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Choosing a Camping Tent: Is Expensive Always Better?

Jun 17, 2008
Camping tents are as diversified as cars. They range from basic, no-frills models to high-end models loaded with features. What you choose will depend on your budget and your specific needs. But when it comes to making a final decision, do you get more if you spend more?

The answer to that question depends on many variables. However, one general rule applies to camping tents as much as to any other product on the market: you get what you pay for. This doesn't mean you have to spend a small fortune. A person who is looking for a new car mainly to commute to work doesn't have to spring for a Cadillac to ensure quality. Similarly, an avid camper needn't spend more money on features or brand names to get a better product.

Assess your own needs. This will help you decide exactly what to buy. Then stick to comparing tents that meet those basic needs. There's no reason to compare economy models with luxury models. If you only need something basic, compare basic to basic. For example, when comparing two-man dome tents, look at the types of materials that went into the manufacturing. Be sure that you are actually paying for quality materials, not just brand names.

Where, how and how often you camp also can help you decide how much to spend on a tent. Use this short assessment to get started. If you camp:

* Infrequently (once or twice per year): Occasional campers probably won't need to invest in a heavy canvas tent. Choose a tent that is lightweight, easily erected and well constructed.

* Often (several times per year): The more you camp, the more your tent will be exposed to weather. The more exposure it gets, the faster it will wear out. In this case, you should consider a tent that is weather-treated. You also should make sure that all of its components are made of sturdy materials. Nothing is more frustrating than having to buy a whole new tent because one tent pole snaps in the wind.

* Mainly in campgrounds: Generally speaking, campgrounds are sheltered from weather extremes. In addition, the terrain usually isn't rugged and you aren't as likely to encounter bugs and wild animals. Camping in moderate conditions like these means that a moderately priced tent will likely be suitable.

* In the backwoods: Hunters and those who prefer to camp off the beaten path might consider stronger materials in a camping tent. The terrain is typically more rugged than one might find at the average campground. There may be rocky ground or high winds to contend with. Wild animals also can be a problem. Look for heavy-duty materials that will withstand wind and rain and that won't tear or snag easily.

* Via backpack: A major concern for backpackers is space and weight. Campers who travel on foot should look for a small tent with lightweight components. Be sure to compare materials when tent shopping. Some materials that are lightweight are very strong and durable. Others are not. Read labels carefully and familiarize yourself with various types of materials.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a camping tent is to not compare apples to oranges. In other words, compare economy to economy and luxury to luxury. Determine your needs, then compare only the tents that meet those needs. The one that comes out the winner will give you lasting quality at a fair price.
About the Author
Warren L. Smith offers a fountain of information on Camping, such as Camping Tips, Family Fun, Hunting, Fishing, Tents, Equipment, and Wilderness Tips. For the best, up to date information, go to: http://www.CampingBreak.com
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