Backpacking with the family is a combination of good planning, patience and carrying the right gear with you. After a good sleep system, you want to make sure the tent you choose is a good weight and fit for what your family needs.
When choosing your backpacking tent, it’s important to consider what options are important to you. How many vestibules do you want? Do you want something ultra light or can you add a few pounds for extra space? Will you set it up by yourself or will you be going with another adult/older child who can help? Do you want a footprint/fly combination or just always use the tent?
To help you sort through some of the backpacking tent options, I’ve reviewed five four-man tents to help your family get out in the backcountry together!
Get Started Backpacking
Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 4 ($249.95)
Looking for a good introductory tent for backpacking with your family? The Mountainsmith Morrison Evo 4 is a great entry-level tent that will get out on the trail quickly. The package comes with the footprint included. This is a great option for those who can utilize the footprint and fly instead of the full tent on the trail or if you want something that can double as a sun shelter (great for beach days). As a bonus, I was able to set up the tent by myself. This is a bit heavier at 8 lbs., 6 oz. so you may not want to carry it by yourself.
Mountainsmith creates a bit more headroom in the Morrison Evo 4 with their brow pole. While not the tallest tent I tested, it certainly was spacious with 56 sq ft of usable interior space. This tent easily accommodates four adults and packs. One nice feature is the amount of storage spots inside. There are storage pockets around the bottom in addition to a ceiling loft.
The tent will be superb in the summer as it has mesh lower on its side. This will allow an excellent breeze through the tent. You’ll need to be aware of this for windy, cold days while on the trail and adjust the tent accordingly.
Sturdy and Tough
Grand Mesa 4 ($219.95)
About seven years ago, I purchased my first camping/backpacking tent. It was a Kelty Teton 4 and that tent has survived a German Shepherd puppy and a toddler. I was excited to try the Grand Mesa 4 from Kelty as my Teton 4 still looks great even after all the trips we’ve taken. Similar to my Teton, the Grand Mesa has one door and one large vestibule. This is excellent for parents who want to make sure their littles ones stay in the tent.
The Grand Mesa 4 is a bit lighter in weight than the Morrison at 7 lbs., 7 oz. Kelty provides a roll-top bag that makes cinching it a bit easier. This was easy to stuff into my Deuter 65L bag. As for interior space, this is set for four adults and the center of the tent is relatively tall. There are only two pockets that come in the tent. If you want more storage, you can buy a separate loft section.
This is an upgrade from my old Teton with its upgraded clip system. The hug clips are super easy to use and were hard for my 3-year-old to take off the tent. (Bonus for me: she thinks that is hilarious.) This is a tent that was very easy for me to put up and down by myself. Since it only has two poles, it was very quick to set up, which would be a great bonus for those rainy days.
Lightweight and Packs Small
MSR Pappa Hubba NX 4-Person ($599.95)
The MSR Pappa Hubba NX 4-person is a tiny package for a mighty tent. It’s the lightest tent among those I tested at 5 lbs., 15 oz. and one of the biggest for floor space. It is one of the shorter tents so you will need to lay down to put pants on. This tent excels for doing solo trips with your children or for bringing another adult. MSR boasts that it packs up smaller than most two-man tents and it’s the truth. The bag for this tent comes with three small straps that allow you to cinch it down quite a bit. While the other tents fit in my 65L Deuter, this bag took up the least amount of space.
This tent was very easy to set up by myself and the directions/tent marking were clear. This comes with a set of unique stakes that are very lightweight and durable. Four pockets in each corner add to the living space inside. These are high and out of the way, but easily accessible by myself and Sky. For being so lightweight, I was worried about it tearing, but the tent handled the abuse from 70 lbs. of Sheperd and 30 lbs. of preschooler like a champ.
Another feature I enjoy about this tent is how high the walls are on the side. I can get Sky dressed in relative privacy and still have good venting on the warmer days. MSR made an excellent family tent that allows just the two of us to get out without the additional purchase of a two-man.
Backpacking Tent that Does Car Camping Well
Nemo Losi Backpacking 4-Person ($449.95)
When I first put the Nemo Losi Backpacking 4 Person up in my basement, I was unsure if it was going to fit into the space all the other tents had gone up in. It’s taller and larger than anything else in this review and weighing in at 7lbs., 14 oz, it’s not that heavy for its size. What’s even more impressive is that when I stepped inside, I was almost able to stand up completely (I’m about 5’3″). I didn’t need to put on pants lying down because here’s a tent I can stand in!
This tent is so large for a backpacking tent, it’s almost a car camping tent. We were able to put a double sleeping bag, three quarter sleeping pads and several backpacks inside the tent. Not to mention the space in the double vestibules. Aside from the size, one of my favorite features is the light pocket. This made it so easy to get ready for bed and read to Sky. I placed my light in the pocket and it diffuses evenly throughout the tent. They have two light pockets in this tent, so it was bright and cheery for bed time. But don’t worry, just because they have light pockets doesn’t mean they skimped on the stuff pockets! There are still four around the tent that are pretty large.
This comes with its own roll sack, making it easy to pack. It was great for Sky as she was able to help put everything back into its space neatly. This does have a pretty open mesh top (only obscured a bit by the pole guides) so stargazing will be easy. Nemo really packs a ton of features in this tent.
Shoulder Season and Cold Camping Hero
Hilleberg Nallo 4 ($885)
The Hilleberg Nallo 4 comes in at 6 lbs., 12 oz. and is a great tent for those who want something for all seasons. This tent is meant to be taken out in all weather so those who enjoy the shoulder season or cold weather camping should take notes here.
This packed up pretty compact into my 65L Deuter bag. When you first pull this out of the bag, the fly is attached to the tent body. This has the potential to make setup quicker in those sudden downpours. With only tent poles, it goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it. It took a few tries to set up the tent, so make sure you set it up at home before heading out on trail. With its design, I can see how great it would do against the wind and storms.
I liked how the vestibule door worked on this tent, so you can easily open it completely or just a bit with this design. The vestibule provided plenty of space for gear and if you need more space, you can upgrade to the Nall0 4 GT. If you want to go the distance in whatever weather, this is a great choice for families.
What tent do you use on your backpacking adventures? Share with us in the comments below.