How To Choose A Tent
Camping time or gift giving time, if you are thinking about purchasing a tent, there are a few things you will want to consider. Price will be a factor based on the quality you choose, but there will be various price and quality options within the features class you settle on, and the features are what you really need to focus on. There are three basic features you will want to consider first. Once you settle on the features, then you can start shopping. There is no such thing as a "bargain" tent, if it does not meet your camping needs.
The first feature is size. If you are a solo camper, you will want to look at smaller tents, but if you are a family camper, space will always be a premium, especially when it rains unexpectedly, and you get to spend hours and hours inside the tent! There are larger tents that have room dividers, which would be desirable when camping with children, but of course there are trade-offs for this luxury. Larger tents are heavier and require a larger clearing to set up. They are also often taller than smaller tents. There is a subtle factor here on height. You will find it much more comfortable to dress standing upright. More than that, though, if you are kept tent-bound for an extended period of time due to weather, being able to stand and stretch will become a huge benefit. But, just as you will be unhappy with a family of four in a one-man pup-tent, you will likely be just as unhappy lugging around a two-room family tent all for yourself. Tents are rated according to the number of people they will sleep, but when you consider that guideline, bear in mind it is only how many people can lay side by side. It does not account for space for your gear.
The second feature is weather. Are you a fair-weather camper or hard-core? If you will only go camping during pleasant weather when rain is not in the forecast, a lightweight tent will probably be fine. However, if you plan on camping in the snow, high altitudes, and in "come what may" weather, be sure to select a heavyweight cold weather tent. For the hard-core camper, one tent may not be enough, but if you only have one tent, err on the side of heavier rather than lighter. The basic consideration here is you cannot get too much warmth in cold weather. A heavyweight tent in the summer may be unnecessary, but it will not create any discomfort. However, a lightweight tent in the winter will create a great deal of discomfort.
The third feature is quality. The main factor here is how much camping do you intend to do? If you will be out enjoying nature every weekend and two weeks each year, get a good quality tent, because you will need it. On the other hand, if you are only going to camp once in a while, go ahead and save some money on a lesser quality tent, because it will likely be outgrown or become damaged in your garage long before even a modest quality tent would wear out from camping use.
So, the key to choosing a camping tent is to know how you intend to use it, the size, and features you need or want, and then consider how much you will use it. If this is your first foray into camping, err on the side of lesser quality and cost, because you may find you will not use it as much as you thought. You can always upgrade, if you find that camping is your new passion!