Val Shortt

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Tips to help you pick the right camping tent for your needs.

How to Chose the Right Camping Tent

Here are a few hints when choosing the tent just right for you or your family.

Tents that are advertised as one person are rarely big enough for one person. Two person tents are usually comfortable for just one person, a three person tent is comfortable for two people and so on. If you do not pick something large enough, you will find yourself cramped, claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

Pick something that will give you a little room to move and some space for some of your gear as well. Each person needs about 3 by 7 feet to stretch out. You will need extra room to dress etc. Remember, if the weather is not good, you will be stuck in whatever you have picked. You don't want to be sitting cramped and hunched over feeling miserable. In deciding on what you need, consider whether you will be summer or winter camping, and whether you will be backpacking.

Tents are not waterproof. They are made of breathable ripstop nylon. It allows your sweat and breath to evaporate. This means you need a rainfly. They are waterproof. It fits over the roof of the tent and is meant to carry away rainwater from the tent sides. Make sure the fly is large enough to substantially cover the tent walls. Applying a sealant to the tent seams is a good idea. Apply sealer as needed throughout the tents life.

Most tents have a fine mesh screen over the door and window designed to keep out insects. All netting is not alike. Standard netting is made of nylon. Dacron is a finer mesh to discourage even the smallest bugs. They are usually zippered at the entrance with a flap that zippers over the door and window for privacy.

Because of the nature of the fabric used in making tents, being porous, very few tents are designed to keep you warm. They are designed to protect you from the weather and from insects. They will protect you from the wind and rain, snow and sun.

To care for your tent, nylon is virtually maintenance free. The only thing that needs to be done is sealant occasionally. Never store your tent when it is wet, or even slightly damp. Always set it up when you are finished your trip and dry it out completely. Also sponge off any dirt or mud inside using a very mild liquid detergent or a baking soda and water solution. Be sure to make any repairs if you have had the misfortune to burn or damage your tent in some way. You can buy repair kits that come in various colors and are easy to use. Store your tent in a cool, dry place in its storage bag.


The basic style of the dome tent is hexagonal. The fabric usually used is nylon. The weight is about two and one-half to seven and one-half pounds. The tent is usually free-standing or self supporting. This means no stakes or lines are needed under normal circumstances. However you should never leave it unoccupied without staking it down because the wind can send this lightweight tent tumbling off. The dome tent is great for backpackers and canoeists. Its aerodynamic shape makes it the choice of winter campers and mountaineers in larger sizes. It resists gusts of wind well and is easy to set up and dismantle. The only problem with this type of tent is that it is not well ventilated. Moisture tends to gather at the top of the dome.

This type of tent is primarily a backpacker's shelter. It can weigh as little as one and one-half pounds. The type of material used is generally nylon. It is not very spacious. The advantage of this tent is how compact it becomes. It can be rolled into a tight bundle no larger than a football. It is a free standing tent, not needing any lines or stakes unless a fly is added. It is lightweight, which makes it ideal for the backpacker or canoeist. Because of its design the wind flows off of it easily and makes it great for winter camping. It has a screened opening at one end and can be closed against severe weather. It is easily erected and dismantled. It also ventilates well.

This tent is used primarily by the backpacker. The frame of this tent can be either fitted into sleeves or standing independently of the shelter. Gone are the days of the upright pole that used to hold it up in the middle of the opening. They are generally made out of nylon. Weights vary from about 3 pounds to about 6. These tents are ideal for canoe trips, climbers, fishermen and hunters. They are relatively lightweight and spacious. A vestibule can be added to the front opening adding very little weight and adding an extra 10 to 20 square feet. This makes it ideal for storing your gear and giving you extra sleeping area.

Val Shortt has extensive camping experience. A stay at home mom, she also runs a website that offers a wide range of camping equipment, mountain climbing gear and snow boarding accessories. For more information, visit:

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