Selecting a tent for a camping excursion can be confusing and frustrating for novice campers because of the huge variety of types and sizes available. Fortunately, once a would-be camper understands their own expectations of the product, shopping becomes simple. Consumers should consider several scenarios when shopping for camping tents.
First, will the tent be used for car camping or a backpacking trip? Tents designed for backpacking and hiking are lightweight and portable to take up as little space in a camper's gear as possible. The tents tend to be smaller and easier to construct on site at a remote location. Tents constructed for car camping are heavier, bulkier, and have a larger variety of sizes available. They are made under the assumption that the camper will be able to get their vehicle very close to the actual campsite. Car camping tents have more parts and take longer to construct, however are more spacious and stand up well to inclement weather.
Second, a shopper should consider how many people will usually sleep in the tent. Contrary to what most novice campers assume, onsite they will want to spend more time outside the tent than in it. Having extra space available in the tent for activities is unnecessary unless there is heavy rain or other undesirable outdoor conditions. Tent manufacturers offer a range suggestion of how many people can fit in the tent (e.g. "2-3"). The actual fit depends on the size of the people and the kind of sleeping gear that need to be unfolded inside. When choosing a tent people should focus more on the base area measurement of the tent base than the suggested range of people it should hold. They should choose a tent with a floor just slightly larger than the area they'll need to set up their sleeping bags, cots, or air mattresses and any gear that needs to be kept dry. Anything extra is excess weight and hassle.
Last, when choosing a camping tent consumers should have some understanding of what conditions the tent will be used in most of the time. A tent ideal for woodland camping may not be adequate for use on a beach where there is direct impact from wind. Although tents are marketed to be all-purpose, the best way to find out if a particular tent will work in a scenario is to read consumer reviews. Visit websites frequented by people who enjoy tent camping and ask which product holds up best.