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There are 2 main kinds of Tents for Camping : Sleeping and Eating/Living tents.
This page will discuss both kinds of camping tents .
Advice on choosing a sleeping tent for camping.
First off, I’d like to say that the advertised size of a tent is not a very accurate representation of how many people can sleep comfortably. It is more of a ‘how many people we can squish inside this tent’. If you’re actually planning on getting a good nights sleep and aren’t lovers with your tent mate, then get a tent bigger than the number of people that will sleep in it. For example, when I lead interior trips, we bring 4 man camping tents, and my campers sleep 3 to a tent. My campers are women and it is still quite cozy. I sleep with my assistant in the same tent and we have a good amount of space. For example, in my opinion, a 2 man tent is more of a 1 man tent.
I had the pleasure of sleeping in one of these two man camping tents with another person, and although we are both women and not particularly large, we were VERY cozy.
So, before you purchase any camping tent, put up in the store (most stores have a demo model) and crawl in, or measure the dimensions in your house to see how large it actually is.
Rain and Fly
Second, ALWAYS get a FULL SIZE fly. A fly is the fabric that covers the camping tent and keeps the rain off. Many of the cheap pop-tents have small or no fly’s and this means that you will wake-up wet in a puddle if it rains. These tents are cheap for a reason. These tents will work to keep the bugs out. Small camping tents without fly’s though are good for children in or out of the house as play tents (ie. not for shelter in the wilderness).
Now that I’ve got that off my chest,
Some other things to keep in mind when buying sleeping tents for camping are:
• Windows- Do the windows allow a breeze? Can the windows ‘close’ for rain with a fabric flap? Are the windows at opposite sides of the tents to let a cross breeze?
• Colour- Do you want to stand out when camping or blend in with the environment or does it not matter to you?
• Weight- Are you going interior tripping? Or just car camping? How far will you carry the camping tent? 2kg is the magic weight. Less than 2kg for interior camping, heavier is ok for car camping.
• Is the tent Free-standing? Some superlight weight camping tents use nearby standing trees, or must be pegged in to stay upright. This keeps the tent weight low.
• What season will you camp? Is the camping tent a 3 season tent? Or just summer?
• How tall are you? If you are particularly tall keep this in mind, and get a longer camping tent .
Shape: the two main shapes are A-frame and dome.
A-frame camping tent: are often thought of as ‘old style’ tents for camping, however Eureka still makes 4 man A-frame tents that are quite good. I have used them on all of the interior camping trips that I’ve lead. They are quite simple to put up and do not have as many guide wires as the old style tents. The good thing about them, is that the newer ones have doors and windows at both ends so a breeze can flow through the tent. The A-frame also gives a larger area that is higher to sit up instead of just the centre of the tent. The poles are also not flexible so this camping tent doesn’t collapse or fold in strong winds. Newer ones now have a vestibule on the outside so you can keep your packs and equipment dry (never food).
Standard Dome tent: Usually these tents for camping have 2 flexible poles that cross over at the top. A good variety will not have an attachment with these at the top so that the poles can slide in and out for easy dismantling. Domes are a ‘newer’ variety of camping tent which are quite popular. One drawback I had with this camping tent is that during a HUGE wind storm, the wind tried to flatten the tent because the poles were flexible. We ended up tying the camping tent to a tree so as not to blow away. But it is unlikely that you will experience winds like this.
Another kind of Dome tent is the Geodesic dome tents for camping. These are very stable as they use several poles. The poles may create weight, but the shape makes them much more sturdy. They are more complicated to put-up than the regular 2 pole dome tent.
Both A-frame and Dome are good for all sorts of camping and are easier to put up than canvas tents or older models of tents. I have used both for car camping and interior camping. You just need to find a camping tent that you like and works for you.
Other kinds of sleeping tents:
Non freestanding tents- thee are generally lightweight tents, that try to minimize their weight by keeping the number of poles low. These camping tents are lighter, however they are not as sturdy in inclement weather. These tents MUST be staked into the ground. Make sure this matches your camping location.
An example of a non-freestanding tent is the:
Tunnel tent: It is easy to assemble, and quite roomy inside for the amount of material it uses.
Family tents for camping- is an option if you have children and want to be in the same tent, but also have your ‘privacy’. A good option is the tents for camping that are ‘2 tents in one’, meaning there are 2 tents, and they have a centre piece that connects the two tents. The centre attachment is also a good area to spend time if it rains, or to keep packs and equipment that you don’t want to take up space inside your camping tent.
Dining tents have come along way since when my mother bought one for our family when we I was young. Back then, they took MANY people to put up, they had large complicated poles and did not stand up to large winds.
Now, dining tents are lighter, easier to put up and overall better in every aspect. Some things to keep in mind are why you’re getting it?
• To keep bugs out? You’ll need a screen (and keep in mind sometimes it keeps them in, but then the bugs will fly to try and escape),
• For shade? You will not need the screens however the flaps for rain could always shade different sides as the sun goes down.
• For rain? These tents for camping have flaps that roll up when it’s dry and come down to protect you from rain.
Dining tents are a great idea for car camping or group camping as a central spot for when it rains, but they are too big and heavy to carry-in for backpacking or interior camping.
Camping hammocks: are pretty neat. If you’re camping where there are trees, you can sleep in a hammock! Light weight (cause there are no poles) and easy to assemble, they are a great option. You can get camping hammocks that have screens and also top ‘roofs’. And they’re often made of lightweight material such as parachute fabric. Plus you don’t need to purchase a Thermarest or sleeping pad!
The best way to sleep in a hammock at night is diagonal so it doesn’t bend your body.
Even if you don’t want sleep in the hammock, they’re a great option to bring to set up at your site for relaxation.
Other pages you might be interested in Reading:
What tent do you use? What do you love about your tent? Would you recommend it? Share your story!