12 Best 12 Person Tents of 2020

12 person tent

Camping is a great way to enjoy a vacation without having to travel too far from home. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t pack up your tent and travel cross-country; camping is also an ideal way to go further afield.

Tents for backpacking are typically small and compact, but what if you want more space, or your group consists of more than just a couple of people? Does that mean you need to take several tents?

With the best 12 person tents, you can fit you, your family, your friends, and all your gear into one shelter. This makes for a much more comfortable, sociable camping trip. With space to spread out, you won’t feel claustrophobic, and you’ll also have somewhere undercover to hang out if the weather unexpectedly turns bad.

With so many big tents available, it can be hard to know which one to choose so, for this review, we’ve tried and tested the 12 best 12 person tents so you can buy with confidence.

Best 12 Person Tents

$324.99
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$529.95
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$319.99
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$550.00
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3 new from $539.00
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$263.00
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$379.00
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$790.00
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$354.95
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47 new from $353.98
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$349.99
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$909.99
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Last updated on November 24, 2020 9:59 pm

1. CORE 12-Person

CORE 12 Person

$324.99  in stock
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Features

  • SPACIOUS CABIN: 16 feet x 11 feet with 86 inch center height; sleeps up to 12 people, fits four queen size air mattresses.
  • COMFORTABLE: The water repellent rainfly is removable in warmer weather to expose the mesh ceiling for panoramic views for star gazing on clear summer nights. Also, the advanced venting system uses the adjustable air intake vent designed to draw in cool air from the ground while the mesh ceiling allows hot air to escape keeping you comfortable all season.
  • MULTI - ROOM OPTIONS: Enter from the front T-Door or back D-Door. Attach the included room divider to create a separate living and sleeping spaces. Make one side or the other your private sleeping space (5.5' x 11') and use the rest of the space for gear organization (10.5' x 11').
  • WHAT'S IN THE BAG: Tent, rainfly, tent poles, awning pole, room divider, tent stakes, and carry bag
  • 1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: We strive for total satisfaction with all of our products.

If you are looking for a tent that feels more like a home, this cabin tent would be a good choice. It’s got all the space and headroom needed to comfortably sleep 12 people, and the multiple room options mean it also provides plenty of privacy.

Key Features

  • 16’ x 11’ x 86”
  • Weighs 41 lbs.
  • Made from 68D polyester
  • Fits four queen-size air mattresses
  • Removable waterproof rainfly
  • Two-door entry
  • Removable room dividers
  • Mesh windows and roof for better ventilation and airflow

This big tent is ideal for large groups and extended families. Smaller parties will enjoy it too as the rooms can be used for different purposes, such as sleeping, kitchen, and kids’ playroom. While it is a little high-sided for strong winds, it’s the ideal fair-weather tent.

Pros

  • Very spacious
  • Plenty of headroom
  • Decent weatherproofing
  • Easy to pitch
  • Configurable rooms
  • Rainfly can be removed in warm weather for temperature control

Cons

  • Too high-sided for strong winds

This big cabin tent makes camping a lot more comfortable. The separate rooms are a nice option if you’re camping with friends or family who want some extra privacy. It will not withstand high winds, but only low-profile mountain tents tend to do that anyway. This is a great family tent!

2. NTK Super 

NTK Super

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Features

  • THE ULTIMATE FAMILY CAMPING EXPERIENCE! SUPER SPACIOUS 11 to 12 Person (adult/kids) tent, Detachable Room Divider, 2 Doors, 3 Windows Tent Designed for Easy Assembly with color coded poles. Super 6.9 FT height for maximum comfort.
  • FULL COVERAGE RAINFLY: Double layer 190T polyester laminated with polyurethane 2500 mm water column, partially aluminium, heat-welded PU seam sealed and UV protection, Large covered mesh vents provide even more ventilation. Inner tent: Large D-style doors with mosquito mesh for great views and ventilation. Roomy utility pockets and gear loft for gear storage. Poles included for extended canopy.
  • FRAME: 100% virgin NANO-FLEX shock corded fiber glass rods with improved diameter and double gold plated ferrules. Aluminium Pin-and-ring system for easy and quick setup.
  • MOSQUITO MESH: Inner tent fully breathable with generous Ultra-thin polyester NO-SEE-UM style mesh keeps you safe from smallest insects and mosquitos while offering some privacy from side view (when not using the rainfly).
  • FLOOR MATERIAL AND DESIGN: Heavy duty anti-fungus seamless polyethylene with inner silver coated layer keeps you dry and protected enhanced by the unique element barrier bathtub-style construction (you won't wake up in a puddle!). Security: Meets CPAI-84 flammability requirements. Heavy duty carry bag with compression straps and ID label to personalize your tent.

This large tent is durable and easy to pitch, even if you only have two adults to do the work! With just two rooms, it doesn’t offer a whole lot of privacy, but there is certainly plenty of space so all your campers will be comfortable.

Key Features

  • 9’ x 10.2’ x 6.9’
  • Weighs 42 lbs.
  • PU coated nylon flysheet with 2500mm hydrostatic head
  • Bathtub groundsheet for increased weatherproofing
  • Inner mosquito mesh
  • Two doors
  • Three mesh windows
  • Removable room divider

The semi-tunnel design, high hydrostatic head rating, and bathtub groundsheet mean that this tent is very wind and weatherproof. It’s not quite a four-season tent, but it should provide plenty of comfort and protection for spring, summer, and autumn.

Pros

  • Very open floor area
  • Good ventilation
  • Suitable for most mild to moderate weather
  • Lots of added features including door pockets, overhead hanging points, and roll-up mesh windows

Cons

  • Only two rooms
  • Fiberglass poles are prone to breaking

The best quality tents have aluminum poles as they flex without breaking and are very strong. This tent has fiberglass poles that are prone to cracking and even shattering. However, aluminum is more expensive, and this is reflected in the price.

3. CORE Instant Cabin Tent

CORE Instant

$319.99  in stock
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Features

  • Instant 2 minute Setup; Sleeps 12 people; Fits 3 queen air mattresses; Center Height: 80"

Big tents can often be hard to pitch. After all, there are a whole lot of poles and yards of material to manage. This 12-person instant cabin tent goes up in minutes and not hours and can even be pitched by one person working alone. Spacious and easy to use; what’s not to love?!

Key Features

  • 18’ x 10’ x 80”
  • Made from 68D polyester with a 600mm hydrostatic head
  • 125-gram polyethylene floor
  • Removable rainfly
  • Taped/glued seams
  • Fits three queen-sized airbeds
  • Two configurable room dividers to make three rooms
  • Multiple vents for increased circulation

With its fitted, telescopic poles, this tent pitches in two minutes or less – an instant tent! The 600mm hydrostatic head rating means this tent is not the most waterproof on review, but it should keep you and your camping crew dry in all but the heaviest, most sustained downpour.

Pros

  • Good size
  • Configurable rooms
  • Easy to put up
  • Plenty of headroom
  • Strong, stainless steel poles and stakes

Cons

  • Not the most waterproof tent on review

This is a decent tent for spring and summer use. It’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to waste time pitching their tent but still wants plenty of space and comfort. It’s a spacious, well-made tent, but it is not suitable for severe weather camping.

4. Outbound Dome Tent

Outbound Dome

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Features

  • FIBERGLASS “EASY UP” TECHNOLOGY: Our Outbound tent features a strong durable fiberglass frame system that allows for quick super-fast setups
  • ROOMY 8-PERSON TENT: This backpacking tent is spacious featuring a D-Shaped door with two built in zip windows complete with a mesh wall for excellent ventilation. Includes 2 interior storage pockets for personal items
  • WEATHER RESISTANT: Heavy duty 600 mm coated rain fly with front canopy provides water and weather protection. Both the welded leak proof seams and polyester bathtub floor are built-in to keep water out of your tent
  • DURABLE, LIGHTWEIGHT: Made from durable fiber glass that is ultra lightweight. Weighing only 21 lbs and comes with a zippered duffle bag for extremely easy carrying and storing
  • DIMENSIONS: 20 feet x 9 feet x 6’6” feet and includes attached rainfly, tent stakes, guy lines and all assembly instructions

Dome tents are strong and made to withstand strong winds. But, their curved sides mean they are also spacious and gave plenty of headroom. This easy pitch 12-person tent is weatherproof and durable, as well as being spacious and comfortable.

Key Features

  • 20’ x 9’ x 6’6”
  • Weighs 21 lbs.
  • 600mm hydrostatic head 68D poly-taffeta rainfly
  • Bathtub groundsheet
  • Glued and welded seams
  • Large D-shaped door and twin windows
  • Mesh panels and windows for warm-weather ventilation

This three-season tent weighs about 20 pounds, which is half the weight of many of the other tends on review. It’s not light enough for backpacking, but it’s still nice to know that you’ll have no problem carrying this tent from your car or boat to your pitching site.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to pitch
  • Good weatherproofing
  • Durable and strong materials
  • Suitable for three-season use (spring, summer, and early autumn)

Cons

  • Fiberglass poles
  • No internal partitions

This tent is one large space and is not divided into separate areas. That means no privacy and no way to separate the sleeping area from the cooking area. But, if that’s not an issue, this spacious tent is a good choice and is especially good for campers who want to head out even if the weather is sketchy.

5. Bushnell Shield Series 

Bushnell

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Features

  • INSTANT TWO-MINUTE SETUP TECHNOLOGY: Poles come pre-attached to the tent for quick assembly - unfold and extend leg poles until they click into position.
  • HEAT SHIELD TECHNOLOGY: Features a special reflective coating on the underside of the rainfly which blocks the sun's UV rays keeping the tent darker and noticeably cooler.
  • 2 A/C PORTS/GROUND VENTS: This 18ft x 11ft floor plan and 80in center height tent includes A/C vent (A/C not included)
  • DURABLE: Durable 150 denier fabric is tougher than the average tent, built to handle wear and tear
  • ACCESSORIES: 2 Removable room dividers, reflective piping and guylines; external flashlight pocket; internal wall hanging organizer and pockets; aluminum stakes; expandable carry bag.

Taking just 60 seconds to pitch, this is the fastest instant tent on review. It’s a three-season model designed to keep you cool through the summer but warm when it’s cooler. There are detachable room dividers so you can configure the inside to suit your group or family’s needs.

Key Features

  • 18’ x 11’ x 80”
  • Heatshield material to keep the tent cool in summer
  • Three-room configuration options
  • One-minute setup
  • Water repellent fabric
  • Extra feature includes storage pockets, reflective guylines, and large mesh windows for better ventilation

This tent is designed to keep you comfortable, whatever the temperature outside may be. It’s not the sturdiest tent, so it may not stand up to high winds, but for fair-weather camping, and if you need plenty of space, it’s a good option.

Pros

  • Easy and fast to pitch
  • Spacious
  • Very comfortable
  • Lots of gear organizer pockets

Cons

  • Not the most waterproof tent

There is no information on this tent’s hydrostatic head rating, and some reviewers have reported leaks. It’s described by the manufacturer as “water repellent,” which is a little vague. This all suggests that this tent is not suitable for very wet weather, but should be fine in hot and cold environments.

6. Ozark Trail

Ozark Trail

$550.00  in stock
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Features

  • Traditional all steel cabin design with single gable entrance Two strings of LED lights hang conveniently inside tent (batteries not included)
  • Includes two 2’ deep closets with large mesh hanging organizer and gear hanger with four carabiners
  • Two hanging corner organizers, two integrated mesh pockets, and a tablet pocket offer plenty of storage options Two removable room dividers create separate living spaces for larger groups
  • One room divider with silver coated fabric can be used as a movie screen Includes mud mat, E-Port, and rolling storage duffel for additional convenience
  • 20'Lx9'Wx84"H , Material 190T Polyester, PU1200mm, Fiberglass, Steel

If you want to have a home from home in nature, but without sacrificing comfort, this could be the tent you need. It’s not just spacious; it also looks and feels like a real cabin. In fact, with this tent, you may forget you are camping at all!

Key Features

  • 20’ x 9’ x 84”
  • Weighs 65lbs.
  • Made from 1200mm hydrostatic head 190T polyester
  • Two configurable room dividers
  • Twin recessed closets and two corner gear organizers
  • Large single gable entrance
  • Removable rain fly for increased warm weather ventilation
  • Mud porch

This cabin tent is more cabin than tent. It even looks a lot like a cabin! It’s plenty big enough for 12 people, although all those people may need to pitch in when setting this tent up! It’s a great three-season tent that really will feel like a second home.

Pros

  • Very spacious
  • Excellent weatherproofing
  • Built-in storage areas
  • Lots of headroom
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Quite tricky to pitch – definitely needs two adults at least

This tent will probably take 30 minutes or so to pitch and probably longer until you are a bit more practiced. But, once it’s up, this substantial shelter will be a pleasure to spend time in. It’s big, sturdy, and comfortable and should appeal even to people who don’t generally like camping.

7. Ozark Instant Cabin Tent

Ozark Instant

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Features

Part NumberWMT-181080L

Ozark Trail makes some of the biggest and best cabin-style tents around. But, on the downside, these tents can be tricky to pitch. This model is different and pitches in seconds and not hours! Great for users who want to spend less time working and more time enjoying the great outdoors.

Key Features

  • 18’ x 10’ x 80”
  • 3-room layout with two configurable dividers
  • Taped and welded seams
  • Built-in LED USB lighting
  • Two doors and nine windows for access and ventilation
  • Removable flysheet for even better warm-weather ventilation
  • Built-in mud mat
  • Extendable doorway rain porch/sunshade
  • Pre-attached poles for instant set up

It’s unclear what this tent is made from or what the hydrostatic head is, so it’s impossible to say how it will stand up to inclement weather. That means it’s probably a fair-weather tent suitable for late spring through to early autumn use and not up to heavy rains. That said, its spaciousness and ease of pitching make it an excellent option for warm-weather camping.

Pros

  • Pitches in two minutes
  • Very roomy
  • Lots of ventilation
  • Easy to configure rooms

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy rains or strong winds – fair-weather camping only

This is a nice tent for anyone who only wants to head out when the sun is shining. It’s easy to pitch, goes up in seconds, and has lots of space. But, if you want to stay dry when the heavens open, this may not be the tent for you.

8. Ozark Trail 12-Person 

Ozark Trail 12

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Features

  • Sets up in under 2 minutes Sleeps 12 No assembly required: Poles pre-attached to tent Fits 3 queen-sized airbeds
  • Measures: 20' x 18' Construction: polyester and steel Center height: 76"
  • 3-room tent 2 room dividers included Fully taped factory-sealed seams provide dry zone camping with leak protection 10 fully closable windows
  • 10 fully closable windows Features 3 entry doors: 1 for each room Screen room can be used as 3rd bedroom or bug-free front porch Electrical cord access
  • Rainfly included Carry bag included 17 Tent stakes included, made of steel 6 gear organizer pockets Multiple ground vents

A lot of tents open up straight into the great outdoors. That means it’s all too easy for bugs to fly in whenever you open the door. This tent from Ozark Trail has a screened-in porch and door, so you can use it to keep those bugs out.

Key Features

  • 20’ x 18’ x 76”
  • Weighs 57 lbs.
  • Three-room design
  • Three entry doors – one for each room
  • 10 windows for increased ventilation
  • Removable rainfly for even better airflow
  • Glued and taped seals
  • Screened-in porch doubles as a small room for child/dog/gear storage
  • Ports for electrical outlets

The most common comment for reviews of this tent is that it’s HUGE! The screened-in porch/room means it’s even bigger than a regular 12-person cabin tent. If you want a really spacious tent and would enjoy having some extra privacy, this could be the tent you want.

Pros

  • Pitches in minutes
  • Very roomy
  • Extra room/porch is very versatile
  • Designed for comfort

Cons

  • Not the most weatherproof tent on review

With no information available on weatherproofing and hydrostatic head rating, it’s fair to assume that this is a summer tent that isn’t overly waterproof. It’ll probably be okay in a light shower but won’t withstand a torrential downpour. That said, it’s a terrific easy-pitch tent for fair-weather camping.

9. CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent

CORE 12 Person

$790.00  in stock
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Features

  • Instant 2 minute Setup; Sleeps 12 people; Fits 3 queen air mattresses; Center Height: 80"
  • CORE H20 Block Technology and adjustable ground vent
  • Features two room dividers to create a three room tent; wall storage pockets and gear loft keep items neat and off the tent floor
  • Electrical cord access port (port is fully closable when not in use)
  • Includes tent, rainfly, gear loft, two room dividers, tent stakes, and carry bag

Even small tents can be tricky to pitch when you are on your own. That work multiplies as your tent gets bigger, and 12-person tents are notoriously hard to set up. This 12-person tent by CORE bucks this trend and can be up and ready in two minutes or less!

Key Features

  • 18’ x 10’ x 80”
  • Made from 600mm hydrostatic head 68 denier polyester
  • Stitched and taped seams
  • 125-gram polyethylene flooring
  • Removable rainfly for increased warm-weather ventilation
  • Built-in room dividers to create three separate spaces
  • Multiple windows and floor vents for increased air circulation
  • Two doors, one with a sun/rain porch
  • Available in two colors

This tent takes no more than two minutes to pitch, and while one person could do it, the job will go more smoothly with two. Once it’s up, this tent is very roomy and surprisingly weatherproof. It’s definitely wind and waterproof enough for early spring and late autumn use.

Pros

  • Very easy to pitch
  • Strong and stable
  • Great ventilation
  • Roomy
  • Easy to configure rooms
  • 12-month warranty

Cons

  • Not certified flame or fireproof

If you are looking for an easy to pitch tent that’s not just big enough for 12 people but will hold 12 people comfortably, this could be the one you want. The configurable rooms mean it’s ideal for families and friends who don’t like to share one big sleeping area. All in all, this is an excellent three-season tent.

10. Ozark 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent

Ozark 3 Room

$354.95  in stock
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Features

  • 16' x 16' instant cabin tent
  • Sleeps 12
  • Fits 3 queen airbeds
  • Sets up in under 2 minutes
  • 7 fully closeable windows

This tent from Ozark Trail is unusual in that, instead of being tunnel-shaped or straight, it’s L-shaped. This design doesn’t offer any particular advantages for weather protection, stability, or strength, but does create a nice outside enclosed area, which is ideal for cooking and social gatherings.

Key Features

  • 16’ x 16’ x 6’
  • Weight 61 lbs.
  • Pre-attached poles for instant set up
  • Two internal dividers to create three rooms
  • Central awning to create a covered area for cooking or socializing
  • Low-level vents and seven mesh windows for increased ventilation
  • Two doors
  • Rainfly can be removed in warm weather for increased ventilation

This is a great family tent. The central awning joins the L-shape’s two sides to create a large covered area for shelter from rain or sun. This means your party can congregate outside in a common area instead of staying in the tent. With its pre-attached poles, this tent is very easy to put up.

Pros

  • Unique design
  • Easy to pitch
  • Useful extended outdoor living area
  • Well ventilated – ideal for summer use

Cons

  • Not made to withstand severe weather
  • The central shade will fill up with water if it rains as there is no central pole.

This tent is NOT suitable for high winds or heavy rains. The material itself is not sufficiently waterproofed, and the tent is not that sturdy. But, for camping in mild to warm and mostly dry weather, especially if you want to make more use of the dedicated outdoor area, this L-shaped tent is a good choice.

11. Core Two Room 

Core Two Room

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Features

  • INSTANT SETUP: A unique ten-leg pole design that setups in 2 minutes or less! The poles are pre-attached to the tent- just unpack, unfold, lift legs into position and extend legs until they click into place.
  • COMFORTABLE: The water repellent rainfly is removable in warmer weather to expose the mesh ceiling for panoramic views for star gazing on clear summer nights. Also, the advanced venting system uses the adjustable air intake vent designed to draw in cool air from the ground while the mesh ceiling allows hot air to escape keeping you comfortable all season.
  • TWO ENTRYWAY AND ROOM OPTIONS: Enter from the full panel side D-Door or from the front T-Door which features an attachable center room divider which gives you freedom to create multiple separate living and sleeping spaces.
  • WHAT'S IN THE BAG: Tent, rainfly, awning poles, room divider, tent stakes, and carry bag
  • 1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY: We strive for total satisfaction with all of our products.

A lot of tents are described as big enough for 12 people, but with some, that means four adults and six kids. They’re not as big as they sound! Add some equipment, cots, or air mattresses, and even a 12-person tent can soon feel very crowded. This tent from Core is a genuine 12-birth, and that means it’ll comfortably hold 12 adults, plus a reasonable amount of gear, too.

Key Features

  • 18’ x 10’ x 80”
  • Made from durable 68D polyester with 600mm hydrostatic head rating
  • 125-gram polyethylene floor
  • Weighs 40lbs
  • Pitches in two minutes or less
  • Welded and taped seams
  • Removable rainfly for increased ventilation or stargazing
  • Two internal walls that can be opened or closed to create one, two, or three rooms
  • Large side and end doors for easy access
  • Wall vents for even better air circulation
  • 1-year limited warranty

With all those doors, each room can be accessed separately, making it easier to enter or leave this tent without disturbing your fellow campers. The high hydrostatic head rating means this tent can deal with even heavy rain, making it ideal for three-season use.

Pros

  • Very easy to pitch
  • A high degree of weatherproofing
  • Easy ingress and exit
  • Excellent ventilation
  • Not too heavy

Cons

  • No interior hanging points or gear pockets/organizers

This easy to pitch tent is roomy and well-made. With plenty of doors and windows, it’s light and airy and easy to enter and leave. It’s really a spring and summer tent but, in the right conditions, could also be used later in the year. This is a tent for the whole family to enjoy.

12. TETON Sports

TETON Sports

$909.99  in stock
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as of November 24, 2020 9:59 pm

Features

  • EASIER SET UP: Bell tent sets up easily with two pole assembly; Oversized door makes loading and unloading your gear quick and easy; Carbon steel stakes drive through the roughest camping terrain
  • WATERPROOF AND BREATHABLE: Strong treated cotton canvas fibers repel water and provide breathable comfort to give you the best blend of protection and airflow
  • HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Comfortable all-season tent with extra-wide door and windows; durable, strong, long lasting for years of family memories; 12'x12' tent is 113 square feet; 8 - 12 person tent
  • 2-IN-1 TENT OR CANOPY: Protection from the elements as a tent or canopy; Perfect for family reunions, festivals, weddings, camping, and anytime you need to get out of the sun on those hot summer days
  • TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING product support team if you have any questions or concerns; YOU CAN COUNT ON US to get you taken care of and back OUTDOORS with TETON Sports

Bell tents look a lot like teepees. This is a traditional tent design that has advantages and drawbacks. On the downside, the steeply sloping roof limits headroom, but those same sides help the rain roll off more efficiently, increasing weatherproofing. If you are looking for a bell tent, this one from TETON Sports is an excellent choice.

Key Features

  • 16’ x 16’ x 113”
  • Made from all-weather canvas
  • Breathable and waterproof
  • Double-stitched and taped seams
  • Large front doorway
  • Welded, heavy-duty flooring
  • The sides roll up for increased ventilation and to turn the tent into a canopy
  • Single central pole design

The sides of this tent are 24,” and the height of the doorway is 4’ 6.” While the middle of the tent is 9 ½ feet high, a lot of this tent is relatively low and only tall enough to sit or lie down in. This tent will definitely hold 12 people, but only if they are all sleeping. This is not a good tent for just “hanging out” in.

Pros

  • Easy to pitch
  • Very strong and waterproof
  • Large floor area
  • Excellent airflow/ventilation
  • A great-looking tent

Cons

  • Away from the central poles, this ceiling of this tent is very low
  • Most people will need to kneel or crouch to pass through the door

This is an awesome-looking tent – but it’s really made for sleeping in and not socializing or eating. You can only stand if you are near the central pole, and that limits its functionality. Bell tents are not as common or popular as they once were, and while this tent is a classic design, it may not be as functional or as easy to use as a dome and tunnel tent.

Key Information

Consider the following essential information before buying your 12-person tent.

Capacitywhite tent early morning in the mountains

Just because a tent is rated for 12 people doesn’t mean it will fit 12 people, so it always pays to look at the square footage of the tent you are thinking about buying. Any extra gear you put in your tent will eat into the available space, as well as the size of your air mattresses or cots.

If in doubt, always underestimate capacity, and assume that a 12-birth tent will comfortably house 8-10 people. A 12-person tent WILL hold 12 people (and maybe even more), but it will be very cramped. That’s okay for sleeping but not so good for daytime use.

Weight

two old scales outside with surface rustWeight can vary enormously from one model and make to the next. Some 12-person tents weigh around 25 lbs. while others are as heavy as 70 lbs. In truth, weight isn’t really much of an issue with 12-person tents because they are not made for backpacking.

At most, you’ll need to carry your tent from your car or boat to your campsite. And, if you are camping with friends, you won’t have to carry it on your own anyway!

But, if you do anticipate having to carry your tent more than a few dozen yards, lighter will obviously be better.

Fabric

lots of tents on a hillMost tents are made from various strengths of polyester, the strength of which is denoted in denier. 68-denier is pretty strong and should withstand moderate to heavy winds without ripping. 40D and below makes for a lighter tent, but it may not be strong enough if the weather turns bad.

A few tents are made from canvas, which must be treated and retreated to keep the water out. However, canvas is very strong, should last many years, and is breathable too. But, it’s usually a lot heavier than even the most substantial polyester.

Groundsheets are typically made of polyethylene or PVC for strength and waterproofness. Even then, they can be punctured, so smart campers often lay an added groundsheet, called a footprint, and set it under their tent for added protection.

Weather resistance and sealing

water droplets on fabricIn tents, weather resistance means being strong enough to withstand winds and rain. Strong fabric, poles, and the shape of the tent will determine how well it deals with the wind, while hydrostatic head refers to waterproofness.

Hydrostatic head is measured in millimeters and is the amount of water per hour a tent can withstand before leaking. 600 mm or higher is a good rating to look for if you expect to be out in your tent in the rain. If a tent is listed as water-resistant, with no hydrostatic head rating, it’ll probably leak in anything other than a short, light shower.

Tents also have seams, and those seams need to be sealed to keep out the water. Seams are usually glued or stitched and may also be welded and taped. The more of these methods used, the more waterproof the seams will be. If you care about keeping rainwater out, look for seams that are stitched AND taped or welded and glued. Two sealing methods are always better than one.

Climate and seasons

tent at sunset with lens flareTents are typically rated in seasons. The more seasons, the better your tent be at protecting you from bad weather. One season tents are designed for summer use only – warm weather and very little rain. Two season tents are suitable for spring and summer use. They’re a bit more weatherproof than one season tents but won’t cope well with any “real” weather.

Three season tents are for spring, summer, and autumn use. With a decent level of waterproofing and strong enough to cope with moderate winds, these are good allrounders that are ideal for most campers.

Four season tents can be used in the winter and should be able to withstand snow, ice, heavy rain, and high winds. Most four-season tents are backpacking and mountaineering tents, although bigger base camp tents may also carry a four-season rating.

Assembly

tent poles with no tent shaped as a teepeeTents are held up with a framework of poles. Depending on the design, this could be an internal or external frame. Internal frames support the tent from within, whereas tents with an outer frame are clipped to and hang down from the poles. Both options work perfectly well.

Tents also often have an inner and outer skin. The inner tent is usually thin and light, while the outer layer is waterproof.

All these components come together to form your shelter, and the tent itself is held in place with stakes and ropes called guylines.

Tents are assembled (pitched) differently depending on the design, and some are definitely easier than others. Large 12-person tents can be tricky to pitch simply because there is so much material to manage. However, even a complicated tent should take no more than 30 minutes to pitch.

If the idea of pitching a tent worries you, the good news is there are instant pitch tents that have pre-fitted poles and guylines, so they go up in minutes. On the downside, most instant pitch tents are not made for bad-weather camping, as this feature is often a bit of a novelty.

Awnings and storage areas

cooking dinner in the dark under a tent awningIf there are six of you in your 12-person tent, you should have all the space you need to live, sleep, eat, and store your gear. But, if your tent is full of people, you may find yourself running short of space. Some tents have built-in gear organizers in the form of hanging nets and mesh pockets. Others do not have these features.

Some tents have extended awnings that act as extra sun and rain shelters, effectively extending the square footage of your tent. This is a good area for cooking and eating. You can often add a supplementary awning to your tent by using a tarp.

Either way, make sure your tent is big enough for you and your party and their gear too.

Pumps or poles?

tent awning at night lit up by a torchMost tents have fiberglass or aluminum poles. But some tents have inflatable beams (I-beams) to hold them up instead. On the plus side, I-beam tents are easy to pitch as you just need to pump them up. They’re light and spacious too.

But, on the downside, inflatable tents are usually more expensive, and you’ll probably need an electric pump to inflate them in a reasonable time. Plus, if you get a puncture or one of the valves fails, your tent will quickly deflate and collapse.

To that end, poles are probably more reliable than I-beams, but the technology is improving, and it probably won’t be long before inflatable tents are used more widely.

Comfort

hammock and tent in the woodsCamping is no fun at all if you are uncomfortable. Things that affect comfort include:

  • Temperature
  • Ventilation
  • Water resistance
  • Condensation
  • Privacy
  • The ability to use air mattresses/camping cots

Some of these factors are affected by the design of the tent (ventilation, water resistance), while others are more to do with the size of the tent (being able to use air mattresses).

Pay attention to the features on offer to determine if your tent will be comfortable. Packing a tent with too much gear and too many people is a good way to make everyone uncomfortable, so make sure your tent is big enough for all of your camping gang.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to go camping with 11 other people or go with fewer people and have lots of living and gear space, a 12 person tent could be just what you need for an enjoyable trip.

Big tents feel a lot like living in a cabin, and you’ll even have space for an air mattress or a camp cot so you can sleep in comfort. That’s never an option in smaller hiking and backpacking tents.

A 12 person tent also gives you the option of setting up indoor dining, kids play, or lounge area. Again, good luck doing that with a smaller tent.

But, big 12-berth tents can be tricky to pitch, take up a lot of space, are usually heavy, and aren’t the best at dealing with inclement weather. Some might look like cabins, but they aren’t as sturdy. Some are barely waterproof.

That said, whatever your camping style is, you’ll find a 12 person tent that suits your needs. From easy-pitch summer only tents to more robust three-season tents, we’ve found the best and reviewed them for you.

Think about what you want from a tent (space, capacity, price, ease of pitching, seasons, etc.) and then find the one that matches your specifications. Once you’ve got the perfect 12 person tent, all that’s left for you to do is plan your trip and get out and enjoy living under canvas!

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