Buying Guide for Camping Tents

Because of convenience and cost, tents are still a popular shelter for camping. Rentals aside, you will need to do some research before shopping and realize that a tent is a major purchase. There are many things to consider, including size, comfort, ventilation, weight, and durability. Ultimately, you'll want a camping tent that is practical and easy to set up. There are several styles and price ranges to choose from.

Cabin Tents

Good, old-fashioned cabin tents can be quite spacious and versatile. Featuring high, slanted ceilings and large windows, they may be best suited for a large group or family outing. Depending on your needs, many tents offer multiple rooms, giving you some much-needed privacy. Whilst they don't give you as much protection from the elements in the cooler, fall and winter months, they're great for warm-weather camping and can be a bargain for those who only wish to camp between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Dome Tents

Dome tents are usually smaller, but there are varying sizes and styles to choose from. Generally, they are more stable and offer better protection in extreme temperatures. You can find family, domed tents and small, personal ones to fit just about everyone's needs. Because there are less poles, they are very easy to set up. Coleman is a popular brand, offering different sizes and ventilation needs.

Pop Ups

Different styles of pop-up tents include stand-alone tents and fold-down, pop-up campers. Pop-up camper styles are great for families and easy to store when not in use. If you're squeamish about bugs and snakes, these will set you off the ground and make you less likely to have unwanted encounters with creepy-crawlers. Not only that, you're better protected in rainy and inclement weather as you don't have to worry about water seeping in from the floor. As with most tents, if you have any tall members in your group, check the slopes on the ceiling. Pop-ups can be confining and don't offer much room for expansion. Also, if you're interested in the camper style, you will need a hitch for towing (not to mention the vehicle,) so there will be additional costs.

Pup Tents

Not really for dogs, the term "pup tents" refer to those small tents that sleep one or two people and are a snap to set up. Because of their size, it's easy to find a level place to pitch. Kids love 'em and they are cheap enough that they can each have their own tent. They also like to set them up in the backyard and make their own mini campsite.

Buying Tips

Look for a tent that is easy to set up and compatible with the climate to which you will be camping in. Three-season tents are often more expensive because they're durable enough for camping in three seasons, spring, summer and autumn. You'll need to travel with all of your equipment, so you should be able to fit your items and supplies into your vehicle without cramming. Consider that you'll also need space to store your gear in the off-season.

There are several features that signify good quality. The material of your tent should be waterproof and durable. The bottom seams should not fall around the edges of the floor, but come up a couple of inches into the walls to prevent leaking. Check the seams and look for heavy-duty, double stitching. Taped seams offer extra protection. If you buy a used tent and the seams are not taped, you can do-it-yourself at home with seam tape or liquid seam-sealer.

High winds and storms can break flimsy poles and aluminum is sturdier than fiberglass. When shopping online, look for reviews. Camping enthusiasts are always willing to share their experiences with various gear and equipment --and they're not hesitant to complain about poles or stakes breaking.

Explore the mesh that is used in the doors and windows. If it's susceptible to holes, you're going to end up with flies, gnats and bugs. You don't want the mesh to be too heavy, but too-light, cheap mesh will ruin an otherwise, good quality tent. Finally, buy a tent with heavy duty, durable zippers and fasteners. A broken zipper on a camping trip spells trouble with insects and unwanted animals.

“Come forth into the light things, let nature be your teacher.” - William Wordsworth