Tips on choosing a camping tent.

How do you choose the right camping tent ?

Coleman Weather Master Screened Six Person Camping Tent
Coleman Weather Master Screened Six Person Camping Tent

A camping tent is an essential part of your camping gear. When choosing a camping tent you will have quite a number of options to consider.

Capacity or Size

Sleeping capacity means the number of campers that can sleep comfortably in the camping tent. However, you need to allow extra space for your camping gear or any extras that you may have.

Generally speaking I would add at least one or possibly two to the tent size. For example if there was two people sleeping in the tent I would advise you to look at four person camping tents. If it was for four people consider six person camping tents and so on.

As a general guide  take note of the floor dimensions of each of the camping tents that you are considering . This would give you an idea of how much space you have left over for storage after you take into account the amount of room needed for sleeping bags or other bedding and extras.

The extra space should also provide you with plenty of room for everyone to be in the camping tent at the same time in case of wet weather.
If possible look for a tent with a vestibule. It is a great spot to store your boots, wet clothes and other gear, which means you will have more room inside the tent.

Weight

MSR

If you’re backpacking into a camping destination on your own, you typically need a lightweight tent that weighs less than 5 pounds, where as if you’re car camping, don’t worry about the weight, go for extra room and comfort.

MSR Hubba Hubba NX Two Person Lightweight Tent

Conditions or Season

Summer camping tents are ideal if you are camping only during the hotter part of the year. The fabric is light and there is plenty of mesh which provides plenty of ventilation. They will also have a rain fly that allows for maximum protection and ventilation.

MSR

Three season Tents are suitable for the most of the year. They are structured to handle strong winds and heavy rain  but  not  heavy snow loads. They  provide good shelter from the cold conditions and are a good choice for people that do a lot of camping. Three season tents are a little heavier than a summer tent and should include heavier zippers and a full rain fly.
Four season camping tents are heavier and designed to withstand the heavier snow falls and extreme weather conditions.

ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 Person Tent

Ventilation

It is important that camping tents have plenty of ventilation, especially during the warmer months of the year. If you have the choice between single wall camping tents and double walled camping tents go with the double walled.

It might cost you a bit more but it will be worth it in the long run.

Doors

MSR

A  one door tent is lighter than a two door tent, but has the disadvantage of causing people to crawl over each other to get in and out.

Two doors are obviously more convenient, especially when each door has its own vestibule, enabling each camper to have their own storage space.

ALPS Mountaineering Taurus Four Person Tent – Two Doors & Vestibules

Rain Fly

A good rain fly is vital to staying dry and comfortable in wet weather. Invest in a tent with a FULL rain fly. The more the rain fly covers , the more weatherproof your camping tent will be.

A full rain fly will keep your tent drier from the inside out as well as letting your tent breathe.

Tarps and Footprints

Before you set your camping tent up it would be advisable to put a footprint down to protect the tent. A footprint is a tarp that is placed under camping tents to protect them from any water or wear and tear.

When you place a tarp under the tent  it must be slightly smaller than the tent floor. If the tarp hangs out from beneath the tent water will run off the wall of the tent and under the floor of the tent.

Another option is to place a larger tarp inside your tent. As the tarp is wider and longer than the floor of your tent, the edges will curl up preventing a wet night if it rains. Ideally you could use both tarps. One as a footprint for wear and tear of the tent floor and the larger tarp inside the tent.

Tips on Choosing a Sleeping Bag

How to choose the right sleeping bag?

Grizzly Black Pine Winter Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag is an essential part of your camping gear but how do you choose the right one when there are so many options to consider. The three main options are as follows.

1.Temperature Rating

Sleeping Bags are labeled with a temperature rating which is designed to assist you with the lowest temperature that you are likely to be camping in. Temperature ratings are only a guide as it also depends on other factors such as, if you are a cold or warm sleeper, the clothes that you are wearing and the effectiveness of your sleeping pad.

Invest in a sleeping bag that is rated for the worst conditions that you would be likely to endure, then subtract 10 to 15 degrees. For example, if the worst temperature that you will be camping in would be 10 degrees, the look for a sleeping bag rated to zero degrees or less. Remember it is better to sleep warmer than it is to sleep colder.

There are also three other ratings on a sleeping bag that you may see.

Comfort – What a standard nights sleep would be like for a woman.

Limit of Comfort – The lowest temperature that a man would need for a comfortable nights sleep.

Extreme – The coldest temperature that you can survive in.

2. Shape or Style

There are generally three different shapes when it comes to choosing a sleeping bag.

Coleman North Rim Extreme Weather Sleeping Bag

Mummy Sleeping Bags are wide at the shoulders and taper down to a narrower width at the feet. Advantages are a snug fit with less heat loss and a lighter weight. The disadvantage is that there will be less room to move about.

Coleman North Rim Extreme Weather Three Season Sleeping Bags

Rectangular Sleeping Bags are the same width at the top as they are at the bottom which gives you more room to move about. A good bag if you are not concerned with the weight.

TETON Sports Celsius 18°C 0°F Three Season Sleeping Bags

Semi Rectangular Sleeping Bags  taper down to the feet like the mummy sleeping bags but not as much. They provide you with that bit of extra room at the foot of the sleeping bag.

Coleman Big Basin Extreme Weather 15°F Sleeping Bags

3. Insulation

Another main choice.  Synthetic or Down filled sleeping bag ?

Synthetic Sleeping Bags

  • Heavier  and bulkier
  • Cheaper than Down
  • Insulation properties when wet
  • Easy to care for
  • Does not last as long
  • Hypoallergenic

Good if you could be camping in wet conditions. If you don’t plan on being a regular camper then a synthetic filled bag is a good choice.

Down Sleeping Bags

  • Lighter than synthetic
  • More expensive
  • Longer lasting
  • No insulation when wet
  • Warmer than synthetic
  • Highly compressible
  • Harder to care for
  • Not hypoallergenic

A down filled sleeping bag is a good long term choice especially if you are a hiker and are concerned about the weight.

There are a few other options to consider such as the length of the sleeping bag, full length zippers and other extra features, but the main options to consider are temperature rating, shape and the type of insulation.