Picking the Perfect Tent

 

Picking out at tent can feel a little stressful, I mean after all it will be your family’s “home away from home” and there are so many brands, styles, sizes…it can get overwhelming.  Never fear, you have found us and we are here to help.  We will go over the important factors in determining what kind of tent is best for you. I will be focusing in on the family campers or the car camper in this post, but I intend to help those interested in backpack camping later.

Adult Tents

A good rule of thumb is to take the “man rating” and divide it by 2 – that should give a real world count of how many can fit comfortably. Tents are described on how big they are by not only measurements (8’x6’ or 10’x10’) but by how many people can fit in them.  Please do not go by this rating system.  They never take into account the gear that goes along with a person, plus who wants to be crammed in a tent placed like a puzzle piece??

Also be aware of the actual measurements…if you are over 6’ tall you will need at least 7’ on one side to stretch out and be comfortable.  A tent 8’x8’ seems like it accommodates 2 adults just fine, but it will be cozy.  For longer trips or if you just prefer a little more stretch out room, I suggest a 10’x10’.

Please be aware of the center height.  Unless you can live with crouching and sitting down to get dressed, I would make sure it is at least 6’ tall.

Children Tents

Of course every child is different, but the average child is ready to have their own tent by the age of 7 or 8 (parents are usually ready as well). 

For the younger kids a tent size of 5’x7’ seems sufficient for 2-3 kids, but teenagers should be considered as an adult when determining tent size.

Another consideration is the center height.  Children will need 4’ to 5’ in order to be able to dress and maneuver easily. 

Shape

Tents will most likely come in 4 basic shapes. 

A-Frame = Just how it sounds, looks like an “A” -1 center ridge with slanted side walls.  These are usually are called “pup” tents and quite small (1-2 man), but in recent years the style has been manufacutred on a larger scale to accommodate a small family. These tents are extremely sturdy, but it will take more than one person to set up. It will have an unobstructed floor space and 2 doors for easy access.

Umbrella = Again, just how it sounds, will have a center pole that the “roof” will stretch out from.  It will have corner poles, then poles that travel from corner to corner.  Although you mostly see this style used as sun shades, this type of tent will allow you almost vertical walls and an enormous amount of floor space not to mention the head room.

Dome = This style is the most common you will find in recent years.  Dome’s usually come with poles that connect on a diagonial to each corner.  This leaves you with slightly slanted walls, but the plenty of center hight and open floor space.  It can be small enough for single camper or can be large enough to have interior “rooms” to accommodate a larger group. 

Geodesic = They are strong, light weight and compact.  The best way to describe these tents would be to think of an elongated igloo.  They are constructed to sleep 1-2 people. The geodesic’s are more geared for the hearty, adventure camper, as they are easy to set up and extremely durable in challenging weather.  Although the floorspace and headroom are minimal they do offer the most as compared to other tents of their size. 

Notable Mentions

Most of us are not camping in the snow, so a 3-season tent should be sufficient. 

Look at the rainfly…make sure it covers almost to the ground on all sides and allows plenty of width at the door.

Cost – the old adage runs true…you get what you pay for.  A good tent will last several seasons and is worth it in the end.  The seams will hold better, the zippers will last longer and the poles will be stronger.

If you have a suggestion or see something I missed, please let us know!