"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Camping guides: Choosing a tent

by Kelly A. Mello guest author

[Editor's note - Kelly is a freelance writer and columnist for Sunday News Magazine]

camping tent image courtesy of New Forest UK Roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, spending time with friends and family, appreciating nature; these are all the wonderful things camping has to offer. In order to fully enjoy your trip, however, you have to choose the right tent. There is nothing to make your camping experience completely miserable than a leaky, inadequate tent.

The first two things you must know before purchasing your camping tent are -- how many people are joining you, and what will you be doing? For weather purposes, there are two categories:

Three-season and Four-season


The three season tents are used for more general backpacking excursions. They are intended for Spring, Summer, and Fall use, as they will more than likely fail you if it snows heavily. However, it does hold up well in the rain. Most campers are accustomed to three-season camping, so there is a big selection to choose from. Keep in mind that the first section of three-season shelters mentioned are actually more for summer use.

$12-$549 Screen and Tarp Shelters

Under this category lies a couple of different versions. Both are very light in weight, but probably not what you are looking for in general camping circumstances. In fact, though they are classified as a tent, screen shelters are more of an area you would eat under and are not protected from the elements at all. In addition, tarps are usually very open to the outside.

$12-$300 Tents

A: Warm-Weather

This type of tent should be used mainly for warm and humid climates, though it does work as a three-seasonal. They are extremely light weight due to its mesh walls. I would not highly recommend this model, however, because if it does rain or snow, you will freeze your tush off.

B: Single-Wall

If you are into bare-essential camping, single-wall tents are for you. They are basically rainflies equipped with a few vents you can zip open during warmer conditions. For more general camping however, this could lead to that miserable scene I mentioned earlier.

C: Bivy sacks

These are minimalist shelters for one camper and not much else aside from a sleeping bag. In fact, it pretty much looks like a sleeping bag with a small tent covering your head. If saving weight is your chief priority, a bivy is worth considering. If you like room to move inside your shelter, look elsewhere. Though technically it is a three-season tent, I wouldn't try using it in the fall.

$99-$179 [continued]

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Reprinted by permission from Kelly A. Mello. Copyright 2008 - all rights reserved

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1 comment:

  1. Kelly, thanks for sharing a helpful guide.

    We switched to the camping trailer shown here, but can't bear to part with our 3-room (sort of) Columbia tent. It's a pain to set up sometimes, but so roomy and cool inside.

    Earlier this summer our kids invited a friend to camp with us. The adults used the camper and the kids took over the tent. Worked out perfectly all around.