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How to buy a Tent

Consider what you need before buying.

Select a tent that is made for the conditions and purpose that you’ll be experiencing most of the time. Remember, a backpacking tent can always be used on the occasional car camping trip.

As a rule, try to buy the best tent you can afford, for the conditions you’re expecting.

Here’s a few things to consider:

What size?

  • Set up the tent before you buy. Tents are rated for how many people can squeeze inside them. If you want a comfortable fit, test your tent by setting it up and getting inside.
  • Think about your gear and mattress size. Big sleeping bags and air mattresses take up more room than people. Before you make your purchase, think about what else is going inside.

Where are you setting up? Not all campsites have ample space; big tents won’t fit everywhere.

How heavy is it?

  • If you’re going backpacking, you’ll want a lightweight, durable tent. If you’re camping right beside your car, the weight of your gear won’t matter nearly as much.

What season?

  • Summer: These tents are lightweight, and have a good deal of ventilation for hot weather.
  • 3-Season Tent: These tents are designed for spring, summer, and fall. They are well equipped to handle rain and wind, but aren’t good with snow.
  • 4-Season Tent: These tents are made for severe weather conditions. They are built with sturdy materials to withstand harsh conditions. However, because they lack ventilation, 4-season tents aren’t suited for summer use.

What brand?

  • Different brands are tailored to different needs. For family camping, look for brands like Outbound, Yanes, or Woods which offer economical larger sizes ideal for car camping. If the tent will be used for backpacking excursions where a durable yet lightweight tent is required, look for a Mountain Hardware or Marmot tent.