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Gear Guide: Tents

Vango • Camping • Jul 27, 2021 • 10 min read

8 tips for choosing the perfect tent

Camping experts Vango offer a comprehensive gear guide on tents to help you choose the perfect outdoor abode and enjoy cosy nights under the stars.

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Whether you are upgrading your old tent or looking to invest for the first time, with so many different models, styles, and sizes on the market, choosing a new tent can be daunting. This simple guide from our friends at Vango will help campsite newbies and camping aficionados alike make the right choice.

family tent 

1. Buy with your trip in mind

Tents are a great option for both spontaneous trips and season-long adventures. When buying a tent, the first thing to take into consideration is the type of holidays you are dreaming of. A tent for a bike packing trip is entirely different to a tent designed for a family stay in the Lakes. So, before getting into the nitty-gritty, decide what you want to get out of your holiday and then work back from there.

2. When will you be camping?

Before buying a tent, think about what time of year you'll be camping. Quality tents are fully wind and rain tested and many now come with a waterproof rating measured in 'HH': Hydrostatic Head. Tents with a waterproof rating of 3,000mm HH, are great for occasional and weekend camping use, and those with a HH rating of 5,000mm can withstand any downpour the UK weather can throw at it. Cheaper tents often come with a low HH rating, so keep this in mind when shopping around, especially if you want to camp in less favourable weather or at altitude.

wild camping tent

3. One size tent does not fit all

Next you want to consider the size of your new abode. First decide how many people, or dogs, will be coming along for the ride. Tents are typically referred to in ‘berth’ or ‘man’ sizing, this is how many people comfortably sleep in any given tent. As an example, a 500 tent would sleep 5 people. Most good tent brands offer a floorplan with each tent so you can gauge the size. Always remember to factor in space for living and luggage and if you're someone who likes their space and isn't fussed on extra weight, it may be best to go up a size. It is also handy to know the size and dimensions of your tent when booking at a campsite, so it’s good to have a note of this when you go to secure your spot.

4. Tents designed for purpose

Tents come in a range of designs as well as sizes, all with different benefits. Dome-style tents create great space and stability in a small pack size, while a Villa construction with its upright walls, increases the height within the tent making it great for a luxurious family get-away. Tunnel tents provide good space to weight ratio, and a Geodesic design provides an excellent balance between weight and stability; ideal for the budding adventurer. In addition, some tents are designed with lounge-style areas – perfect for families – and others can be ‘king-poled’ out to transform the door into a canopy.

vango tent

5. Types of tent poles

When pitching a tent, there are a couple of options for ensuring a secure frame. The main choice you will have to make is selecting between poled and AirBeam®. A poled tent typically uses fibreglass poles threaded through the fabric to create a strong, light structure. More recently, many campers have opted for an AirBeam® construction which replaces the traditional fibreglass pole with an air tube for quicker, easier pitching. As innovators of AirBeam® technology Vango has added AirBeam® S.I Pro which means you can inflate a tent from one single point.

6. Check the weight

Checking the specification information is great practice when buying a tent. This way you will know how much your kit will weigh, something that is particularly important for the hikers, backpackers, and festival goers out there. When you are carrying your kit, it makes sense to select the lightest tent for your needs. The Vango Project Hydrogen tent is the lightest AirBeam® for when lightweight is a key priority.

tent gear guide

7. Value ventilation

Good airflow throughout your tent is vital as it prevents a build-up of condensation. When warm air hits a cold surface, condensation can form, creating dampness on the inside of your tent. A soggy inner is not the best, so opt for a tent with ventilation points and, better still, models with inner mesh doors so you can have a constant flow of air on hotter days without worrying about bugs getting in. Proper use of ventilation points can help extend the life of your tent and make for a more comfortable sleep.

tent gear guide

8. Make note of materials

Most tents are designed with both a groundsheet and a flysheet. The flysheet is the outer layer of the tent designed to give extra protection again the weather and can come in both polyester, polycotton and nylon. Nylon is sometimes used in technical tents, where it's coated to keep it waterproof. You may hear of the word Ripstop, which refers to the technology in nylon tents which increases durability. A polyester option is also light in weight and easier to pack to a smaller pack size. The polycotton sheet, a mix of polyester and cotton, is more resistant to UV degradation meaning it will last longer. Polycotton reacts to the environment it is in, so on a hot day the fibres will open out allowing the tent to breath. The Vango earth collection also offers Sentinel Eco Fabric which is made from recycled single use plastic, perfect for the ecological camper.

Helpful resources

For planning and selecting the perfect campsite, the Camping and Caravan Club has a list on its website, offering locations across the country

For the perfect sustenance, BBC Good Food has some interesting recipes for around the campfire

To make sure you explore safely, check out the adventure guide from the experts at mountain rescue

Please help protect the great outdoors and follow the countryside code.

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