Best Kids' Tents

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
135 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best kids’ tents

Last Updated December 2019

A tent designed especially for kids isn’t just a tent; it’s a collapsible mini world where young people can pretend, hide out, and play. These tents are not the waterproof, wind-resistant overnight options you will find in the adult camping section. More like toys than pieces of survival gear, there are numerous kids’ tents on the market, and chances are the little one in your life would be thrilled to receive one.

But which one? Tents made for child’s play can be disappointingly flimsy and easily broken. To get your money’s worth, you need something with a sturdy structure and a shape and size that would be appreciated by your youngsters. Some tents come with special extras, like a fun crawl tunnel. Some are designed to look like spaceships or castles. Some sport a particular theme from pop kid culture that may go over well in your household.

The key is to choose wisely. Our shopping guide will take you through the strengths and pitfalls of most kids’ tents on the market so you can make your best purchase.

In a playroom, a tent makes a great place to store stuffed animals.

Types of kids’ tents

There are three main types of kids’ tents on the market today: pop-up tents, stick-supported tents, and air-supported tents.

Pop-up tents

A pop-up tent has a bendable metal structure. The thin metal pieces can curve and collapse in on themselves for easy storage. When taken from its bag, a pop-up tent will automatically “pop” into place. These tents are very lightweight and usually inexpensive. They are not very strong, though, and are easily ripped and broken.

Stick-supported tents

These tents are a bit more tricky to put up than pop-up tents, but they’re also much sturdier. If you want something that lasts longer, consider one of these. The poles for this type of tent may be made of wood or plastic with collapsible joints similar to what you see on a modern camping tent.

Air-supported tents

An air-supported tent stays inflated courtesy of a fan that blows air and holds its shape. These tents are usually much larger than other types of kids’ tents, so they’re ideal if you have a larger group of youngsters to entertain. Notably, an air-supported tent will begin to deflate as soon as the fan is switched off.

Tent shape and size

Kids’ tents come in lots of different shapes. Some are fanciful creations modeled after castles, rockets, or circus tents. Some are designed to look like vehicles, such as a fire truck or fancy car. Some have a traditional teepee, rectangular, or domed shape. Regardless of your choice, you’ll want to make sure before you buy that you have adequate space for its fully extended size.

Most kids’ tents take up three to four square feet of space. This size fits nicely in the corner of a room and can accommodate up to three toddlers or one or two preschoolers or elementary school kids. A child older than about third grade would probably not feel comfortable for long in a tent of this size. However, there are a few larger models on the market. Consider a tent with a 58-inch to 60-inch base if you have an older child.

As for height, most kids’ tents stand no taller than four feet. However, there are some teepee-style tents with a center that extends higher.

A storage bag will help you keep the tent pieces together when not in use. In fact, a pop-up tent will not stay “down” without the pressure of a bag to put it in.

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Fun features

Prints and patterns

Recognizable characters from TV shows, movies, or other pop culture fads are popular print options on kids’ tents. For example, your child may really love sharks. Opening a tent with sharks on it would give your child an immediate thrill. The drawback, unfortunately, is that a time may come when your child is no longer interested in sharks.

Themes commonly seen on kids’ tents include castles, pirate ships, jungle life, and the circus. Again, these themes can be lots of fun, but some children will outgrow a particular theme before they outgrow the tent.

A solid color scheme may be your best choice if you’re looking for a tent for several children. A solid color like blue or red is likely the most gender-neutral choice, and it will outlive your child’s waning passions for certain characters.

Crawl tunnels and ball pits

Some kids’ tents include an extended crawl tunnel for added play. Most of these are collapsible and able to lay flat inside the storage bag that comes with the tent. The tunnel should be detachable, so you can use it separately if you desire. Tent tunnels are commonly about 19 inches in diameter and four feet long.

A ball pit is another fun kids’ tent attachment. Often, the ball pit is stationed at one end of the tunnel and the tent is at the other. Children can enter the tent, crawl through the tunnel, and end up in the ball pit.

Kids’ tent prices

Inexpensive: For as little as $10, you can get a kids’ pop-up tent that provides a quick and easy thrill. However, these tents are not likely to be sturdy, and the lightweight cloth may easily tear.

Mid-range: For $15 to $20, you can get a tent with a combination of traditional camping tent supports and some pop-up elements. These tents are made from sturdier nylon and generally last longer than the cheapest tents, but they will still be quite small. For $20 to $30, you should be able to find something larger and sturdier that may last a bit longer.

Expensive: Kids’ tents with tunnels and ball pits will cost you over $30. Tents that are large enough for several children to play in at the same time will also rise above this price point. Most teepee-style tents are considerably more expensive; expect to pay $50 or more.

EXPERT TIP

If you buy a tent that can accommodate a ball pit, be aware you will most likely have to purchase the balls separately.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you decide to get a tent with a tunnel, keep in mind that most crawl tunnels are only 19 inches in diameter. Bigger kids might have a hard time crawling through the tunnel.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Do not expect your kids’ tent to last forever. These play items are easily broken by exuberant, excited children.

  • If you want your tent to last longer, consider buying one made of nylon or canvas. These tents are a bit more expensive, but the upgrade in durability may be worth it. After all, there is little you can do to fix the very light, almost paper-weight fabrics used with cheap tents once they rip.

  • Double-check your space before you buy. Kids’ tents are a lot of fun, but even low-cost kids’ tents take up a lot of room.

Other products we considered

If you’re looking for a tent your child can use on top of a bed, consider the Pacific Castle Play Tent.  Available in full and twin sizes, it’ll put a delightful canopy of stars overhead. Your child can use it on the floor, too. If your child sleeps in a toddler bed, you might be interested in this Toddler Bed Tent from Delta Children instead. It’s great fun for little ones who are just transitioning to a toddler bed from a crib.

Some kids’ tents offer a combination pop-up and stick-supported structure. For many families, this is ideal, as it combines the flexibility of a pop-up with the strength of a stick supports.

FAQ

Q. How do I get my pop-up tent back in the bag?
A.
A pop-up kids’ tent with a built-in metal frame requires you to bend and twist it at the same time to get it small enough for the storage bag. Lay the tent flat on the floor first. Hold each end with a hand, an twist the sides in opposite directions as you bring your hands together.

Q. What size should I choose if I want a tent large enough for two or three kids?
A.
It is best to find something that is larger than four square feet. Look for something with a footprint larger than 50 inches. You may have the best luck if you look at air tents; many of these are closer to 80 inches in diameter.

Q. Can I wash my kids’ tent?
A.
Kids’ tents are not usually made for machine washing — even those made of canvas. Check the manufacturer’s instructions the learn how to properly clean your tent.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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