Some Camping Tent Expert Shopping Tips

Keep these things in mind as you shop for the perfect cheap tent for your camping needs:

Size Matters
As noted above, every ounce matters if you’re going to be backpacking, our expert says, but if you’re car camping, weight doesn’t, and you might want to get a bigger tent, particularly if you want the flexibility of spending time in it besides just when you’re asleep.

McKee adds that if a tent claims it’s designed for two people, that’s a cozy two people, so if you need more space, go bigger! Not sure? Specialized camping stores will often have some tents set up for people to see, even though price-wise, specialty stores typically only have more expensive tents.

One Large Tent Versus a Few Small Ones
If you are camping with younger children, it’s best to buy one big tent so the whole family can sleep together and you can keep an eye on the little ones. But as kids get older and want their space, a few smaller tents that you group together is a nice option, too, and makes it easier to share the load if you’re carrying them while backpacking.

Pitching A Tent, Not A Fit
Some tents are easier than others to set up. Fewer poles often means easier setup, but not always, McKee warns. If you’re unsure, before you go camping, set up your tent in your apartment or yard as a trial run.

“You don’t want to be trying to figure it out on a windy or rainy day at the site,” she says.

Weather and Temperature-Related Decisions
“For rain, you want a fly that covers the entire tent. For cold, you want fewer windows to let the cold air in,” McKee says. “Most regular tents are three season, not [made for] winter.”

If you’re camping somewhere the temps might drop at night, you’ll need warmer clothing, sleeping bags and mattresses so you aren’t sleeping on the cold ground. And if you decide you want your creature comforts, there’s nothing wrong with traveling via trailer or RV!