Friday, 02 May 2014 22:36

MyOutdoors Buyers Guide to tents

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Choosing the right tent has never been harder with a galaxy of makes and models on the market from £30 to £1000. To help you make your choice here's the essential elements to look at.



The biggest influence on choosing the right tent is how you're going to transport it. If you're going to be arriving by car and pitching on a campsite then there's no need to compromise on weight but if you're going to be carrying it on your back for several days then weight becomes important. A good target weight for carrying is 1kg per person (eg. 2kg 2 man tent).

Hilleberg Akto

Hilleberg Akto - classic single person, double skin, fairly lightweight tent.



Tents come in single or double skin design. Single skin tents are generally lighter in weight but suffer from breathability issues in the Uk's climate. Double skin tents come in 3 options; inner first, outer first or all-in-one, depending on how the tent is pitched. Outer first or all-in-one tents give the advantage of keeping the inner dry when pitching in rain


The two main styles are geodesic and tunnel. In general tunnel tents are lighter and use less poles, but are slightly less stable in high winds. Geodesic domes usually give higher headfroom, at least in the centre, and are freestanding - making relocation quick and easy.



Tents build up condensation, particularly in the UK climate, unless they have a good ventilation system. The ideal is for cold air to be drawn in at a low point with warm air exiting nearer the top through vents. Vents need to be accessible from the inside. Mesh inners give better ventilation but less insulation and wind resistance so are better suited to 2 or 3 season use.


Airbeam Kinetic

Vango Airbeam Kinetic - uses inflatable poles for quick pitching



Groundsheets are traditionally one of the heaviest parts of the tent. If car based there's no reason not to pick a heavier weight groundsheeted tent but with lightweight kit you may need to look at an additional "footprint" to add protection.



The vestibule(s) on a tent act as both a storage area and, when essential, can be used for cooking. When looking at vestibules take note of the angle of the door and whether there is enough headroom and space for cooking. If possible look for 2 vestibules on a 2, or more, person tent to allow easy access/exit on both sides or for one side to be used for storage.



If you're looking at multiple days under canvas it's better to be able to at least sit upright so check the headroom before buying. Geodesic tents generally give more headroom than tunnel tents.


Chinook 200 Floor

Headroom can be important - especially for multi-day trips.



In addition to vestibules for storage most double skin tents have internal storage pockets too. Check for pockets in accessible places when lying down and hanging points for torches. Higher end tents can also have gear lofts which can be very useful for essentials.


Pegs: Today's fashion with pegs is to put the lightest weight, shortest, pegs available in the bag to keep the headline weight down. Assume you're going to have to replace the pegs with something more substantial when choosing your tent from new.


Colour: Colour's far more than an aesthetic choice, though that still plays a part. Light tents will have a lighter interior, but particularly when having a mesh inner, this can be a problem on light nights and early dawns. Darker colours tend to be warmer inside; a bonus in winter but they can be unbearable in summer. Winter tents tend to use red or bright yellow to make them easier to find in winter.

Note: This article was restored from the archives. It's published creation date is inaccurate.