Camping Tents Australia
If you are thinking of choosing a tent, whether it be a first time purchase or an upgrade to a bigger, more modern tent, we believe that there are some tips you should follow to ensure your money is spent wisely.
The wrong tent, could turn your camping trip into a not-so-happy camping adventure.
1. Number of people using the tent
Always, always, ignore the concept that a 4 man tent, sleeps 4. It does not. It might just sleep 3, but for a comfortable experience, 2 would be best in such a tent.
The specifications of say a 4 man tent, means that 4 people would be a tight fit, with no space for baggage etc. So, a family of 4 should look at a tent that is a 6 person tent. This will give your room for bedding and smaller areas to store clothes etc. Should the weather be poor, that extra space will be a godsend with all of you in the tent.
Think of what space you will need in that tent, and what you want stored in the tent with you.
Think about the height of the adults who will sleep in it – very tall people are going to need to sleep without being curled up in a ball. Know your measurements and that of the tent you are looking at.
With tents, size does matter.
2. Conditions you will use the tent in
Some tents are better suited to different environments.
A summer tent will be lightweight material, have a lot of ventilation and not designed for harsh conditions. A three season tent will be more likely able to survive heavier rain and winds, and provide protection from the cold.
True winter tents are probably not very common in Australia as our conditions are more mild. But if you are planning on camping in snow, then your tent needs to be a winter tent - not a 3 season tent. Shop carefully to get the tent that suits the weather.
If you are "fair weather" camper only, meaning you want to camp when its a calm and sunny day, your tent doesn't need to be top of the range, but even the most perfect weather can change rapidly, so you need to think about your tent and how it would go, should a storm arise unexpectedly.
Photo: Todd Lappin3. Ease of use
I have seen in the shops, this fantastic tent, with lots of rooms and storage areas – sleeps 10. But how long did it take to set up? Was a small army required? You need to consider that when purchasing a tent. The salesperson told me it took a long time and a group of them – and they were the experts!
You do not want to spend hours upon arrival at your camp location, trying to put a tent up (whether you are alone or have enlisted your unhappy children who just want to play, not pass you poles and pegs).
Ease of use is imperative.
If possible, try and do it in the shop though this may not always be a realistic option. YouTube has a lot of videos of putting up different tents. Find the one you are interested in and watch it – see how it works, and if it is an achievable option by yourself.
Remember also – the bigger the tent, the bigger the campsite you will need.
Some campsites are just not designed for big tents, and you will need to find a large, level spot, away from overhanging tree branches.
Not sure how to pitch the tent? Then YouTube is going to be a great source of information for you. Search for the tent you are thinking about purchasing, and see if there is a YouTube video showing it put up.
Look for independent reviewers as opposed to the manufacturer video (they have a vested interest in ensuring it looks easy). A reviewer who is not associated with the company will point out the pitfalls more readily! (Like we do here at this site)
4. Materials of tent
Check closely what the tent is made of because that could influence your choice.
Tents that are canvas (cotton) are waterproof, but become very heavy when the water is absorbed. They are long lasting though and don’t deteriorate as much as say, nylon.
Nylon/Polyester is waterproof as well, but sunlight will cause deterioration over time. With these tents, you must check that the seams have been sealed to ensure they are waterproof.
Many tents say they are waterproof, but we have found that the cheaper ones are not as waterproof as you hoped for. Good tents will have rip-stop fabric.
Tent poles come in all sorts of materials. We have upgraded some of our tent poles to better quality ones to ensure they work when we need them to work.
Also, look at the zips of the tent. This is a key part of the tent, and is frequently overlooked, but should that tent zip fail, you could have things in your tent that you don’t want in your tent.
Check that the zip is a quality one, moves easily, doesn’t catch on fabric, and non rusting.
The fly needs to be be nylon waterproofed with polyurethane or polyurethane and silicone coatings. A fly should ideally cover all of your tent including windows and doors to provide maximum protection from the rain.
Photo: Emmanuel Maza5. Weight
Will you need to carry this tent great distances?
Is it for car camping? Some of the larger tents are extremely heavy to carry – even from the car to the campsite. Can you manage this on your own?
Some family tents are so large when packed up in their bags, we could not fit them on our roof rack.
So check that out before you commit to purchase. Plus you need some serious muscles to get that tent up on the roof of your car.
Whilst weight for car camping is not as big as consideration as weight when hiking, I believe you really need to look at your own capabilities about moving that tent around.
If you are hiking with your tent you will need lightweight tents, and that is an extensive area to cover, so you need to study hiking tents separately to this story.6. Ventilation
If you haven’t camped before in a tent, you may not be aware how horrendous it is to wake up in the morning to everything being damp.
Your clothing has touched the sides of the tent and now its wet..your bedding is damp and condensation is all over the tent.
That is why ventilation is paramount.
- Look for tents that have ventilation available with the rain fly on.
- Look for well placed vents to minimise condensation issue.
7. Additional Features
What are you looking for in a tent, apart from the factors listed above?
Some points you might want to consider include:
- Number of doors (2 doors are ideal – saves clambering over someone else)
- Number of windows (important for ventilation)
- Storage pockets (keeps the tent less cluttered, and key items easy to find)
- Size of awning (added protection from elements)
- Ability to purchase accessories to suit tent and your needs (eg. Extra large canopy)
"Work out what is important to you and your camping experience"8. Flooring
For a family tent, that gets a lot of use, you need a good strong floor. Ensure the floor is made of something durable. Our family tent has a bucket shaped floor consisting of 500D Polyester PU material.
The flooring should protect you and your belongings from any poor weather seeping in to your tent, but I would advise to use a footprint on every tent you use (ie. Footprint is a piece of specifically designed and shaped fabric, or tarp that goes under your tent to protect it from the ground and will protect your tent from abrasions).
Many tent manufacturers will offer a footprint as an option you have to purchase – this footprint will be stronger than your tent bottom, and save wear and tear on your tent.
Always use one but it does NOT have to be one from the manufacturer of the tent. You can use Tyvek (building material) - that's how basic it needs to be!