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How to Choose the Right Tent for Your Trip – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Naturehike Mongar Ultralight 2 Man tent Blue 3

If you’re new to outdoor adventures, choosing a camping tent can be a confusing and overwhelming task. Thankfully, here at Wood To Water, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you make the best purchase for your intended camping trip.

So, if you want to know your tent footprint from your groundsheet and your semi-geodesic tent from your air tents, read on for our breakdown!

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

First, Consider Your Camping Needs

Before you even start looking at tents, it’s important to consider the type of camping you’ll be doing. 

Will you be backpacking and hiking long distances to your campsite or setting up a base camp near your car? The answer to this question will determine the size, weight, and design that would be best for you.

If you’re going on a long-distance trek, a lightweight tent will be essential. However, if you’ll be driving to your campsite, size and weight may not be as much of a concern since you won’t have to lug it around.

You also need to think about the number of people and the amount of kit that’s going to be in the tent at night to make sure everyone has enough room to be comfortable.

So, in summary, you should consider:

  1. Size and space required – As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to consider the number of people and equipment that will be inside the tent.
  2. Seasonality & weather conditions – Will you be camping in winter or summer? The season will determine the type of tent suitable for your trip.
  3. Ease of setup – Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to spend pitching your tent. A pop-up tent may seem easy, but you’re sacrificing stability.
  4. Durability and weather resistance – Your tent must be able to withstand various elements, such as wind, rain, and snow.
  5. Weight and pack size – Depending on the type of trip you’ll be taking, weight and pack size can play a significant role in the suitability of a tent.
  6. Price rangeTents for camping are available in a wide range of prices, so it’s important to determine your budget before making a purchase.

The Most Popular Styles of Tents

There are a few different styles of tents that you’re likely to come across when looking for a new tent, Below are some of the common types of tents available and what kinds of camping trips they’re good for.

Dome Tents

How to choose the right tent for your trip - the ultimate beginner's guide guides

Dome tents are among the most commonly used styles of tents, primarily due to the following reasons. Dome tents are typically designed with 2 or 3 poles that, once inserted, create the tent’s shape. This makes pitching the tent a straightforward process.

Dome tents are also known for their rigidity, making them ideal for setting up in harder areas where strong fixing points may be limited. They offer stability and reliability in various camping conditions.

Overall, dome tents offer a practical and reliable solution for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a convenient and functional shelter option.

Pros of Dome TentsCons of Dome Tents
Wide range to choose from, starting from as low as £20.Some cheaper dome tents may be prone to condensation or leaking during bad weather conditions, especially when the two layers come into contact due to wind or improper pitching.
Simplicity in setting up and taking down.Those with small porches or storage areas may have limited space for larger groups or a significant amount of equipment
Come in various sizes, ranging from 1-person tents to family-sized tents. The pack-down size is typically reasonable compared to other types of camping tents.

Tunnel Tents 

Tunnel tent

Tunnel tents are highly suitable for larger groups and families, offering superior headroom and spaciousness. These tents are constructed using similar poles to dome tents, but they are inserted widthways, resulting in a tunnel shape. 

It is important to note that stability is reliant on the guy ropes, and a strong peg hold is crucial to avoid any potential issues.

Pros of Tunnel TentsCons of Tunnel Tents
Simple and efficient setup and takedown process.Tend to be heavier and bulkier when packed down.
Ample space compared to dome tents, with increased headroom and additional porch and storage areas.Can experience pooling between poles during heavy rainfall.
Excellent performance in inclement weather conditions when properly pitched.

A-frame / Ridge tents

Dd hammocks a-frame tent - multicamo

These tents are highly popular among backpackers, primarily because they allow for weight reduction by replacing tent poles with walking sticks or hiking poles. Tarps can also be utilised to create this type of tent or shelter.

Pros of A-frame TentsCons of A-frame Tents
Suitable for inclement weather conditions with no rain pooling.These tents can be somewhat compact, providing limited interior space. Depending on the tent, the poles may obstruct movement.
It can be lightweight and compact.Setting up these tents correctly can sometimes be challenging.
Often equipped with numerous pegging points, which is advantageous in severe weather.

Geodesic Tents 

Geodesic tent

Often referred to as top-tier tents, these shelters are commonly utilised by individuals camping in extreme climates. They are available in a variety of styles tailored to specific needs. Geodesic tents, for instance, resemble dome tents but boast additional poles to enhance stability and weather resistance.

Pros of Geodesic TentsCons of Geodesic Tents
Exceptional stability and built for inclement weather conditions.Potential for higher costs.
Typically lightweight in design.Longer pitching time due to the increased number of poles.
Ample space for equipment and sleeping arrangements.Primarily suitable for smaller groups.

Our Top Tent Recommendations By Size

Now you’ve got a better understanding of the different types of tents and what to consider when purchasing one, here are our top tent recommendations based on size:

The Best 1-Man Tents

1-man tents are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them perfect for solo backpacking trips. Here are our top recommendations

1. 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 1, 3-Season Tent

The 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 1, 3-Season Tent is a perfect choice for solo backpacking trips.

This tent is designed to be light yet durable with strong, rip-stop material. It offers a comfortable space for one person, with enough room to accommodate your essential gear.

The 3-season rating means that it can stand up to most weather conditions apart from heavy snowfall or extremely harsh weather, making it a reliable choice for camping in spring, summer, and autumn. The tent is easy to set up, and its compact design, when packed down, enables easy transportation. With its excellent waterproof rating of 5000m, the 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 1 provides a secure and comfortable shelter for the solo traveller.

2. DD SuperLight Pathfinder Tent

The DD SuperLight Pathfinder Tent is another excellent choice for solo campers. This tent is renowned for its exceptional lightness and compactness, making it an ideal companion for long-distance backpacking or wild camping. Despite its lightweight design, it doesn’t compromise on durability or strength.

Constructed from single-layer SuperLight ripstop nylon with 3000mm PU coating, it offers excellent waterproofing qualities, ensuring you stay dry, even during unexpected weather fluctuations.

With its spacious interior, the tent provides ample room for a single occupant and their gear. The unique design also features a covered space outside the main sleeping area, perfect for storing boots or preparing meals sheltered from the elements.

Our Top-Rated 2-Man Tents

For a more spacious solo trip or a cosy adventure with two campers, 2-man tents are ideal. Here are a few of our favourites.

1. Naturehike Cloud Peak 2-Man Tent

The Naturehike Cloud Peak 2-Man Tent serves as an excellent choice for duo camping trips.

Ideally designed for three seasons, it performs impressively in spring, summer, and autumn. It’s manufactured from high-quality, rip-stop nylon material, ensuring both durability and water resistance.

The double-layered construction of this tent helps to minimise condensation, providing a comfortable and dry environment within. The tent also features a vestibule area, providing additional space for storage, and the double-door design enables easy access.

2. 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 2 Classic 3-Season Tent

The 3F UL GEAR Lanshan 2 Classic 3-Season Tent is an excellent choice for couples or friends on a camping adventure.

This tent boasts a lightweight design, making it perfect for backpacking or hiking trips. Crafted from durable ripstop nylon, it possesses excellent water resistance, ensuring you stay dry in various weather scenarios. Its 3-season rating means it’s suitable for spring, summer, and autumn camping.

The Lanshan 2 Classic comfortably accommodates two people, with additional space for storing gear. The double-door design allows for effortless access while maximising ventilation and reducing condensation inside the tent.

Our Favourite 3+ Man Tents

For larger camping groups, you need a tent with a bigger capacity. These are our top recommendations.

1. DD SuperLight Pyramid Tent – Family Size

The DD SuperLight Pyramid Tent – Family Size is a fantastic choice for groups or families seeking a spacious and reliable camping solution. Crafted with DD Hammocks’ signature SuperLight ripstop nylon, this tent offers outstanding durability and weather resistance, effectively shielding you and your loved ones from the elements.

The pyramid design of the tent ensures ample internal space, accommodating multiple occupants and gear comfortably. It’s equipped with a central pole for easy setup and stability, making it ideal for various outdoor conditions. The generous door and window provide ventilation, reducing condensation for a comfortable camping experience.

2. Highlander Birch 3-Person Tent

The Highlander Birch 3-Person Tent offers a spacious, comfortable camping experience for groups or families. Designed for durability and easy setup, it is equally suitable for weekend trips and festival camping. Its sturdy structure and weather-resistant materials ensure a reliable shelter in various outdoor conditions. Features like the breathable inner tent and extra storage space enhance its practicality and convenience.

Understanding Tent Jargon

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

Here we go…

Jargon TermExplanation
Hydrostatic HeadHydrostatic Head (HH) measures fabric waterproofness. The measurement, in millimetres, indicates the height of the water column before penetration. 

Top fabrics can withstand up to 30,000mm or 30 metres. Higher HH means better waterproofing. Anything over 1000HH is waterproof.
Vestibule/PorchGear is stored in this space to free up space in the sleeping area. It’s also a good area to cook and eat meals. 

Usually found in car camping tents, family tents and backpacking tents.
RainflyA rainfly is a layer of tough waterproof fabric placed over the top of an inner tent (with a gap between). Its main job is to keep the rain out, but it will also be windproof.
Inner TentThese 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 from the porch of the tent.
Guy LinesGuy lines are the ropes attached to the side of the tent. They aren’t necessary to pitch the tent, but they do provide additional stability, particularly in adverse weather conditions. 

They usually feature an adjustment system so they can be tightened appropriately.
Gear LoftSome tents make the most of the extra space in their ceiling by having a small ‘shelf’ to store small items of gear.
GroundsheetThis 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 ground sheets. 

Inner tents have integrated groundsheets, whereas rain flies often have a detachable groundsheet or none at all.
FootprintTents 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.
Storm FlapsOuter tent doors with zips usually have a strip of fabric that folds over 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 ClipsThese 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.

Find Your Ideal Tent at Wood To Water

Choosing the right tent can make all the difference in your outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a solo backpacker, a duo, or a group camper, our guide and recommended tents for camping can help you find the perfect match. 

Start your outdoor journeys with a quality tent from Wood To Water, and experience the wilderness like never before.

FAQs

How Do I Know What Sort of Tent to Buy?

Choosing a tent depends on various factors, such as the number of occupants, the season in which you will be camping, your budget, and the weight you’re willing to carry.

Always consider the tent’s durability, weather resistance, and ease of setup. For more specific advice, consult the main body of this guide, which breaks down the pros and cons of various tent styles.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Tent for Backpacking?

When selecting a tent for backpacking, factors such as weight, pack size, durability, weather resistance, and ease of setup should be considered. The tent should be lightweight and compact for easy transportation yet durable and weather-resistant to withstand varying outdoor conditions.

What’s the Difference Between 3-Season and 4-Season Tents?

3-season tents are designed for use in spring, summer, and autumn and can typically withstand rain and mild snow. They often feature plenty of mesh for ventilation. 4-season tents, on the other hand, are designed for year-round use, including winter.

They are designed to withstand harsher weather conditions, including heavy snow and high winds.

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