Camping Tent Buying Guide

At Trail Outdoor Leisure, we know how difficult choosing a tent can be. As well as the multitude of shapes and sizes available, there’s an awful lot of jargon to get your head around. Thankfully, our experts have compiled a guide to help you pick the perfect tent for your adventure.

Finding the best tent for you!

Pop-Up Tents

For minimal fuss, you can’t beat a pop-up tent. They’re the quickest and easiest tent to pitch, taking no more than a couple of minutes. Simply remove the tent from its carry bag and it automatically pops into shape. It’s then a simple case of pegging it down.

Positives: Convenience. Easy pitching makes pop-up tents perfect for summer festivals, overnight trips and even letting the kids camp out in the garden. The lack of space inside them also makes them a top choice if you’re camping on your own.

Negatives: They’re a bit of a tight squeeze if you’re camping as a couple. The majority also have a low Hydrostatic Head which is a measurement of how water-resistant they are. If you’re camping during the rainy season, they could put a dampener on your trip.

 Volkswagen DS 2-Man Pop-Up Tent

Volkswagen DS 2-Man Pop-Up Tent

Family Tents

Think of a family tent as a home away from home. Most have a large communal area, multiple bedrooms and standing head height so you can comfortably stand up inside them. They also have lots of little extras to make your trip more comfortable. Many of them come with a porch canopy, storage pockets and electrical access for a radio or kettle.

Positives: Size. There are lots of sizes available, ranging from 4 person to 10 person tents. Partitioned rooms provide separate sleeping areas for the whole family so you’re sure of a sound night’s sleep. The communal area also has plenty of space to play games and shelter from the rain.

Negatives: Because of their size, family tents can be a bit of a pain to pitch. We recommend pitching your family tent in your back garden beforehand – providing you have the space to do so. With plenty of practice, you’ll be pitch perfect by the time you head off camping.

Trail 4 Man Family Tunnel Tent With Awning Camping Festival Waterproof 3000mm HH

Trail 4 Man Family Tunnel Tent With Awning

Inflatable Tents

Designed using the very latest technology, inflatable tents combine the easy pitching of a pop-up tent with the internal space of a family tent. Instead of fiddly poles, they have inflatable beams which are incredibly rigid when inflated. The inflatable beams provide the same support as poles without the risk of flexing and snapping. All of our inflatable tents are supplied with an inflation pump.

Positives: Inflatable tents are big on size and low on hassle. Simply lay the tent out flat, inflate the beams and then peg the tent down to secure it. Like our family tents, most have separate bedrooms, a communal area and a host of extras. They’re a top choice for next-gen campers.

Negatives: As with all things that incorporate the latest technology, inflatable tents are pricier than a standard tent. If you’re shopping on a budget, opt for a family tent. If you regularly head out camping, invest in an inflatable. They truly are the crème de la crème of tents.

Pavillo Sierra Ridge Air Pro 6-Man Inflatable Tent

Pavillo Sierra Ridge Air Pro 6-Man Inflatable Tent

Festival/Weekend Tents

Capable of sleeping 2-3 people, our weekend tents have very few poles to fit together which makes them very straightforward to pitch. Although they’re not as easy to pitch as a pop-up tent, they have a greater Hydrostatic Head to keep you nice and dry in a downpour.

Positives: If you’re heading to a festival, you don’t want to be bogged down with heavy equipment. When packed away, our festival tents are compact, lightweight and easy to carry. Some of them even have a porch so that you can kick off your muddy wellies before you head inside.

Negatives: Like pop-up tents, they can be a bit on the small side. Our advice? Always choose a tent that sleeps one more person than the number of people camping. So, if two of you are camping, opt for a three person tent. That way, you’ll have plenty of space for equipment.

 Trail Bracken 4-Man Dome Tent With Porch

Trail Bracken 4-Man Dome Tent With Porch

Now you know the pros and cons, you can view our collection of Trail tents to find the best one for you.

Essential Terminology 

Hydrostatic Head

Tents with a Hydrostatic Head of 2000mm should keep you nice and dry over the summer months. If you’re camping over the spring or autumn, when there’s a higher likelihood of rain, look for a tent with a Hydrostatic Head of 3000mm or over. The higher, the dryer, as the old saying goes.

Taped Seams

Even if a tent has a Hydrostatic Head of 5000mm, it’s unlikely to keep you dry if it doesn’t have taped seams. Taped seams are a feature you should always look for in a tent. They ensure that holes from the stitching are adequately covered so that water doesn’t seep through when it rains.

Sewn-In Groundsheet

Most tents come with a sewn-in groundsheet which means the walls and the floor are securely linked together. This eliminates gaps to prevent the interior getting draughty or insects creeping in. Tents with a separate groundsheet tend to be cheaper and are fine for summer camping.

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