How Much Sleep Does 3 And Half Year Old Need Camping 101: Choosing a Tent

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Camping 101: Choosing a Tent

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

    Shaping Your Tent Choices

Tents come in four basic forms: A-frame, umbrella, geodesic or “dome”, and wall. The A-frame is the old-style, traditional “puppy” 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. The geodesic dome has many variations, with varying combinations of connected triangles. The wall tent is like an A-frame tent, but is generally much larger and has vertical side walls, and is most often used in military applications and scout camps (These are usually set up on permanent decks).

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

    Size Matters

Tents are marketed as two man, four man, six man, etc. At best this describes the most people you can cram into the tent to sleep, with no storage for any of your personal items. This size determination is fine for backpackers who pack light, but doesn’t make sense for the average camper.

Why be shoehorned into your tent? Consider using the tent at half its rated capacity and you should have enough room for two adults and most of their gear. Each person shall have a minimum of 24 square feet of floor space; enough room for your pad, sleeping bag and gear. If you’re packing for a long trip, you may want to increase the square footage depending on the amount of gear you’ll be bringing.

Don’t forget to buy a tent that will be wide/long enough for you to stretch out when you sleep… a 6′ tall sleeper will be very cramped in a 6′ wide tent; leave yourself at least 1 foot of leg room. You will need a minimum of 30″ of space across the tent for each sleeping bag just for sleeping.

Adding “dry” storage for your gear, and enough space to get out of your tent without stepping on your tent companion, will result in a more enjoyable outdoor experience. With this in mind, an 8′ x 8′ tent would work well as a 2 man family tent. This gives each camper 32 square feet to spread out their gear and sleeping area. BUT, a 10′ x 10′ tent is much more suitable for two adults (seems excessive, right?). This size tent will have enough space for air mattresses, beds or pads AND still have enough room to stand while changing clothes.

Be careful about buying a tent larger than 10′ x 10′. First, finding a suitable place to display such a large object will be a challenge. You need a place as flat as possible. Second, large tents are extremely heavy and bulky to carry. Finally, it might be better to have several smaller tents so that everyone is not sharing the same sleeping, changing and living quarters.

The peak height is very important for your comfort. For most trips, try to have a tent tall enough to stand on. Plan for the taller people in your group. Six or seven feet of tip height is necessary for adults, and a four-foot tip is suitable for children. Remember that the tent slopes down at a sharp angle, so the actual place you can stand will be small. Larger spaces will be provided in tents with higher tops.

Children can fit comfortably in smaller tents. Once they’re old enough, around seven or eight, they’ll probably want to sleep in a separate tent anyway. Parents will also appreciate the privacy provided by this arrangement. A tent of five by seven feet is suitable for a young species. Teenagers should be considered as adults when pitching a tent.

    Support Your Local Tent – Poles

Poles included with most tents available today are made of aluminum or fiberglass. The better quality tents usually come with specially made aluminum poles, with a high degree of flexibility. Fiber poles are included in most “everyday camping” tents. The poles are usually tied together with an elastic shock cord. This speeds up the setup process (important when doing it in the rain!). Poles, when abused, can bend or break, so many tent manufacturers provide repair kits for you to take with you on the trip.

    Seams to Me It’s Important

Seams should be reinforced with nylon tape and double stitched. The tape is sewn into each seam, which strengthens the seam and adds to the weather resistance. All waterproof joints on the fly and floor (or tub), are usually factory waterproofed with seam sealer. Set up the tent in your yard before the first tent is used to test the pitching process. You can also use this opportunity to go to your local sporting goods store to buy some seam sealer and waterproofing spray. It’s always a good idea to do this to ensure a dry trip. Make sure you allow the tent to dry before packing it back.

    Cloth

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

    Hey!!! Zip It!!

Make sure when you go out to buy your tent… test the zippers. They should open and close easily and should not catch the tent fabric. The zippers should be rustproof.

    Hot and Cold Flashes and “Why Is My Tent Shaking?”

Weather variations will make many demands on your tent.

Windy conditions will require strong poles, stakes and anchor lines. Dome tents perform extremely well in wind. Their rounded design reduces the effect of the wind, and their pole arrangement provides great strength.

Rain causes two problems to appear. Keeping yourself and your gear dry is paramount. Second, you need enough room for all tent occupants to be comfortable should “weathering the storm” become necessary.

The floor should be constructed of waterproof coated nylon covering the floor, and turning the sides for about six inches, creating the tub. There should be a minimal amount of stitching (the more you have, the more potential for leaks). It will remove any water that runs down and under the tent.

Make sure your tent has a waterproof rain fly made of coated nylon. The fly should wrap around the tent and reach down the sides, leaving only a few inches of space between it and the ground. This should shut out the rain, even in windy conditions. The fly should extend far enough above the door, so it keeps the rain out when you open the door to enter or leave. Some tents even come with a vestibule that allows for this.

Sunlight and its accompanying heat create an important need for shade and air flow. The rain fly will provide shade. Screen windows on opposite sides of the tent, or a screened window opposite a screened door, will allow air to flow through the tent.

Long hikes in cold weather require a special, heavy-duty 4-season tent. Unless you plan to do winter camping, you can use a “three-season” tent that has the features mentioned above. The most important features will be a rain fly that fully covers the top and sides to keep snow and other precipitation at bay, and an inner layer made of open mesh fabric to allow water vapor to breathe out of the tent. In cooler weather, water vapor inside the tent from moist, outside air and exhaled breath from the occupants will condense on the inner surface of the tent. This can be prevented by allowing air flow through your tent or by passing through the mesh fabric.

The tent size is also a consideration with cool weather camping. A smaller tent will stay much warmer than a larger tent with your body heat.

    You Get What You Pay For

Usually, the more expensive tents are made with stronger fabric, poles and stitching. They are built to withstand stronger wind and more violent rain. A good tent that is well maintained can last for many years.

Keep in mind that not everyone will need this amount of durability. The milder the weather you are camping in, and the closer to home you are camping, the better solution will most likely be less expensive tents.

If you’re just starting your camping trip, and don’t know if you’ll enjoy it, you might want to start with a less expensive setup. Your first trips will probably be when the weather is warmer, and you probably won’t venture deep into the wilderness until you’ve gained some experience and decided if you like camping or not. Remember, you can always upgrade your equipment later.

For more information you can visit us at Birdseye Outdoor Supply for more tips to help you with your camping needs.

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