A tent is basically portable shelter that gives you protection from the surrounding environment. It protects you from rain, snow, wind, the sun, the cold, insects, and more. It’s also the focal point of any campsite and most, if not all, campsite activities center around the tent. So, having the proper tent in your campsite will aid in your rest and relaxation after a long day on the trail. When choosing a tent consider the following: weight, floor area, ventilation, shape, weatherproofing, and durability.
NOTE: Backpacking with a tent is not mandatory for a good time. In my opinion the odds improve of having a good time if a tent is used, however, some prefer just a tarp strung up between trees or no shelter at all. This method provides the backpacker with less weight to carry and affords the hiker with the ability to set up camp almost anywhere. But, when the bugs are biting or unexpected foul weather approaches there is no security better in the backcountry than a tent.
As a general rule a backpacking tent, for two people, should weigh around 5-7 lbs. Obviously, the more people, the bigger the tent, thus more weight. Also, if your planning to do alot of winter camping you’ll probably invest in a 4 season tent. This type of tent can handle most any weather in all four seasons. A 4 season tent usually employs more poles and is constructed from heavier, more durable fabric which adds to the overall weight of the tent. Most backpackers hike during the warmer seasons of spring, summer and fall (maybe an occasional winter hiking trip) and need only a tent rated for these three seasons-a 3 season tent. Some just buy a 4 season tent and use it all year, while other may opt to buy both types of tents using them in their respective seasons. If your just getting into camping or do minimal winter camping, then buy a good 3 season tent (why carry the extra weight of a 4-season tent if you don’t need it?). Most 3 season tents can be used in winter if the forecast is absent of snow, high wind and very cold weather. But remember, high in the mountains the weather is generally unpredictable, especially in winter. You’ve been warned!
Floor area determines how much living space exists in a tent. This depends mostly on your personal preferences. Remember, when you’re out in the backcountry and it rains for twelve hours straight, you’ll probably spend most of your time in the tent. How much space do you need to remain comfortable? For a two person, 3 season tent a floor area between 36-40 square feet will maintain comfort for most people. A two person, 4 season tent with 45-48 square feet will comfortably hold two peolpe along with their bulky winter sleeping bags and clothing. If you’re tall (over 6 feet) make sure the length of the tent will accomodate the length of your body.
On hot, humid nights in the summer the aspect of ventilation is important in maintaining comfort. A tent partly made of a fabric called no-see-um netting will protect you from insects and allow adequate ventilation to keep the tent cooler. Usually the doors and windows are made from no-see-un netting. This netting can also be found in the tent’s side and top panels. Most good tent makers use this fabric and design their tents with ventilation in mind.
The shape of a tent is important to consider also. A rounded, more aerodynamic shape will deflect wind and absorb less stress from that wind. Tents that have a flat shape will also deflect wind but tend to absord more of the wind’s energy causing more stress to be put on the tent’s framework. Most backpacking tents on today’s market are areodynamic and do well in reducing wind stress. Also, if you might experience snow on your hiking trip keep in mind that the more round a tent is, the better it will shed falling snow.
After purchasing a tent it must be waterproofed. A tent is constructed by sewing pieces of fabric together. Stitching leaves holes in the fabric where water can enter. These holes or seams must be sealed in order to keep the inside of your tent dry. Some tents makers factory seal their seams with tape but most require sealing by the consumer. Any good outdoor supply store will sell seam sealer. Follow the directions. Most sealers suggest setting the tent up and sealing the seams. Then put the rainfly on upside down and seal the rainfly’s seams. Make sure the sealer soaks into the threads and stitch holes. Let the sealer dry for several hours then apply another coat. After two coats have been applied let the sealer cure overnight. Re-seal the tent seams once a year to ensure your tent’s weatherproofness and that you remain dry and comfy on your backpacking trips.
Three tips concerning the durability of a tent besides the obvious like no fires or flames inside a tent. First, always use a waterproof ground tarp under the tent. This not only adds another barrier of water protection but also protects the underneath protion of your tent from root and rock abrasion. (Also, remember to make sure the tarp is completely under the tent. A protruding edge is likely to catch rain water and carry it under the tent.) Second, remove your hiking boots before entering the tent. This will reduce wear and tear on the tent floor. Finally, the ultraviolet rays of the sun can also damage the tent’s waterproof coating. So, try to pitch your tent out of direct sunlight.
Popularity: 19% [?]