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Tent Buying Guide – Part 1

So you need a new tent, and aren’t sure where to start looking?  Here are some tips to help you get started, and a few online  resources to provide you with more in depth information.  When properly maintained and cared for, a good tent will protect you in all sorts of weather.  I am a big fan of the Kelty Gunnison series of tents. I have slept through rainstorms only to find other campers bailing water from their tents the next morning, while the inside of mine is still dry.  And it also is well ventilated, preventing condensation from forming inside the tent.

Spike Outdoors tent buying tips:

  • What do you need the tent for?  If it’s for the kids to play in out in the back yard, then something from the local department store will be fine.  If you need it for shelter while camping, you need a tent that will keep you dry when it’s raining, and will also have good ventilation when it’s hot.  Don’t cut corners, because spending a little more on a tent that actually does what you need can mean the difference between a good campout and being wet and miserable.
  • If you are backpacking, weight is an important factor.  You want as little weight as possible.
  • If you are car camping, weight is not as important, so you may want something with more room inside.
  • Remember that a two person tent will generally fit two people sleeping very close to each other, with not much else in the tent.  Or, one person and some gear.
  • Look at the season rating on the tent.  Three season tents are good for camping in all weather (except for snow).  A good three season tent should withstand most weather conditions you’ll encounter in spring, summer, and fall camping.  3-4 season tents are just like 3 season tents but can withstand light snowfall.  Four season tents are made stronger to withstand higher winds and snow you are likely to face in year round camping.
  • Most new tents attach to the tent poles with clips, but some older designs require you to thread the poles through pockets in the tent.  Look for a clip design.  They are much faster to set up, and to take down.

Online resources for selecting a tent:

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