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6. Choosing a Camping Tent
Tents come in all shapes and sizes. The right one for you will not necessarily be the right one for
someone else. Hence, the wide variety being sold in stores and catalogs.
Tents are advertised as two man, four man, six man and so on. However, at best, this is the
maximum number of persons you can cram into the tent for sleeping in close company
with no personal gear. This rating method might make sense for backpackers who are
traveling light, but it is terrible for family camping.
Why be cramped? Divide the advertised rating by two, and you will have the real capacity
of the tent. Therefore, most four man tents are really only comfortable for two adults, or
perhaps two adults and two very small children.
You should plan a minimum of 30 square feet of floor space per person. Make this even
higher for longer camping trips, unless reducing weight is important.
Actual length and width are also very important. If you are six feet tall, you will need a
space of at least seven feet in order to stretch out and not be crammed against the tent
sides. Remember that the sides of most tents slope inward. You will need at least two and
one half feet in width just for sleeping. This equals only 17.5 square feet. A "two man" tent
might be advertised which measures five by seven feet.
Adding space for clothing, and a space to stand up without walking on your tent mate, will
result in a more livable situation. Think more like eight by eight feet as a basic two person
family camping tent. This gives you 32 square feet per person. Still, not overly generous.
A ten by ten foot tent is ideal for two adults. You will have enough space for camp cots or
a double air mattress, plus space to stand up when changing clothes.
Kids can fit comfortably in smaller tents. Once they are old enough, about seven or eight,
they will probably want to sleep in a separate tent anyway. Parents will appreciate the