Tents used to be a basic animal skin or cloth held up by a couple of logs. Today’s tents have all kinds of useful features. This is particularly true when it comes to higher quality tents. They tend to have more features. Without knowledge of these features you may not know how to compare tents other than price.
1. Poles – Most poles are made of either aluminum or fiberglass. Overall, aluminum tends to be stronger and doesn’t break as easy, but it depends on the amount of material used. There is also the issue of the ferrule. The ferrule is the piece that goes in-between poles to help them stick together. When a fiberglass pole is used the ferrule is on the outside. When putting the pole through the tent oftentimes the ferrule can get caught. With aluminum style poles the ferrule is on the inside. It makes it easier to slide the pole through the tent.
2. Rain Fly – Most tents have a hole for ventilation at the top of the tent. This hole is used to help prevent condensation from inside the tent. Of course if it starts to rain you would get pretty wet. That’s why a cover over the top of the tent is used. The cover is called the rain fly and it can be taken off and on.
3. Pockets – These are used in tents to keep important things that need to stay dry or easily accessible off the ground. You can think of these as dressers for your tent.
4. Tent Material – Most material is rated in mm or millimeters of thickness. 2000 to 5000 is standard for 3 season tents. Tents that are not as thick may not be able to repel rain and snow as effectively. Some tents come from the factory pre-sealed and coated. Sealing is kind of like waxing your car. Instead of you doing this process initially some tents already come with a sealant over the material and seams.
5. Tub – This is the bottom part of the tent. Better tents will use a more durable material on the bottom of the tent. This is to help prevent rainwater from leaking in as well as protecting the tent from roots or rocks that might tear the bottom of a softer material.
The features above are not always discussed in the typical marketing literature. However, they could make a big difference in how long your tent lasts depending on where and how you use your tent.