Tents and What You Want to Know

Tents and What You Want to Know

 Previously I posted an article about Beach Camping. After doing so I started thinking about our adventure into camping.  We began our journey in camping in a tent and slowly over time progressed up to camping in an RV. This happened because of our age and the desire to make our experiences easier and somewhat more comfortable. 

I wanted to share with you some information that may reduce any problems you may have in considering tent camping. If you’re an experienced camper the information may serve as a refresher for your next outing.

Tent Selection Tips

We all have different needs when considering the type of camping we do. Also we need to consider the type of cover that we require. Whether you enjoy backpacking, family Camping or any other type of camping you will need to consider weight, portability, size and comfort. So there are a few questions we will want to ask ourselves.

What type of camping will you do?

      Backpack camping

      Comfort for a single camper

      Weight to be carried


Two to Four Backpacking?

       Floor space for 2-4 persons



       Ease of Set-up

 Family Tents?

       Rooms for up to 12 persons


       Ease of entry


There a several styles of tent to choose from. Which is right for you?

There are different styles that offer different advantages. Depending on your needs

There are:

Dome Tents Offer

Adequate Space

Shape rounded, adds to strength and wind resistance

Easy set-Up

A Frame Tents Offer

Light Weight

Adequate Ventilation

Set’s up easily

Roomy at the floor


Cabin Style

Good head room

Large capacity

Vertical walls

Screen Tents Offer

Great cross ventilation

Large capacity

Prevents intrusion of bugs and sun


In what seasons and conditions do you camp?

Not all tents are created equally. A tent designed for winter camping will not meet your expectations in the summer. You should choose wisely and decide on when and where you will need your tent. Tents designed for all four seasons are therefore a good option.

2 Season tents

              Low cost

              Considered a “fair weather” tent


3 Season Tents

              Very Popular

              Usable in spring, summer and fall


4 Season tents

            Heaviest construction designed for heavy loads and higher wind  speeds.

            May be hot in mild weather

            Made from higher grade materials


How often do you camp?

 The more often that you camp the more you may want to invest in your equipment. Sturdier materials like an aluminum frame, heavier fabrics and so forth may be worth the investment. If you camp only once or twice a year you may want to spend your money on something less like a screen house tent or lesser expensive one instead.

How important is weight and pack size?

If you backpack you need to watch the weight of your tent. The more weight on your back will take its toll. And if you travel to the camp site via vehicle, the space available in the vehicle could be a consideration. If you like to canoe and camp the local rivers, size of your pack would be a consideration.

Tent Care

Taking care of your tent is sort of like taking care of your shoes. Every now and then they need to be polished or maybe a new set of soles. It is the same with your tent, water proof spray helps keep the rain water from soaking in. And maybe there is a grommet missing, or is there a small tear in it. Keeping up with maintenance will make your camping experience more enjoyable.


Seasonal Camping

If your plans include camping during the winter months, such as climbing to the top of Mount St. Helens. Or a trip to the Rockies you will need to think about a 4 season tent. Four season tents are built to withstand extreme outdoor conditions, such as those found at higher elevations. You may ask why you can’t use a Backpack tent. Those tents are not intended for the harsh conditions encountered in the winter months such as high winds and heavy snow loads, not to mention low temperatures.

Four season tents utilize heavier and stronger materials. They are normally dome style tents with steep angled sides. This prevents snow from building up on the top of the tent causing it to collapse. The design is aerodynamic to allow the winds to go over and around so the tent will tend to stay in place and not move.  Most use aluminum poles and supports as opposed to fiberglass. Fiberglass has a tendency to crack in cold weather.  They utilize breathable fabric where 2 and 3 season tents use more mesh to improve ventilation.

 Most 4 season tents feature rain fly’s and vestibules which aid in entering and exiting in addition to added storage space. Keeping your living space dry and debris free will allow you to enjoy an outdoor experience. There is nothing worse than crawling into a wet or damp sleeping bag. Also, a vestibule or two makes it easier to remove clothing and not bring wet clothing into the tent.

Many 4 season tents have vents built into them to allow ventilation. Ventilation is something that you want. Without ventilation condensation will form and crystallize and you will find frost or snow in your tent. A tent with a cover over the top is also helpful. A cover that allows an air gap between it and the tent is also helpful in reducing condensation. This gap only has to be an inch or two to allow ventilation.



Putting up a tent can be a daunting task at times. Where to set up at? Setting up in the wrong spot can be an unpleasant experience. Choose and area that is flat and slightly elevated. Avoid tree roots and stones if at all possible. Clean the area by raking and or picking up debris like pine cones, limbs and such. A good idea is to use a ground pad or tarp to protect the floor of the tent from being punctured. It will also help in keeping moisture from entering the tent through the floor.

Avoid setting up on hills if possible. The reasons may be obvious. You don’t want to be rolling over while trying to sleep and find yourself up against the side of the tent. You also do not want to set up in a valley. If it were to rain you may find yourself in a puddle or worse, a flash flood.

When camping I carry a compass so that I know where the sun comes up. It also aids in eliminating extreme sun exposure. The sun can wreak havoc on the tent material. It is advisable to check with the tent care instructions before going out. Follow the following check list for help in setting up.

  1. Select a location free of debris for your campsite.
  2. Lay down your footprint or ground cloth.
  3. Position the tent over the footprint with the doors facing away from the wind for optimal ventilation.
  4. Lay out the poles and assemble them. Follow instructions to attach the tent poles to the tent body. You may need to thread the poles through sleeve or use clips on the tent body.
  5. Attach the fly per the tents instructions and secure it to the tent body or poles.
  6. Stake out the tent. Start at the corners and make the floor perimeter taut. Once the corners are staked out, attach stakes to other points to get a taut tent body and floor.
  7. If there is ground cloth or foot print material extending beyond the floor perimeter of the tent, tuck this in so it will not collect rain water.

Breaking down Camp

The best course of action is to have a procedure and to follow it. Do the tasks in order to minimize something being missed. And use common sense, you wouldn’t fold and store your laundry while still wet and you don’t want to treat your tent that way either. Breaking down on a sunny day would be preferred although not always possible. On occasions you will need to break down in the rain with the tent going in the bag wet. As soon as you can set your tent up and allow it to dry. This may mean setting up the tent in the garage.  

Clean Up

Be sure to store and dispose of all trash so that it will not attract pests and critters. And above all, leave the area cleaner than when you found it. It is our responsibility to exhibit good stewardship of our natural resources. LEAVE NO TRACE OF YOUR PRESENCE.


Involving all members of your camping party will ensure all are onboard with when and where you’re going to go on this adventure. Discuss all expected activities and then decide on a location that best fits all concerned. Campgrounds have changed over the years and what we once remembered has now changed. Years ago our camping adventure may have been rustic and near a small lake or stream. Now it may be an upgraded campground with modern utilities and a heated swimming pool and hot tub. There are now many options on where and what you can experience. Once a decision on location has been it will become easier to establish a check list containing the items that you will need.

Each camping trip may require different pieces of equipment. Having a plan will ensure you have the right equipment for the trip your planning.

An important factor to point out is, once you’ve made a decision on where you’re going, call ahead and check availability of a site for the time frame you’re planning on. Campgrounds are becoming more and more popular and availability could become issue.

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