The first and most basic function of any tent is to keep you sheltered and dry when camping. Tents can also provide privacy in crowded campgrounds should you need to change clothes or simply take an afternoon nap. They protect us from the wind as well, especially if they are staked down correctly. Tents also keep out the bugs and critters you may encounter when on a family camping outing.
There are several types of family tents, and they come in a wide variety of sizes. A-frame tents have two poles shaped into a triangle at either end with a canvas spread over it, while hoop tents are bowed instead of triangular. The most common type is the wedge-style tent, which consists of two bowed poles crossing each other at the top, creating four attachment points to the ground. A dome tent is identical to a hoop tent, except there are more poles for stability.
Of course, the size of the tent you choose should directly reflect the size of your family. Carefully read the labels on the box before purchasing, and make certain the tent has the capacity to sleep everyone in the family comfortably. It is recommended that you get family-plus-one; so if there are going to be four sleeping in the tent, consider a five-person model. This way, there is space for gear as well.
Today's tents come with everything from pockets on every wall to weatherproof openings where extension cords can be routed to power inflatable mattresses or alarm clocks. Some tents feature material that is more water-resistant than others, and is harder to tear. Some models have awnings and porches, and extra flaps to go over the top for extra weather protection. Some even come with flaps that can be attached inside to the top and sides, creating multiple rooms.
When purchasing a family tent, keep in mind how often it will be used, how expensive it is, how many options it comes with, how durable and weatherproof it is, how big or small it is, and how easy it is to set up. Some tents have elaborate features and require more time to put together, especially on the first assembly. When at all possible, read online reviews of the tent model you are thinking of purchasing.