Author Topic: Help me choose a tent  (Read 7759 times)


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Help me choose a tent
« on: March 26, 2010, 12:01:43 AM »
My wife and I are planning an atv trip in the next 6 months or so. It will just be us and our stuff,we like extra room so a three person would be ideal I am guessing. We would like to stay under $150 and need it to be the last tent we buy, hot and cold weather, and as waterproof as a tent can be. Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

Offline Blu

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2010, 12:27:51 AM »
It is going to be hard to find one of the top brand tents for that price, here are a few that are close.
I like this better than the Sierra Designs

Interesting design, not sure if i like the rain fly set up, but a good company
TNF, enough said

I used to sell tents, 12 years ago and lived out of a backpack for 2 summers leading week long expeditions. You get what you pay for, just like anything else.  If you go too cheep you will end up with a tent that will, leak which is not acceptable.  I have seen cheaper tents fold in on them selves in strong winds.  The three I just listed most likely will hold there own in a strong windstorm or 50+ mph if they are staked in and guyed out correctly.  Let me know if you have any other questions on styles of tents or any other backpacking type questions, I will do my best to help you outmore, when it is not 1:30 in the morning.


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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2010, 12:42:25 PM »
I was not able to sleep well that night.... Thanks for the advice, will check those out.

Offline PositiveForce

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2010, 07:42:36 PM »
We have a Columbia tent that we bought from campmor (blueyedevil posted the link above) They have awesome service, very quick! The tent we chose was a little of $200 but I have a family of five and this tent is HUGE! something like 14 feet wide, 18 feet long! 2 seperate rooms! You could find a great tent through campmor and at a great price!

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2010, 08:18:10 PM »
For characteristics, a top notch large fly with sealed seams is essential. I like the kind with 2 vestibules, even when I camp alone or with the dog. As for the tent, lots of top mesh for the hot summers, and zip-closed covers for the mesh for the colder seasons.

Make sure the poles are fiberglass (or carbon fiber, but IIRC those tents will be on the high side of 200). I had one tent with aluminum poles, and a strong wind/rain storm bent the poles (diameter of your index finger) 90 degrees. OK, it was a storm with a tornado going through about 5 miles away, but bent aluminum is worthless. Bent fiberglass should return to its normal orientation.

The poles should attach through clips and not sleeves. Nothing worse than trying to fish a pole through a sleeve attached to a wet, flapping tent as the rain and wind pelt you.

Check the stitching, make sure it is close and tight, and double at stress points and edges. Get a good seam sealer and use it twice a year.

Internal pockets and/or mesh shelves are very nice for keeping things off the floor and readily at hand.

As for brands, I've had a Kelty for some time, has held up well through numerous Scout camp trips.

Offline texasmufflerman

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2010, 08:41:43 PM »
I agree Pathfinder on the rain fly.  I do have to say that when you are looking at the less expensive tents, you will find a lot of them just have a small rain fly and no vestibule.  The importance of having the vestibule can't be stressed enough.  It will keep the rain out of the tent while the tent door is open.  And the fly needs to extend all the way down within a few inches of the ground.  For me, the rain fly is a make-or-break thing with a tent purchase.

All of my tents have aluminum poles and I have not had any problems with them.  However, I have never camped near a tornado.  I have been fortunate to not experience any high winds with mine.  I may eventually have problems, but maybe I won't.

My Eureka Timberline 2 does not have any mesh except for the windows in the doors.  It gets hot in the summer.

My North Face Aguilla 33 has mesh on the top half.  I haven't used it yet, but I think it will stay nice and cool in the summer, but might get a little cold during some of the winter.  I got it as an alternative to the Timberline.

My REI Base Camp 6 also has mesh on the top and stays pretty cool, too.  The only reason I have this tent this big is because my wife thinks that is what She, I, and our two young'ns need.

My REI quarterdome T1  solo tent is all mesh except for the floor and the bottom 6 inches of the walls.  It breathes very well and is nice for warm weather.  Freezing temperatures make for a very cold night.

Offline benjaminbrasel

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 02:15:26 PM »
I would go with the (REI Taj 3)........... I've had mine just over 4 years and it has held up very nicely. It's spacious and very easy to set up. 
Here is the link to REI
It's right around your price range too!

Offline Herew

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 09:06:09 PM »
Two years ago, I bought a $30 tent from Wal-Mart. It's a little three person, orange tent and has served me well in all my adventures. The first time I used it was camping in the Pike National Forest near where I live. I had just finished setting up the tent when we got a MASSIVE hail storm that continued on and off for the better part of 2 hours. The tent never leaked and I've never had a single problem with it.

Offline sdcharger

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2010, 10:00:39 PM »
I scored an almost new Ureka single man and another dual man tent off Craigslist very cheap.  They are both good tents and I have done 3 season type camping in both.  No complaints about the quality or prices :)

Offline Crusher13

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 10:05:00 PM »
I have noticed a lot of decent tents on lately. I am not in the market but they looked like top lline units at reasonable prices.

Offline liftsboxes

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2010, 02:08:28 AM »
This one might be too big, but it looks like a lot of tent for the money.

Offline drthumbs

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2010, 08:08:08 PM »
okay, Here is my $0.02. I cant tell you what to buy, but I tell you waht I would look for.

There are a lot of choices out there so first look at your needs.

How many people (2)

As I am sure you know, the person rating on a tent is little on the aggressive side. I figure 1.5 to 2 times the number of people you are actually expecting to sleep in it, rounding up.  I have used a 3 person tent for two, but it was a bit small for more than a day or two. For most people I would say a 4 man tent would be good for 2 people.  That give you a little room for clothing and gear. 

What environment and time of year.

In the lower 48 over the next 6 months I would say a three season tent would be good. as well ventilated as possible.  Colder areas you want to able to keep the wind out and trap as much heat as possible.  Finding a tent that will fit both needs is best, but it really comes down to the when and where. Either way, a good fly is a great feature that will help provided that versatility. And remember the primary purpose of a tent is to keep you dry, not to keep you warm. That is what your sleeping bag is for.

Another environmental concern is the soil type.   That is whey I always recommend a free standing tent. they will come with stakes, but they are not needed. rocky or root filled soil can be hell on stakes and sandy loose soil will have trouble holding on to them.

Weight and size(packed) considerations

I try to go as light ans compact as I can when the tent is stowed. lighter and smaller often means more expensive.  Being that you are using ATVs these considerations are not as important as they would be if you were backpacking.

And budget ($150)

This is going to rule out a lot (or all) of the high end tents.  That is not a bad thing, just provides you with limits.  As was stated above, a cheap Ozark trail will serve you well if you take care of it. I am about to retire a $40 Wal-Mart Ozark Trail tent that has served me well for over 6 years.  It is a 9x8 four person tent that is very well ventilated and has a fly that keeps everything dry.  in colder weather I would drop the sides of the fly and it would more effectively block wind and trap as much heat as possible. We used it as a two man tent for the most part. It would still be serviceable , but on out last trip out this month the zipper failed. It is now cheaper to replace the tent than it is to fix the zipper

Key points in keeping this tent in good shape were, no shoe in the tent. Always use a ground cloth. Always let it dry before packing away, and if this is not possible, set it us as soon as you can to let it dry. Seal all the seams once every year or two. Set it up in more shaded areas when you can and don't leave it up longer than you need.  UV light can and will damage the fabric over time.

I know That I have missed alot of areas, but I don't want to end up writing a book.

FWIW, Hope this helps you on your quest

Offline Cryptozoic

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2010, 11:32:47 PM »
Tarp is better.  Moisture condenses inside tents, getting all your stuff soggy.  Tents provide zero heat insulation and a trap blocks the wind as well.  Tarps are way cooler in summer due to increased air flow.  Tarp may be configured to meet conditions, you can see outside, unlike a tent, it is lighter in weight, has nothing to break, is as waterproof.  In summer you probably need to add bug screen, velcro is handy for that if you design the pieces right.  Way cheaper too.  I use a 12'x12' and 550 para cord.

I learned this concept from the ultralight movement:

Offline Sister Wolf

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Re: Help me choose a tent
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2010, 01:42:02 AM »
I prefer a couple of well made hammocks and a couple of tarps, personally.  So I'm with Cryptozoic on this one.  :)

For the hammocks - you're not gonna find anything in the $150 range for two hammocks plus gear.  Or at least, not anything worth buying.  But then again, for $150, you're not gonna find "the last tent you'll ever buy" either.

For something in the "less expensive" price range, I suggest ENO hammocks.  This one comes with all the gear:  You're looking at $400 for two hammock systems (includes hammocks, stakes, dry flies, slap straps, bug nets and a little towel thingy).  And you can get awesome compression pillows from REI.

For something in the "more expensive" price range (but a seriously amazing hammock), check out the clark hammocks here:  here, you'll spend about $700-$900 for two hammock systems.  These are SERIOUSLY awesome hammocks though, and (IMO) well worth the money.

I have ENO hammocks (both single and double nest versions), and am saving my pennies for a couple of Clark North Americans.  I wouldn't recommend "camping" any other way.  :)