If you enjoy camping, then you know that the most important piece of equipment that you’ll need is a tent.
A good quality tent can immensely improve your overall camping experience. However, there are many tents on the market today that are not well-made or are not easy to transport or set up.
The right tent can last you many years and can be your constant companion on your visits to campgrounds and the wilderness. With this in mind, a tent purchase is not something that you should rush. Take your time making your decision, and consider every factor before handing over your money. In the end, when you are enjoying your tent year after year, you’ll be glad that you did.
There are many different types of tents available to campers these days. Backpacking tents, giant tents, pop-up tents, and all-season tents all offer different advantages and disadvantages. If you’re unsure where to begin when it comes to tent shopping, you came to the right place. This informative post will help to guide you on your quest and will remind you of all the different factors you should consider.
Read on for our complete camping tent buying guide.
What Kind of Camper Are You?
The first thing that you’ll need to think about when considering a tent to buy is the type of camper that you are.
Will you be camping next to your car in an established campground, or will you be hiking into the backcountry with your tent?
What seasons do you enjoy camping in? Are you a summer camper only, or do you enjoy camping in the spring, summer, and fall as well?
What is the weather like in the places that you like to camp? Is it dry most of the year or will you often encounter rain? Is your area quite windy?
Do you need a lot of space for your other camping gear? Do you plan to change your clothes inside your tent or outside? Will you be inflating air mattresses or will you be using camping cots?
Will you be bringing children or a dog? Do you want a tent with a single room or one with multiple rooms? Would you spend time sitting in a screened-in porch area?
All of the above questions are important things to consider before you even begin looking for the perfect tent. Each and every one of these factors will influence your choice of camping tent.
Sleeping Capacity and Size
Sleeping capacity tents and tent sizes vary. There are single-person tents that are perfect for people who camp alone or who plan to backpack into the wilderness. These smaller tents take up little room in your vehicle or your pack, and are extremely lightweight.
Medium-sized tents are often great for two people, or for one person and a dog, or for one person who simply likes to spread out. However, many of them are not large enough for an adult to stand up in, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Large, one-room tents are wonderful for couples or couples with children or pets. They give campers plenty of room for sleeping and for storing their gear, with a little extra space taboot.
Giant, multi-room tents can be a lot of fun. If you have children, they’ll appreciate having their own room inside a tent while still being quite close to you at night. However, these tents can be challenging to pack in the car due to their large size, and can be cumbersome to set up. Once you get the hang of it, though, you may find that the vast amount of space inside a giant tent will make it all worth it to you.
One thing to keep in mind is the fact that manufacturers’ capacity ratings can often be misleading. Frequently, a tent that is rated for four to six people can only sleep three to four comfortably. It’s wise to buy a tent that is rated for more occupants than you think you will need.
Different Types of Tents for Different Types of Weather
Most tents on the market are three-season tents. These tents are made to withstand the type of weather that most regions can expect in spring, summer, and fall. They’ll keep you dry if it’s raining, will keep bugs out, and will provide you with the privacy you’ll want at night. Usually, these tents include screen windows that open or close to keep warm air in or to let it out, and a rainfly to help divert rain or light snow away from your sleeping area.
If you think you might want to camp in the winter or at high elevations where it can get quite cold, you might want to invest in a three-to-four or four-season tent instead. These tents are made to withstand wind and harsher precipitation. They’re stronger and sturdier than most three-season tents thanks to stronger poles and better tent fabric. Four-season tents are built to remain standing even if they are covered with snow.
All tents come at a wide variety of price points, but in general, three-to-four and four-season tents are often quite a bit more expensive than simple three-season tents. Although many people are impressed by the durability of the former, most campers really only require a three-season tent for their camping excursions.
Ease of Set-Up: Pole Tent or Pop-Up Tent?
Setting up and taking down the tent is a big part of camping, so you want it to be as easy as possible. Tents have come a long way in the past fifty years or so, and tents of all kinds are easier to set up and take down than ever before.
Most tents of all sizes come with poles that pop together on their own when unfolded out of the bag. Then, you simply need to thread them through fabric or clips in the tent. Every tent will be challenging to set up the first time you do it, but it will get easier each time, and eventually, it will be a breeze.
With a pop-up tent, the tent is often all one piece. When you take it out of the bag, it pops up on its own. These are very convenient, but they can weigh a bit more, can take up more space when packed, and can cost a bit more as well. However, if you don’t feel like fighting with poles, one of these types of tents might be great for you.
In either case, you’ll need to stake down the tent to ensure that it won’t blow away, and you’ll likely need to add the rainfly to keep moisture out. The type of tent set-up that you choose is really just a personal preference.
Camping Tents: Other Factors to Consider
Although the above factors are the most important ones to consider when tent shopping, there are other things to think about before you buy a tent, too.
If you’re very tall, you’re going to want to choose a tent with a long floor so you can stretch out when you go to sleep. Most tents are designed with people of average height in mind, so you’ll want to check the floor-length before making your purchase.
Some people like tents with attached but separate outdoor spaces like a vestibule or screened-in porch. This space will allow you to keep your shoes outdoors so you don’t track mud inside but will keep them safe from the elements while you’re sleeping. These “garage” areas also give you room to store other things outside your interior tent space which can free up more space for you inside. Some are large enough to set up camping chairs inside if it’s rainy or buggy outdoors.
Tent height is also a factor. Some people don’t mind crawling into their tent at night and actually prefer a smaller space in which they feel secure. They can change their clothes outside by the car or in a campground background; their tent is for sleeping only. On the other hand, other people like a tent in which they can stand up to their full height for a variety of reasons.
Some tents offer storage space inside. Pockets to store your glasses, flashlight, or cell phone can help you to keep track of these items. Loops in the ceiling of the tent will give you a place to hang a battery-powered lantern for reading or socializing before bed. Some tents even have a small opening that leads to the outside so you can run a power cord from a generator or other source into the interior!
Now that you know all of the different things to look for when shopping for a camping tent, it’s time to get out there and get started. Before long, you will have purchased the camping tent of your dreams and you’ll be ready to take on the great outdoors. Whether you choose a large tent, small tent, pole tent, or pop-up tent, you’ll know that you chose the right tent for you and your needs.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make a decision on a tent today so you can go camping this weekend. Good luck and enjoy!
If you are looking for more great articles about outdoor gear, check out the Camping section of our site.