I've always been a RV camper, not a tent camper. The few experiences that I had with a tent when I was growing up and into my young dating life were pretty awful. No air flow, leaky, broken, and I even woke up in a wind storm with the tent flexing and flapping inches from my face. I can tell you I pretty much hated tent camping with those experiences.
I will admit I have changed my tune, a little. There are still comforts of the RV that is missing, but I have learned the value in a tent. The $39 tent that you buy at Walmart is going to give a lesser quality experience, while something in the $300 dollar range will protect you from the elements much better. Tent prices range from $39 to $600, so how do you decide and make a educated decision on what works and fits your budget.
How Big of a Tent
How big does the tent need to be? How many people, dogs and kids will be in attendance on your camping trip. Will you have a lot of gear? Will the gear be dry, or will you want space to air it out? How big are your sleeping mats and sleeping bag?
Depending on how you answered that question helps you understand if you need a 2-person, 4-person or bigger tent. What I have learned is a 4-person tent comfortably fits 2 people with gear and the ability to roll-over! Don't buy a small tent and think there is extra room around the edges, it doesn't work that way. Also consider height for getting dressed and easibility of getting in and out of the doors.
When Will You Use It
When will you use the tent? In the Summer? Spring? Fall? Winter? In the Snow? Sometimes you don't always know these answers, but it is best to be prepared. One of the worst nights in a tent was waking up to a wet matress and sleeping bag after being rained and snowed on all night in a freak mountain storm. I jumped in the truck and turned on the heater!
There are different Seasons that tents are good for. When purchasing, look to see if the tent is good for winter temperatures or if it made for summer temperatures with good air flow. Look to see if it is waterproof or has a fly, knowing there are truly different levels of waterproof. There are 3 Season tents, 3-4 Season tents and 4 Season tents. Of course, the price is going to go up as you increase the seasons protecting you from the harsh environment of winter.
Who has a love hate relationship with tent poles? They are so fun to put together and then kick your butt while you try and slide them through the correct set of holders, oh, those were the wrong ones, time to start over again! Then SNAP! Yes, you know what I'm talking about!
There are different levels of quality of tent poles too. There are different products including wood, fiberglass and plastic. Some of the heavy duty tents utilize some extremely heavy duty poles.
Recently there has been a new trend, that I love. There are pop-up tents where the poles are autolocking and flexible allowing the tent to expand automatically. Some companies like OZTents claim a 3 second tent set-up! These tents offer some entertainment value in putting them away, but once you watch the YouTube tutorial a couple times and practice (preferably before you go on vacation) you will be able to master the technique.
Don't be cheap on a tent. This is one of those luxuries that you will buy and be able to reuse multiple times if you have a great experience!
My final selection? A OzTent Malamoo X-Tra pop-up tent for $249, and wish I had gotten the same tent in the next size up for $399 (click here). There is room for two people with small bags inside and a good amount of gear on the enclosed patio, as long as there isn't any rain or snow. I love that it pops up and everytime I put it away, it makes me laugh. Strickly for your entertainment, here is a video of me testing the tent for the first time...I have gotten MUCH better. 🙂
Author: Charlene Bower
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