For many people, a minivan is the ultimate camping machine. With plenty of interior space, good fuel economy, and inconspicuous appearance, minivans are an affordable way to dive into van life.
However, there will most likely be times when you crave just a little more space!
A minivan camping tent can be a great addition to your setup. These tents attach to the rear of your vehicle, effectively doubling your footprint.
A minivan tent provides you with much more space, and can also give you valuable standing room.
You’ll also have the flexibility of being able to sleep outdoors when it’s hot and stuffy inside your van.
In this article we’ll look at the best minivan tents for camping and why you might want to add one of these awesome camping solutions to your van life setup. We’ll also look at everything you should consider before buying.
Here are our top three picks for the best minivan camping tents:
This awesome, well-constructed minivan tent has a high waterproof rating and tape-sealed seams. We love its glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls!
- Adjustable sleeve that connects to any SUV or minivan
- 2,000mm water-resistant polyurethane fabric
This huge minivan tent attachment provides sleeping space for up to 6 people. Best of all, there’s an attached side screen room for storage or extra living space.
- Internal gear loft with pockets, and a built-in lantern holder
- 2 large entrance doors and 3 mesh windows for ventilation
With an internal height of over 7 feet, this minivan camping tent provides more than enough room to stand up and move around. Plus, it’s really easy to set up this tent.
- Sleeps 4 – 6 people
- Comes with poles, snaps, stakes, and a carry bag
The Best Minivan Camping Tents
With so many minivan tents available, it can be hard to choose one that’ll best fit your needs. Never fear, though; we’ve compiled a list of the best van tents for camping, each with its own pros and cons.
If you’re looking for a minivan tent attachment that you can use year-round, come rain or shine, the Rightline Gear SUV/Minivan Tent might be the way to go.
- Vehicle Sleeve. Attaches securely to any vehicle, including cargo vans with ‘barn-style’ doors.
- Water Resistant. Thanks to the 2,000mm waterproof rating, you won’t have to worry about getting wet during a rainstorm!
- Freestanding. Can be used as a standalone tent, and it’s easy to disconnect your vehicle when you’re going off on an adventure.
- Setup. Although the Rightline comes with color-coded poles, quite a few customer reviews mention that it’s quite difficult for one person to setup this van tent.
- Flimsy Stakes. This is a common customer complaint, and many people recommend purchasing more sturdy stakes.
This van tent provides comfortable sleeping space for up to 4 adults, and attaches to the rear of your vehicle using heavy-duty straps and nylon buckles.
The vehicle sleeve works well with both rear hatch doors and rear ‘barn-style’ doors, making it an excellent choice for minivans or small cargo vans.
The Rightline tent has a waterproof rating of 2,000mm, and has been designed to protect you and your vehicle from the elements.
The water-resistant polyurethane fabric and tape-sealed seams ensure that condensation doesn’t build up inside the tent, and the sewn-in bathtub floor protects against mud, puddles, and bugs.
The tent has a mesh windows and doors to keep pesky no-see-ums outside, as well as storm covers for privacy.
Inside, there are 2 convenient gear pockets, a lantern hanging hook, and even glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls!
- Size. There’s enough room in this tent to sleep 6 people, and the attached side screen room is a real bonus.
- Storage. Not all van tents are created equal when it comes to storage, but there’s more than enough gear storage in this tent.
- Removable Sleeve. The vehicle sleeve can be completely removed, turning this into a traditional ground tent.
- Rainfly. The rainfly has been designed for use with the vehicle attached, and when the tent is freestanding the rainfly doesn’t work.
- Hot Muffler. Depending on your vehicle, you’ll have to let the muffler cool before attaching this van tent.
Best of all, this van tent comes with an attached side screen room that could be used for a pet sleeping area, extra gear storage, or an enclosed dining room.
The Family-Tents Sportz is constructed from burly polyester fabric, and comes with a full rainfly that has taped seams.
The adjustable waterproof vehicle sleeve fits most minivans and SUVs, and is removable, meaning that this can be used as a traditional standalone tent.
This minivan camping tent features 2 large entrance doors and 3 mesh windows for ventilation.
Inside, there’s an internal gear loft, 2 gear pockets, and a built-in lantern holder.
Although this is the largest minivan tent on our list, the steel and fiberglass pole structure makes setup easy, even for one person.
This minivan camping tent might be the best option if you’re looking for a small, simple setup that’ll give you enough room to sleep in the back of your vehicle.
- Setup. It’s super-quick and easy to start camping with the Explorer 2, and you don’t need to worry about poles or stakes.
- Size. This minivan tent comes with its own carry bag, and weighs less than 5 pounds, which makes it a great option if you’re low on gear space.
- Not Great in Wind. Although this van tent performs very well in rainy conditions, it doesn’t do so well once the wind starts blowing.
- Vehicle Attachment. Using bungee cords to attach the tent is great in theory, but in practice, you’ll most likely have to also use magnets for a secure, gap-free connection.
The Explorer 2 weighs less than 5 pounds, and setup is a breeze.
All you need to do is drape the tent over your vehicle, secure it with bungee cords, then open the rear hatch door.
As long as your vehicle is less than 67 inches wide, and doesn’t have an external spare tire, this awesome minivan tent attachment allows you to sleep in a well-ventilated space.
The Explorer 2 is made from durable polyester, and features an “inverted T” zipper that makes it easy to get in and out of the tent. The door panels can be tied back, and the no-see-um mesh screens keep the mosquitos where they belong.
For a quick and easy camping solution that keeps you off the ground, this might be the way to go!
Budget-conscious van dwellers who are looking for an awesome minivan camping tent need look no further than the North East Harbor Universal.
- Cost. This is the most affordable minivan tent attachment on our list, and is great choice for those who want extra space without breaking the bank.
- Size. There’s plenty of room inside the North East Harbor Universal, making this a great option for families.
- Freestanding. Not only is it quick and easy to disconnect your vehicle for the day, but if you end up switching to a sedan in the future, you’ll still have a usable tent.
- Instructions. Although this minivan tent is easy to set up, quite a few customer reviews mention the complete absence of any instructions.
- Vehicle Attachment. The vehicle attachment isn’t as waterproof as it should be, and can be quite difficult to use with some minivans and SUVs.
Measuring 8- by 8-feet, this van tent will give you plenty of extra sleeping and living space. Plus, this tent has an interior height of over 7 feet, so you’ll be able to stand up inside.
The North East Harbor Universal is made from polyester taffeta fabric, and the sturdy polyurethane floor provides excellent protection from critters and moisture.
There’s plenty of room to sleep 4 people inside this tent, and the mesh windows and doors keep it well-ventilated. Plus, there’s an internal gear pocket and a handy lantern hook.
This minivan tent comes with poles, straps, stakes, and a water-resistant rainfly, and is easy bro set up, even for one person.
Like other van tents on our list, the North East Harbor Universal can be used as a freestanding tent, meaning you can quickly disconnect your vehicle and drive off for the day.
Featuring an attractive round shape and weighing in at less than 3 pounds, this minivan tent is an ideal option for spring and summer camping.
- Vehicle Sleeve. This minivan tent has an awesome vehicle sleeve, and the adjustable straps make it easy to get a good fit.
- Size. This is another huge van tent for camping, and families will appreciate all the extra room.
- Setup. The 2 shock-corded fiberglass poles make it easy to set up this van tent in less than 10 minutes.
- Not Waterproof. The Napier Backroads is water-resistant, but if you’re going to be camping in heavy rain, you’ll need to use seam sealant to prevent water getting in.
- Rainfly. Quite a few customer reviews have mentioned that the rainfly is inadequate, and doesn’t protect the side door or walls.
Measuring 10- by 10-feet, and with an internal height of over 7 feet, this is another huge tent that’ll add tons of extra room to your van life.
The Napier Backroads features a universal vehicle sleeve with adjustable sleeve straps, so you can be sure that bugs and water won’t enter your van.
The tent is made from durable polyester, and comes with a full rainfly with tapered seams and built-in storm flaps.
This minivan camping tent sleeps 5 adults and, like other tents on our list, offers a lantern holder and internal gear pocket.
There’s 1 large door and 3 mesh windows, so the tent stays well-ventilated, and the shock-corded fiberglass tent poles make setup a breeze.
It’s also worth noting that with every purchase of a minivan tent, a tree is planted through Napier’s partnership with Trees for the Future, so anyone can feel good about buying one of these minivan tents!
Why You Might Want A Minivan Camping Tent
You might be wondering why you should invest in a minivan tent attachment, when you could just buy a traditional tent. Let’s take a look at what makes a van tent for camping such a great investment.
With a minivan tent you’ll effectively double your floorspace and have the option of sleeping in your van or on the floor of the tent. This is especially handy for families or those who want a little separation from their pets!
A minivan tent gives you the option to sleep either in the trunk of your vehicle or on the ground. You’ll be warmer in the trunk, and definitely more comfortable if your campsite is rocky and uneven.
Because minivan camping tents provide plenty of ventilation, having the option of sleeping outside of your vehicle will be a real bonus during hot weather.
On the other hand, wind and rain will be much less of a concern than with a traditional tent.
Many minivan tents are pretty sizable, meaning you’ll be able to move your gear around inside.
If you’re using a portable fridge or other devices in your van, you’ll be able to access them from inside the tent, plus you won’t have to unpack all your gear every night.
What To Look For In A Minivan Camping Tent
Minivan tents come in all shapes and sizes, and not all are created equal in terms of quality.
Depending on how often you’ll be using the tent, under what weather conditions, and how many people or pets you’ll be bringing along, here are a few things to consider.
Most minivan camping tents are adjustable, and designed to fit snugly on all vehicles, but you should always check the specific manufacturer’s requirements before you buy.
Sleeping capacity varies, but always includes the trunk as sleeping space for 2 people.
You’re going to want a van tent that’ll stand the test of time, so look for a tent that’s made from a durable polyester blend. For the tent frame, fiberglass is your best bet because it isn’t susceptible to rust.
Although most minivan tents come with large elastic bands or straps for attaching the tent to the van, you might want to invest in some heavy duty magnets to ensure a tight seal against the elements.
Some minivan camping tents are more waterproof than others, and if you’re going to be camping throughout the year, you should look for a tent with a high waterproof rating.
For extra peace of mind, you can use seam sealer and spray-on waterproofing.
One of the best reasons for using a minivan tent for camping is that it’ll provide you with extra ventilation.
Things can quickly get stale and muggy inside a van, and you don’t necessarily want to leave your windows open if it’s buggy outside.
Look for a tent with plenty of mesh-screened windows that’ll keep the air circulating in your van.
Conclusion on The Best Minivan Camping Tents
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time van dweller, a minivan camping tent is an awesome and affordable way to add space and comfort to your compact van life!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below!
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Nicholas Marshall is a writer, photographer, and musician who currently lives in a ‘97 VW Eurovan with his wife and six-year-old daughter. Since selling their house and hitting the road, Nicholas and his family have meandered through the Western States. Van life has been everything they hoped it would be: challenging, rewarding, relaxing, and exciting.