Buying a tent for your first camping trip might seem simple, but once you actually step foot into a store or browse online catalogs, you’ll see just how hard it can be.
Why? There are many, many different tents available on today’s market.
As with buying any new product, you want to be sure you’re investing in the best model for your needs, which is easier said than done.
Depending on the specific camping trip you plan to take, various factors will affect your purchasing decisions. Are you going alone, as a couple, or with your family? Are you staying in a hot location or a national park prone to drizzle?
Don’t let yourself be too daunted by the sheer variety on offer. Read our buying guide to get the answers you need …
Size: How Big Does your Tent Need to Be Anyway?
Generally, you’ll see tents sized by their berths, or the number of people it can comfortably accommodate.
Without doubt, this is one of the most crucial factors. Choose a tent designed for two bodies for a five-man camping trip, and you’re likely to face problems. Likewise, a family-sized tent might leave a solo holidaymaker feeling a tad small.
Typically, two adults will be perfectly comfortable with a four-berth tent, while families of three or more people will need to go for at least double this. 10-man tents are available at the bigger end of the spectrum, but remember that the larger it is, the longer it takes to build.
Design: A-Frame or Pop-Ups?
There are numerous different types of tent, and we haven’t the space to explore them all here. Instead, we’ll look at the two most common.
A-frame tents are the traditional design. These are pretty easy to put together when you’ve had a little practice, with poles running along the center and meeting at either end with your fabric laid across them.
Pop-up tents are much easier to put together, as the poles are already inside the fabric. Once you set them up, the tent will just pop-up by itself, saving plenty of time. This can be a big help if you get caught in heavy rain or you want to get in out of the cold in a hurry.
Layers: Single or Double?
Not every tent has two layers of fabric protecting you from the elements. Some basic designs come with just one sheet, which is fine for a warm night in dry weather.
However, for lower temperatures in rainy seasons, you’ll want two layers to keep you as warm and safe as possible. Check how much space sits between the two layers: if you can fit your fist in there, you’ll be fine. With both layers touching, you’re less likely to escape the dreaded leak in wet weather.
Whichever tent you choose, be sure to practice setting it up at least two times before you take it out into the world. You don’t want to arrive at your camping site with no idea how it works or that it’s way too small.
Be sure to keep your valuables in a waterproof backpack during the night, just in case a leak should occur. With a good-quality tent, it’s unlikely, but not impossible.
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations. Someone may be able to help you find the ideal tent to ensure your camping trip stays as warm, dry, and safe as possible.