How to Buy a Tent
Buying a tent is serious business. Getting caught in poor conditions with the wrong tent can be at most disastrous, and at least terribly uncomfortable. Let us help you be as comfortable as possible on trail.
Buying a tent is serious business. Getting caught in poor conditions with the wrong tent can be at most disastrous, and at least terribly uncomfortable.
Where are you going?
Before buying, consider where and when you typically like to camp. If you usually hike during the summer, but might give winter camping a try, you’ll be best off with a three-season tent. If your tent is not quite right for a special trip, simply rent or borrow another one.
Try before you buy
Once you whittle down your options, be sure to assemble it in the store. Building a fire and assembling s’mores in the aisle is not advised, but do use the fly and the stake-out points to fully pitch the prospective tent. Pocket the directions and resist looking at them to see how easily you can put it together without help. This is important, because eventually you might have to pitch the tent in the dark or without the directions because you dropped them in a river.
Finally, get inside, preferably with those you will be sharing the tent with, or with other customers willing to indulge you. Make sure there’s enough room in every direction — sit up, lie down, get in and out, and remember, you’ll be in sleeping bags and you’ll be getting dressed in there too.
Test the pockets and the zippers, and watch for snagging, which can be frustrating when you really need to get out and answer nature’s call late at night.
Take your time when researching and comparison shopping. Don’t buy a tent on impulse unless you already know it’s the model you want. Properly researching this essential piece of gear can mean the difference between an uncomfortable camping trip and a pleasant one.
Definitely check out Allison Woods' tent review from the July 2008 issue of Washington Trails Magazine here.