We use the same tent whether we are backpacking, cycle touring, or car camping. With all the tents on the market, it can be overwhelming to sort through to narrow down to the best tents for camping with dogs.
Don’t you worry, I’ve got your back.
Choosing a tent to accommodate your dog is not all that different from buying one for yourself. The perfect tent should be lightweight, durable, weather proof, designed with high quality materials, and quick to set up.
When you bring your dog into consideration, you’ll need to think about their size (do they take up alllll the space?), their demeanor (will they scratch the mesh lining?), and their sleeping temperature (do they tend to run cold or hot?).
This guide will help you determine how to pick the best tent for camping with dogs that will suit your needs, so that you can be ready for camping season once the good weather hits.
What to Consider When Looking for a New Tent for Camping with Dogs
For many, weight is the most important factor when choosing a tent. You need to decide how much weight is worth carrying for your particular journey.
If you plan to use your tent regularly or on a trip like a several month long thru-hike or cycling trip, keep in mind that the lightest backpacking tent might not be the best option.
You often sacrifice durability and price for the lightest tents. In the long run, carrying one or two more extra pounds is undoubtedly worth it if it means that your tent lasts longer. Remember, this is your home and comfort is a top priority.
When you’re tent shopping, you’ll notice that most specs list a “minimum trail weight” and a “maximum trail weight.” Minimum trail weight indicates the load with the tent, poles, and rain fly. Maximum weight for a tent includes the stakes, stuff sack, and footprint (which is usually sold separately).
This is the second most important decision to make when selecting a tent. Depending on the size of your dog and how much space they tend to take up when they sleep, you may want to consider your dog as an additional person.
There’s no need to sacrifice comfortable sleeping in a tent just because you have a dog.
You may also bring some of your gear inside the tent, like clothing, bags, or other items that take up space. If you don’t accommodate for the extra gear in addition to your dog, then your sleep will suffer.
Pay attention to the design. Is the tent tapered at one end to save space or is it a rectangular shape to offer more room?
Other considerations for interior space include storage pockets, height, and hooks to hang gear like headlamps.
The vestibule area is the space created by the rain fly that provides covered space for gear or shoes. Some tents have vestibules on each side, while others have them at one or both ends of the tent. Depending on your vestibule needs, you’ll need to decide which is best for you.
For much of our cycle tour, we opted for a tent with a large vestibule on one end that could accommodate our bikes, trailer, and bags (I’m not recommending that specific tent here because it failed us in several ways). For most trips, the side vestibule doors will suffice just fine.
If you’re a hot sleeper like I am, then you’ll want a tent with lots of mesh, vents, and openings. If I need more air, I simply unzip my rain fly opening.
Aside from sleeping comfort, ventilation is important to fend of condensation and prevent mold. The average person exhales about 1 liter of moisture each night when we sleep.
With multiple people and dogs in the tent, that amount increases. All that moisture becomes trapped by your tent and creates condensation. This can be a drag if you’re eager to leave early in the morning, but don’t want to pack a wet tent.
Unless you plan to do some winter camp trips, a 3-season tent is plenty sufficient. Three-season tents offer more ventilation, but can also provide insulation in cooler weather, including frost or light snow.
Now, this is one area that may seem a little silly to think about because it feels so obvious. A door is a door, right? Wrong. Our first tent had that great vestibule that could fit our bikes and the trailer, plus our bags if we needed it to. However, it meant that there was one side door and one door at the head of the tent.
If someone needed to get out in the middle of the night, they either had to climb over the other person or wrangle bags, bikes, and trailers. Do yourself a favor and choose a tent with two doors on either side of the tent for easy access for both people.
Freestanding vs Non-Freestanding
All of the tents listed here are free standing tents. What that means is that they are supported using tent poles. They usually come dual-walled, meaning they have a separate rain fly and the structure can stand freely without stakes.
Non-Freestanding tents are for ultralight backpackers or cycle tourists who use a tent pole to support the structure of the tent. They are single wall design, which means the rain fly is built in. Non-freestanding tents must also be staked in order stand fully taught.
The Best Tents for Camping with Dogs
The following list is based off of a few factors:
- You will be using the same tent for backpacking, car camping, and cycle touring
- You have two small dogs or one medium or large dog
- You are not looking for a tent with separate rooms that can fit a queen size air mattress and include a screen room for long term camping at a campground
- You are a couple who camps with their dog
I include both 2 and 3-person, 3-season camping tents in this list. They hold up over time, can withstand challenging weather, and fit two people and a dog or two comfortably. I have have either used these tents myself or have known others who have used them long term.
If you have any questions about logistics of camping with dogs, this post should help you out.
Best Overall Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Classic Tent
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 is the tent we took on our bike trip. It’s showing some minor wear and tear three years later in the mesh and seams, but still completely usable. Even in wet weather, like during our Oregon Rode Trip, we always woke up dry.
The newest version has been updated significantly. An awning-style vestibule expands the covered space, great for both rain and sun protection.
The height far exceeds other backpacking tents, with a peak at 60″, this is ideal for taller people.
Large pockets throughout keep smaller items contained and allow for more available floor space. A pre-bent span pole increases strength and helps rain and snow slide off easily.
The Copper Spur has the largest floor space of all of the tents listed here, so if you have a large dog or two medium to small ones, then this would make a great choice.
Best Budget Tent for 1 Person + Dog: REI Co-Op Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent
Packaged Weight: 2lbs 8oz
Floor Dimensions: 88 x 52 inches
Floor Area: 28.7 square feet
Peak Height: 42 inches
Footprint sold separately: REI
Price at REI: $349.99
REI Co-Op brand products are great because they are high quality for a great deal and the Quarter Dome SL 2 is no different. Vertical sidewalls create extra space on the sides and the inside is equipped with several pockets and hang loops to store gear.
Color-coded loops make set up a breeze and the large door to the rain fly vestibule means easy entry and exit.
Best Backpacking Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent
We nearly purchased the Hubba Hubba for our bicycle trip, but it came down to a few factors, such as the vestibule size and the door placement. MSR consistently makes durable, reliable, and super high quality tents.
Several fellow cyclists opted for the 2-person tent and used it for the entirety of their multi-month or year trips, including in Patagonia where the tent was able to withstand serious winds.
The doors are placed at the head and foot of the tent, which I think would bother us now, as I prefer to have them on the side. However the placement does mean a larger vestibule space to store gear. Also, this is the smallest tent, so if you have a large dog, then you may want to opt for a tent with a larger floor area.
The price is certainly steep, but the Hubba Hubba is practically bullet proof and you get what you pay for.
Best Tent for Gear Storage: NEMO Dagger 2 Tent
For some reason, I’ve always been enamored with NEMO tents. Though I have yet to try one out myself, I appreciate the dedication they put into making their products and that they are a dog-friendly workspace.
Their sustainability goals mean that they build products meant to last and stay out of landfills. When they do wear out, the company stands by their full lifetime warranty.
Now, in terms of the Dagger 2, this tent gets my recommendation thanks to the durable, yet lightweight materials and the large vestibule space on either side of the dual doors.
The Divvy stuff sack allows you to split up the load when hiking together. Pre-bent poles offer more headroom and the 90” length is great for taller campers. This is one of the largest and lightest tents on this list.
Best Budget Tent for 2 People + Dog: Marmot Limelight 3P Tent
Packaged Weight: 6lbs 11oz (includes footprint)
Floor Dimensions: 90 x 68 inches
Floor Area: 42.5 square feet
Peak Height: 48 inches
Price at REI: $322
This is a great budget tent for cooler weather camping and backpacking trips. It’s a little on the heavier side, but if you’re two people, it’s easy to split the load.
The huge D-shaped doors make entry and exit easy, and lead to a large vestibule, perfect for storing wet or excess gear. Pre-bends create vertical walls to expand indoor space.
A real bonus is that the foot print is included. I don’t understand why most tents don’t include them as a package, but it’s rare to find a tent that does, and this one does.