once again a balance needs to be struck between being well ventilated and staying warm at night. This four person tent pulls it off well.
Part of the reason the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 Person Tent was quick to erect was the fact there are only four guy lines. There didn’t seem one that could hold down the middle section of the rain fly.
However, this four person tent held up in that most crucial criterion: rain repellency. It also kept the wind out so we spent a cozy couple of nights. Even when the tent was badly positioned at the bottom of a field, the tent help firm despite puddles just outside the door.
The manufacturer talks of vestibules. Now you may be an inexperienced camper and wonder what a vestibule is. Well, wonder no more. It’s simply that area outside the tent which is covered by the rain fly. The fly covers everything, including the guy lines. It goes right close to the ground. It’s common to put your shoes in the vestibule overnight.
There are two vestibules on the Lynx 4 and they both passed the test of keeping shoes dry overnight. It’s a handy asset for the camper.
There are some useful extras such as two pockets and even storage on the ceiling. For a tall adult, the door is awkward to exit.
(Full Lynx 4 person tent Review Here)
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2: Coleman Carlsbad Tent with Screen Room
Campers like an early start. There’s something about the outdoor life that makes us want to wake up with the sun just like it was with our distant ancestors. But it’s not so much the temperament of the average camper but the sun which brings about these early starts. Even on cloudy mornings, the sun makes its presence felt through the rain fly and the tent itself.
There are those, especially among festival campers, who would rather have a lie in followed by a spot of beditation. Remember some festival DJ sets go right through to dawn.
Coleman spotted an opportunity here and so came up with a brand new camping concept: the screen room. Now, this sounds like an outdoor mobile cinema but it’s not. It’s a 4 person tent aimed at the late hours camping set.
My wife took control of this setup but was annoyed by the fact that the instructions were in diagram form. Coleman must either assume campers are illiterate or they’re trying to go global and reach across the language divide but couldn’t be bothered hiring translators. Whichever the reason, she found it irritating.
The poles are hard to tell apart so she laid them all out. I should have helped but for the purposes of research, I watched her struggle. The diagram doesn’t indicate the direction of the poles and she noticed bits of red tape on some of them without any explanation as to what they signified. The poles need to be extended and laid out in order to make some kind of sense.
The poles also fitted very tightly in the sleeves and there seemed a danger the material might tear at the seams. The stakes need to be longer. They should be around 12 inches but for a fine weather weekend, they did the job.
And now for the tent’s unique aspect, The Dark Room. Well, it certainly looks cool – a contrast to all the garish colored tents around us. However, it is only the rain fly and the windows that are made of the special darkening material – the rest of it is a normal tent. Coleman should have made the entire tent in this material in order to maximize the Dark Room effect.
We didn’t use this in wet weather so cannot vouch for its performance in that respect but it did seem well made as are the other Coleman tents.
The Dark Room facility kept us snoozing well into the morning but we could have done with it being even darker. The back window of the tent is a perforated screen which is good for ventilation and looking out at the world.
-great for hot weather
-Dark Room feature allows lie-ins
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This may seem obvious but, in order to get a quick feel for something, it’s a good idea to pay attention to its name. The word sundome stands out here. I get the dome bit. It’s a dome tent and that accounts for the spacious interior allowing campers to undertake activities other than sleeping.
This four person tent measures 9 x 7 feet, although it is a dome the base is an oblong. So it’s a hemisphere which merges into a cuboid as it nears the ground. I don’t think geometricians have come with a name for it yet.
The tent offers enough room for a queen size mattress. That’s not enough for four people, but, as with all the tents in this list, the four person is the maximum number. Fewer people in the tent would obviously mean extra comfort as well as a better chance of getting along. After all, it is a camping holiday, not a military training exercise.
And there’s the height. Well, our readers come in all shapes and sizes. If you happen to be 4-foot 10 inches tall, you will be able to stand up in the center and have an inch to spare.
The sun part of the name refers to the large windows and perhaps the white walls which let in the light so its possible to read inside the tent during the day.
The set up takes around fifteen minutes. If you have someone to help, who can hold the poles up and line them up, this setup time can be reduced to around ten minutes. The poles are fed into the sleeves and since they are all connected, this only needs to be done once. The rain fly comes with the guy lines already attached and this is handy.
But let’s look at the important stuff, namely, the tent’s ability to keep out the rain. This is surely what separates the men from the boys and of course, the women from the girls. And I’m not talking about the sleeping arrangements.
The Coleman Sundome 4 Person Tent blurb tells us about a WeatherTec system. It goes on to say the floors are welded and that the method of doing this is patented. So if you’re going to design four person tents with welded floors, watch out, Coleman has a patent on the idea. Now when I think of welding, a blow torch and visor come to mind but we’re talking about a polyester tent so this I assume is some kind of plastic melting.
Coleman also boasts of inverted seams which increase weather resistance by hiding needle holes inside the tent. This seems a good idea. There is also a cuff to protect the zippers. Experienced campers know how zippers can leak. And to top it off, or perhaps that should be bottom it off, the heavy duty tarp floor is double strength and it comes up from the ground about four inches. These are all reassuring extra touches. I used this at a very rainy festival and it kept me and my guitar perfectly dry.
The structure itself seemed sturdy and the manufacturer claims it is built to withstand wind of up to 35mph, a speed when you’d see whole trees in motion and experience inconvenience walking against the wind. That’s windy. The stakes could be stronger. They tend to bend if the ground is hard.
There is plenty of scope for ventilation. The windows are larger than usual and there’s a ground vent and you always leave the front door unzipped. Their tent is airy and comfortable but it can get cold, especially in the morning. This four person tent is best accompanied with a warm sleeping bag. And is definitely not a tent for the winter. For warm nights, you can take the rain fly down completely. For really warm nights you could even sleep under the stars and try to identify the dazzling blue-white star Vega in the small constellation of Lyra.
There have been issues of the tent poles breaking in high winds and the tent being blown away leaving the campers less than blown away by the structural quality. But on the whole, this tent has a solid reputation. There are also helpful little touches such as the hook at the center of the ceiling for dangling a lantern and mesh pockets sown o to the sides of the walls.
-tent poles vulnerable to breakage in high winds
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This is number four in the best 4 person tents. It came in an odd square storage pack. It may be easier to store in a more conventional bag.
But the set up was easy enough. In fact, I’d say it was almost as easy as a pop-up. The folding poles were nice and compact and most importantly, the whole package was light – so a good tent for backpacking. The tent stands alone without the need for guy lines.
When packed, this tent is the lightest and smallest I could find of the 4 person tents. And yet it can accommodate a queen size blow-up mattress and have plenty of room for your gear. The mattress is actually bigger and heavier than the tent.
Though the tent is one of the easier ones to carry, the Kelty Salida is made of good quality materials. The walls are polyester and mesh and the floor is nylon. The stitching is well executed and I like the mesh design and fly material.
However, the stakes looked as if they’d struggle with hard ground. Luckily for us, it was soft enough. There were some nice loops on the loft storage and I used these to hang lamps on.
Though a 4 person tent, it only has one door and one vestibule.
Kelty Salida describes it as a three season tent. I used it on a sunny weekend. I read the weather forecast and so took the risk of not bringing the fly. It made everything lighter and easier. The ventilation kept us cool and there was no morning moisture. If we’d had the fly up it would have been way too hot.
-lightweight (in fact the lightest of the five)
-only one door
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Alps brought us the Lynx so now the Taurus. On the face of it, there is not much difference but the Taurus is cheaper. The main reason for this price difference is that whereas the Lynx has aluminum poles, the Taurus uses the inferior fiberglass. The other differences are minor.
The important thing is to note what the Taurus has in common with its more glamorous sister: the easy assembly, free-standing two-pole design as well as the same dimensions: Base Size: 7’6 x 8’6, Center Height: 52″, Total Weight: 10 lbs 11 oz.
As with so many tents, there is a little pin at the end of each pole. This system is more fiddly than the grommets used in the Lynx.
This is a cheap 4 person tent but feels well built, and there are two vestibules which offer the same facility as those of the Lynx. There are two doors, and I found the door flaps allowed easy entry and exit.
Ventilation is good. Each door has a zippered window so you can adapt the tent to different weather conditions. There is a mesh roof as well as an abundance of mesh storage pockets. The rain fly is a little too close to the tent so this needs to be adjusted with guy lines to allow air flow between the two structures.
The tent performed well on a rainy night. The polyester rain fly did its job. We felt perfectly dry in the morning, and the shoes and firewood we kept in the vestibules were tinder dry and ready for use. The tent walls were free from condensation. Though some of the sealing seemed to be of poor quality, it was not enough to deter from the tent’s performance.
It should also be noted that the rain fly was adept at its secondary function of keeping the sun off the tent allowing a comfortable afternoon snooze. At festivals, these are important.
The tent’s low stature gives an aerodynamic advantage when countering high winds. The larger the tent, the more it acts like a sail so minimal headroom means better wind protection.
I liked the mini shelf that comes at the top of the tent. This is handy for keeping all those essentials we need to hand: flashlight, car keys and phone.
The walls of the tent are endowed with two long, clear windows enabling the interior to be bathed in sunlight. But with these transparent blessings, there is a privacy issue. You may wish to improvise a kind of curtain because there is no flap.
-2 doors and vestibules
-large windows can present a privacy issue
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When deciding on the top five best 4 person tents, I was prejudiced by my own experiences and preferences. I camp at festivals and campsites in the summer. For this reason, ventilation is important and dealing with or without sun is almost as important as the rain so the Alps Mountaineering Tent ticked most boxes (for me)
It was extremely difficult to place these in any particular order as there are all, in their own rights fantastic 4 person tents. I think I have done a good job though placing them in this order. Just know whichever you decide upon, you are buying a great tent which should last many seasons.
P.S. Think you might require a larger tent? Why not head over HERE and read our top 5 picks of the best 6-Person Tents.