How to Choose a Family Beach Tent

This is an actual question which I received from a reader through the contact form in one of my sites. It contains several questions which are worth answering in a separate post.

How to Choose a Family Beach Tent featured picture showing a tent in the camp by the river.

Why this text

The screenshot below shows what I received. I answered directly through email, and decided to give more details in this text:

Question from a reader.
Question from a reader.

As you realize, this is a family of four, so parents with two kids. They want a tent for beach camping that could be used for several seasons.

The person is realistic in the sense that she speaks about a 10-person tent used for a family of 4. Indeed, it is best to simply ignore the official capacity which is determined by the number of sleeping pads that can fit on the floor.

For practical family camping this usually makes no sense, so go for as big tent as you can afford. You will see below some really large tents by the official capacity.

There are many possible aspects to consider, and I shall try to focus only on those that I find most important. So here are a few of them given in no particular order.

Privacy in a family camping tent

There are many tents on the market with multiple rooms.

In a tunnel type tent, this typically implies an inner tent with two separate rooms side by side, sometimes with a removable divider and sometimes with a fixed wall. This is optimal if you have small kids, you will want them close to you.

In addition, in such a tent you also have a large living area that can be with a floor. This is a great and functional design, and you can see it in the tent shown in the picture below. This is the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus Tent.

Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus Tent.
Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus Tent.

But if you want even more privacy, and if kids are older, you would want to choose a tent where these inner rooms are physically separated. This is sometimes described as a vis-a-vis design. The picture below shows one excellent example, this is the Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 Person Tent.

Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 Tent.
Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 Tent.

In this tent you have a central room without a floor. This may be convenient because you will use camping furniture in this space, so you do not have to worry about damaging the floor.

The sleeping rooms are far from each other and more privacy you can hardly have in a tent.

Awnings, vestibules & doors

From the picture above you realize that you can create awnings with the flaps of the central room. So this extends a lot the covered space and you can use it for sitting during the day.

What you may not see is the fact that there two vestibules on the sides. This is a useful extra space for storage. You have seen that my reader was interested in such details.

But this is not all. The mentioned vestibules are created with two additional doors that are on the narrow sides of the tent. So occupants in these side rooms can enter and exit their rooms in two different ways, through these external doors and also through the doors that lead to the central room. In other words, this tent as a whole has no less than 4 separate doors, so organization is excellent.

Freestanding or not?

The reason why my reader was interested in such a design is mentioned in the contact mail. They want to occasionally move. So if this is about moving around on the same beach, you can simply pull the tent as a whole from one location to another.

For such situations, it is good that the tent is freestanding or semi-freestanding. The latter term may mean that it is freestanding without the fly (like in the case of the Big Agnes tent above), but when the fly is on, you have to stake it to have vestibules functional.

But if this is about changing beaches completely, then having a freestanding tent makes no much difference. See below about instant tents instead.

The reality is that not many tents are truly freestanding, and even if they are, you have to stake the tent completely. Yet indeed, there are tents that are more or less fully self-supporting, so when you want to rotate it and move short distances on the beach, it is easier that with a tent that is not at all freestanding.

Many cabin type tents are freestanding, and the example shown in the picture below is one of them. This is the Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent, floored and very comfortable.

Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent.
Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent.

Small kids need a nap during the day? 

If this is so, and if you too want a shelter where you would sleep even during the day, then choosing a dark rest tent is the only option. Otherwise, glare in a tent makes it almost impossible to do this.

There are many options on the market, but if you are not sure, it is enough to check some of Coleman dark rest tents. This brand is without a match on the market regarding this design. Some of their tents block 99% of the daylight.

Want an example? Actually, you have it already in one of the pictures above, this is the Coleman Rocky Mountain 5 Plus Tent. But they have them many more.

Changing camping spots frequently?

If this is your situation, then it may be a good idea to go for an instant setup tent. Such a structure can be raised in just a couple of minutes, and this can be done by one person.

The Core tent shown above is one of them. More you can find in my separate list of instant tents. But consider also the tents with a fast pitch designs.


Camping on a beach should imply warm weather summer adventures, and for such a climate ventilation in a tent is essential. In this sense, cabin type tents are the best option.

These tents have a mesh on the ceiling, and large mesh windows and doors. But make sure that the tent also has floor vents. There may be intervals with rain when you are forced to keep the windows closes, so having such vents is a must.

Final thoughts

So this was what I wanted to say about choosing a family beach tent. This issue can be discussed from various points of view and focusing on various features.

One of them would be tent’s shape if this is about windy places. In such an environment you would want an aerodynamic and low profile dome-shaped tent. But note that such tents are rarely with separate rooms. Next best would be extended dome structures with a full coverage fly, they usually have multiple rooms.

For more texts of this type please check under the category Camping here in the site. Read also my text about bathtub and catenary cut tent floors and see my thoughts regarding Ozark Trail versus Coleman tents. Let me know if you have questions, there is a comment box below.

Bookmark this site and keep as a refence, it is all about outdoors questions and answers.

Me on Jalovec.Hi, I am Jovo, the founder of this OutdoorsFAQs site and several other outdoor sites. I have been mountaineering for almost 40 years already, and I have created this site to use as a reference for various questions that I receive in my sites. Being a theoretical physicist by profession, I tend to base my answers on facts and on my own personal experience.

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