Here at Capital Outdoors we stock a huge range of tents in a selection of sizes and shapes. To help you find the right tent we have put together this handy guide, covering everything you need to know!
Whether you’re planning a family camping trip, an extreme backpacking expedition, or buying a tent for a festival, our Tent Buying Guide is here to help.
Before you choose your tent it is worth considering who will be using it and where. A camping holiday with the kids will need a completely different type of tent to a backpacking trip or a festival. Decide how much space you will need for sleeping, storage and socialising, whether weight will be an important factor, and how much you are willing to spend. If you are planning a range of camping trips it might be a good idea to buy more than one tent.
Designed with families or larger groups in mind, family tents are spacious and comfortable – a cosy home from home. Generally, features include separate sleeping rooms, large social areas, storage space, clear panel windows and other details to make the tent as homely as possible. As a result, Family Tents tend to be larger and heavier when packed - not intended to be transported in backpacks or on bikes, and are best pitched on sheltered campsites rather than open, exposed pitches.
Smaller and lighter than family tents, lightweight tents are perfect for backpacking, hiking trips, and biking. These small, high performance tents are ideal for extreme camping, usually featuring a high hydrostatic head, weather resistant shape and design, and a small packed size.
When choosing a tent for festivals there are a few things to consider:
Tents are designed in different shapes for different uses and camping conditions. Again, decide where you will be using the tent and the type of conditions to expect. If you are camping on a sheltered site in the summer you can get away with a larger, less sturdy tent shape than you would camping on a mountain top in windy or extreme conditions.
Dome tents feature a cross-over pole construction with a minimum of two poles.
Tunnel tents have a minimum of three poles, placed side by side creating a tunnel layout.
Tents with a Geodesic construction feature a series crossing of poles (normally 3-4 minimum), creating a dome-like structure. The exact structure and pole pattern varies, depending on style of tent.
Easy Up tents designed to be put up stress free in minutes. This includes Pop-Up tents, Instant tents, and Inflatable tents. Pop-Up tents feature ready in-place poles that “pop up” when unpacked, and just need pegging down. Instant tents are similar, simply requiring joints to be straightened to complete the structure. Inflatable tents have channels or pockets instead of poles, which are inflated in seconds to form the structure of the tent.
The “classic” tent, Ridge tents feature a rigid pole construction creating a roof shape.
Weather can make or break a camping trip so it’s worth being ready for it. The season, altitude, and country you are camping in can affect what features you want in a tent, including the Hydrostatic Head, height of the tent, integrated or separate ground sheet and more. Also, how you pitch your tent can be just as important as the tent itself.
Unfortunately, rain is a familiar occurrence when camping in the UK. Luckily, advances in technology mean you shouldn’t have to worry about it! When choosing your tent take note of the Hydrostatic Head. This is the measurement of water a tents flysheet can withstand before it stops being waterproof. Anything over 2000mm is adequate for standard UK conditions; over 3000mm should keep you protected from more severe rainfall. However, pitching and maintenance of the tent is just as important.
A tents ability to withstand the wind can be down to a number of factors including design, pitching and exposure. If you know you will be camping in an exposed or windy area (such as costal spots and high altitude, including hill or cliff tops) it is advisable to choose a tent designed for these conditions.
When camping abroad or in the height of summer it is vital to consider the impact of heat within a tent. Overheating in a tent can be uncomfortable, disrupting a good night’s sleep or stopping the tent being used as shade or shelter during the day. It is important to reduce condensation inside the tent to avoid internal moisture.
Once you have chosen your tent there are a few other things to consider to ensure you always make the most of every camping trip. Here are a few of our handy tips!
Check before you pitch - Check the ground out, as this will be your bed for the night. Ideally, choose a spot with no stones, mounds, or anything which may cause discomfort come night time (this may be less of a concern if you are using an airbed, but it is still worth checking). Sharp or rough objects must be removed to prevent damage to ground sheets and gear, and rocky areas will be harder to peg out on. Stay away from boggy or wet ground, and if you are near a hill or slope pitch slightly higher than the lowest point to reduce the chance of flooding in heavy rainfall. Bear in mind the slope of the ground when choosing which end to have your head when sleeping – ideally, you don’t want your head lower than your feet!
Trial run - After you buy your new tent it can be tempting to head straight out on a trip. However, a new tent can be confusing - even to the most experienced of campers, so if you have the space and time have a go at putting it up. This way you won’t be scratching your head once away and you will have a better idea when it comes to packing up (where to fold and role to fit it back in the bag). You can also be sure you are not missing any crucial poles or pegs, there is no damage to the tent, and that the size and shape meets your needs. You may wish to do this for older tents too - especially if it hasn't been used for a while.
Maintenance and repairs - To keep your new tent waterproof and functional it must be maintained and cared for - as you would your home. When in use, keep muddy boots off floors and groundsheets, do not have any open flames or embers within the tent, and pitch carefully to avoid damage and tears from ground or weather. It is a good idea to take a repair or maintenance kit with you so any damage can be fixed straight away. For tent fabric, damage and tears must be dealt with immediately to prevent further, possibly irreparable damage. If you have to pack your tent away while it's still wet unpack it when home to let it dry properly - storing tents when wet can cause waterproofing to fail and severely damage the tent. Make sure tents and other camping gear are stored in a dry, ventilated space, and pack tents away correctly with all poles, pegs, guy ropes and additional items together. It is worth remembering a good tent can be repaired. There are a range of products on the market for repairing seams and zips or waterproofing fabric with leaks.
At Capital Outdoors we stock a huge selection of tents for all types of camping trips! Whether you’re on an extreme solo backpacking trip, away for a weekend break or off on a family summer holiday, CapitalOutdoors.co.uk has the tent for you!
Not sure about Sleeping Bags? Take a look at our handy Sleeping Bag Guide for more information.