If the thought of setting up a tent for your family in the middle of the woods gives you any level of anxiety, I have the solution for you. I did a ton of research online, and visited REI to check some out in person, and ended up going with the Caddis Rapid 6 Tent.
First of all, the Caddis Rapid 6 is probably the easiest tent to set-up in the history of tents. The first time out of the box, it took me all of 8 minutes to have it completely set-up. By myself. It’s quite easy to take-down as well, and actually fits back into it’s bag without much of a struggle. They have a video that shows you how to do it.
The Rapid 6 is also quite tall and spacious (for a camping tent), and has plenty of room for our family of 2 adults and 2 small children on air mattresses. The kids had tons of fun just being in the tent, since it’s basically an outdoor fort. This tent would also be the ideal size for two adults on cots. It stores and transports neatly in the included nylon bag.
One of the great things about camping is the novelty of sleeping outside, surrounded by nature. One thing I love about this tent are the sheer ‘skylight’ at the top, which allows you to see the stars or trees above when you’re lying down. If it rains, you can cover the tent with the included rain fly, which blocks your view but keeps you dry. There are additional ‘windows’ on all four wall panels with zippered rain flaps to maximize your view. There’s also a handy little pouch / shelf for storying your phone, keys, or other small items.
Be sure to buy a basic waterproof tarp to put under the tent. It’s a necessary barrier between the tent and the earth. It should be the same size as the base of your tent, which is 10’ x 10’ with the Caddis Rapid 6.
You’ll also need to get some sleeping pads or cots underneath your sleeping bags. If you’re not going to go camping very often, just get some basic air mattresses. I got two double-sized mattresses, which come with a battery-operated pump. Together, they fit into the tent snuggly, so they didn’t slide around much. If you want to invest a little more into your comfort, there are ‘Self-inflating’ and other foam-based technology pads.
Even when it isn’t pouring rain outside, managing dirty shoes coming in and out of the tent was the only thing that caused us any stress at all. Next time out, I’m going to try creating a ‘landing’ area with a stool just outside the tent door for taking shoes on and off.
OTHER HIGHLY-RATED CAR-CAMPING TENTS
For more beginner’s tips on camping with kids, check out Let’s Take the Kids Camping! A Beginner’s Guide.