Every experienced camper knows that the tent has a big impact on both their pack weight and budget, which makes picking the right tent one of the most important outdoor equipment buying decisions they’ll ever make. To make matters more complicated, tents come in an extremely wide range of designs, from minimalist one person and two man tents to ones that can house a dozen people. If you’re new to camping and buying tents, you can break down the buying process into a few decision points to make it easier: capacity, seasonality, weight, and livability.
The capacity is arguably the most important aspect of buying a tent. It’s most easily decided by how many people you go camping with most of the time. If you only have your significant other with you, then two man tents are probably the ideal choice. However, if you have a family or a small group of friends, then you definitely need a four man tent. You might think: “But why don’t I just pick a large tent, no matter the size of my party?”. Well, simply because larger tents weigh significantly more than smaller ones.
Seasonality is another crucial aspect of buying a tent. Your main choice is between a summer tent, a three-season, and a four-season tent. Summer tents are the most lightweight, as they aren’t made of materials that offer a high level of wind protection. Instead, they offer an ample mesh to improve airflow and feature lighter fabrics. Three-season tents are the most popular type, and they’re good almost all year round, except for when the weather gets a bit extreme on the cold side. Four-season ones are the most heavyweight because they offer extremely good insulation and are made of materials that can withstand harsh weather.
In terms of weight, you want to get the most lightweight tent you can, simply because a tent can add a fair amount of weight to your overall load. Now if you’re going to the camping spot with a vehicle, weight won’t be much of a problem. However, if you have to carry it in a backpack, this can quickly become a problem, seeing as you might have to carry it for extended time periods before you reach your destination.
The livability factor simply implies how enjoyable the time you spend inside the tent is. Factors that impact this are floor dimensions, peak height, wall shape, ventilation, and vestibules. You want a spacious tent that will be accommodating to everyone that’s going to use it. Nobody likes sleeping in a packed space or on top of each other, as it will make the entire experience extremely uncomfortable.