A Guide to Buying a Tent

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Whether you're a new camper about to purchase your first tent or an experienced outdoorsman looking for an upgrade, it's important to have accurate information about the tent models available.

Whether you're a new camper about to purchase your first tent or an experienced outdoorsman looking for an upgrade, it's important to have accurate information about the tent models available.  Here's a quick and comprehensive overview of the different camping tents on the market today.

Model 3-Season  Dome Tents 4-Season Dome Tents Family Tents Screen Houses Truck Tents
Image three season tent four season tent family cabin tent screen house truck tent
Overview The most common type of tent, three-season dome tents are lightweight, affordable and ideal for the majority of camping situations. More rugged and insulated than their three-season counterpart, four-season tents are capable of handling heavy snow and frigid temperatures. Perfect for bringing along the whole gang, family tents can fit up to 12 campers, allowing you to keep a big crew under one roof. Ideal for camping on steamy summer nights, screen houses are made of mesh instead of canvas, which maximizes ventillation. A great option for campers on the go, truck tents easily connect to the bed of a pickup truck and some sports utility vehicles for a safe camping spot.
Capacity Three-season tents generally fit 2-4 people. While opting for a smaller tent will make for lighter packing, larger tents will be much more comfortable for sleeping.  If you're not planning on hiking too far, treat yourself to extra space. Four-season tents also fit 2-4 people, however since many winter campers are backpacking in extreme weather, they often opt for the tiniest tent feasible to cut down on weight.  However, beware that an extra inch or two can mean additional comfort when you're sleeping in close quarters. Family tents are all about maximizing size and can fit families up to 12 people. Unless you're planning on taking your troop deep in the woods, go big--especially if you have a bunch of young campers in tow. Screen houses often double as family tents and can fit 6-12 campers. Their mesh walls give them excellent ventilation, so you can pack in your whole crew and not feel stuffy. A truck tent typically fits
2- 6 people.  Often these tents attach directly onto the cab, so there is a potential to use the bed or back seat for additional space as well.
Weather Resistance Three season tents are acceptable in spring, summer and fall.  They are capable of handling temperatures as low as freezing and light snow. Despite its name, the four-person tent is primarily suited for harsh winter conditions due to its solid anchoring and thick, waterproof canvas. Family tents generally have a similar composition to three-season tents and are suitable for spring, summer and fall. Screen houses are ideal for the summer, as their mesh keeps things cool.  Though they could be used in the spring or fall, a heavy sleeping bag would be needed. Truck tents are suitable to be used during the spring, summer and fall.
Additional Benefits Three-season tents often come with vestibules, which are covered awnings where shoes or other gear can be stashed outside of the tent, but still under cover. Four-season tents are usually completely impervious to water, ensuring that you'll stay dry in even the most inclement weather. In addition to their large size, family tents often contain room dividers for extra privacy and high ceilings for additional comfort. Screen houses provide shade from the summer and cover from the bugs, Some of the larger models even have room for two queen-size air mattresses. Truck tents attach right to the bed of your vehicle, meaning that you don't have to worry about whether or not the ground is suitable for camping.
Price Range $25-$500 $25-$500 $75-$1,500 $40-$400 $75-$350