Choosing The Right Size Tent
For Camping

To choose the right size tent for camping consider the number of people the tent will house. Then determine how much space is needed for each person. Consider -

  • is it for sleeping only
  • do you need space for gear
  • do you need space for other activities

Tent capacity is expressed by the number of people it can hold without gear. A person is usually a body in a mummy style sleeping bag. However some 1 and 2 person tents are really for small people like children. So check the number of persons the tent holds as well as the measurements of the tent.

An adult needs a tent at least 6 ft long for their head to toe space. But because tents tend to slant in I would go with 7 ft as the minimum length, unless you sleep curled up in a fetal position.

Timberline 2 with vestibule

Some tents have vestibules for gear. If you need space inside the tent for each person's gear divide the number of persons the tent can hold by 2. So a 4 person tent would hold 2 people plus gear comfortably.

Hikers need a light weight back packers tent for 1 or 2 people. These tents are usually low to the ground and just for sleeping in.

The Right Size Tent For Those Who Drive to Camp

When driving to a campsite you can plan to be comfortable. Most want a tent they can stand up in, so check the height. And most want more space to move around in, especially with children. For example you may want a table or area for games. So you could divide the number of persons the tent will house by 3.


My family tent is classified as a 12 person tent. However the most it has ever held is 6 people, 2 adults and children. At my last camp out it was myself and my husband.

I had my kitchen area (2 tables, 1 chair, a large cooler (used for extra seating for dining guests), 1 storage container), and bedroom area (a double airbed, 2 storage containers, 1 chair, and my camp toilet).

Usually I have my kitchen area outside the tent, under a tarp or canopy, but I knew the first few days would be bad weather.

I didn't want to have to run outside to cook in wind and rain. My tent is 12 x 14 with a removable divider.

So to choose the right size consider the height, width, length, and usage, when buying a tent for camping.


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