»Tents are sized by how many “men” will fit inside. However, this is how many will barely fit; the tent will be very crowded. A two man sized tent is better for a single person as it offers a bit of room to move around. If you plan on camping in a two man tent with someone, make sure you are really good friends.
»Tents are also rated as to what type of season they are made for. A one and two season tent has a body made with lots of mesh window material covered by a rain fly. A three or four season tent has more fabric on the body, less mesh window material and zip close panels on the windows. Pick a tent that will match the conditions you are likely to experience.
»Many tent makers produce a “footprint”, or “ground cloth”, which is usually sold seperately. It is a heavyier fabric panel, coated for waterproofness, that fits under the tent floor. It protects your tent floor from rocks, twigs, debis and keeps it clean and dry. Often, you can use the footprint combined with the tent poles and rain fly to make a light-weight rain shelter.
»If you don’t have a footprint for your tent, make one out of heavy gauge plastic. Cut your footprint just smaller than the floor of your tent plus any area covered by the rain fly. You do not want any of the footprint sticking out beyond the outer border of the tent (or rainfly if using one) as it might catch rain and channel it under your tent between the plastic ground cloth and tent floor.
»When taking down your tent, fold your footprint or plastic ground cloth so theside that was on the ground is on the inside of the fold. That way any dirt or moisture won’t get on other items in your backpack. You can also pack it seperate from your tent in an outside pocket.
»Look for tents with aluminium poles rather than fiberglass. Aluminium is lighter and more durable.
»Some tents have what is called a vestibule. This is an area outside the body of the tent that is covered by the rainfly. A good feature to look for in a tent, as a vestibule is the perfect place to store any gear you don’t need inside your tent – plus your boots. You can also store a small amount of firewood to keep it dry if rain is threatening.
»When choosing a campsite watch out for overhead hazards (dead tree limbs and such), low lying areas that are prone to flood, or game and hiking trails. These need to be avoided.
»If you pitch your tent in the treeline instead of out in the open it will stay cooler and won’t collect the morning dew. Making it dryer to pack if you are moving in the morning.
»If you will be breaking camp in the morning, empty your tent when you get up. Then, as you are fixing breakfast and getting things in order, you can move your tent and footprint/ground cloth out into the sun to dry prior to for packing.
»Always keep your tent zipped up unless you are entering/exiting it. This keeps the bugs and other critters out. If you are leaving camp, make sure to close up the rainfly in case it rains while you are gone.
»Once you have chosen a spot to pitch your tent, clear any debris ( twigs, leaves, rocks and stuff ). Spread out your tent’s footprint or ground cloth, then lay on top of it where you plan to have your sleeping bag situated. If there is any sort of slope to the ground, make sure you are laying feet downhill. If you lay across the slope you will be fighting rolling into the wall of your tent, or if you lay head downhill, you will wake up with a nasty headache. Rotate your footprint/ground cloth accordingly and set up your tent.
»Never have any food or scented items (gum, candy, deoderant, shampoo) inside your tent. Wild animals have a very keen sense of smell and won’t hesitate to rip up your tent to get at it. All food and scented items should be stored in a seperae pack and suspended between two trees high enough that local wildlife won’t be able to get it. Also, never cook or wear your trail clothes inside your tent. Besides having the smell of food on your clothes, you may have insects or perhaps poison ivy residue on them. Take them off before you get in your tent.
»If you will be leaving your tent unattended, make sure to stake it to the ground. You don’t want the wind to come up and take it for a ride.
»When you buy a new tent, try setting it up to famaliarize yourself before going camping. Now is a good time to reinforce the waterproofing on the rainfly. There are many types of seam sealer available at camping stores. Take off the rainfly and turn it over, apply the sealer to all the stitching on the seams and let dry. Then take a bit of talcum or baby powder and dab it on the seams to keep the waterproofing from sticking when you pack your tent.
»Always dry your tent when you return home. Even a slightly damp tent will mold and be ruined when packed away.
»Think about alternatives to a tent like a bivy sack or hammock / bugnet / tarp set up.