A tent is your home away from home; your comfort and shelter in the backcountry. Tents provide great shelter in the outdoors. They can save you from bugs, rain, and unexpected guests. There are so many different tents out there, and choosing the right one for you will no doubt give you a better camping experience.
We're breaking down all things tents -- from construction to size and weight to features. Learn more about how to choose the right tent for you.
What to Consider When Choosing a Tent
Tent Construction: Double-Wall or Single-Wall?
When most people think of tents, they typically think of a double-wall construction. The first wall is the tent body, while the second wall is the rain fly. Double-wall tents have three different pitch options: full, without her fly, and quick-pitch (fly and footprint only, while single-wall tents combine the tent and rain fly into one fabric.
Season: When and Where Will You be Using the Tent Most?
- Three-Season Tents. Three-season tents we best for most climates and conditions and they typically have double-wall constructions. The best part about three-season tents is their convenient features which can include gear pockets, multiple doors, and rainfly vents.
- Four-Season Tents. On the other hand, four-season tents can be used year round, but they are specifically geared towards winter excursions because they are built to withstand low temperatures, high winds, and heavy snow. This means they are heavier than three-season tents, with heavier and more durable fabric, less mesh and sturdier poles.
Tent Living Space
Living space is one of the most important parts of a tent (in our opinion), as the roomy, it is the more comfortable it might be (in most cases). Living space is one of the hardest things to measure because traditional tent measurements such as width, length, and peak height only tell very little about a tent. In other words, you may not know exactly what you're getting yourself into unless you pitch the tent and check it out for size.
While vestibule space will determine how much of your gear you can stash outside the tent, the shape of the tent walls also plays a huge role in a tents "living space".
As a general rule for tent floor dimensions, you'll want to allow 25 inches of width and about 80 inches of length per person (90 if they are tall or have a dog). Choosing a tent by the number of occupants should be appropriate and suitable for space.
Weight of Tent
If you are backpacking and carrying your tent in your pack, you're going to want to watch the weight. However, it's important to keep in mind that a lighter tent will be constructed of more delicate materials while a heavier tent will be more durable.
Pro Tip: A tent should widget approximately 2.5 pounds per person (if you will be sharing a tent with others, you can split up the items in your packs to lighten your load -- tent, rainfly, poles).
- Packaged Weight: The heaviest weight, and includes everything that comes with the tent: stuff sacks, guylines, packaging, etc.
- Trail Weight: The lightest full setup and will include the tent, fly, and poles. It usually does not include guylines, stakes, or stuff sacks.
- Fast Pitch: This is the weight of the fly, footprint, and poles.
- Interior Storage is a major benefit. You’ll want places to stow your gear, as well as little items so you don’t lose them. Some tents have gear lofts in the ceiling (if yours doesn’t have one you can also buy one separately) or pockets in the corners.
- Ventilation and mesh sidings are important in hot weather. However, keep in mind that mesh is more prone to snags and tears.
- How many doors does the tent have?
- Footprints are especially important because they add another waterproof layer and act as a protective layer between your tent and the ground. If your tent doesn’t come with a footprint, it might be worth investing in one.
- Does the tent come with reflective guylines? There’s nothing worse than tripping over a guy line on the way back to your tent in the dark.