If you are going to be “roughing it” and you’re not going to rent an RV or a travel trailer, then you will probably end up sleeping in a tent. Since the tent is one of the most important pieces of camping equipment that you will buy when you’re planning a family camping trip, let’s start by looking at how to find the perfect tent for you and your family.
Choosing the right tent can be tough if you’re not all that familiar with camping. The first thing that you need to decide when you’re picking a tent is what size tent you want. Tent sizes range from small individual tents to multi-room tents that have separate areas for sleeping, dressing, and storing gear. Multi-room tents are often recommended for family camping but they are not the right choice for every family.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each different type of tent and not every type of tent is going to perfect for each type of family. As a general rule you might want to consider using a multi-room tent if:
Weight doesn’t matter – Multi-room tents are heavy to carry, so if you’re planning on carrying your tent with you on an extended hike, then you definitely don’t want to get a multi-room tent. But, if you are just going to be unloading the tent from the truck to the campsite, then a multi-room tent wouldn’t be too heavy for you. You might want to pack a small luggage cart with wheels with your multi-room tent though, in case you have to carry your gear a long distance from your car to your campsite.
You have small children – Usually if you have kids younger than eight that are going to be camping with you and that you will need to keep a close eye on then a multi-room tent is a good choice. You and your spouse can still have a separate space in the tent away from the kids but you don’t have to worry about the kids being all alone in another tent.
You have pets – Traveling with the family dog or dogs? Then definitely consider getting a multi-room tent. You probably don’t want to leave your beloved family pets outside all night, or in the car, so if you have a multi-room tent you can keep the dog or dogs with you but in a separate space. That will also eliminate the problem of waking up to dog breath in your face in the middle of night or losing sleep because your dog or dogs want to sleep with you and your spouse.
You have a lot of gear and not a lot of storage space – If you are going to be camping for more than a few days, you will probably end up having a lot of gear. If your family car can’t hold your gear, or you need your gear to be closer to you and more accessible, then using a multi-room tent can give you the extra space that you need to store your gear in a cool, dry place.
Single Room Tents
When you’re buying a single room tent you will usually find tents that say they sleep two people, or four people, or even six people. But, you’ll notice they don’t say anything about fitting that many people in the tent comfortably. A good rule of thumb is take the number of people that the manufacturer says can sleep in the tent and divide it in half. So a two person tent would really sleep one adult comfortably, and perhaps two children. A six person tent would sleep three adults comfortably, and a few children.
Children that are older than eight or ten often like to sleep in their own tent separate from their parents so if your kids are older a couple of single room rents can be a better choice than a multi-room tent as long as you gauge the space correctly.