Family Tent Buying Advice – What to Consider
Camping tents aren’t created equal. For seasoned campers, this shouldn’t be news. However, for novice campers who haven’t experienced an evening spent in a tent outdoors, it is worth noting that not all tents are equal. Hypothetically, many tents can be compared in terms of construction, quality, and other features. However, a tent working for one camper may not be suitable for your family.
Buying a family tent can be compared to buying a home, albeit of a smaller scale. Therefore, you should choose carefully and wisely; otherwise, you will regret the uncomfortable time spent outdoors. It might be downright miserable. That said, some of the components that will help you find the best family tent are outlined below.
Purpose of the tent
This is perhaps the first consideration to take when searching for family tents. This involves understanding why you need the tent. Is it for the kids to camp out in your backyard? Hoping to reduce and ultimately avoid spending money on hotels during vacations? Are you an avid outdoorsman? Before proceeding to select the tent, you should be able to answer the questions above.
Camping tent types
To begin, there are numerous tent types available in the market currently. All have specific situations where they excel in. That said, you should choose a tent depending on your intended use and the perceived prevailing weather in the area you plan to camp. Being a family tent, it should be outrightly larger and taller. On the other hand, winter tents should be lower and more aerodynamic to stand up the winter elements. The various tent types include:
The classic ridge tents have been in place for centuries. Armies, scouting groups, summer camps, and prospectors are often seen with this tent type. You can easily recognize their shape due to the A-shape structure. They have a single pole at the top with horizontal cross poles forming a canopy-like feature. Slopping walls often limit head and elbow room thus not ideal for family holidays.
- Modified A-Frame / Ridge Tent
It is an improved version of the previous model. It has centrally curved hoops and ridgeline poles providing a more spacious interior and a durable structure generally. It allows more freedom of movement.
Strong winds often cause troubles when erecting tents. However, the dome-shaped tents don’t pose this challenge. They are perfect for windy and stormy conditions. They are simple/easy to assemble and stable due to the 2-4 pole system used. Poles criss-cross as they pass through the center of the roof thus creating an arched ceiling with octagonal, hexagonal or square footprint.
- Tunnel or tube-shaped tents
They are the most common tents in campsites. Their shape provides extra internal space and sleeping space. They also have a good standing height. The structure of this tent is made strong by the flexible poles forming a semi-circle roof. Tunnel shaped tents vary greatly in quality and cost.
Though not common in the market, the pyramid tents construction consists of a single pole, centrally placed to hold the denier. The resultant structure is a round or square forming a pyramid shape. The tent, though spacious, is floorless and grass lies beneath your feet. It is a great choice for summer camping. If you plan on sleeping inside, consider having a bed that lifts above the floor to provide warmth.
As the name suggests, they are used with seasons. They include:
- 3 – season tents – which are designed for temperate conditions experienced during spring, summer, and falls. They have ample mesh panels which boost air flow.
- 3-4 – season tents – they are designed for use in prolonged seasons. They are suitable for summer and trips in the early spring and late fall where less snow is experienced.
- 4 – season tents – they are designed to withstand winds and snow loads thus can be used in any season.
Other types of tents may not be suitable for family camping. Therefore, choose one of the tents mentioned above based on your preference.
How many seasons will you need the tent?
Most people often camp during comfortable weathers such as late spring, early fall, and summer. This is why the majority of tents available are three-season tents. Depending on the time you plan to go out camping, therefore, consider the time and suitable tent.
This is the other major consideration to look into. How many people will share the tent? This solely lies on the size of your family. You can choose a tent of 4, 8, 10, 12 or even more people. If you need some privacy, consider a tent with multiple rooms.
Tent height is a serious concern, especially for tall people. Cabin tents provide more standing space whereas dome-shaped tents are only tall at the center. Bearing this in mind, go for a cabin tent if you plan to spend more time with your family in the tent. They will be more comfortable.
This is the next aspect you may want to inspect carefully. Begin inspecting the construction by checking the floor. Ensure that the seam cover the whole base and is raised a bit off the ground to avoid water sipping through it. Tent frames should come next. Most tents are pole built. However, fiberglass poles are not as much sturdy as aluminum poles. They can snap easily. Check if the poles attach through sleeves or clips. If you plan on setting up the tent on your own, prefer clips to sleeves as they are easy to set up.
Proceed by checking tent accessories such as vestibules or mudflaps. These components keep rain away from the tent door. Other accessories include footprints, shelves, and tarps which keep the floor of the tent off the floor. Also look at the presence of fans which ventilate the tent.
Tent materials play a big role in offering protection for your family. Modern tents are made of either polyester or nylon fabrics. Nylon tents are more expensive but stronger and lightweight. They may also not shed water as much compared to polyester. Besides this, consider tent materials with protectants such as polyurethane and silicone which protect you from UV rays.
Other important factors to consider when searching for a family tent include:
- The price of the tent. Note that cheaper ones don’t guarantee to save you money. Investing in something durable for your family is good.
- Set up time – always go for a tent with an easy and simple set up procedure.
- Portability – this depends on where you plan to camp. There are car-pulled and backpack tents. Choose one based on your preference.
- Ventilation channels – ceilings, doors and windows often have mesh panels to enhance ventilation.
- Presence of interior loops and pockets for convenience.
- You may also want to consider other nice accessories such as stakes and anchors, floor mats, tent repair kits, utility cord, seam sealer and battery powered ventilation fan.