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FAQ [Frequently Asked Question] About Buying a Tent

One of the great pleasures of the summer months is loading up your vehicle and hitting the road to enjoy the great outdoors. But to truly experience nature, and all the fun that comes from "roughing it," you're going to need some temporary shelter. Let's answer a few common questions to help guide your purchase of a new tent.

What tent is best suited for my getaway plans?

If part of your trip involves camping, music festivals, or just sleeping outside in your backyard, then the size and weight of your tent are going to be big factors. Smaller, lighter tents are ideal for small groups and shorter trips, as they allow for quick assmebly with clip suspension and shock corded poles. At the other end of the spectrum, larger tents built for families are bulkier to transport and take longer to assemble, but offer more comfort for longer excursions. They also offer features that smaller tents don’t, like added height for standing up and exiting the tent, separate rooms, and separate verstibules.

What type of tents can I choose from?

Although camping is commonly associated with pounding poles into the ground and sleeping on an "earth's mattress," today's tents can also be easily attached to the back of a pickup truck. This is a great advantage for avoiding sleeping on a wet or rocky ground surface. There are also tents that attach right to the back of a car/SUV, so that you can enter your car directly from the tent, and thus expand your sheltered area and simplify access to your gear. And finally, there are the conventional campground tents that are ideal for spring, summer, and fall outdoor enjoyment.

What important features should I consider when buying a tent?

Just like any purchase of a house or condo, space and size are paramount when buying a tent. Unlike real estate, however, tent size is measured by occupancy. Keep in mind that while the standard tent sizes listed indicate the maximum number of people who can sleep side-by-side in that tent, there is no allowance for storage of extra items. So, if you want a cozy getaway with your companion you can snuggle up in a 2-person tent, but if you want some added interior space for your clothing and other camping gear you may want to graduate to a larger size. Plus, it means you won't be stepping on each other in the dark.

Another feature to consider is a washtub basin for added durability, especially if you’ll be wearing shoes inside. A washtub basin means there is no need for a tent footprint – the base is already waterproof and better sealed from bugs getting in. And if you’re tall, check the tent's measurements to ensure you’ll have the space to stretch out. Lastly, look for a removable fly, so you can gaze at the stars on a warm clear night, or keep it on in cooler or rainy weather.