How to choose Camping Tent
Camping Tents Guide
In purchasing equipment for the outdoors, always use the same thought process. How often are you going to upgrade your equipment based on the new radical improvements that the manufacturer will come out with? How long before your existing equipment will become obsolete and you will have to replace it? How long will it be before you have a disadvantage with your existing equipment? When the time came to choose a tent, you decided that you would choose the best tent that you could afford based on the use of the tent.
The quality of your experience outdoors is greatly dependent on your choice of the right tent. That is why there is such a large selection to choose from... and I, might add, a tough decision. There are 4 basic components to a tent: the poles, the body of the tent, the rain fly and a tarp (ground cloth or footprint to extend the life of a tent's floor - optional).
Decide on what you will mostly use the tent for and what features you would need based on the type of camping you expect to do. There are many tent features to consider when choosing a tent and all the options available are important.
How to choose the right camping tents for you and your family.
Their are several types of tents available. And if you're going to be sleeping outdoors you have to know how to choose the right one for you.
Their are many reasons to want to have a shelter between you and the outdoors. Wether it's to keep the bugs out, to stay warm and dry or to have a little privacy.
Before we get into choosing your tent lets go over the main parts of camping tents real fast.
Parts of a Tent
Canopy - This is the main body campint tents. Usually made of ripstop nylon.
Poles - This is what holds the tent up. The more poles a tent uses typically the more sturdy it is. Campint Tents poles are made of aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum is the prefered material for its strength and durability. They are usually hollow and connected by elastic cords which make setup easier.
Rainfly - Optional part used to protect the tent from rain and ultraviolet rays. Quality rainflies are made of weatherproofed nylon taffeta, which is a stronger heavier material than the canopy material.
Vestibule - A vestibule is the part of the rainfly that extends from campint tents and covers an area of the ground in front of your door. Like your own mini front porch. A good place to keep your boots and other gear overnight.
When choosing between camping tents their are just two basic questions you need to ask yourself:
- What time of year will I be using my tent?
- How many people will be sleeping in my tent?
Looking at these two questions choosing a camping tent may seem like a easy exercise but from these two simple questions comes many options.
Lets look at the first question.
What time of year will I be using my tent?
Camping tents fall into four categories three-season, four-season, warm weather and convertible.
Three-season Camping Tents
Are designed to be used in the spring, summer and fall. Of course if your like me and live in the south where it rarely gets extremely cold and never snows you can use these year round.
They can withstand a couple of inches of snow without colapsing, however they may not hold up under high levels of snow fall. They are equiped with lots of mesh screens for ventilation during warm humid nights, but may not provide enough ventilation for very warm and humid climates. They come equipped with a rainfly to keep water leaking through your roof. Some include a vestibule to keep hiking boots and gear dry and out of your way overnight.
Four-Season Camping Tents (winter/mountaineering)
These are desinged to be used year round and especially for harsh winter weather. These camping tents come with a few extra poles (which add to the total weight of the tent) to hold up against high winds and heavy snow. As an extra protection against the snow these also are constructed using a dome style with steeper sidewalls which prevents snow build up by allowing the snow to be shed from the top of the tent.
Convertible Camping Tents
Convertible Tents are year round tents that can be converted from a four-season tent to a three-season tent. These give you the option of using fewer poles to cut down on the total weight when maximum sturdiness is not needed. The vestibule is also detatchable and and the mesh screens come with zippable panel covers to leave open for ventilation or close for protection against wind, cold and rain.
Summer/Warm Weather Camping Tents
These are specially designed for warm weather. Most of the surface is made of mesh for maximum ventilation. If you do use this tent in cold wether you will need to attatch the rainfly. However this only gives you minimum protection since the rainfly stops several inches from the ground. You will get lots of unwanted cold air blowing through your tent. Summer tents are usually designed to be very lightweight and only hold 1 to 2 people.
How many people will be sleeping in my tent?
Tent manufactures rate their tents based on how many people can occupy the tent comfortably. Typical capacity ratings are 1 person, 1-2 person, 2 person 2-3 person, 3 person and so on. When hiking using a larger tent consider seperating the tent between each member of your camping group to lighten the load.
When deciding what capacity tent to purchase you may want to consider some other factors such as activity, comfort, your size and wether you occasionaly invite extra members camping.
For instance if your group is usually 2 people and you usually move around alot or just want extra space when you sleep you may want to go up to the next size tent.
Also consider your size, the average person needs about 40" of width per person. If you are bigger than average add a few inches too that.
Plus, if your looking at a 2 person tent if you ever have an extra person join you you'll want to have room for them. You can move up to a 2-3 person tent or even a 3 person tent. When it's just the two of you you'll appreciate the extra room you will have.
Consider the activity you do also. If your looking at a 2 person tent but you may be planning a long distance hike where weight will be a factor. You may want to consider a 1-2 person tent.
Camping Tents Shapes
The shape of a tent will affect its weight, it's interior space and stabliity. The three main shape desings tents come in are Dome, Single Wall and Tunnel(or Hoop).
Most four-season tents come in some sort of dome design. Dome tents are aerodynamic and stable against the wind. The dome shape allows for generous interior headroom. The rounded design sheds rain and snow easily.
Domes are free standing. This means the stakes are not needed to keep the tent up. If you decide you would like to move your tent to a different location it's as easy as removing the stakes picking up the tent and placing it down where you would like. This also is handy for easily shaking out any loose dirt that has accumulated in your tent.
Single-Wall Camping Tents
Single-Wall Tents are lightweight and come with minimal features. They do not require a rainfly, they come equipped with ventilation ports for ventilation and their steep walls allow for a spacious interior and shedding of water.
Tunnel (Hoop) Camping Tents
Many three-season tents use a tunnel(or hoop) design. The floor is usually rectangular and the body is wedge shaped. These are popular among long distanc hikers since they are lightweight due to using less poles and less fabric. Their wedge shape is resistant against wind and rain and offers a spacious interior.
Buying Camping Tents
Of course you could go to your local department store and pick up the first tent that catches your eye. However,department-store tents are typically mass-produced and less attention is given to the details.
You'll usually find less stitches per inch in department store tents. The poles that are used are usually fiberglass instead of the prefered aluminum poles. The canopy material is made of a less breathable nylon that will accumulate moisture and leave your tent feeling like a suana. Plus you have to settle for a tent from their limited selection.
They have a huge selection of high quality camping tents to choose from such as The North Face, Kelty and MSR. Plus if you have a question you can get answers immediately with their Live Help. Their Gear Experts will help you select the right gear and answer your technical questions, all without having to make a phone call.