How to Choose a Good Camping Tent – Features

Family camping tent inspectors
        Family camping tent features

What Makes a Good Camping Tent Good
Camping tent features you should look for.

Picking a good camping tent depends mostly on your camping needs, and isn’t always an easy choice; that $100 Walmart tent looks as good as that $500 North Face tent, so which one is right for you?

Before you can even begin to consider tent choices, you need to determine what kind of tent would best suit you, your family, and your camping style.

Now, the question is … what features make a good camping tent?

Family and Multi-person Camping Tent Structural features:
Quality Construction and Materials:

Camping Tent tub floor
Tub-style Tent Floor
  • Tub Flooring – Tub flooring means the tent floor is one piece of material, with no seams, and it typically extends approx. 6″ up each side. This is a waterproofing feature. With no seams there is much less chance of water leaks or seepage from the ground, or from water run-off at the tent corners.
  • Tent Poles – Aluminum tent poles are stronger and more durable than carbon composite or fiberglass poles. They are a little heavier, but since most family tent camping is at drive-up sites, this slight weight difference is more than compensated by the extra strength and durability of the aluminum tent poles.


  • Tent Fabrics – High-denier ripstop-nylon fabric is the choice for most quality family tents. It means the fabric is very tightly woven, and cut or rip resistant. Cheaper, thinner “discount store” tent materials will feel thin and may not be true ripstop nylon – be sure to check the labels.


  • Reinforced seams and stitching
Camping Tent seam stitching
Good Seam Stitching
Camping Tent seam reinforcement
Good Stress-point Reinforcement
  • Tent stitching and material reinforcement are very important. And easy to spot. All stress-points should be reinforced, and all seam stitching should be at least 4 layers thick. That would be each piece doubled over before it was stitched.

Cheap tent stitching and material
Cheap tent material and stitching
  • If you see seam stitching and reinforcements like those in this photo – you are looking at a very cheaply made tent that will not be a bargain, no matter how cheap you buy it. The tent material is too thin to provide any reinforcement in the seams or stress point areas. You will be lucky if a tent like this lasts more than one camping trip.
  • Loops, straps, and pockets – A good family camping tent will have straps and loops everywhere; hold-back straps for the door(s) and windows, loop straps for tent pole attachment and guy-lines. If it can be opened or tied – it should have a hold-back or loop strap.

    Accessory pockets are a nice touch too. They offer places to put small items, like; wallets and flashlights, and such.


  • The Rainfly – A full-coverage fly offers better weather protection than roof-only styles. Smaller roof-only rainflys let water drip down onto the sides of the tent, or at the base perimeter – to be soaked up by corner seams.


  • Vestibules – A good family or multi-person camping tent will have a front entrance vestibule – to allow tent traffic to go in and out without exposing the entrance directly to the weather. They are also handy for storing wet or excess gear, without cluttering the interior space of the tent.


  • Zippers – This feature is very important! Check out the door zippers, (and window zippers if they have them), if they look like the ones on your trousers, (or skirt), than they will be more prone to breaking and binding and quickly make you regret your tent choice. Double zippers that let you open a flap from either direction are a good indicator of quality.
Camping Tent zipper
Good Quality Tent Zipper
The image above shows a good quality tent zipper. Notice the large sturdy zipper teeth and pull, and the reinforced zipper tape and seam stitching. Also note there are no “crowding” material flaps to get stuck in the zipper or zipper pull.

Livability and Tent Set-up Features:

These are the features that are particular to your type of tent camping, and tent needs.

  • Tent and Pack Size – The first consideration – tent size, is related to your family size and preferences. Such as; do you want one large “big room” tent, or do you want one with “rooms” or even add-on rooms. Pack size refers to how big the packed tent is. Small cars and other restricted transportation issues could make pack size a big deal.


  • Head Room, or Peak-height – Obviously this refers to the stand-up room in the tent. Is the roof tall enough to stand up in most of the interior, or only at the center of the center room. Is this important to you, or only a bonus?


  • Ease of Access – Does the tent have one door or two? What shape is the door, and how easy is it to zip open and shut? Cabin-style tents tend to shine in this area.


  • Windows and Ventilation – Air flow inside the tent is a big deal, and not just in hot weather climates. Mesh panels are often used in the ceiling, doors and windows. This allows views and enhances cross-ventilation to help manage condensation.


  • Ease of Set-Up – A tent’s pole structure usually determines how easy or hard it is to set-up. Fewer poles allow faster setups. It’s also easier to attach poles to clips than it is to thread them through “continuous” pole sleeves. Many tents offer a combination of both clips and short pole sleeves in an effort to balance strength, ventilation and setup ease.


Tent Tip: If this is your first tent. Go slow! Don’t buy a big deluxe super-expensive one first. How can you be sure what you will like? Or even if you will continue camping. It is smarter to buy a moderately priced tent that fits your needs now. You can always upgrade to a better one once you are more sure of what you want.

When you are shopping for your first family or other camping tent, make sure price isn’t the only thing you consider.

A good tent is an investment both in future years of service and your camping enjoyment.

When you have decided on a tent style, and your budget, then it’s time to check out the construction and features to make sure that good deal you found really is a good deal – not a cheap bargain tent you will regret. Probably sooner rather than later.

NOTE: The pictures below show three common tent styles, but they are also Amazon links you can use to see the specifics about each kind of tent, and most importantly, real customer reviews.

See examples of tent styles:

Family Camping Tent
Family Tents

Large and roomy with multiple rooms or one big one
Dome/Umbrella Tents
Dome/Umbrella Tents

Sizes; 2 to 10-person popular 3-season tent style
Trail Tents

Wedge or Trail Tents are light 1 or 2-man tents

Of course these are not the only tent styles available. They were just picked to give you an idea of general designs. You will find dozens of variations of these styles.

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