How to Choose a Tent

We may have a slight bias because our name is Tentspiration, but one of the first things you need when you start exploring the outdoors is a tent.You want to pick a tent that will fit your lifestyle and meet the needs of your future adventures. The tent will quickly become your home away from home; it will be a part of epic adventures and embarrassing stories. There are millions of choices and a huge price range, so we are going to cover the basic aspects you should consider when buying a tent.

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Our cozy, two person, MSR Hubba Hubba tent

The Car Camping to Backpacking Spectrum:

When and where are you going to use your tent? Do you see yourself solely as a backpacker or do you bring your house to the campsite? You can find car camping tents for a much lower price than backpacking tents, but they tend to be bulky and heavy, which is the last thing you want to deal with on the trail. On the other hand, car camping tents can be mansions with multiple rooms which gives you plenty of breathing room and privacy.

Three Seasons vs. Four Seasons:

Most tents are rated for three seasons: spring, summer, and fall. However there are also a fair amount of tents rated for all seasons. Four season tents are more expensive, but make a huge difference in the winter. This is another time you need to be honest with yourself. How often will you go camping in the snow or in below freezing weather? I have used my three season tent in temperatures ranging from 30 – 90 degrees. In the summer it is awesome because it has great ventilation. The tent is a little drafty in the winter, but that is when a warm sleeping bag and a thick wool hat come in handy.

Picking a Tent Size:

Tent sizes are based on the number of people that can lay on the floor. Based on my own experience I think people should buy a tent that is one size bigger than the number of people normally in it. If you are couple, then you should get a three person tent, if you are single, then you should get a two person tent. The number of people that can lay on the floor is a pretty snug measurement, so it is nice to have a little wiggle room. Having an extra spot also allows you to bring a friend (or puppy) camping with you. If you are hoping to be a serious backpacker, then ignore everything I just said and buy the smallest tent size possible.

For a more in-depth explanation of tent specifications and terminology check-out REI’s advice.

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