Why Should You Take Up Tent Camping?
First and foremost let’s get some basics out of the way. Why tent camping? Well, if anything one would ask why not? In order to enjoy the outdoors, by this we mean make a home away from home, you basically have a couple choices. You can setup camp in a RV or some form of mobile home. Or you can setup a tent! Technically, there’s a third choice for the hardcore which is basically sleeping under a tarp…
Personally, I am not quite ready to enjoy the outdoors sleeping under a tarp or on a browse bed. Let’s rephrase that actually, I am ALWAYS “prepared” to sleep under a tarp as it’s part of standard carry in my pack. But that’s reserved for an emergency or survival situation. Or for those that are simply hardcore.
There is however a much better “feeling” of being with nature when in a tent. You can literally feel the temperature, wind and weather as it changes. You can also hear things that are long lost in an insulated RV. There’s also something primal about not having a fridge, stove and all the usually conveniences we take for granted.
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- Why Should You Take Up Tent Camping?
- Tent Camping Means Access to Backcountry
- What is Tent Camping?
- How to Buy a Camping Tent?
- Types of Camping Tents that We Own
- REVIEW:Nemo Aurora Highrise 6-p Camping Tent
- Tent Camping
Tent Camping Means Access to Backcountry
Whether you are camping in backcountry or at a reserved camping site, the choice is personal and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Backcountry camping is solitude. You become one with nature, listening to only the nearby wildlife, water flowing and maybe a train in the far distance. Yes, there always seems to be a dreadful train no matter where you are. But that’s ok, that train can be your best friend if you ever get lost.
What may make some people weary or uncomfortable are the sounds of a branch breaking or worse, the sound of distant (or not so distant!) steps. This is why there are those that prefer camping at reserved campground sites. This type of camping setting usually has people around you which can be quite comforting. I find that provincial parks are usually clean, noise levels are low and there are usually many offerings such as: play ground, maintained beach for swimming, canoeing, rentals, hiking/biking trails, and so on. More importantly, they have just the right amount of privacy without the feeling of being anti-social:) And before I forget, don’t worry. You’ll sleep just fine on day 2 no matter where you are. Your exhaustion from lack of sleep on day 1 will override any fears you may have…
With respect to backcountry camping, aside from swimming and hiking, what you bring with you is what your activity level will be. For example, bring a canoe and you have greater access to venture further in the water or it gives you an avenue to move your camping spot and perhaps try out island camping instead. The point is, tent camping is what grants you access to places no RV will ever go.
What is Tent Camping?
Well, a tent is basically a portable fabric shelter with rigid framework. The majority of tents are usually anchored with stakes using guylines. This keeps the tent from tipping or blowing away. This shelter is where you are going to sleep or hang out if the weather turns on you.
The great thing about tent camping is that you are pretty much good to go wherever you see fit – whether that be in your backyard, backcountry, a campground, off an ATV trail, river side or so on. The choice of spots are virtually endless! Provided of course you setup somewhere where you are legal to do so.
Don’t forget, the term “camp” which is right inside the word camping. You don’t want to be cooking in your tent, it’s not safe. In fact you don’t want any food in there so as to not attract wild animals. And so the tent is one element of “camp” when tenting. I highly suggest you also pack a tarp as well. Now you’ll also have an area sheltered from rain, sun or whatever extremes are tossed at you. Then you can cook outdoors and do your chores no matter what the weather.
How to Buy a Camping Tent?
There are so many things to consider when purchasing your camping tent, such as:
- How many people/pets will this tent need to sleep?
- What season are you planning to use the tent?
- There are 3-season tents as well as 4 season.
- The conversion from 3 to 4 is generally an add on layer of fabric to seal things up.
- There are even tents dedicated for winter.
- Are you backpacking or transporting?
- Tents made specifically for backpacking are substantially lighter (and or smaller) so as to not weigh you down when hiking.
- Hiking vastly reduces options when compared to let’s say overloading in a Jeep.
- What’s your budget?
- Under normal circumstances we have choices in the style, shape, colour and quality of tent.
- The choices you make will reflect in the price. For example, Coleman, by example, makes many budget friendly camping tents that can last for many years. They may not have the qualities of a premium tent but they get the job done and gets you outdoors.
- Yes, water is your best friend and keeps you alive. It’s also your worst enemy when camping. Misery is when your clothes, bed, gear and everything that comprises your home away from home is soaking wet. In fact, during that rainy but cold season, it can be deadly.
Types of Camping Tents that We Own
Howling Moon Commanche – 8 Person
In our arsenal we have the Howling Moon Commanche camping tent which is canvas on thick aluminum poles. This camping tent is massive. It is said to sleep 6, but I am pretty confident that you could fit two more comfortably and still have room for your belongings. The tent is divided into three rooms: 2 bedrooms and a main room. Each room has two sets of screened windows.
It comes with a fly (a piece of material that goes over the tent to shelter it from rain) large enough to double as a front awning. Being a canvas tent, it is extremely breathable which is the hallmark of canvas. It’s also water resistant (not proof as it always leaks a little), That “resistance” however only comes as long as you remember to reapply waterproofing every year or two. Canvas requires a lot more care and maintenance and is not for everyone.
The tent needs to be transported by a large vehicle as it does not fit into a small car. It is also extremely heavy and takes quite a bit of time to put together. It renders the tent too cumbersome for general tent camping. Based on size and difficulty alone, this tent is perfect for the backyard, a hunt camp or any sort of situation where it will see use over at least a week. Otherwise, it’s not worth the effort.
Canadian Military Crew Tent – 4 Person
Our other tent is a military issue 4-man Crew Tent. I love this tent but my family absolutely hates it. The 4-man Crew Tent is an A-frame style meaning it looks exactly like an ‘A’ (steep roof line). This is generally an old school shape for tents and no long popular in the market – despite a following that still swears by them.
The tent has two large screened openings and a very short tub which is perfect for looking out. You maybe asking yourself, what is a tub? A tub or bathtub refers to the floor of a tent. This is usually a thicker fabric that curves up to meet the walls or mesh of the tent. Its purpose is to keep the water from coming into the tent, particularly as it splashes down on the sides. Personally, I despise when the tub is too tall as your view is cutoff should you wish to lay down in the tent and be able to look out at the amazing scenery you just drove 4 hours to get to.
As with the previous tent, this one comes with a rainfly as well. Most tents by the way are designed to work with a fly. This particular one just happens to be made of nylon which is a far superior material than polyester. In fact, nylon is usually reserved for very high end tents. The fly on this model is also completely waterproof. The reason my family hates this tent is that it is extremely dark inside and I get it, I really do.
The army crew tent is a perfect example of an overloading tent. Meaning it’s fairly big and heavy so you’ll only use it in places with car access. Technically, it was designed for use by tank crews. It however sets up VERY quickly and ticks off all the boxes of what an impeccable tent should do. It’s just unfriendly, maybe even ugly in its military OD green. Unlike the typical surplus items, it comes with a premium price tag for a new one.
Coleman Galileo – 3 Person
Our last tent is the Coleman Galileo 3-person Camping tent. This one is my family’s favourite as it is a super bright, dome shaped and takes less than 10 minutes to setup. We have four people sleep in it comfortably. Well, until the kids grew and now four is a bit tight, especially when one of them sleeps like a drunken octopus who lost its keys. Specifically though and to gauge size, it easily fits a queen sized air mattress.
The Galileo is a very breathable tent. This is a far more important attribute than most people realize. We once had to return a larger Coleman tent we really liked, specifically their Weathermaster model as NO AIR seemed to move through it. It was choking on a hotter day. Back to the Galileo, it can get a bit cool at night which can be easily solved by staking the fly a bit closer to the tent. Basically, slowing the airflow. Or more simply by throwing on an extra layer of clothes. All in all this tent has held up through some wicked rains, strong winds, repeated use and even lengthier setups. If tent camping on a budget, this one is a winner. Ours paid for itself a long time ago yet it keeps going strong.
Nemo Aurora Highrise 6-p Camping Tent
Since our children are quite the active sleepers, we knew it was time to invest into a larger camping tent. We were looking for something roomy, bright, breathable and weather resistant. There are no guarantees by the way that any tent can withstand a weather situation. Price and trusted brands are usually a good indicator of what to expect, but by no means a guarantee.
Trusted Brands in Tent Camping
The global supply chain issues are causing quite the disturbance and tents didn’t go unscathed. Where you once had a choice from a sea of choices, you are now reduced to a handful of options based on what is actually on the shelf right now. Higher end tents are usually found in the smaller ma’ and pa’ shops or at retailers that are not limited to carrying just their own or discount brands. For brands like Eureka, MSR, NEMO, Big Agnes and so forth, the independent shops are a good place to start looking. With price at this level of quality, the going rate seems to be about $100 per person.
Size is the Main Consideration
A 4-person tent was extremely difficult to find this summer. Probably because it’s a popular size and likely to sell out first. By no surprise, it was the right size of tent for us and all within the right budget. With a short timeline thanks to un upcoming trip, what we did find is the NEMO Aurora Highrise 6-person camping tent.
This tent comes in a bright and fun colour scheme of atoll and oasis (fancy terms for bright blues) and a really funky floor design. It is extremely comfortable as there is plenty of room for people, pets and gear. The best part is that you can actually stand up and stretch as the tent is 76.77’ tall (1.95 m). The entire floor area of this tent is 83.09 square feet (7.72 square metres), which comfortably fits two queen airbeds!
Weight comes in at 15.89 pounds (7.21 kg) which is still suitable for backpacking as it falls within the recommended carry weight of 2 to 3 lbs (.9 to 1.4 kg) per person.
Keep in mind, as size goes up, so does weight. Looking back, we are happy we were forced to go up a size. It just provides that extra room (which really means extra comfort) to stretch out and even conveniently house our gear. Not to mention future growth of children.
Nightlight Pocket and Storage
Inside the tent, you will find a nightlight pocket which is where you can place your headlamp or a small light source. The pocket is made from a light-diffusing fabric which removes blue light. This is perfect for those that hate sleeping in darkness as it tones the headlamp down enough to act as a night light. And it does this efficiently enough satisfying those that like to sleep in the dark. In other words, everyone is happy.
Step outside and this nightlight pocket gives the tent a nice ambiance. The glow can be spotted from quite the distance, making the tent a homing device for finding your way back to camp. If you think that’s not important, nighttime can be so dark in remote areas that you wouldn’t find your hands if they weren’t attached. Especially on those nights with no moon.
There are also four large corner pockets for personal effects. Not to be discounted, the amount of off-floor storage for your most precious or frequently needed items is incredible.
Features and Specs
The main canopy body, two large windows and full sized doors are made from a no-see-um fabric mesh which allows for great air ventilation while keeping the tiniest of bugs out. The shape of the fly creates a vestibule in front of both doors keeping your camping gear and shoes safe and dry. And yes, there is even a vestibule for the back door! Believe me, we tested it over multiple days in the rain on its inaugural trip and they work.
The fly fabric is 68-denier polyester coated with polyurethane and has a waterproofness of 1200 mm. The canopy fabric is also a 68-denier polyester with nylon no-see-um mesh and the floor is a 150-denier polyester coated in polyurethane as well. The waterproofness of the floor is 1500 mm.
Setup is quick and easy! Our first day of camping was a bright sunny day followed by two days of heavy rain. Not the ideal weather for tent camping, in fact those are the days I feel like saying just get a RV. But this is BushLife and even I need a reminder here and there to suck it up, it’s only rain. It definitely gave us the opportunity to see how well the NEMO Aurora Highrise fares. After two days of heavy rains, I must say that there was NOT ONE drop within the camping tent. It held up to the rain and the strong winds that were coming in from the north.
The NEMO Aurora Highrise is a 3-season camping tent and comes with a lifetime warranty! That level of warranty is comforting anytime you hand over cash for some better products. If you are in the market for a new camping tent in a 4 or 6 person configuration, I would highly recommend the NEMO Aurora Highrise.
Unfortunately, if there is one complaint, it does not come with a footprint (protects the floor of the tent itself). There is an option to buy the footprint separately. While that is really convenient, you can just make your own using vapour barrier in an effort to help the budget.
With the right gear, tent camping opens you up to new experiences, adventures and is highly enjoyed by many including ourselves. We hope this post helps you make an informed decision and gets you on your way to enjoying your next outdoor adventure.
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