need to answer some important questions:
Are you a casual camper?
Are you a serious camper?
Do you only camp occasionally?
Are you a first time camper?
Do you camp in large groups or with family?
Do you camp every weekend?
Do you backpack?
Where do you camp and in what type of weather?
I started my love for camping when I was in Boy Scouts. I camped 1-2 times a month and was very active outdoors. I even made it all the way to Eagle Scout. Then, as I got older I ended up camping less often. When I wanted to start camping regularly, I had to think about purchasing the right tent and getting back into it. For me, it was all about saving money and just getting back into camping after a long hiatus. So I did something that you probably will never hear anyone advise you to do. I went to Target and spent $30 and bought a tent. Yes, $30!
I knew that I was going to do mostly car camping in mild weather
(at least at first) so it was not time yet to invest in an expensive tent. It was the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way for me to go from not camping to camping often again. Therefore, what I recommend is to find the best tent that suits you. You need to think about your particular situation and do what is best for you. If you plan on backpacking you will need a lightweight tent. If you plan on camping with the whole family or several friends you will need a large tent or several tents. And if you want to try camping in crazy weather you will need a four season tent.
When selecting a tent it is the most important to consider what purpose you will use your tent for and then to do research and plan accordingly. First time
campers who just want to get their camping feet wet should go the least
expensive route. However, keep in mind that you do get what you pay for.
A $30 tent is NOT a good tent. It is just a cheap tent that is most suitable for car camping or tailgating in calm weather. If you encounter wind or rain the $30 tent will probably not fare well.
Less expensive tents have some problems that you should be aware
of. The main difference is the tent poles. Cheaper tents tend to use fiberglass poles while more expensive tents usually use aluminum poles. Fiberglass poles break easier than aluminum poles. Aluminum poles tend to bend, rather than break. Some kinds of aluminum are stronger than others, and larger diameter poles of any given material are stronger than smaller diameter poles. When
aluminum poles bend, you can often still use them, and with care, you can
straighten them somewhat. If they break, you can splint them to a usable state
(the tent repair kits have short sleeves to go over the broken section - but
usually too short for the way fiberglass tends to break). In high wind and other
weather, aluminum is the best choice.
Another option is carbon fiber poles but these types of tents are much
Another difference that you will find in better tents is guy line cords attached to the tent for securing your tent in high winds. You can also make your own
but it is nice when the tent has them included.
Here’s a personal example: My cheap tent lasted for about two years but it finally met its match on a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I love camping in
Joshua Tree but I have a saying for camping there.
“If you want to find out if you have good gear, bring it to J tree.
If it comes home with you it was good gear."
The weather in Joshua Tree is very unpredictable. It can be 95 F
during the day and 18 F at night. On top of that, there are high winds and dust storms. One weekend while I was camping there, the wind snapped and shredded my fiberglass tent poles, then tore my tent. The pounding rain got inside the tent, causing me to wake up to a puddle of water and mud. The tent was damaged, of course, after all the bad weather. After that weekend, I finally invested in a four season tent and it was money well spent. The $30 tent still lived on, though, as I gave it to a friend who was still able to use it for camping trips under mild weather (but he did need to replace the tent poles).
The tent I currently use is the High Peak South Col 4 Season Tent. It is a 3
person tent but sleeps 2 comfortably with plenty of room. I have used it many times and I love it. The tent has been great in all types of weather and has kept me warm. It has handled light snow, rain, and high wind. It only weighs 9.7 pounds and it cost me less than $200 (purchased from Amazon.com).
You should always conduct your own research and make an educated decision but based upon my own online research, personal experience, and advice
from friends, I would recommend the following tents:
Eden 1 by go lite
Best Family Tent (voted by www.campinggeartv.com Best Gear 2010)
Suite V4 by Eureka
Good Family tent