How Big Should My Camping Tent Be?

One of the most important considerations when choosing a tent is size. How big should your tent be? Typically, tents are marked according to how many people they are intended to hold. There are two-person tents, three-person tents, four-person tents, and so on. Aside from the tent’s rating in terms of how many people it is intended to hold, you have to take into account that you not only have to put people in your tent but all your gear–unless, of course, the idea that wild animals will rummage through your tent appeals to you.

The ratings don’t always reflect the actual capacities of the tents in question. A two-person tent in the real world might barely hold one person if they include their gear. A four-person tent can give you room for two campers, all their gear, and plenty of elbowroom. A handy rule of thumb when choosing what size tent you will buy is to add two to the total number of campers you will want to have in the tent, and you are likely to have adequate space. For example, if you have a family of four, pick a six-person tent.

Don’t buy a tent without seeing it first. If you can borrow or rent the tent overnight before you make up your mind to buy it, that may be a good way to go. Some sporting goods stores set them up in their showrooms if you can’t do that. Consider size, comfort, quality of construction and most importantly, the ease of setting up and taking down.

Choose your tent according to the kind of camping you will enjoy. For the more dedicated, hardcore campers, survival camping is the way to go. It entails setting off into the wilderness with very little beyond their hiking boots. Many survival campers use a tent, and don’t feel like it compromises their survival credibility.

Your tent should be chosen in light of what you like to do in the wild. Campers often camp as part of some larger recreational plan, which usually involves activities like hiking, hill walking, climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, swimming, and fishing. In tandem with camping, hiking can either be done as an extended backpacking journey, or as a series of day hikes radiating from a central campsite.

Do you plan on going on foot into the wilderness, or by car to a permanent camp? Your tent choice should reflect your destination. Many people vacation in permanent camps, with facilities such as toilets, water and electricity hookups, and even swimming pools. Others live off the land, more or less and camp in the wilderness. People who take this approach have a moral responsibility to leave their campsite better than they found it and generally have a profound obligation to engage in environmentally sound practices.

Campers come in all ages, abilities, and degrees of ruggedness. There are tents designed to accommodate all these different levels of camper and their various approaches.