Features to look for when buying a tent
Buying a tent is like buying a home -- you have to decide what you must have and what you are willing to give up in order to be the most happy. We've divided the buying guides into six categories -- The Basics (features any tent should have); Summer Tents (if you only camp in hot climates); Three-Season Tents (to weather light snow plus work in hot climates); All-Season (commonly called convertible tents, these work in all seasons but are still not intended for hard-core winter mountaineering); Winter Camping / Mountaineering (the bomb-shelters of the portable domicile world for harsh conditions only); and Single Wall (a category unto itself for those who desire minimalist features and ultralight shelter).
Features to Covet - The Basics
What any tent should have:
- Collapsible tent poles of aluminum, high-strength aluminum, carbon fiber or tubular fiberglass.
- Freestanding tents set up easily on sand, rocks, snow or anywhere it is difficult to get a stake into the ground. You still need to stake a tent down though unless you want to risk turning it into a very expensive and disposable kite.
- Storage pockets inside for organizing.
- Nylon or polyester fabric for durability and lightest weight.
- One-piece floors add to waterproofness.
- Factory seam-sealed seams save you time and are more durable.
- Steep walls increase useable interior room, shed precipitation better and help vent out humidity.
- Waterproof rainfly that clips to poles and requires only minimal additional stakes.
- Mesh windows and doors with zippered closures for battening down the hatches when things get blustery and damp.
- Same length poles or color-coded poles (each color corresponds to a specific pole sleeve on the tent) makes it easier to set-up the tent in less than ideal conditions.
- Tent body of yellow, white or beige to let the most light in.
- Gear loops inside the tent to hang flashlights and more from.
- Beefy nylon webbing stake loops at each pole end on the tent body.
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