8 Tips to Choose a Tent

If you have decided to give camping a go then it’s time to choose a tent. Finding the correct size can be a significant factor in determining the success or failure of a camping trip. As with most camping equipment, there is a vast array of choice and knowing where to begin can be bewildering, especially for those new to camping.

8 tips to choose a tent

When thinking of which size of tent to purchase, there are a few considerations, which, once explored, will make the final decision much easier.

How many people is the tent being purchased to shelter?


Manufacturers sell tents in the categories of two-man, three-man and so forth. Although some brands are more generous in their dimensions than others, generally two-man means two adults sleeping side by side will cover the total floor area with very little space for anything else. Also, be aware that in most cases these categories are based on average-sized adults. If you are particularly tall or larger build, then the tent space may be a bit cramped or even downright uncomfortable if you follow the number stated to the letter in your selection.

You may also want to consider who your camping partners are. Couples will probably be happy to sleep in close proximity to each other, but if you are camping with a friend, then personal space may be more of an issue and a bigger tent will be needed.

Storage room

As already discussed two-man tents, for example, will allow just enough room for two adults to sleep side by side and nothing more, so there will be no room for rucksacks, clothes and other items that need storing. Features as a porch area may help you to overcome this problem, but otherwise, you will need to allow extra space and buy accordingly.

Time of year and/or conditions the tent will be used in


For those who intend to camp in summer, the tent may be primarily sleeping quarters only with everything else, including cooking, being done in the open air. Tent size becomes a little less critical in these cases. However, if the tent is going to be used in more challenging conditions, or outside of the high summer months, considerations need to be given for the extra space this will require.

Wet gear needs to be stored well away from bedding, but kept under cover and a large, clear area will need to be available for preparing food.

If you are going camping somewhere cold, the need for warmth needs to be balanced against the need for space. Large, unfilled spaces will be harder to keep warm with just your own body heat. Additionally, larger tents are more difficult and take longer to pitch and are more vulnerable in high winds or sites without shelter.

Camping with children

Family camping

Where there are children in the party, consideration needs to be given to the variance there will be in bedtimes and also the need for adults to have privacy. Larger tents can provide separate bedrooms to overcome this problem. There are also a large number of tents available with blackout bedrooms which are perfect for camping with children. From personal experience, we would recommend the Coleman blackout bedrooms.

Tent size limits at camp-sites

Some camp-sites restrict the maximum size of tent allowed or charge considerably more for large tents. Check with your site before making a booking on the pitch sizes. When camping with the Camping and Caravanning Club you can book a standard pitch or a jumbo pitch.

Head room

Tent size

Most of the smaller tents allow for sitting up in, but not standing. For some campers, this is of no importance, while for others it is a priority.

Transporting your tent

If the tent is intended for backpacking, then size and weight will become a matter of great importance. Bigger doesn’t always mean heavier and some of the higher quality, modern tents are designed to fold down tiny with backpackers in mind. If you are a car to camp-site camper, then this will be of little matter, but if all your camping gear will be toted on your back it is something else to consider.

Ease of Pitching

Coleman Air tent

When the first Air tents came onto the market, I must admit I was dubious but having camped for two seasons in an Air Tent I would struggle to go back to poled tents now. The larger pole tents generally require at least two people for pitching whereas I am capable of pitching a 6 man air tent alone in less than 20 minutes. Air tents are generally heavier to transport but their pros far outweigh the cons.

It is generally accepted amongst seasoned campers that you equip yourself with a tent at least one person rating above the number of people using it, so for example, two people would select a three-man tent. Others will advise going as big as you can while keeping all the other considerations in mind. The choice is of course to some degree personal and depends on individual priority and taste, but considerations of the points given here will at least allow the selection to be pared down to something more manageable.

If you have decided to give camping a go then it's time to choose a tent. Finding the correct size can mean the success or failure of a camping trip.

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