After a long exhausting hike, the last thing on your mind is having to set up a complicated tent and figuring out where all the pieces go. Luckily, there are convenient instant camping tents instead. To get the automatic element protection you want, let’s go over which features are most important and what tent type may perfect for you.
How to Choose a Tent
Part of picking a camping tent means getting one that works for your specific purpose. Are you planning on using it at the beach, a campsite, or somewhere out in the mountains backpacking around? What you plan on using it for really affects a lot of other decisions too, and determines the size, and weight, you should consider, along with if the tent will be suitable for all seasons.
Ultimately, there are so many instant tents out there that it’s very important to really get one that’ll match your needs. This will ensure you’re better protected, although narrowing down what you plan to use the tent for will also reduce the number of tents you need to consider, making your decision a lot easier!
Take a look at your tent to be sure it works for multiple seasons, giving you lots of options to go out and enjoy the outdoors. Generally, you’ll find instant tents that’ll work great in spring, summer, and fall, with lots of mesh panels to boost airflow in the spring and keep out those nasty insects in the summer.
Be sure your three-season tent comes with proper pitching in the form of a taut rainfly to help you withstand downpours that may come on suddenly too. Not all of these are great when it comes to snow, storms, or especially strong winds though, so don’t be surprised if even three-season tents can’t necessarily withstand snowstorms.
If you do plan on camping out in the snow though, don’t give up hope! There are a few good four-season tents out there that cover you through the entire year. These will withstand tougher conditions like snow but are lower and more boulder-like in shape to shed snow that may fall on top.
How Many People?
When you have an instant tent, pick out first what size you think you’ll need based on how large your group is. Your tent should be able to accommodate everyone comfortably, with extra space for any gear or pets if you’ve brought them with you.
Think about if any of your hiking friends are larger too if anyone tosses or turns at night, if people sleep better with extra room, if they travel with kids or pets, or if anyone has some problems when it comes to claustrophobia. Having a larger tent, even if you’re not sure you’ll use all the extra space, might just come in handy in the end if you’re not sure. It’s also a good idea to buy big since you may not know all of your friends’ sleeping habits and don’t want to be surprised with a small tent!
Even with all that in mind though, make sure you’ve got a tent that you can still carry on your back if that’s something you’re looking for. Getting something extra-large may not be worth it if you have to go back to the car just to get it, or don’t have it when you need it.
Your tent should be light enough that you could easily carry it on your back when you’re backpacking. It’s best not to be limited by what you can carry in your car, especially if you plan on going far away from where you parked, or get hit by a sudden storm. If you do have a car, however, a heavy tent is no problem if it has the extra space you’re looking for.
Made of Durable Materials?
Any tent you buy should be made of materials that will withstand any element so you won’t be rained out. That means looking at the pole material and the fabric. When it comes to poles, you have three options: aluminium, fibreglass, or carbon fibre. If the weather is fine, fibreglass is the perfect option since it’s more affordable than others, but it’s also heavier too and less durable.
Go for the aluminium poles for something light and strong, making your tent easy to carry and manoeuvre with. They replace easily too if they ever break or get lost. Carbon fibre is even lighter and stronger, making it a good third option. For the most part, carbon fibre and aluminium are the preferred options because of their weight and durability, but if the price is a consideration, fibreglass is also an excellent choice.
These tents are instant, but some still do take longer than others to get setup properly. If setting up and packing takes up a lot of your time, you might want to consider something that’s easier on you. Think about whether you have to extend and lock poles or if throwing the tent in the air will be enough to set it up. Also consider if you’ll be able to fold it back up easily enough, without damaging the poles or the material. Whatever is more comfortable for you should be the top priority.
Before you buy, there are a few more features to keep in mind. Having just a few of these will enhance your overall camping experience, and may make your camping trip seem more personal or memorable.
When it comes to your tent, there are two options that impact the available features: cabin style and dome style. Cabin style has almost vertical walls to maximise the peak height and give you a more comfortable space to live in. Some of these even come with room dividers, vestibule doors, or an awning, but don’t be surprised if you have to buy these features separate to complete the camping experience.
In contrast, dome style tents have more strength in harsher weather and shield you from the wind thanks to their unique shape. There is less liveable space for you due to the sloping of the sides, but these are perfect for stormy weather. If there’s an emergency storm, this is certainly the tent type you want to have.
One of the aspects that affect set up are the poles. These instant tents won’t require stakes like other models, which is good so that you can easily shake out any dirt. If you want to set up faster though, find something with fewer poles. Having fewer poles means attaching to fewer clips rather than threading everything through longer pole sleeves. Getting something with colour coded corners and poles will make setup even easier, saving you a little time when you want to get the tent up and take a break.
The doors for many tents come in different shapes and sizes, so even though this is just a small detail, it’s still one you want to think about. Even details just as small as the material the zippers are made of is important, or the orientation of the doors. Are there multiple doors there too? You may want something with more doors if there are a lot of you to avoid climbing over each other in the middle of the night.
Remember that the ease of using the door and the noise level made by the zipper matters too. If you want to get out of the tent quickly in the middle of the night, it’s best not to make a bunch of noise waking everyone up. For the best doors, the cabin type may be your preferred option, since the shape allows for larger doors that are less likely to get snagged when you open them.
Tent Fabrics - Which is the Best?
What kind of materials are you considering? No matter what the weight or size of the tent is, you should have something with a higher denier fabric canopy and a rainfly. The more rugged canopies will last longer and stay strong, and with some seam tape on the tent, there’s a much lower chance for any kind of leakage if it happens to rain.
What’s a Rainfly?
To put it simply, a rainfly is a separate waterproof cover that’s designed to fit over the roof of the tent. That makes it perfect for keeping the inside of the tent dry whenever it rains. It’ll keep you dry during early morning dew as well, which is an inevitable part of camping. If you’re camping in colder weather too, or if the mornings are cold, this feature can come in handy as well, since it’ll provide a little more warmth when the weather’s chilly.
There are two types of rainfly to choose from too, being the roof-only, and the full coverage. Roof-only rainfly allows for more light and a better view, while still providing adequate protection from the rain. If you want total protection, however, it’s best to stick with a tent that has full coverage.
Speaking of protection from the rain, think about guy-out loops to protect you from the wind. High-quality loops like these help you attach the guy lines, which let you secure everything in the case of strong winds. If you’re concerned about the tent flapping around, this is definitely an important feature to increase the stability of your tent in strong storms and could be something in the dome style tents to consider.
Take a look at the picture of the tent that you want. Does it have mesh panels on the ceiling, doors, and windows? If it does, it’ll help with the air circulation, making it much more comfortable to sleep in at night. They’ll let you see outside the tent without being surrounded by bugs as well.
The number of mesh panels you want on your tent depends on the season you plan on camping in. If you’re camping somewhere that’s warm and humid, larger mesh panels will provide you with more relief. If you’re committed to chillier camping, these aren’t as important for the weather but may be helpful for your claustrophobic friends. More ventilation will even help manage condensation.
A tent that has loops on the ceiling will allow you to hang lanterns and other items that you may want to keep close. Look for a loop for your set up specifically! More pockets mean that your tent will end up being cleaner too and that you won’t need to dig through your bags when you have to find something important. Anything that you want easy access to will be right in those pockets for easy reach.
This is a feature which is sold separately but you should consider picking one up for your tent. These little awnings or shelters store muddy boots, while also keeping your packs and bags out of the rain, guaranteeing that everyone and everything stays dry and clean.
Peak of the Tent
I’ve told you about loops that go on the ceiling, but now you have to think about how high you want that ceiling to actually be. If you want to stand up when you change clothes, you need something that will be a little higher at the peak. A high ceiling will help any friends with claustrophobia too, and provide you with more airiness and open space if you happen to be cooped up during the rain. If you want more of a peak, cabin style tents are your best choice.
In a tent, just like in a house, you need to consider your available floor space. For those of you who are tall, you might want maybe that’s around 90 inches, versus the usual 84-88 inches. This may also increase the overall space in the tent.
To Sum Up…
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing an instant camping tent since it does need to keep you safe when you’re out in the wilderness. This means that you have to think about the weight, durability, and material it’s made out of, along with what types of features it has that’ll benefit you the most. For the best camping trip, you can have, choose the tent that will keep you and your companions comfortable and safe!