You’ve done it. You have made up your mind. You’re going camping. You are going to rough it. You’re going to indulge in all that Mother Nature has to offer. There’s only one problem: you need a tent. Trips to the store have left you overwhelmed, snowed under in a deluge of terms like “peak height” and “guyout loops.” Fret not Adventurer, here is what you need to know before choosing a tent.
Style of Tent
Although there are categories upon subcategories of tents for any given weather condition, size, and style, tents can be broken down into three basic categories. Summer, Three Season, and Four Season.
- Summer Tents: Summer tents are built mostly of mesh and allow air to flow freely in and out of the tent while keeping insects away. A sure advantage during sweltering summer nights. These tents are lighter and will struggle to hold up to stormy weather. You can beef up the ability to withstand rainy weather by securely pitching a taut rainfly around your shelter, but these are definitely not meant to stand up to harsh winds and heavy rains.
- Three Season Tents: These are built to withstand the milder weather of spring, summer and fall. Three season tents are capable of retaining warmth and withstanding wind and rain and are typically a good choice unless you plan on camping in areas where significant snow fall is possible. Again, you can bulk up their weather resistance with a rainfly.
- Four Season Tents: Four season tents are for the intrepid mountaineer that would prefer not to bivouac in subzero temperatures. These structurally firm tents have domed roofs to shrug off heavy snow and extended rainflies that protect campers from roaring winds and pouring rain. For campers who intend to venture out in all seasons, a four season tent is the way to go.
Size of Tent
It’s important to consider how many people you will typically share a tent with. If it’s just you and one other, a lightweight two-person tent should do the trick. For larger groups there are family sized tents and even tents that accommodate up to 18 people. Regardless of the size of your group, an important rule of thumb is allocating 30 square feet per person. Another way to ensure adequate space for your group is to add one person to the tent capacity, so if you’ll normally sleep 3 in a tent, opt for a 4-person capacity tent.
Ease of Setup
The last thing you want to do after a long day of driving to a campsite or a longer day of hiking through the woods is spend hours laboring over an instruction manual. Look for tents that are easy to setup, often named “Instant” or “Pop Up” tents. You also want a tent that you can fit comfortably in your car. You will need room to pack all other camping essentials as well, and a leviathan sized tent will inhibit that.
Camping in itself is a compromise of comfort. However, you will still want to buy a tent that allows you to move around without incident. If misfortune strikes and inclement weather hits, the tent is where you will spend the majority of your time. We have already covered size, but height is important as well. The taller the tent, the easier it is to move around. There are also tents with separate rooms, allowing for increased privacy if you are camping with your family or a group.
There is a type of tent made for virtually every need and taking these components into account will help make your tent your home away from home. Now you are ready to choose a tent and enjoy the outdoors!