How to choose a family tent

Here's an experiment. Do a quick search for "tent" on Amazon. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Did you get something like 20,000 results? Yeah, me too.

Okay, that makes choosing a tent a little overwhelming. Especially if you're a rookie camper (or an experienced camper and a rookie parent). When planning a family camping trip, you have to consider what will provide enough room, adequate shelter, reasonable temperature control, and low-hassle setup. Some things to consider when tent shopping...

Room. How many people will be camping with you? Count babies and toddlers as full people. Their stuff will make up for their lack in size. Make sure you account for your furry campers, too.

Ease of setup. If it's hard to assemble, you're going to spend way too much time trying to entertain the kiddos while acrobatting your way through tent set up. Or worse, something may inadvertently get connected incorrectly, causing a middle-of-the-night collapse. No-nonsense setup is important.

Water resistance. If you've got kids, look for a tent with a full rain fly, period. But that's not all there is to weather protection. Check not only user reviews, but also ratings based on rain-room testing. You'll find descriptions such as, tested no leakage under 21,000 inches of rain, or something to that effect.

Ventilation. Make sure you can zip up when it's chilly and let some air in when it's hot.

Seasons. If you're camping with kids, you're not heading to Everest. A 3-season tent will serve you just fine. Four-season tents are equipped for severe weather conditions (snow, heavy winds), which you're not likely to encounter Spring through Fall.

Brand. We don't like to pay for brand names, but when it comes to camping gear, realize that the big-dog companies got there because they produce high-quality equipment. In addition, better brands will carry better warranties and better customer service if something's not quite right. Of course, we don't want to rely on a name. Check reviews too.

If you're curious, we use the Mountain Hardware Habitat 5, and it's been very good to us!

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