Tent Buying Guide
Tents range in price from around £30 to over £1000, so how do you know which one is right for you? You will need to decide exactly what you want the tent for, and how it is going to be used and how many people will it will need to accommodate.
Tents are categorised into four groups, according to their durability in different weather types. These are:
- Summer Tents
These are tents that will be used in mild weather. They can withstand a shower but would struggle in more inclement conditions. They are lightweight and ventilated.
- 3 Season Tents
3 season tents are more versatile and can cope with most different types of weather that you would expect during Spring, Summer and Autumn (hence the name 3 season). They have a full length fly sheet and extra strength due to their 3 pole design.
- Convertible Tents
These are essentially 3 season tents, that can be strengthened to withstand most winter conditions by the addition of extra poles for stability, and zip panels over windows to increase insulation and cut out the wind.
- 4 Season Tents
These can withstand any weather conditions. They have extra poles and guy ropes for added strength and stability, and can be used for camping in winter. They should offer extra space for storing all the other equipment you will need for cold conditions.
You should also decide how you will be using the tent. If you are going to be back packing, for example, you would be better with a lighter tent. However, if you are driving to a campsite for a family holiday, go for a big luxurious tent with room for all the children and their stuff.
Recommended online tent shops: Outdoor Gear. Outdoor Gear have a range of tents by brands such as Freelander, Lighthouse, Laser, Jack Wolfskin, Galileo, Eiger, Spectre and many more brands. Special offeres currently include the Magellan 6 and 9 tents; Millets who have tents for 1-2, 3-4 and families, plus some amazing pop up tents for those who like to spend a minimum amount of time putting a tent up (that should be most of us, then!), Simply Hike and Tentastic who have a great range of tents to suit all weathers and budgets. Get free postage on orders over £50 at Simply Hike with code HIKEMAR which expires 31st March, 2011.
Note that if you are likely to be holidaying in an area with midges or mosquitoes it's adviseable to get a midge-netting door - this will allow you to sleep with the door unzipped for ventilation, but will prevent you from being eaten alive.
Different Tent Shapes
There are four categories for shape, including:
- A Frame
Classic shape, good at draining the rain due to the steep sizes. Heavier due to the rigid tent poles.
Offer more space for their relative size / weight.
The strongest structure offering enhanced resistance to the wind, again with a good amount of space for their size / weight.
- Single Pole
The most lightweight, but less internal space and not much use in high wind.
How to Increase the Life of Your Tent
- Waterproof the seams.
- Reproof the fly sheet.
- Clean the tent after use, and leave it to air.
- Avoid damage with sharp objects, such a belt buckles and heavy footwear.