campcraft tent basics camping tent with hammock

Tent Basics

Buying your first tent or upgrading to a new tent can present you with an overwhelming number of options. This handy tent basics guide will help you work out what you really really need from your tent.

Determine the Purpose of the Tent
If being used for family camping – consider comfort, space and ventilation.
If backcountry camping – consider weight, size and durability.

Determine Type of Material
Polyester withstands extended exposure to the sun.
Nylon is lighter weight.
Canvas is durable but very heavy.

Determine the Style
Cabin tents are big with high ceilings and large windows. Multi-room models are available.
Dome tents are smaller, stable and better in varying weather conditions. They are easy to setup and take down.

Determine the Size and Weight
What type of activity?
How many people?
How much equipment needs to be stored in the tent?
Tent sizes (2man, 3man ect) do not include room for gear storage, just the number of people who will fit in the tent laying side by side. Consider purchasing a larger tent for this purpose.

Consider Ease of Setup
Color coding is helpful

Consider the Poles
Quality is important
Fiberglass poles are durable
Aluminum poles are lightweight

Consider Quality of Other Features
Stitching and seams
Window and Door mesh
Tie Downs
Consider the Weather

Waterproof/water resistant
Use a full coverage rain fly if you regularly camp in bad weather or camp year round.

A partial fly or skull cap will protect from showery weather and unexpected cloudbursts. A good option for fair weather camping.

The groundsheet
Consider a quality groundsheet for under your tent to protect the floor from damage and to keep it drier and cleaner. This should be the same shape as your tent and either the same size as the footprint of your tent or slightly larger to minimise dirt splashed on the tent sides in bad weather. If space allows, consider a groundsheet that extends beyond the door of your tent to minimise dirt transfer inside from foot traffic.

By simply considering these tent basics, you should find your ideal tent in no time.


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