When it comes to buying a family camping tent, don't shop alone. The whole family will be camping in the tent, so the whole family should be involved in the selection process.
You can go to specialty outdoors and camping stores to shop for a tent. You can also find reasonably good tents for sale at your local big-box or discount store. Wherever you go to buy a tent, don't rely only on the specs on the box or tag. Read those details -- and take the time to learn about the material, waterproofing, number of people accommodated, peak height and other factors.
Talk to the salesperson as well. But make sure you do your own research before you go shopping as well.
An essential part of buying a tent is to give it a try. Just as you wouldn't buy a family vehicle without taking it for a test drive, you shouldn't buy a tent without seeing how it works. You can't borrow it for a weekend in the woods, but you can ask that the store's staff set it up while you watch.
Once the tent has been pitched, go inside. Take the kids. See how much room you have. Check out the storage space and headroom. See if the door arrangement is something you can live with. Let the kids work the zippers several times. They'll be using them plenty once you go camping. A stuck zipper in the store isn't nearly as serious as a stuck zipper at the campsite.
If the tent passes the family test, you're on your way. Happy camping!
Read on for lots more information.
- Brinson, James C. Wildlife biologist and outdoorsman, Henderson, Nev. Personal interview via e-mail, Nov. 24, 2010.
- Camping Tent Guide. "How to Choose the Right Camping Tent."http://camping-tent-guide.com/ (Dec. 2, 2010)
- Dick's Sporting Goods. "How to Buy a Tent."http://dickssportinggoods.com/info/index.jsp?categoryId=222952 (Dec. 3, 2010)
- Family Camping Gear. "Choosing a Camping Tent."http://www.familycampinggear.com/generic14.html (Dec. 9, 2010)
- REI. "How to Choose a Family/Base Camping Tent."http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/family+base+camping+tent.html (Dec. 2, 2010)
- Stevenson, Jason. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backpacking & Hiking." Alpha. Indianapolis, Ind. 2010.
- Tawrell, Paul. "Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book." EXXA. Lebanon, N.H. 2001.
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