If you are considering camping, a tent is an indispensable camping equipment as far as your comfort, shelter and privacy are concerned. Camping areas typically never have any decent accommodation facilities; they are supposed to be an adventure so your choice of tent will determine how well you enjoy your home away from home.
Various tent manufacturers, the best tent brands included differ in the way they design their tents and obviously some have stood out in terms of their focus on quality and functionality features in their tents. Our review today features four top brands whose tents you need to consider checking out for a good bargain.
Coleman is a brand well known for its outdoor products and has been there an entire century. Coleman is popular particularly for its family and backpacking tents with a focus on on-budget purchasers yet without compromising quality. They have a wide range of camping tents to cut across a variety of user preferences.
Most Coleman tents are made of polyethylene lined with polyurethane and sewn together using an anti-wicking thread making them tough and all-weather tents. They are preferred for their excellent waterproof properties however they tend to be a little heavier thanks to the tough double layered material they are made of and so mostly appeals to the car campers.
This weather proof design on its fabric is known as the Weather Tec System which features:
– As we have already mentioned, weatherproof fabric
– Leak-free seams with rainflys for the fabrics
– Good ventilation from the mesh incorporated on the fabric
– Strong frames to withstand strong winds
– Floors with inverted seams to provide proof from water and pine needles
– Velcro on doors and windows to provide tight closure against water and wind
– Zippered protection
Something unique about Coleman’s tents is their bathtub floor design, raised towards the ends so that in the event of a flood, water will not easily find its way in. Some other unique models come with special features like an electrical port for connecting extension cords, inflatable tubes, pop-up frames and air conditioning.
Their pre-threaded poles referred to as pole sleeve technique makes it easy to set-up the tents although you’ll find this mostly in the current models.
Their Sundrome four person tent is an option to look out for if you want a small tent that accommodates 3 persons comfortably. It has been hailed for its excellent water resistance properties; great ventilation with a large door designed with a hooded fly, a hooded window at the back as well as meshed vents on its ceiling, alongside frames made of shock-corded fibreglass. It also includes an electric port for AC power connection.
If a larger family tent is what you need, their 8-person Red Canyon Tent makes the best option thanks to its spacious interior with dividers and quite uniquely a cool-air port and an adjustable venting system known as Variflo for the hot summers in addition to their very own Weather Tec System.
Of importance to point out is that Coleman’s tents are fire retardant so no worrying about accidental fires. Overall, Coleman makes some strong and durable family and backpack tents and have for a long time been regarded as one among the best tent brands.
Wenzel has a great reputation for quality camping tents to its name for over 100 years and is quite popular among hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. Their tents are lightweight yet durable and quite roomy too.
Most of Wenzel’s tents are made of polyethylene making them not only water resistant but also long lasting. In addition, the storm flaps on almost all their tents is a great protective feature for extreme weather. Their tents are also fire retardant making them even safer.
Most of their tent poles are made of fibreglass and the framing of shock corded aluminium to enhance their weather resistance. Like Coleman tents, Wenzel tents are also designed with meshed roof to optimize ventilation yet still keeping out stubborn insects.
You will also find special features in their tents like electrical ports and rather uniquely a gear loft for storing your camping items.
Perhaps the only disadvantage they may have are the plastic pegs that come with most of their models and these are really not the best on hard ground. However, since this is not a deal breaker, you can get steel pegs separately and still get to enjoy the immense benefits that Wenzel tents have to offer.
Overall, Wenzel is a brand known for its quality sturdy construction hence are quite dependable in harsh weather. Their family tents specifically make the best option for rough weather. Best of all, most of their recent tents are pretty easy to set up.
The Wenzel 8-person Klondike Tent is a very popular family dome-shaped tent known for it all-weather resistance and durability features thanks to its polyurethane lined polyester construction.
It is also quite stable and well ventilated with an option for a full-meshed ceiling and comes with a divider for convenience. The divider separates the sleeping room from the screen room which can be used as a sleeping room accommodating 3 persons or a sun shelter.
This kind of flexibility places it ahead yet overall it is a tough built tent with above average features.
REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated)
Having been in the tent market since 1938, REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) has stood the test of time with its top quality tents and managed to maintain a great reputation among its customers.
With an average pricing, REI targets the average buyer looking for high-end features in a tent. A good thing about them is that they have a wide range of tents for all the categories.
Their Tepui tents top the list of specialized tents although on a high end price wise while their Kingdom 6 designed for 5 or 6 campers is a great value for money tent.
Overall if you are looking for height, ample floor space and tents with dedicated storage space then REI has your best interest at heart. Quite remarkably, some of their tents, particularly the larger family tents, come with dividers for privacy’s sake.
Another unique feature in their tents is the customized rainflys which give users the option to roll up at the side for better ventilation or roll down when there is need to retain warmth during cold nights.
Kelty is another promising brand that has grown quite steadily in popularity over the years since its inception in 1919. Alongside tents, the Colorado based company produces other outdoor gear. Kelty boasts of having come up with the first aluminium backpack, a trend that others in the field have graciously adapted and continued with.
Most of Kelty’s tents come with excellent waterproof properties and an ability to withstand strong winds. They may not be the casual camper’s choice but they have indeed pulled it off with some great backpacking and specialty tents like their 2-person 4-pound Salida Tent designed for extreme wind, rain and snow yet light enough to carry around.
It is also surprisingly roomy on the inside which makes it a top choice for couples or friends seeking uncompromised adventure.
Their tents’ roof rainflys with vents are great ventilation features you’d never overlook especially when camping during the hot summer months. Two words for Kelty’s tents; affordability and quality and although they have a bias to campers and backpackers, they still remain to be a favourite.
Types of Tents
There are different types of tents you will need to consider depending on your camping needs. Here we will discuss 6 types and these are the most common you’ll find.
Just as their name indicates, these tents are the shape of the letter A and are perhaps the most conventional in design. This design is advantageous for two reasons,
- It drains water faster and away from the tent’s interior space.
- They are light because they feature few poles compared to other designs.
The A-frame tents on the other hand come with limited interior space and may not be ideal for a crowd. They are also poor wind resistors thanks to their shape. Some of these tents particularly the current ones are freestanding while the old-fashioned types require stakes for them to be fastened to the ground.
A hoop tent is a rather complicated type of design that you bet would appeal to only serious hikers although those who don’t mind setting it up prefer it because of its light weight. This tent only has two poles and is the least spacious although with higher roofs compared to the domes and the A-shapes. While they may be good at resisting strong breezes, they may not be the best at draining away rain water.
The dome tent, it is believed, is a simplified version of the hoop tent perhaps due to their poor wind resistance limitation. Secondly, this is the most popular tent among recreational campers owing to their lightweight and simplistic design.
The dome tent is easy to set up but also not good for highly windy areas. However, their hexagonal or octagonal crossing poles makes them better at withstanding less extreme wind.
Their setup includes 2-3 fiberglass or aluminum poles with their fabric pulled up into a rounded shape. However, dome tents are also not as spacious both vertically and horizontally.
Most of them are free-standing therefore at the least you will need minimal staking just to proof your tent from rain and prevent it from being carried away during unpredicted strong winds.
The bivvy also assumes the shape of the hoop although with a slight variation as it looks like a tube more like a sleeping bag. Ideally, a bivvy is meant for a single person as it comes with a loop that raises it a bit off your body when you lie down to prevent suffocation. Still, they are not the best in terms of ventilation and also leave no room for keeping your camping extras.
If you thinking of a tent for several people, you might as well consider the family tent which is the largest in size with some accommodating up to six people. However, because some weigh up to 30 lb, it is most ideal if you are travelling in a vehicle.
This tent also comes with the advantage of compartmentalization, high ceilings and roominess. They are also square shaped making it easy for users to organize their items. However, they come in a wide range of designs e.g. cottage, cabin, or umbrella design to name but a few.
Unlike dome tents, family tents are not free standing. They have to be staked mostly at the corners before being put up. They may not be rigid enough for strong winds but they are certainly very well ventilated with some having an allowance for extension.
Features to Look for in Quality Tents
Ventilation: Ventilation depends on how much mesh has been used in the tent and is important especially in warm and humid weather. Ventilation is important wet and humid conditions just as it is for hot dry conditions.
Try to get a tent with a rainfly to help keep moisture off and much better if the rainfly comes with vents to prevent a buildup of moisture. During summer, ventilation keeps you cooled out at night for a comfortable sleep.
Floor Space: With the purchase of any tent comes information on dimensions in terms of the floor space and peak height. Peak height greatly depends on the pole structure and the slopes of the sides of a tent.
This explains why a family tent will have a higher peak height compared to the simplistic dome or A-shape tents. Again these relates to the space being enclosed by the tent. It is rare to come by a small floor-spaced tent with high peak measurements.
Fabric Construction: A durable tent needs durable material only be prepared to bear the weight because all if not most durable tents are made of heavy fabric like canvas. Again, such tents come with good moisture resisting properties. On the other hand nylon is a lighter fabric however it wears out easily. One of the most popular options is rip-stop nylon which is durable, resilient and not as heavy. Also consider getting a waterproof tent to keep water from seeping in when it rains or snows.
Tent Poles: The function of tent poles is to form the structure of the tent and hold fabric against this structure. Aluminum, carbon composite and fiberglass are two commonly used materials for tent poles. However, looking at strength, aluminum poles come out stronger albeit heavier but the best if you are considering durability, frequent use and excellent weather resistance.
Capacity: Capacity is determined by the number of adult sleeping pads that can fit next to each other inside the tent. Although you need to consider that comfort and the desire to move around demands that you get a larger tent than the capacity indicated on it.
Doors: while most tents come with one main door, others particularly the larger family tents come with two doors for comfort, convenience and enhanced ventilation and this has gone down well in family settings.
A rainfly is an important feature in a tent and by definition the outer layering usually with a vent and a hood at the top to take care of misting and humidity issues within the tent. A rainfly needs to be durable and some removable.
On a good night, they will give you the option of removing them completely so you can enjoy viewing the sky while allowing in fresh air. Other designs are roof only and these are not quite popular as they are likely to let in rain water and cause flooding on the tent floor.
The Extras: Some really functional extras include interior pockets, dividers, vestibules that are a great organization advantage especially for those without cars to keep their stuff. The vestibules; an extension at the front of the tent door have numerous functions that cannot be underestimated for instance this space can be used for storage or a veranda for resting or taking off shoes and the list goes on.
Again, consider the straps available for your selected tents because the more the number of straps the easier it will be for you to assemble your tent. Straps are also a good reinforcement for your tent as they hold your fabric securely on the tent poles and frame. These would include windows and doors hold-back straps, tent-poles loop straps and guy lines.
There are many more tent brands you will find in the market today. The best tent brands keep improving their models every now and then so you will need to keep an eye on some great features they will be introducing. Most importantly, try to look out for features that meet your specific needs.