A tent has the power to make or break your festival experience. Get the wrong one and by the end of the weekend you could be a soggy, clammy, sleep-deprived shell of your former self. Pick wisely and you’ll have a welcoming place to restore and revive you.
Given the British weather, all the tents featured here are waterproof, so don’t worry about that. Instead, do consider how much space you might need for muddy stuff (some porches are huge, others are less than a foot wide), and how far you’ll have to carry it (the tents here weigh between 3kg and 30kg).
It also matters who you’re going with. Two mates or a couple won’t need as much space as a family – and if you’re going to a family festival with young children it’s worth having a covered living area, so you can eat a meal in the dry if the weather turns against you.
None of the tents featured here took longer than 20 minutes to erect (and inflatable tent poles are quicker and easier than standard poles), but it’s worth practicing at home first – there’s nothing worse than struggling with an incomprehensible tent while your mates ditch you to see the first act.
We tested these tents in warm, sunny weather in the UK in June. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending how you look at it, we didn’t have any serious rain during our testing to fully check the manufacturers’ waterproofing credentials, but the fabrics all have a hydrostatic head rating of at least 1,000mm (meaning it’ll hold the pressure of a 1,000mm tall column of water), which qualifies a fabric as waterproof.
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The best festival tents for 2021 are:
Best overall – Quechua camping tent 2 seconds fresh and black XL 3 person: £109.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Best for intrepid festival-goers – Alpkit Jaran 3: £229.99, Alpkit.com
Best for forgetful campers – Gorilla graffiti night glow tent and tent finder: £39.99, Gorilla-tents.com
Best for fuss-free couples – Kampa Brighton 2 person tent: £56, Cotswoldoutdoor.com
Best for space-loving campers – Lichfield eagle 5 air tent package: £785, Outdoorworlddirect.co.uk
Best for avid campers – Vaude Mark L 3P tent: £250, Webtogs.com
Best for hot destinations – Poler 2 person tent lightweight camping shelter: £209.95, Absolute-snow.co.uk
Best for stylish campers – Life Under Canvas 4m bell tent: £435, Lifeundercanvas.co.uk
Best for older kids – Regatta Kivu 4 person vis-a-vis tent green pasture: £221.95, Regatta.com
Best for keen family campers – Vango Osiris 500 tent: £419.99, Ellis-brigham.com
Quechua camping tent 2 Seconds fresh and black XL 3 person
Packed size: 85cm x 9cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 2,000mm polyester
A fabulous tent from one of Decathlon’s brilliant in-house brands, we love its simple but thoughtful and effective design. Particular highlights include the incredibly dark interior, even in the brightest of sunshine, which also helps to keep things cool, the side windows that can be closed, rolled up or half opened and clipped on to the guy ropes, and the mesh porch on the inner tent.
It’s really quick to put up – unclip the strap and the tent pops out, then there are just three guy ropes that need pegging out once the base is pegged down. To put it away, watch the brief video first. The colour-coded clips and straps really help with taking the tent down – and it doesn’t feel flimsy, so you can be rough with squeezing it into shape.
It’s really spacious and the front porch is a decent size, too – it’s one of those rare tents where the stated capacity is a reality. Two storage pockets on each side plus two hooks in the roof complete this dream festival tent
Buy now £109.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Alpkit jaran 3
Best: For intrepid festival-goers
Packed size: 15cm x 45cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 2,000mm nylon
A brilliant combination of low weight, small pack size, quality fabrics and sturdy build make this a tent to invest in. Weighing just 2.336kg and packing down to the size of a 2-litre drinks bottle, the jaran 3 is ideal for travelling light – and we love that the pack can easily be split between two, so each carries just over 1kg.
We enjoyed putting this tent up – it’s well thought through, and can be put up by one person if necessary. Taking it down is also a joy, and is easy to pack away single-handed. The single multi-directional tent pole with horizontal crossbar feels really sturdy, and is a clever little piece of engineering – plus it adds great stability to the tent.
Inside, it’s high enough to sit up in (with just over a metre of headroom) and feels very roomy for two; three at a push. With its two porches, the jaran is ideal for two – each can have their own vestibule without clambering over the other person, and each corner of the tent has a double pocket. Thanks to its inner mesh, the jaran is nicely breathable with good ventilation, and felt relatively cool, even in the blazing sunshine.
Buy now £229.95, Alpkit.com
Gorilla graffiti night glow tent and tent finder
Best: For forgetful campers
Packed size: 75cm x 12cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 1,000mm polyester
Roomier than expected, this bright, colourful pop-up tent from Gorilla tents is a great-value option for a couple of friends wanting an easy weekend option. As with all pop-up tents, it’s really quick to erect, and once you’ve got the knack, easy to stow away too: just be bold, it’s stronger than you think. The porch is big enough for muddy boots and there’s a hook inside for a lantern.
We love the prints available (as well as this graffiti, there’s a neon emoji print and a rainbow-coloured peace and love option), and if they don’t help your tent stand out in a crowded field, then the brilliant tent finder will. The remote-controlled light can be activated from up to 50 metres away so your tent brightly stands out (and the control and light can be paired so you don’t inadvertently flash the wrong tent).
Currently available at half price, this is cheap, simple and effective.
Buy now £39.99, Gorilla-tents.com
Kampa Brighton 2 person tent
Best: For fuss-free couples
Packed size: 61cm x 13cm x 16cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 3,000mm polyester
This classic domed tent is no-nonsense and does what it says on the tin. Offering more stability than a pop-up tent, and with a bigger porch, too (enough space for wellies and a rucksack), it’s a great festival option, particularly as it feels relatively dark inside. It is a bit on the tight side for 6ft-plus people lying down, but there is plenty of headroom (plus inner pockets on each side and a hook). We were able to put it up single-handed, and it’s a bit of a faff to have to put up the inner tent then the outer tent, but it’s simple to do and is straightforward to pack away.
Buy now £56.00, Cotswoldoutdoor.com
Lichfield eagle 5 air tent package
Best: For space-loving campers
Packed size: 55cm x 82cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 5,000mm polyester
The Lichfield eagle 5 is a brilliant option if you want plenty of space, and if the weather is looking a bit iffy. With a huge outer porch, plus a living room and two bedrooms, there’s plenty of space to bring your friends undercover too.
Owned by the same parent company as Vango, Lichfield uses much of the same technology but at a slightly cheaper price, such as the dark (but not blackout) bedroom fabric and the Vango airspeed valves. What’s more, the 150-denier polyester flysheet is one of the most durable here.
Thanks to the easily inflatable beams (instead of the typical fibreglass poles), the eagle is quick to put up and requires less space in a crowded festival site than one with long poles poking into someone else’s tent. It took us a little longer than the advertised 10 minutes, but it would be quicker the next time. The inflatable poles feel really sturdy and the guy ropes are well designed for maximum stability. Plus there’s an inner tension-band system – Lichfield tents are tested in winds of up to 88mph.
We loved the look and feel of this tent (and that it’s sold as a package including footprint and inner carpet) but it is big – it’ll take up a lot of boot space and it’s heavy to carry, so consider these factors before committing. If that’s not a problem, you’ll be in the lap of luxury.
Buy now £785.00, Outdoorworlddirect.co.uk
Vaude Mark L 3P tent
Best: For avid campers
Packed size: 20cm x 55cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 3,000mm PU-coated polyester
A great technical option for up to three, the Mark is ideal for two sleeping lengthways, with entry at either end (by feet or head) and double the standard porch space. Its smart H-pole and built-in inner tent and fly sheet make it really quick to put up (and it’s doable single-handed), and it gives pop-up tents a run for their money when it comes to speedily taking it down.
It’s well thought through – there’s a storage pocket at each corner and lots of hoops to hang things off, plus a chord running the length of the roof. The overhang at each end allows for rain-proof ventilation thanks to the two-way zips on each door and it feels very airy inside. Do pack an eye mask, though, because it’s very light inside.
Buy now £250.00, Webtogs.com
Poler 2 person tent lightweight camping shelter
Best: For hot destinations
Packed size: 52cm x18cm x 13cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 2,000mm PU-coated polyester
Fiddly to put up but worth persevering with for its roomy, boxy structure, Poler’s two-person tent is really solid and stable. The inner tent’s walls and ceiling are mesh, so the tent feels cool and breathable, but pack a sleeping mask as there are two windows without covers in the roof. Each side has its own porch (with enough space for boots and a small bag), plus there are hooks in the ceiling and a storage pocket at each end. It’s just about possible to erect single-handed, but an extra pair of hands would speed things up.
This tent is due back in stock in July.
Buy now £209.95, Absolute-snow.co.uk
Life Under Canvas 4m bell tent
Best: For stylish campers
Packed size: 30cm x 96cm
Flysheet waterproofing: N/A
Stand out from the festival crowd in this chic bell tent from Life Under Canvas, and enjoy a roomy stay with plenty of headroom. Ideally, you’ll want someone else to do the carrying – it’s a heavy tent, and the peg bag alone weighs 3kg, but once it’s up you won’t care. Made from heavy cotton canvas (naturally waterproof) with a zipped-in PVC floor, it’s got a cosy feel and if you need some ventilation, the sides can be rolled up to let the breeze in. Surprisingly easy to put up single-handedly, it requires quite a large patch (it’s 4m in diameter), and we love the little details, such as the elastic toggles to secure the guy ropes when packing away.
It’s available in sand or grey, with a range of extras, such as fitted tent mats and awnings.
Buy now £435.00, Lifeundercanvas.co.uk
Regatta kivu 4 person vis-a-vis tent green pasture
Best: For older kids
Packed size: 22cm x 58cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 3,000mm polyester
The kivu is a great option for families with older kids or two couples – the layout with a bedroom either side of the living space gives more privacy than most other tents. It’s a faff to put up the first time (because the three separate inners need clipping in, but you can leave them clipped in so it’s easier the next time), and is worth persevering with for its headroom and space. Definitely a two-person job, it’s bigger than its storage bag implies (it packs down relatively small for such a spacious tent, and we like the compression straps on the bag). Each bedroom is fairly dark and has storage pockets at either end, plus a hook, but the design means only one person can be next to the door. A sturdy and spacious option for a festival, it’d also work well for a camping holiday.
Buy now £221.95, Regatta.com
Vango osiris 500 tent
Best: For keen family campers
Packed size: 34cm x 73cm
Flysheet waterproofing: 3,000mm recycled polyester
Exceptionally well made, the osiris 500 has one of the highest-denier fabrics we tested and a tension band system, so we felt safe and secure in it. Spacious for four but a squeeze for five, it’s got lots of thoughtful details, such as the little porch over the side entrance to stop rain dripping into the living area and the oversized carry bag to make it easier to pack away.
Part of Vango’s earth collection, we love that the osiris 500’s flysheet is made from recycled single-use plastic, and also liked all the windows (with privacy curtains) and the headroom – it didn’t feel stuffy at all, and the bedrooms are some of the darkest here.
A great investment for many future family camping trips, not just at festivals.
Buy now £419.99, Ellis-brigham.com
The verdict: Festival tents
It’s hard to fault the Quechua camping tent 2 seconds fresh and black XL 3 person. An excellent price for a cool and dark tent that’s really quick to put up, it’s everything you could want for a festival. If you can manage the weight then the Life Under Canvas bell tent is a great stylish option, and if you want a model to invest in for lightweight backpacking, Alpkit’s Jaran 3 is fabulous.
Whichever tent you choose, the most important advice is to pick one that will last – it’s good for both your wallet and the environment. All those featured here will give you many happy years of camping if you look after them properly. Nikwax’s tent and gear solarproof spray (£5, Gooutdoors.co.uk) helps to keep tents in tip-top condition.
Many festival-goers wrongly believe left-behind tents will go to charity, but they don’t – 90 per cent end up in landfill or the incinerator, so these tents are for keeps, and will keep you warm and dry not just at festivals but at campsites and outdoor adventures across the country.
For the latest discounts on tents and other outdoorsy offers, try the links below:
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