What 17 Things Should You Know to Avoid Getting Soaked When Choosing Your Next Camping Tent? by Marc Wiltse - HTML preview

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What 17 Things Should You Know To Avoid Getting Soaked When Choosing Your Next Camping Tent?

"A truly terrific tent tutorial. You can either invest a few minutes of time upfront to learn what makes a quality tent, or pay every time you use a cheap one..."

00001.jpg00002.jpg00001.jpgNot all great tents are expensive, but you do have to invest a little time to find the best one for you. This tutorial will cut that time down to minutes, instead of hours...

Your tent is arguably the most important gear you will invest in. It should keep you dry, comfortable, and repel the creepy-crawlies. Also, if you do any type of camping or backpacking off-the-beaten-path, it's a good idea to consider how well it will serve you in an emergency. If you're ever caught in inclement weather or injured and have to wait for a friend to get help, it's nice to have the best quality equipment possible. Does it happen every day? No, but it's better to be prepared and never have to use it to its full potential than be stranded somewhere with poor quality gear. Having something you can rely on is always a good idea, besides, how many times has high quality gear ruined your trip? ;-)

This tutorial will teach you the difference between great tents and mediocre tents so that you'll find a tent to meet your needs and wants. It will also point you toward the best tents I've found and reviewed.

I've pulled together my best information and created this tutorial to make finding your next tent as easy as possible. I even debated about charging for it, but at least for now it's yours with my compliments. :-)

So what does this tutorial cover?


1: Basics And Tent Terminology 101- Tent basics and learn what parts are important. Why are standard screens a bad idea in tents? What are taped seams and why are they important?


2: Tent Design- What design features make a tent great? What style of tent do I recommend? What type of tent should you get?

3: What's Important In A Tent- What 3 tent features are important to keep you dry? What should you do to prevent premature tent floor wear? What small detail can help to inform you about the quality of a tent?

4: Tent Set-up And Location- Where should you set your new tent up? Why is shade important and when should you avoid it? Why is it a good idea to know where an animal trail is in relation to your campsite?

5: Care, Cleaning And Maintenance- What can you do to make your tent last longer? How can you temporarily fix a zipper that's lost its zip? Where should you store your tent?


6: Camping Tent Tips, Tricks, Ideas... And Bob- Some pre-planning to help keep yourself dry in a pinch. Two simple items that can come in really handy. Who is Bob?


7: Camping Tent Wrap-up- Recommendations and the best tents for different uses. Does a certain brand name guarantee quality?

Since we're all different... some of us backpack, some camp with a buddy, and still others camp with a large family, we all have different needs and wants. This of course means that each one of us is going to have different ideas about what type of tent is best for us. This tutorial and the links provided will cover the information you need in order to make an informed decision.

Armed with this information you'll only need to apply it to which type of tent it is that you want. That said, not all tents are created equal, and just because they might have all the features mentioned doesn't mean that the tent you're considering is a quality tent.

Much like the fact that just because a car has a steering wheel and an engine doesn't mean it's a great car. Tents are the same way, just because it might have a bathtub floor and aluminum poles doesn't mean it's great or even acceptable for that matter. So I've also sorted through them and found the best of the best that are being offered. Let's get started...


1: Basics And Tent Terminology 101
2: Tent Design
3: What's Important In A Tent
4: Tent Set-up And Location
5: Care, Cleaning And Maintenance
6: Camping Tent Tips, Tricks, Ideas And Bob
7: Camping Tent Wrap-up

Let's start with tent basics and learn what's important, why standard screens are a bad idea, and why taped seams are a good idea in Chapter 1...


In a hurry? Here are the best camping tents I've found (about 1/4 the way down the page). ;-) http://www.hiking-gear-and-equipment-used-for-camping.com

Chapter 1: Basics And Tent Terminology 101

00001.jpgWhat to look for...

Air vents - Screened areas that allow for ventilation. Ventilation is important in a tent to help prevent the build up of condensation from breathing and perspiring. Since most of the time the outside of the tent is cooler than the inside, water vapor will have a tendency to condense on the inside walls if there isn't enough air to carry it away. Air vents allow the tent to breath and the water vapor to escape.

Bathtub floor - A bathtub floor is a tent floor that has high sides. Instead of the floor being flat, the floor turns up and becomes the beginning of the wall. Since the floor is usually more water-resistant than the tent walls, this helps to keep you dry. A bathtub floor usually rises about 6 inches or so off the tent floor.

Canopy- A canopy is the covering, or roof of a tent.


00003.jpgThe canopy above consists of white fabric panels and triangular no-see-um mesh vents.

Guy lines - Tent guy lines are small ropes that tie down and provide support to the tent. They also can help to pull the rainfly away from the tent to keep an air space between the two for ventilation. Guy lines are important because they provide structural integrity to the tent.

No-see-um mesh - Tent windows used to be covered with regular screen-type material like you might find at home in a storm door. But the screen had a problem. While it stopped the mosquitoes and deer flies, it didn't stop the tiny no-see-ums or sand flies. Sand flies are nasty little biting flies that are small enough to fit through standard screening, so you might as well have left the door open. No-see-um mesh is small enough to keep them out, but open enough to let the cool breezes blow through.

Rainfly- A cover that stretches over the top of a tent to shield it from the weather. It's usually secured by clips and tie-downs to hold it in place.



This is the same tent with the full rainfly installed. Notice how the rainfly almost reaches the ground. Also the rainfly is pulled taught so that rain can run off easily instead of getting trapped in folds of material. This rainfly also has a flap over the zipper to further enhance water resistance.

Taped seams - It used to be tent seams were just sewn together, and that might be fine if you never camped in the rain. The problem is that regular sewn seams can leak through the needle holes. This can be fixed though by "taping" the seams. Seam taping stops water by sewing a barrier tape into the seam that in theory should prevent water from leaking in through the seam and needle holes. As you might guess, some tents do a better job at this than others.

Tent footprints - Tent footprints are essentially a ground cover or tarp that your tent sits on top of to protect it from dirt and moisture. Their job is to keep abrasion and wear to a minimum, which means your tent stays newer longer.

Tent poles - Tent poles are usually made of fiberglass or aluminum and are what prop the tent up off the ground. The poles should be strong and flexible in both warm and cool to cold weather depending on what type of camping you'll be doing. High quality aluminum poles use to add a lot to the cost of a good quality tent, but now you can find good quality aluminum tent poles over a range of prices. Fiberglass poles tend to become brittle in cold weather and can snap more easily than high quality aluminum poles, especially in the winter.

00005.jpgThe tent pole above is made of sections of fiberglass connected by elastic shock cord. The shock cord helps to hold the poles together when they're connected. This section was pulled apart for the photo.

Tent stakes - Tent stakes are usually made of plastic or aluminum. A lot of tent manufacturers have a tendency to provide cheap stakes with their tents. From plastic stakes that break or mushroom, to cheap aluminum stakes that bend the first time you attempt to push them into the ground. Quality stakes can make pitching a tent a lot less frustrating.

Windows - Windows are usually made of mesh to allow for ventilation without the nuisance of biting bugs. The windows can usually be opened or closed by zipping or unzipping an inner panel. Although some tents do have screenless plastic windows that enable you to see out.

These features will be covered more in depth as we progress through this tutorial.


In Chapter 2 we'll cover what design features make tents great and what style/type of tent I recommend...

Chapter 2: Tent Design


Color - When considering tent color decide if you want to blend in with your environment or stand out. Neutral natural colors like green or tan blend in with the surrounding environment. Some areas even require tents to be of a certain color to minimize their visual impact.

If you're into extreme sports like climbing or extended backpacking trips, bright colors like orange or yellow might be a good idea however. In an emergency, bright colors can make it easier for a search team to locate you.

Ease-Of-Use And Set-up - When it comes to camping tents, simple is usually better. The mark of a well-thought-out tent is one that you can put together easily the first time without directions. Maybe it's just me, but great products should be intuitive to use, just like an iPod. No it's not 'the' most important thing, but it can make a definite difference in your overall experience. The easier it is to use, the better you will like a product.

Ease-of-use also includes how many people a tent requires to set-up. All else being equal, which of these two tents would you choose? One that only requires a single person for set-up, freeing their buddy to make them dinner, or one that requires two cranky people with growling stomachs? Besides, if you ever decide to solo, it won't even be an option. Simple is almost always better.

Materials Used - Tents can be constructed from everything from canvas (cotton fabric), to nylon, to polyester, to Gore-Tex® or other breathable materials. Older style tents were usually made from cotton canvas which is heavy in comparison to new materials, especially when canvas gets wet. Canvas is probably my last choice when it comes to tent materials unless you plan on being outside in the sun for extended periods of time, or you're hunting and need a good quality wall tent.

Nylon and polyester are lightweight and can be made very water-resistant when manufactured correctly. (I hesitate to call anything truly waterproof as it implies an absolute barrier that can never be penetrated, and this really doesn't exist. After all most scuba diving watches are only water resistant to 100 meters.) The challenge though is to keep them out of the sunlight because UV (ultraviolet) light can break them down.

Some of the more expensive tents are made from breathable fabrics. The supposed advantage being that they only require one-wall construction to keep you dry, while at the same time they breathe to let the moisture inside the tent escape. One-wall translates directly to lighter weight which is always nice. Like anything though, design and construction can either make a product great or downright bad. Just like anything there are good products, and not so good products.

Size - One of the first questions to ask yourself is how much room do you want. Notice I said want, and not need. Usually you can get by with what you need, but you won't be as happy as if you got what you wanted in the first place. It's like buying a mini van for its practicality, when secretly you want or even lust after a sports car. The difference with a tent though is that it's not going to cost you thousands of dollars more to get a better tent.

Personally I like to have a lot of room to get comfortable. I don't enjoy feeling like I can't move around, especially if I keep bumping into things. I also like keeping a small amount of gear inside the tent so I have it close at hand if I want it.

Keep in mind the advertised "person" rating of a tent is usually an ideal that most people won't be happy with. For example, the average two-person tent rating means that you and a close-friend (I mean this literally) that you hopefully like very well, will be able to fit with not much room for anything else. That means, no gear, no moving around to find a comfortable position, and not much stretching out either. If you're like me and like extra room simply double the capacity of what the manufacturer claims the tent will fit. That means if you mostly camp with just one other person, get a 4-person tent for the two of you. Unless you're a backpacker, you'll be glad you did.

Style/Type - There are a few different types of camping tent. The type of the tent you get should reflect what you plan to use it for. My advice is to somewhat overestimate what it is you will use your tent for. For example, if you plan on doing early and late summer camping, I'd make the jump from a strictly summer tent to a 3-season tent. This way you should be OK if the weather ever surprises you at some point. As I just mentioned above having a little extra room is nice too. That way if you have to stay inside because it rains for a straight week, it might even prevent things from getting ugly. ;-)

There are several different styles of tent. For most people I'd recommend either a dome or cabin tent.

Dome tents are nice because they tend to hold up to the elements better. Their shape lets the wind blow over and around them much more easily than a stand-up cabin tent. Where I've had a cabin tent collapse on me twice, once at 3 am. in moderate rain, I've yet to have a dome tent collapse. The flexible poles make the tent free-standing, which simply means the tent will stay up without the benefit of guy lines, which can't be said for a cabin-type tent. Some dome tents add more poles to the mix which serve to strengthen the tent because it takes on a more geodesic design, this is nice in high-wind or snowy conditions. Again make sure to get one with a good rainfly.

Cabin tents are nice if you want to stand upright fully, though there are dome tents that offer 6 and half feet of peak height (remember peak height just refers to the center of the tent). Cabin tents can offer a little more vertical storage area near the walls, but to me it doesn't out-weigh the drawbacks. Since cabin tents usually have a single wall (i.e. no rainfly) by design they're more likely to leak. That alone is enough for me to look toward dome tents with a rainfly.

Tunnel tents usually require guy lines for support to keep them upright. They get their name because of their shape which usually requires 2-4 hoops to prop them up. Tunnel tents can offer a little more room, and are pretty stable in the wind especially when compared to cabin tents.

As you may have guessed my preference lies with geodesic dome tents. A couple of other things to consider...

Time of year - What time of year you'll be camping will also play a major factor in what tent you select. If you camp mostly in the summer or camp in hot locations, then you're going to want as much ventilation as possible. Look for tents that offer plenty of built-in screens and windows.

If you camp from spring to fall, then look for something that offers a happy medium between ventilation and solid panel construction. To me that means a tent with plenty of windows that can be zipped shut as needed, and maybe a few small ventilation screen panels.

If you do a lot of winter camping, you're probably going to want a dedicated winter tent that can shrug off the winter winds and snow with a smile. So what exactly does a smiling tent look like anyway... if you've got a picture, I'd like to see it. ;-)

Use - Another big consideration to think about is what you're going to actually use your tent for. Do you backpack, camp mostly out of your car, or are you going to use it for winter hunting? As each of these all have very different requirements.

If you're going to be backpacking you're going to want something light and compact that's easy to setup on a daily basis, maybe even in the dark.

With car camping, a larger heavier tent will be easier to take with you because you won't have to carry it. But if you have a small vehicle, trunk space may be a deciding factor in what tent you get. If this describes you, take a look at the tents overall packed dimensions, to see how it measures up.

If you're planning extended winter hunting trips, then you're going to want to look at sturdier wall tents. Some of which can be equipped to handle a wood stove to keep you comfortable when the temperature drops below zero.

In Chapter 3 you'll learn what 3 tent features are important to keep you dry, how to avoid premature tent floor wear, and a small detail that can tip you off to the quality of a tent...

Chapter 3: What's Important In A Tent


As I mentioned in Chapter 1, a rainfly is designed to protect your tent. It's the primary barrier to keeping the weather outside, and you comfortable inside. Now that you know what a rainfly is, let me explain a little more about it.

Old-style single wall canvas tents were notorious for leaking if the walls or ceiling were accidentally touched when it rained. Rainflies help to eliminate this because they are suspended above the tent and do not touch it. So it could be raining cats and dogs but the rainfly repels the rain, and keeps you dry.

Even though some rainflies may be water-resistant enough to touch and not cause a leak, I'd still avoid touching them in a storm. But this really shouldn't be an issue as long as the tent doesn't get pushed out several inches to bump into the rainfly. Although I'd probably avoid spirited games of in-tent racquetball on those rainy days. ;-)

Large rainflies are also extremely handy for storage. If you've got a lot of gear or like to bring your mountain bike camping having this extra storage can definitely make things easier. This area can also double as a sleep area for your dog if he/she has a tendency to sprawl out while they're sleeping and claim the whole tent for him or herself. :-)

Rainflies come in various sizes. They range from full flies that shield the whole tent, to so-called rainflies that really don't do much of anything because they only cover the top portion of the tent so that any rain that falls on them ends up running down the side of the tent anyway. And if the rainfly isn't shielding your tent what good is it doing really?

The conditions you camp in will determine what size of rainfly you are going to want. If you camp where it rains a lot, the longer the rainfly the better. With a full rainfly more water that splashes off the ground will land on your rainfly too, which means less of it will get your tent wet. The longer rainfly also helps to stop a majority of wind-driven rain.

If you only camp in areas that don't get much rain, then you may want to go for a half-fly. A half-length fly will help to keep the rain off your tent while at the same time providing more ventilation.

If you're concerned about getting a full rainfly because you also want as much ventilation as possible when it's nice outside, then make sure to get a tent that has a fully removable rainfly. This way you can get the best of both worlds. Here are a few other things to consider when you're looking for your next tent...

Bathtub floor - Does the tent you're considering have a bathtub floor that is thicker than the wall material to ensure longevity? Is the floor material treated to make it even more water resistant? Is the floor one piece (not as common), or if not are the seams taped effectively (more common)?

00006.jpgNotice how the tent walls rise several inches above the floor to help keep water out.

Footprints - Some footprints come with the tent and some must be bought separately. The protection they offer is well worth the extra $30 or so invested, even if you have to buy them separately. The alternative is to replace your tent's floor when it wears out, which I'm sure you can imagine isn't going to be cheap or easy. If you go with a factory footprint just make sure to get the one designed to match your tent. If they don't make one, or if you want to save that $30 to get another piece of gear, you can always buy a decently thick piece of tarp and fold or cut it to size to fit. (Continued below.)


Notice that left to right the footprint is completely underneath the tent floor, while the footprint front to back hangs out at least a foot. The reason for this is that when the tent is up the rainfly will cover it, although it will need to be adjusted.

Your footprint should be just slightly smaller than your tent floor. This is so rain won't collect on the way down, otherwise it will pool water underneath your tent which as you already know, isn't good.

Gear Lofts - Gear lofts aren't extremely common but you can get them as an additional accessory for some tents. They can be really handy to get light things up off the floor and out of the way. Gear pockets are also extremely helpful for the same reason. Anything you can do to get things off the floor and out of the way will give you that much more room to move around. (Continued below.)

00008.jpgA picture of one of four small stowage pockets.

Guy Lines - There isn't much to say about guy lines except to make sure they're good quality and that usually isn't too much of an issue. One thing worth mentioning though if you have a habit of tripping over your guy lines a lot in the dark, is to pick up some reflective lines. If they help you avoid one good trip-up they might save you a ripped tie-down or rainfly.


If you look closely you will notice that these particular guy lines are adjustable which makes it easier to find a location to anchor your tent stakes if the ground is rocky. Of course you can always adjust your guy lines by tying them off short too.

Quality Stitching - A tents stitching can tell you a lot about the quality of a tent. Is it straight and even, or does it wander? If it's single-stitched, does it go straight down the seam? Is the seam double-stitched or does it only have one line of stitches? Does the thread look thick enough to be durable and are high stress areas reinforced with extra material and/or stitching?

00010.jpgNotice how the vent stitching is double-stitched and nice and even.

Taped seams - Are the seams taped or welded to keep out the water? Can you see light through the needle holes where the fabric panels come together that might let water in, or are they tightly sealed? Does the stitching run down the middle of the tape, or does it wander on and off the edges allowing an opening for water to enter? It should be OK if the stitches wander a little, but if they go completely off the tape there's more of a chance they'll leak.

Tent Stakes - What are the tent stakes made of? Are they cheap plastic or flimsy aluminum that will break or bend the first time they hit a rock, or are they stakes that might outlast your tent? (Don't be surprised if your new tent is offered with cheap tent stakes because most are. Just be aware of that and order good stakes if the tent you want doesn't come with them). Also...

00011.jpgA picture of what typical cheap tent stakes look like after hitting a rock, root, or hard soil. Although they'll still work they have a tendency to bend again and are more difficult to use.

Do the stakes have a loop of cord or something that will make them easy to pull out? Are they compatible with the type of camping you plan on doing? Just a heads-up, snow-stakes and sand-stakes are designed specifically for their relative environments, so you might want to invest in a set if you decide to do a lot of beach or winter camping.

Oh, and make sure not to confuse a 'stake' with a 'steak'. While a steak might be tasty, it won't do much to keep your tent in place. And just in case you happen to be a vegetarian... Tofu doesn't work well either. ;-)

Heh heh, I'll be here at the comedy club all week. Feel free to stop by again... ;-)


In chapter 4 we'll cover tent set-up and location, why shade is important, and why it's a good idea to pay attention to animal trails...


In a hurry? Here are the best camping tents I've found (about 1/4 the way down the page). ;-)

Chapter 4: Tent Set-up And Location

00001.jpgOk, once you've got it, where should you set it up?

The best place for a tent is usually an elevated surface that has a slight slope. This will help to keep water from pooling beneath your tent if it rains. Also, if you're camping in an area that doesn't have many trees, avoid camping beneath the lone tree or an isolated group of trees as they can attract lightning if there's a storm. Keeping this in mind...

Try to pick a shaded area. Even though new tents may come with some type of UV protection, sunlight will still deteriorate them over time weakening the material and stitching. Another good thing about setting your tent up in the shade is that it will stay much cooler during the day, which can mean the difference between a comfortable mid-day nap or sweating profusely. Think tin shack in the sun, and you get the idea. :-)

Try to avoid setting your tent up on animal paths as you never know what might be coming down a path at night. Even smaller animals like fighting raccoons can be enough to scare you from a sound sleep. Let alone a 1,000 pound (454 kg) moose. And surprising a moose or bear is definitely not a good idea. Give them plenty of room by not disturbing their natural routes. Also, make sure to place the tent a good distance from the campfire pit to be safe and to avoid areas that may smell of food.

Once you've found your spot, pick up any rocks and sticks to protect your tent from punctures or rips. Think of it this way... If you wouldn't want to lay on top of it at home in your bed, it's a good idea to pick it up. Otherwise, if you sleep on a pad you'll feel it all night long, or at least until you decide to remove it. It's much better to do it now than to have to crawl out of a perfectly warm sleeping bag to blindly grope around underneath your camping tent at midnight to find that annoying rock that keeps poking you in the middle of the back.

Once you've cleared your spot, lay your footprint down and place your tent on top of it. The tent should cover the footprint completely extending past the groundsheet by an inch or so on every side, again this is to stop any rain from getting underneath and pooling beneath your tent. Now set your tent up according to the manufacturer's directions.

Avoid cooking inside your tent or underneath the rainfly because burning gas gives off colorless and odorless carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Either of these gases in sufficient quantity can quickly sneak up on you without warning and knock you unconscious with sometimes lethal consequences. Play it safe, cook outside.

Store food inside your car unless you're in bear country. In bear country store food in a bear-proof container suspended 30 feet in the air between two trees a safe distance away from your campsite. A hungry bear can make short work of your car if he wants to get inside, so avoid storing food there. The same goes for toothpaste, shaving cream, and etc. To put things in perspective, think of it this way. If a hungry bear came around your campsite, how far away would he have to be so that you would feel comfortable? Let me tell you a quick story...

We arrived about midnight one night at a State Campground and hauled our tent out to begin setting it up. We left the car running with the headlights on to see by. Minutes later as we were clearing the setup area of twigs I heard something crash in the car. I turned around to see two medium-sized raccoons next to the car. One was carting away our bread and the other was cheering him on. They were extremely bold. They growled, hissed and stood their ground when I tried to scare them off with a flashlight.

If a running well-lit car (both inside and out), and people working 10-15 feet away weren't a deterrent, you can imagine what they'd do to a deserted tent full of food. This is why rangers tell visitors not to feed the animals. People think it's cute to feed the animals when they're small, but down the road as they get bigger and lose their fear of people they get more aggressive and take what they want. This may even result in the rangers having to put them down... not cool. So, as we learned, keep you car doors closed and avoid feeding the animals... even if it's unintentional. ;-)

In Chapter 5 we'll talk about what you can do to make your tent last longer, how to temporarily fix a zipper that's lost its zip, and where to store your tent...

Chapter 5: Care, Cleaning And Maintenance

00001.jpgThere are a few simple things you can do to help make your tent last as long as possible...

The first is to sweep it out at least after every use. If you wear your shoes inside the tent, have pets or high traffic you'll want to sweep it out more often. Dirt and mud are very abrasive and can over time wear holes through a tents floor. A few minutes now can save you a lot of money down the road. And of course the footprint goes a long way toward protecting the bottom of your tent from the dirt underneath.

If your tent is wet or even slightly damp make sure to let it completely air dry before you store it. Damp tents can mold or mildew quickly if they're stored wet. This will make your tent look and smelly funky. To dry your tent simply hang it over some drying racks in a room with a dehumidifier or lay it flat on the floor in a spare bedroom. After the top side has dried out, turn it over to let the bottom dry too.

Store your tent in a cool dry place, like an upstairs hallway closet or a storage closet (basements tend to be damp so are best avoided unless you have a dehumidifier).

Depending on the kind of tent you have, it's usually a good idea to seal your tents seams before your first trip, especially if the seams aren't taped. Once the sealant has dried per directions, spray the tent down to check for leaks. It's better to find them now then out in the middle of nowhere.

Zipper problems?


Is your zipper hard to pull open or does it catch at times? Rubbing a little wax or bar soap along the teeth can help to free it up so that it can slide easier.


If you have a zipper that pulls through and fails to mesh the teeth behind it, the slider may be worn. For a quick temporary fix try this...

Use an adjustable pair of pliers to *very gently* squeeze the slider from top to bottom (the pull tab attaches to the top) not side to side. Alternate squeezing on the left and right (again top to bottom), until the zipper works correctly. Be careful not to crush it because this will cause it to clamp down causing the zipper to lock-up completely. Sliders are pretty fragile, so take your time or they will tend to break apart easily, especially if you try to re-open one with a screwdriver. In case you're wondering, half zippers don't work very well either. ;-)

As you probably already know it's always a good idea to bring an emergency patch kit with you so you have it if you need it. Patch kits are usually light and don't take up much room so they're easy to pack.


If you're looking for information about how to clean a tent, have a look here.


Here's another one on how to remove tree sap from a camping tent.


And another on tent maintenance. They all offer additional information not covered in this article. May your tent become a third generation family heirloom... ;-)


Chapter 6 covers pre-planning to help keep yourself dry in a pinch, two simple items that can come in really handy, and Bob...

Chapter 6: Camping Tent Tips, Tricks And Ideas


Ok, so you're camping with your best friend Bob and using his camping tent. The problem is he picked up a "bargain" tent and you can see daylight through the uneven seams. He didn't bring any seam sealant and the weather forecast has called for heavy showers.

You just drove 400 miles to camp and you definitely don't want to head home because of a little rain, but getting thoroughly soaked doesn't sound appealing either. You know this could get miserable, but luckily you've known Bob for years and had the fore-thought to pack a few extra things... the first being the Acme Stop-a-snore nose strips, just in case. Hopefully your camp mates next door won't complain too loudly this time about camping so close to a human sawmill, but that's another story altogether... ;-)

Even though Bob checks in at an imposing 6 feet 6 inches and 277 lbs. (126 kg) you know he's a sensitive guy. You can still vividly recall the last sappy greeting card commercial that made this otherwise musclebound man's man eyes water, and he said it was from chopping onions... the previous day. Sure Bob, Ok. ;-)

Being careful not to hurt his feelings you leap into action, and suggest that it would really be a bummer to get his brand new tent wet on its first outing. He looks at you strangely, and says smugly "Uh, isn't that what a tent is for?" Bob may snore, but he's no dummy.

Well it was worth a shot trying not to offend him, you think to yourself. "Yeah, good point Bob," you respond. You move to your hastily constructed fall back plan.

"Bob," you say. "I was thinking. I can see daylight through every one of those seams, and we're going to be getting some heavy rain here soon. I think we should do something so we don't get drenched." Bob looks at you and says, "What are you some kind of wimp, are you going to melt or somethin'?"

(Hey, don't look at me, he's your friend. ;-) )

Well you tried to be polite right? "No Bob, I just thought that when that rain starts to stream down your face it might trigger a flashback to one of those tear-jerker greeting card commerci-".... Bob is out of his chair and after you quicker than you can say Hallmark, just as the first telltale drop hits him squarely on the cheek and proceeds to roll down his face and off his chin. This is enough to stop him mid-sprint, and he asks what you have in mind.

You pull out one of the tarps you brought with the grommet tie-down holes and some rope that you wisely thought to bring along. You tell Bob to help you tie it up between the trees just above the tent. You tilt the tarp at an angle so the rain can run off it onto the ground and down a slight grade behind the tent. This will keep the vertical rain from falling directly on the tent.

Since the rain is coming from the West you also place a tarp vertically between two other trees to shield his tent from any wind-driven rain that might try to blow in at an angle from the West. Four hours later with the rain outside the tent pouring down around you, Bob mumbles a "Thanks," under his breath as he drifts off to sleep. Minutes later he's snoring like a dull rusty buzz saw cutting through a fence post full of nails. Ahhh, nature in all its peace and glory...

How could you have helped Bob avoid getting a bad tent in the first place? By forwarding him this tutorial of course. ;-)


And the snoring... well, you're on your own. ;-)


Although tarps aren't the ideal solution, they can work in a pinch to help keep you drier.


Next, is your current tent too small? Do you need more room?


If you have a great tent you really like, but it seems to be getting a bit small lately due to more equipment, more friends, or a larger family, take a look at a screen house tent.

Screen house tents are great because they keep rain out and the bugs away. Move a picnic table inside and they are nice for playing games when it's raining or to keep the bugs at bay while you read. They're also very handy for keeping pesky houseflies away while you're eating dinner. The high roofs and large open screens provide plenty of room to stand up and move around too. The drawback is that they can take up a bit of space in your car, so if space is already at a premium in your car you might want to consider just getting a larger camping tent.

Some quick tips:

An idea that has worked great for me is to put all of your camping gear in a large plastic bin so that it's all together. Keeping everything in one spot makes it much easier to grab everything and go without having to search the whole house to make sure you've got it all. It's really nice if you're only going away for the weekend because you can come home from work, put everything in the car, and go.

Always pack an extra tarp and some rope. They always come in handy, whether it's just to cover your firewood, picnic table, or camping furniture to keep it dry. Tarps are also nice to block the sun or to make a quick shower stall if you need one.

Also, before you leave, make sure you have everything by checking through a camping list like the one here.


Do you have a great idea that I haven't mentioned? Send me an e-mail and let me know.


This tutorial is designed to deliver what you need to know about tents before you buy... but I can understand if you're in a hurry to find out what the camping tent recommendations are.


You're missing a lot of hiking and camping gear information if you haven't yet subscribed to the RSS feed.

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Chapter 7 covers tent recommendations and the best tents for different uses, and answers the question about whether certain brand names guarantee quality...

Chapter 7: Camping Tent Wrap-up


Well we've covered a lot of information over the past 6 chapters. You should feel empowered selecting your next camping tent. With the knowledge you have you should be able to pick out a tent that will serve you well and last you a long time into the future.

As you can imagine, I've done a little bit of research over the course of putting this e-book and website together. And one of the interesting things I've discovered through that research is that no matter who a company may be, they usually tend to make both great tents and not so great tents. Just because someone has a certain brand name tent doesn't mean that their tent is automatically good, it really depends on the model. Although most companies have both good and bad tents, there are a few companies that don't offer anything I'd be comfortable recommending at the moment.

Now that you know what to look for in a camping tent, I want to mention some tents worthy of your consideration. I list them on the website and not in this tutorial because these recommendations may change from time to time as new tents are released, or certain models are discontinued. Also, if for some reason a tent somehow becomes not worth mentioning, I can delete it easily. That way you get current and updated recommendations... So here are the best camping tents I've found if you haven't already looked (about 1/4 the way down the page). ;-)

If you like this e-book please feel free to forward a copy to your friend(s) but please ask their permission first.

Well hopefully you've found this helpful. If you did, please let others know about this tutorial and the website. I really appreciate it. Oh, if you haven't already, consider signing up for the newsletter. Something useful is covered in every issue and it's free. Better yet get the RSS feed (look left below the table of contents). It will let you know about updates, new information, tips, reviews and other stuff as soon as it's posted.

If you haven't guessed, I had fun putting this together... although I'm still not sure about that friend Bob of yours. ;-)


See you on the trail.


P.S. Where is your favorite hiking vacation spot? Do you have a tip, story or review? Have you found a slice of paradise? Share your tip or story about the destination you love!



Marc Wiltse learned how important good quality hiking equipment and camping gear were after his first pup tent flooded with over 3 inches of water forcing him to sleep in the front seat of his 2-seat Honda CRX (translation: research is a good thing). His hiking equipment & camping gear guides & reviews save you time & money. Subscribe to his camping & hiking newsletter & get the most usable information FREE.

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Author: Marc Wiltse
This e-book is the intellectual property of the author. © All rights reserved worldwide. First Edition 2007

All product names and/or logos are copyrights and trademarks of their respective owners. None of these owners has authorized, sponsored, endorsed, or approved this publication.

The author has made their best effort to produce a high quality, helpful and informative tutorial. But they make no representation or warranties of any kind with regard to the completeness or accuracy of the information. They accept no liability of any kind for any losses or damages caused or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, from using the information provided.

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