In the Store: Ask yourself what's most importanta big vestibule for your dog, lots of mesh because you like to stargaze, or low weight because you tick off 20-mile days?and then start your search accordingly. » Don't compromise on any must-have features. » Pitch the tent and crawl in before buying. Any reputable shop will let you give it a try.
In the Field: Stuffdon't rollyour tent into its stuffsack to prevent creases that over time could lead to leaks. » Clear your tent site of sharp rocks and remove your boots before you hop in. » Pamper your poles, too: They're the most delicate part of the tent. Don't shake them out like a gunslinger. » Save weight: Pack the poles directly into your pack and ditch the extra stuffsack. Ditto for excess P-cord and stakes.
At Home: Wash your tent with warm water and mild soap, but only if necessary. To prevent mildew, make sure the tent is totally dry before you stash it in the bottom of the bin. » Store poles linked together to take tension off the shock cords.