Camping Survival Tactical

Guide to Buying the Right Tent

How to Choose the Right Tent

These days, camping is more popular than ever before and the average outdoors enthusiast has more choice than ever before when shopping for things like tents. There are so many different tent styles and sizes available nowadays. In fact, there are so many options that it can actually be quite difficult for people to choose the right one, or even to understand the differences between one tent and the next.

In this article, we’ll try and help you make smart decisions the next time you go tent shopping. We’ll look at the various aspects you need to consider and hopefully make the whole tent-buying process seem a lot simpler than before.

tent materials to consider when buying

The Four Main Factors to Consider When Tent Shopping

On a basic level, there are four main things to think about when you go tent shopping. These are the size of the tent, the time of year at which the tent will be used, its weight, and your own budget. Let’s start with the size, as this is quite an easy factor to think about. Basically, you need to buy a tent that meets your needs.

If you have a large family and intend to camp as a group, you’ll need a big tent. If you prefer to go on one or two-man backpacking trips, a smaller, lighter tent will be just right. If you plan on doing a variety of camping activities with different sized groups, perhaps you might be better off buying two tents or finding a compromise that works for everyone.

Next, you’ll need to think about the seasons and the weather conditions you might encounter on your camping trips. Certain tents are more resistant than others, and some are specifically designed to deal with tough, wintry conditions. Tents are usually divided into two categories: 3-season and 4-season. 3-season tents will be fine for spring, summer and fall, while 4-season tents are stronger and can cope with harsher conditions. 4-season tents also tend to be more expensive, so you need to consider what sort of camping you’ll be doing and choose your tent accordingly.

Next, we have to consider the weight of the tent. This might not be a big issue if you’re going car-camping, as you can simply put the tent in the car and don’t really need to worry about carrying it. However, if you want to go backpacking, you’ll need to carry your tent for quite a while, so you don’t want it to be too heavy.

tent buying guide

Lighter tents tend to be more high-tech and are therefore usually more expensive. As a general rule of thumb, a good quality solo tent should weigh around 3lbs, while a two-person tent is usually around the 5lb mark. Big family tents can weight 20lbs or more, and 4-season tents are usually quite heavy due to their extra resistance.

Finally, we come to your budget limitations. Everyone is working with different amounts of money and nobody wants to spend more than they have to on a good quality tent. However, it’s important to be aware that a tent is something you may need to invest a reasonable amount of money into. Buying a cheap one isn’t usually a smart idea as the manufacturers will have been forced into making a lot of sacrifices and compromises, reducing the quality and effectiveness of the final product. Cheap tents can fall apart in strong winds and won’t provide sufficient protection against the elements, so try and set aside a bit of extra cash if possible.

What Type of Tent Fits Your Needs

best tents for campingNow let’s consider some more aspects of tents to help you narrow down your search and find the right product for you. One big distinction you’ll have probably come across is the notion of free-standing tents. As the name suggests, these tents are able to remain standing without being staked into the ground.

This is perfect for people who want to set up their tent anywhere, without having to worry about finding the perfect spot to dig the stakes in. It’s important to remember that these tents aren’t immune to the elements though; they can easily blow away in strong winds, so you’ll usually need to support them with guy lines. Tents that aren’t free standing are a little less versatile, but you can still work around this limitation by using rocks and other weights to set them up in rocky areas where stakes are hard to use.

Other little features to look for in your tents include pockets and doors. Having some extra internal storage can be very helpful, so more pockets is always a good thing. It’s also useful to have more than one door, as single-door tents can be a little awkward for multiple campers. The ventilation of the tent can also be important.

tent-in-rough-weather

How Rough Can the Weather Get

Tents with double-layered walls are more resistant against condensation than their single-walled counterparts, and some tents feature things like flaps to assist with ventilation. Speaking of double-layered tents, be sure to check that the outer wall is broad enough to provide full protection, rather than leaving any gaps for water to seep in.

The height of the interior is another factor to think about. Some manufacturers sneakily try to cut down on production costs by making tents with very low ceilings, but these tents can be quite awkward to use, especially if you want to move around or get dressed inside. Ideally, it’s good to see a tent fully set-up and get inside it yourself before making any purchase.

In addition, you should check the various seams to ensure that the tent is strong enough to be fully waterproof. One extra thing to consider is the ease of set-up. Some tents come with color-coded poles that help with the set-up process. Others come with dozens of pieces of equipment and very poorly-written instructions that could make you waste a lot of time. Hopefully this advice can help you find your own perfect tent.

About the author

Mike Paris

Mike is the editor of NWT Outfitters and as you may expect, an avid outdoorsman... When Mike isn't logged into the NWT backend, he's camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, or doing some combination of the four.

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