Picking the right type of tent part 2

by | Apr 22, 2024

Buying a tent may sound straightforward once you know what type you’re looking for but even withing each category there’s so much to choose from, so you need to narrow down your options by carefully considering your requirements and how the different styles of tent match up for suitability.

  • The choice of available tents makes buying one less straightforward than it may first seem.
  • Depending on your requirements, some styles of tent and particular features will be far more suitable for your needs than others.

It isn’t as much fun to start with cost, but tents can range from £10s to £1000s of pounds and costs can easily spiral so decide your budget and unless there are very compelling reasons not to try to stick to it within reason.

Decide what size of tent you need. Comfort and space come at the expense of set up speed and storage but it’s still worth considering a tent a little bigger than the bare minimum. If you want a 2-person tent, consider a 3- or 4-person tent if comfort outweighs convenience. And also decide whether a porch area is an important feature for you.

Think about the likely weather conditions that your tent will be exposed to. The chances are extremely high that UK campers will experience wet weather so waterproofing is key. Look for a minimum hydrostatic head rating of 1,500mm (probably higher if it’s likely to be windy as well as rainy), taped seams, and the ability to ventilate adequately to try and minimise condensation.

Groundsheets these days tend to be built in to stop water ingress from between the bottom of a tent’s sides and a loose groundsheet. When you’re choosing a tent, make sure that the hydrostatic head rating of the groundsheet is higher than the rest of the tent to mitigate the pressure of people walking and sitting on it. You can improve the waterproofness of the groundsheet further by using a tent footprint underneath.

These days, tents are usually made from light, packable materials such as polyester and/or nylon. If you’re determined to have a traditional cotton tent, be aware that it will take longer to dry and take up more space when stowed.

So, now you’ve got an idea of the features you’re looking for, it’s time to decide the best tent shape for your needs.

Basically, you can have a tent with poles or an inflatable tent. Inflatable tents are quicker to put up and take down as they are supported by air in the chambers, but they’re bulkier and more expensive. Poled tents take longer to assemble but they are considerably more compact and transportable.

When they hear the word ‘tent’ the iconic image of triangular a ridge tent springs to mind for many people. They are simple, straightforward, and traditional in design with the ‘ridge’ pole holding the fabric up between two A frames.

Conical tipi tents straddle tradition and modernity with a retro style and modern materials They are simple and quick to set up but might not have a sperate inner tent. However, if they have a suitable pipe opening, a tent stove can be used safely.

Dome tents are exactly that – flexible poles enable their dome shape which can even allow for standing height. The higher they are however, the less stable they become.

Pod tents, tunnel tents and vis a vis tents are all suitable for family camping as they come in a range of sizes. While pod tents can be extended by attaching more pods to allow for individual privacy, they can be tricky to set up and cover an extended area (which may incur extra pitching costs). Tunnel tents have straight sides and provide plenty of space for living and sleeping while vis a vis tents have two sleeping pods that create vertical walls to the central living space. This can sometimes be extended by removing one of the inner tents.

Quick and easy all-in-one pop-up tents are quite unsophisticated in terms of layout but are ideal for things like festivals. They literally pop up as they’re removed from the case and are immediately ready to go. However, getting them back into the case might not be quite so simple…

Finally, if you’re considering a geodesic or semi-geodesic tent, you probably don’t need this guide because you’re a serious mountaineer or adventurer who needs a geodesic tent for camping in extreme weather conditions. If you’re looking at those, you’re already an expert!