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How to Buy a Tent and Everything You Need to Know to Make Sure Your Purchase Isn’t a Bust

An outdoor adventure can be a serious turn-off if you don’t have a roof or, rather, a tarp, over your head. Today, we’re going to show you what to look for if you ever decide to buy a tent.


Don’t let one deceive you; choosing the right camping tent is a lot harder than it sounds.


summer camping tips, what to pack for camping, Damascus Steel Blades


How to Buy a Tent: Why Would I Buy a Tent When I Can Rent One?


Because, when it comes to camping, there isn’t a one size fits all tent. Each tent has been designed to answer to the needs of the one who purchases it. For instance, it wouldn’t be a good idea to rent a camping tent meant for a multi-day stay, when you’re actually planning on staying a single day.


Moreover, imagine that the individual you’re renting the tent could be that kind of person who’s cold, regardless of the weather. It would be rather silly to erect a tent meant for the cold season during summer. Of course, we could go on, but we prefer to stop here.


Bottom line is that you have to buy your own camping tent. It might be a bit pricier compared to other camping equipment such as backpacks, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, but do keep in mind that a tent is a long-term investment.


Fall in Georgia State Parks - FDR Camping, Cooking While Camping
Family camping in F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia. Photo CCL.


For more information on camping tents such as pole materials or other accessories, you should definitely check out a best camping tent review. It’s important to browse multiple options before settling for a certain model.


Our advice? Make a list with the features you want in a camping tent and then browse the selection to see which item suites your needs best.


So, if you’ve made up your mind about purchasing your own tent, here are a couple of things you should know when going shopping.


Types of Tents


As we’ve said, camping tents come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own pros, cons, and uses. Here are the most common types of tents.


  • Basic Ridge Tent – two poles to keep the tarp up and nine brailing pegs in the ground to secure it in place. That’s it. Great for one-day camping. It’s light and easy to pitch up. Ridge tent’s only caveat is its height – it’s designed for one person only, and a short one at that. 
  • Dome Tent – named like that because it resembles the shape of a church’s dome. Comes with flexible parts which run across the entire ‘dome.’ Great if you have a smaller version (two people, tops), but, the bigger it gets, the more unstable it becomes. 
  • Geodesic and semi-geodesic – means the flexible poles intersect along the surface to create triangles. They’re great for bad weather (e.g., camping in the winter).  Still, they’re slightly small and tricky to pitch up if the winds are strong. 
  • Quick-pitch tents – Also called instatents, this type of tent has a frame embedded in its fabric and a spring that runs along it. To pitch it up, you need only pull a lever to activate the spring. They’re only good for one-nighters and if the weather holds. 
  • Inflatable tents – the name says it all. Unpack it, plug in the pump and watch it rise. Careful with those sharp objects. 
  • Khyam System – the company’s proprietary tent-pitching system employs elbow join or coiled knuckles. To get the tent up, one only needs to drop on the ground and let gravity to the rest. It even comes with a small patio! 
  • Tunnel Tents – can you picture a greenhouse? That’s exactly how a tunnel tent looks like. Great for family parties, but not that good for base camping on the mountain. It’s kind of tricky to set up because those poles have to be set down in a specific manner. Otherwise, the whole structure could collapse. 
  • Family tents – they’re a blend between dome, ridge, and tunnel tents. Great for families – lots of space and can be pitched up in any weather. Kind of tricky to set up considering its many pegs and poles.


Camping with truck
Photo by The Digital Marketing Collaboration on Unsplash




The material from which the tent is made is equally important. You should also know that, more than often, the fabric dictates the price. Here are the materials commonly employed in tent manufacturing and, of course, their pros and cons.


  • Cotton – evidently, your clothes and underwear are not the only things made out of cotton. Tents made from this fabric are sturdy, warm during winter, and cool during the insufferable days of summer. Watch out for rain! Cotton tends do tend to leak when it’s raining cats and dogs. 
  • Poly Vinyl Chloride Coated Tents – PVC’s great for making your tent waterproof. If you purchase a PVC-coated tent you won’t have to deal with leaks. Still, tents made from PVC tend to be heavier compared to those made of cotton. Condensation’s also an issue with this type, so be sure to look for an adequate ventilator. 
  • Polycotton tents – made from a blend of polyester and cotton these tents are usually very light. Polycotton tents are your best bet, especially if you’re on tight budget. Moreover, the beauty of them is that you can add an extra waterproofing coating. 
  • Nylon tents – if you’re into extreme camping, then you’re definitely going to love these bad boys. They’re durable, sturdy, yet extremely light. Nylon’s a great water repellent, which means that no water will be going through that canvas. Depending on the manufacturer, you could find nylon tents with various coatings such as silicone polyurethane or acrylic. Please bear in mind that nylon tents are usually very expensive. So, if an over-the-weekend is what you had in mind, you would be better off with a polycotton or with a cotton tent.  
    camping on the blue ridge parkway
    Noreen stands guard lol.




As you can see, choosing the ideal tent is no easy job. There are a lot of things to consider before going shopping: fabrics, size, shape, and, how easy it is to install. Our advice is to do a little research. Also, before buying it, you should ask yourself the question: “do I really need to spend that much money on the tent that I’ll probably use during a family barbeque?” Bear in mind that a tent is a long-term investment. Don’t buy the first one you see just because it looks really cool.


Nia McKenna

Nia is an Associate Editor at The Fairytale Traveler and self diagnosed travel junkie. Having traveled to 5 of the 7 continents, her love of good food and culture is a force to be reckoned with. When she isn't off adventuring with her husband, which she writes about on her blog CircaWanderlust, she can be found with a good cup of tea cuddling her pups and taking pictures of her food. She loves black and white movies and could listen to Elvis on repeat.

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