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A tent is a shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over, attached to a frame of poles or attached to a supporting rope. While smaller tents may be free-standing or attached to the ground, large tents are usually anchored using guy ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs. First used as portable homes by nomadic peoples, tents are now more often used for recreational camping and temporary shelters.


ShelterLogic Exped Polaris Tent

Exped Polaris Tent

A single wall tent with a vestible for wet gear, room to cook, and space to sit out a storm! Super sturdy and freestanding thanks to a new pole design. Strength and aerodynamics make the Polaris the perfect expedition tent.


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Tents - A Buyers Guide


With so many different types of tents on the market it can be difficult deciphering which tent is the most suitable for your individual needs as if you select the wrong tent for the job you could be in for miserable experience. By considering the different uses of tents you can quickly discover which type of tent is the right one for you.


Backpacking & Cycle touring


If you are carrying all your equipment on your back - or strapped to the frame of your bicycle - comfort and space are probably going to be less important than the weight of the tent you choose. A tunnel, traverse hoop or three pole semi-geodesic tent that weighs just a couple of kilos will go a long way towards reducing the weight of your packed rucksack or panniers.


It is worth thinking about which tent features are really important to you. For example, if you plan to spend bad weather days inside your tent, you will want to ensure that the design has a sufficient amount of headroom. Also make sure that the tent is long enough for you: some tent manufacturers produce ultra-light tents that are only suitable for people under six feet tall.


If you are planning to cycle between campsites, then short pole lengths and a vestibule large enough to cover your bike when it is left unattended will probably be two of the most useful features to look for in your ideal tent.


Mountain & Wilderness


If you plan to camp in winter, or in an exposed position, then you're going to need more protection than a lightweight backpacking tent can provide. Modern mountain tents normally have four poles set in a geodesic pattern in order to withstand strong winds and heavy snowfall. Traditional A-frame tents are also very strong, but tend to be heavier than geodesic styles.


Mountain tents come supplied with plenty of guy lines. In calm conditions, it is not essential to deploy them. But in windy weather it is vital that they are pegged out and adjusted in order to ensure that the flysheet remains drum tight and away from the inner tent. It's also worth sticking reflective tape on the lines so that you can see them at night.


Family & Car Camping


By using a car to travel between campsites you can really go to town in terms of space, comfort and style. The most popular options are a large dome or tunnel tent that has separate sleeping and dining areas.


If you have small children, then it might be worth considering a model that has removable dividers in the sleeping section. That way, when the little ones get a bit older and want their own space, you can simply pull the curtains down and compartmentalise the tent. That way, you get some privacy too!


Tarps & Bivi Bags


Sometimes you may not want to carry a tent at all. For instance, if you are travelling in areas that boast hot, dry conditions then you might need nothing more than a mosquito net and a tree from which to hang it. In these situations, packing a lightweight tarp and a couple of bungees will allow you to rig up a canopy in the event that an unexpected shower passes overhead.


Camping 101: Choosing a Tent


Family camping tents come in many shapes and sizes. The one that suits your needs may not be the right one for someone else. That's why there is such a large variety produced for the outdoor enthusiast market.


Shaping Up Your Tent Choices


Tents come in four basic shapes: A-frame, umbrella, geodesic or "dome", and wall. The A-frame is the old-style, traditional "pup" tent shape, but can also be quite large. The umbrella is a commonly used family tent, with plenty of standing room, including large windows and a rain fly.


Tents with square floor shapes are more efficient when laying out sleeping and gear arrangements. If you decide to purchase a tent with a round or oval floor, you should plan some extra floor space to compensate for the less efficient layout.


Size DOES Matter


Tents are marketed as two man, four man, six man, etc. At best this describes the most people you can cram into the tent for sleeping, with no storage for any of your personal items. This size determination is okay for backpackers who are packing light, but makes no sense for the average camper.


Adding 'dry' storage for your gear, and enough space to get out of your tent without tramping on your tent companion, will result in a more enjoyable outdoor experience.


Be careful about buying a tent larger than 10' x 10'. First, finding a suitable place to pitch such a large item will be a challenge. You need a spot as level as possible. Second, big tents are extremely heavy and bulky to carry. Finally, it might be better to have several smaller tents so everyone isn't sharing the same sleeping, changing & living area.


The peak height is very important to your comfort. For most trips, try to have a tent that is tall enough to stand in. Plan for the taller persons in your group.


Kids can fit comfortably in smaller tents. Once they are old enough, about seven or eight, they will probably want to sleep in a separate tent anyway. Parents will appreciate the privacy provided by this arrangement too. A five by seven foot tent is adequate for young kind. Teenagers should be considered as adults when fitting a tent.


Support Your Local Tent - Poles


Poles included with most tents available today are made from aluminum or fiberglas. The better quality tents usually come with specially made aluminum poles, with a high degree of flexibility. Fiberglas poles are included in most 'every day camping' tents. The poles are usually linked together with an elastic shock cord.


Seams to Me It's Important


Seams should be reinforced with nylon tape and double-stitched. The tape is stitched into each seam, which reinforces the seam and adds to the weather-proofing. All waterproof seams in on the fly and floor (or tub), are usually factory waterproofed with a seam sealer. Set up the tent in your yard before the first tent use to test out the pitching process.




Almost all modern tents are now made of nylon. Coated nylon is used for waterproofing. Nylon mesh is used for inner walls and gear pockets. No-see-um mesh is used for the window screens. Better tents use thicker fabric and rip-stop fabric.