10 Best Kids’ Play Tents Reviewed in 2019

Camping is one of every family’s favorite memories, whether it’s at an actual campsite or in the comfort of your own backyard. Your children will be absolutely delighted when they see that they will soon have their very own tent. Children love playing in tents because they can make it their own secret hideaways. Sometimes they can entertain themselves, or, they might even let you join them which will create a unique bonding time and memories to last a lifetime.

Tent sets can come in a variety of colors, which is even more attractive to children, because they can choose their favorite. Depending on the size of your family, you can even choose between a large or a small one, there’s space for everyone!

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By Amanda Milewski:

We updated this product list from 11 to 10. We added a bit more information with these tents about why they are so beneficial to your child's developmental skills and how much they will love having one of these items.

Our Top 3 Picks

Crazy Forts!
  • Crazy Forts!
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Unique Forts & Structures
  • Price: See Here
Me Too Tent
  • Me Too Tent
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Classic Tent Design
  • Price: See Here
Play Hut Thomas
  • Play Hut Thomas
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Optional Connect Tunnel
  • Price: See Here

We know how crazy frustrating it can be to choose the best make-believe camp for children. As such, we are bringing to you the top 10 play tents for your child and his or her friends.

Criteria Used In Evaluation for the Best Tents for Kids

When coming up with the best 10 tents for your children, it was not an easy task. We looked at everything from reviews, ratings, manufacturers’ reputations, material, and even the style. We want the best experience for you and your children and with the best experience comes the best quality tent for you and your family. If you look below you will see a bit more information about what went into picking our top 10.

Main Purpose

When purchasing a tent, parents often ask themselves: How often are we going to use this? Is this going to be just another thing that gets stored in the garage or will my children actually use this? Well, with the tents on our list, we are sure you will find one to not only your satisfaction but your children’s as well. We have everything from regular tents to teepee’s that are perfect for any occasion like parties, camping, or just everyday playing.

How Many Kids Will Be Using It and What Ages

Parents also have to consider how many children will be able to fit in the tent and what’s considered age appropriate. If you’re in the market for a camping tent, obviously you’re going to want to look at something that will make everyone sleep comfortably. Parents will also want to consider the ages and sizes of the children who will be in the tent as well for both camping or just play tents as some could be smaller than others. While some kids like cozy little spaces where they can curl up for story time, others prefer some space and a little less claustrophobic feel.

Type of Material

The three most common materials used by tent manufacturers are nylon, polyester, and polyethylene.

Nylon: Nylon is a general term used to denote a synthetic polymer group based on two different types of polyamides. Although some of its properties can vary depending on how it is manufactured, in general, nylon is a thermoplastic material known for its resiliency, elasticity, luster, and oil- and moisture-resistant properties. While nylon can provide shade from the sun, it does not protect against UV radiation. It is easily washed and dried and lighter/more breathable than polyester.

Polyester: Polyester is the type of material that results when a carboxylic acid reacts with alcohol and forms chains of esters. It comes in different forms and combinations (e.g., polyester taffeta–one of the most popular combos used by tent manufacturers) and is used to make everything from clothes to canoes because of its wrinkle-, mildew-, water-, chemical-, and stretch-resistant qualities. While the polyester fabric is quite strong and stain-resistant, it is also easy to clean and quick to dry. Polyester is commonly used for outdoor camping tents because of its durability and UV-resistant properties.

Polyethylene: If you use shampoo bottles and plastic grocery bags, then you are already familiar with polyethylene. It is perhaps the most widely used thermoplastic polymer because of its versatility, waxy feel, and malleability. However, it is less durable than polyester.

Keep in mind that these fabrics are often blended with other fibers and woven in different ways to make a final product that is ideal for its intended purpose. Most tent manufacturers advertise the type of materials they use in their products and whether or not they are waterproof; however if they don’t, do some research and consider how important qualities such as lightness, stain-resistance, flame-resistance, and waterproof are to you. But be sure to read the fine print: water-resistant is not waterproof and UV-resistant does not provide 100 percent protection from the sun. Even if a manufacturer does claim that their tent provides UV protection, remember that if a tent is left in the sun for long periods, its sun-protective capabilities will lessen over time. Visible fading is a good indicator of this. In the end, slathering the kids with sunscreen before they indulge in hours of sunshine outdoors–tent or no tent–is still the best measure to take to prevent sunburn.

How We Chose the Top Play Tents on Our List

When choosing the right tent for your child’s playtime activities or camping adventures, we know it can be very challenging for parents. We tasked our research team to come up with a shortlist of the top 10 kiddie portable tents that your children will love. After careful analysis, trolling through thousands of reviews, ratings, and product data, we came up with our top 10 list.

We looked at the overall design of the tent and made sure that the product would be used by children. More importantly, we wanted to know how the tent itself would help children develop or enhance their psychomotor, cognitive, emotional and their social skills. We also looked at the safety of materials as well as the tents’ overall construction. Each manufacturer’s reputation or credibility was also ascertained. We looked to see if the manufacturer received awards, recognition or certifications related to their product’s design and development. We also looked at thousands of parent’s reviews and feedback about the products, making sure that everyone was satisfied with the products that we chose for our list. We wanted nothing but the best.

Play Tents, Imaginative Play, and Your Child’s Development

Kiddie tents are usually used by children as props or accessories in their imaginative, dramatic, or pretend playtime activities. Depending on the objective of the game, children can surely benefit a lot from these kinds of playtime accessories or props.

First is the development or enhancement of children’s psychomotor skills. A kiddie tent provides enough covered area for playing. Children can crawl into their tent or even jump onto it. If they are old enough, they can assemble the tent themselves without additional parental support. All of these require excellent control of the muscles. It helps refine their control of gross- and fine-motor movements while at the same time enhancing their sense of visual-motor coordination and balance. Tying some of the knots in certain kids’ tents can help enhance manual dexterity.

Secondly, being important tools for imaginative or pretend play, children’s teepees can be excellent materials for enhancing children’s cognitive abilities. When children are given a large house-like structure made of canvas to play with, their imagination is greatly stimulated. They are able to harness other cognitive skills such as problem-solving, memory, cause-and-effect relationships, spatial reasoning, and counterfactual reasoning.

Imagination requires input from the kid’s memory, the things he or she may have learned either through experience or from school. These pieces of information are processed by the brain to come up with a what-if situation. This is one of the crucial elements of critical thinking and divergent problem-solving. This also helps in the identification of a variety of situations that are directly related to a single phenomenon. It helps foster curiosity which can further fuel the child’s critical-thinking processes.

Playing with kiddie tents also help children develop and enhance their planning skills. They have to try to identify the objective of their role play and what the different activities they need to do. This is an essential skill to master as it lays the foundation for scientific problem-solving where a problem is best solved using a set of objectives that are problem-oriented. Looking for solutions to accomplish the objectives will lead to the resolution of the problem. Role-playing allows children to start understanding the concept of careful planning and objective-setting. This is important when they grow up as adults especially when they go into business as well as other endeavors that require planning.

Third, imaginative playing with friends helps to encourage cooperation and negotiation. When role-playing, kids eventually have to talk and discuss among themselves who plays which role as well as the different actions that each one has to perform. This helps develop children’s social skills. If they have to use a tent and there are many of them, children learn to take turns and share the different playthings in the playhouse tent. The social interaction obtained from imaginative role-playing activities allow kids to learn empathy and consideration for the feelings of other children. They begin to understand the idea of proper behavior especially when they are in the real world.

Fourth, as a natural result of the increased social interaction playing with kiddie tents, children are also able to improve their language and communication skills. Pretend and imaginative play is a wonderful opportunity for children to use their very own vocabulary and language. They are able to use expressive language. Our role as parents is to help expand their vocabulary by paraphrasing what our kids have said during their pretend play. We can do this by using a more descriptive language which our kids will understand or by giving examples using expressive language.

Lastly, because children are able to express their thoughts and feelings through role-playing and imaginative playtime activities, we help enhance their self-esteem. We are giving them power and control over their pretend world and this can help enhance their creative abilities. They can create their very own storylines, decide what plots and twists go with their story, and develop the personality of their main character in the story. All of this can help enhance kids’ self-esteem by giving them the power to control their world. And if we show that we also enjoy and truly appreciate what our kids are doing, the more that we enhance their self-esteem.

The Bottom Line

Today, with so many screens around, many adults tend to forget the joys of pretend play, imagination or role-playing. We can’t stress how incredibly important it is to let your children use and develop those skills and to just let them be kids. It’s time to put away the screens. Children need these types of different playtime activities because it helps their cognitive, social, emotional, and psychomotor development. When it comes to imaginative or pretend play, one of the most useful accessories or tools, we can give our children is a playtime tent. With our top 10 list, parents can start encouraging their children’s imagination with pretend play and it will be something memorable for everyone in the long end. You won’t go wrong, and your children will surely love you for that.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some different ways younger children can use the tunnel-type tents beside crawling around in?

A: For babies or toddlers, the tunnel can be propped with a pillow and used as a ball ramp; or, it can be used either vertically or horizontally for different versions of peek-a-boo. For older toddlers/preschoolers, you can take each takes one end of the tunnel and pass a ball back and forth by lifting your respective ends to get it rolling. Other ideas include using your tunnel tent as a reading station, either in a shady spot outside or a cozy corner inside. Turn off the lights, add a flashlight, and it becomes a reading cave!

Q: Where can I get replacement poles for the Pacific Play Kids Me Too Dome Tent?

A: The company (Pacific Play Tents) is happy to send replacement parts if you follow the correct protocol. You can contact them at 1-877-722-0083.

Q: I lost the instructions for the Truedays Kids Big Tent Playhouse. How do I fold it back into its case?

A: Check out this YouTube video for folding instructions: https://youtu.be/-XZvohPRdtE.

Q: What is the best way to care for my kids’ play tent?

A: Always avoid leaving it outside in the sun and weather for an extended period of time if used outdoors. Use a handheld vacuum or brush to sweep away dirt and debris from the tunnel or floor of the toddler tent (if applicable), or simply shake it out before collapsing and storing. Avoid scrubbing with water as much as possible, as doing so can remove mildew-, stain-, or water-resistant finishes from the fabric. If heavy cleaning is required, use a mild, detergent-free cleaner (ideally one made specifically for tents), rinse thoroughly, then dry.

Q: What are the top reasons parents buy play tents for their kids?

A: There are many reasons, but the following are the most common:

  • They provide easy entertainment on the go.
  • They make a unique and wonderful gift for children ages 2 to 12.
  • They give kids something to do at parties and sleepovers.
  • They are simple, yet can be used in so many ways.
Q: Where can I get balls if my kids want to try the ball pit idea with their tent, and how many should I get?

A: Although retailers such as Walmart sometimes have them in stock, we recommend these nontoxic balls for ages 5 and up, or these if babies or toddlers will be using them. Both are available from Amazon and come in packs of 100, which is a good starting number.

Q: What kinds of toys can kids add to their play-tent experience to get the most out of it?

A: The choices are endless. A few examples are books for reading, puzzle books, jigsaw puzzles, dolls, model horses, dog plushies. The kids can choose anything. The tent gives them a cozy, safe place to do things they enjoy.

Q: How can these play tents help with my child’s growth and development?

A: There are many ways. Here we’ll talk about a few.

First, kids are made to play, and that is their job. It helps them learn new skills. The play tents and tunnels help kids learn about spatial orientation as they learn to put their feet, hands, and head through the holes in the tent.

Second, kids’ motor skills are enhanced because they are moving around, crawling through tunnels, So both fine- and gross-motor skills are involved and improved.

Third, role-playing is something kids do as they grow. It helps them learn problem-solving, counting, cooperation with other kids who come over to play and stretching the imagination. They can go on a camping trip, ride horses, walk a dog, fix dinner, or change their baby. Kids have an active imaginary life, and the tents can help them

Q: Why are the colors so bright on these play tents?

A: In the toddler stages, children have still-developing eyesight. Bright colors are more comfortable than pale colors for them to see at this stage. Bright colors also help little kids to see objects because the bright colors are contrasted against warmer shades, which are harder for them to see. Of course, parents can get involved by teaching their kids the names of the colors so that their child can identify colors by name. And, lastly, kids often associate colors with objects. Thus, they would call their truck “yellow” instead of “truck.” They relate to objects in their world by color.

Q: Can we use our new play tent outside?

A: While these are toy tents, many of them can be used outside on a nice day. Some have loops on the bottoms so you can stake them down. If it’s windy outside, these tents can blow away, so indoors would be the place to play in this scenario.

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