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Top Tent Essentials for Families

7 min read 0 Comments

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you just know you've forgotten something important? There's another feeling though, one that comes from being prepared, when you just know you've got the essentials covered. We all want to know that confident feeling, don't we?

This article will boost the confidence that you will be ready for just about anything with theses top tent essentials for your family. 

A dad hands a bowl of apple slices to his kid through the partially opened door of a canvas bell tent.


What does it mean to be ready for anything? It means having accessible essentials for the safety, health, and comfort of your family. A family tent that's well-equipped means that your family is ready for the following scenarios and more: 

  • FAMILY TENT CAMPING - Make core memories and relish in classic tent camping experiences with the whole family.

  • BACKYARD PARTIES - Keep the living room clean and the party hoppin' with a backyard party tent that has all the essentials. 

  • POP-UP GUEST ROOM - Give Aunt Ingrid a space of her own when she comes to visit, instead of the pull-out couch.  

  • ROOM OF REQUIREMENT - None of us wants a repeat of social distancing, but if it happens again, a family tent provides extra space to breathe.  



TENT ESSENTIAL #1: A sturdy, all-season tent that comfortably fits the family. 

Shelter is essential. Quality is integral. Don't let the family get soggy with a subpar tent that's only good in summer. Invest once in a rugged and reliable tent that's easy to assemble for anyone in the family and that will last for generations.

A canvas bell tent can be set up in as little as 20 minutes with just two people. And because it's constructed of heavy duty materials, and can endure pretty much anything nature dishes out, your canvas family tent can stay set up for days, months, or even years.

A smiling dark haired man hammers a tent stake into grass with an off white canvas tent in the background.

These durable family tents are available in sizes ranging from 13' (4M) to 20' (6M), sleeping six to twelve people, depending on how cozy you want to be.  That's a lot of space to sleep, play, dream, scheme, dance, and maybe do headstands.  With a center pole that soars up to 11', the sky's the limit for customizing your canvas tent to suit your family's needs. 

A smiling child in a white tank top and blue shorts does a headstand next to a tall center pole inside a canvas bell tent. 

Consider how you most intend to use your family tent, and then allocate non-sleeping space accordingly. If you have a family of four and you'd like to use your family tent mostly for camping and as a pop-up guest room, then a great set-up might include one queen sized bed, two twin sized beds, and space for moving about easily and enjoying inside activities. 

 The doors are open on a canvas bell tent revealing an interior set up that can sleep a family of four, with plenty of room to play.

TENT ESSENTIAL #2 - Interior and exterior rugs for insulation and protection.

A durable interior rug is essential because it will protect the floor of the tent from tromping feet that are coated in the gifts of nature. This enhances the overall longevity of the tent. A tent rug provides an insulating layer, helping keep the tent cool in summer, and warmer in the winter.

Sun shines inside the open doorway of an off white canvas bell tent where inside a man unfolds a large natural fiber rug.

A natural fiber interior rug like this Coir Half-Moon Tent Rug is water-resistant, reversible, and easy to clean, which makes it ideal for families. It adds a welcoming warmth both in aesthetics, and in how it feels underfoot.

Add an exterior rug outside the tent entryway for kicking off shoes, which helps to protect the interior.

Two laughing kids are eating popsicles in the open doorway of a canvas bell tent, sitting on a natural fiber rug.

TENT ESSENTIAL #3: Comfortable bedding for all.

Rest is essential. If you're a parent and you're reading this right now, you already know this to be true. Think of the times in your life when you haven't gotten a good night's rest. How'd that go for everyone? Sleep is important! 

Make sure everyone who will be crashing out in the family tent can crash out comfortably. Just because a 16' canvas tent can sleep eight people side by side, doesn't mean that configuration will be the most conducive to a proper night's rest. Allow for elbow room and personal belongings. And then set up sleeping spaces that feel like home. 

A guitar leans on the foot of a queen air mattress near the center pole of a canvas bell tent, with two twin beds in the background.

There are a lot of high quality portable bed options these days. Though it's still tough to beat the time-tested simplicity of a cot and sleeping pad combo, (plus you'll get the bonus storage space beneath the cot!). If using air mattresses, ensure you have a reliable way to keep them inflated, as pressure can change due to temperature. It's good to have a functioning mix of hand or foot pumps, battery pumps, and USB-powered built-in pumps, which work great with portable battery banks. 

Sleeping bags make for easy bedding and tend to be comfy for everyone in the family. Keep spare blankets stowed for snuggling up, and don't forget the pillows! 

A person smoothes out a light blue pillow on top of a queen sized air mattress with a sleeping bag and blue blanket on top.


TENT ESSENTIAL #4: Versatile lighting for inside and out. 

One of the great benefits of having a high-quality family tent is the ability to use it all year long. So even when summer is wrapping up and all of a sudden it's dark well before dinner, you can still enjoy the bonus space of your bell tent. Just make sure to bring on the lights!

Everyone in the family should have their own flashlight or headlamp, and they should always know where to find it. Add illuminating touches in key places for visibility, such as over the tent doorway, and at the head of each bed.

A small red lantern hangs from the top of a tent doorway as the sun sets in the background.

Long strings of camping lights create atmosphere with purpose, and they can be plugged into USB or solar battery banks. String them up in the trees around the tent, or in common areas like the outdoor kitchen. And wrap them inside the tent around the center pole, or around the interior perimeter for a cozy glow that's inviting and homey. 

The sun sets through the opened half moon window inside a canvas bell tent as a dimly lit man wraps twinkle lights around the center pole of the tent.


TENT ESSENTIAL #5: Everyday essentials that are accessible.

Keep a compact table close at hand just inside the tent doors so that you can readily store everyday family essentials. "Dad? Where's the bug spray?" It's on the table. "Mom?! Where are the band-aids?" They're on the table. "I need tweezers, stat!" Guess where they are .... on the table.

Sunscreen, bug repellant, first aid, headlamps, extra batteries, sunglasses, and other small but important necessities are so much more useful when they're not missing or lost deep inside someone's backpack that's buried at the back of the tent. 

A small table holds some essential family items like first aid, sunscreen, and sunglasses.


TENT ESSENTIAL #6: Activities that don't require batteries. 

There's a literal whole wide world outside the tent doors that's filled with adventure. So many possible activities both outside and in! Create a world inside the tent by supplying analog activities that stand the test of time, like art supplies, musical instruments, books, and games. 

A girl with a brown ponytail and blue shorts sits on her knees inside an empty canvas bell tent and pulls a ukulele from its bag.

What if the family tent could also become the family game room? Or the family music room? What if the family tent was a device-free zone where creativity flourished and curiosity prevailed? What if the family tent became the dance floor, talent show stage, or calm escape where you could listen to the sounds of the rain? Stories are born in thoughtful spaces where imagination can take root. And sweet dreams come to those who sleep without the blue lights and buzzing notifications from smartphones. 


A kid naps on a cot while the dad sits on the tent floor playing with cards.


TENT ESSENTIAL #7: Mobile seating.

Everyone in the family should have their own comfortable chair. Flimsy camping chairs might only last for a season before buckling under their shoddy joints, and then you're back to sitting on the ground. So it's a worthy investment to make sure your camp chairs fit your family tent lifestyle, and will last you for several years.

Portable camp chairs are light and mobile, so you can set them up outside for meal times and for chilling under the stars, and then move them inside when needed. If weather forces folks inside, or maybe dad wants to sit inside the tent with a book and find some relative quiet, then just pick up the chair, and tote it inside the tent. 

 A man in khaki shorts and a blue shirt opens up a camping chair in front of a canvas bell tent.

TENT ESSENTIAL #8: Climate control.

You might not need any climate conditioning at all. The weather might be consistently 80 degrees during the day, and a comfy 50 degrees at night. But for when that's not the case, you'll want to have options for staying warm or cooling off, as needed. Battery operated and rechargeable fans help pull warmer air out of the tent and move around cooler air during hotter temperatures. Tent-safe heaters or even a wood stove are essentials for the cold seasons. 

One of the beautiful things about a canvas bell tent like the Fernweh is the walls can be unzipped, revealing breathable mesh panels all the way around or opening up entirely, and letting in that sweet sweet cross breeze.

A sunny interior of a canvas bell tent with the walls unzipped to reveal mesh panels through which you can partially see the lawn outside.


TENT ESSENTIAL #9: Kitchen supplies.

Technically your camp kitchen will be located outside of your family tent. But as you're getting your gear in order so that you can be fully outfitted with the top essentials for family camping, a smart kitchen set up is not something to skip. Kids can get really hungry, really quick. 


A person stands behind an outdoor camp kitchen slicing an apple, while a dog sleeps in the distance in front of a canvas bell tent.


You don't need to run out and buy all new camping kitchen supplies. Check to see what you might already have in your own kitchen that can be relegated to the camping kitchen supplies. These are some of the camping kitchen supplies that will round out a perfectly capable set up for the family:

    • A jug for potable water 
    • Cookstove plus appropriate fuel
    • Pots, pans, griddle
    • Kitchen utensils, cutting boards, and knives
    • Cooking essentials like oil, salt, pepper
    • Plates, bowls, cups, mugs (enough for everyone!)
    • Clean up items like a sponge, chamois towel, earth-friendly dish soap
    • A cooler to protect and chill food
    • Kettle or Jetboil (plus fuel) to boil water
    • Ingredients for planned meals plus shelf stable / freeze-dried meals just in case

An outdoor kitchen set up that includes a cooler, a campstove, a portable water jug, and various camping cooking supplies.

Another nice to have family tent essential is a solar shower. Hang it up away from the kitchen area to have a place for everyone to scrub up with warm water before meal times, and to wash filthy feet before bed times! 

A kid in jeans and a white shirt washes his hands under a solar shower with a canvas bell tent and the sunset in the background.


You wouldn't be doing any of this if it weren't for love. It's because you love your family so much that you want to create the family tent space for them to have shelter, to have quality rest, and to enjoy creative play together. 

Love shows up in the twinkling lights at dusk.
Love shows up in a game of catch before dinner.
Love shows up in the cozy blankets and bedtime stories.
Love shows up inside and outside the walls of a family tent.
Love is the most essential of all. 

And that's the one essential we know you definitely have covered. Here's to sharing moments and making memories with the ones you love the most. 

A string of twinkle lights illuminate the foreground with a camp kitchen beneath trees, and a canvas tent is illuminated from within in the background.



Kelli Martinelli
Kelli Martinelli

Kelli believes that experiences > things, and loves helping others make memories. [Former] Freelance communications strategist for small brands with big heart. Love bigger. Reach farther.

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