I have owned several tents over the years. My tents are always very high quality and
designed for hard use. I do more than camp in a tent; I live in
it and call it home.
My tent takes a real beating and will usually last about two years of
continuous use before
needing to be replaced. The sun fades and deteriorates the fly and
eventually springs leaks that cannot be fixed. The continuous use of the zippers causes
them to eventually break. When I am shopping for a tent there a few
things that I look for.
Things that I look for when buying a tent
- Two doors or at least
a large, easily accessed door. This feature is nice so your
partner is not crawling over you in the middle of the night when nature calls.
Three man tent for two people and two man for solo travel.
When I travel with a partner, I find a three person tent makes a lot of sense.
It still feels tight with all the gear inside. I sleep with
most of my gear inside the tent in order to prevent things from being stolen at
night. When I travel solo, I prefer a two person
tent for the extra room. A solo tent just screams eternal bachelor and is
- Quick pitch. I set
up and take down the tent hundreds of times a year. A tent that is easy
and fast is essential. Even a few seconds will really add up over
- Free standing. There's not
always dirt to stake a tent to. Sometimes I even set
up on someone's driveway, the deck of a ferry boat, or a concrete slab in a
campground. A tent that can not be set up in these types of places is not
versatile enough. Versatility is very important in all of your gear
on long trips.
- Green, brown, or at least some dark color. This helps
me hide from road traffic, curious kids, police, or bandits. When I am free camping
I am basically hiding from the world. I want a
color that does not stick out. This can be very hard to find in a high
quality tent. It seems like the best tents are meant for serious
mountaineering (mountain climbers). Mountaineers like bright colors,
especially yellow, so they can be found in case of an emergency.
- Optional rain fly. In hot
climates I like a tent that can be set up without the rain fly. This
serves to keep out mosquitoes and other bugs while still letting a breeze
through. For this reason I don't like single wall tents.
- Tent repair kit. Everything
falls apart eventually and having all the necessary materials to perform field
repairs is important. Tents always seem to have problems when you are
the furthest from civilization.
Accessories that I
- Gear loft. This is a cloth
shelf that hangs from the ceiling of the tent. I put anything that I
want to easily find or need in the middle of the night in the gear loft.
You can also hang a flashlight from it.
- Battery fan. This is a
little fan that runs on the same rechargeable batteries as a flashlight and
shortwave radio. In hot climates I hang it from the ceiling of the tent
and the breeze that it creates keeps me cool and helps me sleep at night.
- Hanging flashlight (torch) lantern
This is a simple idea that can be very useful. I make sure
that one of my flashlights can be hung from the ceiling (gear loft) of
my tent. When this feature is combined with rechargeable
batteries it makes a good source of light in the tent that I can leave
on for hours. This make the unsafe use of a candle or oil lantern
Most tents nowadays have pockets inside that help organize gear.
tents that can be strung
between two trees. Free camping bike tourist often swear by
them. I still prefer my tent but understand the appeal.