Unlike previous generations, camping no longer always involves sleeping in a tent. RVs, commercial campgrounds and other options provide an alternative. But there’s still nothing to complete that camping experience like sleeping in a tent.
Here are a few tips for picking one that gives you all the modern advantages, without the traditional hassles.
The basic purposes of a tent are to provide privacy and protection from the elements – wind, rain and (to some degree) cold. Any sturdy tent will satisfy the first, but to keep weather out requires more.
Windy conditions, common in wilderness areas where most campsites are found, can put a tent to the test. But thanks to modern materials, nylon fabric tents supported by fiberglass or aluminum poles are up to the job.
There are two basic types, internal frame and external. The former are easier to put up, the latter are a little more sturdy and wind resistant.
In either case, it’s helpful if they’re in the right design, however. A zippable flap is a great benefit for keeping the wind out and there should be several places around the perimeter at the bottom to fasten the tent to the ground to minimize gaps.
Rain is one of the chief considerations. Being wet is not only not fun, it can be a serious health hazard if the temperature drops. Keeping dry is simple with a good tent, though. All are made these days with nylon, but not all nylon is the same quality. It should be thick and sturdy enough, and treated properly, to actually keep out a good rainstorm.
Campers should make liberal use of the can of sealant that is offered by many manufacturers. You set up the tent and then spray the seams to make them completely watertight. An air hole at the top of many models can help keep the interior from getting stuffy, but you’ll want to have one with a closeable flap (either zipper, Velcro or other).
The floor should be equally waterproof, even sturdier and preferably conduct minimal cold or heat.
Tents are sold according to shape and size. However, a four-man tent is really only suitable for two adults, unless you want to be really cramped. A sleeping bag is about 2.5ft by 7 feet. That’s 17.5 square feet. Double that to allow for stepping space and room for gear. Then double it again to accommodate another person. That’s 70 square feet or about 7 feet by 10 feet. That’s about the minimum.
Round tents, sometimes called ‘dome’ or ‘geodesics’ look cool and work well. They distribute stress over the surface very efficiently, making them strong, lightweight and easy to assemble and carry. But they are not quite as efficient when it comes to interior space. Sleeping bags are rectangular, as are people when they’re sleeping. Let personal taste be your guide.
Be prepared to spend a little more to get a quality tent. Tent technology has developed to such a high state, it’s preferable to spend a little more and get something that will endure.