Choosing the Right Tent

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right tent. Price, Size, Season, Construction, Configuration, Strength, weight and Shape are likely the main the main considerations. Out of those I think the most important are:

  • Is the tent in your budget?
  • Is the tent big enough to accommodate you/your family?
  • Will the tent work for most seasonal outings?
  • Does it fit your intended purpose?

If you haven’t even tent shopped, you’ll be surprised by the innumerable offering and configurations. You’ll find 2,3,4 – 8 pole tents. Tents with front, rear or side doors. Free standing and staked. Domes, rectangles, funnels, multi-rooms. 2,3,4 season variations. The list goes on. I’m a firm believer in keeping it simple.

Start with setting a budget for your tent. As you’ll soon find out, tents can be crazy expensive. On the real high end, you’re looking at $800! On the real low end, $50. I think somewhere in the middle is about right. For a good quality tent that will fit 3-4 people – without too many bells and whistles plan on spending around $400, give or take.

Next, does the tent fit all your family members adequately? We prefer to have a tent a bit on the larger side. Having been tent-bound many times, from experience it’s always better to have a bit more room to spread out. Also, if you’ve got some tall family members, be sure there’s adequate head height when sitting. We have all sorts of models, in a variety of shapes. Probably our favorite is a 4 man dome. It’s lightweight, so we can use it for backpacking and it also works for car camping. It’s a good middle of the road tent.

If you plan on camping most of the year like we do, you’ll need a tent that can handle most weather. We live in Colorado and while there can be heavy snows up high and the occasional prolonged heavy rain – for the most part it’s mild. A 3-season tent pretty much covers the majority of our trips. While we do have a 4 season (actually a couple), we find that the 3 season is the best tent to cover most situations.

If you’re going to be doing most of your hiking in the summer months, there really isn’t a need to have a vestibule. If you’re in going in the hot months,it’s a good idea to have good ventilation. If you might encounter snows, or heavy winds – having extra pole configurations is a good idea. Sit down and really think about what conditions you might experience and plan on getting a tent that can stand up to those conditions. Be realistic. If you’re only camping in the summer, you don’t need a 4 season tent!

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