Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best nine-person tents

A large tent may have seemed like an indulgence in the past, but as tent prices have come down and quality has gone up, larger tents are now available to anyone who wants one. Small tents give you somewhere to sleep, but large tents provide that home away from home feeling that can turn a camping trip into a memorable getaway instead of an endurance marathon.

A nine-person tent has room to spare, which is why many of them are called portable cabins or instant cabins. Today’s nine-person tents have features that the tents of yesteryear couldn’t possibly deliver: multiple doors, room dividers, large storage pockets, room to stand, and electrical access ports.

These aren’t the canvas tents your ancestors strapped to the back of a Model-T that needed three or four strong campers to pitch. Modern nine-person tents feature lightweight construction and compact design, which makes them easy to transport, set up, and take down.

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Tent zippers are known for sticking. Rub some candle wax on them to prevent frustration.

Key considerations


If there’s one thing we’ve noticed, it’s that not all nine-person tents will sleep nine people comfortably. Some tents will pack you in like sardines and are nine-person tents in name only. Before buying a tent, we recommend that you lay out the tent’s dimensions on the ground with string or rope to get a feel for the tent’s true size. Walk around it, keeping in mind that you’ll have to hunch over inside as you near the walls. Get everyone to lie down to see how tightly packed you will be.


As important as the tent’s square footage is its layout. A rectangular tent will allow you to create an aisle between sleepers more easily, so you don’t need to step over anyone during those midnight treks to the latrine. Square and round tents tend to pack people together more tightly.

Sleeping capacity

A tent that purportedly sleeps nine people may not actually do so — at least not comfortably. Remember to leave some elbow room between people. The floor plan drawings on most tents depict sleeping arrangements with minimal distance between sleepers. That simply isn’t realistic. As a rule of thumb, subtract two from whatever sleeping capacity the description gives, and you’ll have a better idea of how many people can actually sleep in it.



Tents are usually made from nylon or polyester fabric with flexible fiberglass poles. Both materials save on weight and can be folded tightly to save on space when you’re carrying them. The fabrics aren’t always 100% waterproof, however, despite claims to the contrary.


Modern tents are available in just about every color of the rainbow. It’s just a question of whether you want to blend in or stand out.


You need plenty of storage space when you’re camping to keep your gear organized. Many nine-person tents have built-in storage pockets of various kinds. Pay close attention to the description to determine how many are included with the tent. Also, look to see if it has a hanging gear loft, sometimes called a gear attic. No two tents are alike, so read product descriptions carefully.

Room dividers

This is a feature that turns a tent from a big, empty space into two or more actual rooms. Some dividers are adjustable or removable, while others are fixed in place. Depending on how many people will be using the tent, you can put everyone in one main room and use another for storage. Or, you can let the kids to have their own room so mom and dad can have some privacy.

Doors and windows

Doors: Many nine-person tents include a second door. This works especially well in conjunction with the room dividers, giving the occupants of each room a separate entrance. Many of those doors are D-shaped with hinges so you have an actual door instead of the traditional zip or snap flap door. This adds to the cabin-like feel of the tent.

Windows: Mesh windows with zipping covers in nine-person tents are increasingly common. These windows have grown in size and number. Mesh tent windows provide ventilation in warm weather, allow plenty of light in during the day, and they help keep the bugs out.


Tent setup should be as simple as possible. It shouldn’t take more than two people and 30 minutes to put up a tent.


Tent kit: Gigatent Tent Stake Kit
Tent set-up kits are useful and convenient. The kits usually include a rubber mallet for pounding tent stakes, spare stakes in case you lose some, a stake pulling tool, a nested dustpan and broom, and a handy carrying bag. The Gigatent stake kit ticks all the boxes.

Tent lanterns: Vont Hurricane Light, 4-Pack
LED tent lanterns for your tent are essential if you don't want to bumble around in the dark with flashlights. They provide great illumination without making it too hot in the tent during warm weather. It boasts 30-hour battery life and really lights up a tent.

Bug spray: Repel Sportsmen Max 2-Pack
If you don’t want to be on the menu for bugs, an ample supply of insect repellent with DEET is essential on any camping trip. It's a package of two so you can always use a second bottle.

Ground tarp: AmazonBasics Camping Tarp
Tents aren't always as waterproof as manufacturers claim. But worse than feeling a few drips from above is getting soaked from below. That’s why you should always pack a ground tarp, like the AmazonBasics camping tarp. It’s made of ripstop polyethylene-coated fabric that provides an extra waterproof layer beneath your tent in soggy weather.

Machete: This will come in handy if you need to clear brush or branches before setting up your tent.

"Foam floor tiles for children’s playrooms make a nice covering for the tent floor to soften it."

Nine-person tent prices

Inexpensive: Low-end prices for large tents start around $110 and go up to around $200. These are generally the smaller tents that “theoretically” sleep nine people — but really don’t.

Mid-range: Tents from $200 to $300 will be larger than the bargain models and feature amenities such as room dividers, lantern hooks, storage pockets, and extra windows.

Expensive: Anything over $300 is the high-end price range. Here, you will find better quality construction, extra doors, electrical access ports, air vents, heavy-duty flooring, and lots of built-in storage.


  • Prepare before you pitch. Use a rake to clear away rocks and twigs from the ground before pitching your tent. This ensures a smooth surface under the tent and prevents rips.
  • Use the wind to your advantage. Angle the tent so the prevailing winds will blow through the mesh windows to help keep it cool in the summer.
  • Put a wicker basket by the door for shoes. A “shoes off in the tent” policy and a dedicated shoe caddy will prevent dirt from being tracked into the tent and keeps the shoes all in one place.
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Nylon and polyester fabrics gradually break down from long-term exposure to the sun. Don’t leave the tent standing in your yard for long periods.


Q. How long should a tent last?
It depends on how often you use the tent. The more it is out in the sun and elements, the more it will be bleached from the sun’s UV rays and become brittle. Expect to get at least 100 nights in a tent over its lifetime. If you spend five nights a year in it, that works out to 20 years.

Q. How do I waterproof my tent?
If your tent needs extra waterproofing, here’s how to do it. Set up the tent in your yard. Hose it down like it is being rained on and let it dry in the sun. As it dries, the threads in the fabric will tighten their grip on each other. Next, spray the entire outside of the tent and the rain fly with waterproofing spray.

Q. How do I repair a rip or tear in the tent?
Spread the torn area on a flat surface and clean it with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. You’ll need a tent repair kit that has repair tape in it. Cut a piece of repair tape to the correct size to completely cover the rip. Remove the backing from the tape, and press it firmly in place on the outside of the tent.

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