Buying a new tent? Must know information!
Buying a new tent? Buying your first tent or it’s time for a camping upgrade, its arguably one of the most important camping decisions to get right.
However there’s no need to fear, as this guide will help to take all the stress out of choosing a tent, ensuring that your camping trip is a success!
The size of your tent
You obviously want to consider how many people will be camping in your tent when you’re looking for one online. Tents are labelled by how many people they sleep, and a two man tent really does sleep two people.
However, you want to consider how much luggage and equipment you have with you. If you’d like to ensure that your tent is spacious then I’d recommend going for a tent that sleeps more people than the amount in your group.
The size of your tent also depends on how much space you have in the car. So, if you always struggle to squeeze everything into the boot of your car, you might want to go for a tent that packs up small.
If you would like to take a bulky and sturdy tent with you but have a small car, you can also use a roof box or tow a trailer to create some more space. For some tips for camping with a trailer or roof box, be sure to check out my blog, Tow a trailer or travel light?
Tips for backpackers
If you’re backpacking, then be sure to look for a lightweight tent that isn’t too bulky as you’ll have to carry it on your back. A lot of tents for hikers are small which does mean you can spend more time cooking and socialising outdoors, using the tent primarily for sleeping.
But if the weather predicts showers, and you’re going to be spending more time inside the tent, you may want a more comfortable and spacious option that won’t add lots of weight to your load.
The, playfully named, Dirt Motel 2P Tent is a great option if this is what you’re looking for. This two man tent has a minimum weight of 1.94kg, and a compact pack size. It is also surprisingly spacious and has a folding Stargazing Fly so that you can watch the stars from the comfort of your tent.
Ultimately, it’s always worth going for the best quality tent within your budget, firstly this means your tent last you for years to come, saving money in the long term. Also, it is never worth going for a tent that isn’t fully water and weather proof.
That being said, there are some great budget options that are also good quality, such as the Arpenaz 4.2 four-person tent.
This tent is only under £180! It is divided into three sections, with two bedrooms and a spacious living room that has space to stand up. This means that everyone can have some privacy as well as a nice communal living area, perfect for a family camping trip with older kids.
What type of tent to get… pop up tents
You’ll also want to consider which type of tent to go for.
If you’re a beginner camper, or just hate spending time struggling with poles and poring over instructions, then why not consider a pop up tent. These can be put up in seconds and are often also easy to take down as well.
My personal favourite for smaller groups of campers is the Quechua 3 person pop-up tent .
Although pop up tents have a reputation for being more suitable for teen festival goers than a serious camping group, this tent is sturdy, windproof and waterproof.
You could also go for a cotton canvas bell tent, which have a large amount of floor space, making them great for bigger groups.
Although they can be on the more expensive side, if you take care of your bell tent it can last you for years.
Always make sure that you dry your bell tent out fully before packing it away at the end of your trip. If you’re packing away in wet conditions and this is not possible, make sure you wipe off any mud and dirt from the bottom of your tent and then dry it completely within 48 hours.
Bell tents are usually sold by their size rather than the amount of people they sleep, but for reference a 5m bell tent can sleep around 5 people. However, I’d recommend sizing up if you want to have more space for storage or socialising in the tent.
If you’re looking for a big family tent that can be put up easily by one person, then you could also consider an air tent.
These use inflatable beams rather than fibreglass poles, so instead of faffing around with tent poles, all you need to do is pump up the tent.
Although inflatable tents can be slightly more expensive than your standard fibreglass pole tent, this is because they are made from much stronger materials to prevent punctures. Plus if they do leak later on, you can buy spare inflatable inserts on the better quality tents.
Trailer tents and car roof tents
If you’re solo camping with a car or camping as a couple, then you could also opt for a roof tent.
These are extremely easy to put up and as you are away from the ground and the mud they are suited to rainy camping trips. If you’re worried that your car is too small for a car roof tent, then check out the Tent Box Lite (in orange or black) which weighs only 50kgs and also folds in half, taking up little space on your roof. This tent fits almost all vehicles- all you need is a set of cross bars.
You could also opt for a trailer tent, which is installed within a trailer.
These are becoming increasingly popular as they are often spacious tents which can be towed behind your car but are much cheaper than caravans. Many trailer tents also come with an awning, perfect for eating outdoors and drying off before you get into the tent. As they can be towed behind almost any car without needing any special licence, trailer tents are great for when you need to make more space in your car boot.
Obviously, you’ll need to have somewhere to park this.
The best tents for withstanding the elements
Obviously, you need to ensure that you buy a waterproof tent.
But if you know that there is going to be extreme weather on your trip, or you like to camp off season, by the coast or in any area that is more prone to extreme weather then making sure your tent can withstand the elements should be a priority.
Although it isn’t the only indication of how waterproof a tent is, look out for the Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating. A material with a HH rating of 1000mm can hold a column of water that is 1000mm tall, and any more will seep through the material. So, the higher the HH rating, the more waterproof your tent will be.
However, the structure of a tent, how tightly sealed the seams are, zips with covers and thicker groundsheets will also all contribute to making sure that your tent keeps the water out.
If the weather forecast for your next trip is all showers, then be sure to check out my blog How to keep dry when camping, for more tips and tricks to ensure that you stay dry on your next trip.
Although this is on the higher end of the price range for two person tents, there is nothing worse than getting all your stuff wet when hiking, as there is often no way to dry things properly if it continues to rain.
This lightweight tent is also super adjustable, as the flysheet (this is the outer layer of a tent) can be used with the inner to ensure the rain doesn’t get through, or it can be used on its own. The MSR Hubba Hubba also has rain gutters over the entrance zips to make sure you don’t get wet when rain is dripping down the side of the tent.
For a highly waterproof family tent, the Robens Kiowa Polycotton Tipi Tent is another great option.
This tent strikes the balance between being durable and comfortable. The ground sheet has a HH rating of 10,000 to ensure that no water can seep in from the ground, which is actually one of the most common ways that tents can flood. The tent has fibres that swell up when the rain on the flysheet becomes heavier, creating a waterproof seal. This tent also has reinforced guyline points that spread out the load taken by the flysheet in strong winds.
The Robens tipi tent is a fantastic option for families, as it can sleep up to 10 people and has a front porch and large living space.
I hope this has helped you out with your search for the perfect tent, whatever your budget, the size of your group or any other camping requirements.
Enjoy your trip! Here’s me signing out and thank you so much for reading