How to Decide What Tent to Buy

Camping with Kids






The three main things you want to take into consideration when deciding what tent to buy are how many people need to fit into the tent, how serious you are about camping, and where and when you plan to camp.  Are you camping alone or with family? Do you plan to make a campground your regular vacation destination or just want to try it this one time? Will you be camping in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow, or only when the sun is shining? Answers to these questions will help you decide what is the best tent to buy.

What Tent Size to Buy?

The number of people is the easy part. If you are camping alone, you onlyWhat Tent to BuyCredit: Amazon need a one-man tent. For camping with family, then you need a tent that is sized for your family size. Keep in mind that the sizes on tents are usually a tight squeeze. A four-person tent will fit four people, maybe even five. But you will be close together and have little room for your duffle bags and other personal items. If you’d like a little more space, opt for a tent one size up. If you have a family of four, you’ll probably be happier in a five-person tent rather than a four-person tent. This also gives space for your kids’ friends to join you on camping trips.

Even within the per person rating, you’ll have several other options for tent size. You can get tents that are tall enough to stand in and with extra rooms. If you plan to camp where it’s warm and the campground has bathrooms you can use for changing, then opt for a small tent to save money because you probably won’t be spending much time inside the tent. If you plan to camp where it can pour down rain at anytime of the year or need a changing room, then opt for a more comfortable tent you can stand up in and has multiple rooms. Look at the peak height rating on the tent specifications. This refers to the tallest point in the tent.

Camping Tent Materials 

How sturdy of a tent you need will depend on the camping conditions and how often you plan to camp. Of course, the sturdier the tent, the more expensive it will be. However, a cheap tent will not last as long or hold up to wind or rain. A good rain storm can flood a cheaper tent.  If you camp infrequently and only in the best of conditions, buy a less expensive tent. If you camp regularly and don’t check the weather report first, then you will want a tent with stronger aluminum poles, higher quality thicker fabric, a rain fly, and well-sealed seams.

Best Tent to Buy RecoWhat is the best tent to buy?Credit: Amazonmmendations

Coleman and Columbia brands are two of the biggest names in camping gear. Their products are known to be of high quality, but also in the more affordable price range. If you are looking for a large family camping tent with two rooms, the Columbia Cougar Flats II Family Dome Tent is highly rated. Large enough to almost fill a two-car garage, this tent comes with many extras such as cup holders, and a netted loft for extra storage. It fits up to 10 people. Another top rated family tent is the Coleman 6-Person Instant Tent, which has fewer extras but is also more budget friendly. For those inexperienced with setting up tents (or experienced with the ordeal putting up a tent can turn into), the Coleman 6-Person Instant Tent is one large piece and can be set up in just a couple of minutes.

Where to Buy a Tent

You can easily find camping tents at any discount retailer, such as Target or WalMart, online such as Amazon, and at specialty camping retailers such as REI or Camping World. At a discount retailer, the tents are only stocked seasonally and there will be limited options, but prices are often cheap compared to specialty stores. Online you can browse the specs and many reviews from your home, but not get to see the tent until you buy it. Specialty camping stores will have tents year round, and offer specialty brands you may not be able to find elsewhere. You can also see some of the tents set up. But expect to pay a higher price for the higher quality tents at camping gear retailers.

Final Tent Buying Tips

Once you’ve decided what tent to buy, purchase your tent at the end of the summer season or even in winter. You will find better deals off-season than during the summer months for camping tents. Also, if you aren’t sure about investing in a tent, you can instead rent a tent and other camping gear to test the product or save money.