A Beginner’s Guide To Tents And How To Use Them
Whether you're a camping rookie or seasoned camper looking for a tent upgrade, it can be daunting trying to figure out exactly which tent you’re going to take home. The days of standard A-frame canvas tents and heavy poles are gone, replaced by modern tents that are equipped with technological advances and are a lot more convenient.
However, it’s also become a lot more difficult to choose what kind of tents or accessories you want to purchase when a simple decision can significantly affect your camping experience. This may potentially cause campers to choose unsuitable tents, or even decide to quit camping to avoid the hassle. There’s a lot to think through, but fret not! We’ve compiled a list of handy tips and tricks to consider when purchasing a tent. Once you’ve thought things through, head on to theexpertcamper.co.uk/tents/six-person-tents/outwell-montana-6pe to get one of your own.
Let’s start by weighing the pros and cons of each different type of tent. This will help figure out what kind of camping you’re most likely going to do if you’re not sure yet!
Ridge or A-Frame Tents
These are the traditional triangle-shaped tents that we grew up with. Traditionally, these ridge tents consist of thick canvas stretched over a pole and supported by a vertical pole on each end. The stability of these tents generally relies on how well the person sets it up to be, as the positions of tie-outs and guy lines are important.
In recent times, ridge tents now use light aluminum poles and waterproof fly sheets. They’re relatively simple to set up and especially sturdy in wet weather, as they don’t collect water at all. However, they aren’t very liveable for longer trips due to space constraints, are usually heavy, and are difficult to set up correctly.
Contrary to ridge tents, tunnel tents have a lot more headroom and space, which makes them suitable for large groups and families. These tents are made by looping a bunch of flexible poles from one side of the tent to the other, forming a tunnel skeleton for the rainfly material to lay on. These tents are also stable in windy conditions, especially when pitched correctly based on the wind direction. However, tunnel tents are considerably heavy and don’t fare well in wet conditions, as water will accumulate on the rainfly material between the poles.
Together with tunnel tents, dome-shaped tents are one of the most common forms of tents around. Similar to their counterparts, these tents take two flexible poles, cross them at the top, and anchor them to form a dome shape. The rainfly generally sits over the top of the poles with an inner tent clipped to the underside.
Many dome tents include a small porch area, whilst some have an extra pole to widen this porch area even further. These tents are best suited for up to four people, as the more people they hold, the more unstable they become. On the bright side, dome tents are rather inexpensive, are easy to put up and take down, lightweight, spacious, and are easily compressible. However, they may not be as stable in windy or bad weather conditions and aren’t able to accommodate a large group of people.
Again, geodesic tents are similar to dome-shaped tents but more durable and of higher quality. These tents are formed with more flexible poles, which grants them better stability in the wild or harsher weather conditions, rather than casual car camping. Due to their better structure, geodesic tents are generally more expensive, but harder to come across. Some of its advantages include: being stable in uncertain weather conditions and strong winds, good headroom, lightweight, durable, and able to accommodate more than four people. However, they can be harder to put up and are more pricey.
These are usually made of aluminum poles that recreate the shape of a cabin. A waterproof outer covering makes up the frame of the walls and roof of the cabin, providing lots of living space that allow you to stand up in. These tents can be decided into smaller rooms with internal dividers, making them perfect for family camping. However, though spacious and inexpensive, these tents aren’t meant to withstand harsh weather, and hence are best suited for fair weather camping. Furthermore, they also can be fairly heavy and complicated to set up.
By far, pyramid tents are the simplest to set up, as they consist of a rainfly draped over the top of a singular, central pole. In this case, the positioning of guylines and tent stakes becomes crucial to ensuring the tent’s stability. The larger these tents are, the less stable they become. Such tents are relatively easy to set up, considerably lightweight, and if pitched right, can be sturdy during harsh weather. Unfortunately, the lack of vertical walls limits head and storage space, and most tents lack a built-in groundsheet.
Tents for Families, Festivals, and Car Camping
If car camping is more your style, you might want to get a decent family-oriented tent with several rooms. On the other hand, if you enjoy going to festivals, you might want to go for a smaller and inexpensive tent.
Getting multi-room tents is the perfect option for family or group camping, even if you have a smaller family. If you like the extra space and privacy, families of four can opt for a tent that can accommodate eight to ten people instead. These tents have ample headspace, a large porch, lots of storage space, and multiple room dividers.
New to the scene, these tents are great for when you’d rather not spend too much time pitching a tent. They usually come in cabin, tunnel, or geodesic shapes, and are easy to pitch, compress, and repair. These tents are suitable for scenarios where you’d be spending more time outside than inside.
Now, for the ultimate festival party –– the famous pop-up tent. These tents are perfect for festival-goers as they are simple, have good ventilation, are easy to set up, and are considerably inexpensive. However, these are often not of good quality, aren’t able to withstand harsh conditions, and can be relatively unstable if made too large.
Tents for Wild Camping
If you’re looking to channel your inner Bear Grylls, you might want to look for heavy-duty tents that can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Backpacking tents come in tunnel or geodesic shapes and are designed to be carried and used n the wilderness. They are easy to pitch, have good ventilation, contain a small porch, and can withstand harsh conditions.
These are perfect for solo campers who want to pack and carry as light as possible. They provide the bare minimum of protection against the elements, and are great for stealth camping and observing nature. Bivy tents come in tunnel or ridge sizes and even come with a built-in bug net.
These are essentially bivy tents, but with the added benefit of being suspended off the ground. Such tents are perfect for camping in forested areas where swamps, rocky grounds, and undergrowth are common, or for those who want to enjoy a little more comfort in the wild.
If you want to take your camping experience to the next level, how about trying out luxury camping, otherwise known as glamping?
The perfect Instagram-worthy glamping tent, by far! Not only are they incredibly classy, but these tents also offer warmth, comfort, and durability in harsh weather conditions. These are made up of thick canvas draped over a central pole, and supported with plenty of stakes and guylines to withstand windy days and rainy nights.
There is a tent for everyone out there. However, remember to stay focused and look out for the tents that are the most suited for the type of camping trip you’re planning to go for — whether this involves bigger groups like a family outing, or an intimate and slightly elevated glamping affair. There are tons of options out there for you to explore. Happy camping!