When you decide to go camping, whether you are backpacking or car camping, you will need to buy a tent. There are many tents on the market and I hope this article will help you make the right choice.
Here are nine areas to think about when you go tent shopping.
- Size: If the tent specs say that it sleeps four, it’s a good idea to subtract one or two people from that estimate. Four campers in a tent rated for four would have to be very close (emphasis on close) friends. Think sardines! Also, remember that you will be keeping your gear in the tent too. For instance, one of my favorite family tents is the Coleman WeatherMaster Screened 6 Tent. Although this is a roomy tent, you might want to think four or five campers instead of six. If you have small children, you could adjust accordingly.
- Poles: Aluminum or steel poles are strong and will keep a cabin tent upright and squared off. Fiberglass poles are more flexible and would be more suitable for a lightweight backpacking tent. The downside is that they tend to break more easily.
- Rain fly: The rain fly should cover not just the top of the tent, but should extend down over the sides. It should be made of waterproof material. The walls are only water repellent.
- Seams: The seams should be folded and double stitched. If you can through the needles holes, the tent will leak. You should always seal all the seams with seam sealer before you use the tent.
- Floor: The floor should be all in one piece and extend up the sides. This is known as a tub floor. It should be waterproof and tough. It’s always a good to lay a tarp on the ground and then put your tent on top. It gives an extra layer of insulation and protects the floor from stones or sticks underneath it.
- Guy lines: Guy lines are attached to the rain fly and the sides of the tent to keep it taut so it will not flap around in the wind. Make sure you have plenty of sturdy stakes.
- Mesh: The mesh that is on the windows and top of the tent should be very fine gauge to keep out tiny insects. A good type is called “no-see-um” mesh.
- Roof vent: A roof vent is important to provide adequate ventilation. Also, there should be screened windows that can be zipped up with privacy flaps.
- Zipper: A heavy duty zipper is a must. You will be going in and out of your tent many times and each time you have to zip and unzip. This can be a nuisance, especially if you have small children. That is why I like the Coleman WeatherMaster tent. It has a hinged front door that just flops back in place when you go in and out.
Now you have some things to look for when you go tent shopping that will help you select a well made tent. Good luck!