Choosing a tent
|Various tents at a festival
There are so many styles of tent, so many sizes, so many prices, materials..how to choose the right one for you? Because there are so many types of people too! Those that like natural materials and minimalist camping, those who like space and an Electric Hook Up (EHU) for their TV.
I cannot show you every tent, not can I tell you which is right for you but I can tell you (from bitter experience) some of the questions you should ask, and give you some of my answers.
And light! My first tent (which was free so no complaints) had no windows. Great in the evening, or on a sunny day, but during the day if it rained and all the flaps had to be fastened it was miserable. So I'd suggest a window (or two).
How large is your family? How many separate bedrooms do you need? and remember a bedroom that sleeps 2 will only just fit 2 beds into it, so if siblings are sharing it could be a tight squeeze. There are tents with pods that can add on as your family grows, or maybe you'd like your teen to have his own smaller tent. Keep in mind that some camp sites charge per person, some per tent and some by a 'pitch' which can vary in size. The Camping and Caravanning Club have recently brought in a new larger pitch size to accommodate the newer larger tents and they charge extra accordingly. Check your 'foot print' so that your 'cheap' hobby doesn't turn into an expensive one.
|'Nigel' my nylon dome tent, sleeps 3
What shape tent should you look for? Dome tents with flexible poles are fairly common as are tunnel tents. As the poles are bendy they will flex in the wind, I've seen poorly guy roped tents blowing almost flat in a storm! Though of course they spring back, could be weird in a nighttime gale though.
|'Wilfred' my canvas Cabanon Pyramide IV, sleeps 4
So, look for height, can you stand and sit in a chair in the tent?
Materials - canvas is very strong, good for hot or cold but heavy, nylon is light but doesn't 'breathe' so you can get condensation in the cold, it won't last as long as canvas and can be hard to repair. Nylon is cheaper. There are polycotton mixes available.
Look at style,
- Tunnel - gives you lots of inside space. I have little knowledge of how they perform in 'the field' though.
- Dome, easy to put up, lots of height in the centre, check where the living area is vs the sleeping area! No one needs to stand up in bed, Tie your guy ropes tightly.
- Pyramid - heavier poles, often canvas, heavy and can be very expensive. Last well, are very easy to erect.
- Tepee - I know nothing, they look nice, I suspect they would be like the pyramid, though standing room awkward as pole in centre.
- Bell tent. Terribly lovely. Very expensive and heavy.
|'Barry' my cotton Bari3 tent, sleeps 3
Windows, where and how many. Also how easy is feeding an EHU in if you need one.
Inner tent. Some tents are single skin, except for a few drunken nights at a festival, or for those camping in warmer climes I wouldn't recommend them. I prefer a sewn in ground sheet as it gives some protection from spiders.
I won't go into extras like carpets...that's for another post.
Are you armed with questions? Full of ideas, go buy a tent!! And feel free to ask extra questions or add your own advice below. Thanks