Camping Tents Tips

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Where can I find high-quality discount tents?

Quality Discount Tents

Did you buy your tent at a department store or other discount retailer? Do you wake up every morning to a shower of condensation that rains down over your family? If you'd bought your family camping tent at an outdoor retailer, you might not have that problem!

Many cheap family camping tents carried in discount department stores don't have any breathable fabric on the inside tent walls, which means that condensation that forms during the night has nowhere to go but down. In addition, the body heat of a camping family can raise the heat inside these tents, making it unbearably hot on summer nights.

So, if you don't want to sleep in a hot tub, check out higher quality family camping tents from an outdoor retailer. Chances are the tent's other components, such as poles and stitched on sleeves or clips will be higher quality, too.

Why are dome tents so popular?

The Most Popular Form – The Dome

Dome tents hit the market by storm a decade or two ago, and now they are the most popular type of camping tent. They are easy to set up and take down, relatively lightweight, and they are particularly strong given their light weight.

Dome tents come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny pet-sized tents (really!) to super large family-sized versions. Domes are even created in big sizes for expeditions to mountaineering locations like Mount Everest.

If you've never tried a dome tent, you may be surprised at how easy it is to set up, and how roomy they can be inside. For taller campers, bigger domes provide the head room to stand up and move around, and they are still affordable for just about any camper.

What should I look for in family camping tents?

What to Look for in Family Camping Tents

If you have a big family, storage is always a problem in family camping tents. Look for a tent large enough to hold the whole crew, but there are some other features you should look for in family camping tents, too.

  • Check for plenty of ventilation panels and breathable fabric inside the tent so condensation isn't a problem.
  • Look for tents with lots of storage features, such as mesh attics, hanging pockets, and other storage areas that help keep interior tent clutter at a minimum and give enough storage for the entire family.
  • Try to find a tent with an attached awning, or bring a separate awning to add additional living space to the tent.
  • For the extra-large family, search for a tent with two doors, so the whole family doesn't bunch up when going in or out of the tent.
  • Finally, look for a coated floor that is water-resistant and won't leak.

What kind of alternative camping tents are available?

Camping Tents Options For All Seasons

If you love to camp in all kinds of weather, choose a four-season camping tent to keep you cozy year round. These tents usually contain more pole supports to keep the tent from collapsing under snow loads or heavy winds. They are usually between 10 and 20 percent heavier than more traditional tents, too.

Four-season camping tents are usually domed, so snow will slip off them easily, and many come with a vestibule that is an additional buffer to wind and rain. If you want to camp in the winter, in just about any climate, you'll need a four-season tent.

Some four-season camping tents are convertible to three-season tents, you simply remove some of the poles, and that makes them lighter, too. Often four-season camping tents contain two walls, which helps keep you warmer inside, too. If you camp in a lot of different conditions, and four-season convertible tent might be the right choice for you.

Why do I need a footprint for my tent?

What's a Footprint?

It used to be, you just threw out a tarp on the ground, and pitched your tent over it to protect the floor from rocks and jagged objects. Now, tents have "footprints." Just what are they?

Footprints fit the exact "footprint" of your tent's floor, and most manufacturers are selling them for all the tent models they produce. They serve the same purpose as a ground cloth, but they are cut just a bit smaller than the tent, so water won't gather underneath tents during rain.

What kind of connectors hold tent poles to the tent?

Sleeves or Clips?

Most outdoor tents use one of two styles of pole connectors – sleeves or clips. Which is best? It depends on you and your tent.

Pole sleeves hold the poles in place, just like your arms slip into the sleeves of your jacket. Sleeves are easy to use, and some of them are "continuous," so you don't have to hassle with threading the pole into numerous smaller sleeves. The sleeves make the tent easy to set up and take down.

Clips are even easier to use, and if you need more ventilation inside your tent, these are the connectors you're looking for. They are a breeze to set up, and they tend to leave larger gaps between the tent and the rain fly, which is a good thing to help reduce condensation inside the tent.

What are pop up tents?

Pop-up Tents

Some tents are free-standing, and pop up to resemble a giant beach ball. Sometimes called self-erecting tents, these tents are so easy to set up, even the older kids can do it, and they can be moved anytime you need the space for something else.

They aren't meant for windy areas, as they aren't tied down and could quickly blow away if a wind comes up. They also aren't as sturdy as some of the four-season models, but can be quite comfortable at other times of the year. Some of these tents can be quite expensive, while others are sold as discount tents.

Be careful when you look for pop up tents, because some of these tents are really meant more as toys than actual camping tents. If discount tents seem too good to be true, they may not be up to the rigors of a real camping trip.

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Guru Spotlight
Carol Sponagle