Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best 11-person tents

It’s great to explore the natural environment that surrounds us, and there’s something special about sleeping in a tent. It can be terrific fun for the whole family or a large group of friends. It’s on occasions like that when an 11-person tent comes into its own.

A big tent has a few major benefits. First, you have just one tent to carry, not several. Second, a large tent takes no longer to put up than several small ones, and modern tent designs enable you to get your sleeping quarters sorted out in just a matter of minutes. Third, it gives you space to breathe. There’s nothing worse than hot, cramped camping conditions. You can’t get a good night’s rest, and everyone starts the day grumpy rather than looking forward to the next adventure.

We’ve been looking at a wide range of options so we can help you choose the best 11-person tent for your trips. Our recommendations offer excellent diversity and a range of prices. There’s a tent here for most people, and they all offer good value. For those who would like more detail, we’ve put together the following buying guide.

With 11 or 12 people in a single structure, the air is soon going to get warm and humid! Make sure there’s plenty of venting to allow for good airflow.

Key considerations


Almost all tents are made of some kind of nylon or polyester, usually coated on the outside with polyurethane (PU), which helps protect against both rain and the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Floors are often polyethylene (PE). These are tough, reasonably lightweight but flexible fabrics that have just about completely replaced natural canvas. The only real differences are thickness — measured in denier (D) – and water resistance, which we talk about below.

Water resistance: Hydrostatic head (or hydrostatic rating) is a term often applied to tent material to indicate how water resistant it is. It’s calculated by placing an empty cylinder on the material and filling it with water. The greater the height of the water column before it starts to seep through, the more water-resistant the material is. Results are given in millimeters (mm). There are 25.4 millimeters to an inch.

You’ll often see hydrostatic head called a test for how “waterproof” the fabric is, but that’s not technically correct. Fabric is not considered fully waterproof until it reaches 1,000 millimeters. Many rainfly fabrics are rated at 600 millimeters. They’re water-resistant — and because of the way they sit over the main tent, they can do a great job of channeling water away — but they aren’t properly waterproof. We’ve seen a few 11-person tents with hydrostatic head ratings of 2,500 millimeters and above, which is very impressive, but you will pay a noticeable premium for material of that quality.


Most modern 11-person tents also have a “bathtub” or “tub” floor, meaning the floor material is attached to the sides several inches above ground level. Floors are usually polyethylene (PE), which is both water and mold resistant. This does a lot to stop moisture from getting in. The seams are often reinforced with tape for further protection.


The poles are either steel or fiberglass.

Fiberglass is much lighter than steel, and while it has some degree of flex, it won’t bend much. Under severe stress or heavy impact, fiberglass will fracture and cannot be repaired. If you’re careful, that’s unlikely (we don’t want to give the impression that fiberglass is fragile), but if something heavy gets dropped on a pole, replacement is often the only option.

Steel is heavier, but it’s also better able to handle occasional rough treatment. To an extent, your decision will depend on whether you’re going to park close to where you camp or hike several miles. While it’s not just about the poles, they are a big contributor to weight, and the difference can be upwards of 40 pounds.

Many of these large tents have the poles permanently attached, which makes them very quick to put up — literally in a few minutes. Even those with separate poles can go up remarkably quickly with a little practice.

It’s a good idea to check a tent’s head clearance, particularly if anyone in your family is tall. It’s one thing to have plenty of room to sleep, but it soon gets tiring if you have to stoop all the time when moving inside the tent.



Area: Calling it an 11-person tent and actually fitting 11 people in it are two different things. You’ll see quite a lot of variation in dimensions, and you need to think hard about how convenient the size and shape are. Some manufacturers tell you how many queen-size mattresses you can fit inside. Each of those is about 33 square feet, which might help you picture the tent’s internal layout. The bottom line is that you might get 11 people in there if they’re all using thin summer sleeping bags, but not if they’re on inflatable mattresses. On the other hand, if there are half a dozen of you, you’ll have accommodation that’s spacious and comfortable.

Height: Along with floor space and the way the tent is laid out, you also want to consider the height of the roof and how it’s designed. On dome tents, you might see a maximum of 78 or 84 inches in the center, but the sides slope dramatically, which means tall people will be bent over much of the time. Instant cabin tent roofs are more consistent, but there can still be considerable variation between one model and the next.

Light and air

Most people want to maximize light, so large windows are a plus. Some roofs have clear panels so you can go to sleep under the stars and wake with the sunrise. Mesh covers — generally called “no-see-um” mesh — have a weave that’s tight enough to keep out mosquitoes and other bugs but let air in. Vents near the floor are another way to ensure the environment inside the tent stays comfortable. A few tents provide access for an air conditioning unit.




The physical layout in 11-person tents can vary considerably. The lightest are little more than a nylon people tube. The most complex are like small homes, hence the term “cabin” tent. They can have porch areas that are covered or uncovered and internal dividers to provide two or more rooms.


With all the electrical gadgets we carry today, it’s nice for a tent to have provision for power. Some tents have flaps for cable access, and some have waterproof electrical ports. Either way, it simplifies connecting a generator.


Internal pockets are handy for belongings that you want to access quickly. Ceiling rings are handy for hanging lighting. All the tents we looked at come with a carry bag, and a few of them have wheels, which makes life easier with the heavier models.

Did you Know?
A flap for electrical cord access is nice. You can run a generator outside, and the cable won’t prevent you from closing doors or windows.


First aid kit: Surviveware Small First Aid Kit
Bumps and scratches are an unavoidable part of outdoor trips, so you need to be able to take care of yourself and other group members. This remarkably compact kit is waterproof, packed with essentials, and won’t add much weight to the gear you’ve got to carry.

Camp light: Hisvision Solar Lantern
A little light around the tent at night makes everyone feel safe and comfortable and helps avoid accidents. This lantern folds down so it’s very compact for carrying, and it can be charged either by sunlight or USB cable. It has four settings and is very inexpensive.

It can be difficult to picture a tent’s size. For quick reference, note the dimensions, then take a ball of wool or string to the backyard and lay out the floor plan.


11-person tent prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest 11-person tents start at around $170. These are either compact dome tents designed for more adventurous groups or lightweight family versions best suited to fair weather use.

Mid-range: Most fully featured family tents are in the $300 to $400 bracket. These offer good protection against the weather and two or more rooms.

Expensive: We’ve seen a few 11- and 12-person tents in the $500 to $700 range, but apart from having a higher hydrostatic head rating, we struggle to see what you’re paying the extra money for.

Although manufacturers are eager to tell you how quickly you can put up their tents, they’re probably being a little optimistic. Practice pitching your tent at home a couple times, so you know how it goes together and you’re not figuring it out in the woods in the dark!


Q. Does a higher denier number mean a tougher tent fabric?

A. Not necessarily. Denier tells you the diameter of the thread. For example, 100-denier cotton and 100-denier nylon are the same thickness, but the latter is much stronger. However, if you’re comparing two tents of the same material — polyester, for example — you would expect a 100-denier tent to be tougher than a 70-denier model.

Sometimes you’ll see grams per square meter (GSM), which can tell you one tent floor is thicker than another of the same material, but it doesn’t give an accurate comparison if the materials are different. Paper is also measured in grams per square meter, but a 125 GSM piece of paper is nowhere near as tough as a 125 GSM sheet of polyester!

Q. How do I clean a large tent?

A. The same way you clean a small tent — it just takes longer! Seriously, though, there isn’t any quick way to do the job because aggressive cleaning methods (such as a pressure washer) will almost certainly damage the waterproof polyurethane coating. Use a liquid hand soap with lukewarm water and a soft cloth or sponge. Never try to machine wash the tent, and always leave it to air-dry. You need space and time, but if you’re not patient you could ruin your tent.

Q. Can I use this tent all year round?

A. Manufacturers do sometimes call them “all season” tents, suggesting they can be used year-round, but we’d suggest caution. Sometimes you’ll see a maximum safe wind speed (as long as the tent is correctly staked), and of course you can check the hydrostatic head rating (see above). They should certainly keep you dry in a short, sharp shower, and many will keep out a good downpour. However, these are large constructions and not particularly streamlined. As a result, any responsible manufacturer will tell you the tent shouldn’t be used in severe conditions. Cheaper models are best kept to summer use. Quality tents can be used in the spring and fall, but we’d recommend keeping an eye on the forecast. The majority aren’t designed for sub-zero or severe storm conditions.

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