How To Pick The Right Tent

Tent construction itself is vital, and often overlooked in favour of a lower price tag. Don’t. If you have to carry it any distance weight will be critical, the lighter the poles (usually aluminium or carbon fibre) the easier the journey. Will you need the extra toughness of rip-stop fabric and thicker fabric? Take a good look at the weatherproofing and look for taped and protected seams. Most modern camping shelters are made of nylon, with nylon mesh for inner walls and mesh for moth-proof windows. Do you really NEED that expensive four-season tent? Probably not.

Usually the description of a 2-person or 4-person tent refers to the number of people it’s intended to sleep WITHOUT equipment. How many people will you be accommodating? A good tent can last many years if treated right, so if you’re a young family it pays to consider the future and allow some room for the patter of tiny feet.
There needs to be some allowance for all the bits and pieces that come with your ‘time under canvas’. Is this a weekend festival tent for two or a family holiday tent for eight with all the outdoor entertainment gear (but where you can use a vehicle as an annex)? The longer your time away the more you need to store. There’s nothing worse than wet equipment or a squashed night’s sleep because you haven’t got the space.
There’s a big difference between accommodating two teenage girls or two 6’2″ middle aged blokes. Plan for a minimum of 30 square feet of floor space per person. Even the best of friendships can fall prey to cabin fever if people are stuck for a day in a tent in the rain with no space. Go for a tent at least a person bigger than the specifications might suggest, unless weight is a factor.
Buying from the Internet can save money, but there’s no substitute for trying a new tent out for size. Any good camping shop or camping show will be happy to help. Make sure to see it in person, even if you go back and buy online. Good camping stores have knowledgeable staff who will have put up and taken down their stock and can offer good sound advice.
These few simple guidelines should help in finding what’s right for you. Happy camping.
Oliver Kent enjoys the outdoor life, he writes camping articles on behalf of Winfields Limited