Great Tips to Find the Best Tent That Will Make Your Camping Trip Truly Fun
While shopping for a tent, you can easily be confused as there are so many styles, sizes, designs and features available. Here are tips on how to choose the perfect tent for you according to your needs.
Types of Tents
While there are many types of tents, there are 5 basic categories:
As the name suggests, these tents are meant for ventilation and bug prevention to a maximum extent in summer months. Good summer/screen tents have strong frames and full coverage from rain flies, and can deal with all types of weather, even summer thunderstorms. They feature large strips of mesh (and not nylon), so as you peel back the fly, there is a free airflow through the shelter.
This type of tent is suitable to campers who love to go camping in any season. Their design is hybrid and features vestibule, pole and rainfly options because of which you can strip it down for summer camping and fortify it in stormy weather. There are often mesh windows on the walls with solid nylon panels which you can be zipped tight in stormy weather. However, all these features make this tent weightier than other types of tents.
As the name suggests, these tents are designed to protect you in three seasons – spring, summer and fall; so, they can handle strong winds (though not snow loads). Their walls are made from a lot of mesh for maximum ventilation as well as protection.
Designed for ultralighters who can leave anything to lighten weight, a tarp is actually a single sheet of polyester or nylon that can be tied to trekking poles, boulders, roots or trees. However, you need to have good knot-tying skills and there are no floors or walls or bug protection; but still if rigged correctly, they can offer surprising level of resistance to weather.
These tents are designed to stand the harshest weather conditions with sturdy pole structure, tough fabrics and abundant guy-out points (loops attached at several key points on the fly). They are typically boulder-shaped to help shed wind and have large vestibules to store gear.
Choosing the Right Tent
Due to the various features and specs, choosing the best camping tent can be confusing. Here are a few tips on how to find the best tent.
Floor Space: Check the dimensions and not just the area in square feet. Taller campers will need a longer layout, while stout campers will need more elbow room.
Shape: Besides the square footage of the vestibule of your tent, think about the shape. Rectangular high-roofed designs provide more dry storage and a secure place to cook in rain and wind.
Headroom: Wall slope of the tent will dictate total headroom (“hubbed” or short “eyebrow” poles usually offer steeper sidewalls and better headroom). Consider the number of campers and type of weather. You might be bound to tent for days in bad weather. In that case, you will need a tent with significant headroom from end to end. Ultralight designs are often sloped or low-ceilinged and are best for lying down (sleeping) than sitting.
Various Shapes of Tents
There are many shapes in tents each having its pros and cons.
Just like the letter A, A-frame tents have sloping walls. They are usually inexpensive, simple and light. Being sloped, they limit elbow and head room. Since their broad sidewalls can get beaten in high winds, A-frame tents are perfect for mild conditions.
In this type, there is a central hoop pole, a ridgeline pole or curved sidewalls to form larger interior space and structural stability than regular A-frames.
This tent contains a rainfly which is supported by a vertical center pole and is staked out to create a teepee shape. Its space to weight ratio is fantastic but the floorless structure gives low performance in wet weather.
Tunnel, hoop or tube tents provide good combination of weather-resistance and weight but they are not free-standing and that means they need sufficient staking to achieve their shape.
Domes are available in several sizes, shapes and pole configurations, but they usually feature arched ceilings and good interior space, and have good stability in winds.
This is higher at the head end and lower towards foot and is lightweight and aerodynamic (pitched low end in the wind). In exchange, you get a sacrificed interior room, particularly headroom.
Freestanding tents can be pitched without using stakes which makes them easier to erect and move around to find a flat spot. (However, all tents must be staked down to stop them from blowing away).
These tents need stakes to form the structure, therefore pitching in snow and sand needs special attention. They are usually lighter than freestanding tents and can usually fit into tight corners.
A one-door tent is lighter than a double-door tent.
Two doors truly increase the comfort of a tent, particularly when each of them is protected by its own vestibule. This enables each of the campers to have their own storage space.
These come with light-duty inexpensive tents. Compared to carbon fiber and aluminum, they are heavier, cheaper and less durable.
Carbon Fiber Pole
These are ultra-light and ultra-strong and found in ultra-high end tents; however they are not as durable as aluminum. They are pricier too.
Aluminum poles are used in a large majority of good backpacking tents. They are light, strong and easy to replace.
If poles feed into continuous sleeves along the tent body, they form a very solid structure that handles wind perfectly. But it takes longer to set up and airflow between the fly and tent body is hampered, so there can be a problem of condensation if ventilation is not proper.
Setup is easy and fast with plastic clips that fit tent to poles. Airflow is excellent; however stability in high winds may be compromised.
Consider these points and depending upon your conditions, find the best tent that will make your camping trip truly fun.