Best Three-Person Tents

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best three-person tents

Maybe it’s time for you and a couple of friends to go camping. Maybe you and your spouse are itching to get back in touch with nature for a weekend. In either case, you need a tent — probably a small one that is designed for up to three people.

Modern tents are lightweight, strong, and convenient. Many come with “extra” creature comforts that’ll make your backpacking and/or camping experience enjoyable and relaxing. Many have large doors and windows. Some have privacy screens inside, so you don’t have to go out in the rain. Some spring into shape as soon as you open them while others take only a few minutes to set up.

With so many features to choose from, picking the right tent can turn into an exercise in head-scratching as you try to figure out which one is best for you. Keep reading, and we’ll help you sort it all out.

Although they’re called “three-person” tents, most campers prefer to fit only one or two people in a tent this size. Remember to take your need for personal space and storage space into account when purchasing a tent.

Key considerations

Size

The size of your tent determines how many people can comfortably sleep in it. If you’re packed in like sardines and can exhale only when your neighbor inhales, that’s not comfortable. You should have a minimum of six inches of clearance between each sleeper. After reading the description of the tent’s floor size, make an outline of it on the floor. Lie down in it, and have your partner join you. Within seconds, you’ll know if the particular three-person tent you’re looking at is big enough.

Remember that your storage space is also affected by the size of your tent. A three-person tent with three people sleeping in it won’t likely have any extra space for backpacks, shoes, and other items. That same tent with only two people in it, however, should have plenty of room for gear.

Weight

Modern tents are lightweight, but when you’re carrying everything on your back, every ounce counts. A smaller tent, even if it’s a bit cramped, might be better than a larger tent that would leave you with a sore back at the end of the day. If you’re backpacking, you’ll probably want to go small to save on weight. However, as mentioned, sleeping space is an issue you simply can’t afford to overlook!

If you’re driving to the campsite, weight probably won’t be as much of an issue. As such, you can feel free to concentrate, when shopping for a tent, on amenities and features that would make your experience more enjoyable. What’s more, you may not need to worry too much about storage space, as you can load any extra gear in your car overnight.

Features

Material

Nylon is one of the tent materials used these days. Notably, nylon breaks down under continued exposure to UV rays, so the material has to be treated. Nylon is naturally water-resistant, but it’s not completely waterproof. For this reason, a rainfly is usually included with modern nylon tents.

Polyester, also used for many tents, is more resistant to UV rays but it isn’t as breathable as nylon. Tents made from it can become stiflingly hot during the day if they aren’t properly ventilated.

Color

Tents come in a variety of blues, greens, browns, tans, and grays. Orange is also a popular color.

Number of doors

Tents traditionally have had one door on them. Having a second door isn’t required, but the convenience of it is undeniable. The more people sleeping in one tent, the more you’ll appreciate that second door. It also creates a nice breezeway during the day to keep the temperature down inside the tent. Anyone who has gone camping knows how hot tents can be if air can’t circulate through them, but luckily, tents with multiple doors are becoming increasingly common.

Setup time

When you reach your destination, you don’t want to waste a lot of time setting up your tent. Some tents require 10 to 15 minutes to set up. That may not seem like much, but at the end of a long day hiking up a mountain, it can seem three times longer than it is! Some pop-up tents unfold as soon as you take them out of their carrying case. This convenience is offset by the large size of the carrying case, though.

Storage pockets

Hanging storage pockets inside the tent provide a convenient place to store small articles such as phones, keys, and flashlights. There can also be a gear loft in the middle of the tent.  These hang down when holding things and reduce the amount of headroom in small tents. Finally, some tents have a vestibule in the main doorway that can be used to store small items.  Be careful using them, though; when it’s raining, they don’t offer much protection to anything in them.

Lantern hooks

Most tents include a lantern hook in the middle of the roof. If they don’t, you’ll have to set a lantern on the ground inside the tent.

Accessories

Tent kit: Eurmax Galvanized Non-Rust Camping Family Tent Kit
When you need extra stakes or ropes, this tent kit from Eurmax has everything you need. It has 10 galvanized stakes and four 10-foot ropes.

Insect repellent: Repel Insect Repellent Sportsmen Max Formula Spray Pump
This two-pack of DEET insect repellent from Repel has two 6-ounce spray bottles — perfect for taking with you to keep bugs away while you’re backpacking and camping.

Changing room: Abco Tech Pop Up Privacy Tent
When you need privacy for changing clothes, showering, or answering the call of nature, this pop-up tent from Abco Tech is the answer. It unfolds in seconds for instant privacy.

Tent ground tarp: Terra Hiker Camping Tarp
When you need a ground tarp under your tent to ensure against leaks (and you always do), this ground tarp from Terra Hiker is your ticket. It comes in two shades of blue and four shades of green.

Camping chairs: Sportneer Portable Lightweight Folding Camping Chair
Nothing says convenient comfort like a portable chair you can fold up and put in your backpack. This set of two chairs from Sportneer is strong and lightweight. Each chair can support up to 350 pounds.

Three-person tent prices

Inexpensive: From $20 to $70, you’ll find the least-expensive tents for three. These usually have a rainfly that only comes halfway down the side of the tent. Some of them don’t have a rainfly at all.

Mid-range: Between $70 and $100 is the medium range for three-person tents. Any tent in this range is likely to meet most of your requirements.

Expensive: Above $100 is the high range for three-person tents. These will have more doors and windows as well as better construction.

Tips

  • Never pitch a tent under a tree where branches could fall on it.
  • Always use a ground tarp under a tent to prevent condensation and leaks.
  • Pitch your tent so the main door faces the campfire.
  • Never keep open food containers in your tent. The smell will be an invitation to wild critters to join you in the middle of the night.
During the day, open all the doors and windows to keep it cool inside the tent. At night, close them but keep the vents open.

FAQ

Q. Are tents waterproof?
A.
No, they are water-resistant. Water will initially bead up on the material then gradually soak through unless you treat the material with a waterproof spray.

Q. Do I have to dig a drainage ditch around my tent every time I pitch it?
A.
Yes, because storms can catch you off guard, and the one time you don’t dig a drainage ditch is the one time you’ll wish you had.

Q. How much wind can tents withstand?
A.
That depends on how well they’re anchored and how strong the material is. Once sustained winds get above 40mph, your tent is in danger of blowing away.

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