Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Tips for Buying Family Camping Tents

Make it easy on yourself
Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than poor planning.
Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than poor planning.
Peter Cade/Getty Images

Here's how to get a camping trip off to a bad start: Arrive late after a tiring trip with hungry kids in tow, and struggle for a long time in the dark to pitch the tent.

Therefore, when choosing a tent, look for setup ease. Most tents have poles on the outside, which leaves more room inside. The difficulty depends largely on how many poles are involved. The fewer the poles, the easier to set up. Most poles are segmented and held by shock cords so they can be folded for storage. It's easier to attach poles to the fabric by clips than to thread poles through fabric sleeves, but sleeves make the structure stronger. Some tents have a combination of clips and sleeves.

Here are some other ways to make camping easier:

  • Easy access is important. Somebody will have to go to the bathroom at night. Someone will wake up early and slip out to watch the dawn. Do you want one door or two? How easily do the zippers work? How noisy are they?
  • Letting moisture out of the tent is vital. Condensation from people's breathing and wet clothes and gear can gather inside a tent, with drenching results. Ventilation is important, especially in summer. Look for ceiling vents and plenty of mesh panels in doors and windows.
  • Buy a rainfly. You'll need a separate, waterproof cover that goes over your tent but doesn't touch it. If your tent doesn't come with a rainfly, you will need to buy one. Even if it doesn't rain, the fly is important for keeping out ultraviolet rays. If you'll camp only in summer, you may want a fly that covers the tent's roof but doesn't come all the way down the sides, so there's more ventilation. The fly should be quick and easy to pitch.