How to Choose a Tent In 7 Simple Steps

Tents seem pretty straightforward until you start learning a little more about them. There are many different tents with different features suited for different needs. A camping tent can be a big investment, so you want to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need. Otherwise you’re wasting money. Here’s what you need to consider so you will know how to choose the best tent for your needs.

What type of camping do you do?

Do you backpack? Car camp? Bikepack? Do you want to get into kayak touring? The size and weight of your tent becomes more important when you have to carry your tent with you.

How often do you go camping?

Nice camping gear tends to cost more money than cheap camping equipment. If you put your gear to good use, however, it’s worth the investment. If you camp once a year, you don’t need to fork out big bucks on a nice tent unless quality is extremely important for you. If you’re out every weekend, you should invest in a high quality tent to get the most for your money.

When will you go camping?

Be honest with yourself. Maybe you picture yourself as the rugged mountaineering type who will camp in blizzards and in freezing rain, but if you actually only camp when the conditions are perfect, you need a tent that is designed for those conditions.

Three season tents are going to be a good option for camping in the spring, summer, and fall. Most 3 season tents will even be adequate for winter camping in mild conditions. You need a 4 season tent, however, for the harshest cold weather conditions with heavy winds and snowfall.

How much time do you spend in your tent?

Do you just sleep in your tent, or do you want to hang out in there? This will determine how big your tent should be. Manufacturers indicate tent size by the number of people the tent can accommodate. Of course, this isn’t a standard measurement, and there’s going to be a lot of variation in floor area and head height.

Some 2-person tents can leave you and your partner feeling cramped, and some 4-person tents may accommodate 5 (small) people. Think about how many people – and pets – you want to be able to fit in your tent, and check some out in a camping store.

Do you need a place to store your gear?

Some tents come equipped with vestibules, gear lofts, pockets, etc. to provide places to store your gear. If you’re car camping you probably won’t rely on your tent to store your gear when your vehicle is parked a few yards away. If you’re backpacking, storage might be an important factor.

What features are important to you?

Some tents are sold with a footprint, some have double doors, others come with windows, and some manufacturers sell “porches” for extra covered space outside of the tent.

Decide which of these features you value and look for tents that include them.

How do you treat your gear?

You don’t want ultralight mesh and carbon fiber tent poles if you abuse your outdoor gear. These materials are expensive, and they require extra care and attention. Simply put, look for a durable, overbuilt tent if you’re hard on your camping gear. If you’re willing to pamper your gear a bit, you have more options.

Looking for a place to buy tents in Northwest Arkansas? Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters to check out our selection of car camping tents and backpacking tents from brands like MSR, Kelty, and Marmot!

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