Camping is one of the most popular outdoor pastimes. It’s a great way to connect to nature, step away from technology and the rat race of daily life, and make lasting memories with those you love. What’s better than telling stories around a campfire, roasting s’mores, gazing at the stars, and listening to the sounds of a crackling fire with your friends and family?
When you’re in the great outdoors, though, you need to be prepared for whatever weather may come your way. A camping trip can quickly become less than Instagram-worthy if your tent isn’t up to par. A good tent will keep you cool in the heat and dry in the rain and serve as the centerpiece of your camping trip. The best tent won’t necessarily make your trip, but a bad tent can definitely ruin it. Therefore, before you buy a tent for your next adventure, consider the following:
5 Things to Know Before Buying a Tent:
- Size: One of the most basic criteria is size. Tent specifications note the number of people the tent sleeps. Tents can be as small as tiny single-person shelters to pop-up cabins capable of housing nine adults. Think about the number of people your tent will typically need to accommodate. More room is nice if you don’t mind the extra weight and space the tent will take up, but if space and weight are a concern, go with a tent that’s just big enough. Tents list the floor size, which can help you visualize the layout.
- Price: There’s a huge range in the prices of tents based on their size, features, weight, season rating, and design. Two-person tents may cost as little as $40, while larger tents, those that are particularly lightweight and compact for backpacking, and winterized tents can cost upward of $200.
- Shape: The shape of the tent affects not only its feel but also it’s performance. Dome tents are inherently stronger than other shapes, making them good in windy conditions. The steeper the walls, the more rain and snow the tent will shed, and the more headroom you’ll have. Long low tents, which are called tunnel tents, are tight inside but use fewer poles so they save on weight. They tend to be used as backpacking tents.
- Seasons: Camping tents are rated for the weather they can handle based on seasons. For example, three-season tents are designed to be used for spring, summer, and fall camping, while four-season tents give you winter protection as well. The lightest, simplest tents may only be for summer use. Consider the climate and months in which you’ll be camping.
- Materials: Most waterproof camping tents are made with polyester coated in polyurethane to seal out water. Canvas tents will be heavier and likely not waterproof. Poles are usually either aluminum, which is lighter, or steel, which is more rugged, or fiberglass. Look at the product specifications for details on the materials, which provides a sense of the durability and weather protection afforded by the tent.
After sifting through the top-rated tents, we tested out the tents with the best reviews. We evaluated their value, durability, features, assembly, weight, construction, materials, design, comfort, and protection against the elements. We’ve curated a list of the top five tents to ensure the memories you make on your next camping trip have nothing to do with waking up in a puddle.