In terms of camping comfort and safety, having the proper equipment is at the top of the list. And the right tent is very important for everyone's safety, whether camping or backpacking.
You need to limit your exposure to the extreme weather conditions, so the choice of a tent is a crucial decision for all campers and backpackers. What good is that down mummy bag if your tent leaks or the fly becomes loose in the wind?
Here are the most important considerations to make when you are learning how to choose a tent:
1. Poles inside or poles outside? The best backpacker tents have been refined over the years and the finest quality backpacker tents feature poles under tension on the outside of the tent. Because this design has worked so well, many family size tents now feature these kinds of poles.
2. Separate fly attached by clip-on apparatus or rig your own with a tarp? Definitely choose the tent that has a custom fitting fly that clips on. These are superior to any fly you can create with a tarp and bungee cords. Because their shape perfectly matches the shape of the tent, there is little chance of wind-blown rain entering the tent.
3. Air-tight or mesh top? Can you even buy a tent without a mesh top these days? Enough people reported the inside condensation build-up to the tent manufacturers that they listened and your best tents in every price range have a mesh 'skylight' so the tent breathes under an attached fly. Never choose a tent that is advertised as air-tight. You will get rained on from the inside of your tent from condensation.
4. 'Sleeps Comfortably' ratings? Always choose a tent that claims to have room for one more person than will use the tent. I swear they are measuring children when the manufacturers claim their tent will sleep a certain number of people. If there are two of you, get a tent rated for three or four people.
5. Plastic stakes or metal? Always go for metal, and the longer the better. I often purchase a set of replacement stakes longer and thicker than those that come with the tent and take them with me on each trip. After a dozen trips, guess what? Yep, all the original stakes are bent, broken, or lost.
6. Waterproof fabric or canvas? Do they even make canvas tents anymore? If so, don't buy one. Lightweight nylon is the way to go. Waterproof it yourself with a spray-on product and be sure to do the seams three times.
If you follow those basic recommendations, you have learned how to choose a tent for any situation. Enjoy your new tent!
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