Camping Tents Explained

If your battle cry is "Gimme shelter!" then you've got to get the details down. Start here.

Jun 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
2004 Buyer's Guide : Camping Tents Explained

   Photo: Illustration by Steve Stankiewicz

 •  Your tent's floor and rain fly (if the shelter has one) should come with taped seams on the inside to ensure abrasion resistance and increase waterproofness. A fly that can be set up on its own, using poles, can come in handy when going ultralight is ultraright.

 •  Two doors means more ventilation and will save you from a game of tentmate Twister every time one of you needs to enter or leave. Small vents in the fly and over the doors keep the fresh air rolling in when the doors and windows are battened down against a storm.

 •  A vestibule should be large enough—six square feet per person, minimum—to accommodate a pack, your boots, and a damp dog.

 •  Want a fast setup time? Look for quick clips (though pole sleeves weigh less). For easy assembly, pick a shelter with color-coded clips, sleeves, or grommet tabs.

 •  Glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls and reflective guy-outs mean no more fumbling or face plants when nature calls at 2 a.m.

 •  Freestanding tents typically have more poles and more weight but are easier to move and more stable. Tents with Guy-out points are typically lighter but require staking, which can present a challenge on sand, rock, or snow.

 •  Be sure that you can sit up comfortably in the tent before making your purchase. There's nothing worse than setting up your new casa only to find out that it resembles a burrito, and you're the soggy filling.

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