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How to Pick a Camping Tent

Learn how to pick a camping tent from Heather Menicucci, author of Let's Get Primitive: The Urban Girl's Guide to Camping, in this Howcast video.


Tents are the thing, I think, that you should probably plan to spend the most money on and invest in something pretty good. When I say good, I mean something that is durable and lightweight. You can expect to spend between $100 and $500, roughly.

And what you're looking for is something that suits you and the amount of people you plan to put in your tent. I was really schooled on the differences of tents when I went on a big, huge group camping trip to Asitic Island.

There were these super small, little tents that looked like space ships that would fit just one person and their sleeping bag. Then there was this really big family tent where we all played Yatzee at night, so there's a really wide variety of tents, what they look like and also how many people they can fit. The first priority is making sure that your tent fits you and whoever else you need to have sleep in it.

The other thing is weight. Tents usually weigh between five and nine pounds. I had a nine-pound tent for a long time and it was actually pretty heavy and so, I now have a seven pound tent and that's just about where I feel most comfortable. It sleeps, comfortably, two to four people. The other thing with tents is that some of them have fiberglass poles and some of them have aluminum poles. Fiberglass poles are lighter, but aluminum poles are more durable.

I prefer fiberglass. I've never had a problem with them snapping. That's something you can look for. A lot of tents come with a rain fly, which is just like a rain jacket for your tent, so you're going to want that for sure. I like a tent that has some good ventilation. I like when there's a beautiful breeze coming through. Tents are kind of claustrophobic. They get hot, they get steamy, so if you have some what I call windows, it's great.

Tents also either come with a bath tub floor, which is like a tarp that's sewn into the bottom of the tent and it makes your floor waterproof, or you have to get a separate tarp and pitch your tent on top of a tarp. I love the bath tub floor if you can get it, but as soon as you start adding more stuff, you often end up with a heavier tent. Basically, when you're looking for a tent, you're looking for the smallest tent that you can find and the lightest tent.

The rule of tents, just like the rule with most camping gear, bigger and cheaper is going to be heavier, so that's something just to keep in mind with tents and just about everything else you buy when it comes to camping.

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