Overlanding is about getting out there, getting to remote places, and exploring the world. However, sometimes our vehicles can only take us so far. Or maybe you are on a budget, and you can’t quite fork out for a rooftop tent right now.
Either way, it’s not a bad idea to consider investing in a ground tent.
What to Look For in a Ground Tent
There are a lot of ground tents on the market, so here are some things to think about when purchasing a tent:
- How much space does the interior have? You want to make sure you’ll be comfortable, and the inside of the tent has enough room for you. Some tents are designed to fit multiple air mattresses while others you’ll have to sleep diagonally.
- Pay attention to the “center height” when you’re looking around unless you want to be ducking the whole time.
- If you drive to the campsite, it’s not as big of a deal, but if you are lugging the tent across difficult terrain, you’ll want a tent that won’t break your back. Tents can weigh anywhere from 3 pounds to 20 or more, so think about weight.
- Ventilation is a key point. Without proper circulation, you’ll end up with a muggy tent, so the number of vents and windows is important.
- Like openings, storage space is something to keep in mind. Most tents have at least one storage pocket inside, but you’ll definitely want more if you have a family.
- You don’t want your tent to tear or the frame to break, so the material it’s made of matters. Double-thick or ripstop fabric is great for avoiding tears, while steel poles seem to be the most durable frame.
- Weather-proof isn’t the same as weather-resistant, so plan accordingly. If you’re camping in the summer, you should be fine with most tents, but serious weather will need a tent that can withstand the elements better, like the UNP tent mentioned later.
Pros and Cons of Ground Tents for Overlanding
Whether it’s your only tent or a backup, ground tents have a lot of pros and cons to consider.
One of the best things about a ground tent is the cost, because it’s almost always the cheapest option compared to rooftop or truck tents. They generally range in price from under $20 to around $200.
Ground tents can be more spacious. While there are tents designed for a single person with minimal room, family tents can have well over 100 square feet of space to move around.
You don’t need a roof rack to transport a ground tent, and they don’t push up your laden weight so much.
Most tents weigh less than 25 pounds, with fabric and frame being a deciding factor. Another advantage of ground tents is their easy and quick set-up, with some being able to pop up in 1-3 minutes.
Of course, one of the best pros of ground tents is a shelter on the go. Because they’re transportable, you can take one hiking anywhere just in case you want to get further off the beaten path.
Overlanding with a ground tent presents challenges that you might not face in a rooftop tent. While you can take one anywhere, if you can’t find flat terrain, your ground tent can be very uncomfortable or lumpy. Some have built-in padding on the floor, but many don’t.
Ground tents aren’t raised, so there are a number of problems from that. If it rains, assuming that your tent’s rain fly holds up, you can wake up to mud and puddles directly outside your door.
Another thing that you’ll have to contend with is bugs and insects. Many tents have ground ventilation that will keep air flowing at night, but that can also allow mosquitos or spiders to get inside. Some have mesh coverings for that reason, but not all do.
Resistant doesn’t mean your tent will stop something, so you might have to use waterproof spray or tape on your weather-resistant tent to avoid water seeping through the material.
Lighter material is helpful for transport and ventilation, but some ground tents are more susceptible to the elements because of this. The wind is a big factor on that matter.
Most tents don’t do the best job against cold weather, so unless your tent is specifically designed for lower temperatures with thicker material to insulate, you’ll likely have an issue in those climates.
The last con related to ground tents is that the fabric can tear or the poles can break. While sturdy materials hold out longer, you’ll still need to patch or replace your tent after enough use.
The Best Ground Tents for Overlanding
Now that you know what to look for and how to judge the tent you need based on your camping expeditions, here are 6 of the best ground tents available.
Coleman Montana 8-Person Tent
With almost 7,000 reviews at an average of 4.5 stars, let’s start with this massive tent from Coleman. With over 100 square feet of interior space and a height over 6 feet at the center, this roomy tent is perfect for a large outing.
Boasting the ability to pack in 3 queen-size air beds, the 8-person tent has storage pockets inside and can be set up in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. It does weigh around 20 pounds, but since it’s meant for multiple people you can carry it with someone if you get tired.
It also has a small flap at the rear for an electronic power cable to run through if you want to have electricity inside. The regular model of the tent is $169, but there is an “elite” version that’s slightly more expensive and stands 7 feet tall at its center.
The Montana tent has thicker fabric for added durability, but one noted drawback seems to be that it’s weather-resistant instead of weatherproof. Using a waterproof spray or switching out the rainfly might help.
Still, as long as you’re in a rain-free environment or plan your camping trip around stormy weather this is a fantastic tent for a large group of people. One last positive is the built-in, battery-powered lighting that’s a great feature!
Coleman Sundome Tent
This best-selling tent is available for $50-170 depending on the size you need, which can fit anywhere from 2-6 people respectively. This Coleman product sets up as fast as the Montana tent but is better designed against inclement weather.
The sturdy frame of the tent says that best, being tested against winds of 35 or more mph. Like the Montana tent, the Sundome has internal storage pockets and an e-port for external electricity.
This one also has great ventilation, with vents near the ground that circulate air during the night through big windows. These windows and vents have mesh to keep out any bugs during the night and allow light in during the day.
The size varies based on your choice of the 2-,3-,4-, or 6-person model, but the standard 2-person is 5×7 feet with 4 feet of height at the center.
One of the best features of the Sundome is how absolutely water-resistant it is, to the point it may as well be called waterproof. The shape of the rainfly is designed for run-off, but it comes with an awning that will help keep water away from your entrance.
The Sundome is made of double-thick polyester with fiberglass poles, so it has better resistance to wind and is made to last for a long time. The only weather this tent isn’t designed for is winter temperatures, but it will keep out almost everything else.
For as little as $50, the Coleman Sundome is a simple, great choice!
OT QOMOTOP Tent
With a 1-year warranty, you can choose your QOMOTOP tent in a size for 4, 6, 8, or 10 people at prices from $120 to $240. For the purposes of this review, we’ll go with the 6-person model since that seems to be the best bang for your buck.
This tent is easy to set up and takes only a minute due to its instant design. Unlike many tents that can be confusing, the QOMOTOP has color-coded placements for the rain fly and vents so it’s easy to learn.
The 2 ground vents are adjustable whether you’re going for circulation at night or avoiding humidity and condensation in the morning. The 6-person model is spacious, with around 100 square footage to work with inside.
In that space, you’ll have storage pockets to place items in as well as a webbed “loft” for electronics. This nice feature allows you to watch things at night when you’re laying down without your arm falling asleep holding something up.
The material of the tent is thick enough to handle harsh weather with a PU coating to make the tent as close to waterproof as you can find. For the price, this is one of the best tents on the market.
UNP 6-Person Tent
With a center over 6 feet in height and 90 feet of floor space, the UNP is a fantastic buy for $140. This durable tent is designed to be water- and windproof with its hydrostatic coating and steel frame.
With a family design, there are several mesh pockets inside to hold things. The windows have mesh over them for lighting and protection, but the UNP avoids the issues of ground vents by placing them on the roof.
Not only does this provide ventilation, air circulation, and better lighting, but roof vents mean less insects. However, they do have mesh as well to keep out falling leaves or anything else. The UNP is easy to set up in as little as 3 minutes by yourself.
The convenient carrying case and 20-pound weight cap off this tent as one of the best available!
Wakeman 2-Person Tent
The cheapest on this list in price, but not quality, is the Wakeman 2-person tent for under $20. It weighs less than 3 pounds, folds down small enough to fit almost anywhere, and has a floor tarp that keeps rain out.
The light color of the tent is designed to keep temperatures low during the day, and the set-up is simple. While not as spacious as some others, being 6.25 x 4.8 feet, the Wakeman is certainly one of the best deals you’ll find.
It does have a storage pocket inside and stands up to wind surprisingly well, but the simple construction of the tent allows for easy patches with duct tape or a sewing kit. For $20, this is a great one to have as a backup or in case of emergencies.
Moon Lence Instant Pop-Up Tent
Available in orange, blue, or green, the Moon Lence tent sets up in just a few minutes. Standing around 4.5 feet at its center, the tent is a unique pentagonal shape. While this can make it difficult to fit 4 inside, it does allow for the 4 mesh windows and a large door.
Reinforced dual zippers on each opening provide better ventilation and protection. The polyester fabric of the tent is highly resistant to wind and has strong water resistance. The fabric is also made with PU material to add UV protection for those sunnier environments.
It’s designed for up to 5 people, but the Moon Lence may be better suited for 2 or 3 with a little more storage room. At just over 10 pounds, the $100 Moon Lence tent is a lightweight, solid purchase.
That wraps up 6 of the best ground tents for Overlanding that you can find on Amazon. Each one has a unique design or quality for different circumstances, though the top 3 might be the Sundome, QOMOTOP, and UNP.
Whether or not you go with one of the 6 on this list, be sure to keep in mind what to look for when you’re shopping for a ground tent, and remember the pros and cons of this particular style of the tent if you’re comparing options. Hopefully, this helps make you a happy camper!