Choosing the tent – things to consider

How big does the tent actually need to be?

The size of a tent is usually described as number of ‘berths’ and these relate to the number of people that can realistically fit into a tent without luggage, e.g. a 2-berth tent will 2-people lying down. We would recommend buying a tent one berth higher than the number of people sleeping in it, this will leave you with extra room for your luggage and space to move about. Remember the bigger the tent the more space it’s going to take up in your car, the heavier it will be and the harder it will be to pitch. Some sites charge extra in pitch fees for a larger tent.

How much standing is there and do you need it?

Being able to stand in a tent can be a luxury when camping, being able to stretch and get dressed without having to struggle is a better way to start the day! Smaller tents are not going to be able to offer standing room so it’s up to you to decide whether or not it is something you really need.

How many bedrooms will you need?

This is important, before buying your tent you need to decide realistically how many people will be going camping in it. You don’t want to waste money buying a tent with lots of bedrooms if only 2 of you are going to use it. Bigger tents can cause issues when choosing to stay on a campsite, some might charge you extra or even for two pitches.

Is there any room for storage?

Again the size of a tent can be misleading a 2-man or 2-berth tent will hold two people lying down but there won’t be much room for luggage and equipment. If you are someone who likes to take a few luxuries with you when camping and need a little extra space it’s best to buy a tent that is one size too big, then you won’t be cramped!

What material should the tent be made out of?

Tents can be made out of cotton canvas, poly-cotton, nylon or polyester.

Cotton tents are a rarity these days but have the advantage of keeping cool during hot summer day and warm in cold nights. Brand new cotton tents will leak but don’t worry this can be resolved! All you need to do is pitch the tent in your garden before a rainfall and “weather” the tent, this can take 2 or 3 attempts but once the tent has been rained on a couple times it will become waterproof. Cotton tents can come with a waterproof coating but be aware that this can cause the cotton to become less breathable minimizing the main advantage of a cotton tent.

Poly-cotton tents are a replacement for cotton tents, it provides a lighter tent with same amount of strength. Poly-cotton tents are usually treated to make them waterproof.

Polyester tents are the most popular tents to buy, they are similar to nylon tents but are far more durable. Polyester tents won’t shrink or go loose when they get wet and are far less affected by sunlight than nylon tents.

Nylon tents can come very cheap but can also come very expensive and the quality will obviously reflect the price. Smaller tents tend to made from nylon as it’s a light fabric and they come with a range of waterproof coatings, again the quality of the coating is reflected in the price. When a nylon tents get wet is often gets loose so you will need to adjust the guidelines when camping for a few days. Strong sunlight can also shorten the lifespan of a nylon tent, there are coatings to minimise this but long days in strong sunlight will damage the tent.

Our next article will discuss the different types and shapes of tents available.