Most campers will never experience the joy of spending a week or more in a tent. They start out as happy campers, stick it out for a few days, begin to smell, and then retreat back to civilization before the wilderness can claim them. There are, however, plenty of ways to live long-term in the backcountry without going savage, and it all starts with the right digs: roof-top tents, giant canvas tee-pees, inflatable Martian habitats and more. Here are our favorites.
Treeline Tamarack Constellation
Best All-Around: The Tamarack Constellation might be the tent single-handedly responsible for re-sparking interest in rooftop camping. The first model hit shelves several years ago; the latest iteration is Treeline’s best yet, with an ultra-light aluminum honeycomb base, large awning windows, tons of gear storage solutions and Goal Zero solar panel compatibility.
James Baroud Evasion Rooftop Tent
Best for Vintage Volkswagen Bus Owners: If you follow the whole #vanlife movement on Instagram, you’ve likely seen tents like this before. James Barouds are well-regarded by van-lifers for their aesthetic value and ease of use. Some open up like clamshell roof boxes; others, like the Evasion, expand like an accordion, affording 360-degree views. The Evasion springs to life with the simple flick of a latch, and its hard shell, combined with waterproof canvas, seals out even the most severe weather. Built-in LED lighting negate the need for headlamps, and ventilation fans circulate fresh air.
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CanvasCamp Sibley 450 Ultimate
Best for Glampers and VIP Music Festival Guests: Civil War battlefield strategy meetings were held in tents much like this one. So have intimate post-Coachella hotboxes, Burning Man art installations and week-long family glamping trips. Made of heavy-duty cotton duck canvas, the Sibley 450 is 14 feet in diameter and 9 feet high, features an A-frame door, windows and detachable floor. Setup only takes about 15 minutes. You can even add a wood-burning stove, if you like.
Best for Alpine Base Camp: Mavericks isn’t the most practical camping tent (it weighs 55 pounds and looks like a Martian habitat), but it’s certainly the easiest to set up. It’s entirely inflatable — attach an air pump, press a button, and up pops base camp in just a few minutes. It’s also freaking massive: 13 feet in diameter and nearly 7 feet high, which is enough space to comfortably fit 10 people (plus expedition gear).
Nemo Wagontop 8-Person
Best for Families: The Wagontop’s main appeal is its screened-in porch, which acts a bit like its own tent. For families with young and rambunctious kids, that’s an indispensable feature. (Boxed wine and relative peace on one side of the tent, toys and snacks and naps in the other.)
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