How to choose the right tent for your family
Choosing the right tent can be daunting as this is the most vital piece of equipment you will take with you on your family camping trip. This will be your home away from civilization and you’ll want to make sure you have the right one for your family before pulling out of the driveway! Keep reading to learn great family camping tips and tricks for purchasing that all important family tent.
The most critical decision factors in choosing the right tent are size, cost and materials. Let’s look at each in turn.
So you’ve decided to take a camping trip! How many people are you planning to bring with you? Count them up! This is the most important decision making factor in choosing the size of your tent. Make sure to consider how much luggage will need to reside inside the tent, any additional items you’ll bring to sleep on such as cots or mattresses and don’t forget about a space for Fido if you’re bringing him along. Ok, so now everyone’s counted and you know how much space you need, but is it really enough? Before making a big investment in your tent, take a look at the little ones you’re bringing with you. How much bigger are they going to get? If you’re investing in a good quality tent you may want to consider getting something that will grow with the family so that you don’t find yourself needing to purchase a replacement in a year or two. Don’t go too crazy though, you want something roomy but not humongous. As a general guideline add one more person to your party. As an example, if you are a family of 4, try to find a good quality tent that sleeps five or even six. Having some extra room allows everyone to spread out a little and also provides some space for your gear.
Next is quality, also known as price. Tents, like everything, come in a wide range of prices and qualities so make sure to do your research. If you know what you’re looking for, it will be easier to find a good deal on a second hand website like Craigslist or you’ll be able to act fast and grab the last in stock on Amazon.com. In addition to online research, pop into your local sporting goods store and have a chat with one of the salespeople. They will generally be quite knowledgeable and can help you answer specific questions that you may have trouble finding the answers to online. Once you have all the information and you know what you can live with and what you can live without, set a budget and stick to it! I do recommend taking a peek at Craigslist once you know what you’re looking for, as some people find camping is not their thing after just one trip. Just make sure you know all the parts that should be included.
Another factor that falls into the price is the material. There are a number of materials used to make tents but you will likely be looking at a nylon or polyester one. Tent material is important to ensure it stays dry, particularly if you plan to tent in the off-season. Check to make sure the tent material has been treated and inquire about the maintenance of the tent and see if you can purchase additional treatments to spray the tent on an annual basis to ensure it stays in good repair. UV Rays and other elements can wear down the tent fibers.
Lastly, before you make your big purchase, think through your trip and understand what you need to bring and where you’ll store it. Some tents come with vestibules which are really handy for storing backpacks and other gear. Think about the time of year you’re taking the trip and other comfort needs such as accommodating mattresses, etc. Are you going to a drive-in spot or hiking to your campsite? If you’re hiking, make sure to check the tent weight!
After running through this checklist and speaking with your local salesperson at the sporting goods store you should be ready to purchase. Once you do, take you new tent home or to a park and set it up. There are two great reasons to do this. First, you’ll know all the right pieces are included and everything fits and second, and perhaps more importantly, you’ll have had some practice in assembly.