Best Affordable 8-Person Tents For Family Camping In 2020

No time to read this article? After many hours of research, I found that the Browning Big Horn Two-Room is the best affordable 8-person tent available.

8-person tents can come in handy in many situations. You want some space for yourself, or you plan on camping with your family. Whatever the reason is, you’re here because you need a big tent, and that’s where the 8-person tents come in handy.

 

Before we start…

The first section of this article is full of helpful information that helps you fully understand these reviews and tents in general. I also provide some tips and tricks to extend the lifespan of your tent, prevent leaking or fix broken pieces so that you can use your tent as long as possible. If you’re not a beginner and know a thing or two about tent features, then you can click here to jump to the reviews.

 

Rainflies

A rainfly’s job is to protect you from the rain. It’s your tent’s umbrella and the bigger it is, the better. Tents often have windows or walls made of mesh. They offer a great deal of ventilation, but only as long as you don’t use the rainfly. Once you put the fly on, it may block the windows and mesh wall, resulting in less airflow.

If you plan on camping in less hot and extreme rainy conditions, then you may want to look for a tent that has a full-cover rainfly. One like the NTK Colorado GT 8/9-person tent is an excellent waterproof family camping tent, and the best one for its price. You can read its review by clicking here.

In addition to keeping your feet dry, a rainfly provides even more benefits. It keeps you safe from wind and the cold. It supplies more stability to your inner tent and protects it against UV light.

Most rainflies and inner tents are made of polyester, which is not a waterproof textile. That’s why manufacturers make them waterproof with a coating. This coating is in most cases polyurethane. However, you should know that UV light damages polyurethane over time. It also has negative effects on polyester, but not so much. It damages the fabric so that it tears and lets water through more easily. If you notice that your tent is leaking or becoming paler, don’t throw it away yet, because you can use a sun protection spray to repair it. This spray provides UV protection as well as protection from moisture. Applying this product as prevention is not a bad idea either, because you extend its lifespan and at the same time make it waterproof.

Here’s a video that shows you how to use this product:

The tents I reviewed in this article all have a rainfly and inner tent made of polyester. However, there are differences in polyester due to the thickness and the number of individual threads. The thickness of threads is determined by the denier-rating (D). The higher the denier-rating, the thicker the threads and the thicker the fabric.

Then there’s also the thread count (T), which represents the number of threads per square inch. When a fabric is woven, there are horizontal threads as well as vertical ones. The higher the thread count, the tighter and denser the fabric is woven. For example, 210T means that per square inch, 105 threads are woven vertical as well as horizontal. It is often the case that fabrics with a low denier-rating balance this out with a high thread count.

And at last, there’s also the HH-rating (Hydrostatic Head), which is measured in millimeters. This rating is nothing more than a waterproof-rating. The higher it is, the more waterproof your tent is. For example, a tent with an HH-rating of 500mm means that the fabric can withstand a 500mm high column of water for one minute before it could leak.

 

The seams

Quality seams are important to make sure that the tent won’t leak.

Double-stitched – Seams in good tents are often double-stitched. What does that mean? Well, two plain seams instead of one are stitched to the tent’s wall. They do this to provide extra strength but also to prevent the fabric from fraying.

Inverted seams – A manufacturer will often use reverse seams. This means that the needle holes in the tent are hidden so that no water can get into the tent.

Factory sealed – They can also be factory sealed, which means that all the tiny holes around the seams that were made during the sewing process are sealed with glue, tape or sealant. This ensures that water can’t get through them. However, this tape, glue or sealant may let water through over time due to wear and tear. If you find yourself in that situation, then it’s time to use a seam sealer. This video shows you how:

 

The poles

They can be made of various materials, with each having their pros and cons.

This chart represents the materials that are used for the tents in these reviews.

Material

Pros

Cons

Fiberglass*

Light

Flexible*

Cheap

Breakable

Tends to deform*

Steel

Stiff

Strong

Heavy

Rusts*

*Fiberglass: the most common material used for tent poles. The sections of a fiberglass pole are held together by an elastic band so that it’s easy to connect them.

*Flexible: your tent will bend with the wind rather than standing firm against it. However, fiberglass poles can still break after some windy nights. In most cases, you can fix them with some tools.

*Tends to deform (due to tension): This isn’t really a problem because your poles most likely won’t have to take another form anyway.

*Rusts: steel can corrode and rust when exposed to oxygen together with water. Rust basically dissolves away metal. That’s why steel poles require some maintenance. The manufactures apply a coating on their steel poles, but over time, this coating may disappear due to wear and tear. If you notice any rust spots, then it’s time to take action. Start by scrubbing off the rust spots with some steel wool. After that, apply a coating of Silicone Lubricant or WD40 Corrosion Inhibitor. Just make sure you wipe the excess liquid so it doesn’t get on your tent.

 

The floor

The floor of a tent is usually made of 1000-denier polyethylene, which is a highly waterproof fabric. So using a groundsheet is not necessary, but you can still use it to protect the tent from sharp surfaces and dirt.

Alternatively, a tent’s floor is made of some type of polyester with a coating that makes it waterproof. However, due to wear and tear, that coating may disappear after some time, giving you extra work to make it waterproof again with a waterproof spray.

In most cases, tents have a welded floor, which means that the floor comes up a few inches before it is sewn to the sides. This makes the floor look like a tub, that’s why it’s called a tub floor. Tent floors are designed like that to ensure that water doesn’t come in through the sides.

 

Space

Although these tents are presented as 8-person tents, they don’t have enough room for 8 people to sleep comfortably. It may be possible if you all sleep next to each other, but then there is hardly any space left for your stuff, let alone furniture.

 

The reviews

Coleman Evanston 8-person with screen room


Ventilation – This is a great summer camping tent. It has 2 big windows, 2 doors and a wall made of mesh from about halfway up to the top. One door to enter the screen room and another to access the inner tent. With the use of a pole, you can create an awning in the rainfly that protects your window against rain. This is a nice feature as you can put the rainfly on and maintain a nice breeze.

Screen room – This tent also has a screen room of 50 ft² that you can use to store your muddy shoes or wet gear. One downside is that the rainfly doesn’t fully protect the screen room. So if it rains, the screen porch gets wet, for you this may be a huge turnoff while others may not care. Fortunately, there is some sort of drainage system that prevents puddles from forming in your screen space. If you set up the tent tightly, the rain falls into the screen room, then flows downwards and exits the tent through a mesh screen on the bottom at the entrance. So setting up this tent with the front faced downhill is necessary, if not your camping trip can easily turn into a disaster.

Space – With 144 ft² (13.4 m²), the Evanston provides enough space for 5, maybe 6 people. However, keep in mind that you can’t sleep in the screen room once it starts raining. You could fix this problem by covering the screen room with a large waterproof groundsheet. I’ve done this before with an old tent of mine in the garden when I found out it wasn’t waterproof anymore.

Rainfly – The Evanston has a 75D polyester rainfly with a polyurethane coating and a waterproof rating of 450mm. This is not very high and that’s what makes this tent only suitable for camping in light to moderate rain. It also doesn’t have a full-cover rainfly, which also decreases its waterproofing but increases its ventilation. That’s also what makes this tent a great one for camping on hot summer days.

Floor – This tent’s tub floor is made of 1000-denier polyethylene, which is a very waterproof material. So you don’t have to worry about water coming through the floor. You can still use a groundsheet to protect it from dirt and sharp sticks or stones.

Bonus features – There are 2 side pockets to store stuff like your phone, wallet or keys. Then there’s also a hook on the ceiling that is meant for hanging a lamp or lantern. This tent is also free-standing which means it doesn’t need to be staked down in order to be fully functional.

Best for you if: you love screen rooms and are going to camp in hot places with light to moderate rain.

The video below shows you how to set up this tent but also how to take it down and fit it in the small storage bag.

 

Pros

  • Great ventilation even with rainfly on
  • Roomy screen porch
  • Waterproof during light to moderate rain
  • Inverted and taped seams
  • Provides a lot of space
  • Easy setup
  • Performs well in windy conditions (35mph max)
  • Screen porch has a drainage system so that water doesn’t build-up
  • 1 lantern hanger

Cons

  • Weak stakes included: not suitable for camping in windy conditions
  • Screen porch gets wet during rain
  • May leak during heavy rain
  • Only 2 side pockets
  • Small storage bag

 

Specifications

  • Windows: 2
  • Doors: 2
  • Design: dome
  • Rainfly material: 75D polyester
  • Rainfly coating: Polyurethane
  • Rainfly HH-rating: 450mm
  • Poles: 11mm fiberglass poles (4)
  • Screen room area: 50 ft²
  • Inner tent area: 94 ft²
  • Total area: 144 ft²
  • Center height: 6 ft (183cm)
  • Seams: inverted & taped
  • Guy-lines: 9
  • Side pockets: 2
  • Lantern hanger: 1
  • Stakes: basic and weak
  • Free-standing

 

Coleman Tenaya Lake 8-person


Ventilation – This is another great summer camping tent that scores high in ventilation. There are 5 windows, 1 door that has a window half of its size and the entire roof is made of mesh. Unfortunately, the awning of the rainfly doesn’t protect the windows against rain, so you can’t leave them open when it’s raining.

Built-in closet – The unique feature that this tent has is its built-in closet (2ft X 2ft). You can use it to stack lightweight stuff and some clothes. Unfortunately, it’s not made to handle heavy stuff. You can also make use of it for different purposes, for example, a potty room for your small children.

Rainfly – While the rainfly is made of 68D PU-coated polyester and has a waterproof rating of 800mm, it only covers the top. You can still use this tent in moderate rain as long as you set it up correctly, but if you plan on camping in heavy rain with a lot of sideways rainfall, then you may want to skip this one. If you’re looking for a tent that has a great waterproofing, then I suggest you visit my review on the NTK Colorado GT 8/9-person tent.

Floor – Also this tent has a 1000D polyethylene tub floor. You don’t have to worry about water getting through the floor and a groundsheet is not necessary.

Wind – The Tenaya Lake is a cabin tent, which means that it has straight walls. This type of tent provides more space, but also makes it vulnerable for high winds. If I may be honest here, almost every Coleman tent is not made to withstand harsh weather conditions. They make affordable family camping tents of great quality but are not focused on providing ultimate weather resistance as The North Face and MSR are.

Space – This tent has an area of 121 ft² (11.2 m²), which is just enough space for a family of 5. There’s enough room for 2 queen-sized air mattresses plus your gear. Due to the straight walls, you can even install some bunk beds if you want to. Its center height is 6.7 ft (204 cm) and the height of the walls is still 6 ft (183 cm). So you can probably stand upright at any spot in this tent.

Bonus features – This tent has a lot of bonus features:

  • An E-port so that you can charge your electronics more easily.
  • 2 side pockets. However, this is not enough for such a big tent in my opinion.
  • 1 lantern hanger to light up your tent more easily.
  • While this tent only has 1 door, it’s a hinged one that you don’t even have to zip since it can be closed with Velcro tape, which makes your camping trip more comfortable.
  • A room divider to split the tent into two rooms, mostly used to increase privacy.

Best for you if: you want a tent in which you can stand straight anywhere and want a great amount of comfort. You’re not going to camp in harsh weather conditions but rather in a place where it’s very hot and only moderate rain is expected.

The instructions are absolute garbage and will only confuse you, so don’t bother looking at them. Instead, watch the video below in which the tent is set up. It can also be a struggle to get this tent in its storage bag, so maybe this video can help you with that.

 

Pros

  • Great ventilation
  • Handy built-in closet to store shoes, clothes,…
  • Provides enough weather protection in moderate rain
  • Inverted and taped seams
  • Zipper flaps that protect them from rain
  • The straight walls provide much more space
  • You can most likely stand straight anywhere in this tent
  • Groundsheet is not necessary to make floor waterproof

Cons

  • Windows can’t be left open during rain
  • The straight walls make this tent vulnerable to heavy winds
  • Basic and weak stakes
  • Small storage bag
  • Only 2 side pockets
  • Only 1 door

Specifications

  • Windows: 5
  • Doors: 1
  • Design: cabin
  • Rainfly fabric: 68D polyester
  • Rainfly coating: polyurethane
  • Rainfly HH-rating: 800mm
  • Floor fabric: 1000D polyethylene
  • Poles: 16, both made of steel and fiberglass
  • Closet area: 4 ft²
  • Total area: 121 ft²
  • Center height: 6.7 ft (203cm)
  • Seams: inverted & taped
  • Guy-line: 6
  • Side pockets: 2
  • Lantern hanger: 1
  • Stakes: basic and weak
  • Free-standing

 

Browning Big Horn Two Room


Ventilation – This is also a cabin tent like the Tenaya Lake with excellent ventilation. However, this one has better waterproofing and is made of better quality. It’s also no surprise then that this tent is a bit more expensive.  In total there are 4 big windows and two doors of which the upper half can be used as a window. If you don’t use the rainfly, there’s even a better airflow because the ceiling is made almost entirely of mesh. One downside is that you have to close the windows when it starts raining because they are not protected by the fly.

Rainfly – The rainfly is made of 75D 185T polyester and is coated with polyurethane. It has a very good HH rating of 2000mm. Although the fly only protects the top and leaves the sides exposed to the weather, this tent can endure pretty bad weather. As long as you don’t go camping in hurricanes with a lot of sideways rainfall, you should be fine. The inner tent has a durable water-repellent coating but can break down over time due to wear and tear. So if you notice that this tent is starting to leak, you can fix it with a waterproof spray and a seam sealer.

Floor – The Big Horn’s tub floor isn’t made of polyethylene, but rather of 150-denier polyester oxford. It’s coated with polyurethane and also has a waterproof rating of 2000mm. A groundsheet is therefore not necessary, but you can still use it to extend your tent’s lifespan by protecting it from sharp surfaces and dirt.

Wind – Although this tent has not the best construction for wind resistance, it’s still pretty sturdy. If you use all the guy-lines properly, this tent can withstand winds for up to 30 mph (48kph) without any trouble.

Space – This huge tent gives you 150 ft² (14 m²) of workspace, which I believe is enough room for 6 people. In that case, everyone has 25 ft² (2.3 m²) for themselves. Its center height is 7.3 ft (221 cm) and the sides are around 6.3 ft (192 cm) high. Standing upright in any place in this tent shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

Bonus features – Its biggest bonus feature is probably its side pockets. There are 6 of them, 3 on each side. That’s much better than the usual 2 because you’re probably going to camp with more than 2 people in this tent. There’s also a room divider to separate this tent into two rooms. Every room then has its own pockets and lantern hanger.

Best for you if: you plan on camping with a big family and want a tent with great waterproofing and excellent ventilation. You also don’t mind spending some more money.

Setting up this tent may be easier by making use of the video below. He also shows you the takedown of the tent and how to get it in the bag.

 

Pros

  • Huge area of 150 ft² (14 m²) – enough room for 6
  • You can most likely stand straight anywhere in this tent
  • Waterproof in most weather conditions
  • Can withstand winds for up to 30 mph (48kph)
  • Double-stitched and factory sealed seams
  • The zippers are protected from rain by flaps
  • 6 side pockets
  • 2 lantern hangers
  • 1 room divider
  • Doesn’t need to be staked down to be fully functional
  • Groundsheet not necessary

Cons

  • Can’t leave windows open during rain
  • More expensive than a Coleman tent
  • Zipper flaps tend to get stuck between the zippers
  • Basic and weak stakes
  • Poles: fiberglass (5) and steel (6)

 

Specifications

  • Windows: 6 of which 2 are provided by doors
  • Doors: 2
  • Design: cabin
  • Rainfly fabric: 75D 185T polyester
  • Rainfly coating: polyurethane
  • Rainfly HH-rating: 2000mm
  • Floor HH-rating: 2000mm
  • Poles: fiberglass (5) and steel (6)
  • Total area: 150 ft² (14 m²)
  • Center height: 7.3 ft (221 cm)
  • Seams: double-stitched and factory sealed
  • Guy-lines: 8
  • Side pockets: 6
  • Lantern hanger: 2
  • Stakes: basic and weak
  • Free-standing

 

A creative way to keep your tent dry

While a groundsheet is usually used to protect the floor from dirt and sharp surfaces, it can also be used in a different way. You could stretch a huge groundsheet above your tent with the use of some trees, elastic cord and paracord. It may look weird and stupid at first, but it’s an easy and cheap way to keep your tent completely dry.

Besides keeping your tent dry it provides even more benefits:

  • Your tent is protected from UV-light, rain and hail, so in other words, it won’t have to deal with weather conditions. This ensures that your tent can live much longer.
  • If you buy a big enough groundsheet, you can even make a shelter that hangs over your camp spot. Then you can just leave all the chairs and toys outside since it can’t get wet.
  • You can stretch your groundsheet in a way that it protects your tent from the wind.
  • It can make it a lot darker in your tent. I think this is something positive as I don’t like a bright tent in the morning.
  • You never have to pack a wet tent and dry it at home again.

The downsides of this idea:

  • You must have trees surrounding your camp spot.
  • You’ll have to buy a big groundsheet, some elastic cord and paracord.
  • It steals sunlight, this can also be a benefit of course.
  • It takes some time to set up.

This video may help you further if you’re interested.

 

Possible reasons why there’s a puddle in your tent

This section of the article gives you some quick tips that prevent your tent from letting water in. It contains some info that I mentioned in the first section of the article, but it’s meant to give you a clear overview of what the possible reasons are.

You let your gear touch the walls

This is a mistake that many beginners make. Letting your gear touch the sides of your tent may result in drenched gear because the walls are probably really damp during rain. This is not the case with every tent, so you can test it if you want to find out.

Not setting up your tent the right way

Many people complain that their tent isn’t waterproof, while it’s often their own fault. The first step towards a waterproof tent is to set it up properly. Beginners often think the use of guy-lines is overkill, which may be true in calm and dry weather conditions. But if you’re planning on camping in rainy conditions, it’s absolutely necessary. Guy ropes make your tent sturdier, but also tighten your rainfly so it can drain water more easily. That’s why it’s always a good idea to study some ‘how to set up a tent’ videos.

You forgot about weathering your tent

Weathering your tent means that you wet your tent in order to make it waterproof, where’s the logic in that, right? Well, here’s the science behind it: manufacturers use a type of thread that expands when wet. When it dries, it becomes a little thicker than before and seals the tiny holes. You don’t have to do this with polyester tents as the threads should seal the seams right off the bat. However, polycotton tents require this treatment, possibly multiple times before they are waterproof.

The PU coating is degrading

As I mentioned in the first section of this article, polyester tents are made waterproof with a polyurethane coating. However, due to wear and tear and UV light, this coating degrades over time, which leaves you with a tent that you can’t use in rain. If that’s the case, you want to apply some type of solar-proof spray. This spray is the most popular one and provides UV protection while at the same time waterproofing your tent. Here’s a video that shows you how to apply this spray.

 

The seams are degrading

This is also something that I mentioned before, seams degrade over time due to wear and tear. The tape, glue or sealant that made them waterproof may peel off. In this situation, you want to use a seam sealer. This video shows you how.

 

Camping in weather conditions that your tent can’t handle

Every tent has a Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating, which is basically a waterproof rating. It’s expressed in millimeters, and the higher, the better. Don’t expect your tent with an HH-rating of 400mm to stay dry in heavy rain because it won’t. The best waterproof tents have a high HH-rating and a full-cover rainfly like this tent has.

 

There’s condensation forming in your tent

Condensation forming in your tent is a result of bad ventilation. That’s why it’s important to have a tent with some windows, vent holes and doors.

 

There are tears in your tent

This seems very obvious, but it may not be the first thing you think about when you see a puddle in your tent. Tears and rips in your tent may result from:

  • setting up your tent too tightly
  • UV light damage
  • sharp surfaces (sticks, stones)
  • your gear
  • a broken pole
  • a windy night.

Don’t stitch tears as this may only make things worse. Instead, follow this easy tutorial:

 

Conclusion

Which of these 3 tents is best for you? In general, the best one is the Browning Big Horn Two-Room tent. Its waterproofness and ventilation are great. It also offers a huge area of 150 ft² (14 sqm), providing enough space for your family of 6. You can divide the tent into two rooms, each with their own windows, door, lantern hanger and 3 side pockets.

Its biggest downsides are:

  • its price
  • the zipper flaps that tend to get stuck between the zippers
  • its inability to leave the windows open during rain

If you want the cheaper version of this tent, then you may want to take a look at the Coleman Tenaya Lake since it’s also a big tent with even more features than the Big Horn. However, the reason why this tent is less expensive is that its waterproofness and quality are not as good. But you’re safe as long as you’re not camping in heavy rain.

Lastly, we have the Coleman Evanston with its screen room. I suggest you go with this tent if you really want one with a screen room and plan on camping in light to moderate weather conditions. The screen porch is not waterproof, but it has a drainage system so that water doesn’t build up. Whether this is a huge turnoff or not is for you to decide. On the other hand, the windows can also be left open during rain because they are protected by the rainfly.

So that was it guys! I hope I was able to help you make a choice. It would be nice if you’d let me know what you thought of this article in the comments. You can also post a question there or contact me through this page.

Stay safe and keep exploring!

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