What to know about camping tents before pitching up?

Before going camping, there are a few things to know about tents. This includes what types of camping shelters there are, what standard and bonus features to look out for, what types of tents to use in various weather conditions, how to pitch a tent correctly, and how to take care of your tent.

How to choose the right camping tent for you?

One of the most important items of camping gear, choosing the right camping tent will depend on a number of factors including the type of camping you plan to do, the time of year, where you are camping, the size of your group, as well as personal preference.

What is a camping tent?

A camping tent is a collapsible fabric structure used as protection from the elements when sleeping outdoors. The fabric is stretched out over, and held up by, poles.

What materials are camping tents made from?

Most modern camping tents are made from either polyester, nylon, or a ripstop fabric. Tent poles are typically made from aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber.

What features to look for in a camping tent?

When choosing a camping tent make sure to take into account the following.

  • Capacity, interior space, and storage space
  • Seasonality
  • Weather resistance
  • Ease of setup
  • Weight and packability
  • Durability of fabric and poles
  • Ventilation features
  • Vestibules and screened porches

What features in a camping tent help with pitching?

A number of features can make pitching a tent quicker and easier including the following.

  • Color-coded poles and loops
  • Poles pre-inserted into the tent fabric sleeves
  • Hubbed pole systems with pre-attached poles converging from a central hub
  • Pop-up tents
  • Built-in groundsheets
  • Reflective guy lines for pitching in lower light
  • Freestanding tents (don’t need staked out)

What features in a camping tent help organize gear?

With limited storage space in a camping setup, there are a few space-saving features a camping tent can have. 

  • Interior pockets, typically made of see-through mesh 
  • Gear loops and hooks
  • Vestibules
  • Multiple doors
  • Cable management
  • Gear lofts 
  • Room partitions

Single or double-walled camping tent?

Double-walled tents consist of an inner tent layer with a second rainfly layer pitched over the top. A single-walled tent has just one layer that acts as both the inner tent and rainfly. 

The lighter weight of single-walled tents is preferred when carrying gear over long distances and/or when camping in fairer weather conditions.

When camping in more variable weather conditions a double-walled tent offers an added layer of insulation from the cold as well as better protection from wind and rain.

Freestanding or non-freestanding camping tent?

A non-freestanding tent needs to be staked out whereas a freestanding tent will stand up itself due to the tent poles slotting into the four corners of the structure.

A freestanding tent is suited to terrain that is rocky or hard and so doesn’t allow for staking out. They are also better for campers that like to adjust their tent location quickly.

If there is potential for windy conditions at your site, and the ground is soft enough to allow for staking out, then a non-freestanding tent is a better choice.

What are the main types of camping tent?

Common types of camping tents include dome-shaped, A-frame, cabin, tunnel, geodesic, pop-up, instant, SUV, rooftop, backpacking, ultralight, teepee, canvas, screen, inflatable, multi-room, and hammock tents.

Which features to prioritize for a one-person camping tent?

There are several features that have greater importance when choosing a one-person tent.

  • Minimal size 
  • Weight
  • Ease of setup – there is only yourself to help!
  • Packability
  • Freestanding

Which features to prioritize for a family camping tent?

There are several features that have greater importance when choosing a family camping tent.

  • Large size and capacity
  • Ease of setup as family camping can be hectic!
  • Durability
  • Room partitions for privacy
  • Ventilation 
  • Multiple doorways
  • Storage features

What is a canvas camping tent?

This type of tent is made from canvas, a durable and breathable material that has been traditionally used for tent making. Canvas is conventionally made from cotton or a cotton blend, and more recently from synthetic materials.

What is a cabin camping tent?

A cabin tent is defined by its vertical or near-vertical walls and resultant higher ceiling resembling a cabin or tiny house. This extra headroom is handy for moving around the tent more easily which makes cabin tents ideal for large groups or family camping.

What is a dome camping tent?

Dome tents are so-called because of their domed structure. Due to this they have less headroom to offer but their shape makes them more stable in general and more resistant to wind.

What is a tunnel camping tent?

A tunnel camping tent is an elongated structure with the tunnel shape created by poles that curve around from one side of the tent to the other.

What height are the tallest camping tents?

The tallest camping tents on the market are typically between 7 feet up to 8 feet! These are typically cabin style tents or teepees. However, teepees offer less headroom due to their conical shape.

What is a multi-room camping tent?

A multi-room tent has partitions or zippered doors that can separate the overall tent structure into multiple separate ‘rooms’. This can provide a space for different sleeping areas and/or for a gear storage area.

What is a screened porch camping tent?

A screened porch tent has an extra area attached to the main living area of the tent, typically a vestibule, that has mesh walls that provide ventilation yet keep bugs outside. This offers a space for dining or lounging that is more ventilated and brighter than inside the main tent yet still offers the same protection from insects.

What is an inflatable camping tent?

An inflatable tent, also called an air tent, uses inflatable tubes to support the structure rather than aluminum or fiberglass tent poles that are normally fed through the tent fabric structure. A pump is used to fill the beams and the air-filled beams support the fabric of the structure instead.

What is an SUV camping tent?

An SUV tent, or car tent, attaches to the back of a vehicle allowing for extra sleeping or storage space in the trunk. There is typically a sleeve or short ‘tunnel’ that connects an SUV tent to the vehicle so that they are sealed together.

What is a pop-up camping tent?

A pop-up camping tent has pre-attached, spring-loaded tent poles already inserted into the tent fabric so that when it is removed from its bag it automatically ‘pops up’ into shape.

What is a camping screen tent?

A camping screen tent, also called a screen house or screened canopy, is a tent like structure made with a solid fabric roof but with mesh walls. This provides shelter from sun and rain, whilst providing ample ventilation and insect protection.

Are there camping tents designed for dogs?

Yes, there are tents specifically designed to cater to dogs. These dog tents typically have thicker, more durable tent fabric to accommodate for claws, whilst some also come with additional padding for comfort.

What is a camping tent cot?

This type of tent combines a camping cot and a tent. A tent cot comprises of a metal base frame, over which a fabric sleeping surface is stretched, and a tent frame attached to the cot frame so you can sleep in the cot under a sheltered structure.

What is an instant camping tent?

The name instant camping tent is more broadly used to describe a tent that has a pre-attached frame that allows for a quick setup. A pop-up tent is a type of instant tent with spring-loaded poles that cause it to literally ‘pop up’ when removed from its bag, however not all instant tents are pop-up tents.

What is a camping truck tent?

A camping truck tent, also called a truck bed tent, has a floorless design that fits securely over the bed of the truck. This means the truck bed is the base of your tent, rather than the ground. They are typically secured down with straps or clips that attach to the sides and corners of the truck bed.

What is a camping shower tent?

To retain a little privacy at camp a portable, pop-up tent for showering is ideal. These tents are typically made with a water-resistant material and have a floorless design so water can drain out.

What are advantages of a bivy over a tent?

A bivy (short for bivouac sack) is a lightweight sack that a sleeping bag and mat can be placed inside of, effectively becoming a very small tent. It is made from breathable, waterproof fabric and has an opening for your head. Evidently, using a bivy bag instead of a tent will reduce weight and save space in your pack. They are also quicker and easier to set up, result in less condensation, yet give the same amount of protection from the elements that tents give.

What are popular camping tent brands?

The list below contains some of the most popular brands of camping tents.

  • REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
  • MSR (Mountain Safety Research)
  • Big Agnes
  • Marmot
  • The North Face
  • Coleman
  • Kelty
  • NEMO Equipment
  • Eureka!
  • Black Diamond

What size of camping tent do you need?

The size of camping tent you need will depend on a variety of factors. But as a general rule every adult camper in your group needs a minimum of 13 square feet of floor space, or for an optimal comfortable camping experience 15 to 16 square feet meaning you can also accommodate some gear in there with you as well. All tents will be marketed for as many people as possible so it is always best to look at floor size rather than the suggested occupancy when choosing.

How big is a 4-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a four-person tent is between roughly 55 to 65 square feet (16.7m² to 19.8m²).

How big is a 6-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a six-person tent is between roughly 85 to 100 square feet (25.9m² to 30.5m²).

How big is a 8-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a eight-person tent is between roughly 120 to 135 square feet (36.6m² to 41.2m²).

How big is a 10-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a ten-person tent is between roughly 150 to 180 square feet (45.7m² to 54.9m²).

How big is a 12-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a twelve-person tent is roughly 180+ square feet (54.9m²+).

How big is a 5-person camping tent?

The average floor size for a five-person tent is between roughly 70 to 80 square feet (21.4m² to 24.4m²).

What makes a tent better suited to specific weather conditions?

The structural design, types of materials and fabric used, as well as the various features of a tent all contribute to its appropriateness for certain weather conditions.

What camping tents are best suited for rain and wind?

The characteristics of a tent best suited for wind and rain include the following.

  • Waterproof materials such as treated polyester or ripstop nylon
  • Waterproof rating of at least 1500 mm to 3000 mm
  • Low-profile design
  • Double-wall
  • Taped seams
  • Waterproof zippers
  • Full coverage rainfly
  • Sturdy tent poles
  • Reinforced guylines

What is a waterproof camping tent?

A waterproof tent is a camping shelter designed to stop water from entering the structure. This is done via the use of fabrics treated to be waterproof and design features at weak points such as seamed seals and waterproof zippers.

What features do camping tents for heavy rain have?

The most important features to look for in tents for heavy rain include a rainfly and inner canopy wall waterproof rating of 1500 mm and a rating of 4000 to 8000 mm for the groundsheet. Having a bathtub floor with raised sides further helps to keep water out whilst quick-drying, waterproof materials for the entire tent structure are necessary.

What features do family camping tents for bad weather have?

Features to look for in a larger family camping tent for bad weather are basically the same as those required for smaller tents designed for these weather conditions. With a larger-sized tent, however, going for a dome-like structure is especially important since this will make the tent more aerodynamic against strong winds.

What camping tents are best suited for cold conditions?

Due to harsher weather conditions tents that are designed for colder seasons and climates typically have excellent insulation, are highly wind resistant and waterproof, and made from extremely durable materials.

What is a 4-season camping tent?

A so-called 4-season camping tent is designed to withstand harsh winter conditions including heavy snows, high winds, and cold temperatures. Although called 4-season this type of tent is definitely unsuitable for the summer months and may still be too insulated to be comfortable in the spring or fall.

What do budget 4-season camping tents compromise on?

With anything budget there will always be compromise. For a budget 4-season tent this may be missing out on features such as enhanced ventilation, snow flaps, less robust seam sealing, carrying extra weight, or using lower waterproof-rated materials.

What features are important in an extreme cold weather camping tent?

The important features to have in an extreme cold weather tent include the following.

  • High quality, durable reinforced fabric
  • Strong poles and stakes to withstand heavy snowfall
  • Snow flaps to stop snow blowing in
  • Insulating inner tent layer
  • Multiple guy lines and attachment points
  • Geodesic or dome shape

What are camping tents with stove jacks?

A stove jack is a heat-resistant opening located in the roof or sidewall of a tent. A tent with a stove jack can therefore safely accommodate a wood-burning stove or heater inside the tent whilst allowing harmful gases to easily escape.

What are camping tent stoves?

A tent stove is a portable, compact heating device, usually a wood-burning stove, specifically designed to use in a tent for extra warmth and comfort in colder weather.

What is a camping tent heater?

A camping heater is a portable, compact heating device, typically run on propane or electricity, specifically designed to use in a tent for extra warmth and comfort in colder weather.

Why is it important to insulate a tent?

For reasons of comfort, safety, and protection from the elements outside tent insulation is an important factor to consider when camping, particularly in winter. Insulating your tent helps prevent convective heat loss, traps body heat, lowers wind chill, reduces condensation, and helps with sound dampening.

What to use to heat a tent?

There are a variety of ways to supplement the heat in your tent including the following.

  • Electric radiator
  • Electric blankets 
  • Thermal blankets
  • Electric fan heaters/space heaters
  • Stove jack tents
  • Diesel heater
  • Catalytic heater

How to stay warm in a tent?

There are numerous supplementary ways to stay warm in your tent including the following.

  • Hot water bottles
  • Heated pads
  • Insulated sleeping gear
  • Layering clothes
  • Insulate tent floor
  • Layer bedding with blankets
  • Do a pre-sleep body warm-up
  • Have a hot drink

How to keep cool when camping in hot weather?

There are a variety of camping products you can buy to help keep you cool in warm weather. These include well-ventilated hot weather-specific tents, AC units, fans, and cooling pads. Pitching your tent in the shade, near water (if there aren’t mosquitos), or sleeping in a hammock will also help to keep you cool.

What are camping tents with AC ports?

A camping shelter with an AC port is designed with a built-in opening or flap to accommodate a portable air conditioning unit through the wall of the tent.

What is a camping tent air conditioner?

A camping tent air conditioner is a specialized AC unit that is compatible with a tent with an AC port. An AC unit for camping has to be compact, portable, lightweight, and will typically run on batteries or from an electrical power source such as a generator.

What features does a hot weather tent need?

A hot weather tent can have a number of features that enhance comfort during hot days and nights including the following.

  • Mesh panel and windows
  • Breathable material
  • Reflective coatings
  • Awnings for shade
  • Multiple doors
  • Rainfly adjustability
  • Dark-room technology

What tents are best for desert camping?

Features that can make a tent more suitable for desert camping, as well as those listed above for a hot weather tent, include the following.

  • Tight zippers
  • Well seamed seals
  • UV-resistant fabrics
  • Geodesic or dome design against sandstorms
  • Extended awnings

What types of camping tent fan are there?

There are various kinds of camping tent fan that have different power sources or are positioned differently within the tent. These include battery-operated fans, USB fans, rechargeable fans, AC-powered fans, clip-on fans, hanging ceiling fans, tower fans, and handheld fans.

What is a pop-up camping canopy?

Typically used for socializing rather than sleeping in, a pop-up camping canopy is a poled structure with fabric stretched over the roof area. The walls, if there are any at all, may or may not be covered in fabric but typically these will be made of mesh. A pop-up canopy is easy and quick to set-up and take down as the poled structure is pre-attached to the fabric.

Why do tents get really hot?

The main reason your tent gets warmer is primarily due to solar gain. When sunlight enters a tent through the insulating exterior fabric the heat is trapped inside creating a greenhouse effect.

How to prevent condensation in your tent?

Waking up to a tent filled with condensation is unpleasant and can easily be reduced with some of the following techniques.

  • Ventilate with open windows or mesh panels
  • Pitch on higher ground 
  • Store wet gear outside
  • Use a groundsheet
  • Wipe tent surfaces in the morning

What to use a tarp for when camping?

A camping tarp is extremely versatile and can be used as a sun shelter, wind break, groundsheet, rainfly, cooking area, storage cover, emergency shelter or makeshift sleeping pad.

What is a camping tarp?

A camping tarp is a lightweight waterproof sheet made from a durable, waterproof material such as nylon or polyester. They often have grommets and loops at their edges and corners so they can be easily attached to trees, poles, or stakes.

What features to look for in a camping tarp?

Some important features to look for in a camping tarp include the following.

  • Ripstop nylon or polyester 
  • Reinforced grommets or loops
  • Reinforced edges
  • A basic square or rectangular shape is most versatile 
  • Size depends on what you want to use it for

What ways are there to make a tarp tent?

There are several configurations to make a tarp tent including an A-frame, lean-to-tarp-shelter, diamond fly, and tree-free A-frame.

Why use a tarp over your tent?

Using a camping tarp used over a tent can be done for several reasons. It can provide extra protection from wind, rain, and sun, create extra covered space to store gear in or for cooking under, and can provide more privacy.

Why put a tarp under your tent?

The simple act of placing a camping tarp under your tent has numerous benefits. It adds an extra layer of protection, waterproofing, and insulation between your tent and the ground. It also helps prevent condensation on the floor and is easier to wipe clean than the tent itself.

Why use a footprint under your tent?

A tent footprint is shaped to your specific tent and is therefore more easily and quickly attached to give a more secure, better fit. Footprints are also generally lighter than a tarp, however a tarp will usually be more durable and robust.

What to know about pitching a camping tent?

Pitching a camping tent is easy when you know how! Make sure to have a practice run-through at home so you feel confident when you get to your campsite and check your tent contents before you set off to make sure you none of the parts are broken or missing.

What camping tent stakes to use in different terrain?

What kind of terrain you are camping on will determine what kind of tent stakes to use. For grass or soil traditional Y-shaped pegs work well. For rocky or compact soil heavy-duty metal stakes are required. Sandy or loose ground will need sand or snow stakes which have a wide surface area to anchor in well to soft, loose ground.

What are tent guy lines for?

Guy lines are ropes or cords attached to the tent structure. They anchor and stabilize a tent on the ground and also help minimize any potential sagging of tent fabric which assists with exterior water runoff.

How do you use guy lines pitching a tent?

When pitching a tent the guy lines, if not already attached, need to be tied to the guy line loops on the tent. Make sure there is enough length plus some slack to reach the intended pitching point on the ground. Then hammer the tent peg into the ground at a 45-degree angle away from your tent and attach the other end of the guy line to the peg. Finally, adjust the tension of the guy line till taut.

How do you set up a tent?

Here are the main steps needed to set up a tent.

  • Choose a clear, flat, level spot
  • Lay out the groundsheet
  • Lay tent on top, door facing away from wind
  • Roughly peg out the corners of the tent
  • Assemble poles and thread through sleeves
  • Peg out the rest of the tent
  • Attach and peg out tent rain fly

What mistakes are made pitching a tent?

The most common mistakes made when pitching a tent include the following.

  • Pitching in the wrong place – uneven ground, rocks, too near water, under branches
  • Not following the instructions
  • Over and under-tensioning
  • Using the wrong tent stakes
  • Ignoring wind direction

What to know about tent maintainence?

For the longevity of your tent regular maintainance is essential. This includes cleaning, repairs, and how it is stored in between uses.

Are all tents waterproof?

Whilst all tents are water resistant, they aren’t all waterproof. The surface of a water-resistant fabric will be treated so that it causes any moisture on its surface to bead up. These tents are suitable for keeping out a light drizzle but wouldn’t stand up to a heavy downpour. Waterproof tents are made with thicker fabrics or with multi-layers giving the tent a higher waterproofing capability. These tents also have design features such as taped seams and water-resistant zippers to keep out water at more vulnerable sections of a tent.

Is there a tent waterproof rating system?

Tent waterproof ratings are determined using a hydrostatic head test which measures the ability of a fabric to resist water penetration. This test measures the water pressure that can be exerted on the tent fabric before water starts to soak through it. For example, a hydrostatic head rating of 2,000mm means that this fabric can withstand approximately 6.5 feet (2,000mm) of water column before it will fail and start leaking.

Why apply waterproofing spray to your camping tent?

Due to general use, UV exposure, and other environmental factors the waterproof coating on a tent will degrade over time. It is therefore recommended to periodically apply a waterproofing spray, particularly to vulnerable areas like the stitching and seams, to restore and improve the waterproof capability of the tent fabric.  

How often do you need to waterproof a tent?

How often you need to re-waterproof your tent will depend on its general usage, fabric type, and the general weather conditions and terrain type you use it in. A general guideline is to re-waterproof a tent every 24 to 36 months if you only use it a few times a year or once every 12 months if you use your tent more frequently. It is advised to regularly check your tent for leaks and fabric failure anyway.

How to waterproof a tent?

To waterproof a tent make sure it is firstly free from any mud or debris, cleaned, and dried. It is also important to choose a waterproofing product compatible with your tent’s fabric (mainly silicone-treated or polyurethane coated fabric) then follow these steps.

  • Pick a dry, warm day
  • Pitch or lay out your tent
  • Test a small area
  • After testing, spray the entire tent with the treatment including seams and stitching
  • Let the tent dry fully
  • Reapply as needed

How often do you need to waterproof a canvas tent?

Regardless of use it is advised to waterproof a canvas tent every 6 to 12 months.

How to waterproof a canvas tent?

To waterproof a canvas tent make sure it is firstly free from any mud or debris, cleaned, and dried. It is also important to choose a waterproofing product compatible with your tent’s canvas fabric and then follow these steps.

  • Pick a dry, warm day
  • Lay out your tent
  • Liberally apply the product to the side showing
  • Let the tent dry fully
  • Repeat the process on the untreated side of the tent and dry
  • Test with a hose
  • Reapply product if still letting water in
  • Dry completely before storing

What is seam sealant for a camping tent?

Seam sealant is an adhesive product used to waterproof the seams of a tent. The seams are where the various sections of fabric are stitched together. This creates points in a tents structure that are more vulnerable to water leakage and therefore require extra protection.

How to use camping tent seam sealant?

To use seam sealant make sure the tent is firstly free from any mud or debris, cleaned, and dried. It is also important to choose a seam sealing product that is compatible with your tent’s fabric then follow these steps.

  • Pick a dry, warm day
  • Pitch your tent
  • Apply seam sealant over, under, and on top of seams
  • Remember to also saturate any tabs and guy out points
  • Let the tent dry and sealant cure for 2 – 4 hours
  • Test seams for waterproofing
  • Reapply as needed

What repairs are needed for tents?

Common repairs needed for tents include the following. 

  • Leaking seams
  • Tears and holes in the fabric
  • Broken or stuck zippers
  • Bent or broken poles
  • Rainfly tears
  • Loose or broken grommets and fasteners
  • Torn mesh windows and doors
  • Loss of elasticity in cords
  • Groundsheet/floor tears

What to pack for tent repairs when camping?

Essential items to pack in case you need to repair your tent include the following.

  • Repair tape or adhesive patches
  • Seam sealant
  • Spare guy lines and tensioners
  • Sewing kit
  • Elastic cord
  • Duct tape
  • Grommet kit
  • Multi-tool or scissors
  • Adhesive glue
  • Waterproofing spray

How to wash your tent?

Keeping your tent clean is important, to do so carry out the following steps.

  • Pitch your tent, or hang on a clothes line or over chairs
  • Spot clean any dirt or stains with a soft brush or sponge and mild soap solution
  • Wipe tent down with mild soap solution
  • Rinse off entire tent thoroughly
  • Leave to dry in the sun

How often does your tent need washed?

Fully clean your tent at least once every 12 months.

Why is it important to store your tent correctly?

Correctly storing your tent is important to increase its longevity for a number of reasons. Chiefly to protect it from mold, mildew, or UV exposure, to help retain waterproofing in the fabric, and to preserve the integrity of components such as the poles and stakes.

How to store your tent?

After cleaning and drying your camping tent store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, and preferably not in a compression sack. To further protect your tent when in storage it is a good idea to keep it in waterproof containers to prevent potential damage from moisture and pests. Keep the fabric seperate from other components such as poles, stakes, and guylines to avoid causing any tears.

What are camping tent basics to know before pitching up?

Before choosing you camping tent and bringing it home there are a number of important things to be clued up on including the terminology used to describe tent features, how season ratings work, and how to make sure you get a good nights sleep when you do finally set up camp.

What is useful terminology to know when buying a tent?

Some tent terminology that is helpful to know when purchasing a tent includes season ratings, hydrostatic head, bathtub floor, DWR, and seamed seals.

What are taped seams on a camping shelter?

When the seams on a tent are taped this means a polyurethane film has been inserted under the seams where needle marks have been made to prevent water seeping through. 

How are taped seams different from sealed seams?

Both taped and sealed seams help improve the waterproofing of a tent but in slightly different ways. Seamed seals have an adhesive applied which fills the needle holes made by the stitching to create a water impermeable layer. Taped seams use a waterproof tape over the seam stitching to create the waterproof barrier.

What are tent season ratings?

Tents can be classified by using tent season ratings. This doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific season that a tent is suitable for but more their suitability in different weather conditions, which roughly correlate to specific seaons. One or two-season tents are better suited for milder, warmer temperatures with little to no rainfall. Three to four-season tents will be heavier duty and more suited to colder and wetter weather conditions.

Can a 4-season rated tent be used all year round?

No, a 4-season tent will be far too insulated to be comfortable to use in summer months.

How to sleep comfortably in a tent?

There are several things you can do to sleep comfortably in a tent. Firstly, pitch the tent on an even surface free of debris. Next, your sleep system will play a massive role, particularly the type of mat, cot, or air mattress you decide to use. Finally, the conditions you sleep in, such as having good ventilation, being dry, and keeping warm enough, will ensure a good nights sleep.