Are you looking for comprehensive tent buying advice? Then you’ve come to the right place. As the outdoor and camping experts for over 30 years, we’ve helped thousands of families, couples and individuals find the best tents for their camping trips.
To ensure every type of camper can find the best new tent, we’ve compiled a jargon-free tent buying guide that takes into account everything from capacity to pack weight, and set-up speed to seasonality. Read on for our tent buying tips
How to choose a tent
What are the main considerations when purchasing a new tent?
- Weight – Are you transporting your tent by car or bike, on foot or by public transport? Weight becomes a key factor if you plan to carry your tent even a short distance.
- Pack size – Again, how you plan to transport your tent needs careful consideration. If you’re hiking or biking then a small pack size is going to be much more manageable, but car space might also be limited if you’re a large group of happy campers or have a lot of luggage.
- Size when assembled – How many people does your tent need to accommodate and how much additional space do you need? Choosing a tent based solely on how many people it sleeps might leave you short of space. Is there extra space for luggage? What if you encounter wet weather during your camping trip? You need to ensure there is enough space for everyone to be comfortable if you are inside for any length of time.
- Waterproof rating – If you’re camping in the UK then a reliable waterproof rating is a must! We all know how unpredictable a British summer can be, so ensure your tent is up to the job of keeping you dry. The fabric’s hydrostatic head rating is the key feature to look at when assessing how waterproof a tent is. Look for a rating of 5000mm or more, and read our guide to tent materials for more details.
- Material composition – Polyester is the most common, lightweight and affordable material available, but canvas, nylon and polycotton tents are also available. The type of trip and the conditions you plan to camp in will influence your choice of material. Again, you can find a detailed breakdown of the best tent materials in our guide.
- Durability – When buying a tent, we recommend comparing the fabric denier (D), as these numbers are key indicators of the thickness of a fabric and its durability.
- Key tent features – How many bedrooms does your new tent need? How many doors do you want and where do they need to be positioned? Do you want to be able to stand up inside your tent? The way you camp and who you camp with will influence the additional features you need to find the best tent.
What is the best type of tent?
There are three main types of camping tent, with each offering unique benefits. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned camper, you’ll need to consider your preferred camping style in order to find the right tent. Do you take pride in pitching or are you looking for a tent that does all of the work so you can kick back and relax? At Khyam, we stock three main types of tent, including the easiest tents to pitch by yourself.
- Quick to pitch
- Easy to pitch alone
- Increased head height
- Great in windy conditions
This type of tent comes as one unit, so it takes only a few minutes to pitch, by pegging out and inflating, and a similar amount of time to deflate and pack away. It features high pressure air tubes that maintain the structure and is the best choice in windy conditions, as it offers more flex than a traditional poled tent and is less likely to sustain damage.
The tunnel tent style of our inflatable tents also provides increased head height for extra space and comfort. Plus, if your tent buying checklist includes the easiest tents to put up alone, our inflatable collection has you covered. With 30 years of innovation behind us, we’ve perfected the design of the inflatable tent and won awards for it!
- Sturdy structure
- Reliable design
- Lightweight steel poles
- Separate packs for weight distribution
- Increased head height
If you believe that pitching is all part of the camping experience, then poled tents are the perfect choice. These are also the best tents for camping in poor weather conditions.
The steel pole design provides a strong metal structure that can withstand wind and rain, while also being lightweight. The split pack style means it is easy to distribute weight – perfect for when you can’t pitch next to your vehicle. This type of tent is best if you want sturdy and reliable, and don’t mind putting a little effort into your pitch.
- Wide range of sizes
- Super quick set-up
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to replace parts
This type of tent is very popular with campers who want to pitch quickly and easily and is a popular choice for weekend trips, festivals and short getaways. It benefits from a compact pack size and a lightweight frame – key tent features that you need for hiking or biking.
While it offers set-up speed, it also benefits from a strong frame and replaceable parts, making it easy to maintain. It is a versatile design and the best tent for camping made easy.
What size tent should I buy?
Buying a tent is an investment, so size and configuration are often the most important factors to consider. We recommend allowing at least 20 to 25 square feet of space per person for comfortable camping, especially for any trip that is longer than one night.
If you plan to use your tent for touring trips, you may consider sacrificing some of this space to reduce the weight of your gear and to make pitching and packing away much easier.
If you’re a family, you might be thinking about your future camping plans and how quickly you might outgrow your tent. A four-berth tent might be ideal for a couple with two small children, but will it still offer enough space once the kids get older? At Khyam, the most common mistake we see is purchasing a tent that too big and too heavy for someone’s needs, so it’s worth putting in the time to really plan your camping set-up. Think about how many years you want to get out of your tent before you upsize.
There’s also the risk of buying a tent that is too small. If you’re a couple then a two-berth tent sounds like the obvious choice, but where will you store your belongings while you sleep? A camping trip quickly becomes uncomfortable if there’s a lack of sleeping space. Opt for a tent with a porch or go up a berth for a comfortable camping trip for two, we recommend the Biker Plus Special Edition Quick Pitch three-berth tent for happy camping.
What type of tent pole is best?
There are four common types of tent pole:
Hollow Fibreglass – this is the most common material used for poled tents because of its lightweight nature. However, it can split easily under strain and can potentially be dangerous when split.
Solid Fibreglass – these poles are used on the majority of quick erect or pop-up tents because they are very strong, but still lightweight, and splitting a pole is almost impossible.
Steel, Metal or Alloy – these materials make tent poles extremely strong and able to better withstand high winds, but they do increase the overall weight of the tent.
Air Tube – there’s no threading of poles so these are super quick to inflate, but they can puncture due to overinflation or expansion with hot weather.
What are the best types of tents and poles for different weather conditions?
Every tent has its pros and cons when it come to the unpredictable British weather. From heatwaves to high winds and heavy rain, you need to be confident that your choice of canvas is fit for the job.
Most of the time, how your tent is pitched and pegged will determine its ability to withstand wind and rain, so be sure to follow the instructions during set up. However, some adjustments might be needed depending on the specific conditions.
Inflatable tents – air poles are generally inflated to between 5 and 7 PSI (pounds per square inch, the measurement for air pressure), but this will need adjusting depending on your camping conditions. Tubes can go up to 9 PSI in stormy weather
If the weather is cold, you will require additional air pressure in order to retain the tent’s structure, while hot weather requires a reduction in air pressure as inflatable tents expand in extreme heat and high pressure increases the risk of puncture. Heavy duty tubes generally need more air adding as the tubes can bow and fold in the wind. However, they are extremely robust and won’t break in the wind.
Steel pole tents – tents with pole frames are very strong and stable however, they can reach breaking point during high winds, which may cause damage to the tent. But one of the key benefits is that the parts of a steel-poled tent are much easier to replace in the event of damage.
Quick pitch tents – the frames of these tents are very strong, and they benefit from a little flex that allows movement in strong winds, making them robust and practical. Plus, the parts are very easy to replace in the event of a breakage.
Which is the best tent for quick and easy pitching?
The popularity of pop-up, quick pitch and inflatable tents shows that most of us want to pitch our tents as quickly as possible and with the least effort.
If you need a large family tent but want to making pitching as pain-free as possible then an inflatable tent offers the fastest set up and is far less work than a large tent with poles. Take a look at our Airtek 8 Pro and Airtek 6 inflatable tents for super-fast pitching.
With small to medium tents, if speed is your priority then pop-up and quick erect tents are much faster to pitch than an air tent. If it’s minimal effort you’re looking for in a tent however, then an air tent really does help to take the hard work out of pitching. Try our Biker Plus Special Edition three-man tent for problem-free pitching.
Which tent is the quickest to pack away?
At the end of your trip, it’s likely that you’ll want to get your tent packed and on the road as quickly as possible. Most campers focus on how quick and easy it is to pitch, but if you’re packing away your tent in rain, wind or heat you’ll wish you had considered a quick getaway in your choice of tent.
Again, packing away a tent largely depends on its size, but for speed alone inflatable tents are the fastest and require the least effort when packing away. The lack of poles means that it is just the canvas you need to pack, which will be a welcome relief in adverse weather conditions.For more tent buying advice, view our tent fabric and materials guide