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Choosing a Tent

Tents come in a variety of types and sizes. Choose a tent that suits your needs and buy the best quality tent you can afford. When buying a tent, three types can be purchased:

These are small, compact tents designed only for sleeping. They are extremely lightweight, have built-in floors and provide extremely good protection against the elements, but are not designed for family use.

Touring or overnight family tents have a single room and generally incorporate an awning. On weekends away, they can accommodate an average family in comfort. Simple to erect, they can be easily transported in the boot of a car.

Cabin tents are very large tents with two or more rooms. They are used for extended holidays and enable families to have separate sleeping and living areas.

Each of these types of tents is available in a dome or conventional configuration. The dome tent has increased in popularity as it is lightweight and compact. It comes in all sizes, from a hiking tent up to a cabin tent. It has an inner tent with a built-in floor over which a fly (a special cover) is placed. This makes it cool in summer and exceptionally waterproof during inclement weather. However it does not offer the headroom found in a conventional tent.


Choose the type of tent that best suits your needs and then consider the following:

  • Tents are usually constructed of canvas, cotton or nylon. Whatever fabric is chosen it has to be of good quality. This can be checked simply by looking at the fabric when a light source is on the other side. If the fabric is not even or closely knit, it is of poor quality. Also check the stitching to ensure that it is of suitable quality, especially near the corners where the main stress points are located.
  • Most tents have a floor in the sleeping area. This enables your sleeping gear to be kept clean and dry.
  • All touring and cabin tents must have adequate ventilation. The best of these have at least two large windows, plus a screened entrance.
  • Protective flaps should also cover the door and windows and be secure during windy conditions.

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