Where Do I Start?
The key thing for anyone choosing a tent is to think hard about "What do I want to use it for?" before buying.
A good exercise is to get a notepad and pen, and list when, where and with who you are likely to camp. Then look through the 5 coniderations below and rank what is important to you.
This should narrow down the range of tents you need to consider and make buying the right tent a lot easier.
The Budget for your Tent is really important and best to have an idea of what you can spend right at the outset.
You can buy a tent from tens of dollars if you are budgeting to thousands of dollars.
Pick a budget that suits you and stick to it. Like everything the more tents you see the inclination is to stretch just that little further. Unless you are planning to camp in extreme conditions you very rarely need to spend a fortune.
2) How Water Proof A Tent Do You Need?
Not all tents are truly waterproof - many are water resistant which will keep you dry in a light shower but not much more. No one likes geting wet and so most people buy as waterproof as they can afford. The decision as to "How Water Proof A Tent to get" again depends on what you are going to use it for. Some considerations should be;
- Is the climate where you will be camping wet?
- Will I really go camping if I expect it to rain heavily?
- Am I camping in the wild or in reality will I cut my losses and go to the car / a hostel / home if the weather is miserable?
An important decision as Water proofing will effect the price and weight of your tent.
Amazon Price: $219.99 $129.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 7, 2013)
3) How Big Does The Tent Need To Be?
This is one of the most crucial decisions and again comes down to "What am I using the tent for?"
Length - Of key importance is how long is the tent on the ground... If this is shorter than you then don't buy it!
Height - If you have to carry the tent or you plan to camp in cooler climates you probably want a lower ceiling height to reduce weight and area to heat. If you are pitching the tent and living in it for a few days though you ideally want to be able to stand in it - the difference in being able to do this in comfort is vast!
1 man, 2 man etc. - A classic beginner error in picking a tent is forgetting that they also have kit. The manufacturers listing of 1 man, 2 man etc is usually based on the width of one standard roll mat. If there are two of you and two rucksacks for example then you probably need an extra roll mat width or a storage area in the tent.
4) What Weight Should The Tent Be?
The key consideration here is "Are you carrying it and for how far?"
Tents range in weight from "microlights" (usually below 2kg) right up to large family tents that could fill a car trunk.
As weight goes down generally either price will go up or durability will reduce. If you don't need your gear to be extrememely light then best not buy th lightest available.
Refer to your notes on "What will you use it for?" to educate your decision.
5) How Many Seasons Will I Use It?
You will also find purchases are available in different seasons. Usually the inclination is to buy something you can use in all seasons - but is this necessary for you?
With a big enough budget many campers would buy something that is seen at the pole during expeditions but if they are only going to take it out for fishing in the summer it isn't required and just isn't the right choice.
On the flip side there are few things that will confirm a wrong decision more blatantly that the wrong choice of camping accommodation!
Amazon Price: $159.78 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 7, 2013)
Further Planning Before Buying
I have tried to keep as brief as possible to help. This has provided a very basic overview and hopefully helped narrow your search.
It is a good idea to shortlist 3 options and then before buying;
1) Read reviews of previous buyers
2) Look on camping forums for discussions on your choices
3) Search YouTube for video of people using your options.
There can seem to much choice out there but you won't regret getting into camping! Decide what you will use it for what you can pay, look through the other considerations here and you won't go far wrong.