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Tents for Camping: How to Choose Car camping with family or friends is a regular summer pastime for many of us. Whether the campground itself is the main attraction or it's simply your base camp for nearby activities, here's how to find the right home-away-from-home.
Car camping with family or friends is a regular summer pastime for many of us. Whether the campground itself is the main attraction or it's simply your base camp for nearby activities, here's how to find the right home-away-from-home.
Tents that can sleep four or more campers comprise the "family" or "base camp" category. Here are the basic design options:
Weight is far less of a concern for a family camping tent than it is for a backpacking tent, as most family tents are carried only from car to campsite.
Family tents are sold at discount stores across the land, sometimes at amazingly low prices. Outdoor specialty stores, meanwhile, can carry models that can cost upwards of $500. They look about the same, so what's the big difference?
As is often the case, you get what you pay for. In calm weather, a bargain tent may serve you just fine—for a while. The real difference is the quality of materials, which tends to become apparent in bad weather or after your first few outings. Here are some tips to compare a tent's quality:
Bottom line: If camping is an annual activity for your group, consider the long-term advantages of having a quality tent. Similarly, if you camp in areas where wind and storms are a threat, the same advice holds.
This is listed as "peak height" on spec charts. If you like being able to stand up when changing clothes or just enjoy the airiness of a high ceiling, then look for a tall peak height.
Does the tent have one door or two? What shape is the door, and how easy is it to zip open and shut? Cabin-style tents tend to shine in this area.
A tent's pole structure usually determines how easy or hard it is to pitch. Fewer poles allow faster setups. It's also easier to attach poles to clips than it is to thread them through "continuous" pole sleeves. Many tents offer a combination of both clips and short pole sleeves in an effort to balance strength, ventilation and setup ease.
A rainfly is a separate waterproof cover designed to fit over the roof of your tent. Two types are common.
How big is the tent when packed? Small-car and motorcycle campers find this spec especially important.
Mesh panels are often used in the ceiling, doors and windows. This allows views and enhances cross-ventilation to help manage condensation.
Virtually all family tents these days are freestanding. This means they do not require stakes to set up. The big advantage of this is that you can pick up a freestanding tent (like a huge beach ball) and move it to a different location prior to staking. You can also easily shake it out before you take it down.
This shelter attaches to a tent for the purpose of storing your dusty boots or a keeping your daypack out of the rain. It can be either an integral part of the rainfly or an add-on item that's sold separately.
A lantern loop is often located at the top-center of the ceiling to allow you a handy place to hang your lantern. Gear loft loops on tent walls can be used to attach a mesh shelf (sold separately) in order to keep small items such as keys or a headlamp off of the tent floor, or to a attach a clothesline to air out wet items. Similarly, interior pockets can help keep your tent organized.
Higher-quality tents will include loops on the outside of the tent body for attaching guy lines. Guy lines allow you to batten down the hatches during high winds.
A footprint is a custom-fitted groundcloth (sold separately) that goes under your tent floor. Tent floors can be tough, but rocks, twigs, grit and dirt eventually exact a toll. A footprint costs less to replace or repair than your tent itself. For a family tent that gets a lot of in/out foot traffic, this is especially useful.
Also, because footprints are sized to fit your tent shape exactly, they won't catch water like a generic groundcloth that sticks out beyond the floor edges. Water caught that way flows underneath your tent and can seep through even tiny holes in the floor fabric.
Most tents come with a few attached pockets to let you keep small items off of the tent floor. A gear loft is an optional interior mesh shelf that can tuck a much greater volume of gear out of the way.
Once you know what size tent you want, your biggest decision is really quality. For occasional outings in placid weather, an inexpensive tent might suffice. But if camping is a frequent summer activity for your crew, you'd be wise to invest in a quality tent to better ride out storms and provide years of dependable use.
Sourced By Steve Tischler