Finding a Tent
Tents vary considerably in design, construction, size and weight. A tent is supposed to protect you from the weather outside. Since climates and conditions vary considerably, the best performing tents are those that are designed for specific weather conditions and the right number of people.
Ultralights the lightest total protection in a shelter by taking the tunnel tent to the extreme of minimal size and weight. A shelter that resembles a sleeping bag, this close-fitting sleeping system is highly breathable and ventilated. Ideal for one or two people, these tents weigh five pounds or less and are designed for compactness.
Bivy sacks are perfect for cyclists or backpackers who need some
protection from the elements, but cannot carry a lot of weight. Some designs
have added pole systems for more space and comfort.
Backpacking/ three-season tents are highly functional through
virtually every element with the exception of heavy snow. Emphasizing
lightweight compactness and ease of assembly, most are two-layered in
design, although some waterproof, breathable single wall designs are available.
Four-Season/expedition tents are ready to handle anything short
of an avalanche. Specifically designed with steep walls, oversized webbing,
stable shape and strong frames to withstand snow loads, winds and other
climatic conditions, this extreme weather tent is available in both single-wall
and double-wall construction.
Windows, Doors, & Seams:
Increased ventilation in a tent means additional doors and windows and more seams that can be breached by the weather and insects. Just like a pair of hiking boots, tents need to have their unprotected seams waterproofed with seam sealer approximately once a year. Factory taped seams reduce the need for you to do a great deal of handwork.
Be sure the rain fly of your tent stops several inches above the ground. Otherwise, all of the windows and flaps designed for maximum airflow will be much less effective.
Tent Size & Weight:
All tents are rated by the number of people that the tent is intended to sleep. On average, allow approximately 15 square feet per person. Most experts recommend that tent weight should be approximately 3 to 4 pounds per person. Consider tent weight carefully before purchase. What may seem like only a couple of extra pounds now can seem much heavier over the course of a long trek.
Page Last Updated 4/14/02
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