When shopping for a new camping tent, look for features that will let you enjoy the use of that tent for many years to come. Know your budget and decide ahead of time how much you can afford to spend. I'm not necessarily advocating that you buy the most expensive tent available in your price range, but it will help you know what your choices are. Once you know how much you can spend it's time to analyze the features of the camping tents in that price range. Let's begin by looking at the most important feature of a tent:
How big should a tent be?
If you're not planning to backpack or canoe camp, the size and weight of a tent doesn't matter so long as it fits in your vehicle. Tent capacity is based on the square footage and how many standard sleeping bags will fit in it. For example, a 2-person tent will accommodate just two people. There will be very little elbow room or extra storage space. You'll find a 4-person tent will be more comfortable for two people, and you will have space to spread out and store your gear too. For a family of four, I recommend a 6-person tent. As a rule-of-thumb buy a tent that has a capacity rated two people higher than the number that will actually be using it.
You may want to check out the multi-room tents. If you're camping with the kids, a 2-room tent provides a little privacy. Multi-room tents come in 2-room styles, where the rooms are separated by an inside tent wall with a zippered door. There are 3-room styles that are like the 2-room ones but with an added screen room, which is nice for changing wet or dirty clothes before entering the other rooms, and which are great for setting up chairs or a table to use in case it rains. There are also 2-room tents, which have just one large sleeping area and an attached screen room. Tents with screen rooms attached are great for storing gear outside the sleeping area.
What tent features should I look for?
- A tent with aluminum poles.
Tents may come with fiberglass poles, but they are fragile and more likely to break. If you bend or break a pole, which I've done more then once, most camping stores sell replacements or repair kits.
- A tent with an adequate rainfly.
The rainfly is your tent's umbrella. The bigger the better. Look for a fly that comes well down the sides of the tent rather than just across the top. Rainflies are waterproof. Tent walls are water-repellant.
- A tent with folded seams and double stitching.
If you can pull the material on either side of a seam and see through the stitches, this tent will leak. Be sure to use seam sealer on all seams.
- A tent with a one-piece tub floor.
The floor should be made of waterproof material, and it should come a few inches up the sides before it is sown to the tent walls. No seam in the floor means there is no place for water to seep in.
- A tent with adequate guy lines.
Tent walls, and sometimes rain-flies, have loops sown near the middle. These loops are used to attach guy lines that pull out the walls so that they are taught. It's impossible to sleep in a tent that's flapping in the wind.
- A tent with good-sized stake loops.
There should be loops at the base of your tent in every corner and at the center of each side. These loops need to be big enough to accommodate the large plastic stakes sold in camping stores. Material stake loops are preferred. Plastic ones might break when you hammer in the stakes.
- A tent that uses noseeum meshing.
This is the best material for keeping those nasty little bugs out.
- A tent with a roof vent.
Opening this at night will help create some air circulation and eliminate condensation inside your tent.
- A tent with heavy-duty zippers.
You'll be in and out of your tent a lot so you want zippers that will hold up to frequent use.
Good Luck finding the right tent for you. My family and I look forward to seeing you out at a campground soon.
Already have a Canopy (first Up, Quick Shade, Ez Up)? Consider a tent that clips inside. i gives you 4 vertical walls, 4 screened windows and vertical ventilation.
We have one it is great to camp in. I also works if you want to put the table inside to eat dry and bug free.
Joe, are you telling me that the color of the tent isn't the first and only deciding factor? A lot of good information, and i can say first hand that these are important features. I just wish someone would have had these suggestions years ago
And that was a very pretty tent!
Before HuskyCampers bought the Taj Mahal, we worked together and she asked for advice on buying a tent. I recommended a tent and explained why. She liked a different one because of the pretty colors. It has been sitting on the shelf in their garage ever since the first trip. LOL
StPaula & Rusty have one of the tents w/in an EZ-up....here's a quick tip, if you're going to send it with your wife for her and her camping besties to setup before you get there....TELL THEM IT'S A SQUARE EZ-UP TENT SO THEY'RE NOT TRYING FOR AN HOUR TO MAKE A TRIANGLE OUT OF IT