Getting The Right Camping Tent

The right camping tent can offer protection and a sense of homeliness for you and your family wherever you go. See exclusive deals on the best camping tents below!

There are lots of tents on the market, which makes choosing the right one tricky. Big ones, little ones, models for car camping and thru-hiking. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you buy the right tent.

It’s best to be brutally honest with yourself here. Do you really need that ultralightweight tent, or can you get away with something a little heavier (and thus less expensive) because you’ll just be out for overnight and weekend trips? Will you have time to go backpacking, or should you just buy a simple car-camping tent?

Rule of thumb: If you’re car camping, buy a giant tent. Bigger than you need. Be obnoxious. You’ll appreciate the extra space to roll around in, and you’ll have plenty of room for dogs and kids. If you’re backpacking, buy a tent that’s one person bigger than you need. Just you and your partner? Go for a three-person tent. Again, you’ll have more room to store gear, and the weight penalty isn’t huge.

Backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula? You’ll need a good three-season tent with a bomber fly and a good vestibule to store gear out of the rain. Car camping in the Southwest? You can get away with a two-season tent-just make sure it can protect you from the sun and has lots of vents to keep air flowing when temps rise. You’ll need a four-season tent only if you’re winter camping in high-alpine environments.

Weight is the most important consideration, but you still need to make sure your tent fits in your backpack or easily straps to the outside of it. Once you buy, practice packing the tent in its stuff sack, and think about the best way to distribute the load among multiple packs.