Camping and getting the chance to be one with nature is incredibly fun and fulfilling. That said some of the basic comforts of life are still mandatory for survival in the wild. Among other things, a quality roof over your head is an absolute necessity.
Consequently, you should be cautiously picky about the camping tent you are going to buy as it will determine your experience every camping session. Scrutinize every important feature of the tent and remember that quality beats affordability, especially considering that tents are generally costly.
Be a smart buyer. Here are some questions you should ask before buying a camping tent.
1. What size is it?
Tents size will mainly depend on the number of people it will house. If you plan to go car camping or backpacking as a family, then ask for the largest tent capable of sheltering more than four people. If, on the other hand, you plan to go camping alone, then go for a standard tent meant for one or two occupants. You can also go for jumbo camping tents that offer ample space for large families.
However, livability should be considered regardless of the number of occupants. The tent you buy should provide enough space for comfortable living. It should be big enough for sleeping, reading, and cooking, among other things. It should also be big enough to shelter all your goods to keep them safe. Most importantly, it should be tall enough to provide plentiful of space for standing and moving around without much trouble lest you develop back aches by the end of your camping session.
Since you will likely re-use your camping tent many times, do not forego size for affordability as large tents are often pricier. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the wild, not to limit your comfort. Besides, there is always the chance of getting a partner to go camping with you once in a while.
2. Is it weather resistant?
Nature can be harsh or surreal and anything in between depending on seasons. What’s more, weather can change quickly and dramatically, especially now that climate change is becoming more apparent. As such, it is important to ensure that the tent you buy is weather resistant to guarantee shelter and protection under any circumstances.
Several factors should be considered when choosing a weather resistant camping or backpacking tent. First, consideration should be given to the season you intend to go camping. If, like most people, you intend to go camping for the warm summer season, then ensure that your tent has a good design for ventilation. For winter and other seasons, the tent should be capable of retaining warmth and keeping water out.
For surety, however, you should consider buying an all-weather camping tent that can withstand any weather and terrain.
Do not forget to take some additional steps to keep your tent dry!
3. Is it easy to set up?
Back in the day setting up camping tents took a lot of time and effort tying ropes and nailing pegs into the ground. Today, however, preference is given to tents that are easy and quick to set up since time is always of the essence.
As such, you should focus your sight on camping or backpacking tents that are easy and quick to unpack, set up, and pack again. This will save you a lot of time, fatigue, and likely inconveniences. For instance, imagine that you have arrived at your camping site after sunset; the place is dark and the rough appearance of the bushes around feels scary. In such a situation, you would need a tent that is easy and quick to unpack and set up. The tent should also be easy and quick to dissemble and pack if you wish to enjoy mobility in the wild as you move from site to site.
In many cases, tents that take less time to set up are bulkier than the rest. However, since any camping tent worth its name requires vehicular transport, this should not be a deterrent as, after all, it will be easy to transport.
4. Is it durable?
As mentioned earlier, camping tents are generally expensive and can cost hundreds of dollars. As such, it makes sense to invest in a good quality tent that will be of service for years to come. Needless to say, quality is expensive and you should be ready to pay few extra dollars for a good quality camping tent.
There are several aspects that are useful in determining a camping or backpacking tents quality. First, you should check the canvas to see that it is tough enough to withstand the rough terrain of the wild. You should also check the brand name as certain brands stand out for good quality tents as is the case with many other products (for example Coleman, Big Agnes, Eureka). Finally, you should check to see that the price is fairly set; this does not imply that you should buy the most expensive tent in stock, but rather that you should avoid cheap tents that often perform poorly.
Often, a durable camping tent also performs well in other aspects such as weather resistance and comfort (also it cleans more easily). Besides, the difference in pricing is not substantial, and you get to save some money in the long run as the tent will not wear out for years to come.
5. What shape is it?
When most people think of a camping tent, the first image that comes to mind is of a small rectangular pyramid. However, camping tents come in many shapes and sizes, and you are free to choose any shape of your liking. Remember, camping is all about enjoying the natural environment of the wild, so it does not hurt to camp in style.
The most common camping or backpacking tents are pyramid shaped. They tend to be broad at the bottom and become narrower going up. They are easy and quick to set up, but they tend to limit free movement throughout the space covered. Tunnel camping tents are also common, but they limit standing as they are low-set. However, they tend to be broad and offer ample space for sleeping and storing your belongings.
The most complex camping tents are dome or round-shaped. These tents are almost spherical in structure, and they have more benefits than shortcomings. To start with, dome tents offer plentiful of space for storage as well as movement within the tent. Additionally, they are stable in the wind, and their design makes them adaptable to different terrains and weather conditions. What’s more, dome tents are appealing to look at, and they add to the serene feeling of camping in the wild.
6. What is its packing size?
As mentioned earlier, good aspects such as ample space, quality, and durability tend to make a camping tent bulky and heavy. This is not a problem when you have a vehicle to transport the tent to the camping site (except for two-wheeled vehicles). However, it can be an inconvenience if you wish to carry it on your back as you explore different sites.
If you wish to buy a tent that is easy to carry around, then you should be ready to forego on factors such as size and quality. What’s more, you should limit your camping sessions to seasons of favorable weather, such as summer. You should also be cautious with your camping sites and stick to flat and smooth terrains. This is because such tents are often fragile and should not be exposed to harsh weather and other destructive elements.
However, it is not all bad as these tents also offer many other benefits. First, they are easy and quick to set up and dissemble. Second, they are cheaper than the big and bulky tents. Finally, they allow you the freedom to move from place to place as you explore the wild.
7. What are the available accessories?
A camping or a backpacking tent is more than just a piece of material covering your head. Rather, it is a miniature version of a home. To this end, it should not only offer respite from the cold and rain but also present a certain degree of comfort. As such, you should check to see whether the tent of your choice comes with all the ideal accessories.
One crucial accessory to look for is a carpet; it is not only comfortable but also comes in handy in retaining heat and keeping water and bugs out. Also look for a wind break to keep strong winds at bay and prevent your tent from collapsing. Other important accessories include footprints for insulation and porches for storing extra gear.
Go for a camping tent that is inclusive of all its accessories as it will be costly to buy them extra. Also, check to see that there are spares such as pegs, poles, and ropes to use in case of emergencies.
8. What terrain is it built for?
Campers have varying tastes and preferences when it comes to camping sites. Some prefer calm and serene sites in the grasslands while others fancy rough terrains on mountains. In whichever case, the tent has to be built to adapt to the terrain or else it will not be effective, let alone comfortable.
As such, consider your camping site preference when choosing your ideal tent. It is recommended to buy a camping or a backpacking tent specially made for a certain terrain as it will be more durable. That said, there are convertible tents that are designed for all terrains and weather conditions. However, they are expensive and critics argue that they are not always as effective as they are presented to be.
To this end, it helps to be certain about your preference and stick to it. Otherwise, you should consider buying different tents for different terrains.
9. What are the tents safety features?
The wild may be intoxicating, but it is also full of many dangers that can be fatal. For instance, there may be dangerous animals such as bears, or tiny yet poisonous bugs. In this case, it becomes necessary to ensure that your safety is guaranteed by the tents shelter.
For safety, consider going for a double-walled camping tent as it creates a protective barrier between your inner tent and the wild. Additionally, make sure that all supporting materials such as poles and beams are made of strong durable materials such as aluminum instead of carbon fiber. If, unfortunately, any threat should be encountered, then it helps to have an escape route in form of an extra door and windows.
Modern camping or backpacking tents are offering a wide range of new safety features that you should explore exhaustively. However, you too should take the necessary measures to ensure your safety by carrying protection and choosing safe camping sites.
10. What appliances are provided?
Camping tents have become more sophisticated in an era where technology has permeated everyday life. Conveniences such as electricity are necessary even in the wild, and so are gadgets such as computers and phones. Standard tents are limited when it comes to this new face of camping, but modern tents come packed with a wide range of appliances to support the extra comfort.
Look out for appliances such as wall pockets to store your gadgets such as phones and tablets. Also, check to see whether the tent has allowances for cables and wires to go through. Some sophisticated tents even feature solar patches that convert light into energy for lighting at night and charging your appliances.
Camping or backpacking tents that offer the whole range of appliances come with huge price tags and are often unaffordable. However, you can still enjoy the best of both worlds by buying independent accessories such as solar chargers, solar-powered cookers, and extra storage compartments.
Your camping experience will depend on a wide range of factors, and shelter will rank at the very top. As such, invest in a good quality camping tent that will serve you well over the years. The diversity of camping or backpacking tents in the market today will be mind boggling, but you can easily pick out the best by considering the factors highlighted above. As such, be bold and ask these questions before closing the deal.