Going Camping--- Know Nothing About Tents-- Any Recommendations?

Updated on July 03, 2010
F.M. asks from Portland, OR
10 answers

Hi-- we are planning on going camping later this summer. I know almost nothing about tents, but they are on sale everywhere right now for some pretty good prices. I only need room for 3 and I don't need a bunch of bells and whistles, but price, ease and quick set-up, and rain repellency (we are in Oregon) will be key. The ads are full of tent sales so I would love your recommendations.

thank you!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Philadelphia on

The best kind are the ones with the connected frame. The frame is all little pipes that are connected with elastic bands, so when you take them out, you just connect the poles together and wallah, throw the tent on them.

You have to decide size by where you are going and how much you will need the tent. If you have a bathroom available for changing then a small dome tent is fine for sleeping three, but if you need to change in the tent you should probably look for one that is a little taller and a little more move about room.

Good luck, camping is such an overlooked vacation... so much family time and NO tv's, Ipods, etc.... Have Fun

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answers from Kalamazoo on

I totally agree with Tarah - get one bigger than you think so you have room for your stuff, especially in rain you'll want most of your stuff stored inside. I have one that I love that has a little screen room on the front (just about 5ftx5ft) but its big enough to put the coolers and camping chairs in during rain. Also bring along an extra tarp or two and rope (I use clothesline rope) to cover fire wood, coolers, chairs, outside toys, etc. In a weekend of extreme rain, we sometimes also string up a super large tarp over our tent and surrounding area - we call it tent city!!! That way we are not completely stuck inside the tent. Trust me, take extra tarps!!! Also make sure that nothing is touching the walls on the inside of your tent or it will make it leak!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I don't have a recommendation for a particular tent. However... I do have some advice on learning to set up a tent for those who don't already have experience.

A.) You will need to practice setting up your tent. Do you have someone with REAL experience with tents? If you know that Uncle Bob hasn't camped since he was a Boy Scout 40 years ago when he was 8, I wouldn't ask him. Find a friend who goes every summer. Once you find that Special Friend ;-) ask them if they would teach you at your home and offer to cook (or get carry-out) that night. Have them guide you through it (not show you) until you're comfortable doing by yourself with your child running around hollering at you. You're a Mom: That'll be the easy part! If you do it at home, then you'll be familiar with everything that is in your tent pack or find out if anything is missing and get it replaced. Also, practice repacking it into the tote/carry/storage bag IT CAME IN. Easier said than done. My first few times, the tent ended up just rolled up in the trunk and re-packed AFTER we came home :) and that was BEFORE kids!

B.) Is there a weekend program in your area that teaches camping: INCLUDING setting up a tent? I know you're in Oregon, but I'm in Texas so here is what we have down here:

The Texas State Parks Systems has The Outdoor Family Program for $55 per weekend. They even supply the tent! Here is the basic information on the website:

Texas Outdoor Family (TOF) workshops are hosted at state parks where your family receives hands-on experience learning basic outdoor skills. You will learn everything you need to create great memories enjoying the outdoors with your family, including:
•How to set up and break down camp (including your tent)
•Fire starting
•Outdoor cooking
•Guided walks
•Nature activities
•How to use a GPS
•Introductions to a wide range of outdoor activities (such as fishing, kayaking, wildlife watching) depending on the site location, facilities and the season of the year
Best of all, no experience is necessary and you get all the help and advice you need from highly skilled outdoor specialists and trained volunteers!

Here is the FAQ link so you can ask your State Park Systems if they have something like it: http://beta-www.tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoor-learning/texas-o...

Have Fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

You say you only need room for 3 - so make sure you get a six person or greater tent. I wouldn't go past 10-person tent. Just remember that whatever the number is, that is the number laying down side-by-side with no extra room whatsoever. Not sure about where you live, but there are places you could rent them out first. Also, get the advertisments and search for their reviews on amazon.com. That's what we did. This way you will know the pros and cons of the different tents you are considering.

Camping is so fun!! I think it should be a requirement for all families to go camping LOL!

Happy trails!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

1. If you get cold easily you'll want to look at a 3 season tent. It stays warmer than a Coleman type tent.
2. If you backpack at all you'll want something extra light. If you're only car camping, you still want to make sure the tent folds up small enough to not be a nuisance.
3. We have/used a Marmot, North Face, Coleman and REI. The Marmot is by far my favorite....it's small, stays warm and is still plenty of room. Rain and heavy wind have never been an issue. The North Face was the same...and it's easy to backpack with.

The Coleman was a complete waste of money. It's a jumbo tent, and when it's set up it's drafty and the winds are terrible. At least it was only $60 from Costco :)

The REI is a nice family tent, it's tall with room to stand up, stays warm and does well in rain.

I have only camped in the Rockies, it gets very cold at night (30-40degrees) so warmth, rain repellency and wind dissipation are issues for me. We're desert camping this weekend and I'm taking the Coleman to give it another chance...drafty might be good in the heat! Spend the money on a *good* tent it makes up for sleeping on the ground, will last for many years, and makes packing/unpacking easy! I'd shop at both REI and a local backpacking store...they'll have tents open for you to crawl through and can answer questions and help select based on the type of camper you aspire to be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Go with a good 3 or 4 season tent with atleast room for 4/5 - believe me you want the extra room. Make sure all the seams are SEALED!!! Check out Bass Pro Shops or Cabella's as they can answer most all your questions (even over the phone) and give you good ideas. We finally upgraded our tent (we have 5 in our family) and have an 8 person tent - love my family but I love to have room lol. We have a tent with a room divider (2 make seperate sleeping rooms) a screened area - so we can enjoy with out bugs and a shaded area - where I can cook if it rains or is too hot in the sun.
Sorry I couldn't be more specific but what you need to do is look at the tents and decide what is important to you and how you will use it and how often. If not alot see if you can borrow one from a friend. As far as easy setup most of them are pretty easy now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I love everything Field and Stream, they make some really great products. I'm pretty confident that every tent I've ever owned was made by them. All tents now are made water repellant, but I would still by a sealant made specifically made for tents to reseal the seams (better safe than sorry!). This is something you will need to do yourself BEFORE you go camping. It doesn't take too long, and like I said it's better to err on the side of caution. These tents have NEVER let me down. They are moderately priced and totally reliable... plus they're super cool ;) Have a great time!! Best wishes!



answers from Cleveland on

We have the Columbia Cougar Flats II which is amazing in a downpour and high winds (have experienced both!) They have it at Cabela's website under dome tents (it's a combo dome/cabin tent). We sleep 4 very comfortable with 2 inflatable twins plus 1 queen. I would really recommend a large tent since you'll want room with all your gear. Practice setup beforehand; I set this up myself with 2 kids holding the poles - the key is to do the roof first, then pop up the sides!



answers from Detroit on

No matter what type of tent you get make sure you have a tarp/ plastic under the tent (keeps any dampness in the ground/ grass/ rain from coming up thru the floor of your tent) and a tarp/ plastic over the top and staked down...
We have a 10 person tent that we camp in for a week at a time. We have 6 people in our family... The tarp keeps out the rain, and wind, and adds an extra layer to keep heat in. Last year we camped in october and had nights in the 20's... And 70 mile an hour wind gusts... We were so warm with one electric heater on low that we didn't use any blankets and the kids insisted on changing into shorts to sleep...
Our tent is a Wenzel (i think)... We got it from MC Sports.
Avoid the tents that have screening all down the sides... drafty!
I agree, go bigger than necessary, and try cabelas ! Quality and knowledge!



answers from Portland on

My husband and I are big Coleman fans. They are cheep, durable, and as long as they are set up correctly to circulate the air you won't get any moisture in the mornings. We seal ours with ScotchGuard along the seems and zippers especially then we do an all over spray of the tent. Practice setting up the tent a couple of times in your yard, become familiar with it. And best of all enjoy yourself!


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