Tent Buying Guide
Whether you’re buying your very first tent or you looking to upgrade to another model, there’s a lot to consider! From the size of the tent to its ability to withstand different conditions, the right tent should be perfectly suited to your needs, whether you’re wild camping, heading to a festival or embarking on a family camping trip. In this guide we’re going to look at what you need to ‘know before you go’, to help you choose the right tent for your trip and the tent brands you should have your eye on!
Types of tents
Before you choose the right tent for you, let’s take a look at some of the most common options available.
The quick pitch tent is a favourite with those wanting to cut down the time it takes to pitch their tent. Ideal for festivals, these tents feature integrated poles that allow the tent to open and collapse in like an umbrella when putting it down. The one-piece design means you don’t need a separate footprint and as the frame is on the exterior, you have ample space inside for your belongings. These tents are ideal for solo campers or for the festival season.
Quick pitch tents are ideal for those looking to get set-up quickly, however, the range of sizes available does not cater for larger groups. These tents are often heavier to transport compared to traditional tents due to the rigid jointed poles.
If you’re planning on spending long days hiking or mountain climbing, the last thing you need is extra weight in your bag. A compact backpacking tent is a great choice for solo travellers, designed with practicality in mind they’re easy to carry and easy to pitch. Most backpacking tents offer a streamlined design, with a low end at one side and a wider end at the other. Although these tents aren’t designed for those planning on spending a lot of time in the tents, they’re ideal for windy conditions and an ideal wild camping tent.
Backpacking tents are really designed for one thing, to shelter you from harsh conditions. With limited free space or headroom, they’re not designed for larger groups but are a highly practical solution for those exploring the countryside.
The dome tent is one of the most popular types of tent and is versatile enough to suit a variety of outdoor pursuits. The curved structure is held up by two or three poles, this creates a flat rectangular base and good headroom. Dome tents are fairly easy to assemble and work with an interlocking pole system that feeds into the structure to hold the tent in place. Although they’re not designed for extreme conditions, they can withstand a good amount of wind and rain. A lot of dome tents also offer porch space, ideal for storing footwear and wet clothing.
These tents are a popular choice for festival goers and are relatively easy to transport. If you are camping in an exposed area, be wary that higher domes are susceptible to catching more winds.
Perfect for family camping, tunnel tents offer extra space inside for storage and ample headroom. Tunnel tents use a series of curved poles to create a long tunnel-like structure. Often straightforward to pitch, they’re ideal for those camping for an extended period of time. Thanks to the tapered ends you’re protected from heavy winds, plus they’re spacious enough to spend downtime in if the weather is rough.
Pitching a tunnel tent is straightforward IF you have more than one person assembling the structure. As these tents tend to be quite large, it’s always advisable to check your chosen campsite ahead of time if pitch space is limited.
If you ask a child to draw a tent, chances are they will draw the classic ridge design! Instantly recognisable thanks to the triangle design, it uses two poles at either end to create a sturdy camping structure. Known for their practicality, ridge tents come in a range of sizes and are fairly easy to pitch. The multiple guy ropes used to secure the ridge tent makes it one of the sturdier designs on our list and able to withstand wind and bad weather.
The slanted wall design does limit space within the ridge tent and there is limited headroom in places, something to consider if you’re planning on spending a lot of downtime in the tent.
Geodesic tents are similar in structure to the dome tent but use additional poles to create more space inside. This style is perfect for tough conditions and can tolerate heavy wind and rain without subsiding. Ideal for those heading into mountainous conditions, or expecting extreme weather, this is a strong, durable tent that offers good interior space and headroom.
Geodesic tents are designed for no more than 1-2 people and unsuitable for large groups. The additional poles mean that there is added weight to carry around until you pitch, something to consider if you have a long journey ahead.
If you’re travelling solo, a hammock tent is a fantastic choice. Designed to provide shelter for one person and their gear, hammocks are ideal for backpackers or those taking part in outdoor sports. Extremely lightweight, the biggest benefit of hammock tents is the mobility; simply pitch camp wherever you can find somewhere to secure your hammock to. Hammocks are comfortable, enjoyable and easy to set-up, letting you enjoy a night sleeping under the stars without the hard ground underneath you. Attach a hammock tarp above you for protection from the wind and rain and take advantage of the fun of sleeping outdoors.
Of course, hammocks aren’t ideal for those travelling with a lot of gear – they are designed to accommodate one person and minimal gear. Those heading to extreme weather conditions may also find that a classic tent structure will offer more protection than a hammock.
Once you have the right tent, it’s time to start thinking about other tent accessories that will help make your camping trip a breeze.
Tent footprints are used to prevent the wear and tear of your tent against the ground. Stones, thorns and other debris can cause damage to your tent so a footprint is a great addition to any camping kit. The footprint is secured to the tent floor with locking clips, keeping the tent floor clean and protected from damage.
Footprints are often created to make the specifications of tent models, making it easier for you to find the right match. We currently offer footprints for some of our most popular tent models, including Wild Country tents, Vango tents and Eureka tents.
Gear stores are great additions to your camping kit, especially if you’re travelling as a group or you’re taking extra equipment with you. Ideal for tunnel style tents, this lightweight solution fits snugly over the tent to create a separate storage area for your belongings or an additional area to spend time in during your trip.
Ask any seasoned camper what they won’t leave home without and chances are they will say – spare tent pegs. Even if your tent comes with extra pegs as a precaution, a separate pack of tents or stakes will give you peace of mind if you happen to lose or damage one of your existing ones.
For more expert camping advice, don’t forget to read our family camping guide for tips on creating a fun-filled family break.