You’ve convinced yourself (and your family) that camping is next on your list of adventures! Now what?
You need a tent!
(And the 2-man tent you have stashed in your garage from your Boy Scout days is NOT going to cut it.)
So, where do you start?
1. Do a little research.
Do you know someone who camps? Ask what brand of tent they recommend. Still in touch with some of the guys from your Boy Scouting days? Ask them. Look at Amazon reviews of different brands. Ask the guy who looks like he knows what he’s doing in the camping aisle at your local sporting goods store. The purpose is not to buy on the spot, but to gather information and familiarize yourself with the options.
2. Consider your needs.
Consider WHO will be camping with you. I have 10 people I have to think about. When I only had small children, I needed to put everyone in one big tent. Now that I have a 17 year old, I can put him and a couple of the younger boys in a separate tent nearby.
Another thing to consider is WHERE you’ll be camping. Your backyard or designated campgrounds don’t require as rugged a tent as one you might need to camp in the mountains or in undeveloped areas.
As far as WHEN you will be camping, I highly suggest you camp in fair weather if you are just starting out. No need to buy that cold weather tent with all the bells and whistles.
So, let’s work through a couple of scenarios:
Scenario #1: Mom, Dad, 2 kids
This Coleman 5-person tent would be great if the kids are younger. Try a 7-person if they are older.
Dome tents are great for giving you room to stand up and stretch out. Don’t forget you need room for your gear too!
Scenario #2: Large family
This Eureka Copper 12 Person Tent gives you 7 feet of vertical space, and can be partitioned off into two rooms. This is great if you have all younger kids. If you have teens, try our method of 1 large-ish tent and 1 smaller tent side-by-side.
Buy a tent with room to grow. Even if you don’t have more children, the children you do have will only get bigger!
3. Hunt around for the best price.
Compare places at places like Coleman, Walmart, and Cabela’s. Look for sales. Check Craigslist and eBay. (Caution: When buying used, be aware you may end up with a tent that needs waterproofing or some minor repair work.)
Keep in mind my Dad’s adage:
“There’s no such thing as a good deal…just some deals are better than others.”
Once you think you have a “better deal,” buy it!
4. Buy the tent, take it home, and set it up to make sure it works (and you know how to work it!)
Set it up by yourself, with your wife, or an older child first. Then try setting it up with your littlest “helpers” – it’s a challenge, folks! Put the rain fly on and hose the tent down to make sure it is waterproof. Spend a night in the tent in your backyard to familiarize yourself with it. And don’t forget to try packing yourself AND your gear into the tent. Experiment with where to place bedding and gear.
(If you have questions, Google it! There is a YouTube video for just about everything – including how to set up YOUR tent!)
That may sound trite, but it really is the endgame of this camping adventure. You may even have to tell yourself to ENJOY it! There are going to be hiccups. You are going to question if you bought the right tent. Your wife is going to wonder why in the world she let you talk her into this. But, in the end, your attitude and your willingness to try something new and have fun at it, will be contagious. And you WILL make memories!
Do you have specific questions about buying a family tent? Feel free to ask them here!