How to Choose Backpacking Tents
Because it has such a significant impact on both your budget and your pack weight, the backcountry shelter you pick is one of the most crucial gear purchases you will make throughout your backpacking trip. And, to make matters even more complicated, hiking tents are available in an astonishing range of styles, ranging from minimalist to mansion-like. To make the process of selecting the best backpacking tent more manageable, you may divide it down into the following decision points:
- Capacity: the estimated number of people that will sleep in the room. Seasonality refers to the timing of tent erection in relation to anticipated weather conditions. The ratio of weight:ounces carried to dollars spent
- Livability includes features such as well-placed internal space, simplicity of access, and ease of setup, among others.
Backpacking Tents are available for purchase. Read our roundup of the top backpacking tents of the year for a brief overview of the tents that REI Co-op members have rated as the best of the year. Are you looking for family camping tents or base camp tents instead? See our post, Tents for Camping: What to Look for and How to Choose One.
Video: How to Choose Backpacking Tents
Backpacking tents are classified according to their capacity, which ranges from one to four people. The capacity of most tents is indicated by a number in the name: REI Half Dome 2, for example. Tent interiors are designed to be “cozy” in order to conserve weight. Because there is no industry standard for per-person measurements, the size of a 2-person tent might vary from brand to brand. In addition, lightweight variants are likely to be more compact in design. If your party is larger than typical in size, or if you simply like a little extra room, one option is to look for tents that are one person larger than your group’s size.
Some companies include hints in their names, for as by using the word “plus.” If having greater floor space is vital to you, make sure to examine the particular measurements of the tents you’re considering before making a decision.
Backpacking Tent Seasonality
The most important distinction is between a 3-season tent and a 4-season tent. A three-season tent will be selected by the great majority of hikers, particularly those who are new to the backcountry. Because the worst-case weather circumstances may not be the same for every trip, regular hikers may want to acquire more than one tent for their belongings.
3-Season Backpacking Tents
These tents strike a compromise between the requirement to keep weight down and the need to be able to withstand the vast variety of circumstances that spring, summer, and autumn may throw at you. 3-season tents, when properly set, can endure downpours and light snow, but they are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to severe storms, powerful winds, or heavy snow. The following are the main characteristics:
- A large number of mesh panels to increase ventilation while keeping insects out
- Increase the number of upright walls in order to provide more internal headroom. Reduce the number of poles and use lighter materials to keep the weight down.
Three-Season Backpacking Tents are available for purchase.
Extended-Season Backpacking Tents (3-4 or 3+ Season)
Although designed for summer usage, these tweener tents are also excellent for treks in the early spring and late fall, when snow may be encountered. Traveling to exposed, high-elevation places where snow might surprise you is also an excellent use for these items. The following are the most important characteristics (when compared to pure 3-season models):
- Panels of fabric that may be zip-tied over mesh regions to block out blowing snow and to keep in additional warmth
- One or two more poles (in comparison to a 3-season tent) for added strength
Shop for Backpacking Tents for the Extended Season.
4-Season Mountaineering Tents
They are designed to endure strong winds and heavy snow loads; nevertheless, they have limited ventilation and can get stuffy in mild weather conditions. The following are the main differences between 3-season and extended-season models:
- Increase the number of poles and the number of heavy-duty materials. Designs with rounded domes that can withstand strong winds and avoid flat roof gaps where snow might accumulate
- There may be fewer mesh panels, or there may be zip fabric panels that allow you to cover the mesh panels as necessary. Rainflies that are near to the earth in their reach
Four-season tents can include lightweight single-wall tents with waterproof/breathable walls but no rainfly, which are ideal for warm weather. Because condensation can build up inside a tent in humid circumstances, a single-wall tent is recommended for cold, dry climates. In order to deal with a humid tent inside, see How to Prevent Condensation in a Tent for some helpful hints. Tents for Mountaineering in Four Seasons are available for purchase.
Backpacking Tent Weight
Because the weight of your camping tent accounts for a significant portion of your overall burden, tent designers strive to keep weight as low as possible. The most significant drawbacks in order to reduce weight include having less room, fewer features, and poorer durability over the long term. However, if you shop about, you should be able to find a lightweight tent that is both large and comfy for you and your family. While heavy-duty materials make a tent more durable, ultralight tents may be surprisingly resilient when constructed using lightweight materials.
Also, the word “ultralight” is thrown about a lot by businesses; if every ounce counts, make sure to scrutinize the specifications before making a purchase.
Key Tent Specs
- Only the tent body, rainfly, and poles are considered to be the minimum trail weight
- Anything else is considered to be excess weight. You will most likely bring additional tent-related equipment (e.g., pegs, footprint), but this is the most accurate specification for comparison. Notice that certain ultralight shelters are designed to work without the need for an additional rainfly or tent poles, therefore the minimal trail weights for those shelters will reflect only the basic components that come with those shelters.
- Packaging weight: This is the total weight of the components you receive with your order, which includes the body, rainfly and stakes, as well as any other items such as instructions and the stuff bag pole sack and other extras. This is the maximum weight you’ll be carrying on the path, and this is the least weight you’ll be carrying on the trail.
- Dimensions of the package: The amount of space a tent takes up in a pack has a direct relationship with how simple it is to carry a tent. You may make this space more manageable by dividing up components—for example, have your spouse carry the poles and rainfly while you carry the tent body—and splitting up components. You may also save a few more ounces by leaving the tent storage bag at home when you do this as well.
The majority of hiking tents are constructed with a double-wall construction that comprises a main tent body (also known as the canopy) as well as an outside rainfly for protection from the elements. If you’re a hiker who is concerned with conserving every ounce of your weight, you have a few extra alternatives. Several double-wall tents are available with an ultralight setup option, in which the footprint (which may be purchased separately), poles, and rainfly can all be pitched together without the main tent canopy present.
The term “hammock tent” refers to a sort of hammock that incorporates, at a bare minimum, a tarp-like rainfly as well as insect netting.
Insect shelters: The majority of bug shelters are made of netting and a few poles with no floor.
Backpacking Tent Livability
“Livability” is a general term that refers to qualities that make the time you spend inside your tent more pleasant and convenient. Whether a tent appears to be spacious or confining depends on how you perceive it. Backpacking tents have typically featured sharply slanted walls, little floor area, and little headroom. This is no longer the case. This helped to keep the weight down, but it came at the expense of comfort. Tents now seem considerably more open and inviting as a result of technological advancements in materials and design.
- Then decide which mountain storm you’d want to see: Which one of the following models would you select if you had to sit out a storm for several hours straight?
- Because many tents do not have completely rectangular floors, you may find measurements such as 85″ x 51″/43″ (L x W head/foot) in some cases.
- Floor area: The entire square footage of floor-level space is represented by this value.
- Peak height: No one enjoys bumping their heads while they are getting out of bed in the morning.
- It is significantly more accurate to evaluate this using the test pitch (as mentioned above).
- The more vertical the walls are, the more open the interior of the tent will appear to be.
Additional Features that Improve Tent Livability
Color of the rainfly: Light, brilliant fly colors transfer more light into the inside, making the interior appear brighter. If you are stranded in your tent for a lengthy period of time due to a storm, this will provide the impression of greater space and make it a more comfortable place to stay. Doors: Tent designers spend a lot of time thinking about the shape of the doors, zippers, and other changes, but the most crucial issue is: how many? It’s convenient to have a door for each sleeper. In contrast, opting for a multiperson tent with a single door reduces both weight and expense.
- These rainfly extensions provide a dry and protected storage space for boots and other equipment.
- Most tents feature vestibules, and the size of the vestibule is specified in the tent’s specifications.
- A tent’s ventilation system must be capable of dealing with the moisture that you breath while sleeping.
- In addition, having the ability to roll up rainfly doors or panels helps improve ventilation.
Practicing setting up a tent a few of times before venturing out into the woods is always a good idea. The following characteristics can help you set up your tent no matter where you put it: Freestanding design: This simply means that the tent can stand on its own without the use of stakes, which speeds up setup and makes it simple to reposition—just raise and transfer the tent to a new location. Since of this, most tents are freestanding; however, non-freestanding tents can be lighter because the pole structure does not need to be as strong as a freestanding tent.
- The benefit of hubs is that they eliminate the need for guessing throughout the assembling process.
- Even if there are smaller cross poles that are not connected to the hub, they may be easily detected when the main pole assembly is complete.
- Using pole clips, poles may be connected to tent canopies in a variety of ways, including sleeves, clips, and a combination of the two.
- Pole clips are more lightweight and easy to connect to poles.
Using color labeling to rapidly orient each pole tip to the relevant tent corner, as well as to identify which sleeves or clips correspond with certain pole sections, will save you time and effort. Read How to Set Up a Tent for general setup instructions that apply to every tent.
Poles: Aluminum poles with great strength and low weight are used in backpacking tents. You’ll find the name DAC (Dongah Aluminum Corp.) in a lot of specifications because this business is the world’s leading pole manufacturer. Fabrics and denier ratings for tents: Tents are made of a variety of nylons and polyesters that are specially designed for their purpose. One spec that you may notice from time to time is denier (D), which is the weight (in grams) of a fabric yarn based on a 9,000-meter length of the fabric yarn.
Unless the textiles are comparable, don’t compare denier since intrinsic changes in fabric qualities have a higher impact on strength than the denier specification.
Strong poles and materials are used in the construction of the strongest tents, which are then combined to form durable design structures.
When selecting a hiking or camping tent, one of the most significant considerations to address is the size of the structure. You’ll want a shelter that’s comfortably roomy, but you’ll also want to consider the weight, mass, convenience, and cost of the shelter while making your decision. If you’re in the market for a new backpacking tent but aren’t sure what size to choose, you’ve come to the right spot. We have a variety of sizes to choose from. Here are some pointers gleaned from our decades of combined expertise in the outdoor sector that will assist you in selecting the ideal tent types for your next expedition.
Looking for a new tent?
With decades of backpacking and hiking expertise under our belts, we at CleverHiker are the professionals in the field. Our suggestions for gear are based on our own personal experiences. Every product we offer has been purchased and field tested by us, and we approach our gear recommendations as if they were for our own family and friends. If you’re in the market for a new tent, we recommend that you look at our lists of the top ten best backpacking tents and the top ten best camping tents.
Backpacking Tent size considerations
Tents for hiking and camping have many similarities, but backpacking tents have a unique and extremely essential requirement: they must be as light as possible while yet providing enough protection. It is for this reason that selecting the proper size for your hiking tent is a little more difficult, but extremely crucial. Finding a shelter that is both comfortably roomy and light and compact is the ultimate goal here.
The majority of backpacking tents are available in a number of different sizes. Examples include the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL, which is available in 1P, 2P, 3P, and 4P capacities. Despite the fact that the capacity number will give you a decent indication of how many people will fit neatly inside a certain tent, the majority of customers believe that tent capacity ratings overstate the genuine size of the tent.
It’s also fairly typical for trekking tents to seem tighter-fitting than their capacity numbers would indicate, to put it another way. According to general consensus, the following is how most hiking and camping tent sizes feel:
- Camping with 1P tents is usually a comfortable experience for one person with their stuff stowed in the vestibule. A luxurious one-person tent with inner gear storage space, the 2P tent is ideal for a couple. With stuff placed in the vestibule, it’s a tight squeeze for two people (s). It will accommodate two regular-width sleeping pads (not wide-width sleeping mats). Tents for 3 people with interior gear storage space. 3P Tents – Luxurious for 2 people with inside gear storage space. Two extra-large sleeping mats can be accommodated. The space is suitable for two adults plus a young child or a dog. For three average-sized individuals, this is an extremely tight fit. The 4P Tents are luxurious for 2-3 people and include inner storage room for their belongings. It is possible to put three persons plus a kid or a dog in this space, but it is tight. For four average-sized individuals, this is an extremely tight fit. 6P Tents – Roomy enough for four people including belongings. 5 or 6 are in a bind
- 8P Tents – Luxurious accommodations for four people and their stuff. If some of the guests are youngsters or pets, the space is suitable for six people. Tents for four people and their gear (10P Tents). It’s comfortable for 6 people and their stuff. It’s a squeeze for groups of 8 or more individuals.
When it comes to internal room and usability, not all 2-person camping tents are made alike, especially when it comes to the price. Listed below are some recommendations for specific tents, along with some pointers to assist you properly predict how a camping tent will feel based only on its appearance.
- In a lightweight 2-person hiking tent with a typical width sleeping mat (20 inches), two of them will take up the majority of the floor area. There will usually be enough space for 1-2 small stuff sacks to be tucked away around your head and feet. The fit of most 2-person tents will be uncomfortable for two people, unless you’re both little humans or you’re happy with being in close quarters with your partner. If you choose a 2-person tent, regular-width sleeping pads are recommended
- Otherwise, thin sleeping pads are recommended.
- It is possible to entirely cover the floor width of most lightweight 2-person camping tents with one wide pad (25 inches) and one normal pad (20 inches). The person with the broad pad will have the advantage in terms of area, but if the pad heights are precisely the same, things may work out OK. The room for two broad sleeping mats (25 in) is frequently insufficient in a 2-person lightweight hiking tent, therefore you’ll need to upgrade to a 3-person lightweight backpacking tent if you wish to use this arrangement. In most cases, two large cushions will not fit in a two-person hiking tent. The advantage of choosing a three-person tent over a two-person tent is that you’ll have significantly more internal room for two people. This is one of the reasons why we choose three-person hiking tents. The disadvantage of increasing the size of your tent is that it will weigh more, so be sure you buy a lightweight tent type (more on that below)
- And Look no farther than our trail-tested list of the 10 Best Sleeping Pads if you’re in the market for a new one.
2-Person Tent Recommendations
The NEMO Hornet 2, Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 are examples of 2-person tents that we would only recommend for solo hiking. Some of these tents, such as the NEMO Hornet 2, Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2, andHyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2, are much tighter than others. Tents with slanted-wall designs, such as this one, offer just a little amount of headroom at the center peak, making them seem quite claustrophobic for two people. These versions, in our opinion, are the ideal choice for single hikers who desire a larger footprint to store their belongings and spread out.
- Tents constructed in this manner provide extra headroom for two individuals who are seated side by side.
- They are an excellent size for people who want to backpack solo as well as with a partner (with regular widthsleeping pads).
- It has a spacious width to accommodate two people and two large sleeping mats.
- Moving Up to a 3-Person Tent – Because most 2-person camping tents are too small to accommodate two average-sized adults, many hikers prefer to move up to a 3-person tent size for a little additional internal space.
- The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3 and the Zpacks Triplex are two examples of ultralight 3-person tents that we strongly suggest.
- If those are out of reach owing to cost, some more affordable (but heavier) 3-person possibilities are the REI Half Dome 2 Plusor3 Plus, REI Quarter Dome 3, and REI Passage 3 (all available from REI).
Choosing a 2-person tent with regular-sized sleeping mats may reduce weight, but it may feel claustrophobic at first.
When to Go LightTight or Upsize for Comfort?
The following are the most important considerations when considering whether to pack the lightest/tightest tent possible or whether to upsize a little for comfort:
- Type of trip (How physically demanding is it? How long do you think it will take? How much elevation change has occurred? )
- Conditions you anticipate encountering (rain, bugs, and so on)
- (Who is going, and how large are they?) – Relationship and size of hikers (How near do you want to be to your bed?)
- The width of your sleeping pad (do you like conventional or broad sleeping pads? )
Go Ahead, Upsize!
Choosing a somewhat larger, more roomy tent while traveling in locations where you’re likely to encounter frequent storms or a high concentration of mosquitoes might be a wise decision. When the weather is less than perfect, you’ll be spending a lot more time in your tent, and a tent that is too tight will make you feel claustrophobic very soon. Also consider the size of the persons who will be sharing the tent, the widths of their sleeping pads, and the amount of personal space that will be required to be comfortable.
If you want to use large sleeping pads, such as we use (NeoAir Uberlite), bear in mind that most 2-person hiking tents are too small to accommodate two large sleeping pads.
Typically, broad pad users may upgrade to a 3-person tent (such as theBig Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3) or look for a model that has just a little more width to accommodate their needs, such as theREI Half Dome 2 Plus.
In the case of difficult treks involving significant elevation gain, the weight savings achieved by bringing a lightweight and compact camping tent may be worth losing a little amount of extra room. Especially on occasions where the weather is anticipated to be pleasant and you’ll be sleeping in your tent primarily horizontally, such as on a camping vacation. Additionally, if you and your companion are on the petite side, having a hiking tent that is smaller in size may be a welcome perk. Smaller adults often do not find trekking tents to be as confining as larger adults.
Caution should be exercised, since lengthy periods of time spent in a small tent due to heavy weather or hordes of hungry insects may rapidly become claustrophobic.
Weight is less of a problem when camping because you won’t be lugging your tent around with you as you would when hiking. This is why it is always wise to size up and get a tent that is sufficiently large and comfy for the amount of people who will be sleeping in it. Unfortunately, camping tent manufacturers overestimate the number of people who can really sleep comfortably in their tents, so it’s a good idea to size up in this area as well, as well. Generally speaking, you should remove two people from the capacity rating of any specific tent when determining its capacity.
Check out ourBest Camping Tentslist to discover which tents we suggest and how various sizes stack up against one another!
With these examples and the questions above in mind, we hope that you will feel more confident in your ability to appropriately judge tent sizes and make well-informed judgments about which option will work best for you in the future.
We hope you find this advise useful, and that you will benefit from having a little more variety, comfort, and freedom on your next backpacking or camping trip!
Tents are one of the most exciting parts of your camping equipment since they serve as your home away from home in the backcountry. However, choosing the proper tent takes a significant amount of study and consideration. Designs in this category range greatly, from low-cost versions for those just getting started to lightweight items designed for major thru-hiking expeditions and all in between. Seasonality, weight, affordability, capacity and usable space, weather protection, durability, and other factors are all discussed in detail below to assist you in making the best backpacking tent choice possible.
Finding out when and where you’ll be using your camping tent is the first step in picking your ideal hiking tent. Starting with the fact that the most majority of tents available are of the three-season form, this is due to the fact that the vast majority of hikers adhere to known routes during the summer months. For this group, campsites will normally be adequate, and extended stretches of severe weather will not be a major source of worry. In these conditions, practically any 3-season tent on the market should be adequate, ranging from budget-friendly options to ultralight options, depending on the manufacturer.
Finally, winter explorers and those who camp on snow have a completely other set of needs, and they should search for a tent that is really four-season in design and construction.
2. Use: Casual or Serious Backpacking
The first step in picking your ideal camping tent is knowing when you’ll be using it and where you’ll be traveling. Start by pointing out that the vast majority of tents available are 3-season models, which is understandable given the fact that the vast majority of backpackers adhere to well-established routes throughout the summer season. In general, campsites for this group will be excellent, and extended spells of severe weather will not be a major worry. When faced with these conditions, practically every 3-season tent on the market should be adequate, ranging from budget-friendly models to ultralight options.
In the end, winter explorers and those who camp on snow have a whole different set of requirements, and they should search for a tent that is truly four seasons in nature.
But when it comes down to it, most people choose for 3-season tents, which should provide enough wind and wet-weather protection in the vast majority of non-winter situations.
3. How Important is Weight to You?
When it comes to buying a tent, weight is one of the most essential issues for some trekkers. Here’s what you need to know: most budget-oriented tents are made of less expensive materials that are heavier, resulting in models that weigh 4 to 5 pounds for two people. In the case of the REI Co-op Trail Hut 2, the bundled weight of the entry-level model is 5 pounds 15 ounces (note: that number includes a 7-ounce footprint). The popularMSR Hubba Hubba NX has been made lighter by using thinner materials and weighing only 3 pounds 14 ounces.
- Lightweight tents, on the other hand, come with a variety of trade-offs in terms of performance.
- The best option for you should be determined by your budget as well as how you want to utilize your tent.
- They’re also harder and the weight can be easily distributed between two packs (tent body and rainfly in one, poles and stakes in the other).
- The extra expenditure may be worthwhile if you do this regularly or travel long distances.
Backpacking tent prices vary widely—from roughly $150 for a budget model from a well-known brand to $700 or more for a high-end one—so it’s important to consider what you receive for your money. Starting at the low end of the spectrum, one of our favorite budget designs is the Trail Hut 2 from REI Co-op, which retails for $199. An all-in weight of around 6 pounds, robust yet heavy materials that do not pack down as tiny as other tents, adequate internal room, and a relatively simple set-up and take-down operation are all advantages of the REI tent.
The $430 Nemo Dagger 2Pa, for example, is comparable in size to the Trail Hut but weights substantially less at 3 pounds 14 ounces, making it an excellent choice for backpacking.
And once prices reach $500, you’ll often find one of two styles: lightweight designs made of premium materials such as Dyneema (such as Zpacks’ $599 Duplex) or tents designed to perform well in very hard situations (such as Hilleberg’s $815 Nallo, which costs $815).
5. Tent Capacity and Livable Space
backpacking tents are available in a variety of sizes, with most accommodating one to four people. The most common variants are two-person ones, which are intended to accommodate two standard-width sleeping mats (20 inches each) placed side by side. Opting for a one-person tent is a good method to reduce weight, while many lone trekkers choose to size up to a two-person tent since it provides a little more interior room and comfort (plus, you have the versatility to bring a partner on trips).
- Finally, four-person tents are the least frequent since they are big and unwieldy, but they might be a good alternative for families that want to camp together.
- First and foremost, the floor measurements (length x breadth) are provided by the great majority of manufacturers and provide a fair indication of whether or not you will be able to accommodate items such as a broad pad or an extra-long sleeping bag.
- Finally, consider the general form of the object.
- What shape does the floor have?
Both of these are typical weight-saving tactics that make a tent appear more claustrophobic on the interior of the tent. Looking at all of these pieces of information will provide you with a decent notion of the real interior volume of a certain design concept.
6. Number of Doors
Although it is not the most exciting feature, the number of doors on a tent is an essential consideration, particularly for those hiking with a companion. The convenience of having a door on both sides of the tent is a great luxury for journeys with two or more people. Apart from providing more storage space (more on this below), having your own door makes it much easier to get in and out of your home late at night. The weight savings from single doors is marginal at best, and the tradeoff in reduced storage and overall convenience is not always worth it, according to our research (again, solo backpackers are an exception here).
However, in general, we recommend that two travelers search for a tent with two doors unless they are very concerned with weight savings.
7. Weather Protection and Ventilation
Even in the midst of summer, the weather may be very unpredictable in the wilderness, but the good news is that almost every hiking tent produced today can withstand a light summer thunderstorm. Rainflies that are coated and impermeable, elevated bathtub-style flooring, and seam tape are all common characteristics among the great majority of designs, reducing the likelihood of moisture seeping through. Because their materials are more durable and will last for a longer period of time, more expensive versions are often more weather resistant than cheap choices (one notable exception is some ultralight designs that sacrifice weather protection for reduced weight).
The capacity of a tent to ventilate is almost as vital as its ability to provide weather protection.
The use of a double-wall structure, which improves ventilation by having the tent body and rainfly be two different components, is used to counteract this problem by tent manufacturers.
Finally, keep an eye out for deployable vents in the rainfly that may be opened to produce a chimney-like effect, which will help to move air through the structure (you can also close them if the weather turns).
A common rule to keep in mind is that as the weight of a tent decreases, the durability of the tent decreases. Typically, tent makers will specify the denier or “D” rating for the materials used on the tent body and rainfly, which is a measurement of fabric thickness (the higher the number, the thicker it is). Even while it’s a good idea to double-check the denier on all portions of the tent, we’ll concentrate on the floor because it’s the most sensitive to punctures, tears, and general wear and tear over time.
Many popular lightweight versions, such as the MSR Hubba Hubba NX and the Nemo Dagger, are able to bridge the gap between the two (30D for both).
It may be worthwhile to carry a little additional weight in order to boost your hardiness if you want to keep to the more informal side of things.
Many trekkers, both novices and seasoned travelers, fall somewhere in the center, which is why the aforementioned Hubba Hubba and Dagger tents are among the most often encountered tents out on the route.
Even though they are quite lightweight, they should be durable enough to last numerous seasons of camping usage.
9. Storage: Vestibules and Interior Pockets
Even those who are going light will be bringing a significant quantity of goods into the bush, thus storage is a key consideration when choosing a camping tent. Second, vestibules are the area of a rainfly that covers the doors and provides a safe place for your pack or footwear to rest while hiking in inclement weather or while sleeping on the trail. A tent with two doors and vestibules, as we discussed above, is a convenient feature for several trekkers since it reduces clutter and provides for quicker access to one’s belongings from the interior of the tent.
Final point: have a look at what the tents have to offer in terms of inside storage compartments.
10. Freestanding vs. Non-Freestanding Tents
Those looking for ultralight or lightweight tents are likely to have come across both freestanding and non-freestanding choices. Freestanding tents are those that can be supported by the poles and stand erect, but non-freestanding tents must be staked out at the corners in order to maintain their structure and prevent them from flopping around. A freestanding tent is, in general, less difficult to use and set up (particularly in situations where it is difficult to use anchors, such as on rocky terrain), which makes them a tempting option for many travelers.
Another point to mention is that certain tents are termed “semi-freestanding,” meaning that they may stand on their own but must be guyed out in order to optimize the floor space available (these tents usually have poles that connect in the corners on one end but not the other).
11. Packed Size
In most circumstances, the weight of the tent and the size of the tent when packed go hand in hand. An enormous burrito-shaped bag with a top-loading design is commonly included with tents. In theory, thinner tent materials and poles are smaller and more compressible, allowing for the use of lighter tent designs that are easier to slide into a hiking pack. Budget tents with thicker materials and poles, on the other hand, have significantly wider circumferences, which might make it difficult to put them into a small backpack.
When you do this, you free up a significant amount of space and also make it easy to put away the tent in the morning. Because of the variety of ways in which tents may be kept and transported, the measured packed size of a tent is rarely one of our top priorities when purchasing a tent.
12. What About a Footprint?
When selecting a tent, one of the final options to make is whether or not to include a footprint. In order to improve the durability and endurance of the tent’s floor, the majority of manufacturers provide a comparable ground cloth, which typically costs between $30 and $70. (alternatively, you can save a lot by making your own out of fabrics like Tyvek or Polycro). The question of whether or not you really need a footprint is a complicated one (for a complete explanation, check our post on footprints here), but we’ll go over a few of the most important considerations.
A footprint also adds weight to your pack, so individuals who are attempting to reduce their weight will be more likely to leave one at home.
If you’re going to be walking over tough terrain, such as granite, you might wish to bring a footprint.
13. Our Top Backpacking Tent Picks
Now comes the exciting part: deciding on the best camping tent for your specific needs. The finest hiking tents for every situation are covered in detail in our post on the best backpacking tents, however we’ve included below a handful of our favorites split down into important categories: The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is the best all-around backpacking tent. The REI Co-op Trail Hut 2 is the best value in a backpacking tent. The Zpacks Duplex is the best ultralight tent for thru-hiking. Nemo Dagger 2 is a livability and durability test for under 4 pounds.
Take a look at our selection of the best backpacking tents.
What size tent do I need?: for solo adventures, weekenders, thru-hikes, and family camping trips
What kind of tent do I need and how big should it be? Everything is revealed in this post. (Image courtesy of Getty) “Can you tell me what size tent I need?” It’s one of the most commonly asked questions by novices to the outdoors, and it’s one of the most regularly answered by the staff atAdvnture. Of course, the topic frequently continues, and we are asked, more specifically, “What size tent do I need for this occasion?” When it comes to outdoor gear, the answer isn’t black and white, and determining the best size for your adventures will ultimately depend on a number of factors, including the number of campers in your group, the season you’ll be camping in, how much gear you’ll be bringing, and whether you’ll be camping in the backcountry or the frontcountry.
It is unlikely that you will find the ideal camping tent for you in the same place that someone else finds the perfect canvas castle.
What size tent do I need?: general observations and pitfalls to avoid
What kind of tent do I need and what size do I require? Everything is revealed in this post! (Photo courtesy of Getty Images. ) The question is, “How large a tent do I require?” In fact, it is one of the most commonly asked topics by novices to the outdoors, according to the folks at Adventure. Of course, the topic frequently continues, and we are asked, more specifically, “What size tent do I need for this occasion?”. When it comes to outdoor gear, the answer isn’t black and white, and determining the best size for your adventures will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including the number of campers in your group, the season you’ll be camping in, how much gear you’ll be bringing, and whether you’ll be camping in the backcountry or the frontcountry.
Even though we cover the most significant considerations to make when purchasing a tent in our guide on how to purchase a tent, the size question is so vital that we decided to take a deeper dive into dimensional considerations with a separate piece.
The majority of tent manufacturers offer a “floor plan” or an image of the tent’s dimensions with their online product listings. When purchasing a tent, it’s important to look at the dimensions to ensure that the tent is wide enough to accommodate all of the sleeping pads you intend to cram into it (taking the sleeping pads out to measure them is the best policy) and long enough so that none of the tent’s taller occupants will be sleeping with their faces pressed against the tent’s wall fabric.
A greater understanding of tent floor layouts and peak heights can provide you with a better understanding of how roomy (or not) a tent will be (Image credit: Big Agnes)
The height of the tent at its tallest point is referred to as the peak height (sometimes known as the “central height”). Taller-peak tents give greater headroom and allow you to walk around more freely (i.e. without ducking) inside, which helps to reduce the likelihood of suffering to cabin fever if you’re staying for more than a night or two beneath the stars. But what is the optimum height of the apex? If you’re backpacking, the ideal peak height range is 35 to 45 inches: any lower, and your tent will start to feel more like a coffin rather than simply “cozy”; any higher, and you’ll sacrifice stability in high winds and pay a price in terms of weight – extra height means extra fabric, and more fabric means more poundage; and any combination of the two will be uncomfortable.
This is primarily because you won’t have to carry your tent as far before pitching it and because established campsites are typically less exposed to the wind than wild campsites, which allows you to save money on your tent purchase.
In the event that you or one of your camping companions is over 6 feet tall, a tent with a peak height greater than 72 inches is the greatest option; if your camping companions are shorter or merely content to lean over to escape the roof canopy, peak heights between 60 and 70 inches will suffice.
Vestibules are the covered places at the side or the front of your tent where you may store any equipment that you don’t want to bring inside with you, such as boots, damp or dirty clothes, camping stoves and cooking equipment, backpacks, and so on. Simply put, the size of the vestibule you want will be determined by the amount of equipment you intend to bring on your camping trips. The wider the vestibule, on the other hand, the more space you’ll be able to free up within the tent by storing your belongings in this protected area.
Kieran Cunningham is the Editor in Chief of Advnture.
Mountaineering in the Himalayas, the Alps, and the United States have been highlights of his life.
In his spare time, he climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, and generally has a good time.
Kieran is the author of ‘Climbing the Walls,’ a book that explores the mental health advantages of climbing, mountaineering, and being in the great outdoors, among other things. [email protected]
How to Choose a Family Camping Tent
Summer is on its way, and for most of the country, it will provide much-needed relief from being cooped up indoors throughout the winter months. Camping is a perfect opportunity for families who have been addicted to their televisions, with children literally connected to their gaming consoles, to spend valuable time together outdoors. With a little planning and study, you can provide your family with a lifetime of memories by giving them the gift of the great outdoors. Your ability to have a nice camping trip is directly related to the type of shelter you carry with you.
Is it appropriate for the weather conditions at the location?
In order to make a family camping trip as enjoyable as possible, we wanted to give some suggestions for selecting the best tent for a fun family adventure.
This is an apparent issue to consider first and foremost, and it is also a crucial one. It is possible to become frustrated when a tent becomes overcrowded, which can diminish the whole experience. Sleeping on top of your gear or waking up every time the person next to you turns over in their sleeping bag are both undesirable scenarios to be in while camping. Many forums recommend a decent rule of thumb of 20 square feet for each person who will be sleeping in the tent, according to these sources.
It is probable that you will want significantly more room if you intend on storing stuff inside the tent or using air mattresses in place of sleeping bags while on your trip.
While younger children will clearly take up less room, they will eventually develop and will most likely love having their own place.
When your children are little, you may leave the dividers down and add them later when they are old enough to enjoy a little personal space.
Generally speaking, tents are available in two basic forms, each of which has its own set of pros and drawbacks. Cabin-style tents feature straight walls, which allows for substantially greater internal room than other types of tents. The standing space in family-sized cabin-style tents is excellent, and members of the extended family who are over six feet tall will appreciate it. When the weather turns bad, the disadvantages of cabin-style tents become obvious. When it comes to wind deflection, those wide, flat walls don’t do much, and when the gusts start blowing, you’ll be reliant on your tent anchors to keep you safe.
- If you do decide to use a cabin-style tent, make sure you get some stakes that are greater in length.
- When you have dome tents built on sloping curves, you won’t have to worry about high winds as much since they will travel around the tents, keeping your temporary home safe and secure.
- However, the apparent disadvantage of this form is that, while it is pleasant to stand in the centre, you will be bending over or on your knees if standing on the sides.
- If you’re using a cabin-style tent, try placing it up near some trees and attaching the corners of the canvas to the branches for increased support.
In addition, for dome-style tents, consider purchasing a little bigger size to provide for additional headroom for taller family members to sleep comfortably.
Ease of Setup
The majority of tent makers create designs that are designed to be straightforward to set up, although bigger alternatives are naturally more difficult to handle. When it comes to setting up their tents, some providers recommend three to four workers, which may be more than you have available. Even while it’s usually a good idea to read what the manufacturer suggests, finding a source that gives user feedback is extremely important since you may discover that a specific design is either easier or more difficult to set up than planned.
Vestibules are standard on many big tent models, and they are also offered as optional extras on others. These tent extensions provide a space to store items outside the tent and may also be used as a “mud room” when it is raining or if it is cold. People who have larger tents are more likely to be able to provide shade for the entire family on a hot summer day. Some variants are just intended to provide overhead protection, whilst others can extend all the way to the ground and even include a floor extension to protect the ground underneath them.
Having a tent with wide mesh windows will come in handy when the weather becomes a little hotter, especially if they’re located next to one another. This will allow air to circulate inside the tent throughout the day and night, which will aid in keeping it cool. Additionally, some versions include mesh roofs that may be covered with a solid rain fly to allow for optimal ventilation. The overall quality of the materials is also very important to consider. When the first rainy arrives, you don’t want to discover that your seams aren’t nearly as well sealed as you’d hoped.
Reviews will be your best friend when it comes to assessing how well a model will perform in real-world situations.
A Perfect Place to Set It Up
Once you’ve found the ideal tent for your needs, you’ll need to find the ideal Tent Site on which to set it up. We’ve taken care of everything, thank you very much. With almost 500 KOA locations across North America, there’s a KOA location that’s suitable for you and your family to spend quality time together and make lasting memories. In addition, with possibilities to go on hikes and swim, play mini golf, and tell stories over a campfire, everyone in your family will be able to enjoy themselves to the fullest extent possible.
Our pleasant and educated professionals are standing by to assist you in making the most of your time with us.