Camping isn’t always meant to be a solitary experience.
Sometimes, you want to take the entire family along for the trip- and sometimes, the kids want to tag along with their friends.
For this, you’ll need one big tent or pack up a bunch of smaller tents to accommodate everyone.
While either of the shelter setups is perfect, sharing a single tent with family is a blast and can often make the trip a million times more fun.
Beyond keeping everyone together, having a larger tent saves you money on tents and camping fees while making it easier to pack since you only have one tent instead of several tents.
For me, having everyone under a single shelter means I can have my kids close by at night.
That said, there’s a fine line between close quarters and too close for comfort. While the large tents offer the perfect way to bond with friends and families, some often come at the expense of comfort and convenience.
But not the 12-person tents.
These shelter options are among the largest options in the market, and thanks to their space offering, they do replicate your household’s feeling in the wilderness.
But, not all 12 person tents are made equal. Some are larger than others, and their layout can differ, and so can their style and storage options.
To help you select the best 12-person tent for your family, we shall provide you with a list of the five favorite options to help guide you in your purchase.
Table of Contents
The Best 12-Person Tents For The Money
#1 CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Our top pick, the Core 12 Instant Tent, is a giant tent, ideal for small groups or large families that need a comfortable shelter solution.
It comes as a complete package, offering everything you would need for a fulfilling experience outdoors.
Keep in mind it’s a premium option, and if you’re on a budget, you may want to skip to our next option. That said, we think it deserves the premium price.
But is it the right tent for your family’s needs?
Features and Benefits
When you consider the sheer size of the Core 12, it’s easy to think setting it up requires some elbow grease.
But that’s farther from the truth.
The instant tent mechanism is intriguing, and you’ll be impressed with how quickly the tent goes up. Two minutes is not an exaggeration. So easy.
For me, it’s a God-sent feature since I’ve three kids, all under 5, and yet, we were able to set it with my partner in a few minutes.
As far as the durability and quality of the Core 12 are concerned, the tent proves to be a resilient option.
The durable 68 polyester shell fabric weathers the craziest torrential thunderstorm, while setting up the 125gsm P.E. floor material on the un-cleared ground doesn’t do any harm or cause any damage.
Improper handling and poor storage also do little if any harm to the tent, and aside from a few scratches here and there, there are no major damages.
There’s more than enough space for everything and everyone on the Core 12.
The 180 square feet of space can comfortably accommodate three queen-sized mattresses to fit 6 to 7 adults comfortably.
Those who need a frugal lifestyle can fit 8 to 9 sleeping bags, but it would be tight.
Another benefit with the Core is the 7 ft center height, a wonderful addition especially for tall campers like me who can now stand up comfortably without the worry of a neck ache.
Core 12 is a 3-season tent, but it fits the bill of a perfect summer tent.
While it has some water-resistance properties, including a waterproof rainfly and H2O Block Technology, it may not be the perfect option for the heavy downpour.
Yes, it is resistant to moderate to heavy rainfall and will keep the interior bone dry, but it may not weather torrential rainfall.
Core 12 comes with three-room dividers for more privacy.
When camping with a group of friends or family, adults can occupy one room for playing poker and cards, and the kids can take the other for playing fun games. The third room can be used for storage.
Big tents normally have a lot of moisture build-up than the smaller tents.
This is because Core has focused on integrating an advanced ventilation system consisting of huge mesh windows to allow the free flow of air.
#2 Ozark Trail 12 Person Cabin Tent (With Canopy) - Budget Option
If you felt Core 12 was above your budget, then here is an inexpensive option that maintains the quality of premium options.
Ozark Trail is a budget-option purchase, and contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t skimp on the performance.
It’s a pragmatic option that will keep your family safe and protected against the elements. More importantly, it’s a spacious option that lets you live in rugged luxury.
Features and Benefits
As its name suggests, Ozark Instant is an instant tent, so set up is a breeze.
Preparing and setting up this shelter doesn’t take much time and will be ready in a few minutes.
It’s a great option to have when you’re alone or need to set up the tent in the shortest time possible.
Often, we see budget purchases compromising on the build quality, but not the Ozark.
This option doesn’t take corners when it comes to the choice of materials and craftsmanship.
For instance, the tent has a similar polyester 68D shell, similar to the one on the premium Core 12.
It’s a heavy-duty option and will stand up to the common abuses melted by Mother Nature.
Ozark is not easily punctured by sharpies when setting up or torn by nails and other barnacles during storage or transport.
Setting the tent on un-cleared grounds doesn’t do any harm to the tent, and save for the light abrasions and scratches, there’s no major compromise.
I’ve had the pleasure of using the Ozark a few times, and what I can tell you it’s a gigantic tent, probably bigger than our bedroom at home.
The tent itself is well made, and with a floor area of 171.5 square feet, it has enough space for 3 to 4 queen-size air mattresses so that it can hold up to 7 adults at a time.
The tent can also comfortably fit two air mattresses and leave extra space for tables on each side of the bed and a family room in the middle. It’s a setup for those who want to live in rugged luxury.
Weather resistance for the Ozark is pretty decent, especially for its price.
It holds up pretty well through several long trips, wind, and rain. I was particularly impressed by how well it blocked the wind during a 30+mph wind storm. You could hear the wind outside the tent but didn’t feel it.
The window and door seams also hold up well, and when used along with the rainfly, your interior stays bone dry, free of any wetness.
Ozark comes with two inner rooms and a front screen porch, so it’s technically a 3-room tent.
The inner divider is sewn in with a zipper in the middle, and while it offers some form of privacy, don’t expect much discreteness from the tent.
#3 Ozark Trail 3 Room Instant Cabin Tent - Best All-Rounder
If you’re in search of the perfect all-rounder 12-person camping tent, you can’t go wrong with the Ozark Trail.
It’s a big tent, requiring a 16 by 16 feet area to set up, and comes with three different cabin rooms for greater storage and room capacity.
We also love the awning areas, which are almost the size of one cabin area, perfect for relaxing under the shade.
Features and Benefits
Setting up the Ozark Trail is a breeze and doesn’t require much effort.
It goes up as easy as it says, and we were able to do it with my partner in a few minutes.
However, keep in mind that the term “instant” doesn’t necessarily mean that it pops into shape once you take it out of its carrier.
It does take some hands-on, but with the help of built-in poles, the set-up only takes a few minutes once you figure out what poles to join.
As with our other previously reviewed items, the Ozark Trail comes with the exceptional build quality.
It does survive the elements and hold up to the rocking and hassles of transport and setting it up.
The durable polyester shell resists rain and exposure to the sun, all while standing up to the ground’s sharp objects.
We also haven’t had an issue getting it back, and we aren’t very careful on folding either.
We’ve a family of 7 (3 adults and four kids), and the tent comfortably accommodated every one.
It’s quite roomy, and with a floor area of 256 square feet, it can fit up to 3 queen-sized air mattresses in the three different rooms, and still have enough space for extra luggage.
I’m also fairly tall, and I love that this tent is tall enough to stand up while offering plenty of space or comfortable sleeping arrangements, storage, and changing clothes.
Also, I love the pockets inside the room separators- a great place for storing your accessories such as phones, cell phones, and flashlights.
I live in Nevada, where the weather is always unpredictable, but the Ozark Trail has so far impressed me.
It weathers through the heavy winds, rain, and shine,
However, if you’re camping in the heavy wind, I advise you to utilize the heavy-duty stakes to hold the tent onto the ground.
If you expect thunderstorms, you can utilize a water-resistant tarp to keep the interior bone dry.
It’s cool having separate rooms on your tent, and you’ll love the room dividers that transform the Ozark’s space into three rooms.
Here, you can dedicate a single room for you and your partner and the other room for your kids. You can use the third room as a storage area.
Plus, the tent has two doors, making it quite convenient to get in and out of the room.
On the other hand, the large windows help with the overall ventilation and free airflow to prevent the tent’s moisture build-up.
#4 Bushnell Shield Series 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent - Value Purchase
The Bushnell Shield Series 12, also available in 6 and 9 person versions, is our choice for the most value purchase in our list of the best 12-person tents.
This option comes with various revolutionary features, including WeatherShield and HeatShield Technologies, to allow the tent to withstand the elements for years of camping adventures.
Is the Bushnell Shield the right camping for you, though?
Features and Benefits
Instant Cabin Tent
12-person tents are gigantic, and setting them up can feel like a chore.
But not with the Bushnell.
This cabin tent is an instant option, allowing you to set it up in a matter of minutes.
The setup is pretty easy, and it takes just a few minutes, with little effort needed. Unfold and lift it.
Bushnell’s build quality doesn’t disappoint, and from the word go, you’ll love how everything is designed with quality in mind.
For instance, the steel frames are reliable and will easily weather the rowdy winds.
On the other hand, the shell fabric is super reliable and doesn’t leak, tear, or wear even when exposed to the elements.
Overall, this tent’s quality is fantastic and will let you pass the tent from generation to generation.
Bushnell Shield Series is a spacious option, and we were able to fit three queen air mattresses and leave extra space for gear.
It’s perfect for a group of 6 and may fit a family of 7 or 8.
I’ve been looking for a well-constructed tent that would provide great wind resistance, solid sun protection and holds up well in a downpour, but still has exceptional ventilation,
I found it in this Bushnell Series Tent.
During a downpour, the tent holds up well, with no leakage, and the seams are impenetrable to rolling water, keeping your interior bone dry.
It also stands up to the strong winds, and though it’s a free-standing option, we recommend that you use the available stakes to firmly hold it onto the ground.
In particular, the tent utilizes a heat shield technology, a special reflective coating on the underside that will keep the tent noticeably darker and cooler during the hot summer days. The tent also employs a Weather Shield Technology, consisting of a water-repellent fabric, tub flooring, and fully taped seams to keep the rain and flowing water away.
#5 NTK Super Arizona GT - Durable Option
Our final option, the NTK Super Arizona GT, is yet another practical 12-person tent, coming with everything you need for your camping adventure.
Its greatest draw, however, is the durable polyester fabric that ensures it can survive any abuses.
The tent is also spacious, and will have enough room for you and your family and leave extra space for storing your goods.
But is it the right camping option for you?
Features and Benefits
From the word go, it’s easy to see that the NTK GT is built with durability in mind.
This option will survive anything you throw at it.
From the sturdy nano-flex shock-corded frames to the durable polyester fabric, there’s little that this frame can’t weather.
Setting the tent on uneven and un-cleared grounds does little harm to its integrity, and you’ll love how it stands up coming into contact with sharpies and other barnacles without leaking or tearing.
NTK is a spacious tent, and while camping, we had three larger than average size cots with small bedside tables.
The tent also left some space for a luggage bench, a dining table, and our Labrador space.
Overall, the NTK has an awesome sleeping configuration and can fit three queen-sized air mattresses.
It can also fit a couple of sleeping bags and will accommodate up to 9 users.
But for those who want to live in rugged luxury, it can hold 5 to 6 users on the two queen size beds and still leave some extra space for accessories and storage.
We had a downpour falling on us on our first trip, and the NTK held up pretty well, and we didn’t experience any leakage.
The waterproof rainfly kept the rain at bay, ensuring our interior was bone dry without any wetness.
The high winds also didn’t move the tent, and you love how it stands to the gales of wind without wavering.
However, we recommend staking the tent onto the ground due to its height to avoid getting blown by the wind.
Overall, this tent’s weather resistance is impressive and will keep your family protected against the elements.
Ventilation for the NTK is super impressive, with several large windows and a door opening helping with the free flow of air to keep humidity at bay.
Plus, the tent features an ultra-thin polyester No=See-Um style mesh that will keep the tent free from pesky insects while offering some privacy from side views
Best 12-Person Tents Buying Guide
12-person tents are available in different forms, layouts, styles, and color options.
Each tent has distinctively unique features, which makes it suited for some campers and not others.
To help you determine which tent is right for you, we’ve prepared a buying guide outlining the critical factors you should consider in your next purchase spree.
Essential Factors to Consider When Selecting a 12-Person Tent
It’s easy to imagine that 12-person tents can comfortably hold 12 users. That’s far from the truth.
This tent’s declared capacity is usually not realistic, and it’s in most cases determined by the number of sleeping bags it can hold.
You should consider the dimensions and actual floor area to determine the holding capacity, rather than the declared capacity.
Most tents can indeed accommodate 12 people in the sense that you can hold 12 sleeping bags, but you wouldn’t have much space left for gear.
12-person tents differ greatly in several aspects, including the space specifications.
As with all 12-person tents, cramming 12 people isn’t practical, and the max to go for is probably ten or 6to 8 for those who want to live in luxury.
We recommend choosing a tent split into several rooms .i.e. for sleeping and have a room for socializing or storage.
The room dividers are necessary for privacy, and it makes sense in terms of space, especially when you’re out in a large group.
12-portable tents aren’t the most portable shelters and certainly not built for backpacking.
Most of them have a weight ranging from 35 to 60 pounds, making them ideal for car camping only.
It’s worth considering a 60-pound bag is quite heavy and bulky, too, so it’s likely to consume a lot of space in your car.
The trick is to play the balancing game between space and weight to meet your needs.
The choice of a tent will depend on the season you plan to go camping.
Most of the tents on or list are 3-season tents, ideal for the coldish and warm summer weather, or rather three seasons,
They’re not tailored for icy camping, and if you need to camp during winter, you may need to add a footprint or other accessories to keep you warm.
Again, remember that not all tents are incredible in the rain and wind, with some leaking during a heavy downpour.
When choosing a tent, consider those with sealed seams that won’t allow water, and pick those with strong frames to withstand the heavy winds.
Materials often determine the durability of a tent.
The thicker the material, the more durable it is. Yet, you also need to balance the weight element because thicker materials are heavier.
Beyond the choice of fabric, another element you need to consider is the type of pole. Poles are commonly made from steel, aluminum, or fiberglass.
Fiberglass is lightweight and gives more flex during windy conditions, while aluminum and steel have more strength and will hold up in severe conditions.
12-Person tents are super large, and setting them up isn’t the easiest of the tasks.
However, there’s an instant 12-person camping tent that will allow for an easy and fast setup.
While the instant sets are fast at setting up, they’re not convenient at storage, and tend to be longer when packed.
Freestanding or Not
Common types of freestanding tents are cabin tents and dome tents. Tunnel tents are rarely freestanding.
The non-freestanding tents will require campers to stake them down properly before adding poles. Examples of these include the teepee tents.
Either way, the 12-person tents are large shelter options, so whether freestanding or not, don’t even think of using them without proper staking.
Access and Storage
Tents have different access and storage designs.
The best features feature two doors for easy access, an extra storage room, and some internal storage.
Extra storage is necessary for keeping bags out of the tent, while the two doors will make everyone’s life easier when getting in and out of the tent. The doors are also great for ventilation purposes.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
All the listed options are fantastic 12-person tents, but if I were to choose a single option, I would happily recommend the CORE 12 Person Instant Cabin Tent.
It’s an all-rounder option, coming with everything you may need for your camping adventures.
First, it’s a spacious option that can accommodate your family or camping group’s space needs.
It’s also built with durability in mind and will easily survive anything you throw at it.
Most importantly, it’s a weather-resistant option that keeps your family safe from the elements.