Taking three kids (ages 4, 6, and 8) and a puppy camping is a rollicking adventure on its own. Add a fast-approaching thunderstorm and a fresh-out-of-the-sack tent, and our executive editor and his wife were facing camp catastrophe. "We arrived at our site at the same moment as the first lightning-and-thunder salvo," he said. "Instead of dressing the kids for rain, we focused on setting up the tent. We were inside within five minutes."
Credit the intuitive pole structure and easy-to-thread continuous sleeves. The 60-inch center height allowed kids to stand, and his family deemed the four-person tent "plenty big" for the whole crew, including dog. Nine storage pockets keep clutter subdued. The vestibule holds several packs, but change it out for the 57-square-foot Garage Vestibule ($140; 3 lbs. 9 oz.) for front-porch lounging. Backcountry cred? It handled 50 mph gusts (with additional guylines) and buckets of rain during 10 days in Alaska, and our crew up there called the space "palatial" for three six-foot-sixers.
Floor space 63 sq. ft.
Vestibule 1 (17 sq. ft.)
Weight 10 lbs. 5 oz.
The REI Kingdom 6 has 83 square feet of floor space, a 29-square-foot vestibule, and dividers to create two rooms. And the price is great. $299; 16 lbs. 8 oz.; rei.com.