The precursor to choosing a good tent would be knowing what qualifies a tent as ‘good’. It is not merely the quality or brand that makes a tent fall in the category of good tents, but it is the purpose too. You have to choose a tent that would work best for your intended activity.
Otherwise, neither the tent is good nor your camp. There are certain factors that need to be taken into account before buying a tent- the number of people to fit in, the duration of stay, the weather conditions, and the material of the tent, etc. It is crucial to pick out the type of tent first- the rest of the details are secondary.
Choose an Appropriate Type of Tent
If you want to camp in mild conditions- spring, summer, or fall- your best and suitable choice would be a three-season tent. Though it corresponds to providing for basic camping needs, it is not suitable for winter camping. It is often double-walled and is comparatively lightweight, including a roof canopy allowing for good shelter from the rain.
A four-season tent, contrary to its name, can only be used for cold weather camping. Though limited to winter only, it can withstand unforeseen weather elements like wind and snow through its strong materials. These are mostly single-walled and are less breathable. If you are planning to camp with multiple people, a family tent would serve the purpose with its tall walls and multiple rooms to accommodate a maximum number of people.
Prioritizing convenience to set up a tent
A convenient tent would primarily be freestanding to make it easier for you to set up and move them around. It is understandable that staking a tent into the ground would only seem exhausting and time-consuming, especially in rain. In such instances, it is better to opt for ‘pop-up’ or ‘instant’ tents. The freestanding camping tents are also a better option for when you have to set up a tent on hard ground. But keep in mind: convenience can often lead to bad experiences, so it is better to opt for high-quality tents. Instant tents can be kept as an alternative.
Choose a Suitable Size
It is rudimentary for you to plan an estimated number of people to fit inside one tent and to make sure that there are approximately 30 square feet i.e. 2.8 square meters of space reserved for each person. Ideally, it is recommended as a rule of thumb to get a tent that offers room for one extra person- room more than you need. That extra space would come in handy especially in winters when all of your stuff has to be kept inside the tent.
Pro tip: A 10×10 foot tent would offer enough room for you to store, to change, and even to add an air mattress. However, tents larger than this would only cause trouble with their heavyweight- for carrying them and for setting them up.
Choose a Suitable Shape
Alongside, if you are looking for tents with considerable headroom, you should opt for dome-shaped tents. Their flexible poles provide a structured yet a good amount of headroom. It is also to be maintained that the bigger the size of the dome tent, the less stable the tent would get.
Meanwhile, if you want to get a tent that also satisfies your budget, A-frame tents would be your option. These are affordable and lightweight, but they have certain limitations to their functionality. Their sloping sidewalls limit space inside, and can also not withstand weather elements like heavy winds. However, it is suggested to compromise some space for weight as much as possible if you are backpacking. After all, it is all about balancing space and weight.
Choose Quality Material
Make sure the tent offers weather protection. The material your tent is made up of highly influences your choice. Subsequently, the protection a tent may offer in any weather is highly dependent on the climate of the specific camp area, and the material of the tent. To protect yourself from rain, make sure the tent you are investing in has a full-coverage rainfly. Moreover, to avoid getting rainwater inside the tent, make sure your tent has tub-flooring.
Also, ensure that the rainfly of the tent reaches the ground for it to endure strong winds. The rainfly must then have several tie-down points to attach guy lines for the overall stability of the tent.
Meanwhile, it is also advised that though nylon and polyester are waterproof, they tend to deteriorate over time due to sunlight. As of this matter, you should check if the seams have been sealed to ensure that they are waterproof, at least. On the other hand, by blending cotton with synthetic fibers, the canvas becomes entirely water-resistant and is deemed best as a camping material.
Furthermore, to enhance airflow and ventilation during the day and at night, you would certainly want to buy tents that have mesh walls, windows, and doors.
Make sure your tent has a footprint. A good tent would offer a footprint i.e. a cloth underneath the tent not only to protect the floor from rocks and remains, but also to avoid ground condensation in cold and damp sites.
Make sure the material is rip-resistant. An ideally good tent would comprise high-quality materials to make it strong, rip-resistant, lightweight, and waterproof. Avoid thin fabrics; rather go for high-quality materials such as nylon, polyester, or cotton canvas, etc.
Choose aluminum tent poles. A good tent would suffice strength as well as durability, as to why it should be made up of the strongest material i.e. aluminum, and not carbon composite or fiberglass tent poles. You would, however, have to deal with the heaviness.
In the end, even if you choose the best tent in the world, it would only be good for you if it can be adapted well to your use, to the climate, and unforeseen weather conditions.