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Choosing a Tent

Choosing the right tent for the adventure is one of the most important decisions a camper can make. Most manufacturers’ range of tents extends from sub-3lb single person shelters, to ultra-strong four-season mountaineering tents, to gigantic campground tents that provide tons of living space. When selecting the appropriate tent, one must determine their personal threshold of weight and strength and intended usage. Some of the factors that contribute to a tent's strength and weight are pole type, pole structure, and tent structure.

I. Pole Type: aluminum or fiberglass; each pole material has advantages.
Fiberglass poles: While not as durable or light as aluminum poles, offer a very economical choice to the car camper or infrequent backpacker.
Aluminum poles: Offer a very high strength-to-weight ratio, are long lasting, and are durable to handle heavy snow loads or strong winds.

II. Pole Structure: More poles, and especially more pole intersections, make a tent stronger but can increase the weight significantly. Pole diameter also influences pole strength and performance. If the most common campsites will be sheltered, the customer could consider a two-pole tent to save costs and potentially weight. If the average campsite will be mostly exposed to the elements, then the customer may want to consider a tent with a stronger pole structure and or poles.

III. Tent Structure: Free-standing vs. Non-freestanding tents
A great way to reduce weight is by using a non-freestanding tent. These tents can be a lightweight solution for solo adventures or weight-conscious backpackers. Generally low in profile, these tents are often choices for mountaineers in highly exposed areas.

Courtesy of Kelty

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