How To Choose A Tent


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Family camping tents come in all shapes and sizes. The right one for you will not necessarily be the right one for someone else, hence the wide variety being sold in stores and catalogs. Do not let photos fool you. See the tent in person if possible!

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How To Choose A Tent

  1. 1. How to Choose a Tent Family camping tents come in all shapes and sizes. The right one for you will not necessarily be the right one for someone else, hence the wide variety being sold in stores and catalogs. Do not let photos fool you. See the tent in person if possible! Steps 1. Choose your tent size. • Determine how many people and how much gear you'll be traveling with. Tents are advertised as two man, four man, six man and so on. This is the maximum number of persons that can sleep in closely with no room for personal gear. This rating method makes sense for backpackers who are traveling light, but is terrible for all others. Divide the advertised rating by two, and you will have a more realistic tent capacity. Therefore, most four man tents are really only comfortable for two adults, or perhaps two adults and two very small children. • Plan for a minimum of 30 square feet of floor space per person. Make this even higher for longer camping trips, unless reducing weight is important. • Consider actual length and width. If you are six feet tall, you will need a space of at least seven feet in order to stretch out and not be crammed against the tent sides. You will need at least two and one half feet in width just for sleeping. This equals only 17.5 square feet. A "two man" tent might be advertised which measures five by seven feet. A ten by ten foot tent is ideal for two adults. You will have enough space for cots or a double air mattress, plus space to stand up when changing clothes. Kids can fit comfortably in smaller tents. Once they are old enough, about seven or eight, they will probably want to sleep in a separate tent anyway. Parents will appreciate the privacy provided by this arrangement too. A five by seven foot tent is adequate for children. Teenagers should be considered as adults when fitting a tent. • Add space for clothing, and a space to stand up without walking on your tent-mate, which will result in a more livable situation. Think more like eight by eight feet as a basic two man family camping tent. This gives you 32 square feet per person. Still not overly generous. • Be cautious about tents that are larger than 10'x10', which can cause problems. First, it will be much more difficult to find a smooth and level spot large enough to set up the tent. Second, big tents
  2. 2. can be heavy and hard to carry to your campsite. Third, bigger tents are harder to make and keep warm on cold days, though tend to stay cooler than smaller tents on hot days. Fourth, bigger tents are less stable in high winds and are harder to set up. Finally, privacy becomes an issue with the bigger tents. Consider bringing several smaller ones for large groups. • Consider peak inside height. For most trips, try to have a tent that is tall enough for you to stand. Plan for the taller person in your group. A six or seven foot peak height is necessary for adults, and a four foot peak is about right for kids. Remember, the tent slopes downward at a sharp angle, so the actual spot where you can stand up will be small. Larger spaces will be provided in tents with taller peaks. 2. Choose your tent's shape. • Tents come in four basic shapes: A-frame, umbrella, geodesic or "dome", and wall. The A-frame is the common "pup" tent shape, but can also be quite large. The umbrella is a very commonly used family camping tent, as it has lots of standing room, with large windows and a rain fly over the top. The geodesic comes on many shapes, but all look like a combination of connected triangles. The wall tent is like an A-frame tent, but is generally much larger and has vertical side walls. 3. Two-storied tents are dangerous if set up wrong, require several people to set up, and usually need a tree around to help tie up and hold the second level in place. • Tents with square floor shapes are more efficient when laying out sleeping and gear arrangements. Because of other factors, it is not always possible to have a square floor. If you buy a round floor, or nearly round like with the geodesic dome tents, you should allow some extra floor area to make up for the less efficient layout. 4. Decide between aluminum or fiberglass poles. Most tents have poles that are linked together with an elastic shock cord. This helps when setting up the tent. Poles can bend or break, so many tent manufacturers provide emergency repair links for you to carry along on the trip. 5. Find a good fabric. Nearly all tents are now made of nylon. Coated nylon is used for waterproofing. Nylon mesh is used for inner walls. No-see-um mesh is used for the window screens. Better tents use thicker fabric and rip-stop fabric. 6. Test the zippers. They should open and close freely, and should not catch and bind up on the tent fabric. The zippers should not be of a rusting material.
  3. 3. 7. Make sure seams are reinforced with nylon tape. The tape is stitched into each seam, and will make the seam stronger and more weatherproof. All waterproof seams in a nylon tent, such as on the fly and floor, must be waterproofed with a seam sealer. Your new tent should come with a bottle of seam sealer. Set up the tent in the yard before your trip, and apply the sealer. Let it dry before packing the tent. You will need to do this yearly. 8. Consider potential weather conditions. Wind, rain, sun, heat and cold all have different demands on the tent. • Windy areas require sturdy poles, stakes, and anchor ropes. Geodesic tents are excellent in wind. Their igloo-like shape reduces the wind's effect, and their pole arrangement provides great strength. • Rain creates two considerations. First, keeping the rain out. Second, giving you enough room so you will be comfortable if you have to "weather" the storm by entertaining yourself indoors for a while.  Your tent should have a completely waterproof rain fly made of coated nylon. The fly should wrap around the tent and reach down the sides nearly to the ground. This will keep out all types of rain, even if it is windy. The fly should extend far enough over the door, so it keeps out the rain when you open the door to enter or leave.  The floor should also be waterproof coated nylon. This fabric should cover the floor, and turn up the sides for about six inches or so. There should be as few seams as possible. This is called a "tub" floor. It will keep out any water that runs down and under the tent. • Sun and heat create the need for shade and airflow. The rain fly will provide shade for tent. Large screened windows on opposite sides of the tent, or a screened window opposite a screened door, will allow air to flow through the tent. • Cold weather brings special needs. Unless you will be dealing with snow (when you would need a mountaineering tent), you can use a "three-season" tent that has good features. The most important features will be a rain fly that fully covers the top and sides, and an interior layer made from an open mesh fabric to allow water vapor to pass through it. In cool weather, warm water vapor inside the tent, from damp fresh air and moist air you exhale, will condense on the cooler surface of the tent's exterior. The only way to prevent this is to allow the excess water vapor to escape from the tent by passing through the mesh fabric.
  4. 4.  The tent size may also be a consideration if you plan to camp in cool weather. Your body heat will keep a small tent much warmer than outside. However, some campers will use a tent heater in their large tent. Heaters are not safe in small tents due the the closeness of the tent walls. 9. Keep cost in mind. • In general, the higher priced tents are made with stronger fabric, stronger poles, and stronger stitching. They will withstand higher winds and heavier rain. They will last longer. A good tent can last for many years. However, not everyone needs this strength and durability. In milder and drier climates and close to home ("just in case") the least expensive tents are good bargains. • If you are just beginning your family camping adventures and don't know if you will really like camping, then you might want to choose the least expensive tents as many families do. It is very likely that you will plan your first trips for warm, dry weather and will probably remain close to "civilization" until you gain some experience. You can always upgrade to a better tent later, and keep your original budget tent for when conditions allow. • Try to borrow a tent if it is your first time camping. Tips • Before you take your new tent out for your first trip, set it up in your backyard. This way, you will be familiar with how to pitch it, and you will know that you have all the parts. You should also spend a night in it, so you can see if it really does suit your needs. You don't want to be in the woods (in the rain) trying to figure out which pole goes where. Warnings • This WikiHow is designed for a camper, not a backpacker. If you intend to backpack long distances, opt for smaller, lighter tents, since space is not a main concern. Original Article source: Mats Lundkvist Passionate hiker and avid backpacker with exceptional field experience. Lundkvist combines his education and career with his love of nature and being outdoors. Trekking is his call to fame.
  5. 5. See him at