How to Purchase the Right Tent

Purchase a tent that fits and make it last forever with these key tips.

Buying Get the space you need.

>> Floor area Check dimensions, not just square footage, and get in. Tall guys need a longer layout; stout hikers need more elbow room. Shopping alone for a two-person? Ask a sales clerk to get in with you.

>> Peak height Headroom depends on the wall slope (hubbed or short "eyebrow" poles often make steeper sidewalls). Tents with consistent headroom from end to end are great for foul-weather card games. Ultralight designs–often with low-ceilings or sloped at the foot–are better for sleeping than sitting.

>> Vestibules Consider shape: High-roofed, rectangular designs offer more dry storage and a safe place to cook in wind and rain.

Storing Moisture is the enemy.

>> Dry it After each trip, set your tent up in the yard on a sunny day to let every drop of water evaporate.

>> Roll or stuff? Experts agree that the key is to vary the method to avoid creating permanent wrinkles or fold lines, which can lead to cracks in the coatings.