While going on camping the essential gear that all campers would need is the tent and it is this object that can confuse any first time buyer. There are so many varieties and types that finding the right one can be quite difficult.
The first thing to know is the designs of the tents available in the market and then decide which are suitable for the buyer.
Designs of Tents
The basic designs that are most common are dome, cabin and A-type tents
1. Dome Tent
This design is the most popular among the backpackers and hikers. The tents are light but the design makes them suitable for a variety of weathers. The tents provide good head space and are very stable. The basic dome shape is what makes it stable even in the windy conditions.
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Few layers of fabric also make it waterproof. The poles are generally made of materials like carbon fiber making them flexible and extremely strong. However, they provide less room to move about inside. They come in two types, the half dome and the tunnel tents.
2. Cabin Tent or Frame Tents
This type of tent is popular among the family campers and those who need lot of space. The walls of these tents are vertical and they have lots of head space.
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These walls are supported by interlocking poles and are held to the ground with guy ropes and pegs. These are ideal for big campground and when camping but the drawbacks are that they are heavy, difficult to pitch and the straight walls can cause problem in windy weather.
3. A-Frame Tent or Ridge Tent
The shape of the tent is exactly like the alphabet ‘A’ in capital form. The tent has two walls that go all the way to the ground forming a triangle. They are the classical camping tents which are easy to pitch. They can be made of any size but generally the ones found in stores can hold not more than two people.
So the space inside can be cramped. The tents can be found in a variety of materials including lightweight materials for making it easy to carry on hiking and backpacking trips.
Apart from the design of the tents another factor to keep in mind is during which season you are using the tents. So here again there are two types of tents, the three-season and the four-season tents.
1. Three-Season Tents
The three seasons here mean spring, summer and fall. They are basically resistant to wind and water but they cannot stand up to harsh winter conditions or snow. The commonest shape is the dome or tunnel shape. Such tent has at least two openings, an entrance and commonly a window.
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They all have rain fly for protection from rain. The three-season tent is a bit bigger and heavier than the common tents the backpackers carry. So it is difficult to carry for long hikes. However, the space inside is more and that makes these tents a favorite among the family campers.
2. Four-Season Tents
Four-season tents as the name suggests can be used in all weather conditions. They are also called mountaineering tents as they are used by mountaineers for high altitude climbing. However, the tent may not provide comfort in all seasons, especially in summer as they tend to become very hot inside.
The tent differs widely from the three-season tent both in design and construction. They can stand harsh winter conditions and snowfall. They are also more durable than other tents. The poles used are more in number and stronger as the tent needs to carry the additional weight of snow. So, the tents are heavier than all other types of tents.
However, many manufacturers are making tents of lighter materials with the same quality as the commonly used materials of the four-season tents. But they are costly.
These days many manufacturers are making three-season tents that can be converted to four-season tents by adding more poles and panels. But these tents are not as hardy as the four-season tents. However, they can withstand normal wintry conditions.
Now, once you have known what the tent designs are and what are the types of tents available, it is time to identify your needs. When buying a tent pay attention to a few details and that will help you to decide which tent is right for you.
First identify the number of persons who will camp together and how will they get to the camp site. A full family in a car may opt for a large dome tent or a cabin tent while backpackers or hikers may go for a smaller dome or ridge tent that can hold one or two persons. Keep in mind the storage space within the tent when deciding on the size.
The next thing to consider is the time you generally go out to camp. The favorite choice is usually summer or spring and that means a three-season tent will be enough.
But that is all for design and type. Some other factors that should be kept in mind for all types of tents are about the build of the tent.
1. The tent should have sturdy and strong poles and preferably rip resisting fabric
2. Secure, double sewn, reinforced seams and corners
3. Securely fastened grommets and heavy duty zippers
4. The rain fly should go all the way down to the ground
5. The floor covering should come up to not less than 6 inches up the wall of the tent
6. The tent should be adequately ventilated with mesh panels and air vents
7. The tent should be easy to set up
8. Guy ropes always are helpful as they hold the tent firm in windy conditions. These should also be of bright colors to avoid tripping.
Once you have decided and checked out everything, you can buy your tent and go out into the wild. Happy camping.