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Tent selection

Hi, I am new to this forum. I just started back into camping last year after a 10 year layoff from it. The last time i bought a tent was in 1986. Last year I pulled the old tent out and found that the seams are all giving way. I used it anyway because we were taking my children camping for their first time and I did not want to invest in any new gear until I had an idea that they would like it. Well now is the time for me to go get some new gear because they loved it, even though it was a torrential downpour and then when the rain cleared out the temp dropped into the high 30's. (this was in August)

My problem now is that I don't know what is a good tent by todays standards. I have read the reviews on line about possible tents by coleman and I see some extremely great reviews as well as some real poor reviews, all for the same tents. I know through prior experience that those reviews are often loaded with entries from "interested parties". So I am looking to people like all of you here to guide me toward decent gear. I am looking for an outstanding, weather resistant tent. I live in New York and so it must deal with the changing weather experienced in the mountains.

Also, I have only small vehicles so I am planning to put a trailer hitch on the car so I can tow a small gear trailer. Can anyone reccommend a small trailer I may want to look into?

And finally, I will explain my user name as I am usually asked what it means. I try to use the same user name in all forums to which I belong so that I dont have to remember different names. This is the name from my guitar forum, and I chose it because the only place in my house that I can play and not bother either my neighbors, or the rest of my family, is in the basement where I put together a little music room. My name is Jon. Hope to hear from you all soon.


Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I think most quality tents are superb. If you take them into severe locations, Mountains, Snow, Ocean camping, and any other extreme weather you would need to research such particular tent needs. I camp with only one other person and I like a tent that opens on both sides so someone getting up during the night or morning doesn't disturb the other. I also camp often in wet environments so I need a tent that breathes and allows clothing to dry so venting is important. I also like a tent that is simple and short to set up and most have that with the exterior poles. You might want a tent that your family can sit up in and play games when the weather is bad. Also an atrium or covered opening is good in the snow, rain, etc. to cook in and not have to go out. I camp mostly along canoe routes and Kayak routes so my needs may vary with yours. I also mostly only sleep in mine and sit out in the weather by choice enjoying the adventure. When canoeing I also sit by campfires and cook there. But I sometimes need to get dry and warm so the Atrium is handy. Bugs are another issue with multiple openings so if you are camping with the skeeters you may not want a multiple outlet. I hope this kind of helps. I would look on Ebay for a choice tent at a low price. You don't have to buy the first one. I have sold a lot of camping equiptment and the buyer got a great deal. This is one of my tents. Dries readily and ventilates well.

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Santa Fe, NM

Hey, basement! My D.H. and I are in the same situation but need to find a new tent and air mattress fairly soon as we hope to go to Joshua Tree next month. Our old 2 person tent is too small for any air mattresses we can find, it's octagonal. The last time we used it the seams leaked anyway. There is some Coleman stuff available on sale locally. I'll check back with you.

Santa Fe, NM

We went ahead with the local sale at Big Five. A 3 person Coleman tent ( really 2 person ) and a queen size air mattress. We don't like to camp out in bad weather particularly. They had sleeping bags on sale but they were only rated for going "down" to 50 degrees! If it was 50 why would you need a sleeping bag at all?

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Hence the sale. Who would buy a 50F bag. I prefer to use a light bag 20F and wrap it with my navy wool blanket if it gets cold. I always carry my wool blanket if my bag gets wet. I have used it in a down pour for hours and it held my body heat in. Best not to get wet and stay in the Coleman tent. Look at Army/Navy for a good wool sleeping bag.

Santa Fe, NM

Wish we had an Army/Navy around here. We have one old sleeping bag and we do have at least one wool blanket that goes camping. We'll be going west to Death Valley and Joshua Tree in mid to late March. Could be windy. We carry a blanket in the car all the time, water, flashlight, etc. Maybe a wool bag will turn up at a garage sale or online. I appreciate the suggestion.

I have done a lot of looking around and I am thinking that the Coleman tents with the Weathermaster system may be the way to go. It looks as though Weathermaster may be the most weatherproof of the tents (that I can afford). I don't like bad weather camping either but sometimes it's unavaoidable. The last time we went was in August and you just don't expect temps in the 30's in august. Come on global warming!!

I am still looking for the trailer option as well. I think it may come down to renting a U-Haul small trailer to carry all the gear. Does anyone know if there are any restrictions on small trailers at campgrounds?

Santa Fe, NM

That I don't know about. But, you can generally google the name of the park or wherever you want to go and find out what their rules are. Our old tent did pretty well in all sorts of weather but I think it just got tired out! We put waterproofing stuff on the seams but haven't used it since then. It is really just too small anyway. It actually isn't octagonal, by the way, it's 6 sided. The new one is rectangular. Good luck.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Hi basement

We love to camp but don't get to nearly as often as we'd like. We bought a new tent that we just love. We bought it at Dick's on sale for $128. I can't remember the name of it and it's not here for me to look at. It's set up in the barn loft. We are using it to have a place to warm up in as our barn is not heated and it can get pretty cold while we work. The tent is 12' x 14' and plenty big for our 4 person family. Lots of windows and 2 big doors. The entire roof is mesh and it has a big rain fly over the whole thing that also has a porch flap on it. I am 5'4" and can stand up in the corners without touching my head on the roof. It sets up quickly and easily. The frame goes up and then the tent clips to it. We bought a seperate screen tent to use as our kitchen. We also have one of those potty / shower tents that has served us well. LOL

Here is a pic of our tent.

Thumbnail by CajuninKy
Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Here are the other 2 tents I mentioned. The pic was taken last fall at our horse club's ride and campout. It was in the 30s the next morning and we had our kerosene heater in the tent. It kept us very comfortable.

Thumbnail by CajuninKy
Madison, AL

I own several Coleman tents. Make sure you seal seams well and you will be OK.I have been through several storms in mine with no trouble.

Hightstown, NJ(Zone 6b)

we've done a lot of camping over the years. when our kids were small and we were car camping we had a large Eureka tent. it stood by us well. the kids have even taken it to music festivals over the yearscheck out that line. now that we are all grown-ups we go back packing and use a variety of brands, EMS, eureka, mountain hardware.

Cape May, NJ

We love to camp and backpack whenever we can. We bought a new tent last year...a Eureka Mountain Pass....we love it. It's a four person and has decent room. Also, it'sdone well in bad weather. IWe've also had Kelty tents and those are great too.
Happy Camping!

Carmel, NY(Zone 6b)

I love my Eureka. It's ez to put up, has lots of room and keeps me DRY. The cross ventilations is great, too!

I, too, returned to camping after MANY long years. It's amazing how much things have improved in 40 years. LOL! I started out using a friend's loaner (2 person, fairly short), which helped me decide that bigger was better. I shopped everywhere and checked out everything - finally decided on the first one I'd seen!

Good luck - and HAVE FUN!

PS - Think FLEECE! Keeps you warm and dry, and if it gets wet, it dries in a heatbeat!

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