How to Choose a Tent

With thousands of tents on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the options. So, before you start shopping, narrow down the options with our handy guide:


The first step in choosing a tent is to figure out how much you want to spend. The cost of a tent varies greatly, so you can easily find one on any budget. They typically go for about $35 to $600; however, you can also find tents for over $1,000.


Camping tents. If your main goal for your camping trip is…well, camping…then a camping tent is probably your best bet. They are usually on the heavier side but are the largest and most comfortable options out there.

Backpacking tents. These tents are super light and small enough to fit into your backpack; making them easy to transport if your goal is to hike a long distance before setting up camp for the night.

Mountaineering tents. If you plan on camping in the mountains and/or in the winter, a mountaineering tent is a great option. These tents are single-walled, and can withstand windy, snowy conditions, despite being lightweight.


One major consideration when choosing a tent is the size, including its weight. If you’ll be camping alone, you just need a 1-person tent, but if you’re bringing along the whole family [LINK TO TIPS FOR CAMPING WITH KIDS BLOG POST], you may need a 3, 4, or 5+ person tent.


Single vs. Double-walled. Single-walled tents are best for winter camping and mountaineering, while double-walled tents offer better ventilation and work for fall, spring and summer months.

3- vs. 4-Season. 3-season tents are suitable for mild temperatures and are usually double-walled. The term “4-season” is misleading because this type of tent is really only one that you would want to use in the winter. 4-season tents are usually single-walled.

Freestanding vs. Non-Freestanding. Most tents are freestanding, which means that they use poles to help them stand up without stakes. Non-freestanding tents need to be staked out in order to stand up. If weight is a concern, you may want to go with a non-freestanding tent. Otherwise, freestanding tents are generally easier to set up.

Pole Configuration. The configuration of a tent’s poles influences ease of setup and the amount of livable space. So, you’ll want to determine what makes the most sense for your needs.

Added Features

Bathtub floor. No, it’s not an actual bathtub! A bathtub floor is a floor that extends up the sides of the tent, which protects you from rain and wind during storms.

No-see-um mesh. This mesh is fine enough to keep tiny insects, such as no-see-ums, out of your tent while still allowing for ventilation.

Number of doors. Consider how many people you will be camping with when you are choosing the number of doors your tent will have. If you will be camping alone, one door is plenty. If you will be camping with someone else, you may want to consider a two-door tent as this will allow you to each have a vestibule for your gear and an entrance/exit in the middle of the night if you need to go to the bathroom.

Vestibules. A vestibule is the area outside a tent’s door that is covered by the tent fly (outer layer of the tent) when it is staked out. They serve as an excellent space to keep your hiking backpack and shoes, or to cook during a storm.

Guylines. Guylines are lines attached to the outer layer of a tent, that can be staked out to make the tent more wind-resistant and less likely to fly off and help it to shed rainwater during a storm.

Clips or Sleeves. The canopy of the tent will attach to poles via sleeves or clips. Clips are easier to set up and allow for increased airflow between the two walls of the tent. Sleeves, on the other hand, are stronger.

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