I am looking for a good 1 person tent, and like some of these. I need a tent that will keep out the rain if needed, but also be open so I can see the sky at night on clear nights. I want enough room to be comfortable with my gear. Is there anything else I should consider before purchasing a tent?
Things to consider when purchasing a tent:
- Where exactly do you want to use the tent?
- On which altitudes?
- On which terrain? Sometimes you need special tent pegs like on snow or it's even not possible to use them, e.g. on sand
- What are the conditions you expect, e.g. is it possible to get into storms/strong winds/snowfall?
- How robust should the tent be?
- How likely is heavy rain? Water resistance in tent fabrics differs quite a lot too
- Do you need an inner tent?
- What about ventilation aspects?
- Mosquito net required or of no need?
- Is the weight of primary interest? How long do you have to carry the gear and on what kind of tour? Generally light is good of course but you have to choose the tradeoff between weight and comfort/robustness/price...
Lots of the previous mentioned criteria sum up in a main question for you when choosing a tent: What type of tent do you wanna get, e.g. dome, igloo or geodesist?
There is a lot to consider. You should carefully reflect what you need and what is the field of application. Then you will get the right tent or you go ahead and ask some more specific questions here :)
There are no easy answers here - even experienced campers can find this a challenging decision and getting it wrong has significant consequences. You will have to clarify your personal priorities and then do a fair bit of research.
Portability - the single most important consideration
The central issue is portability - most of your other decisions will flow from this. If you are only carrying your shelter for short distances your priority will be comfort in camp. If you are covering the miles, you would be wise to prioritise weight.
But once you prioritise weight, you have to decide what you will sacrifice for lightness. Here are the key trade-offs you should consider. The right answer will depend on your budget, the conditions and your personal preferences.
Trade-off #1) Weight vs Budget
There is a huge range of prices, from cheap generic Asian imports through mid-market outdoor brands up to small artisan and expedition specialists. You have to decide what you are prepared to spend. In general the more you pay, the better the design, construction and materials, and the more performance you will get at any given weight.
Trade-off #2) Weight vs Durability & Storm-worthiness
In general the lighter and more portable the tent, the more care it will need in use, the shorter the expected life, and the more you have to shelter it from wind and snow loads.
Trade-off #3) Weight vs Space, Comfort & Convenience
In general, the lighter the shelter the tighter the internal space and the less comfort & convenience in use. So if you prioritise lightness you need to consider what sacrifices you are prepared to make:
- Do you need space to sit up and spread yourself out, or are you merely looking for a minimal space to sleep in?
- Do you need bug protection?
- Are you prepared to go single-skin and put up with some condensation?
- Do you need a large sheltered vestibule for cooking and gear storage?
- Are you prepared to compromise on ease of entry and exit?
- What priority do you give to views?
Other strategic considerations
But you're not done yet. Here are a couple of other key strategic considerations:
- Do you carry walking poles? Poles are one of the heaviest components of any shelter. If you carry walking poles you can save weight by using them as your shelter supports. This comes at a cost though. First, your choice is much more restricted and you will generally have to purchase from a small artisan supplier. And second, you will be restricted to less space-friendly geometries such as pyramids and A-frame ridge tents.
- Do you need a free-standing geometry? If you regularly camp on surfaces that don't take a tent-peg you may need a free-standing geometric design, though even then you will need some guys to support the tent in bad conditions.
And now you have to sweat the details...
After you make the big decisions you still have to decide on the details. True tent obsessives will be researching:
- The pros and cons of different materials and coatings for walls and floors
- The pros and cons of different pole materials and manufacturers
- The pros and cons of different geometries, pole structures and entrance arrangements.
You could literally write a book on the subject, so we can only cover the basics here. Once you are closer to making your choice, search for reviews and get onto the forums - you will find that users are often generous in sharing their experience with particular makes and models.
Hope this gives you a helpful starting point. Now it's over to you...