|Typical 3 season dome tent|
When you are selecting a tent several things should be taken into consideration including size, weight, price, weather, climate, and set up.
Typically a cheap tent will not last very long and should only be considered if you won't be using it much. You get what you pay for and the more expensive tents will be lighter and more durable. A good tent will normally cost between $100-500 and will be an investment that will last many years.
Tent manufacturers use a man number to measure the size of a tent. This number does not include gear so therefore should always be divided by two for comfort. A husband and wife will need a 4 person tent to be comfortably accommodated. Generally a four person tent is the max you want for bugging out any bigger and it will be to heavy to carry comfortably. If you have multiple people in your bug out party, several tents should be used. A tent also has the dimensions in feet listed. A good way to measure how much gear and how many people can use it is to allow 25-30 square feet per person. To figure out your square footage for sleeping add 1 foot to your height and allow about 2.5 feet for your width.
There are four design types available and all serve a different purpose. Most people end up buying a dome tent but the other options are an A frame, Umbrella tent, and wall tent. A dome tent is usually the best option as it is lightweight, spacious, and fairly resistant to the elements. If you will be sharing the tent with more than one person having two doors will also be important.
A tent's frame is constructed of poles attached to each other with shock cord. Three materials are used to make the poles. Fiberglass is the most common type but these are not very cold weather friendly and may split in extreme cold. The second type is aluminum which will not splinter in the cold but it is usually heavier. The final type is carbon fiber these are the lightest weight and most durable but tend to be outrageously overpriced. The thicker a tents poles are the more stable the tent will be in windy conditions.
Weather and climate are an important factor in choosing a tent as well. Always choose your tent based on the worst weather you might encounter. If most of your time will be spent in a warm climate a three season tent should be acceptable. For winter camping a four season or mountaineering tent is recommended. These tents are built to endure the worst conditions mother nature has to offer. They may seem a bit stuffy in warm weather but in the cold they will help tremendously to keep you warm.
Fabric is measured based on how many mm of water it can take before the water seeps through. Most tents are made of nylon. A good tent will have a rating of 600-800mm for the tent walls and 800mm or more for the fly.
A tent is no good if you don't know how to set it up. Practice setting your tent up at home so you are prepared and can do it in the dark. While you have it set up apply seam sealer to all seams and allow to dry before you pack the tent away. You should also lightly lubricate the zipper with silicone spray.
A fly is the part that covers your tent. Most cheap tents only have a fly to cover a portion of the top. Ideally you will want a tent fly that covers the entire tent down to the ground.
After you have purchased your tent and set it up you will be ready to use it camping. A few things you should do to keep your tent floor from being ripped are clear the area and lay your tarp down. Once the tent is set up be sure to stake it in place.
The ideal tent for survival or your bug out bag will be as follows:
- Easy to set up
- Has a good fly
- Thick poles
- 4 season
- 4 man approx 8x8
- Good stakes
- Groundcloth or tarp sometimes referred to as a footprint