Several questions need to be addressed when considering buying a tent. The answers to these questions will help determine what type of tent that you might want to purchase. Since tents come in all shapes, sizes, and weights, it is important that you have some idea of what you need before undertaking the experience of shopping for one.
How experienced are you or your party at camping with a tent?
Some tents are large, heavy, and complicated to assemble. For the novice camper, this type of tent may not be the best choice. The beginning campers need to start with a relatively inexpensive light weight tents to test whether camping is the right recreational activity for them. As tents get bigger and bulkier, they also tend to escalate in price. There is no reason to sink the life savings into a tent that may get used a time or two and stored for the next several decades. If you are highly experienced camper, you will need to spend more time matching the weight, size, and security of the tent to your needs.
In what type of conditions will the tent be used?
To camp in your backyard on a starry summer night, a nice rope with a sheet draped over it may be all that is required. However, if you are going to be camping in remote places with high levels of insects and vermin, you may want to seek out a tent that can keep you relatively secure during the night. A nice light weight tent will suffice for dry or mildly raining conditions. Should you anticipate high winds and hard driving rain, it would be better to upgrade to a sturdier tent with stakes and first rate floor. For winter or extra nasty weather conditions, finding tents that are manufactured to maximize your safety while insulating you from the weather is the way to go.
How many people will be using this tent at one time?
Most tents are made to accommodate at least two people. There are a one person tents around, but if you are not expecting to always camp alone, it might be wise to make the step to at least a two person tent. Often groups of avid campers will each want their own tent. This makes it easy to buy small light tents that can be stowed in a backpack for long hikes through the woods or wilderness. If you will be camping with your family, it might be wise to move up to a four, six, or eight person tent. For families or groups of campers it can be a good idea to have at least one tent that has multiple rooms. This will give you a chance to have some indoor space that is not just for sleeping. Even adding on a shade that reaches out from the tent can be an asset in these conditions.
Look for a tent with a floor
Having a floor in your tent eliminates the need to carry and extra tarp with you to cover the ground. A floor also is bonded to your tent and so is better to keep out insects and small rodents. Having a floor also reduces the amount of site preparation needed before erecting the tent on extremely primitive campsites. A floor will stop most running water from entering your tent during and after a rain. This can be important if you really like to sleep dry.
Make sure the tent has adequate ventilation capabilities
Once you move beyond the simple pop up tent that only sleeps one, many tents have windows. Since camping trips can involve several days of stay in one location, having a tent that can be ventilated with mesh covered windows will keep you from enduring the stifling heat of a tent on a hot summer day. It is important to be able to let air move through your tent when it needs to dry after a rain. Most of these tent windows are mesh openings that can be closed with a flap that is either zippered or ties.
Check for quality in the zippers and seam stitching
Make sure that the tent has some durability built into it. Look at the quality of any zippers that are on the tent. These are generally surrounding window and door openings. If the zippers do not seem to be at least as good as the material of the tent, they will not last with regular use. The same is true for the stitching at the seams. These should be well stitched and secure. This will help the durability of the tent and will make it somewhat easier to keep it waterproof.