Tent Buying Basics

Brandi M. Seals

If you are just getting your feet wet and thinking about taking up camping, the first thing you need to do is pick out a tent. Tents are less costly than RVs and can go many more places. Besides, if you end up hating camping you won't be out as much money.


There are many things to consider when looking for a tent. They include size, cost, color and ease of use.

Any tent you buy should at least have:

  • Collapsible tent poles made out of aluminum, carbon fiber, or tubular fiberglass
  • Nylon or polyester fabric: they are lightweight and durable
  • One-piece floor: they are generally better at staying waterproof
  • Steep walls: increases useable interior space
  • Waterproof rainfly
  • Easy to assemble color: coded poles or poles of the same length
  • Durable stake loops on the tent body

You will want to avoid tents that have:

  • Metal zippers
  • Tents with sharply angled walls - decreases interior space
  • Tents with a short center - nobody wants to be hunched over as they get dressed.

When picking out your tent it is a good idea to keep in mind how many people will typically use it. A manufacturer may say a certain tent can hold two people, but it is likely to be in tight quarters. Consider rounding up a person or two when making your selection. If your tent is going to house two people, buy one that says it can hold 3 or 4. Tall people and those who like their space will appreciate the added room.


Select a tent that is yellow, white or beige. These colors let in the most light and will stay cooler in warm weather than their darker counterparts. Bright colored tents, like yellow are also easier for rescue crews to spot should something go wrong.

Try out your tent, make sure you can put it up easily and tear it down quickly. If you are not comfortable putting the tent up, it is not the tent for you.

After purchasing your chosen tent you may want to consider buying a ground cloth for underneath the tent. It will protect the floor and keep the tent drier and cleaner.

You will also want to add some liquid seam sealer to the seams in your tent. Although your tent may say it is waterproof, beef up the odds it will stay that way by adding a little liquid sealer to help it out.


Whether you have $50 to spend or $1000, try to get the best tent with all the amenities you will need with your money.

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