Camping Season

Much like sleeping bags, tents are designed by season. Summer tents, for example, are lightweight, include mesh for ventilation, and feature rain flys that allow additional ventilation. Such tents usually feature two poles only. Three-season tents are designed for spring, summer, and fall weather. They include three poles and rain flys that protect from the weather rather than providing ventilation. And while such tents don’t do well in the event of heavy snow, they do perform well in wind and rain.

Four-season tents are designed for serious exposure to winter weather conditions, and feature four poles. They include heavy fabric, removable vestibules, mesh windows with zippers, and skylights for additional natural lighting. These tents not only do well against heavy snowfall, they also protect against intense cold, UV exposure, and high winds. The four poles are included so the tent may stand firm against severe wind and other wintery elements.

Size

The size of the tent is important when considering how many people will be using it for rest come nightfall. You’ll obviously require a larger tent if housing three or more people, especially if these people are adults. The larger the people sharing your tent are, the more space you’ll need. Should the ability to stand up in your tent factor in, look for those with tall peak heights. For example, tents with 90-inch floor lengths are best for those over 6 feet tall.

Activity

The type of activity you plan on engaging in is a huge factor in regards to tent selection. For example, if planning a backpacking excursion during the summer, you’ll need a lightweight tent you can carry with the rest of your gear. If planning a family camping weekend, tent weight doesn’t matter, as you can easily place the thing in your truck or car. If going kayaking, you’ll require a tent that fits into the kayak without issue.

Sleeping Bags

Perhaps a less important factor, it’s still a good idea to review what type of sleeping bags will be housed in your tent. Mummy bags? Wide, two-person bags? Basic, rectangular sleeping bags? Spoon-shaped bags? You want to have enough room for every type of bag going in your tent, so at least give passing consideration to bag style and number.

Waterproof

Is waterproofing an issue for you? Remember when spending time camping – always be prepared – prepare for the worse case scenario whether that be rain, snow, or extreme heat.  Camping in wet conditions or seasons where rain is a distinct possibility means shopping for tents featuring seam tape. This special type of tape prevents leaks in the event of rain, which is certainly a great thing. After all, do you really want to wake from a peaceful slumber because you’re getting rained on?

The condensation factor is also worth taking note of. If you’re planning a trip in an area notorious for condensation, look for coated fabric panels on double wall tents. Such panels prevent condensation, as do awnings over tent doors. You can unzip the awning a tad bit when it’s raining to stop condensation beads from forming. And since condensation can quickly result in mold and mildew formation, it’s a very good idea to look for condensation-proof tents.

Doors

The number of doors your potential tent features is another thing to consider. Multiple doors are helpful for family campouts and Little Tommy’s bed is in directly between you and the door.  Last thing you want to do is wake up everyone in the tent in the middle of the night as you get up to go visit the bushes, right? If it’s just you and another person, one door will likely suffice. But some of our favorite two man tents have doors on each side of the tent making it awesome for getting in and out and keep you gear out of the way of your tent buddy.

Tent Types

Another aspect you’ll want to review and understand is tent type. There are several options that exist, including:

  • Dome Tents: Simple to set up and arguably the most popular tent option, dome tents are lightweight and free-standing. This means they don’t require stakes. These tents are also designed for most weather conditions, and come in single and multiple-room options.  Dome tents are my personal recommendation for your boy scout. Dome tents provide spacious interior which the boys love when tenting together and playing cards and laughing all night. They are also very easy to setup,  stable and can handle conditions such as snow and rough weather better than other styles.
  • Pop-Up Tents: Another tent that’s super-easy to set up, pop-up tents require little to no assembly and work just as well in your backyard as they do on a campsite. Typically, these tents are good options if you don’t camp a lot because they don’t always last very long.
  • Hoop Tents: Your best tent option for backpacking trips, hoop tents feature hoop-shaped pools that create a tunnel design. Lightweight and compact, these tents are best when all you’re using them for is sleeping. In other words, they’re not great for hanging out.  I love my hoop tent. Its light weight, can fit two but I prefer the space to myself.
  • Cabin Tents: The perfect tent if you love camping with your family in traditional campgrounds, cabin tents look like–wait for it–cabins. Even your tallest friends and family can stand in them without problems. These tents come with a variety of cool features, including multiple doors, numerous rooms, excellent ventilation, and attached canopies or or screened-in porches. Cabin tents are so spacious they easily accommodate chairs, coolers, televisions, and tables in addition to sleeping bags.
  • Screen House Tents: Designed for optimal ventilation, screen house tents nevertheless keep insects and similar unpleasantness where they belong–outside. These tents are lightweight, compact, and excellent for summer camping. They usually feature two doors in addition to plenty of interior space, and work just about anywhere so long as the weather is temperate.

Wrap-Up

As you can see, er, read, the right tent for you depends on many things. If you enjoy camping a few times a year during warm weather, you can easily get away with a summer or three-season tents. If hiking and camping at high altitudes during extreme temperatures is your favorite activity, you’ll need a sturdy, four-pole tent that laughs in the face of snow and high winds. It all depends on how much time you like to spend outdoors, and where you like to spend said time.

Use these tips to find the tent you’ll enjoy for years to come! Have fun, and happy camping!