Going to a tent display, should you find one near you, is an ideal way of getting a feel for the kind of tent you'd like. I often advise a tunnel tent as they are one of the easiest designs and can come in family friendly sizes. Here's a few things to look out for:
- A tunnel tent usually has three or five flexible poles. The ones with five poles aren't much more difficult to erect that the ones with three poles.
- A tunnel tent often has different lengths of poles. The pole will have a colour (usually in the centre of the pole so you won't see it through the pole sleeve) which corresponds to a colour sewn on to the end of the pole sleeve.
- A tunnel tent which has all the same length of poles won't need colour coding and eliminates a certain amount of faff. The Vango Icarus is an obvious example.
- Tents often have separate bedroom pods that are designed to be unhooked before striking camp. This is not necessary, bedroom pods can be left in situ when folding the tent up.
- Many tents are factory vacuum packed. This means that when you go to fold up a tent it is nigh on impossible to get it back into it's supplied bag. Look for an 'oversized bag' as a selling point.
- A steel poled tunnel tent will be sturdier in a gale, but has a heavier and bulkier pack size. You can compensate by carrying poles and tent separately, but then you risk leaving the poles at home accidentally (and you won't be popular for that!)
- A polycotton fabric tent won't heat up as quickly in the mornings should it be sunny, so you'll get an extra bit of sleeping in time. Again it's heavier and bulkier pack size (and expense) , but you decide if it's worth it.