How We Test and Review Camping Tents

At The Camping Buddy, we strive to give honest and unbiased reviews for our readers, and we’ll never recommend anything we wouldn’t buy ourselves. Each tent we review is personally purchased and tested by one of our many qualified team members in the field.

Our aim is to provide the thorough and detailed reviews, the kind that we would like to read before spending our own money on a camping tent. Our readers are at the core of everything we do, and strive to serve as a resource where like-minded camping enthusiasts can get reliable information for their next purchase.

Our Testing and Review Methods

Our methods for testing and reviewing camping tents are designed to be as in the weeds as it gets, so that you won’t need any questions answered elsewhere after reading one of our reviews. We take each one of the tents we choose to review into the field ourselves, after a rigorous online research process looking at features, use cases, and reviews. Each member of our team tests out every tent we review, and evaluates it it on the same criteria we will describe below. Once testing is finished, everyone compares their notes to find common thoughts on each tent model. This way, everyone’s perspective is incorporated into the review and it is as unbiased as possible. 

This review eventually turns into a tent rating, which is given on a 1-5 scale based on how well it performed in each factor. When making this rating, we also take into account what type of camping the tent is meant for, as this can make a big difference in our score. It wouldn’t be fair to compare an ultralight backpacking tent to a 10-person cabin tent designed for family camping, so we don’t.

Tent Rating Criteria

Our tent rating criteria was developed through looking at dozens of tents over the years, until we narrowed down several key factors that we think are the most important for choosing a great camping tent. These categories are comfort and space, weather resistance, ease of use, material quality, value, and size and weight.

Comfort and Space

This category looks at the size of the tent and comfort features it offers, which generally means more is better. The primary metrics we looked at when evaluating this category were storage space, height, floor space, and other features like vestibules and gear pockets. We also look at how comfortable these tents felt when we tested them in the field.

A tent with a nice rain/sun shield at its entrance.

Weather Resistance

Whether it’s a thunderstorm, windy weather, or the hot summer sun, your tent will be tested by the elements when you go camping. You’ll want to know that it can withstand anything nature throws at it. While we weren’t able to test every tent in the most extreme conditions, we did our best to simulate any weather that you might encounter. We camped out in the sun or rain when possible, and gave each tent a good hose shower and wind test to see what it could handle. Some specific things we looked at in this category were rainfly effectiveness, stake and pole strength, heat and cold resistance, and aerodynamics.

One of our tents holding up in rainy conditions.

Ease of Use

This is an important category, especially for new campers. No one likes starting their camping trip off by struggling to put together a tent for an hour, and the same is true for when you’re getting packed up to leave. In this category, we evaluated total setup time, total takedown time, difficulty of the setup/takedown, and ease of packing everything up.

Two of our testers pitching a tent in the field.

Material Quality

While material quality sometimes shows itself over time instead of on one single camping trip, we have a good amount of experience telling what fabrics, zippers, stitching, poles, and stakes will stand the test of time. Along with our outdoor testing, we supplement our evaluation here through extensive research of past reviews for a tent, making sure we find all common complaints.

One of our favorite quality tents.


While price can generally be a good metric for quality, that isn’t always the case. Also, the tent you should purchase entirely depends on what you need. While a 5-season tent designed for harsh weather might do an amazing job for someone camping in nicer weather, there’s no point in paying extra when a cheaper tent would do just as well. When determining the value for a tent, we generally compare it to similar ones in its target category and judge based on how well it does on other features compared to its price.

Coleman tents are known for their great value relative to price.

Size & Weight (For Backpacking Tents)

Most tents are intended for car camping rather than backpacking, so this is a less important metric for those, although we still look at it. However, if you’re going to be carrying your tent hundreds of miles, this category becomes very important.  When testing these tents in the field, we verify that they can be packed as tightly and weigh as they are advertised. We also compare packed sizes and weights across other backpacking tents to give you a good idea of where it stands.

Packing up our bags after a good backpacking trip!
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