The first time someone will decide to stay “out there” for 1 night, they will confront the terrible dilemma about what kind of tent to have. We are going to give you the best camping tents insights.
Read and you will be able to know where to place your money in, before you place your body. By the way, you do want to read our best sleeping bags insights article.
So, here are the best things to know for camping tents.
Are there many types of Camping tents?
Not so many. Most camping tents for hiking or for family camping differ in materials quality and durability, space, shapes, purpose of usage and a series of comforts, including ventilation. Let’s seem the most important points.
High “techy techy” tents
Made with amazing high tech materials, many times their design seems to be from sophisticated to weird. Yet, “all that” seems to serve a purpose against forces of nature, heat or cold, plus proper usage of their space. Usually they are more expensive, and -usually- there are reasons for that.
A very important element (you want to look for in any tent) in these are their ventilation shafts, that help air to circulate and keep moisture out. When it comes to confront heavy rain or snow or strong wind, these tents also perform better than the budget ones.
Finally their poles are also of good quality and some come with a full and separate rainfly.
Lower “techy techy” & budget tents
Make sure to make a note of different things (ventilation, resistance against rain/snow) from above. These factors are far reduced or missed from this kind. These tents are usually made with heavier materials, and -at the same time- their poles are not so strong.
This will show with strong wind. However, unless you are crazy enough to go into extreme hiking and camping trips without prior experience, this is the type of tents you will start from.
Then, if your budget permits or if you want to go for higher in the mountains and for more difficult hiking & mountain trips, you will place your money on the upper category.
Mixed type tents
As you’ve found out already there are differences between just backpacking and hiking. The thing is that backpacking and overnight stays is a thing that families do some times per year. Hikers tend to stay out longer and either solo, couples or in small teams of individuals each carrying their own tents. The reason is simple. You can’t just carry a camping-only tent for 6 persons for so long.
So, if you plan to go for trips with the family choose a camping tent or a mixed type (usually is good for 2 to 3 people). If most of your trips are hiking solo or as couples or with others then you need something light, easy to carry and fast to set.
However, many tents of this type along with the low budget ones, come with low heights and you need to stoop.
Which brings us to what to check regarding the interior
Either shopping online or at a store, definitely check the label with with the actual floor dimensions and tent height. Tent height usually refers to the center point of the tent up to the top. These will give you the information of what you can place inside your tent, the size of your sleeping pad in relation to your body dimensions.
The height will give you an idea of how much you will need to bend while in the tent. If weather is cold or very cold you will spend some time there.
However, you need to think the tent as a box. When the walls incline (as in most tents) then the actual “cube” space is your space. Have in mind that you will need to avoid touching the “walls” since when there is rain or humidity it tends to get through (when you touch them) in many mid to low budget tents, who come with rainflies or such.
Tents with many vertical poles create more space but… you carry more poles.
How to calculate the capacity of people who can live in
Again, you can read such at the label, before buying one. The typical way this is calculated is through how many sleeping bags fit one next to another.
Is this true? Well yes and no. The space changes depending on the width of each person and the things you need to pack inside the tent, while you sleep. So, if it says 4 people capacity, think of 3, if each has backpack too.
To that you need to calculate the sleeping pads space which usually are a bit wider than the sleeping bag.
Tents are a place to sleep but many times it won’t be only for that. It will act as a living room too, i.e. in rain or snow.
Big camping (usually) tents also have detachable walls so you can divide the tent to rooms.
Nobody wants to be in a tent where you kick others when you just… breathe. OK, it is a joke but you get the idea.
Finally, if you have a pet with you… OK, you got that too.
Knock knock… Who’s there?
We refer to tent “doors”. These are usually 2, even in small tents, one opposite the other. There are different reasons for these. For example, for ventilation reasons. Another one is that you pack your staff in the “exit” one, and you can access it even from outside without having to walk through the tent all the time.
The quality of tent fabric and poles
These are particularly noticeable between high-end and budget tents. High quality materials produce lighter yet durable constructions. You also need to have a good rainfly above the tent (fully covering it). These usually leave quite some space between the internal tent and the rainfly, disallowing both moisture and dust to get through. OK, dust may sneak in up to some point, but you will get a good percentage of protection.
Injected Hint: You need to know how to orient your tent and how to properly fix tent poles and ropes to increase resistance and flexibility against strong weather.
If you can find one with many interior pockets, it will also help you a lot as these are build in the tent walls and are quite handy for things that do need to be handy (i.e. sanitation related, toiletries, etc).
One key element that we found to be crucial is… the stitching or/and the way different fabrics are bind together. You don’t want the tent to torn apart, even through mild use or in sudden changes of weather (rain or strong wind).
Let it breathe
Actually the fabrics of the tent along with the rainfly and the different openings at crucial places (top, side) allow the humidity to get out. In hot weather or after rain where humidity rises high you don’t want to be in a sauna type of tent.
Extra storage space
There are tents that come with vestibules. Even small ones for 2 persons can have such -smaller- space. It is very useful to store some things that you don’t want to have inside, plus to use such space to change clothes and boots, without doing that directly in the tent.
In a rainy day you do want to have such a place to change wet clothes, without entering the “sleeping quarters” with them. Big tents have so big spaces that they can act as actual living rooms with camping chairs, table and all.
There is also another thing to know. When in camping it is better to have a footprint or canvas to place under the tent. This is mostly for camping tents and not for hiking ones, since it adds more weight to carry. Such prolong the tent’s lifespan and can act as additional storage and living space.
Of course these hiking insights for best camping tents are just one side of the coin. Going out there for hiking or camping carry along a good number of things to have.
These will be also presented in this section of Outdoor tips.