When in search of a tent you should consider some important features before purchasing one. Tents can be different in size and shape but they all serve the same purpose – keeping you and your belongings dry and comfy, enabling you to enjoy the outdoors. Depending on the activity you prefer there are plenty of options to choose from.
Types of tents
Camping tents – these are quite big and bulky. Not without a reason, however. They provide a lot of space not only for you and your family but for all of your luggage as well. Some camping tents are large enough for you to stand upright or to put your table and chairs inside. Their main purpose is to be comfortable. If you plan to go hiking with them you will find yourself exhausted at the end of the day. They are heavy, the last time I checked 3-4 person tent weighed 12 kilograms. You don’t want to carry that load on your back, do you? Camping tents are for camping only. You take them out of your car and pitch them up, nothing more.
Trekking tents – well they are quite the opposite of the camping ones. These are light, typically not as comfortable and for 2 persons at most. In addition, trekking tents pack in really small sizes which make them much easier to attach to a backpack. Their weight is reduced not only because they are smaller compared to camping tents but because the poles of trekking tents are made out if Alloy (aluminum). Alloy poles are stronger and lighter than fiberglass ones.
No matter the purpose of the tent its most important feature is its resistance to water penetration. Usually, tents are made of a waterproof synthetic material which is additionally covered with a water-resistant coating.
What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant? Waterproof materials do not let water penetrate them. This is measured by the amount of water-column they can stand. Imagine a 5m (5 000mm) long tube filled with water put straight over a material with water-column of 5 000mm. The water in the tube will put pressure on the material but it will not be enough to penetrate it. Though if the material’s waterproof index is 3 000 it’ll be penetrated.
So what? How can I know which one is the right for me? Well, even 2 000mm can keep you dry but bear in mind that it really depends on how heavy the rainfall is and is there a strong wind. When the wind is strong raindrops put higher pressure on your tent, so I advise you to invest in a tent with at least 5 000mm hydrostatic head and groundsheet with 10 000 mm water-column. It is important to note that when you are inside your tent your body presses the floor and beneath the floor, there might be some water. So the pressure is high and the water-column should be high as well.
Water-resistant materials do soak but a little slower than ones that are not impregnated. They are covered with a special coating (spray or grease typically) that is greasy and lets water flows down easily. However, if you do not impregnate your tent regularly its water-resistant coating will be washed out over time.
And last but not least, whenever you are on the verge of purchasing waterproof jacket or tent always make sure the seams are taped because no matter how tremendous the water-column might be you will be wet if the seams are leaking.