Some of you may think, “Photography and camping do not go together.” But not only does my business take me around the country, but I LOVE spending time outside with nothing but a thin mesh layer between you and the sky. Add a furry friend or two, and I am in paradise! There are so many tents out there, so which one is the best tent for camping with your dog? Well, friend, I have researched you and narrowed it down to 7 tents.
Good tents can be expensive; a better-quality tent can cost over $600. And there are a lot of specialty tents out there. To narrow down the options, the following assumptions were made.
Assumption #1: You use the same tent for all your adventures, from canoe camping to backpacking and car camping. When I began this research, I never really thought about the sheer number of tents out there to explore. Picking out the best tent for you and your four-legged companion is not all that different than choosing a tent for yourself.
Assumption #2: You want a lightweight, durable, quick-to-set-up tent with lots of ventilation.
Assumption #3: This tent will be used for two adults and two pups. Depending on the size of your dog, this can mean a 2 or 3-person tent.
When choosing the best tent for camping with your dog, one must consider: how large are your pups? How much space do they take up? Are they diggers or nesters who scratch at everything? Do they sleep hot or cold?
Interior Space: Depending on the size of your dog and the number of dogs you have, this might be a significant factor, and it might help to think of your dogs as a third person. All the tents on my list are three-person, but most have two- and four-person options. There is no need to sacrifice your comfort and space just because you brought your dog. A factor in the comfort and interior space of your tent is the overall shape. Does the tent taper on the sides, or is it more dome-shaped? Storage can also be a factor when choosing a tent is the amount of storage it provides. You may want to bring in extra gear, such as backpack, clothing, and valuables. A larger tent can store more items than its smaller counterpart.
The number of doors: Okay, this sounds a little ridiculous, but when you need to get out quickly in the middle of the night. The last thing you will want to do is crawl over your gear, your partner, and a fur bomb or two. Do yourself and your family a favor, and get a tent with two doors unless your superpower is never having to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.
Material: When I first started researching tents, I thought I would find a super durable tent material that would be perfect for my four-legged friends. However, I quickly learned this was not the case. Some more durable materials are out there, but none pointed to the end as all material that would stop dog claws from puncturing the floor. We are out of luck until they start making tent floors out of Kevlar. But there are other ways to prevent your pup from damaging your tent.
Weight: As we all know, ounces equal pounds. It would be best if you decided how much weight is too much when it comes to tents. If you plan on using this piece of kit regularly, it might be worth investing in a lighter tent. However, the more lightweight the tent, the more you end up sacrificing in the durability of it. When researching tents, you may notice multiple weights listed; the package weight or maximum trail weight includes everything (tent, poles, stakes, fly, stuff sack, and footprint- if included). The minimum trail weight is just the tent, poles, and fly. Sometimes, they may list a fast fly weight, the fly and poles only, with no tent. Just remember, the best tent for camping with your dog may or may not be the most lightweight.
Ventilation: A well-ventilated tent can distinguish between a stuffy and miserable night or the perfect night sleeping under the stars. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is defiantly a time and a place for a tent with little ventilation. But we will not be summiting Everest any time soon and won’t need those tents.
Vestibules: Storage is essential to a good tent, especially exterior storage. Vestibules are the small spaces between the tent and the fly, typically at the doors. These areas are beneficial for keeping shoes and packs dry or can be used as a transition area (like a mud room for your tent). This is a great place to wipe your pups’ paws before entering the tent.
Seasonability: So, let’s be honest, only two types of tents are worth mentioning here. Seasonability is not the number of seasons in which a tent can be used; it is more like the quality of the tent while out in the elements. The most common type is the 3-season tent. These tend to be more versatile and can withstand most weather events that the typical user will experience. This tent will work great in Spring, Summer, and fall, but it might not be significant in a harsh winter snowstorm.
Free Standing: A free-standing tent is structurally supported using poles only, whereas a non-freestanding tent requires tension from the stakes to support the structure. Free-standing tents are much easier to set up and more comfortable to sleep in.
Price: Okay, so we are not millionaires, so money matters. We don’t want to blow all our budget on one piece of gear when upgrading our sleeping bag or buying a new water filter. It would help to decide how much you would spend on your new tent.
These criteria are based on a few assumptions:
- You are a couple who camps with dogs.
- You will be using this tent for multiple different sports, therefore need a versatile and durable tent.
- You have two dogs who (including you and your partner) can fit on a queen-sized mattress.
- And lastly, you are not looking for a luxury hotel room, but tent sized and in the wilderness.
Overall best tent for camping with your dog: Big Angus Copper Spur HV UL3
Best Budget: The North Face Stormbreak 3
Best lightweight tent: Big Angus Salt Creek SL3
Weight: 5lb 2oz
Floor area: 42 sq ft
Peak height: 47 in
Okay, so I LOVE Big Angus tents! The Salt Creek SL3 is one of their Super Lite, and it’s pretty great. This beauty has not one, not two, but three doors! The two side doors each have a vestibule, and the front door has an awning. The only downside is that you need trekking poles for the awning. The floor and fly are made from a polyester rip-stop with 1500mm waterproof polyurethane coating, and I would love to tell you how durable that is compared to a pup’s claw… but I would be lying. I have no clue. I just thought that sounded cool.
Weight: 3lb 14oz
Floor area: 41 sq ft
Peak height: 43in
Surprise! The Copper Spur 3-person is on the short list of tents. I know none of you saw this coming, but I just wanted to say that this is a fantastic tent. Part of the Ultra-Light series, this is Big Agnus’ most popular one at that. Big Agnus has spiced things up with the latest versions of this tent. In addition to the double door and they added two awning-style vestibules. Also, the Copper Spur comes in a long version for extra storage or MtnGLOTM, for some extra light. Granted, these updates will cost you in price point and weight, but depending on your style, they might be worth it! The floor is only made from silicone-treated proprietary ultralight double rip-stop mixed denier nylon with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating. There is a reason this is the best tent for camping with your dog.
And since there’s are so popular, there is a “Platinum” version that only weighs 3 pounds and 4 ounces but costs $700.
Weight: 6lb 6oz
Floor area: 44 sq ft
Peak height: 44in
If you like a pretty tent, then this one is PERFECT! The blue (or surge) is stunning and gives the added benefit of being easily seen in any environment. But besides the vibrant color, the Aurora hits all the marks, including the footprint! The floor material is 68D PU Polyester (1200 mm), which, who knows what that means. Reviews mention that the one-way zipper on the doors is a bit of a letdown, meaning that the door has to be all the way open or closed to get out; none of this half-open door bs anymore.
Weight: 6lb 10oz
Floor area: 40 sq ft
Peak height: 46 in
This is The North Face’s Classic, beautifully designed, and very reliable tent. However, it is also the lowest-ranking tent on the list. But don’t let that denture you; this tent still has everything. Lots of ventilation and adequate storage will keep you very happy. Want quick access to your tent? You won’t have to worry about rolling up the doors because you can easily stuff them into the adjacent mesh pockets! The only negatives regarding this tent are the weight and the four-pole design, which can lead to a more complicated setup than other tents on this list. However, the website does claim it as an easy pitch design.
Packaged weight: 6lbs 15oz
Floor area: 40 sq ft
Peak height: 47 in
This might be the tent for you if you are a casual camper. Though it’s a little heavy, this tent provides ample interior room with tapered walls. This tent also has plenty of internal storage for small gear such as headlamps, cell phones, and leashes. A major plus with this tent is they include the footprint! I don’t understand why everyone else makes you buy them separately since a footprint or tarp helps the longevity of your investment. This tent is super easy to set up with color-coded, easy pitch hooks, poles, and fly!
Packaged weight: 6lbs 6oz
Floor area: 50.1 sq. ft.
Peak height: 46 in
There is a reason you see this tent everywhere; REI tents are unique, not only because they offer quality products, but they do so at a fraction of the price. REI has made a great tent with the Half Dome that is easy to set up, with loads of ventilation and ample storage.
Packaged weight: 7lbs 10oz
Floor area: 49.5 sq. ft.
Peak height: 51 in.
One unique feature of this tent is the pole design, which offers plenty of headroom and interior space, so if you are tall like me, you will love this tent. Another feature worth mentioning with this tent is that it comes with a gear loft for extra storage, which is right up your alley if you love organization and hate clutter.
Basically, you cannot go wrong with any tent you choose for your next camping adventure. But these are probably the best tent for camping with your dog.
If you are interested in more adventures of an ex-Park Ranger, find them here!