Camping has been a hobby of mine for many years now, and I try to get out as often as I can. Sure, it’s nice to wake up in your bed, but nothing compares to waking up right next to the beach, a stunning lake or one of the millions of other attractions throughout the world. Camping has improved considerably over the years, with Tents for Camping that are more waterproof, easier to set up and lighter weight. They are not very expensive anymore either, with a decent tent for 3 starting at around $70.
I would always recommend buying a tent that is going to last. You can’t expect to take the cheapest tent on the market camping and for it to stop the water coming in. Believe me, there is nothing worse than sleeping in a tent that leaks water. If you haven’t done much camping, you should give it a go. It’s one of the most enjoyable activities, and it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or difficult. With the right equipment you will have a relaxed, quiet and enjoyable trip every time, and see something you never even knew existed.
Buying Tents for Camping
You won’t have any issues finding a good quality tent on the market today. You can get them online at a massive range of stores (see eBay below), or you can guarantee the camping store near you will have plenty on offer too. If you are unsure of a brand, look it up online. It doesn’t take long for a poor quality product to get the reviews it deserves. I know that the Coleman, Oz Trail, Oz Tents and Black Wolf make good quality products. Usually you get what you pay for with tents – don’t purchase a $30 tent and expect to do miracles.
Types of Tents for Camping
Tents for Camping vary in everything from their weight, shape, design, time to set up, size (both set up and packed up) and of course their cost. They are made of many different materials, although the most commonly used materials today are nylon and canvas. Tents are designed for specific purposes. For those who have done any hiking, you would know that weight and size of everything that you carry is very important. You want to take the lightest and smallest tent possible, and that means leaving the canvas tent at home!
However, if you are going camping out the back of your vehicle then a Canvas tent may do just fine. They are much heavier and bigger, but they are also very waterproof, roomy and they last for years if well cared for. For many people though, the nylon tents do just fine. These have a fly sheet (the outer sheet) which sits over the tent and waterproofs it. If you set one of these tents up well then they are completely waterproof as well.
I mentioned above that Tents for Camping are designed very differently. The outside shape of a tent varies a lot, and you will see this if you walk into a Camping store. This is something you want to take into consideration, especially if you want to stand up inside. Most tents have ‘windows’ which are usually just fly wire that can be exposed by rolling up an outside curtain. This is important as you will find that the inside of a tent can become wet from people breathing inside.
Many tents only have one room, but if you spend a bit more money you will find that you can get tents that have several rooms. Not all of these are usually designed for sleeping in. A popular design has a room at the front of the tent where you can set up tables and chairs (and where it is protected from flies and mosquitoes). Some of these will be waterproof at the front, but not all are. By having multiple rooms, you can set Tents up a bit better. Kids can go in one room, a table and chairs in another and the parents bed in the other. More room in a tent certainly doesn’t go unused!
Most tents are set up with poles (usually straight for the squarer looking tents and flexible for the dome tents) and pegs. The time that it takes you to set a tent up will vary considerably depending on their design. A good tent will only take a few minutes to set up (but the bigger ones may take a bit longer!)
How many people can you sleep in a tent?
Every tent that you purchase today will have a rating. It will either be a one, two, three, four, five (etc) person tent. What you want to remember though is the rating is for sleeping people only, and will not usually take into account your bags (or larger than normal people). Most 3 person tents are only really comfortable to sleep 2, once you throw bags, sleeping equipment and anything else you have inside. The best way to see is to look at the tent when it is set up. Some tents say that they can sleep 10 people, but they might only be able to sleep 7 comfortably. However, it does occasionally work the other way; I have been in a 5 person tent that you could easily sleep 7 in!
Canvas is a heavy material by default, but with that comes great waterproofing abilities. Canvas is usually treated to be waterproof, but they last for years and tend to be very strong. In general Canvas Tents are much more expensive, because of the cost of the material. If you have limited concerns about weight and size, then the Canvas Tents are a great option. They generally have a lot of room (and you can get these that sleep huge numbers of people)
A Camper Trailer is my ultimate choice for Camping. They are literally just an off-road trailer with a tent mounted on top, which folds out. They have in built kitchens and most are very easy to set up. They have plenty of room, and allow for quality lighting, storage of a fridge and gas bottles, running water and anything else you need to make camping comfortable. The biggest advantage of a Camper Trailer is that you have everything in one place.
It is so easy to pack up and go on a holiday - you simply need to throw some food in, fill the water tanks up and as long as everything is inside you can leave very quickly. If you are camping with tents, you need to find the tents and everything else that needs to come with you and put them in (without forgetting something) so they fit. Most people tow Camper Trailers with a four wheel drive, which gives you the biggest range in terms of where you can go. If you want to know more about these, have a look at the post I wrote on Camper Trailers.
Gazebo Tents are one of the best pieces of camping equipment you can spend your money on. They allow for an area to be set up that is out of the weather. You can even buy sides for these, so that they are waterproof (or you can just get fly wire ones so none of the insects can get to you). It really is great being able to sit out of the sun (or rain) to cook your meals and relax. These are not that expensive, but they provide a huge level of convenience. If you are going to get one, the Oz Trail is by far the most common, and probably the best on the market. You can get different size ones (even double size) depending on your requirements. I highly recommend these.
Toilet and Shower Tents
If you are camping for more than a night or so, having a tent for showering and going to the toilet in is well worth your money. If you have a chemical toilet, you simply take it out when you want to have a shower. If you don’t use a chemical toilet, then two tents may be the way to go. Privacy is very welcomed when camping (especially when you are in the dunes, where there is nothing to hide behind at all!). It is the small things when camping that make all of the difference, and believe me when I say a quality Camping Toilet and Shower is one of the best things you can buy.
Have a look at the post I wrote on Portable Showers – having a hot shower when you are out in the bush is one of the best feelings. Likewise, not having to mess around digging holes when you are out in the bush is also valuable (and they aren’t very expensive either). These tents are about the same size as your shower at home, and can be zipped open at the front. Some require pegs and poles, whilst others spring open themselves and you just put a few pegs in the bottom.
The ones with poles are usually the strongest, but they take a lot more time to set up. Have a look at the two different types and decide what you want. I will quickly mention the ones that spring open can be a real pain to put back in their bags until you know how to fold them up!
Swags have always been a popular way to camp. Traditionally, they were just a canvas sleeping bag which zipped up. Rain would just run off the sides, but a lot of people didn’t like the fact that the canvas was sitting right on their bodies. Today, most swags are designed with small poles to sit in the shape of a Dome. This allows for an even greater ability to keep water off, whilst keeping the canvas away from your body. Swags are not that expensive, and they are easy to set up. You can buy double swags, but the most common is just for a single person.
Swags usually incorporate a mattress, and you can even throw your pillow and sleeping bag inside before you roll it up (clothes too, if you are really lazy!) That way, when you get to a campsite you simply unroll it, put a few pegs and poles in and you are set!
If you spend a lot of time on the beach, I would recommend a Beach Shelter. Usually these are just a small tent without a front door. They are not usually waterproof, but they do a very good job of keeping the sun off. Many of these involve undoing the bag, pulling it out and letting it spring open, filling the side pockets with a bit of sand and then you are finished. They can be a bit of a pain to fold back up, but you soon get the hang of it. You don’t need pegs or poles which makes life very simple.
Setting up a tent correctly
There is a bit of an art to setting a tent up correctly, so that it is comfortable and waterproof. Even the best tent will leak water if you set it up wrongly. For starters, look for a flat area. If you sleep with your head downhill you will wake up with a headache, because extra blood runs into your head. If you have to, sleep on a slope with your head facing upwards. Make sure that where you set the tent up is not in a depression if it is even remotely going to rain. Once you have found a decent area to set the tent up, clear anything that is sharp from underneath. Twigs might seem like nothing, but they quickly wear holes in your tent and make it uncomfortable to walk around in.
Water runs very quickly to the lowest point, and if that is where your tent is set up then expect to wake up in a puddle of water. Believe me, I have done this and it is a lesson I very quickly learned! You should also make sure that your tent isn’t under anything that is likely to fall on you. There are a number of trees that break easily, so look for signs of a branch about to fall before you set the tent up. Set your tents up so that the material is not tight, but firm. This will allow it to shrink a little without damaging the material. Fly sheets need to be held off the inner tent, or they will leak water. Peg out all of the sides of the tent, and keep guy ropes short if people are going to be walking around.
A lot of people suggest that if there is a chance of rain, dig a small channel around the outside of your tent (where the water would run off) to funnel the water away from your tent. Don’t dig one more than 10cm x 5cm, and make sure that you fill it in before you leave. Water easily gets in from the bottom of your tent if the water doesn’t run away.
Caring for your tent
Some tents are stronger than others, but they all need to be looked after. Zips are usually the first thing to break, so make sure you use a zip with two hands (one to pull the material together and the other on the zip). Don’t do your guy ropes up too tight, or bend the poles more than what they need to. When you have finished camping, you should never put the tent away if it is damp or wet. Set it up somewhere and allow it to dry completely before putting it away. If you don’t do this, mould will grow very quickly and the next time you go to use your tent it will have a nasty smell, holes in it and a green look. This is the easiest way to throw money down the drain when camping, and although it may be tempting not to let the tents dry out it is well worth your time.
Think about where you are camping
If you are camping on the beach, normal tent pegs will not work. They pull out too easily because they are too thin and not long enough. Go to a camping store and buy some long sand pegs (usually plastic). The longer the better for beach work as they will stay in the ground much more securely. If it is going to be windy, you might need to think of ways to ensure nothing is going to blow away!
Which way does a peg go in?If you haven’t been camping before, pegs need to be put into the ground at a certain angle. If you don’t do this, they will pull out easily and your tent could blow away. The peg should be angled in towards the tent, at about a 45 degree angle. Push them in all of the way to ensure no one can trip over them. If you angle them away from the tent then they pull out very easily when it is windy. Have a look at my Camping Gear Checklist post to make sure you remember everything!
From time to time tents will get damaged. Whether it is just a zip that has broken, or a small tear in the canvas, there are plenty of places that will be able to help you out. I will quickly suggest that you consider the value of your tent, versus the cost of repair! In many cases, getting something repaired is not a viable option (unless the tent is worth more than a few hundred dollars). Canvas Tents are more expensive and repairs are usually worth it, but talk to the tent repairer about it before you pay any money! If you look after the tent then it shouldn’t need repairing at all, but we know accidents happen.
Leave the campsite the way you found it
If you have the privilege of camping, please look after the area. It’s really not that hard to pick up your rubbish, flatten the ground, fill in fireplaces and leave the area in the same or better condition than when you found it. There is nothing worse than arriving at an amazing area to camp to find broken bottles, rocks and fireplaces lying around everywhere. Take a bit of responsibility and you can ensure everyone else gets to have the same fun.
If you are unhappy with your tent, then now is your chance to upgrade. Think about what you want to use the tent for, and then find something that is going to do just that. There are literally thousands of choices on the market today – go and find something you like!
Id love to hear from you in regards to tents that you have been happy or unhappy about. Let me know if you have a particular method of Tenting that makes your life easier, or cheap places to buy Tents for Camping from.