How to buy your first tent like a PRO!

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Ready for a camping trip? Make sure you’ve got the right equipment to stay comfortable and safe. Tent is one of the essential camping gears, and we know buying the very first tent can be frustrating and yet exciting. (Just like buying your first car!) The good news is, selecting a tent is not as complicated as buying a car although having a bit of experience and skills would be helpful when searching the best suited tent among so many different types.

Dome tent with flare in the background

Before buying a tent

Here’s the TOP 5 FACTORS you should consider before buying a new tent:

1. Capacity of use

You do not want to wake up with stiff legs or arms due to restricted capacity in the tent. Firstly, ask yourself how many people/things you expect to accommodate in a tent. As most of the tents are designed to have a tight fit, it is always recommended to spare two additional berths for more comfortable interior space, e.g. a 3 or 4-person tent will be more suitable for 2 persons.

couple laying inside tent in front of mountain view

2. Condition of use

The weather in Malaysia is hot and humid all year round, therefore ventilation is imperative. A three-season tent with two doors and two vestibules will be a good option as it is commonly designed for relatively temperate conditions like summer and rainy season. The embedded mesh panels improve internal air circulation which can provide bugs protection as well. Not only for the air flow, the two doors design makes entry and exit easy.

green grass field under gray sky photo

In Malaysia, sometimes you will expect a sudden shower of rain, especially during monsoon season. You should check the tent’s material closely. Materials like nylon and polyester are waterproof, but they can deteriorate over time through sunlight exposure. By taking both properties of ventilation and waterproof into consideration, a double wall tent which is constructed of tent body and waterproof flysheet, will be a better option compared to a single wall tent. Single wall tent generally weighs less but it’s gonna mess you up on a windy day. Also, don’t overlook the quality of zips. Try to zip and unzip a few times to check if it moves easily and does not trap on fabrics. Ideally, the zip should be made of non-rusting material.

3. Weight of tent

If you are planning for a mountain camping, carrying extra weight during the hike is torture. Justify the weight and type of tent based on the location where you often camp. Ultralight tent might save you lots of energy while traveling but make sure it is made of rigid material that provides support and stability on a rainy day. Look out the balance between weight and durability. A popup tent could be one of the options but it can be too bulky to carry around.

man in black shirt standing on cliff facing sea of clouds photo

4. Easy to use

You don’t need a troop of soldiers to help you put up the tent. A Dome Tent is generally recommended as it can be easily set up and folded down, even if it is your first use. It weighs approximately 2kg and its webbing structure helps withstand a fair amount of wind and rain. You can stand tall in the centre, but the slanted wall can limit the headroom which makes it less comfortable compared to cabin tents. 

man in blue jacket sitting on green grass field near gray tent during daytime photo

5. Your budget

You will probably get very excited about your first camping trip, but chill. Don’t spend all your monthly savings on a new hobby and end up leaving it deserted. If you’re on a tight budget or new to camping, you may consider to borrow or rent the equipment. You will be able to rent a tent from most of the organized campsites. To purchase, the price range of a 3-season dome tent for 3 persons with decent quality is roughly around  RM100-200.

spilled coins from the jar

Beginner’s tent suggestion

  1. Quechua MH100 – 3 person tent
  2. Quechua Arpenaz Fresh & Black – 3 person tent
  3. Naturehike Cloud Up 2 – 2 person tent
  4. Gelert Scout 2 person tent
  5. MIS Andes 3/4 person tent
  6. Himalaya HT9156 2 man dome tent

Check this out if extra budget is available!

Accessories – Helps keep your tent extra safe and clean.

Flysheet
Consider buying a stand-alone flysheet especially for those of you who dislike muddy puddles. A stand-alone flysheet is a waterproof cover that helps protect your tent from elements, like rain, wind and fallen branches. Check the product details before buying. Some tents might come together with a tarp. 

blue and white tent on brown ground during daytime photo

Groundsheet
It is normally made of waterproof material. Can used as a footprint/groundsheet to protect the tent against abrasive objects and moisture.

Green tent on a beach

While buying a tent

Terminology you might get confused while looking at the label:

Footprint – Also known as groundsheet. A large piece of fabric which is made of waterproof and friction resistant material. It can be placed at the bottom of the tent to protect the tent floor against dirt and damage.

Flysheet – Also known as rainfly.  A waterproof outer fabric covers the tent body to prevent it from rain and wind. A stand-alone fly which is strung up using ropes, may cover only the top of the tent that is used as an external shelter for better protection.

Tarp – Made of waterproof material which can be used as either footprint or rain shelter.

Poles – A long stick that supports a tent and holds it upright, also known as the “bone structure” of a tent. It can be made of a range of materials like aluminium, fiberglass, aluminium and carbon which have different degrees of durability. Different types of poles are suited to different types of tents.  

Pole Clips – Small plastic hooked clips that connect the tent body to external poles structure.

Pegs – A tiny bolt driven into the ground to fasten the tent in position.

Guy Ropes – A rope connected a tent to its pegs for providing tension and securing the tent on the ground.

Gear loft – A small mesh panel that is hooked at the ceiling of the tent that creates a storage space for small belongings.  

Vestibules – A sheltered area along the sides or front of a tent. It provides extra storage space outside the tent but still under a rainfly.   

Mesh panel – Insert netting which is attached to tent wall for better ventilation and insect protection.  

After buying a tent

For a safe and less-hassle trip, it is always recommended to pitch your tent before departing to your campsite. Click on below link for a simple tutorial on how to set up a dome tent.

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