What Tent Size Do I Need? A Detailed Guide In Picking The Right Tent Size

Rilor Staff
Update: April 12, 2021
Table of Contents

What tent size do I need?

Most of the time, people tend to pick their tents based on their features and ergonomics. Of course, that's not a bad thing; that's a by-the-book way of assessing the quality of an outdoor tent. But at the same time, these factors are not the only determining aspects that tell a tent's quality. 

You should also address the sizing issues. You have to make sure that the tent fits your requirements. Furthermore, it should strike a perfect balance between its weight and bulk.

In this guide, I will discuss the guidelines when choosing the right tent size for you. 

How To Choose The Right Tent Size

Capacity Rating

When buying a tent, the most important thing to do is understand the capacity rating of the tent you are purchasing. The capacity rating is how many people the tent can hold. The second most important thing is understanding the number of people the tent's floor space is designed for. For example, a family of four could fit in a three-person tent with room to spare.

Tents aren't like other types of equipment: choosing a tent with the right capacity rating is more about ensuring comfort and convenience than ensuring protection from the elements. In other words, while a tent that is too small may not be able to comfortably hold all your friends or family, a tent that is too big will probably just wind up being an inefficient use of space.

Here are the technical specifications of tents based on their capacity rating:

  • 1-Person Tents - Suitable for one person only. Gears should be stored in a vestibule.
  • 2-Person Tents - It is comfortable for single-person use as it lets you store your items inside. It works well for two people, but it will be tight inside. Their outdoor equipment will be stashed in a vestibule.
  • 3-Person Tents - These tents will provide enough space for two people. It can also fit sleeping pads. If there are three adults inside, it will be tight on a 3-person tent; if it is only two adults and one kid or pet, it will be roomy. 
  • 4-Person Tents - A 4-person tent is exceptionally spacious if there are only two to three persons on it. Gear storage will not become a problem. It can completely accommodate four campers, but it is going to be crampy on the interior. They have to store their equipment outside or in a vestibule. 
  • 6-Person Tents - Designed for five to six people, but it is going to be tight. It is a spacious option for four people, as it lets them store their equipment.
  • 8-Person Tents - It is a comfortable option for five people plus their items. Of course, it is suitable for six adult individuals, plus their children and pets.
  • 10-Person Tents - This one is highly luxurious for four people plus their outdoor equipment. It is going to be stuffy inside when there are eight or more campers using it. 

Floor Space

When it comes to floor sizing, you should always go with a tent that provides you with the maximum value. Based on the recommendations of enthusiasts and other outdoor experts, a tent should provide at least 20 square feet of space per person. Therefore, if you are using a single-person tent, you have to make sure that the tent has a minimum floor size of 20 square feet. In this way, you have enough room to sleep without having to place your gear on your top.

Of course, this measurement is just the minimum. If you want more space to accommodate your sleeping pads or sleeping bags, you have to go for tents with bigger floor sizes. If possible, go for options that can provide up to 30 to 40 square feet per person.

If you are considering your children in the equation, it is best to get a tent that is spacious enough to cater to their growth. Sooner or later, they will hit puberty and become full-grown teenagers. Their body will obviously get big, which would make the tent insufficient for them. You got to invest in large multi-room tents, with partitions if possible. 

Do you want to sleep comfortably on a tent? This guide should help you out!

Shape Of The Tent

There are two general types of tent shapes: cabin and dome tents. 

Cabin tents feature almost-straight walls, which improve their interior space. Of course, the bigger space is, the more room you have to move around. For instance, family-sized cabin tents let their users move and stand without hitting the ceiling. Such a design is extremely comfortable as it maximizes the mobility of the campers. 

A cabin tent is the perfect choice if you are going to bring camping cots are other large outdoor amenities. They have the space to cater these things conveniently.

But of course, there are downsides to these cabin tents. Because of their vertical wall design, they are not good at deflecting strong winds. During times when hard weather hits your campground, you'll have no other choice but to rely on your stakes or anchors. If you want this kind of tent, you have to make sure that your stakes are long and durable. 

Here is a rundown of some of the best tent stakes in the market today. 

Meanwhile, a dome type of tent inclined or sloped walls. When strong gusts of wind are persistent in your area, this particular tent type will not have any problems. The wind simply passes on the walls of the tent, allowing it to be more stable. And since they don't have any parts or features, they are inevitably lighter than cabin tents. But of course, their internal space of dome tents is limited due to the natural inclination of their walls. You can't stand upright while inside them.

If you are going to buy a dome tent, make sure that it is larger than what you actually need. For instance, if you are a solo hiker or backpacker, you might want to get a two-person dome tent. In this way, you can have enough space to move around and store your equipment. 


A vestibule is an extension of a tent, but not all tents have a vestibule. Mostly, this particular component is only available in large models. The function of a vestibule is simple: it gives additional space for you to store your items. Alternatively, you can use a vestibule for recreational purposes. You can use it for lounging and relaxation. It offers sufficient shade so that you can be shielded from rain and heat. 

Of course, the general idea here is that if the tent has a vestibule, you will have more space you can utilize.

If you are gunning for tents with vestibules, make sure that you understand their coverage and capabilities. In this way, you can spot the best option for you.


The application may also determine the size of the tent that you are going to buy. For backpacking purposes, you only need a 1-person to 2-person tent. That's the standard, especially if you are making the trip by yourself. Even if you are in a group, it is still recommended that you bring your own tent, unless you are going with your partner or close friend. The smaller the tent, the more weight you can shed. 

Looking for an ultralight tent? Check out this list!

For leisure camping, you are free to pick a large tent. After all, there's no restriction to the size and weight of tents here, especially if you are going to pitch your tent on highly accessible camping grounds. 

Furthermore, keep in mind that you have to upsize the tent based on your numbers. For instance, if there are four people in your group, it is suggested that you get a 6-person tent. In this way, you can all enter the tent without feeling too snugly. 


The ideal tent size varies from one person to another. Numerous factors can affect your decision, and you have to take these things into account before buying a tent. By knowing the right tent size, you will get an outdoor shelter that can support your outdoor needs and expectations. 

I hope that you find this guide useful. For other inquiries, feel free to ask me in the comment section below.

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