Looking to buy a tent? Here's what to look for!

Looking to buy a tent? Here's what to look for!

Wagan Tech8/ 2/23

by Justin Gray

Choosing the right ground camping tent is crucial to ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience. Looking at the types and varieties out there can be an overwhelming task... I have broken it down to simply explain what to look for before making a purchase.

Type of Camping:

Determine the type of camping you'll be doing. Are you backpacking, car camping, or camping in a designated campground? Backpacking tents are lightweight and compact, while car camping tents can be larger and more spacious.


Consider how many people will be using the tent. Tents are usually categorized by their capacity (ex. 2-person, 4-person). Keep in mind that the stated capacity might be a tight fit; I find that a "2-person tent" is really only made for 1-person, consider sizing up for more space.

Season and Weather Resistance:

Choose a tent appropriate for the seasons and weather conditions you expect to encounter. Three-season tents are designed for spring, summer, and fall, while four-season tents are suitable for all conditions including winter. Look for features like waterproof rainflies and durable construction (materials, zippers, etc.).


If you're backpacking, the weight of the tent is a critical factor. Ultralight tents are designed for minimal weight, while car camping tents can be heavier but offer more space and comfort.

Ease of Setup:

Consider how easy the tent is to set up. Freestanding tents (the most common type) are generally easier to set up than non-freestanding ones. Take a look a the "Gazelle tent" if you're looking for speed of setup and take-down.

Interior Space and Design:

Look at the tent's interior layout. Do you need multiple rooms or vestibules (usually an area under the rainfly for storage)? Consider peak (standing) height and the overall layout that suits your preferences.


Tents made from high-quality materials tend to be more durable. Look for reinforced stitching, strong zippers, and sturdy poles.


Proper ventilation helps reduce condensation (water build-up on the walls) inside the tent. Look for tents with mesh panels and adjustable vents.


Set a budget before you start shopping. Tents vary widely in price, so finding a balance between your budget and desired features is important.

Reviews and Recommendations:

Read reviews from other campers to get an idea of real-world performance. Consider asking for recommendations from experienced campers or visiting outdoor gear stores for expert advice.

Brand Reputation:

Established and reputable outdoor gear brands often provide better quality and customer support.


Check the manufacturer's warranty policy. A good warranty can provide peace of mind if you encounter any issues with the tent.

Additional Accessories:

Some tents come with extras like gear lofts, vestibules, or footprint accessories. Consider these add-ons if they align with your needs.

Something to Consider

I have been camping since I was born and have made tons of poor purchases since then. Tents are an investment that will easily last you a lifetime if it is made well and taken care of. You will not find a good tent at a Wal-Store or by price shopping on Amazon (price does not necessarily reflect quality... though it often does); you will find a great tent at a store that specializes in them (like REI).

Remember, your choice of tent will depend on your individual preferences, camping style, and the specific conditions you expect to encounter. Take your time to research and compare options before making a decision.


Camping Lanterns (Perfect for in-tent use!)

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