It can be overwhelming to choose a camping tent to buy in face of so many tents to choose from these days. But it can be very easy to choose a camping tent if you use these 11 Secrets:
Choose a 3-season tent
Types of tent fabric
Tent Porches and Vestibules
Interior Pockets, Lofts, and Hanging Loops
My recommendations for each are underlined below.
1.Tents with 1000 reviews.
Only considering a camping tent with at least 1000 reviews.
1000 reviews tell me is that the company making the camping tent has been around long enough to sell 1000 of the tents and that there are at least 1000 people who own the tent. That provides a very helpful place to start to make an informed purchase. Only consider tents with 1000 reviews.
I create a datasheet with the top 14 camping tents with 1000 reviews. Learn more, Top 14 Camping Tents with over 1000 Reviews.
Choose a tent based on your family’s size and add extra space needs. Tent companies only say how many people you can sleep in a tent, but they don’t answer the following questions that you need to consider. I usually use 20 square feet (5 feet by 4 feet) per person for a quick calculation of the number of folks a tent can comfortably hold.
A few questions to ask to determine your space needs
· How many people will sleep in the tent?
· Will backpacks and gear stay inside?
· What about pets?
· Is anyone claustrophobic?
· How much elbow room is needed?
· What do the kids need inside the tent?
· Will you eat in the tent if it rains?
· Will you use tables in your tent?
· Will you use sleeping cots in your tent (they take up more room than sleeping bags)?
3.Choose a 3-Season Tent
3-season tents are rated for spring, summer and fall are the best. Besides being the most popular they are usually equipped for the following:
· Provide privacy for changing clothes and sleeping.
· Keep the bugs out.
· Stay dry during the rainy season.
· As well as keep the light snow of the fall season out.
· Provide a shield from the wind.
· Store gear from the weather.
· A place for you or the kids to take a nap.
· Ground ventilation to stay cool in warmer weather.
· Choose a 3-season tent.
If you are tall like I am then you will want at least 6-feet inside your tent. The ability to stand while changing clothes is a must. Both Dome tents and Cabin tents come in 6-feet interior height.
I like tents with at least 6-inches of room around my sleeping bag and gear. So, a tall person like myself would want a tent that measures a good 8-feet by 8-feet. You may not need this much room, but I suggest after you figure out your capacity then you start considering how big your tent floor (footprint) needs to be.
As with the size of your tent, you will need doors that are wide enough to put cots, tables, and even coolers (think cool drink on a hot night). Also, how many doors do you need? When I set up a large tent and have a table or multiples sleeping cots in them, I want two doors so I'm not stepping over everything to get outside.
The newer tents have great features like hinged doors. This keeps the door flap from being stepped on or becoming a tripping hazard. One more thing, big YKK zippers are a must. They are easy to grab and zip open when you are in the dark at night. Use a tent with two hinged doors.
Aluminum Tent Poles versus Fiberglass
I have never had a fiberglass tent pole that never cracked or broke over time. Aluminum poles are stronger and last a long time. Granted not every tent comes with aluminum poles. Most come with fiberglass, you can buy aluminum poles and replace the fiberglass ones after they wear out.
Most rainfly are sold separately; however, they are a must. Especially during the rainy season and when light snow is expected. Roof rainfly helps holds in heat when it’s cool and can have ground vents for warmer weather to let the cool air in from the bottom and go out the top. The rainfly that fits directly on top of your tent does not offer the airflow advantage. Get a rainfly that is suspended from your tent poles over your tent.
5.Type of Tent Fabrics
Cotton Canvas Tents Fabrics
The cotton canvas was the original tent fabric uses decades ago and still is very popular today because it regulates heat and vents well because it is porous. It also does not build up condensation as easily as synthetic fabrics. The biggest drawback to a cotton canvas tent is weathering.
Cotton needs to swell to be weather-tight, so it needs time in being wet to do this by putting it under a sprinkler before you use it or simply leave it outside on a rainy day.
You can also treat it with a cotton canvas treatment.
This will not only help with the shedding of rain but will prolong the life of the fabric since cotton does not like sunlight. One more advantage to cotton canvas tent fabric is they do not rip or tear very easily and if they do get damaged you can sew them back together also though I found out that can be a lot of work.
Nylon Tent Fabrics
This type of tent fabric is most plentiful and affordable. The fibers do not soak up water and stay vertically dry even after being rained on. I would however use a nylon waterproofing spray to help seal the tent if it has not been treated by the manufacturer with an acrylic or polyurethane coating. I prefer a silicone coating because it just gives a better quality of protection again not only rain but the sun as well. The nylon tent fabric is very light and uses in many tents for hiking.
Polyester Tent Fabrics
Polyester is a synthetic material and is less subject to sunlight deterioration. Polyester tent fabrics can be very hot but a rainfly that vents can help reduce the heat buildup. One of the benefits of polyester fabrics is they will not shrink and are very lightweight and abundant to find for repairs. They are usually woven not a tightly as other fabrics and are usually treated by the manufactures to prevent water penetration.
Cotton/polyester Blended Tent Fabric
If you want a stronger tent fabric that is least likely to rip or tear and last the longest then it would be a cotton/poly blend. Not only is it affordable but does not require a coating to be applied by you for weather resistance. This blend of tent fabric keeps in the heat for better warmth and yet breathes and provides excellent wind resistance. Just be sure it is treated by the manufacturer with a UV coating. I recommend a cotton/poly blend.
Tent Fabric Coatings
There are many different types of tent fabric coatings. Some you can apply, and some come from the manufacturer already applied to the tent fabric. Here is my recommended list that you can apply in order of preference.
1. KIWI® Camp Dry® (Silicone)
2. Nikwax (Elastic water repellent)
3. Scotch Guard (Acetone, Carbon dioxide, and Isopropyl alcohol)
6.Tent Porches and Vestibules
Tent porches are usually extensions of the tent rainfly. They are great for removing and leaving your muddy or wet shoes before entering your tent. However, a tent vestibule is made with usually with a door and a mesh lining and is located just inside the tent. Vestibules are great for sitting to have a cup of coffee or to put items in to keep them out of the weather. At least get a tent with a tent porch.
Windows with mesh screens are a big deal. They allow you to create cross-ventilation to help keep your tent cool and control condensation, especially in hot, humid climates. I recommend a tent with at least two windows.
8.Interior Pockets, Lofts, and Hanging Loops
The more of these the better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost my keys, phone, or small flashlight in the dark and had to wake everyone up to find it. These handy little mesh pockets are great for putting these to not only keep them off the tent floor but make them easier to find at night. Lofts and hanging loops are perfect for hanging battery power lanterns and night lights.
You would normally not think about these because the manufacture usually provides them with the stakes, but many times they are too short, and you will run into a situation like I have where I needed just could not drive the stake down sufficiently due to rocks or roots and had to move out farther than the guy-line that came with the tent would reach. Just take a roll of heavy-duty poly cord and use a knife to cut the extension you need to find a suitable location to drive down your stake.
10.Camping Tent Footprint
Here I'm not talking about the tent floor but a tarp large enough to stake down under your tent that is about two feet larger than your tent. Trust me, you will find this to be very handy when you need to put items on the ground without them getting dirt and sand on them. Use a 12-foot by 12-foot tarp even if it’s a lot bigger than your tent.
If you can drive right up to your campsite then just ignore this paragraph, but if you are walking or hiking a long distance to your campsite then the lighter the tent the better.
Now if you choose a lighter tent around 10 lbs. that will work but you will not have a lot of tent features usually in a lighter tent and the tent will usually be smaller and not house more than a 3-person. The tent’s overall weight usually includes the carrying case, the tent, stakes, guy-lines, rainfly, and tent poles. Keep the tent weight less than 20 .lbs.
Check out these articles, Top 15 Backpack Tents Data sheet and My Top Pick and Top 10 Pop Up Tents for 2021 (the one you should buy).
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you are looking for a battery powered camping lantern checkout this article, Maximum Effective Light Spread for Coleman Battery Powered Lanterns.