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How to Choose the Right Camping Tent

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Ok, Buying a camping tent is really not as easy as just picking one up at the local sporting goods store. OK, it can be, but when you get out in the field with your tent and you end up freezing you’ll realize that you should spend more time in purchasing your camping tent. Caming tents are rated for use in various seasons and some tents can keep you drier than others. If you are planning a trip to a snowy region, I certainly wouldn’t recommend dragging out your 3-season tent you used for summer camping at the lakeThe following is a camping tent guide for getting the right tent for the right conditions. These considerations will help you decide what kind of tent will be the best for your next adventure.

Time of Year

There are generally three types of camping tent classifications and each depend on the time of year that they will be utilized. All-season or convertible – these are used year round but despite the name do not perform well in harsh winter weather. Weight is generally not an issue.

  • 3-season – this type of tent works well for all but the harshest cold weather condition.
  • 4-season – built for extreme cold weather climates.

The all-season camping tent is typically thought of in terms of a family or car tent. Most cabin tents are all-season tents. These are great for relaxed summer camping. The 3-season camping tent is what I would consider the most versatile. Some of the smaller 2 person tents are great for hiking and some of the larger tents are great for family campouts. These are usually always a dome tent.

Staying Dry

You can certainly go to the local army-navy surplus store and pick up two shelter halves to camp in. When I was in the army we hated to bivouac in those canvas tents because once you touched the fabric on the inside, the tent would start to leak, especially when it rained but even from the morning dew.

But wait, you say I could just use an army poncho as a rain fly and stay dry. You’re right. You could pick up a poncho as well to drape over your shelter half. But there goes the ventilation!

But what about the floor? You need a groundcloth for the moisture from the ground. Yep, got to buy another poncho at the very least for the ground.

The point is, technology is a wonderful thing. Camping tents can be purchased that have a water-resistant coating that still allow for ventilation. Most camping tents have a waterproof rain fly that attaches to the tent poles and still allows for ventilation. And lastly, many camping tents have floors sewn in to the bottom.

Easy Setup

Your camping tent should be reasonably easy to set up. At no time will this be more apparent than when it is raining or when it is dark.

So how do I know if the tent is easy to set up? A-frame and dome camping tents are generally easy to pitch. A cabin tent is not necessarily easy. Click here for basic camping tent designs.

Conversely, when you are ready to take your tent down, or strike camp, you will want it fold into a neat, compact, easy to store package.


Your camping tent needs to have adequate ventilation. A good camping tent like this will have openings on all sides.

Most camping tents will have mesh screens on each side as well. This is to continue to have air flow though the tent even when you are trying to keep out the bugs or even debris if it is windy.

You’ll want to choose a tent that has a large mesh opening if the bugs are annoying where you’ll be camping.

Originally posted 2012-04-18 09:39:23.


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