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Article Teaser: A good camping tent keeps you dry, comfortable, and provides protection. Unfortunately if you don't know what you're looking for, you're probably going to waste money.

Keep reading below...

How To Pick The Best Camping Tent

Copyright (c) 2007-2017

A good camping tent keeps you dry, comfortable, and provides protection. Unfortunately if you don't know what you're looking for, you're probably going to waste money.

Camping tents are an important outdoor gear investment, but they don't repel rain, cold, snow, or biting bugs equally.

So, which camping tent is right for you?

First determine what type of camping you'll be doing. Do you only go out in the summer, or are you into 4-season camping? Then make sure to prepare yourself for the worst possible type of weather you'll encounter. Waking up to a foot of snow inside your summer camping tent because of a late fall blizzard isn't much fun.

After determining what seasons you'll need your tent for, estimate how many people you'll typically camp with...

How Does It Size Up?

Camping tents are rated by the number of people they supposedly accommodate. But these ratings are like trying to stuff twenty circus clowns into a Volkswagen Beetle... amusing to watch, but not exactly functional. ;-)

When they say it's a 4-person tent, they mean 4 people and nothing else, no hiking gear, no hiking boots, just 4 people that hopefully know each other really well, or plan to. Seriously, if you're looking for backpacking tents or hiking tents and weight is a big concern, then get cozy and use the rating system, otherwise think bigger.

Consider going 1-2 sizes larger than what's recommended for a smaller camping tent. Better yet divide the "person rating" by 2 so you'll have a decent amount of room if you have nasty weather. If you thought cabin fever was bad try waiting out a downpour in a small tent for a few days.

My 4 man tent with 2 vestibules is perfect for 2 people and plenty of gear. Dry equipment is a good thing. This is still true with kids because the smaller they are the more room they take up with "kid stuff".

Tip: More room makes long camping trips easier.

Consider the length and width of the camping tents you're looking at. If you're 6 feet tall you'll want at least 7 feet to stretch out length-wise and 2-3 feet of width each depending on how much you move in your sleep.

Make sure you have enough space for an inflatable air mattress. While it's not mandatory, it makes camping much more comfortable than lying on a cold pad. When I wake up I feel 300% better than when I've slept on a pad on the floor getting stiff and cold. No it's not a king-size pillow-top, but we're, uh... roughing it, right!? ;-)

Since we're on the subject of size, make sure you'll have enough height to kneel or stand to change clothes, if that's important to you. Otherwise you'll be relegated to lying on your back as you struggle to pull your clothing on. But there is a trade-off, more height is convenient and comfortable, but there's also more sail-area on the outside, which means larger camping tents will catch wind gusts easier and weigh more.

Spend money on a good quality camping tent with a good name. Cheap discount brands that leak and/or collapse on you in wind-blown rain will make you miserable. Trust me, I've had both happen...

Once in a 10 man cabin type tent at 3:00 am in a gusty downpour. There's nothing quite like having something heavy and wet fall on you to wake you from a deep sleep. Worse was going out in nasty weather to set the tent back up, again.

The second time was in a cheap single-wall pup tent. This was much worse though because my girlfriend at the time and I had to evacuate to my car due to leaks... again in the wee hours. We attempted sleep in semi-reclining seats in my humid car. Needless to say I didn't sleep, and in the morning I bailed 3 inches of water from my tent floor. The girlfriend? She wasn't happy, and it cut our trip short.

Borrow Before You Buy

If you're new to camping and want to get your feet wet (heh, heh no pun intended) before you buy, borrow a friends tent. If it turns out you don't like camping, you're not out any money. If you do like it, then consider investing in a nice camping tent. Get what you want the first time, otherwise you'll spend more money in the long run replacing the tents you don't like.

Pick Your Style Of Camping Tent

Even though tents vary in quality, they do have certain styles in common...

A-frame- A-frame or pup camping tents are usually a single wall (read one vulnerable layer between you and the elements) of fabric that's propped up with a pole or two supported by guy lines. A-frames walls have a tendency to sag using up valuable space inside the tent. This means that when you bump it when it's raining (and you will) it's going to leak if it hasn't already. There are some exceptions to this rule, but I like the other choices better.

Cabin Camping Tents or Canvas Wall Tents- like at kwikkamp.com are VERY heavy duty, based on a frame, and roomy. Some actually allow room for a picnic table or a wood stove so they're great for winter hunting. They are heavy (35-160+ pounds plus frame), bulky, take longer to dry, and take about an hour for two heavy packers to set up. Although not ideal for typical camping they do have their place.

Dome Camping Tents or Geodesic Tents- These camping tents are the most popular. They shed snow and rain and resist wind well with a rain-fly. They can be very strong with aluminum poles. The free-standing design doesn't require stakes or guy lines to remain upright, only to keep it from blowing away. The bigger sizes can offer a nice amount of headroom.

Summer Camping Tents- Light-weight with very good ventilation and designed for warm summer weather. Not quite as versatile as some tents, but it can be a good choice if you do a lot of hot weather camping because of the increased ventilation.

Tunnel Camping Tents or Hoop Tents- (Of which the Exped: Sirius Extreme Tent is a great example.) Straight and narrow in shape. They can be pretty light for their size because they use less poles and fabric, but this also means they're not going to be as strong. Due to their shape I consider them 3-season camping tents.

And last but not least kid tents. Kid tents can come up short when it comes to quality. But unless you and your kids do some seriously demanding camping, dropping big bucks on a play tent probably isn't your idea of a good investment. A little homework can go a long way toward finding a good quality tent that won't dissolve when that first drop of rain hits it. ;-)

I hope this article has given you a few ideas about what to look for in a camp tent. My website offers tent reviews and recommendations as well as other gear information. Happy camping.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Marc Wiltse began investing in quality gear after a flooded tent forced him to sleep in his tiny 2-seat Honda CRX. His hiking equipment and camping gear guides, reviews and newsletter save you time and money. Find reviews & learn more about camping tents here: http://www.hiking-gear-and-equipment-used-for-camping.com/camping-tents.html

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