How to Choose a Tent

If you have decided to go camping, your first thought and purchase is usually a tent. There are a wide variety of tents out there, varying on shape, size, weight, material etc. With so many choices how are you supposed to make a decision! We have put together this handy little guide to help make your purchasing decisions easier.

Tent Size

When choosing the size of tent there are a few things to consider:

  • The number of people that will be sleeping in the tent and the amount of sleeping space each person desires
  • The amount of gear you will be storing in your tent
  • The length of your camping trip and how much time you will be spending in your tent.
  • The standard size measurements of tents are rated based on the maximum number of people that can sleep in a tent laying side by side, head to foot. This leaves no room for movement during sleep or gear in your tent. A general room of thumb is to divide the standard rating by 2. For example, if two people will be sharing one tent, generally a 4-person tent will provide enough space for each person to sleep comfortably and have some room for their gear. However, if you like a lot of room to sleep, are a taller person or have a lot of gear being stored you may need to up your tent size.

    When purchasing your tent make sure to take into account the length and width of the tent, especially if you are taller. This will give you an idea on the amount of headroom and space you will have to lie down. Most tent descriptions also list how many airbeds will fit in a tent. You can also use this to gauge how many people and gear can comfortably fit in the tent.

    If you are going on a week-long camping trip or think you will be spending more time than just sleeping in your tent you may also want to consider purchasing a larger tent. A larger tent gives you more space if you need to spend an extended period in the tent due to rain.

    Tent Weight

    How far will you have to carry your tent? Are you backpacking and hiking a few hours to get to your campsite or unloading the tent from the car onto your site? The further you need to carry your tent, the lighter you will need it to be.

    Tent Shape

    Tents vary in shape from dome, cabin and hybrid shapes. Dome tents are ideal for starter tents. They are typically less expensive and easier to set up. Dome tents are also ideal if you are backpacking, as they are more compact than hybrid or cabin tents.

    If you have a larger family or will be camping for an extended period, a cabin tent may be preferred. Cabin tents have a larger living space and almost vertical walls for a more open feeling in your tent. Cabin tents also have more standing room and are ideal if you would like to sleep on a cot or a double high airbed.

    If you are not quite ready to make the switch from a dome to a cabin, a hybrid tent would be your ideal choice. Hybrid tents are a combination between dome and cabin tents. Hybrid tents often have rounder dome like walls but also provide ample vertical space in the tent like a cabin.