How to Choose the Right Tent

Tents come in all shapes and sizes, all types of frames, are designed specifically for a range of different applications. The big question is, what type of tent do you need? When you know where and when you’ll be using your tent, and have determined all


Tents come in all shapes and sizes, all types of frames, are designed specifically for a range of different applications. The big question is, what type of tent do you need? When you know where and when you’ll be using your tent, and have determined all the things you need your tent to do, all the materials and design choices will follow on from this.

There are a few categories that lightweight tents and shelter fall under.

Simple, Lightweight Structures
These are best used in mild weather conditions, as a shelter from sun and rain or some are used for insect protection. They are not made for protection from a combination of strong winds, rain and snow and some structures use the integration of your hiking poles for support and the construction of the tent. Tents in this range vary in their material quality, build quality and price.

General-purpose Tents
These tents are used mainly in camping grounds or car camping... when you do not have to go too far off the beaten path to set up. They offer protection against wet weather, and insects. These tents do differ greatly in price depending on build quality and price, the pack weight for these tents are not generally a priority when it comes to design.

Super Lightweight, Single Skin Tents 
These tents are for the specialist, used for fast and light activities like adventure racing or for emergencies. The materials used in construction of these tents are extremely lightweight and the fabric is water repellent only and not as reliable in prolonged wet weather conditions. You should keep in mind that a single skin tent can cause a lot of condensation in this environment, if not properly ventilated.

Backpacking Tents 
These tents are better for all round weather conditions, tents in this category are lightweight performance structures that should perform well in heavy rain and moderate winds. Models can vary depending on the places that you want to take it camping, some inners have a lot of mesh, so are very good in hotter climates and others have more fabric inners for colder environments.

4 Season Mountain Tents
These are specially designed to withstand harsh elements that come with camping at altitude and can even resist the most severe backcountry weather. They achieve this with their specialist design and construction. And they use higher quality materials to also try and minimise the weight of these tents. It is always good to remember that better performance tents work well in less demanding weather conditions, yet the opposite isn’t true.

Tent Designs 
There are many different designs of tents, and each has its own advantages depending on how and where you want to use the tent and the performance you require. The frame set up of the tent puts it into one of the categories below and is the easiest way to tell the difference between the models and the benefits of each.

The Upright Pole Tent 
This is more of a traditional system and is often popular because of its simplicity to set up, yet this tent shape relies heavily on how well it is pegged out to resist the elements. Certain designs can incorporate your hiking poles, to be used as the main supports for the tent, in order to minimise trail weight. (You just have to keep in mind if you need your hiking poles for walking during the day, you will have to pull down your tent to use them.)

Tunnel Design 
Tunnel tents are great designs they have many advantages including, being lightweight compared to how much space they offer, having more flexibility to absorb high wind gusts and, when set up correctly, in the right orientation to the to the wind direction, provide less aerodynamic drag. They typically have 2-3 pole arches depending on how big the model is, sometimes varying in different heights. These tents are not free standing, as they need pegs at each end to hold them up. Most tunnel tents have outer sleeves built into the fly of the tent where the poles go through for maximum strength.

Geodesic Designs 
These are more often than not freestanding tents that are very stable in the wind. Their poles cross over each other causing tension to the floor pan without the need for pegs, which make them free standing. However it is good practice to peg down any tent design. A good advantage with having a free standing tent is that they are normally pitched with the inner first and then the outer fly over the top, which means in summer you can take advantage of good weather and just sleep in the mesh inner.

Now that you know the main differences between the tents that are available, you can make an informed decision about the tent that is right for you, based on where and when you are going to use it. Take a close look at all the different brands and models to select the tent that best suits your needs and price range.

If you need help deciding, or some more information, call our friendly Customer Service Team on Ph: (07) 5593 4180 or email them at

Explore our huge range of tents with all the best brands such as Big Agnes, Marmot, Hilleberg, The North Face, Nemo, Vango, and Zempire