Hello and welcome to our field tested definitive review to the best 12 person tent!
Today we’ll be looking at some of the top-rated 12 person tents on the market, comparing them across the board so you can find that perfect tent for your next outdoor adventure.
We’ll be looking at lots of things, including:
- Our rankings for each tent across a diverse range of categories
- Several pros and cons for each tent, based on our own experience
- Important features to look out for when you’re ready to start shopping
- Our Buyer’s Guide, which will help you find your next tent!
- Lots, lots more!
This summer, we had the chance to shack up in some of the biggest tents on the market.
Let’s dive in and see how they stack up…
- Best 12 Person Cabin Tent
- Best 12 Person Tent
- Best 12 Person Camping Tent
- Best 12 Person Family Tent
- Best 12 Person Pop Up Tent
- Cheap 12 Person Tent
- Best Core Instant 12 Person Cabin Tent
- Best 12 Person Sport Tent
- Best 12 Person Dome Tent
- Best Cold Weather Tent 12 Person
- Buyers Guide:
- How To Choose The Best 12 Person Tent
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results
- Our Final Verdict:Best 12 Person Tent
- Conclusion: Best 12 Person Tent
In this guide, I’m going to go over our experience with these tents, as well as the results of our extensive testing. We primarily looked at five metrics – those being Value, Ease of Use, Durability, and Weather Resistance.
Normally we’d also rate these tents for their versatility, but let’s be honest… you aren’t going to be taking any of these tent backpacking anytime soon.
We’ll also show off each tent’s specs – including capacity, size, weight and fabric type – as well as listing off a few examples of things we loved and didn’t like so much about each model.
Finally, our Buyer’s Guide will help you figure out which of these tents is the best for your next camping trip, and we’ll even answer some of the most common questions along the way.
So there you have it…
Everything you’ll need for making a great choice next time you want to strike up the band and hit the woods!
Best 12 Person Cabin Tent
1 – Core 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent
- Great workmanship and durability
- Excellent internal space
- Very easy setup
- Great window placement for ventilation and light
- On the heavier side
- Could benefit from more internal storage/ mesh pockets
Our Top Pick award always goes to a tent that performs extraordinarily well in one particular area, regardless of how strongly it is rated in others.
In this case, the all-around quality of the Core Instant Cabin Tent kept it high on the list across all our metrics.
This tent’s standout performance came in Ease of Setup – something which is often overlooked by newer campers and grizzled veterans alike. However, as someone who’s struggled to set up a tent in the dark many times, Ease of Setup holds an important slot on my list.
As an instant tent, the Core is about as easy as they come, and you can have it up and running in 2 minutes or so.
Beyond that, the tent had great workmanship and durability, meaning you can expect to use this tent on many camping trips and, if properly cared for, many years.
The only metric where the Core really fell short was Value; without beating around the metaphorical bush, this is an expensive tent. And while the tent is also excellent quality, we felt the price was a bit higher than it ought to be.
Best 12 Person Tent
2 – Ozark Trail 12 Person Tent
- Plenty of space with three separate rooms
- Pre attached poles
- Great bag size
- Good price point
- Bulky when set up
- Some issues with directions
As always, our Editor’s Choice Award is given to our best all-around tent (and the one with the highest score when we’ve calculated all our metrics).
So why the Ozark Trail 12 Person?
To start, this is a roomy, comfy, affordable and attractive tent.
So there’s that. But let’s dig into that a little more.
It has a unique two-wing design that results in three separate rooms, complete with room dividers, if you so wish. This alone was a surprisingly nice feature, especially if you have a week-long camping trip and need some time away from the others.
When initially setting up, we thought the tent was pretty intuitive, and managed to get it standing after a couple minutes without looking at the directions. The Ozark Trail comes with pre attached poles, which is a big improvement over many other tents on this list and helps simplify and speed along your first setup.
Unfortunately, if we’d looked at the directions, it may well have hindered us. Many of this tent’s negative reviews focus on exactly that; confusing directions that complicate the startup process.
This tent falls right in the sweet spot for pricing, where you know you’re buying a quality product, but you’re not bankrupting yourself in the process. For that price, the overall quality and workmanship really exceeded our expectations.
Best 12 Person Camping Tent
3 – NTK Arizona GT (12 Person Tent)
- Great weather resistance
- Screen vestibule for added comfort
- Excellent overall quality and durability
- Great price-to-value ratio
- Windows designed to open from the outside
- Some issues with zippers
Here at TopNotch Outdoors, we’re huge fans of tunnel tents. Products like the Vango Odyssey (and yes, the Laredo) really exemplify a step forward in camping innovation and design.
Anyway, one of the biggest turn-offs you’ll run into if you’re shopping for a tunnel tent is its price; it’s hard to find an affordable one, and even harder to find an affordable one that’s worth your time.
But through our time with the Laredo, we believe we’ve done just that!
This tent holds a great position near the top of each of our really important camping metrics – durability, weather resistance and ease of use. The weather resistance comes courtesy of its tunnel design, which sheds wind with its aerodynamic design and provides a rounded surface that water droplets can’t stick to.
But all that can be compromised if the tent isn’t good quality. Luckily, this tent was designed with precision and care, and it’s nearly impossible to find a tent with suh good quality at this price range.
We did have one fairly significant issue with the tent, though; its internal space.
There’s no conceivable way you can fit twelve people – or even 3 queen beds – in here, unless you rig up some sort of crazy hammock system. Failing that, you’ll have room for nine or ten, tops.
Best 12 Person Family Tent
4 – Tahoe Gear Prescott Tent (12 Person)
- Great internal height
- Very affordable
- Extremely spacious
- Not very water resistant
- Poor-quality stakes
The Prescott is probably our most marginalizing tent, with some really high scores, as well as some pretty dismal aspects.
Let’s dig into it!
When initially setting up this tent, we really didn’t run into any trouble. With its twelve-person capacity – and the fact that this tent isn’t a pop-up – you’re going to need at least two or three helpers. But beyond that, the setup was fairly similar to any other dome tent.
The first thing I noticed after we’d set up the Prescott was its massive internal space. With a large tent, manufacturers tend to exaggerate their capacity (in other words, a 12 person tent will usually only fit 10, whereas a four-person can usually fit three or four).
In this case, we could have easily fit 12 of us, plus our gear.
But when we tested the tent’s quality, weather resistance and workmanship, we were actually pretty disappointed. After spraying the tent with water – much less than a full rainstorm – a small puddle had formed on the floor.
That’s not to mention that the tent will not hold up in strong wind.
Overall, there are many worse tents at this price range. And it’s perfect for the occasional weekend out in the woods (especially if you bring an extra tarp). But more regular campers will want to stick with something a little more durable.
Best 12 Person Pop Up Tent
5 – Eureka Copper Canyon 12
- Great internal roof height
- E-port included in design
- Convenient overhead storage
- Great ventilation
- Some tight-fitting poles
- Straight walls result in higher wind resistance – can buffet
- Some leakage in heavy rain
Anyone who’s owned a Eureka can tell you the love-hate relationship they’ve developed.
This company, which has been around for some time(almost as long as camping itself!) has always prided itself on durable, quality products at an above-market price.
To this day, all of that remains true. Certainly, that applies to the Copper Canyon 12. Basically, you’re going to pay a little more than you would pay for a similar tent by a different manufacturer, but you’ll know that the tent will last for a long time.
Alas, that doesn’t mean the Copper Canyon doesn’t have its issues as well.
Despite its great workmanship, Eureka’s long history also means that they are slow (read stubborn) when it comes to changing their design. A tent I bought ten years ago will basically resemble a tent I could buy today, with minimal adaptation.
And the two main issues that have plagued Eureka for a long time are weather resistance – in particular, rain – and poles that fit too tightly. Seriously, there are pre attached versions that completely eliminate this sort of thing.
Even after waterproofing, some stray droplets managed to find their way into this tent during testing. And our setup was complicated by the infamous snugness of the poles.
Mind you, once we got the tent standing, that tightness paid off in structural stability, but it was quite the struggle to get there!
Cheap 12 Person Tent
6 – Tahoe Gear Tent (12 Person Deluxe)
- Fairly light for its size
- Very spacious interior
- Great window placement and ventilation
- Great price point
- Poor rain resistance
- Tent takes up more space than expected
There were a few aspects that we really liked about the Tahoe Gear Gateway.
First, it was a very roomy tent – which, based on a few of the previous tents we’d looked at, really made a difference. You never want to run out of space when you’re camping, particularly if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
We also loved the windows on this thing; each wall had multiple windows with mesh, so we could enjoy every cool breeze that came through.
On top of that, the tent weighs less than 40 lbs, which is pretty light for a tent of this capacity. That really helps, even if you’re just carrying the thing out to the car!
As for price, the Tahoe Gear contends with the other cheapest tents on this list, despite including helpful features like internal storage pockets and the aforementioned windows.
But once again, we had issues with weather resistance and overall durability. On account of its low, low price, the manufacturers compromised on several aspects of this tent, including how water resistant it is.
Waking up in a small lake is one of life’s worst experiences, and this is exactly what happened on our first night out with this tent. I don’t know how long it was raining for, but it certainly felt like most of the rain made it inside.
If you buy this tent, make sure you bring an extra tarp along!
On top of that, the tent is built in an attractive “L” shape, which means it takes up more space than you’d expect. While this may seem inconsequential, you may struggle to find enough space on certain campsites.
Best Core Instant 12 Person Cabin Tent
7 – Core 12 Person Tent
- Great workmanship and durability
- Excellent internal space
- Plenty of head clearance
- Great window placement for ventilation and light
- Some weakness in the tent poles
- Could benefit from more internal storage/mesh pockets
Much like the other Core tent that took our Top Pick, this tent exceeded our expectations handsomely.
In all honesty, there’s plenty of pros and very few cons to this tent.
To start, this Core 12 Person Cabin Tent occupies a much lower price than the other model on this list, mostly due to its lack of instant-setup technology. And while we love the convenience of a tent that goes up with minimal effort, it may not be worth the extra cash you’ll be paying for it.
When setting up, the tent was a little cumbersome, and really tested our patience. In the end, it took three of us all holding various parts of the tent at any given point in time; a bit more of a hassle than we would’ve wanted.
But besides that, the tent performed like a dream. In fact, based on other customer reviews, this is one of the top-reviewed tents of any that we put on the list, all because of its solid price and excellent workmanship.
But we wanted to test it out for ourselves…
So after soaking it with a hose and doing our infamous “falling object” test, we’re happy to say that all of those rosy reviews were completely justified. This tent held up through all of it.
Ultimately, this tent had many of the same aspects that we loved about the Core Instant Tent. So at a much lower price, this might be the better choice for thrifty shoppers who aren’t shy of a little extra setup.
Best 12 Person Sport Tent
8 – Bushnell Sport Series 12 Person Sport Tent
- Excellent internal space
- Very good weather resistance
- Exemplary manufactured quality
- Lots of storage space
- Some minor wind resistance issues
- Long setup time
This tent was very close to walking off with our Editor’s Choice. In the end, it all came down to the initial setup, which took a little longer than we’d expected.
But that shouldn’t stop you from looking into this tent; we’re glad we did.
The Bushnell is a moderately-priced tent, meaning you won’t break the bank, but you also want it perform well in multiple weather conditions, and through the overall stress of camping.
Needless to say, this tent passed both those tests with flying colors. When we were testing its durability through a series of tear tests and by simulating falling tree branches, the tent seemed to shrug off all the punishment we sent its way.
And what about the weather?
Completely watertight, it seemed. We went through one round of testing in the afternoon with a bucket of water from the river, then got another impromptu test the following night when a short rainstorm came through.
In the morning, we didn’t even know it had rained until I stepped into a puddle on my way out the door.
To note, the tent handled wind pretty well, but its high profile means it does catch more turbulence than you might expect. Be sure to stake the big guy down. Luckily, there are plenty of guy lines you can anchor all over this tent, giving you all the stability you could ever need.
But beyond that, and the long setup time, I’m happy to sing this one’s praises.
Best 12 Person Dome Tent
9 – Ozark Trail 12 Person Dome Tent
- Innovative, fun design
- Internal lighting system
- Good head clearance
- Good internal space
- Issues with pole durability
- Very complex setup
I should preface this by saying I’ve never been a big fan of geodesic dome tents. I love the way they look, and I think someday someone will figure out how to make them work. But at the moment, there are too many logistical issues for me to really believe in them.
That aside, it was much of the same story with the Ozark Trail Dome Tent.
To start, I was really impressed with the initial price of this tent. Most full-dome style tents cash in on their science fiction appeal by charging way more than they’re worth. Even if this tent completely failed, the price would still be appropriate.
After unpacking the thing, I ran into the first problem that always seems to plague these tents: setup.
A half-sphere is not a particularly natural shape, nor is it easy to build using a series of straight lines (your tent poles). As with many other dome tents, the Ozark Trail came with multiple different-colored poiles, as well as lackluster directions on where to put them.
By the end, we managed to bumble our way through the setup process, and I thanked the stars that we wouldn’t have to go through it again.
Throughout our testing, the tent’s dome shape helped it resist the wind to an extent. However, some water did leak through the bottom lip, where the walls met the groundsheet.
As far as internal space was concerned, the tent had plenty to fit 10 people (3 queen beds) and we probably could have squeezed another two (and their gear) inside, if we had to. And the dome’s high walls meant standing was easy.
So while I’m still not sold on this style of tent, Ozark Trail has certainly produced one of the better models on the market.
Best Cold Weather Tent 12 Person
10 – Teton Sports Sierra Canvas Tent
- Very durable
- Extremely weather-resistant
- Multi-use capabilities
- Excellent for warm and cold camping
Can be a tedious setup for first-time users
- High price point
As one of the more interesting-looking tents on our list, we were quite excited to try out the Teton Sports Bell Tent.
Want to learn more about bell tents?
Indeed, this product looks like something out of a mid-century adventure novel – a tent you’d expect to find in the Amazon rather than your backyard.
But the truth is, this tent can go just about anywhere, at any time of year. And that’s what really sold us on the Teton Sports. This tent can serve as a makeshift gazebo for warm afternoons, or your only shelter on a blisteringly cold mountainside in February.
Just name your intention and this tent will make it a reality.
On top of that, the cotton canvas fabric will outlast just about any other tent in existence, assuming you take care of it.
Now, like any other canvas tents, there are upsides and downsides to the Teton Sports. At 66 lbs, you won’t be able to carry it very far. And as mentioned above, canvas requires more care than other fabrics.
Setup can also be complicated – something we discovered while trying to wrangle this tent for the first time. Make sure you have a trial run before you head to the outdoors! And the price is nothing to sneeze at.
So all-in-all, this is the sort of tent that rewards committed campers. If you’re just planning a day or two in the woods each season, you’ll be better served with the cheaper and easier tents on this list.
Why Trust Us?
So there you go: everything you need to know about some of the top-rated 12 person tents on the market today.
But why take our word for it?
Well, as an experienced camping crew, we have over six decades of combined outdoor experience between us; everything from family camping to overnight backpacking trips up some of North America’s most notorious mountains.
But the main reason is we love camping, and we know how important it is to have comfortable, reliable and weather-resistant shelter, especially when you’re spending quality time in the woods with a big group of friends and family.
Some of my best memories have been packing up the old tent and hitting the woods with my friends. We’ve been caught in rainstorms, a blizzard in June, and winds that trashed our tents.
But it’s always a great way to make memories.
So between our love of camping and our love of camping with friends, we’re the perfect crew to help you find your next big tent.
How To Choose The Best 12 Person Tent
What Are The Different Types Of 12 Person Tents?
As with any tents, 12 person tents can be split into several main categories, separated by materials and tent style. On this list alone, we included all if the following styles:
Dome tents – These are your “traditional camping tents” – usually featuring three (often) separate rooms – a main room with a high, domed ceiling, and two wings on either side. The high ceiling in the middle is great for standing, while the wings provide enough space to sleep several campers. For example the Ozark Trail…
Geodesic dome tents – These tents are completely spherical, but do not include the wings of the regular dome tents. As a result, campers can stand and walk around throughout the entire tent.
Bell tents – Reminiscent of a teepee or yurt, these tents resemble a cone, and generally feature a single opening which can be rolled back. These tents are usually made from canvas, and are heavier and more durable than nylon or polyester tents.
Tunnel tents – These tents are shaped (surprise!) like a tunnel, with a rounded top and a long, roughly cylindrical body. Their shape gives these tents additional weather resistance, though they are usually longer and narrower than traditional dome tents.
Features to Look Out For
For tents of this size, there are a few unique considerations you should keep in mind while shopping around.
First, keep an eye on internal storage space.
Mesh pockets are great for storing your valuables, and if you have ten people trying to sleep in the same tent, you’ll want enough of these to keep everyone’s things separate.
Some tents also include homey features like extension-cord ports and internal lighting; these creature comforts may not be helpful if you’re deep in the woods, but you probably won’t be taking any of these tents too far from civilization,anyway.
Finally, instant-setup features are a game-changer, and well worth a bit of extra investment. These usually come in the form of pop-up canopies (though some tents have inflatable air-beams as well). These let you pitch camp in 2 minutes!
Top Tips For Picking Your Tent:
If you’re in the process of shopping for a 12 person tent, there’s one main question you should make sure to ask yourself.
What’s my ideal camping experience?
Some people enjoy backyard parties with drinks and a bonfire. Some folks enjoy secluded nights with a bunch of fellow outdoors people, and some people just want a shelter for the beach or patio.
Essentially, you want to find the tent that most closely matches your ideal experience.
With that, you also want to think about how frequently you’ll use this tent. If you only do one camping trip a year, there’s no point in shelling out extra money for a rugged backwoods shelter.
Likewise, if you have several outings in mind for the summer months, treat yourself to a tougher, more reliable tent that won’t break down when you need it most.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q How big is a 12 person tent?
A: 12 person tents usually have a floor area of between 200 and 250 square feet. On the lower end, this gives enough room to fit 10 large campers comfortably (about 3 queen beds), and upwards of 12 on the higher end.
Often, these tents also come with room dividers, for better privacy.
Q Which is the best tent brand?
A: Different tent brands specialize in different products. If you’re looking for a roomy, but cheap tent, Ozark Trail should be your go-to. On the other hand, brands like Core and Eureka build more expensive, quality tents that will last multiple seasons and come with added accommodations, like room dividers.
Q. What is the easiest tent to put up?
A: The Core Instant Tent had the fastest setup time of any tent on our list.
So there you have it – everything you should think about the next time you’re looking for a 12 person tent.
We’ve done the legwork, really putting each of these tents through the paces, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Now it’s up to you to find the tent that works best for you!
So it’s time to reveal which tents performed the best throughout these lengthy (but enjoyable) testing sessions.
Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results
Value for Money
Which tents break the bank, and which ones could you get right away without worrying about the price?
Let’s find out!
Value for Your Money Rating
Ease of Use
As we’ve talked about before, some of these tents are a pleasure to set up… and some are a realy pain.
Let’s see which ones performed the best.
Ease of Use & Set-Up Rating
Durability & Workmanship
When a tent manufacturer really puts the time, effort and research into designing their tent, it shows.
In this case, all the tents were reasonably well-designed, but a few of them really stood out from the rest.
Durability & Workmanship Rating
Rain, wind sleet and hail (and snow)… each presents its unique problems for your tent, and you’ll want a model that is able to handle all of them.
Weather Resistance Rating
Finally, let’s see which of these tents is the best for kicking back and relaxing after a long day of having fun.
Our Final Verdict:
Best 12 Person Tent
Well, here we are.
At long last, we get to see just how well each of these tents stacks up against the rest of the field.
We’ve gone ahead and crunched the numbers for you, so without further ado…
As you can see, the Ozark Trail 12 Person walked away with our highest score, showing up as an affordable, yet well-made addition to your camping roster.
For that reason, the Ozark Trail walked away with our Editor’s Choice.
Other honorable mentions included our other two award winners – the Core 12 Person Instant Tent and the NTK Arizona.
The Core was our Top Pick, showing incredible workmanship and durability, as well as a great system that really sped up and simplified the setup process.
As our Best Value Pick, the NTK Arizona felt like it was in a league of its own for its price, and we’d recommend this one to anyone who’s camping on more of a budget.
As a dark horse, the Bushnell also slotted its way into our Top 4, failing to walk away with any of our awards, but still leading the rest of the pack with its all-around incredible scores.
Keep an eye on all four of these the next time you’re in the market for a large tent.
Best 12 Person Tent
Big tents like these always come with a set of specific considerations; every inch of fabric on a tent has the potential to rip or tear, to be stitched wrong, or made from material that isn’t suited to the great outdoors.
Likewise, you’ll want to check the specs of any tent you’re going to buy, to make sure you can fit all your friends and family inside, before you pack up and head out into nature.
As with any outdoor product, we recommend a trial run before you hit the road. Go ahead and set up your new tent in the backyard, so you can see if it’s everything you want, and so you can return or exchange it before your big trip!
But you can put all those concerns aside for now and focus on finding the perfect tent for you and your camping friends or family.
After all, there’s nothing better than a party in the woods, or a nice relaxing weekend with your loved ones around the fire. And now you know the perfect tents to look for – our TopNotch Award Winners!
It’s been a pleasure testing these tents and figuring out which are the pretenders and which are the contenders.
Now it’s your turn: find that perfect tent, plan that perfect trip, and most of all…
Get Out Into The Great Outdoors and Have Some Fun!