6 Tips for Buying Camping Tents

Our family of four is about ready for some hard-core outdoor fun.  But I’m the first to say I know ZERO about camping well.  This past Christmas my mission was to find (and impress) my outdoor-adventure husband with an awesome 4-person tent.

Check out these links for camping locations and fire restrictions in New Mexico.

Since today is Father's Day, here are tent buying tips I discovered:

  1. You have to buy a footprint (tarp) for under the tent.  It minimizes condensation on the inside floor and keeps rocks and debris from ripping up the bottom on the outside.
  2. With the exception of a water proof floor, the tent itself is water resistance/breathable.  Get an added Rain Fly cover that is UV resistant to sunlight and water proof for rain showers.  The Rain Fly should extend to the ground on the outside so sideways rainfall won’t come through your window seams.
  3. Shape is also important; a Dome is great for minimizing wind resistance but maximizing interior space.
  4. Bug resistant window mesh allows you to have bug-free fresh air, and a Vestibule is an area additional to the sleeping space for protecting your things, like wet clothes and shoes.
  5. A 3-season tent is best.  1-2 season is for near perfect and rainless weather; you only need a 4-season if you plan on camping in the snow.  (Brr, no thanks!)
  6. Buying assistance varies on opinion of the sales rep.  At REI, the sales man gave me a great tip that the packing weight of the tent could be split 3-ways among 3 people’s packs for long hiking distances. The sales rep at Sports Authority gave me the tip to buy the 20 lb/8 person/6 foot high tent so we could keep it up in the backyard, stand inside without ducking, and insert a king-size air mattress for sleeping comfort. (Oh baby, I was tempted!)  The reps at Sportsman's Warehouse left me alone to cruise the display of assembled tents so I was able to climb around in and inspect all the models I saw online.

In the end I purchased this REI 4 Person Half Dome Tent.  Fingers crossed that our camping experiences will be light-weight, dry, and spacious!  If not, I also grabbed the REI membership for the lifetime warranty and exchange policy (ah, buying comfort!)  With the tent (on sale in December), foot print, and membership, the total cost was $210.

Now on to camping gear!  Can anyone recommend a good stove top?


  1. My family is planning to buy a camping tent for our adventure and I think your post can be a big help for us. I will apply this. Thank you.

    Charles A

  2. Thank you for your buying tips that buy a footprint for under the tent and added Rain Fly cover.


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