Show Your Kids the Stars: Best Tents for Stargazing This Summer

Stargazing is on-trend. So is family camping. As we look for more ways to spend time outside with our kids, it only makes sense to pair the two activities. A stargazing tent is a must-have.

Here in Virginia, two of our state parks were recently awarded International Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Sky Association. That’s huge news.

Virginia State Parks now has four dark sky parks. Add in one county park and there are five dark sky parks in Virginia. That’s more than any other state east of the Mississippi River.

We love to camp. Dare I admit that we have five tents, including two backpacking tents? Oops, I just did. Yes, it’s true. We’re gearing up for #6, a stargazing tent.

What to Look for in a Tent for Stargazing

As the proud owner of five tents, I almost feel like an expert in what to look for in a tent. A tent made for a night of stargazing, however, is a little bit different.

Tents best suited for viewing the night sky have a mesh roof or mesh ceiling. This see-through covering keeps the bugs out, but also allows you to clearly see the sky above.

Of course, mesh openings are a must in any tent made for night sky viewing. You will defeat the purpose if the roof of the tent is made of an opaque nylon fabric.

Generally, here’s what to look for in a tent built for stargazing:

  • Mesh roof for wide-open, unobstructed views above your tent
  • Easy set-up (a good rule for any tent you buy)
  • Roomy living space so you can get comfy while looking up at the sky

If you plan to backpack with your child to reach your night sky viewing location of choice, then weight may also be a consideration. The lighter, the better.

Of course, with reduced weight can come extra cost. It’s just something to keep in mind as you consider what’s most important to you in a stargazing tent.

Below are reviews of six top-notch tents for viewing the night skies. However, if you just want to cut to the chase, here are top picks by category:

Best Stargazing Tents

Now, without further ado, here are the top stargazing tents:

#1: Kelty Dirt Motel


  • Stargazing Fly™ clip-on system
  • Lightweight, yet durable
  • DAC Pressfit poles

The Kelty Dirt Motel is hot. So hot, in fact, that it’s completely sold out on its website (as of April 2021). They’re all out of their two-, three- and four-person tents. Eek.

Thankfully, Amazon has in-stock (for now) the two-person backpacking tent. This is a fantastic, lightweight tent for an overnight backpacking adventure under the stars.

Yes, this one sleeps two people, but there are times when I escape with just one of my kids, so this two-person camping tent is perfect, except that I have to carry it.

The roomy Kelty Dirt Motel wows with a stargazing rainfly that allows you to open or close the fly without leaving the tent, allowing easy access to a sky full of stars.

If a pop-up shower surprises you, you’ll be dry again in a flash. It’s a snap to unroll or roll up the nylon rainfly. Simple plastic clips keep the stargazing rainfly in place.

I mentioned that this tent is spacious. Oh yes, it is. The tent measures 84″ x 50″ and has a peak height of 42.5.” You’ve got loads of room for your head and shoulders.

This tent uses ultra-durable DAC Pressfit poles, including two hubbed poles and one ridge pole. This creates more overall living space inside the tent.

The Kelty Dirt Motel has two zip doors so you won’t have to climb over your child or partner to get out of the tent. There are two vestibules to store your stuff, too.

This really is a fabulous tent for backpacking or car camping. Check the latest price now for the Kelty Dirt Motel.

#2: Kelty Night Owl


  • Stargazing Fly™ clip-on system
  • Interior storage pockets
  • Roomy living space

The Kelty Night Owl is also an uber-popular tent for stargazing. At one point, the tent was available in three sizes, but now the Kelty Night Owl is largely a two-person tent.

This tent is a winner with quick-access interior storage pockets that allow you to insert nightlights, even your headlamp. This allows for easy illumination after dark.

Not that you’ll always want illumination. The Kelty Night Owl has a trademarked stargazing rainfly that allows uncomplicated access to a mesh roof and a sky full of stars.

No need to leave the tent to open or close the fly. You can unroll or roll up the nylon rainfly from inside the tent. Simple plastic clips keep the stargazing rainfly in place.

This tent is spacious. This tent measures 90″ x 54″ with a peak height of 43.” However, the roominess adds weight. It’s 18 ounces heavier than the Kelty Dirt Motel.

Though this tent is a two-person stargazing tent, the larger overall footprint makes it possible to sleep three (as in, one adult, two children).

The primary difference between the Kelty Night Owl and the Kelty Dirt Motel is the tent poles. On this tent, the poles are made from slightly less durable aluminum.

However, this difference allows the price point to be about $50 less for the Kelty Night Owl when compared with the Kelty Dirt Motel.

This is a worthy tent for backpacking or car camping. Check the latest price now for the Kelty Night Owl.

#3: CORE Instant Cabin Tent


  • Sleeps up to 9 people
  • Quick set-up (only 60 seconds)
  • Full mesh ceiling for stargazing

Got a big family? This tent has you covered. Literally. Even better, it’s a cinch to set up in the backyard or at a family campground despite its large size.

The CORE Instant Cabin Tent comfortably sleeps up to nine people. It’s one of the largest tents on the market, and certainly one of the largest tents for stargazing.

In spite of its size, you may be able to set up this camping tent in as little as 60 seconds. Set up can be a chore, so I love that his tent sets up so quickly.

Inside, you can fit two queen-size air mattresses, plus a few more cots and sleeping bags. For privacy and flexibility, there’s a room divider and wall pockets for storage.

As for stargazing capabilities, like the Kelty tents, the CORE tent also has a mesh ceiling that allows everyone inside the tent to look up at billions of twinkling stars.

This three-season tent has a rainfly, but like the vast majority of tents, you will need to exit the tent in order to cover up the mesh, see-through roof if it starts to rain.  

The CORE tent measures 14′ x 9′ so it’s a big tent. It’s rather heavy too, weighing in at 33 pounds. Fortunately, this is meant for car camping, not backpacking.

This tent is tall, so you’re not constantly having to duck when you go in and out, or simply get situated inside the tent. The center height is a whopping 78 inches.

For an astronomy-loving large family or a big group eager to see the stars, this is a nice pick. Check the latest price now for the CORE Instant Cabin Tent.

#4: Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum


  • Ultralight
  • Nearly all mesh exterior
  • Intuitive set-up

This stargazing tent is the most expensive in the bunch, but it’s also the lightest of all the tents reviewed here. When you’re backpacking, every ounce matters.

This tent is made by Big Agnes, which is known for very well-made products. I own several pieces of Big Agnes gear, including the sleeping pad, and they are first-rate.

One look at this stargazing tent and you will realize it’s the next best thing to cowboy camping (i.e., camping outside without a tent or any kind of shelter).

In fact, you may not be able to see the tent (just kidding, kind of). It’s nearly all mesh from top to bottom, not just on the roof. The tent comes with a full-coverage rainfly, too.

This tent is available as a two-person or three-person tent. It’s got two doors, two vestibules and it’s the lightest full-featured tent made by Big Agnes.

In fact, the two-person tent weighs in at just 42 ounces. That’s barely more than half the weight of the Kelty Dirt Motel. It uses ultralight DAC Featherlite NFL tent poles.

This tent measures 90″ x 52″ with a peak height of 40.” It’s a little less tall on the inside than competitors, but again, it’s all about reducing weight on this tent.

It’s easy to set up this tent, too. It’s thankfully very intuitive to put together, which is a help when you’re setting up camp in the dark or in bad weather conditions.

For fans of ultralight gear, including outdoor-loving families, this tent is a winner. Check the latest price now for the Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum.

#5: TETON Sports Quick Tent


  • Full mesh roof
  • Budget pick
  • Easy set-up

For a value tent that lets you take in all the stars, constellations and galaxies, you’re covered with the TETON Sports Quick Tent, which comes in green, brown and yellow.

This two-person backpacking tent is just right when you want to take just one of your kids out for a night of perfect stargazing, even in your own backyard.

At 6.6 pounds, this pop-up dome tent is heavier than the other tents, but this is hardly a big deal if you want to purchase this tent for weekend car camping.

A full mesh roof on this tent allows for easy viewing of the night sky once the stars come out for the evening. Of course, a standard rainfly is included, too.

This tent measures 82″ x 60″ with a peak height of 41.” It’s not as long as the other tents, but it makes up for length with added width to allow for more living space.

Set up of the TETON Sports Quick Tent is very fast, too. Simply roll out the tent, lock the poles and pull the drawstring. All done. It’s hard to get much easier than that.

This tent has two doors, like the others. I love that two doors is becoming the norm. It’s so much easier to get in and out with more than one entry point on this tent.

As a separate purchase, you can buy universal camp cots that are made to fit under the pop-up tent for extra comfort. No need to squeeze them into a tent. Ah, relaxing.

For value-seekers, this stargazing tent is a first-rate find. Check the latest price now for the TETON Sports Quick Tent.

#6: MSR Hubba Hubba


  • Very lightweight
  • Superior waterproof coating
  • Easy set-up

MSR makes loads of great camping and backpacking gear, including both the MSR Hubba Hubba (two-person tent) and MSR Mutha Hubba (three-person tent).

However, I can tell you that of the two lightweight tents, only the MSR Hubba Hubba allows for an optimal stargazing experience thanks to a more sizeable mesh roof.

This three-season lightweight tent weighs in at 3.5 pounds. It’s also got two doors and two vestibules to allow for easy entry and exit, as well as plenty of storage space.

The floor dimensions are 84″ x 50″ and the peak height is 39.” This is smaller than some of the other tents, but it’s lightweight and good for a parent and child.

If rain becomes an issue (so much for stargazing), you’ll be glad to know that this tent has an Xtreme Shield Waterproof Coating. It’s 3x more waterproof than most tents.

The MSR Hubba Hubba also has a rainfly of course, but you do need to exit the tent in order to attach the rainfly to stay dry on the off-chance of a rain shower.

This tent is spacious and easy to set up at your campsite (or in your backyard). This round-shaped tent comes in red with a white rainfly.

This stargazing tent is a great purchase for a parent and child to enjoy a night under the stars. Check the latest price now for the MSR Hubba Hubba.