Home   Contact Us  

Choosing a tent that’s right for you

To fully experience the best of an outdoor excursion, you will need a tent you can rely on, time after time. Choosing a tent is an important decision that you should consider carefully. All it takes is one miserable, cold and rainy night in a too-small tent with too many people to convince you that it’s time to invest in a new shelter. In this article, we’ll discuss some important tent features and functions.

Before purchasing your tent, you should ask yourself a few basic questions such as:

Summer, winter or all-season use

Are you a fair-weather camper who only needs to weather the occasional rainstorm? Or are you a mountaineer whose tent must literally keep you alive in blizzards and winter conditions? Fair-weather campers should choose a summer tent with lots of mesh for warm climates or a three-season tent in temperate, changeable climates. These tents are versatile and strong enough to withstand moderate wind and rain. A three-season tent should have a full rain fly that reaches to the ground. A summer tent should have a rain fly that ends several inches above the ground to facilitate ventilation. A nice feature to have is a vestibule where you can shed muddy boots and stow gear. Weatherproof windows and skylight windows in the rain fly are great options. Tents built for moutaineering or winter weather have steep walls and a low profile to resist wind and snow buildup. Many have vestibules and these tents can be set up freestanding when there’s no way to pound in stakes to anchor the shelter. A rain fly is standard and should extend to the ground.

Tent types and styles

Regardless of fabric, tent seams should be double-stitched and reinforced at key stress points. Polyester resists UV exposure better than nylon but can tend to be heavy. Choose a polyester tent fabric if you’re setting up in a campground or camping resort where you’re planning to stay for days or weeks. Nylon is the most popular and widely used tent fabric. It is durable and lightweight, resists tearing and naturally sheds water. Choose a nylon tent if you’re a summer, winter or three-season camper who’s hiking or biking and needs a lightweight tent that can be set up and taken down on a daily basis.

Tent materials

Regardless of fabric, tent seams should be double-stitched and reinforced at key stress points. Polyester resists UV exposure better than nylon but can tend to be heavy. Choose a polyester tent fabric if you’re setting up in a campground or camping resort where you’re planning to stay for days or weeks. Nylon is the most popular and widely used tent fabric. It is durable and lightweight, resists tearing and naturally sheds water. Choose a nylon tent if you’re a summer, winter or three-season camper who’s hiking or biking and needs a lightweight tent that can be set up and taken down on a daily basis.

Tent Weight and Size

When considering camping tent weight, be sure to include the body, poles, rain fly and stuff sack. Remember to allow extra space for pets and children when deciding on a tent size. There are special-purpose lightweight tents designed for backpackers, hikers and bikers which can weigh as little as less than a kilogram and fit neatly into a corner or a pack or pannier. Family tents are often roomy cabin or wall tents that can weigh ten kilos or more but are more spacious. In general, if you’re looking for a two- or three-person tent that you can use in most weather conditions (three-season), expect it to weigh up 3-4 kg. If you tend to bring a lot of gear, be sure to allow for that when choosing tent size – a vestibule, for example, will help you make the best use of the tent’s interior space.

Tent Ventilation

Ventilation can be tricky. If your tent has mesh panels or windows, they may not be exactly weatherproof in a bad storm. Look for secure, waterproof closure mechanisms that are easy to deal with. The fabric of the tent (sidewalls and roof) should be breathable. If the tent isn’t breathable, moisture will condense in the interior of the tent, creating a clammy environment. Mesh panels are a must, however, to aid in keeping out insects while allowing air in. When pitching your tent, take a minute to figure out wind direction and orient the tent accordingly.

Conclusion

Choosing the right camping tent for your needs is a complicated process. Be sure to consider the type of camper you are, the number of people in your group and the amount of camping gear you usually bring.

Your tent is a critical piece of camping equipment. It can be a specially designed piece of hiking gear or backpacking gear or a cozy family retreat. Buy the best tent you can afford and considerate it an investment.



Rita Liotta is a successful freelance writer offering guidance and suggestions for consumers regarding camping gear, camping equipment, tents and GPS.