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I am planning to do the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland this summer (rain and snow can be expected) and need to buy a tent. I read a few articles on what to consider while buying a tent and got confused because there are so many variables. So I decided to write my requirements here and see if someone can give me an advise. My budget is 100-150 euros (100-160 USD) maximum. I know its not a lot of money and I would get what I pay for but I would like to use the tent for many years if possible.I like to go trekking or camping once or twice a year in the mountains during summer time. So light snow and medium to heavy showers can be expected.

  1. The most confusing thing for me is the water resistance level. I am not sure what ratings I need. May be some one with actual experience can help. Is 2000 mm good enough or should I go for a higher number like 5000 mm. The problem is that some tents are rated 2000 mm while other in the same price group are rated 3000 to 5000 mm. So I don't know which one to buy. Is the importance given only to resistance level or is there a quality concern.
  2. What happens if I buy a good brand with lower water resistance (2000mm) will it be good enough for my requirements or i need a higher level?

I am looking for some practical advice. What actually matters while you are facing heavy showers or does a high water resistance level actually help if its occasional camping or how important is it to have a storage compartment etc.

I found a really good tent with floor resistance of 3000mm and top resistance of 2000 mm but I can't find any reviews for it online. Then there is another option for 1/3rd the price with almost similar specifications. So I don't know how the price cut affects the performance. I don't want to spend hundreds of euros buying a really awesome tent while the same purpose (of occasional camping) can be served by a cheaper option.

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    there are 4 mountain huts along the Laugavegur trail. May be you don't need a tent at all? – njzk2 Apr 18 '17 at 15:15
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    As much as I sympathise, I voted for closing this question because this is a shopping advice question. Regarding McKinley: it's hit-and-miss with tents from them: I can't talk about the vega, but have used a "general-purpose" sort of 3.5-person tent for 6-ish seasons now (pitched about 15x 2-16 days, also in a hailstorm). Also heard from friends about not so good results from other tents of the same brand... – knitti Apr 18 '17 at 20:44
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    @knitti the numbered questions (1 & 2) are fine questions. – ppl Apr 19 '17 at 1:43
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    You want to cheap it, 2 man, stay dry, and last for years to come. Something has to give. Ventilate and fade is not really giving up anything here. – paparazzo Apr 19 '17 at 1:46
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    I agree with @ppl that the numbered questions are fine, and would eliminate some of the price/brand shopping problems.They'd also keep it from being too broad. Learning about water resistance levels and how they factor into a decision seems to be the main issue anyway, so you could edit it down a lot and keep it on-topic. I've seen general discussions about cheap, mid-price, expensive gear, etc. as part of decision making, so you could probably get some advice, just not using prices. It's just something to think about, if you want. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Apr 19 '17 at 2:37
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I'm going to answer your question about water column, which is generally given in XY millimeters.

This might sound surprising, but generally you can almost ignore the values given by the tent manufacturers. Why?

  • How waterproof a tent is doesn't only depend on 2000 vs 5000mm of potential water pressure, but also about its shape. Meaning certain types of tents (e.g. when the fabric is at a steeper angle) will need a lot less water resistance to be essentially waterproof than, say, a tarp that is installed horizontally.

And because you can't often properly compare the different tent shapes, it can be very hard to compare waterproofness.

My advice: Go to your trusted local outdoor store, explain them your requirements and your limitations (money, ...) and they will give you some good suggestions on what you could buy.


You might want to look into different variables that will affect your enjoyment of the tent a lot more that how many mm of water column its fabric can withstand.

  • Weight is a huge issue in tents, especially when you plan on carrying them (trekking). The problem here is that the lighter the tent, the more expensive it gets - and with 100-150 Euros you won't get far...
  • Size matters. Not everyone has the same requirements here, so think about how much room you need to feel comfortable. Also think about how many ppl you want to bring, how big your packs are, if you want to be able to cook inside (only do this with the right equipment!), etc. Of course bigger means heavier, so there is a tradeoff here...
  • How sturdy it is will mainly define how many seasons/outings your tent will be usable... Judging this can be very hard though, so I suggest you search for reviews online or (again) ask your local outdoor store for advice. Sturdiness will of course also mean your tent can withstand wind and weather better/longer.
  • The shape or your tent will have a big impact on size-per-weight and on the tents stability. Very generally speaking: dome tents are the most stable but heaviest, tunnel tents are often the lightest (for their size).
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    Sturdiness also relates to how strong the tent it - how much wind and snow loading etc it withstand. A 4 season alpine tent can withstand very strong winds and heavy snow at the expense of $$$ and weight. A super light 2 season tent may not last long or withstand strong winds – user5330 Apr 20 '17 at 0:58
  • @mattnz, thanks, I updated the section above. – fgysin Apr 20 '17 at 9:29
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Waterproofing is one of the most important things to the average camper, so an reasonable quality, inexpensive tent will stay dry through mild rains and occasional thunderstorms, and if the tent is stored properly and only used a few days a year, that waterproofing should last at least several years. Just make sure you know how to set it up properly, and don't let your body or your gear come in contact with the wet tent walls because either of those mistakes will cause a waterproof tent to leak (explained at Does touching the tent outer wall from the inside make it leak?).

What is nearly always sacrificed in inexpensive tents is weight. They will use fiberglass or thick metal poles where expensive tents will use flexible, lightweight aluminum. The fabric will be a durable nylon or polyester, not the latest, lightest silnylon. A smaller tent is the easiest way to cut weight while saving money.

An inexpensive tent is not necessarily less durable than an expensive one. As I said above, weight is nearly always sacrificed to keep a tent's cost down. But there are plenty of inexpensive durable materials. Dedicated backpacking tents are made with keeping weight down as a priority, often at the expense of durability. So a modestly priced tent can last for years of moderate use.

Inexpensive vs Dirt Cheap. The cheapest tents will wear out fast and may leak when you buy them. Within a few trips, you risk broken zippers, ripped material, and torn seams. Stay away inexpensive brands with no reviews or recommendations.

So the trick is to figure out which inexpensive brands still have good quality. I'd suggest asking anyone you know who camps what brand they use. Ask at stores dedicated to hiking and camping. And read reviews of a variety of tents and brands, not just what you think you want. Your priorities should be a tent small and light enough to easily carry and a tent with good waterproofing. Other features are nice to have, but not essential.

  • thanks for the information @Karen . I didn't get your point about not letting my body or gear come in contact with the wet walls. Can you elaborate a bit please. I am a novice and heard this the first time. – Arsalan Ahmed Apr 22 '17 at 15:12
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Waterproof. Use parifin. Candle wax. Dissolve in dry cleaning fluid. Just enough to dissolve overnight in it. Shake several times. Paint on with brush. Nothing better except for long life use white bees wax. 1 coat will do. High wind go with a dome tent I think is best. A tent fly over tent is a big help.

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