The first thing to think about when choosing the best pop up tent is to think about what sort of camping you are going to be doing. Naturally there are all sizes of tents, but in fact, the purpose of the tent is just as important as its size. If you plan to camp year round, in the snow and rain or will be carrying your tent on your back you will have very different criteria to a family of six who plan to stay in 4* campsites for a week every summer.

The first thing to consider is the size of the tent. The size is measured in terms of how many ‘men’ it will fit. Remember that luggage counts as a ‘man’ and that sometimes you may not wish to sleep right next to your camping partner! This means choosing a larger tent. Some tents are not very high and you may find it uncomfortable if you can’t stand up inside. The lower tents are lighter to carry, however, which may be more important than the inside space. If you are tall, ensure your tent is long enough for you to lie down, or think about getting a tent one size bigger so you can sleep at an angle. Raised camp-beds and inflatable mattresses are very comfortable, but if the walls of your tent slope in sharply you may end up lying with your face pressed into the canvas. Not comfortable!

For festivals or the odd weekend away in the summer, a pop-up tent is perfect. They are lightweight and easy to erect and fine for the spring and summer. For families, however, it is worth investing in a spacious tent with separate rooms for the children and communal space for eating and playing. An awning is a good idea in case it rains and a carpet keeps the inside of the tent free from mud.

Hydrostatic head is a measurement that shows how waterproof a tent is, 1000mm is the minimum you would want for three season use in the UK. Trust me; you don’t want water pouring into the tent during a downpour! If you have a small tent, wet clothes and luggage can be a huge problem and the simplest solution is to ensure you have plenty of bin bags to put things in to stop the wetness being spread around.

A sewn in groundsheet will keep out water and insects and is well worth investing in a tent with this feature if you plan to camp for more than the odd week a year. A ‘footprint’ or extra groundsheet to go under the tent will keep everything cleaner and dryer, as well as prolonging the life of the tent.

When choosing a tent it is important, to be honest with yourself about how much you will use it. A good quality family tent will last for years and adapt to your changing needs, but it isn’t worth spending this much money if you go to Glastonbury once and realize you can’t stand the outdoor life. A good compromise is a tent pack, with a good basic tent, some sleeping bags, and mattresses. This will be perfect for your first camping holiday and if you decide you enjoy it then you can upgrade anything you need to over time.

Some tents have excellent extra features such as built-in lighting or blackout bedrooms, all of which can enhance your camping experience. Bedroom inserts are perfect for families or groups of friends, and darker colors can help prevent everyone waking up as soon as the sun rises. Your tent is the most important piece of camping equipment you will buy, so it is worth spending what you can on it and treating it as an investment that will last for many years.

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Published by Reed Cooper