Choosing a Good Tent
What to look for when choosing your tent. There are many tents on the market these days and a good range to choose from. Whether it’s a backpacking tent, weekend, family or inflatable there is something for everyone.
There are a great range of tents nowadays to suit all budgets but there are other things that need to be taken into consideration. A good way to think when purchasing your tent is to price it against other holiday accommodation. How often are you planning to use your tent and for how many nights each time? How many years do you expect your tent to last? (You may need to purchase another due to family size increasing). Now work out how much it would cost to stay in a hotel or B&B for the same amount of time you’ve calculated that you will use your tent.
Take into account the size of tent you will need. If you’re after a backpacking tent then it weight and enough room to sleep in. Looking at all other tents you need to consider how many people will be using it. How many bedrooms you will need and size of living area. I always find it is best to go 1 or 2 person bigger when looking at your tent so it is not too cramped feeling while away. This also helps if you end up with an unexpected guest on your holiday.
This is a personal preference, if you are happy sharing your sleeping space maybe a tepee style is what you want. Or a tunnel style with optional front and side opening doors. This is going to be your living space so have a good look at what’s on offer before choosing.
HH – Hydrostatic Head
This is how waterproof the tent is and a good HH goes a long way to ensuring how dry your tent stays when it rains. HH is how many ml of rain can fall before the tent material starts letting in water. A high HH is good, 3000 and above is what most recommend. As well as looking at HH value you should also look for double stitched, taped seams as water can often leak through at these areas. Also check to see if manufacturer as additionally waterproofed and UV proofed the tent. This is something you will need to do yourself throughout the tent life to help preserve and maintain it.
SEWN IN GROUNDSHEET
Many people prefer this feature on their tent due to as well as keeping water out and heat in it also deters creepy crawlies and wildlife from entering your tent.
Are you going to be using electrics? Look for an electric access point. This is normally a zipped opening along the bottom or groundsheet of the tent.
What about windows? For some it is important where the windows are situated in a tent. If you prefer more privacy high side windows are maybe what you want. If you have children you may want to look at tents with more and larger windows so you can keep an eye on the young ones while they play. Also if the windows have curtains that you can sip up later at night for more privacy.
Types of Tents
Backpacking tents are used when traveling, normally on foot, where you will be setting up your tent in a different location each evening. Due to having to carry these tents on your rucksack the most important feature you will need to look at is weight.
Backpacking tents are made to be lightweight and highly technical. This is to ensure they are strong and weatherproof as it will be put up and taken down on a daily basis.
These tents are really only designed for you to sleep and shelter from the weather. Also ideal for completing Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Some of the most popular of these are the OEX range, Vango and MSR range.
Weekend tents are the go to when the weather is good and you have the chance to just up and go or for planned weekends away. These tents are flexible and practical as not too heavy and are fairly quick to erect once at your chosen location.
Weekend tents give you both living and sleeping areas, an ideal combination for a weekend away.
Some of the most popular weekend tents are Coleman, Vango, Outwell and we also love a few of the Freedom Trail range too.
Family tents are increasingly popular now with many families choosing to camp rather than go abroad. These tents are designed to give great living space along with multiple sleeping areas or bedroom pods.
These are much larger and heavier tents that do take a little longer to put up. These are designed for longer family breaks of a week or two, or even the whole summer if you can manage it!
Many family tents come with built in porch areas or these can be purchased as optional extras. These are great as you do not want to be cooking inside your tent. It also gives extra storage for outdoor items or muddy and wet activity gear.
Some of the most popular family tents are Outwell, Vango, Coleman and High Gear.
Inflatable tents have been around for a few years now and come in many sizes. These are easy to erect as instead of assembling and threading poles to erect your tent you simply blow up the air beams to give your tent its structure. Even large family tents can be put up in less than 30 minutes.
Some of the most popular in inflatable tents are Airgo, Bergaus, Vango and Outwell.
Pop Up Tents
Many people know of pop up tents but these are not really designed well for camping trips unless it the odd night away in the summer. These are the types of tent I would reserve for festivals or for the children to play in outside in the summer.
Where possible visit a well established tent shop or try to see the tent when it is pitched. If possible get a look inside so you can get a “feel” for it. Speak to other people if they have or have had the tent you are looking to puchase. Look at and read reviews and also the comments left on review sites. (we have reviewed many tents on here, use the search bar to see if we’ve reviewed the one you want).
The more information you can gather before purchase the better. You should look at buying a tent as an investment. They may seem expensive but it you break the cost down per night, per person that will be using it you will see it’s worth. Buying a good tent and caring for it properly, the tent should last you for years.