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Camping / Hiking Articles

Camping/Hiking Tents
Many reviews of tents usually try to direct you to spend more money than is needed for an enjoyable camping or hiking experience. For some, the price of the equipment (tent, shoes/boots, safety kit, etc.) lead people to believe that experiencing the outdoors is not affordable for them and they just can't do it. The reality is ... 

Some advice on a tent for camping tent 
Tips for buying a tent

What type of activity are you planning? First you need to decide if you are planning to go camping or backpacking. By camping, I am referring to driving your car to your destination (probably a commercial campsite or an area designated as such in a state or national park) and setting up a tent. Backpacking is packing everything you will need into a backpack and hiking to your destination. It is important that you understand this before you try to decide what type of tent is required.

Selecting a tent for camping. Any camping trip can be a serious investment, with prices ranging from very high to moderately low. It can be confusing to go through the details, weighing what you'll need versus what you can afford. You will have to figure out just what features you want to have for you and your family and you will survive a camping trip that was touted from the beginning as "Fun for the whole gang". If you follow the reviews from some camping sites or magazines, you'll see that they will evaluate some tents then whip out a price that will make you gag. And this is just the tent! Add in sleeping bags, pads, accessories, food, and more and you're way over a thousand dollars! OMG! Dad and Mom are wondering if a fun weekend on the deck might be more feasible. When you're planning a camping weekend you have to look long term also. You might want to look around WalMart or a few discount stores and see if you can turn that $600 tent into a $100 tent. Check on EBay or Craigs List to see if there's a better deal but DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Don't JUST buy according to price, do a review then make you decision. A Hint: if you see a tent listed for 4 people...figure that will work for 2 or 3. 8 person tents? 5 might be more reasonable but RESEARCH what you're looking at.

Selecting a tent for hiking. Any hiking trip, whether an overnight, weekend, or extended adventure can be very challenging. The last thing you want is to be carrying extra weight that you could have done without. When it comes to selecting a tent for your hiking trip make sure you go as light as you can. To do this you don't have to go with an expensive tent but you have to know the weight of the tent you are carrying. Don't trust a tent that claims to be for hiking but doesn't provide the weight on the outside of the packaging. I purchased a 1 man tent from a sporting goods store for around $90 and used it 3-4 times. When I set it up the last time, I ended up leaving it in the sun for the following day and that evening the poles broke ripping through the fabric. This was the most expensive tent I purchased for it's size and it just didn't last as long as I thought it should. Next, I bought a $30 1 man tent and haven't had a problem in several uses. I will update this post when a problem occurs but I expect this tent to last for more uses than the expensive one. If you are an occasional hiker you should definitely go for the less expensive tent. Again, just watch the weight. 

What size tent do you need. As mentioned above the size of the tent you chose is based on the number of campers. Of course, if you are hiking you will only want to take a 1 person tent for yourself. If you and a partner are hiking together and want to stay in the same tent you will want to carry a 3 person tent. A 3 man or 3 person tent will be heavier so you will want to offset the weight of the tent carrier with the other hikers pack (more about this in a future post). I have discovered that the number of people advertised on a tent's package doesn't fit my family and fellow campers. For 2 campers you will want a 3 person or 4 person tent, for 3 campers - a 4 person or 5 person tent, 4 campers - a 6 person, etc. You get the idea but always compare the tent measurements to the number and size of the campers. An average of 2.5 feet of space per camper is good but if you want to do anything else in the tent (ex. card games during inclement weather or computer use at night) make sure you plan for the extra space. My dad and I use either a 4-person tent or 8-person tent to provide us with extra space for when it rains or to download and review pictures when it gets dark.

What other accessories will be required. The only real accessories you will want to have for the tent itself would be a ground cloth/tarp and something to hang above the tent to protect it from rain. A tarp works well for both applications. Make sure the group tarp is close to the size of the of your tent base. Remember you will need to peg/stake the corners of your tent. If your tarp is too big you will have to fold it back on itself so you don't put the stakes through the tarp. The tarp to go above the tent should be about 25% larger than the tent and should hang at an angle away from the entrance of the tent. This will prevent it from accumulating water and draining that water directly into the area where you go in and out of the tent. Why a tarp over the tent? Don't believe what you read! Most tents claim to be water resistant but from my experience, ALL tents leak! And so will yours.

Should I really do this. You really should. Get out and experience the great outdoors. It is something wonderful and there is something freeing about getting away and enjoying nature. Turn off the phone (Yup, I said it and will say it again). Turn it off or silence it at the least. The only place for a phone during a camping or hiking trip is in your pocket or pack. It is great (if you save the battery) for emergencies and calling home at night to tell the kids/wife goodnight (if they aren't with you). If you have an extra battery or way to recharge it phones are also great for pictures. 

Get and and enjoy some nights in the fresh air. It'll serve you well.