Tent Buying Guide
Selecting your home from home is tricky – whilst you’re never going to have all the comforts that you’re used to, selecting the right tent can make or break your time in the outdoors.
A comfortable tent that’s easy to use and safe in the extremes means your camping memories will be of a warm, cosy night’s sleep – not of pole-piercing disasters and tent parts flying off in the wind. There’s plenty to think about – what you’re trip entails, who you’re travelling with, tent shape and much more. So, here’s our guide – we’ll break down all the tent jargon for you and answer some frequently asked questions to help you find the tent for you. Let’s camp!
Here's what we’ll be looking at…
- Tent designs
- The pole story
- Picking a tent based on where you’re headed
- Tents by numbers
- Tent weight
What’s the difference between tent design shapes?
If you check out our tents page, you’ll spot loads of weird and wonderful shapes, created by each tent’s pole anatomy. There’s far more to a tent’s shape than meets the eye, and the way poles cross underneath your tent’s exterior can make huge differences to the space inside and the way it holds up in extreme weather. Here are some key designs to look out for in the world of tent shapes.
Popular with backpackers and festival-goers alike, dome tents usually have two poles that intersect in the centre to meet each of the four corners to give the tent a dome-shaped structural solidity. Since the poles cross in such a way, a dome tent gives you plenty of floorspace and headroom if you’re a bit taller, or like a touch of extra roo. It’s worth noting though, because dome tents are a bit taller, they’re not the best choice on exposed hillsides in high winds.
What’s a tunnel tent? If you’re after weight-to-space ratio, get yourself a tunnel tent. Usually lower and elongated when compared to our dome tents, the tunnel tent gives you plenty room without weighing you down when you’re on the move. If you’re sleeping in your tent night-on-night, then pick one with a pitch-in-one fly and ground sheet – you'll save vital time when light is failing and all you want to do is get the stove on before turning in.
The poles of a geodesic tent criss-cross over the surface to spread stress over the structure – this makes it ideal barrier against weather and the go-to design for mountaineers and ski tourers who need to be sure their tent stays put in the most extreme conditions.
You’ll also spot tents at Freeze described as semi-geodesic – the difference between geodesic and semi-geodesic tents is that the latter feature slightly fewer poles and therefore have fewer intersection points. Semi-geodesic tents provide slightly less stability than geodesic tents but are generally smaller and easier to set up.
Tent poles are just tent poles, right? Not quite. Poles can have a significant impact on the weight of your tent in your pack, as well as height and stability. When browsing our range, check out the specification of the tent for the weight and height and material composition of the poles. If you’re tent is going to be on your back for a week, it’s worth making sure you’re not getting weighed-down by more pole than you need. Have you got a broken tent pole? Grab an MSR pole repair kits and extend the life of your tent – it’s always worth carrying one of these, just in case the wind gets the better of your tent when you’re out on the hill.
Picking a tent fit for purpose
Your choice of tent much depends on what you’re going to be using it for. Your selection needs to consider where you’re going, the time of year and weather that comes with it. We break our tents into three main brackets…
If you’re heading for the hills, you need a tent that protects you from the weather that comes with it. Mountain tents are constructed with materials that offer that tent structure to beat wind and rain and shed snow if it falls. They’re crafted from materials that are lightweight enough to not add excess weight to your pack for climbing.
Camping for days, weeks or even months on end requires a tent that can take the type of beating dished out by the trip of a lifetime. You’re going to be carrying a backpacking tent a lot, so pick one that's as light as possible, and because you’re going to be going through the pain of pitching one night on night when you’re likely to be tired, a simple design is often preferred for speed and ease-of use.
We’ve all got one of these in the hall cupboard. Although simpler in function, our classic camping tents have a tonne of features to make your stay in the outdoors as comfortable as possible. They tend to give you lots of living space, are easy to pitch and offer excellent weather protection for your time in the outdoors.
Tents by numbers
Are you a solo camper or is your best travel buddy with you? Maybe there's more of you setting out on an epic adventure? However many in your group, “what capacity of tent do I need?” should be on of the first questions you ask yourself when buying a tent. Not only do you need to consider how many people are to fit in your tent, but you’ve also got take into account the gear you have with you, the space you need for moving around, and making sure you get a comfortable sleep. At Freeze, you'll find one, two, three and four-person tents in the various designs we’ve talked about.
It’s worth noting, the capacity of a tent is not always noted in the product title. However, you’ll often see the numbers 100, 200, 300 and 400 – this gives you your capacity – one-person, two-person, and so on.
Picking a tent by weight
Depending on what you’re using it for, the weight of your tent can have a big impact on your purchasing decision. Days on end with your tent strapped to your pack need to be as light as possible. With that in mind, check out the tent weight in ‘The best bits…’ section at the bottom of our product descriptions and consider the weight of your new tent and the impact it will have on your total pack weight.
Still got questions?
Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when you’re buying a tent. We hope our guide has helped you wade through some of the jargon, but if you’re still unsure, please get in touch with a member of our team and we’ll be more than happy to talk you through the best options for you.