These days tents for camping come in a wide variety of styles, designs, sizes, shapes, materials, colors and etc. To help you cut through this array of information and choose the perfect camping tent for you and your family, we have put together the following tips and guidelines for you to consider.
Firstly, how many people will be using the tent, and how much interior space do you need for sleeping, storage and comfort – this will help you determine the appropriate size and style of tent.
How will the tent be used and how often will it be used – this will give you a good indication of how durable the camping tent needs to be.
Camping tents are rated by the number of people that they can accommodate e.g. 1-person, 2-person, 4-person, etc. However, these ratings generally mean that number of people and nothing else, no camping gear or camping equipment and very little room to move around.
Therefore, you should look at tents at least 1 to 2 sizes bigger than the specified size so that you will have a reasonable amount of room to move around plus storage – otherwise it can become very “close” inside the tent, especially if you are stuck inside the tent for an extended period due to rain.
Also consider the dimensions of the tent, i.e, if you are 6 feet tall then you will want at least 7 feet length-wise to be able to stretch out. You should also make sure that you have sufficient room for an inflatable air mattress, while not mandatory, it will certainly make camping a lot more comfortable.
The height of the tent is also important if you would like to be able to stand up to change your clothes – while it is possible to change your clothes while sitting or lying down, it isn’t terrible comfortable. However, there is a tradeoff – more height means more “sail area” to catch the wind.
Dome shaped tents are the most popular tents for camping – they provide good interior space, and the rounded, streamlined shape adds strength and good wind resistance, plus they are quick and easy to set up. They also shed snow and rain and resist wind well with a rain-fly, and can be very strong with aluminum poles. They can be free-standing but will need stakes and guy ropes in stronger winds. They also offer a nice amount of headroom.
Family camping tents are designed for large groups of 4-6+ people, are taller ranging from about 6-8+ feet at the peak (the middle of the tent) and decreasing down to 3-4 feet or so at the sides. They work very well for campground camping as well as for base-camps. They offer from 1-3 rooms for privacy and/or camping equipment. The weight of the tent will vary depending upon the construction, material, and size, but will be approximately 9-40+ pounds.
You should choose a camping tent that will be able to handle the most extreme weather conditions you are likely to encounter on your camping trips. Tents are rated by the seasons they can cover, i.e;
- 2-Season Tents will cover your requirements from late spring to early fall but they are not designed for rougher conditions.
- 3-Season Tents will protect you from just about the worst that summer, spring, and autumn can throw at you, but will not be able to protect you in heavy winter conditions.
- 4-Season Tents for camping are designed for year round use and are capable of withstanding the heaviest snowstorms.
The other important features that you need to consider in tents for camping trips are as follows:
Bathtub Floor – look for camping tents with a polyurethane-coated “bathtub floor” with as few seams as possible and extending 6-8 inches up he tent wall. This will prevent water from seeping through the floor, otherwise you can get wet when it rains.
Most tents for camping should have an optional footprint or groundsheet which protects the tent floor shaped to fit under the tent with a margin of a few inches all around
The better quality camping tents are constructed from rip-stop nylon or a polyester blend. Nylon is very durable and the polyester resists the suns UV rays better and sags less when wet. No-see-um mesh provides ventilation while keeping out small biting insects.
Sealed/taped double stitched seams for water resistance and strength are also preferred.
Double doors are also a big convenience – they add ventilation and minimize having to climb over someone else to enter or exit the tent. They also make it easier to decide how to pitch the tent to get good views, privacy and resistance to wind and rain.
Fiberglass and aluminum tent poles are usually connected with elastic shock-cord to make for easy set-up. Although the fiberglass poles are less expensive, they aren’t as strong as 7000 series or DAC aluminum and are usually thicker and heavier. If you avoid cold and bad weather camping though, the fiberglass poles can hold up decently.
Rainfly is a very water resistant shield that stretches over the top of the camping tent and extends almost to the ground. It serves to block even wind-driven rain from penetrating inside. It should also extend over the door like a visor so that the rain won’t drip in when you open the door.
Vestibules – and two vestibules are better than one. You can store your camping gear on one side and cook on the other if it’s raining outside. A vestibule of at least 6 square feet is recommended, so that you can store backpacks, cooking equipment and boots in it.
In summary then, dome camping tents are great designs for shedding water and snow and also perform well in the wind. A quality camping tent will have rip-stop nylon or polyester, stronger aluminum poles (7000 series or DAC aluminum), have double stitched sealed seams, coated bathtub floors, a footprint (groundsheet), no-see-um mesh ventilation and will last longer and stand up to heavy rain and fierce wind.
Don’t be afraid to spend money on a good quality brand name camping tent. Buying a cheap discount brand that’s going to leak and/or collapse on you in wind-blown rain will only ruin your camping trip and make you miserable. Trust me, I’ve been there…