Choosing the right tent: the 3 questions to ask before buying

Outdoor lovers know that a high-quality tent makes all the difference for a first-rate camping experience. Before hitting the store to find your new home away from home, take the time to address a few questions: Where, when and how do you plan to use your tent? How many people are going to sleep in it? What materials should it be made of? Your answers will determine the type of tent you need. Keep them in mind while you shop and ask plenty of questions at the store.

When and where will you camp?

If you’re not planning to go winter camping or to set up your tent under intense weather conditions, a three-season tent will suit you fine.

However, if you’re the type of adventurer who intends to camp out in the middle of January or in other extreme conditions, you’ll want to get yourself an expedition tent (or a winter tent). They are warmer, as the ventilation is reduced to a minimum to conserve heat inside. And stronger tent poles, of which there are more, make them sturdier. Of course, these kinds of tents are more expensive, but they are well worth it for your comfort – and survival!

What kind of tent best suits your needs?

The form of the tent you choose depends if you’re camping solo, as a couple or as a family and on the portability you require. Do you plan to transport your tent on your backpack while hiking, on your bicycle while touring, or in your car?

Dome tents

Lightweight and easy to set up, dome tents are ideal for hikers and people who plant their tent under different climatic conditions. They can be set up without fixing them to the ground, as the curved tent poles keep the structure intact. The main advantage of this kind of tent is the opportunity for quick set-up. You’ll need to anchor it firmly to the ground to avoid having it blown away in the wind. Dome tents have always been hemispheric, but modified domes now come in shapes that increase the habitable space.

Family tents

Family tents (sometimes called summer tents) are ideal for families or groups of friends who wish to set up at a fixed spot for a few days. Generally, they are spacious enough to stand up in. Given their size, they are heavy and cumbersome, and definitely not designed to be carried in your backpack. This will limit your hiking excursions to day trips.

What materials do I have to choose from?

When selecting your tent, take the time to check out the materials it’s made of to ensure it suits your style of camping. Choosing the components of your tent accordingly will guarantee durability and comfort – and avoid nasty surprises while camping out in Mother Nature.

Canopy and fly

In most cases, a tent’s interior canopy is made of nylon, a strong material that doesn’t absorb moisture and is abrasion resistant, while also being more affordable. The fly should be made of polyester, a material that’s more resistant to UV rays and moisture.

DID YOU KNOW?

There are several effective ways to ensure your tent has a long, effective life; for example by using a waterproofing.

Floor

The floors of all tents must be strong and waterproof with their edges running up the bottom part of the tent sides to keep water from penetrating the base. Tent floors in nylon are very resistant to abrasion and tears.

Poles

Fibreglass poles are inexpensive and very effective but heavy and they tend to gradually disintegrate over time. For hikers who carry their tent on their back, carbon poles are the perfect, lighter and stronger alternative, although they’re more expensive and sometimes brittle. Aluminium is a very effective material that comes in a variety of alloys with various degrees of strength and lightness. When it comes to poles, there are plenty of types to choose from, so ask a lot of questions at the store.

Zippers

We too often take zipper quality for granted but when it comes to tents, they are often strained to the extreme, making them very vulnerable to breakage. Ideally, they should always be twisted and manufactured in nylon, which makes them both lighter and easier to handle.

DID YOU KNOW?

You can easily take care of your zippers and guarantee they stay waterproof longer.

The better care you take of your tent, the longer it will last. After each camping trip, check the state of the zippers and coat them with paraffin if necessary. You can also clean your tent with a bit of soapy water then dry it outside after rinsing them well. Store your tent in a dry, dark place, away from dust, ideally completely spread out. Your tent will be ready to pack for your next outdoor adventure!