camping tents

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE BUYING A TENT

The bread and butter of every camping trip is, of course, good shelter. When I go backpacking I want a tent I can rely on which will give me a good night’s sleep and is well suited to the elements. But tent shopping can be a minefield so don’t part with your hard-earned dollars until you’ve asked yourself these questions.

WHEN AM I GOING TO USE MY TENT

I personally backpack in all seasons and experience a variety of temperatures and weather conditions. But if you don’t need a tent to withstand rain or harsh conditions and only intend on using it on short trips in the summer, then a summer tent with lots of ventilation (with a rain fly on to keep those mozzies out) and a light material should be fine.

For a more adaptable tent which might be subject to windy conditions or rain then a three-season tent will be a better option. For those hardcore backpackers who are looking to take their tent across the water to New Zealand or up in the Australian Alps for some harsher, snowier conditions, you will need a proper winter tent which has the capabilities to withstand snow camping.

HOW EASY TO ASSEMBLE THE TENT

The standard tent variety is the 2-pole dome which is easily assembled, even for children and younger adventurers. However, if you are willing to spend a little more time assembling your structure there are advantages to buying a shelter without a custom pole set. Shelters with components which can be adjusted and interchanged allow you to match your structure to the camping conditions, allowing you to create the shape depending on the location you are choosing to camp in.

Youtube is always a good way to check tent assembly. Watch this video of a tent you’re interested in being assembled and see if this looks achievable to you because most of us are actually ordering online these days. Here’s a great example.

WHAT MATERIALS IS THE TENT MADE OF

When I’m camping, I’m hiking and backpacking, spending most of the day with my tent in my backpack, so I am always looking for tents of lighter fabric. However, this usually involves making the decision between paying a higher price for a lighter, good quality material, or getting a lighter tent made of lower quality materials.

I have made both decisions and your choice will largely depend on your budget. I have found the cheaper materials often have significantly reduced waterproof capabilities.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THE TENT NEED TO FIT

We all know to be skeptical of the packaging. A 4-person tent will not sleep four people. It might sleep three but four will not get a decent night of rest. As a rule, the guidelines mean they will sleep that number without space for kitbags, backpacks, tackle boxes or rods.

A family of four on a camping trip with all their gear would likely need a 6-sleeper tent to fit everything in. When deciding what size tent to buy, think about the amount of gear you usually have on your trips and the size of the people who will be using it. Nobody wants to spend a night pressed up against a snoring loved one because you got a 4-person tent, and put four blokes (or ladies) in it and find out what I mean.

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.