Let’s Talk About Tents
So, you have decided to buy a tent. This is a big step. Let’s face it; your tent is your most important piece of equipment. It is your shelter. While camping, it is your home. Your tent can mean the difference between having a wonderful vacation or being miserable. Finding the right tent for your needs should be something you do carefully. I like to research and read reviews before I buy almost anything. Purchasing a tent is no different.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good, reasonably priced tents on the market. Manufacturers such as Keltey, Mountain Trails, Coleman, Wenzel, Ozark Trail, Kodiak and Big Agnes are just a few.
What should you consider when choosing a tent? First of all: what are you using it for?
There are different kinds of camping. If you are going to use your tent while backpacking (something I would love to do one day,) you will want a tent that is light – weight. A small single wall nylon tent would be a good consideration. There are also ultra-light backpacking tents with a fly and mesh top. The mesh top provides added ventilation.
Big Agnes is known for making durable ultra-light tents. The 2 person, 3 seasons, Fly Creek UL2 is a good example. It has a silicone treated fly and only weighs 1 lb. 15 oz. for under $300.00 http://www.bigagnes.comREI has the quarter dome 1. It is a 1 person, 3 seasons tent that is 2 lbs. and, costs $229.00 http://www.rei.com
MSR’s carbon reflex tent has a nylon fly. It is a single person, 3 seasons tent that is only 2lb. 9oz. pack weight. It cost $239.97 http://wwwmsrgear.com
Of course, there are way too many backpacking tents to name them all but, the above mentioned will give you an idea of the light-weight tents that would be good for hiking or a quick overnighter.
For family camping, you will, of course, want a larger tent. To decide how big your tent needs to be, you will need to consider how many campers you will be housing and, how much personal gear each camper will need to stow.
When a tent manufacturer says that a tent sleeps a certain number of people, what they mean is, how many people will fit in the tent, lying side by side in sleeping bags. If you, like me, want a comfy double high airbed to sleep on you will have to look at the size of the tent floor. Bear in mind that when the manufacturer lists the size of the tent, they mean the overall size of the tent, not necessarily the size of the tent floor. I almost made that mistake myself.
My granddaughter and I were considering this really nice looking, L-shaped tent by Ozark Trail. The manufacturer lists it as 16′ x 16′. How can an L-shaped tent be 16′ x 16′? Wouldn’t 16′ x 16′ be a square? As it turned out, there is a large awning on the front of the tent that is included in the tent size. I have since seen this tent set up in a campground. I still think it is a really cool tent.
I have since seen this tent set up in a campground. I still think it is a really cool tent. http://www.ozarktrail.com
I have owned several tents. This Coleman has proven to be a quality tent. It survived my son’s college years and, his camping trips, which included an annual weekend at “Red Neck Fest.” It can sleep up to 8 people. The shock cord construction makes it easy to put up and take down. I have patched it in a few places and replaced some of the rain fly cords but, it is still in good shape. I use it as a guest tent.
Another Coleman tent that I own is this 2 person dome tent. It is great for sleepovers and, because it is small, it is easy to take along in case you need extra room or a gear tent.
This 3 room cabin tent by Ozark Trail is 20′ x10′. It sleeps 10 people or, 3 queen size beds. It has shock cord construction. Besides the main door, both of the ends open. I was able to assemble this tent by myself in 10 minutes. I paid $130.00 for it and we were still enjoying camping in it when the zipper on the door broke. I looked into getting a new zipper but, the repair would have cost $60.00. I decided that since my grandkids had grown quite a bit since I got the tent, I would put the $60.00 towards a bigger tent.
The tent that I have now is the Ozark by Tahoe Gear. It is a 3 seasons tent. It sleeps 16 people or 4 queen size beds. It is a 16′ x 16′, 3 room cabin tent. It has 7′ center and wall height. There are 7 windows and 2 vents near the floor for cross ventilation. The power cord slip is at the bottom of the tent in a corner. This tent is durable and comfortable. My family is enjoying camping in it and, I have received quite a few compliments on it. http://www.tahoegear.com
We camp from May – October. Although I would love to, I have never camped in a tent in the winter. Winter camping requires a tent that is designed to withstand the cold, the wind and, the weight of snow. I was quite surprised at how many 4 seasons tents I found.
I would have believed that the cotton canvas tent would have been the only type designed for cold weather camping but, I was wrong,
You can’t, however, go wrong with a cotton canvas tent. The cotton is breathable and durable. The threads are twisted together before weaving for strength. The tent actually becomes stronger and more waterproof when it gets wet because wet cotton shrinks. Kodiak, one of the top manufacturers of cotton canvas tents, boasts that their tents are made with marine-grade, 100% cotton duck canvas that also has a hydra-shield coating. They are virtually waterproof. The walls won’t even wick water if you touch them when it is raining.
The Kodiak canvas flex bow tent got rave reviews. They are, however, heavy. The 10′ x 14′, 8 person cabin tent weighed in at almost 80 lbs. The cost was $670.00 http://www.kodiakcanvas.com
Another tent that caught my eye is the Nordic Tentipi. The great design of this shelter makes it very suitable for winter camping.
This design features and inner and outer tent. Ie has a smoke opening at the top and air intake vents at the bottom so that you can have a fire inside of the tent when the temperature is cold and, also, have added ventilation during warm weather camping. It is made of 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric. The fabric is tightly woven to repel water and, the teepee shape will shed the snow. The Nordic Tentipi has many other impressive features. The Onyx 9 Light Base model only weighs 13.36 lbs. and starts at just over $1000.00 http://www.tentipi.com
The North Face 2-meter Dome Tent sounds like another amazing tent for winter camping. This tent is designed for “challenging environments.” It has an industrial strength 210D nylon fly. It has a Polyurethane coating to repel harsh rain. The aluminum poles crisscross multiple times to form a strong “lattice” support and, the steep walls of the geodesic shape are designed to shed snow and withstand strong winds. It is approximately 50 lbs. pack weight and, the 8 person design costs in the $5,500.00 range. All of the reviews that I read on this tent were very positive.
I can only imagine how cool it would be to sleep in these tents. Hopefully, someday, I will get the chance to find out.
I have found several tents that were just what my family needed at the time. As our needs have changed, we have changed our tent. The nice thing about tent camping is that you can always upgrade your tent without it costing you a fortune.
Whatever type of camping you are into, the perfect tent is out there with your name on it!
Take your time. Do your homework. Read reviews. I am confident that you will find the tent that is right for your needs. Let me know what you find!
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau
- Featured Photo: My Ozark Trail tent and privacy tent at S. Higgins State Park
- Coleman 8 person tent at Sleepy Hollow State Park
- Coleman 2 person tent at Straits State Park
- Ozark Trail tent at home
- Tahoe Gear tent at Holland State Park