When you're camping across the UK and abroad, it's important that you get the best-sized tent for yourself and whoever will be joining you to ensure the best trip without any hiccups.
Three-person tents are indeed made for three people, but they are very popular options amongst pairs who want a more spacious tent to store equipment that a two-person tent can struggle to provide. This is particularly useful on longer hikes.
There's a lot to think about when you're researching your tent. So we've included what things ought to be on your mind.
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What to look for in a three-person tent
Size: Naturally, if it's a lightweight trekking tent you want then you will be looking at compact three-person tents. Though for the best space-to-weight ratio, you should consider low-lying tunnel tents. This shape can offer plenty of space without generating much bulk. If it's a general camping tent you're after, then there are a range of options in terms of size, from Vango's modest Beta 350XL to Zempire's cavernous three-person mansion.
Weight and packed size: For trekkers, this is key and part of the reason three-person tents are very popular. They can give that bit of extra room without adding too much weight or girth to the packed size. Consider your rucksack size and volume and be sure to check dimensions of a tent's packed size before committing to it. With camping tents consider how much space you have in your car.
Shape: Dome tents and geodesic tents are the most stable shapes and best for dealing with stroppy weather. Tripod and backpacking shapes are lighter than dome and geodesic tents but aren't so weather resistance, though waterproofing is usually still very good. Tunnel tents are popular for hiking and camping alike. They can be compact and lightweight or large and commodious, depending on the design. They aren't as good in a storm as dome or geodesic tents but they are usually still pretty good.
Material: Most tents these days use nylon and polyester because these materials offer excellent weather resistance and durability while remaining lightweight and inexpensive. Some larger camping tents may use cotton, polycotton, or canvas because these materials insulate better, are more breathable, quieter, and very durable. Though, like leather boots, tents using these materials usually need breaking in to weather-proof the fabric. They're also much heavier than the synthetic fabrics.
Features: Things such as the number of doors and size of vestibules are important because these heavily influence a tent's liveability. Two opposing doors makes entering and exiting for multiple people much easier while multiple or generous vestibules helps cater for gear and make things more comfortable in the weather sucks. Are there gear pockets? How many pegs come with it? Do the zips have storm flaps? Think about your intentions for the tent and if it matches.
Read our tent guides to learn everything you need to know:
The best three-person tents
Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III
Verdict: Light, durable, very versatile. It's just a little cramped for three.
It’s hard to find a tent that covers all bases but the Skyrocket III gives it a pretty decent crack. It’s durable and weather resistant, yet light and compact. Furthermore, the Skyrocket III is completely PFC-free. Being free-standing, you can still pitch it on hard ground. It’s quite an impressive piece of kit.
The Skyrocket III is a great middle ground in terms of the weather it can handle. Bar winter treks, this tent can cope with anything. It’s waterproofing for the fly and groundsheet is excellent, the 9mm aluminium poles are very strong, and there are 12 pegs and four guy lines for extra strength.
Inside, there are half a dozen pockets for your precious kit and anything else should be able to fit inside the two modest vestibules. The only niggle with this tent is the bedroom width. It’s only 175cm across, so while it can cater for three, it is a snug night you’re going to have.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 170 x 225 x 115cm | Peak height 95cm | Packed size 55 x 20cm | Weight 3.1kg | Doors 1 | Porches 1 | Style Freestanding dome | Poles 9mm DAC aluminium alloy | Fly 75D polyester fly (4000mm HH) | Groundsheet 70D Hydrofilm nylon groundsheet (5000mm HH) | Inner 68D polyester
• Proper 3-season tent
• Light and compact
• PFC-free, free-standing
• Sleeping space is snug for three people
Robens Pioneer 3EX
Verdict: Offers a lot of space yet doesn't demand extra weight in return. It's perfect for those longer treks and hikes
Long, low tunnel tents are the best shape for longer treks and hikes because they offer the best space to weight ratio because the steep walls free up floor space and the simple pole arrangement keep the weight down. Robens’ Pioneer 3EX offers almost four metres of internal space while only weighing in at just over three kilograms and packing down into a smaller pack than the Jack Wolfskin Skyrocket III.
Tunnel tents aren’t the most weather-resistant shape but the Pioneer 3EX combats this by being low and using strong 8.5mm aluminium alloy poles, aided by more than half a dozen guy ropes. It’s also undergone Roben’s Wind Test, where its average wind speed where structural instability began to occur was at over 85mph.
While the size is not necessary for everyone, for those who do want the extra space, the Pioneer 3EX is a brilliant tent.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 220/380 x 190 x 95cm | Peak height 110cm | Packed size 44 x 17 cm | Weight 3.2kg | Doors 2 | Porches 1 | Style Non-freestanding tunnel | Poles 8.5mm aluminium alloy | Fly 75D HydroTex polyester fly (3000mm HH) | Groundsheet 75D Taffeta polyester groundsheet (6000mm HH) | Inner 68D polyester
• Lots of space
• Still light and compact
• Good weather resistance
• Not everyone needs the extra space
Vaude Taurus 3
Verdict: Lightweight, very sustainable, and easy to pitch. But it's not suited to wild weather and is a bit tight for three people.
Vaude’s tripod-shaped tent is great for keeping weight down because by ditching a pole and sloping the roofline at the foot, it’s able to cut the weight a little too. The other benefit of fewer poles is easier, faster pitching. Indeed, this is a fantastic tent for those longer treks in milder temperatures where you’re covering lots of ground each day and want a shelter that goes up in a jiffy at the end of it.
What’s more, you’ll be able to sleep with a clear conscience because Vaude is one of the outdoor brands really pushing itself to make the most sustainable gear possible. Therefore, the Taurus is PVC-free and climate neutral, made by a company that is a Fair Wear Foundation member.
In terms of performance, the Taurus is best suited to the milder times of the year. It can cope with rain quite happily, but if you’re wanting something that can also deal with blustery wind and cold, you’ll want to consider other options. It’s also important to mention that the interior of the Taurus is reasonably narrow for three people.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 230/340 x 165 x 115cm | Peak height 105cm | Packed size 57 x 20cm | Weight 2.75kg | Doors 1 | Porches 1 | Style Non-freestanding tripod | Poles 10.2mm Yunan aluminium alloy | Fly 75D polyester fly (3000mm HH) | Groundsheet 70D nylon groundsheet (5000mm HH) | Inner 68D polyester
• Very light
• Easy to pitch
• Good waterproofing
• Others are more stable in wild wind
• Narrow bedroom
Jack Wolfskin Yellowstone III
Verdict: Excellent weather resistance for wilder weather. It packs down quite well, but it is relatively heavy.
If you like your hiking trips in wild weather, or at least undertaking treks when the weather can get wild, a tent that can cope with wind and rain time and time again is crucial. Jack Wolfskin has earnt another place here with its Yellowstone III tent.
It’s a beefed-up dome tent with fantastic resilience to wind and plenty of rain. And yet, like the Skyrocket it’s PFC-free. The great thing about the Yellowstone is that while it is good in cooler and tumultuous weather, there is plenty of ventilation that allows it to be comfortable in milder temperatures too. Though, while it is quite compact when packed down, it is relatively heavy.
The bedroom can easily cater for three and the inclusion of two doors and vestibules makes a huge difference to practicality. The Vestibules aren’t that big but because there’re two, it’s enough for gear storage.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 180 x 225 x 125cm | Peak height 130cm | Packed size 63 x 20cm | Weight 4.88kg | Doors 2 | Porches 2 | Style Freestanding dome | Poles DAC Reverse Combi aluminium alloy | Fly 75D polyester fly (4000mm HH) | Groundsheet 150D Hydrofilm nylon groundsheet (10,000mm HH) | Inner 68D polyester
• Excellent weather resistance
• Compact packed size
• Double vestibules
• Relatively heavy
• Skyrocket III will suit most people better
Vango Beta 350XL
Verdict: A lightweight camping tent made from recycled material that manages to remain spacious. It is quite basic, though.
Camping tents do have a job to do in catering for more people and gear, thus they end up being bigger and bulkier. But we appreciate there are those of use who want a camping tent that doesn’t go too far down the route of bigness and bulkiness. Enter the Vango Beta 350XL. It’s a tent of excellent design, catering for three adults with ease yet remaining within a reasonable footprint and weight.
It’s managed this feat by being quite short. So you get the generous bedroom and porch, you just can't stand up fully in either. That’s not really an issue because you tend to sit in both rather than stand.
We certainly like that this tent is made from recycled plastic, and you don’t lose any performance because of it. But it is quite a basic tent, certainly for camping (as opposed to hiking) trips. There are no slits for power cords for example. But at the end of the day, it’s very well made and that’s key.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 435 x 220 x 145cm | Peak height 145cm | Packed size 65 x 25cm | Weight 6.8kg | Doors 2 | Porches 1 | Style Camping tunnel | Poles Vango PowerFlex fibreglass | Fly Sentinel Eco Flysheet (3,000mm HH) | Groundsheet PE groundsheet | Inner polyester
• Made from recycled material
• Great value
• Spacious footprint
• No power cord port
• Too short for standing upright in
Coleman Darwin 3+
Verdict: The ideal small camping tent. It's well made and spacious, it's just not suitable for hiking trips.
Coleman has long been a camping brand for those after value and quality, which is basically everyone and explains why the brand is so popular. Its little Darwin 3+ is a truly excellent little camping tent.
For its size, the Darwin 3+ manages to provide quite a lot of interior space. It will cater for three if you need to, or make a very comfortable two-person tent. The porch is also large enough to store bags, shoes, and even a small camping table if you wish.
The dome shape is nice and sturdy and the waterproofing is up to scratch. With a weight of under five kilograms and reasonably compact packed size, the Darwin 3+, though not suitable for proper hikes, can certainly be carried a fair distance from the car to the camping site if that's required.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 210/320 x 180 x 120cm | Peak height 130cm | Packed size 50 x 19cm | Weight 4.9kg | Doors 1 | Porches 1 | Style Freestanding dome | Poles Fibreglass | Fly WeatherTec polyester fly (3000mm HH) | Groundsheet PU groundsheet | Inner polyester
• Great quality for the value
• Compact packed size
• Groundsheet in porch area
• Not suitable for hiking trips
Zempire Aero TM Pro TC Air Tent
Verdict: It's heavy and expensive but the Zempire will last decades and delivers incredible attention to detail and comfort.
Zempire's tents are certainly quite outrageous as tents go. They're big flagship models that are all about making your summer camping experience as comfortable as possible. Though classed as a three-person tent, the Aero TM Pro TC Air Tent is very spacious. The sleeping quarters is almost six square metres, with the living and awning areas adding a further 8.7 square metres.
In pursuit of comfort, the polycotton fabric is certainly heavy but in return it is very breathable (assisted by eight ventilation points). You won't suffer from unpleasant condensation. There are many wonderful touches such as power cord points on both sides and into the bedroom, light rigging system, sky light, and integrated storage cupboard.
With tents of this size, putting them up and taking them down can be a little arduous. But the Zempire is one of many family-sized tents that employ inflatable poles, which makes erecting large tents quick (10-15 minutes here) and above all, easy. It's quite an investment but it'll last you decades.
Internal dimensions (LxWxH) 220/390 x 270 x 210cm | Peak height 220cm | Packed size 85 x 52cm | Weight 38kg | Doors 3 | Porches 1 | Style Camping tunnel | Poles Inflatable air frame | Fly 200gsm 65/35 technical poly cotton | Groundsheet 210D poly oxford groundsheet (6000mm HH) | Inner TC 45x45, 110x76 BR
• Very durable
• Great features
Tent care and maintenance
All of the tents we have recommended are durable and last many moons but only if you take care of them as you ought to. This includes cleaning and proofing the fabric plus making sure the tent is completely dry before storing it.
Tents that are still damp when packed away and stored are the ones that don't last long. Mould quickly sets in and the fabric gets wrecked. We know that you can't clean and dry your tent while you're away on a hike, and that's all the more reason why it's crucial you do so when you get back home.
For cleaning synthetic, cotton, polycotton, and canvas tents, we recommend Grangers' Tent + Gear Cleaner or Nikwax Tent and Gear SolarWash. Both of these are effective water-based cleaners that clean and also revitalise fabric breathability.
For the subsequent re-proofing of the tent fabrics, we also recommend Grangers and Nikwax. In addition to rejuvenating the water repellency of tent fabrics, they also help protect against UV.