Welcome to the second part of Which Tent to Choose? Here we will be looking at what to consider when looking at shapes and sizes and weights and features.
Shapes and Sizes
The spec on tents here can sometimes be a little misleading. If all you want to do in your tent is sleep then a one or two person tent will be fine. Often weather conditions and camping locations in the UK mean that you need (or want) to spend a little more time under canvass than this. It’s a good policy to buy a tent that has room for one or two more people than you expect to be camping. This way you have plenty of room if you are hauled up in a storm (or escaping the midgies) and you also have room for equipment and gear to be stored inside. Tents with vestibules are a must if you are camping with your dog, or hiking in foul weather, as the vestibule creates a dry place away from where you are sleeping to store gear or pets.
Free Standing Tents
Free standing tents are one of the most common design of tents that are available. They take on their shape as soon as the poles are inserted, this is great as you can pick up the whole tent and shake out dirt or move it within a site if required. This form of tent also provides lots of headroom, far more than tunnel style tents. These tents are also strong and sturdy, but still do need to be pegged down for air circulation and resilience to wind.
Tunnel tents are long and narrow and do not have the cross poles that free standing tents do, meaning tunnel tents need to be pegged down to retain their shape. Tunnel tents come in all shapes and sizes, with their steep sides they shed rain very well. Larger tunnel tents do tend to catch the wind.
Weights and features
When buying a tent you will find that they have two weights listed. The minimum weight is the weight of the components that you will have to take as a minimum on a camping trip. The packaged weight is the weight of the tent package when you buy it, this will often include spare tent pegs, repair kits and extra guy lines.
If you are camping in one place without much need to move the tent then a heavier weight tent can be considered, however, if you are planning a longer trip where you need to carry your tent to different locations then it’s important that you choose something which will be light enough for you to carry without over loading yourself.
Extra features on a tent will make your stay more comfortable, however, it will add weight to your tent. Decide on the features that you really need and consider the difference that this will make in terms of weight.
Vestibules are a great idea if you are planning on taking a pet or can envisage some foul weather during your camp. They give great storage to a tent, away from the sleeping area, making sure that sleepers stay as dry as possible. A vestibule also makes the sleeping area within a tent larger as you can store your gear and packs in it. If the vestibule is pole supported it will make the tent slightly heavier to carry, however, it will give you more headroom and a more comfortable entrance.
Pole Sleeves vs Pole Clips
There are two systems used for putting poles into your tent, clips and pole sleeves. Pole sleeves are much easier to use, especially when wearing gloves. They also reduce the tension on the outer canopy of the tent, meaning that your tent will last longer and be more sturdy.
Pole clips mean there is more of a gap for air between the outer and inner sections of the tent. They can be a little fiddly to use and are liable to break in very cold temperatures.
A hooded vent is an area of the canopy which is open to the outside to allow air to pass in, which are covered with a hood of waterproof fabric. This means that you can have ventilation in any weather.
Gear lofts are found in many tents, but rarely used. These look like a hammock which hangs from the inside of the poles in the fly sheet. A gear loft is particularly handy for increasing floor space and also for drying out very wet clothing.