Tents for camping have different designs and features worth considering before deciding which camping tent to purchase to help find the best tents suitable for the type of outdoor adventure that is planned.
A Camping tents main purpose is to protect a user from the elements. However, tents also need to offer enough ventilation, be sturdy enough to stand up against high winds, be comfortable and easy enough to pitch.
The best tents are designed to keep in mind those needing family size tents for comfort, lightweight tents for backpacking or a bomb proof 4 season tent that will shed snow.
Whichever type of outdoor adventures a tent buyer does, considering the right features and design is highly advisable.
Camping Tent Styles
The structure of a tent matters for various reasons, which includes space, sturdiness and how it pitches. These are the main styles we find when deciding to choose tents for camping.
The A Frame Tent
The A frame style tent is one of the main style’s we would have seen a fair few years ago before other styles become available. These are shaped like an A when set up with two poles at the front and back ( creating a triangle) and a pole across the top section.
These can lack room inside because the walls slope inwards at the top leaving less head and body space than other tents for camping, in the top section.
The A frame tent still has its place and can be a very strong durable shelter, although not the first choice for family sizes tents or backpacking for most.
Hoop or Tunnel Tents
These tents are a simple design that uses the poles to be shaped as a hoop, which creates a tunnel look.
They are popular for those searching for family size tents for camping and can offer ample head room. The near vertical tent walls makes this tunnel a tent somewhere between a cabin and dome.
These are not as popular as they used to be, with the design not giving the best for protection from high winds compared to dome tents for backpacking, and not providing as good access or room as a cabin style for a family.
The tuunel tent is often the tent on camp sites that flap around a lot when the wind picks up.
These are the most popular of tents today because the design offers great weather protection from the dome shape for backpacking or family camping.
When choosing family size tents these will offer better weather protection than the others, although they will restrict room more than a large tunnel or cabin style tent.
For backpacking this is a much bigger subject with many tents representing the dome style. These we would call backpacking tents rather than a style, which we discuss in the backpacking tent article further.
Cabin Style Tents
These are one of the most popular family size tents today with some of the best brands providing some great cabin tents that offer easy access in and out, with plenty of ventilation for summer camping for the family.
These often have screened rooms to convert into a bedroom or to keep open to be used for a large room. The walls are very close to, if not vertical, which is why they have become so popular, offering ample room to move around.
The cabin style family size tents would not be used for winter camping and are not designed for this.
A camping hammock is a choice for lightweight backpacking and is pitched by being attached and suspended by a tree. A quality hammock can also be used as a bivy sack when set up on the ground as a camping tent.
These have advantages and disadvantages with many having a personal preference for what works well for them when backpacking.
Tarp tents are some minimalist’s choice when searching for the best tents suitable for backpacking light.
These are a basic shelter to protect a user from the rain whilst keeping it light, with some users loving them and other backpackers wanting a more comfortable shelter that also keeps the bugs at bay.
These are another basic shelter to be used for backpacking and popular for mountaineering and climbing. Your not likely to find these pitched next to family size tents in campgrounds.
A Bivy is something that sleeps a person with a sleeping bag and nothing more.
Camping Tent Features To Consider
Vestibule: A vestibule is a an area usually at the front or the back of the tent that is used to store gear and boots, which is easier to visualize as a porch area.
<pDoors: Tents for camping can be supplied with one door at the front, one at both sides and other variations. Its worth considering how a person wants to have access in and out of a tent, especially if it means climbing over others during the night.
Tent poles: Simply put many of the cheaper style tents are made with fiber glass poles which can break easier. Aluminium types are the stronger option if camping is more than just a now and again recreational activity.
Poles that are color-coded and attach to clips rather than tent sleeves provide a user the ability to pitch much quicker and easier than other designs.
The more tent poles the longer a tent usually takes to set up, although more tent poles should make a camping tent more sturdy.
Tent Footprint/Groundsheet: These are used for protecting the under floor of tents for camping, which most experienced outdoor enthusiasts will use to extend the life of the tent. Even some of the best tents that are quite expensive may not come with a footprint, which is worth checking out before making a purchase.
Rainfly: The rainfly is the outer protection of the inner tent to stop rain getting inside. These can be designed as a full fly, half fly or like the cabin style tents an awning. The more coverage a fly has the better the inside of a camping tent is protected from rain.
Bathtub floor: The bathtub floor offers great protection from rain seeping inside tents for camping, because the seams are a few inches from the ground.
<pVentilation: Vents can be put into the tent roof or walls on the outer tent and many tents have plenty of areas that use no-see-um mesh. Vents and no-see-um mesh will help keep condensation at bay. Poor ventilation design can make a night uncomfortable in hot weather or produce excessive condensation that leads to waking with a wet sleeping bag and gear.
Freestanding design: Many tents for camping are now made with the freestanding design. These do not need tent stakes to set the tent up, which helps when pitching and needing to move the tent in a better spot before staking. Its a great design for shaking out the dirt and crumbs too, by giving it a shake before packing away.
Loops and Pockets: These you will see as advertised as gear loops and pockets for gear. Loops are useful for hanging a lantern or light from the ceiling of the tent and other items off the floor. Interior pockets can be found in some of the best tents for keeping small items inside which helps with organizing bits and bobs.
3 Or 4 Season Tents: Many tents are 3 season tents that cover weather protection for the summer spring and fall.
Four season tents are designed to be able to handle and shed snow because the structure is much stronger, for mountaineering and winter camping purposes.
Before Buying Tents For Camping
The main points to be considered before searching for the best tents for camping, money can buy will include these.
- Capacity: How many people sleeping to determine the size of the camping tent needed. Many sources including me, would advice a buyer to consider a tent one or 2 sizes bigger. Many tents are made to sleep people on sleeping pads without room for gear. If two people are sleeping think about a 3 or 4 person tent, or for 5 people think about a 7 person tent, family size tents think a bit bigger than the advertised size, and so on.
- Costs: Cheap tents can be bought from many stores like Walmart, although these will not be anywhere near the quality as well known tent brands from outdoor stores. Like most purchases we can end up in a scenario where we go back after the first use to replace the item. Like the old saying goes buy cheap pay twice. If a person is new to camping then not investing a lot of money makes sense. Until a person is sure they want to go camping frequently a value tent may do.
- Camping Tent Reviews: We provide articles within this website that reviews the best tents for camping to help users find the best camping tent. Checking out consumer and unbiased reviews from websites like this and others will help find suitable family size tents, backpacking and other tents.