How to pick your next camping tent
-- by Marc Wiltse
Sizing It Up
Camping tents are rated by the number of people they can accommodate. But these ratings are like getting twenty circus clowns into a Volkswagon Beetle...goofy. :-) When they say it's a 4-person tent, they mean 4 people and nothing else, no hiking gear, no room for boots, just 4 people that hopefully know each other pretty well. Seriously, if you're looking for backpacking tents or hiking tents and weight is a big concern, then get cozy and use the rating system, but otherwise I'd think bigger.
Consider going 1-2 sizes bigger than what you need for a smaller camping tent. Better yet divide the "person rating" by 2 so you'll have a decent amount of room if you have to stay inside due to nasty weather. If you thought cabin fever was bad wait until you're stuck in a downpour with 5 other people in a small tent for a few days.
My 4 man tent with 2 vestibules is perfect for 2 people and plenty of gear. Dry equipment is a good thing. This is still true with kids because the smaller they are the more room they take up with "kid stuff". Something else to keep in mind is that more room makes extended trips easier.
Consider the length and width of the camping tents you're looking at. If you're 6 feet tall you'll want at least 7 feet to stretch out length-wise and 2-3 feet of width depending on how much you move in your sleep.
Another thing to consider is to make sure you have enough space for an inflatable air mattress. While it's not mandatory I'll have to say it makes camping much more comfortable than lying on a cold pad. When I wake up I feel 300% better than when I slept on a pad on the floor getting stiff and cold. No it's not a king-size pillow-top, but hey this is camping. ;-)
Since we're on the subject of size, make sure that you'll have enough height to kneel, partially-stand, or...
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Marc learned about quality gear just after his pup tent flooded forcing him to sleep in his tiny 2-seat Honda CRX. His camping & hiking newsletter & reviews save you time & money. Subscribe to his camping & hiking newsletter & get the most usable info. FREE! © 2005. Reprint permission if author, copyright, links & this notice are intact.