Tents For Camping
Select the best camping tent for YOU!
With so many choices of tents for camping, the decision on which one to select can be quite confusing. But don't feel overwhelmed. Answer the 4 simple questions below, and you'll have narrowed down your choice considerably.
Then read on for the important things to know and look out for when buying a tent.
Think It Through - Know What You're Looking For
- How many people will be sleeping in the tent?
Naturally this determines the size of the tent. Note that a 2-man tent will usually fit 2 people very snugly, with little room for luggage or anything else. For some comfort, select a tent size a "person" or several, larger. Obviously the larger the tent, the greater the options for comfort.
- What type of camping do you intend to do?
There are 3 main types of recreational camping:
- Backpacking / hiking. Main consideration will be weight and size of tent. Seek a small, light tent.
- Touring. With a high frequency of pitching and striking the tent, ease of erecting the tent and packing it back away will be very important.
- Static Camping. If planning to stay at the one campsite for a period of time, overall comfort may be the primary goal when selecting tents for camping.
- What sort of weather will you encounter?
Tents for camping are designed with a particular season in mind - heed the advice! Using a summer tent in winter time, for instance, could be a recipe for some interesting 'survival' stories, or at the very least, result in very uncomfortable and thus unhappy campers! Tents for camping generally fall into the following categories:
- 1 Season Tent. That season being Summer. Expect mesh and lightweight material, and a fly that finishes a reasonable distance from the ground. Good ventilation is the primary consideration. This would be a good option in the north or Australia during winter (the dry season).
- 3 Season Tent. Summer, Autumn (fall), Spring.
- 4 Season Tent. I won't explain!!
- Expedition Tent/Mountaineering Tent. Designed to cope with heavy snow, strong/blustery winds, and heavy rain.
The general rule is that the colder/fiercer the weather you expect to encounter, the thicker the tent material will need to be, and therefore the greater the weight of the tent.
Design features such as distance of fly from ground, number of poles and pole material will also alter as increased water-tightness, robustness and stability of tent is sought for harsher conditions.
- How much are you prepared to pay?
Do you have a tight budget, or is your budget unlimited?
Once you have answered these 4 basic questions, you will have a great starting point for shopping for your tents for camping. You now know:
- What size tent you want/need.
- Your primary consideration in selecting a tent: Either: size/weight, ease of pitch/strike, OR comfort (or a compromise of each).
- Seasonal category of tent.
Read on for further things to consider when deciding between the various tent brands and models. Or look at the different types/styles of tents for camping.
Considerations / Features when selecting Tents for Camping
- Set-up/pack-up time. This is worth considering regardless of the type of camping you intend. After all, everyone has something better to do than "work"! Generally, the more robust the the tent, the more effort that will be needed to pitch and strike it.
- Adequate ventilation. Important for controlling condensation build-up in the tent (especially in cold weather), and for air-flow (especially in hot weather).
- Climate Control: Insect screens, zip-up flaps, size and type of windows. Insect mesh will be essential in the heat, and zip-up flaps will prevent cold air blasting through in cooler weather.
- Water Tightness. Particularly check seams. (Factory taped or sealed seams are recommended.) Stitching makes tiny holes in the tent fabric, so check that all seams are taped or sealed to ensure a dry "home". Also look for a 1 piece floor, sometimes called a bathtub floor.
- Size of Tent. Consider the height/width of campers. Tent manufacturers tend to "overstate" how many people can fit in a certain size tent, or underestimate the size of people... whatever the reason, check that you can actually fit comfortably for sleeping in the tent you are considering. It might go without saying, but tents with straight sides give more space per floor area than sloping walled tents.
- Tent Configuration. Do you desire separate rooms, a vestibule, a screened porch or an awning?
- Storage and Living Space. Do you need to, or would you like to store food/clothing and camping equipment in your tent? Would you like some "living space" to prepare food, get dressed, or hang out in bad weather? Tents for camping are often classified by sleeping room only. Consider a larger (or much larger!) tent for its storage and comfort capabilities. Storage pouches and well-placed hooks (for hanging lighting, for example) are also convenient features.
- Tent Material. Look for waterproof, breathable, warm/cool. Thicker fabric in cool climates, thin/mesh in hot climates. Consider "rip-stop" fabric.
- Tent Colour. Colour of camping tents may be important in some situations. For safety - bright colours can be spotted from the air in cases of emergency - think red, orange or yellow. For camouflage/low visibility, think green, brown or tan.
- Durability. A tough tent floor is a must to resist punctures and tears from rocks, tree roots, and normal "wear and tear". Also check for strong stitching and reinforced pole tags.
- Strength and Stability. A combination of several features add to strength and stability. Look for overall design, tent fabric, seams and tent poles. Tent poles are usually made from high-strength, lightweight aluminium. Avoid cheap fibreglass poles which are heavy and weak.
Some More Considerations when Choosing Tents for Camping:
- Size of Campsite. Will your tent footprint be too large to fit on your intended campsite? Do you want to be able to fit in small bush sites?
- Duration of trip. Generally the longer the trip, the more you should consider the comfort and size aspects of your tent.
Now you have narrowed down what you are after,
What different types of tents are there to choose from?
Go to Camping Checklists
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