Naturehike cloud peak 2 man tent 4 seasons 20d - green with mat

What Type of Tent Should i Buy?

When buying a tent can be a daunting experience. With so many different styles/fabrics and colours.

Here at Wood to Water, we have made a list of the most popular questions we get asked to make your purchase easier. 

Different Types of tent

Styles of tents

Dome Tents 

 

Maybe one of the most common styles of tent, This is normally due to some of the below reasons.

 

Ease of pitch – When pitching a dome tent they are typically 2 or 3 poles of which once inserted the tent starts to take shape.

Camping experience: With dome tents they normally are pretty ridged and great for harder areas where strong fixing points might not be available. 

Many dome tents are normally single compartments with small porch area.

 

How to choose the correct tent? - tent buying guide guides
Pros of dome tents:
Cost – with a wide range of done tents on the market you can pick up a dome tent for as little as £20 going up to hundreds.
 
Pitching  –  Dome tents are one of the easiest tents to picture and take down.
 
Size  – Large selection of dome tents are available any where from 1 man to family size with the pack down size normally reasonable size compared to other tents. 

 

Cons of Dome tents 
 
Weather – Some cheaper dome tents can be affected with condensation or leaking in bad weather due to the 2 layers touching during wind or incorrect pitching. 
 
Size – For Larger groups or a lot of kit space can some times be limited as dome tents tend to have small porch / storage areas.

 

Tunnel Tents 

 
Tunnel tents are great for larger groups and families normally incorporating better head room, Using simular poles to the dome tents they are inserted width ways producing a tunnel.
 
A downside for these tents is that they rely on the guy ropes to provide stability and may cause issues if you are unable to get a strong peg hold. 
 
 
Tunnel tent
Pros of tunnel tents 
  • Easy to put up and take down
  • Space compared to dome tents they have increased headroom as well as typically more porch and storage space
  • Can be great in poor weather if pictured correctly
Cons of Tunnel tents 
  • Can be heavy or large pack downsize
  • In heavy rain, you can find pooling in between poles

A- frame / Ridge tents

These are quite popular in the backpacking community normally due to being able to cut back on weight with tent poles by replacing them with walking stick/hiking poles. Tarps can also be used to produce this style of tent/shelter.

 

 

Dd hammocks a-frame tent - multicamo
Pros of A-Frame / Ridge tents
  • Good for bad rather no pooling of rain
  • Can be lightweight and compact
  • Typically a lot of pegging points so can be good in bad weather
Cons of A-Frame / Ridge tents
  • Can be a bit compact and little room inside depending on the tent can find poles get in the way.
  • Some times hard to set up correctly. 

Geodesic Tents 

Normally referred to as top tier tents they are normally used by people camping in extreme climates.

These tents come in a lot of different styles depending on in the desired use. 

Typically these are similar to dome tents but have an increased a number of poles for stability and weather resistance.

 

Geodesic tent
Pros of Geodesic Tents
  • Stable and designed for poor weather
  • Normally designed to be lightweight
  • Increased space for equipment and sleeping
Cons of Geodesic Tents

 

  • Can be expensive
  • Takes longer to pitch due to increased poles
  • Normally only designed for smaller groups 1-2 man.

Size and Weight

Size and weight of tents is one of the biggest factors of choosing a tent.  You don’t want to go on an adventure and find its too small for yourself and your kit then again you don’t want to go too big and find you have to carry a lot of additional weight for no reason.

When i personally go i tend to take a 2 man tent with my personal favourite being the naturehike cloud peak 2.

With a 2 man tent for myself i find there is plenty of room to keep myself and my kit out of the elements without breaking my back with the additional size and weight of a larger tent.

If you are going as a group and sharing a sleeping space you might find you go for a larger tent but split the load across the people with some take the outer and others taking the poles and pegs etc. 

 

What hydrostatic head / Waterproof rating do i need for a tent?

Hydrostatic Head (HH) is a way of measuring how waterproof a fabric is. The resulting measurement in millimetres relates to how high a column of water standing on the fabric would need to be before the water would penetrate the fabric. For the best fabrics results can be as high as 30,000mm, i.e. 30 metres high, before it would penetrate the fabric.

Traditionally the test is carried out using a physical column of water but as fabrics have developed the ratings were getting too high for this method. Having the facilities to hold a 30 metre high water column is a bit unrealistic even for scientific test centres, therefore the test is done using a machine that replicates the downward pressure that a water column of such height would create. The machine increases the pressure of water that is pushed against the fabric until water is visible on the other side. The required level of pressure used to force water through the fabric is then converted into a measurement of how high the water column would have been. This provides the result of the Hydrostatic Head test in millimetres.

With HH rating higher the number more waterproof it is. In the UK the typical accepted HH rating is 2000 – 3000mm HH  all though multiple tents are higher than this.

Any thing over 1000HH is classed as waterproof lower than this is normally referred to as water-resistant. 

Higher the hydrostatic head normally means the tent will be heavier or bulkier but with the increased technologies over the last 10 years this is not all ways the case and a lot of reasonably priced tents are over 4000mm and still coming in under 2KG for a 2 man tent. 

Parts of a tent

See all the different works and don’t understand what each part is? struggling to know your fly from your groundsheer?

Here we go…

 

 

Parts of a tent

Vestibule/porch

All good car camping and family tents will have a large porch. And backpacking tents also usually have a small porch area. Gear is stored in this space to free up space in the sleeping area. It’s also a good area to cook and eat meals.

 

Outer tent/rain fly

A rain fly is a layer of tough waterproof fabric that is placed over the top of an inner tent (with a gap between). It’s main job is to keep the rain out. But it will also be windproof.

Inner tent

These sit underneath a rain fly and are either clipped to the poles or clipped to the fabric of the rain fly. Inner tents are not waterproof, but create an area for sleeping that is separate to the porch of the tent.

Pole hub

Some tents have pole configurations that connect in one central spot. These are either permanently attached (and collapsible) to a central fixing, known as the pole hun, or can be totally disconnected from it.

Guy lines

Guy lines that are staked to the ground ensure that tents withstand windy conditions. They also create tension across the outer fabric of the tent to prevent rain water pooling in saggy areas. Guy lines should have an adjustable mechanism that allows them to be tightened and loosened as necessary.

Pegs/stakes

To keep tents securely attached to the ground, tent pegs are used. They are usually metal.

Gear loft

Some tents make the most of the extra space in there ceiling by having a small ‘shelf’ to store small items of gear.

Storage pockets

Most tents have storage pockets that are integrated into the inner tent. These help keep the tent organised and are useful for storing personal items.

Groundsheet

This is the section of the tent that you walk and lie on. It is usually made of waterproof fabric that is highly durable, although lightweight tents often have thin groundsheets. Inner tents have integrated groundsheets, whereas rain flys often have a detachable groundsheet, or none at all.

Footprint

Tents that don’t have a durable or waterproof groundsheet can be pitched on a footprint. This is essentially a groundsheet that is designed for a specific tent, and is used as an optional extra.

Vent

All tents have vents. Usually in the rain fly as well as the inner tent. They are essential at keeping air flowing through the tent which in turn helps manage internal condensation.

Mesh door

Mesh doors are essential when camping in areas where bugs and insects are a problem. They are also very lightweight and often feature in backpacking tents where low weight is important.

Tent divider

Larger tents that accomodate 3 or more people sometimes have a removable divider in the inner tent. These are great if you need some privacy from your tent mates, or if you have kids that need to go to bed earlier that you. Dividers are usually made of lightweight fabric and are simply hooked into the ceiling of the inner tent.

Internal gear hooks

Gear hooks are positioned in various places inside both the inner tent and rain fly. They are useful for hanging up a washing line up between them for drying clothes. Or they can be used to hook lanterns and lighting up in the ceiling.

Door tie backs

All tents have door tie backs. They are usually a simple toggle and loop that holds the rolled up door in place and out of the way to keep the door open.

Pole attachment points

Most tents have a point at which the end of the pole attaches to either the outer or inner tent, depending on the tent design. The systems vary, but once in place they are very secure.

Storm flaps

Outer tent doors with zips usually have a strip of fabric that folds over the the zip to prevent rain (and wind) from coming through the teeth of the zip. Many storm flaps are secured at their base with a velcro tab to keep them in place.

Pole clip

These are clips or hooks that are used to attach the poles to either the inner or outer tent. They vary from tent to tent and should be easy to attach but very secure when in place.

 

Parts of a tent section with credit to Cool of the wild

tent JArgon