Last updated: September 11, 2020

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Camping has a powerful ability to connect us to the world around us. It is no longer just a thing of our ancestors, nor of the fairytales out in the woods we dreamt up as kids. Camping has become a passion, lifestyle, and therapy for so many across the globe. When venturing out into the countryside or the rarely touched terrain of the high mountain tops, there aren’t usually options for hotels.

Whether by yourself, with a group of friends, or during a family camping trip, moving about comfortably will require a well-built tent. With so many options on the market today, there’s no doubt you can find the perfect one to accompany you on your travels.

Key Facts

  • Tents are portable shelters that are always made to be relatively easy to set up and to accommodate 1-10+ people during both the day and nighttime. They are used for leisure camping, excursions, research expeditions and even military purposes.
  • Tents have become increasingly popular since the beginning of the 20th century and today, the market is full of a large variety of models varying in size, durability, material, extended features and more.
  • When buying a tent, there are a number of factors to take into consideration to ensure you’re well equipped for the conditions you will be camping in. Some of these include the strength of the material, ease of assembly, ventilation, water resistance, comfort and insulation

The Best Tents in the U.S. Market

Once you’ve made the decision to go on your camping adventure, the next biggest step is to purchase your perfect tent. Each tent on the market will have its own profile according to its features and specific advantages. Below we’ve created a shortlist of 4 varying models with the highest ratings on the market to help guide you in your search.

The Best Tent for the Best Price

Coleman’s sundome tent is Amazon’s Choice for a 2 person, extremely affordable tent. It is a simply built dome tent with a sturdy frame that withstands 35+ mph winds. It sets up easily in only 10 minutes.

Its small size makes this tent great for backpackers. It has large windows and a ground vent for superior ventilation. It has patented welded floors and inverted seams that help keep you dry.

The Best Tent for Family Camping

This tent by HikerGarden has room for 8 adults. It is able to easily hold 3 queen air mattresses or 8 sleeping bags inside. It installs in only 10 minutes and has proven to be much stronger than traditional pop-up tents.

Sent through professional testing, this tent has a waterproof index of over 4000mm. It has redesigned poles and a frame that combats high winds. Built with 1 large mesh door, 5 mesh windows, and a mesh tent top, it offers optimal airflow.

The Best Tent for Mountaineering

The free-standing, two 7000 series aluminum pole design of this 1-person tent is perfect for the traveling mountaineer. It is easy to assemble, stays taut and is built with 75D 185T polyester material that protects against UV damage.

It has a vestibule for gear storage and extra weather protection. It has waterproof fly buckles and has factory sealed floor seams for maximum weather protection. The half mesh walls provide optimum ventilation.

The Best Ultralight Backpacking Tent

This ultra-lightweight tent by Hyke & Byke has no see mesh walls supported by 7000 Series aluminum alloy stakes. It’s made with reflective guy lines and a tension lock cord adjustment for stability.

The 2 poles with clip-pole attachment are not only lighter but easier to set up and offer better breathability. Waterproof, it has a PUR 2000 rainfly and a bathtub floor with taped floor seams. It is perfect for 3 season backpacking trips.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Tents

In the world of camping, a tent is a fundamental component. It can make the difference between a unique, beautiful and relaxing experience, or a stressful disaster. In the following sections, we’ll cover the most commonly asked questions, doubts, and important considerations when going to purchase your own tent.

girl camping on the wood

The interior of a tent must allow proper perspiration and ventilation in order to keep us comfortable and protected. (Source: Julian Bialowas: ilkTnuMunP8/ Unsplash.com)

What is a tent?

The tents are sole, portable and removable units that serve as a shelter for sleeping and spending the night. They are essential for camping and are generally simple structures that are easy to set up. They’re used for both leisure as well as for professionals who work in the wild outdoors.

What material are the tents made of?

Tents are most often today made of strong synthetic material, such as polyester. While this is not the only option, polyester is the most popular due to its lightness, durability, and resistance against varying weather conditions. The poles that allow the tent to hold its structure are almost always made of fiberglass or aluminum.

Materials will vary most greatly when considering where and when you will use it. They are not classified by season, rather by utility. A tent you use in the high mountains will not be the same as a family camping trip on the beach. Below are the most common classifications of tents you can find on the market.

Best at Characteristics
Four seasons High mountain, expedition or altitude The most professional.

Can withstand harsh weather conditions of high altitude, wind, rain or snow.

Prepared to withstand snow.

Three seasons Medium mountain or trekking: more versatile.

Typical for residential campsites, they do not support extreme climatic conditions.

Three seasons, light Cycle tourism or for backpackers They are characterized by their lightweight and large volume.

They are very easy to install.

Their materials are less resistant.

What are the different shapes tents can have?

Tent shapes have evolved and broadened over time. These days, tents are being constructed in ways that optimize the easy setup and resistance to varying climates. Below is a table that summarizes the most common shapes and models of tents today.

Form Assembly Advantages or disadvantages
Dome tent or igloo The rods cross diagonally over the base, thereby tightening the outer fabric. They are very resistant to wind and external conditions, although the interior space is quite small.
Tunnel Several arched rods support the outer layer of the tent and give it the typical tunnel shape. They offer the best ratio between the surface and volume of the cabin Suitable for families.
Geodesic tent Similar to igloos but with a larger number of rods, so assembly is more complicated.

Rectangular base (back part rounded in the shape of the apse) and supported by two masts, roof covered

They have greater stability and they are more resistant to extreme climate.

Why is the igloo tent the most popular?

Today, igloo tents are by far the most advertised and sold on the market. They exploded in popularity at the end of the 20th century and are not the most sought after by outdoor adventurers of all kinds. This is mainly due to their ease of assembly, lightweight structures, and portability.

Additionally, the absence of rods and posts on the interior allows for better use of space. The dynamics of the igloo shape allow it to stabilize itself during high winds, deflecting it away and guiding it up and over the tent as it hits. Within the igloo design, itself come different shapes, such as the half tube or hemisphere design, all offering slightly different advantages.

camping on a wonderful view

Tent shapes have evolved over time.
(Source: Daan Weijers: pSaEMIUO84/ Unsplash.com)

What are the different components of a tent?

When going to buy your own tent, you should familiarize yourself with the different components and elements that make up a tent. This will not only ensure that you find the tent that provides you with the proper features you need but will guarantee proper setup and maintenance. Among the varying models you’ll have:

  • Mast: Rigid rods, generally used by Canadian stores, to support the tents heaviest weight point. They are connected to the posts so that the canvas opens and covers all spaces properly.
  • Posts or poles: Flexible rods that are widely used in igloo shops. They connect to masts (if any) and their strength depends on the material they are made of (usually fiberglass, polyethylene or aluminum).
  • Canvases: The fabric that provides the main structure and shape of the tent. As seen, materials can differ and their physiognomy dictates the type of tent it is (igloo, Canadian or tunnel, among others).
  • Clips: Most tarpaulin have small plastic clips that fit or wrap around the poles to tighten and support it.
  • Sheaths: Some tarpaulins have covers sewn inside them through which the posts can be passed, from end to end. They also serve to keep the structure tense as well as provide extra covering.
  • Pegs: The pegs, or stakes, are like thick nails that insert deeply into the ground, securing the ends of the canvas down for stability.
  • Roof cover: Some tents come with an extra canvas that is separate from the rest of the tent that is made to provide extra protection rain, wind or sun. Must be waterproof.
  • Double flooring: Similar to the roof cover, some tents include a canvas that is placed between the ground and the interior floor that serves to prevent tears, holes or moisture from entering.
tent on a field

Currently, igloo tents are the most purchased tents on the market.
(Source: Jackson: MzZVGFfMOkA/ Unsplash.com)

What aspects are important for the interior portion of a tent?

There is nothing worse than a tent with no airflow. One of the most important aspects when purchasing a good tent is proper ventilation. Humans naturally radiate heat. With the doors closed, even on a cold night, our breath can create a mist that clings to the inside of the tent walls. In extreme cases, and in cheaper tent models, water can start to drip from the ceiling.

To avoid this, tents should incorporate some sort of cotton within the material as well as multiple entry points for air. Tents that incorporate mesh doors and windows keep the air fresh on the inside while keeping the bugs on the outside. All this will create the best air circulation and the most comfortable living space.

What is the best way to anchor a tent?

Anchoring a tent is necessary for stability and resistance. The most important pieces to secure to the ground are the base of the floor and the ceiling (or double ceiling if there is one), which is achieved by using the pegs or stakes. Although manufacturers always include their own models of stakes along with the tent, it’s never a bad idea to purchase extra, sturdier models.

The two most commonly used stakes are earth axes, which are narrower (some made of steel) in order to make it easier to insert them into the hard ground; and snow axes, which are wider and more appropriate for contact with the snow. Make sure before nailing them into the ground the canvas of the tent are well fastened to their posts or poles.

Specially designed rope can be used as extra support in weather conditions that are extra windy. They are often used to help tighten the roof covers and deflect the wind. Many are made of reflective material to help with visibility to avoid bumping or tripping over them.

camping zone

Tents are solo, portable and removable units that, once assembled, serve as a shelter for sleeping and spending the night. (Source: Kotomanov: 4bI5JxMbkqM/ Unsplash.com)

How do you know if a tent is waterproof?

The measure of fabric resistance against water is via the degree of impermeability, or water column. The higher the water column, the more waterproof it is. A tent is considered waterproof if it can withstand more than 1500 mm in regards to its water column. This is equivalent to the pressure and strength of moderate windy rain.

Susan SontagU.S.-American Writer

“Camp is a solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness.”

Can tents be set up anywhere?

Unfortunately, no. The regulations within most cities in the States explains very clearly where camping is allowed and where it is not. Before setting up your tent, research where in the area it is permitted. Furthermore, within designated camping areas, there are often rules and regulations regarding camping in that space put in place to protect the land as well as those camping.

Shopping Criteria

You could experience a whole new level of camping if you purchase the right tent. To do so you must select a tent that is suitable for your camping destinations. Take a look at this purchase criteria we’ve created that will provide you with an easy checklist to run through to find the tent that is ideal for you.

Capacity

This biggest consideration is size. How many people will you be wanting to accomodate in your tent and how much space you desire inside will determine above all, which tent you choose. Most igloo models allow up to 6 people. Canadian style or cabin style tents offer luxurious amounts of room.

man inside a tent

Tents can be made of fabric or certain synthetic materials, such as polyester, today the most popular. (Source: Truettner: iPufjnRsYe0/ Unsplash.com)

Materials

The material of your tent will be a direct determinant of its durability. It’s crucial that the fabrics and seams are resistant and impervious to wind and rain. Canvases made with synthetic materials and pods made of polyethylene or fiberglass are highly preferred for maximum durability and strength.

Set Up

Unless you are an expert or have years of experience camping, making sure your tent is simple to set up and intuitive is very important. In regards to easy setup, igloo tents are always the best option. They have few structural components and are made with an overall simple design. However keep in mind, for rigorous terrain these are usually not sturdy enough.

Ventilation

For an exceptionally comfortable sleeping environment, it’s essential that there is good ventilation. As explained prior, make sure the tent is built with at least two mesh entry points of air for good circulation. For optimum ventilation in moist environments, those designed with some cotton will assist in the proper dissipation of moisture.

Weight and Portability

Usually, tents are carried across long distances before even being set up. Backpackers and mountaineers often carry them more than they sleep in them. Due to this, it’s quite natural to look for tents that are as compact and lightweight as possible. Generally speaking, it’s good to look for a tent that doesn’t weigh over 5 kilograms and folds up into a manageable size to carry or pack along in the car.

Summary

Tents have revolutionized the way that we are able to travel and spend time outdoors. They have become increasingly popular among people of all kinds across all cultures. Whether in the mountains, on the beach or through month-long hiking trips, they allow us to experience nature front and center.

The number and varying models of tents these days are endless. From domes to igloos, to individual and family-sized models, you’ll be able to find one that suits you and your loved ones. Simply keeping in mind factors such as ventilation, durability, and material will allow you to enjoy and withstand whatever weather conditions you find yourself in.

If you liked this article, share it with all your friends, family and nature fanatics! If you have any questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment. We want to hear your feedback!

(Featured Image Source: Scott Goodwill: y8Ngwq34_Ak/ Unsplash.com)

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