Tent-shopping tips: features to keep you comfy when you camp

Tent-shopping tips: features to keep you comfy when you camp

The right tent will help you stay comfy on any camping trip. Here are a few tent-shopping tips on how to buy the right one for your next outdoor adventure.

Tent-shopping tips: features to keep you comfy when you camp
Tent-shopping tips: features to keep you comfy when you camp

Types of tents

Tents come in all shapes and sizes, depending on your need and intended use:

  • Cabin tents: Shaped like a miniature house, cabin tents have walls and a decent amount of headroom. Often designed for four or more people, these tents need to be anchored well so they withstand strong winds.
  • Dome tents: Dome tents are the standard shape for tents and can fit between two and four people. They don’t have much in the way of headroom, but they handle strong winds and shed water better than cabin tents.
  • Family camping tents: These tents are big, sometimes containing multiple rooms for different people and are ideal for large families on big getaways. Family tents are often made of heavy canvas and are best used in stationary campsites. They’d be too cumbersome to take on a hiking trip.
  • Alpine and backpacking tents: Backpacking tents are designed to be lightweight, small and easy to carry. These tents are usually made for one or two people, sacrificing space for portability.

Features to look for

Tents need to be durable and weatherproof. These are some features to consider when buying a tent that will keep you dry and comfortable:

  • Separate fly: Tents either come double-walled, with a separately attached waterproof layer, or single-walled, which blends the breathable and waterproof layers together. In general, double-walled tents keep you drier but single-walled tents are lighter.
  • Footprint: Many tents come with their own custom-sized footprint or ground cloth to act as a barrier between the ground and your tent. Some are sewn-in for easy setup, or you can use any lightweight tarp or waterproof sheet to do the job.
  • Size: Tents are sized by the number of people they can fit, but most campers like to buy a tent sized for more people than they’ll need, ensuring extra comfort and storage room. If possible, test out your tent before purchasing to see if it suits the needs of your group.

Also important to consider

  • Weather conditions: Most tents are rated by seasons: a four season tent is good for year-round camping, especially in cold temperatures or high winds, and a three season tent works for every season except winter.
  • Setup: When you arrive at a campground after dark, you’ll want a tent that goes up quickly and easily. Some tents, like easy-up tents and instant tents, setup with almost no effort. Other tents use tent poles and ropes with either clips or sleeves for setup. Clips are easier but sleeves are more stable.

Camping offers a great way to get out and enjoy nature. When you’ve decided on the kind of trips you’re likely to make, these tips will help you choose a tent that’s sure to keep you comfortable all night long.


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