Quick Reference Camping Tent Buying Guide

Quick Reference Camping Tent Buying Guide

We highlight some important features you should look for in your next camping tent.

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One of the most traditional and fun outdoor activities you can do is camping. Camping has been around for centuries but people still ask what is the best camping tent to buy and how do you know if you are purchasing the right one. There are a lot of different variables that one should consider when purchasing a tent, but fortunately, there is a lot of information out there to help you make a conscious and intelligent decision. Camping tents come in many shapes and sizes and you will need to understand each of their uses and attributes in order to make the best decision for your camping experience.

Intended Use

First, it is important to understand what are you using this camping tent for. Do you need one that is lightweight because you are going to just be standard ground, or are you going to need a more durable tent because you are going high in the mountains with varying wind speeds? It is not always lucrative or important to grab the biggest, most expensive tent you can buy. Sometimes, the standard run-of-the-mill tent can be right what you need. Keep the use-case of the tent in mind when browsing different tents to make the determination in what is right for you.


Weight in tents is another attribute that needs to be considered. There are tents that will tell you right on the box what their purpose is. If you are backpacking, normally the tent will have that information on there so you know it is a heavier tent to allow for the average backpacker to sleep with more gear. If you find yourself buying a camping tent for the express purpose of hiking, you will want something ultralightweight because it will be on you the entire time. This is not a variable to consider if you are car camping, which basically means bringing your car with you while you are camping, because you can store the heavier tent on the inside.

The size of the camping tent you grab can also be a very important variable. For example, if you find yourself camping for extended periods or with multiple people than you may want a large tent. These large tents can even come with separate zipped rooms inside, and a mesh floor for a flooring-like atmosphere on the inside. If it is just you camping, or maybe just one other person, a smaller camping tent to nail down may be just what you need. More room can also mean more gear, but more room also means a large price tag.

Camping tents are interesting in themselves because they can come in varying degrees of portability and use. For example, when people think of camping tents they more than likely think of your standard triangle tent but there are even large dome tents that exist now to help you view the outdoors and provide a roomier atmosphere than normal. There are also tents that have eight people in mind with mesh-like doors to access. The type of tent you buy will certainly be dependent on the number of people coming and the purpose of the trip, but do not go down the trip of spending more money than necessary when your standard, cheap tent would have done the job just fine.


Paying attention to the weather is very important when deciding on the tent to buy. If you know you are camping in a region that has more rainfall than others, you will want the best waterproof tent for rain that is more durable and can provide adequate shelter. If you are camping in a dry region that is mostly sunny with high temperatures, you will want a tent that supports reflection and has proper ventilation for when the wind does decide to come through. These are all important factors to remember when battling the harsh atmosphere of the outdoors.

Raindrops on tent

An interesting attribute when it comes to the world of camping tents is seasonality. Seasonality essentially means your tent was made to handle multiple or few seasons of the year. There are 3-season tents and 4-season tents. The most popular choice among these two are the 3-season tents as these tents were intended to keep you dry whether it be through rain or snow, shield you from the many different bugs that exist in the outdoors, and provide a level of privacy you are most likely accustomed to. 4-season tents, on the other hand, are made for someone who tends to camp with substantial amounts of snow and heavy weather ahead. These are for the people who scale mountains or high several miles on high landscapes. 4-season tents are most likely not going to be what you are after so 3-season tents are a term to keep in mind during your search.

When it comes to waterproofing your tent, there are plenty of options out there. For one, you have the rainfly which is a cover that fits over the roof of your tent. This cover not only adds a little warmth to your tent but also bounces that rain right off of the tent to land on the floor around you. To enhance that rainfly and make your tent even more waterproof, you can even purchase a spray that acts as a repellent. There are durable water repellents that exist that helps repel the water and keep your tent nice and dry during hard rain showers. All you have to do to adhere your durable water repellent is first to spray down the tent with clean water, apply the durable water repellent spray over the exterior of your rainfly, wait a couple minutes and wipe off the excess coating, and let the tent dry. Once dry, you are protected against the wet elements and good to survive in stormy weather. There are also other things you can do to keep your tent waterproof, such as sealing the seams and refreshing the inside of your rainfly with a urethane coating, but most people will go with a durable water repellent in order to keep that rain at bay.

Setting up tent rain fly

All in all, what you choose to buy and how you waterproof your tent will be up to you. There are multiple ways to do it and multiple tents to buy and none are the wrong choice. Figure out what works best for your upcoming trip and make the best decision for you.

Durabilty and Ease of Use

Durability is definitely something that you will want to consider. There are camping tents that that have a more leather-like material, or even some that have a harder alloy than your mesh tent. These camping tents are created for someone who does camping for sport rather than just for recreation. Keep durability in mind if you want to save yourself hundreds of dollars as not everyone needs the thickest, hardest tent out there.

A lot of beginner campers and hikers might not consider this, but the ease of use is something you definitely want to keep in mind before purchasing a tent. There are all sorts of tents that are highly geared towards expert campers rather than the novice one. There are some shelters that come with multiple rooms, windows, special tools to nail them to certain flooring, and even ones that come in multiple pieces. Keep that in mind when searching for tents as you may find yourself with the perfect tent that is too complicated to put together alone.

To help determine the ease of use of a given shelter, one thing that many people forget to do is test the tent out for themselves. Just going to the store and reading the outside label of a box is not going to do much for you. Actually opening the tent, getting inside, seeing the inner mechanisms of the tent, and pitching it yourself is going to be the best thing you can do before committing to a purchase. You may notice it is bigger than what you wanted, or maybe even more cramped. It could be too stuffy inside rather than the breeze-filled tent you thought you were getting. Much like a car, test driving a tent can save you hours of research and help you commit to a more solid purchase. With generous return policies from online stores and Amazon, rest assured that if a product doesn't live up to your expectations an easy process to return the tent and find one that will suit your needs is easier than ever.

Connecting tent poles

In line with ease of use, you will want to keep in mind what your tent uses as tent poles. The tent pole structure is essentially the skeleton of your tent and the way your tent stays in place while you are camping inside. More difficult, intricate tent poles exist in order to increase stability and security but can often be too confusing for the average camper. Easier tent pole setup may not keep your camping tent in place like the more complex ones can, but it is certainly quicker to put up and easier to get started on your camping trip. These types of camping tents will have fewer poles to put down which allows for a faster setup and faster pickup. These tents will also sometimes use clips, and poles so you have a level of strength and ventilation with your experience.

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