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How to Choose a Tent

Tents come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, each with its own design features and uses. This short guide will help you learn how to choose a tent and make sense of the terminology, narrow your search and find the best tent for your specific purposes. 

With so many tents to choose from it can be difficult to know where to begin. You can start narrowing your choice by considering the following:

Size of the tent

There are many factors that come into play when choosing the size of your tent. You’ll need to think carefully about the following:

  • How many people will be sleeping in it?
  • Will you require a lot of porch space?
  • Would you prefer more headroom?
  • Will you need to store equipment in the tent?


The environment you pitch your tent can have a huge impact on your tent. You’ll need to consider where you will be pitching the tent as some tents will not be suited for certain places. For example, will you be pitching your tent at:

  • Mountainous areas
  • Lowland areas
  • Campsites

Weight and pack size

If you are heading on a 15-mile hike before pitching your tent, chances are you want a nice lightweight pack. Consider the following before choosing a tent:

  • Will you be carrying it far?
  • Would you prefer less weight?
  • Does it need to fit into your rucksack?
  • How spacious is the boot of your car?


When you choose your tent, one of the most important factors to consider is the conditions it might face. If you want to head out in any weather, whatever the season, you need to pick a tent that’s up to the job.

  • What weather will you face – consider the countries you’ll visit and the time of year.
  • The time of year – will it be busy in the school holidays?’
  • The ground conditions – sand, hard surface etc.

All of our Terra Nova and Wild Country brand tents can be used with confidence in a wide range of conditions, though each has been designed to perform best in specific situations. To help you select your tent, we tend to use categories such as the ones below, to give users an idea of its suitability for different conditions:

  • 3 SEASON Family/Group use – Strong, stable designs with space for 2 to 6 people in most weathers with a sheltered site advisable in poor conditions. A large porch area and easy pitching typify these tents.
  • 3 SEASON BACKPACKING – Lightweight and super lightweight designs with a small packed size. Suitable for upland use, but may require a sheltered site in moderately strong winds.
  • 4 SEASON BACKPACKING – Strong, lightweight designs, with some snow shedding ability. Suitable for year-round use in most conditions, but may require a sheltered site in high winds.
  • 4 SEASON MOUNTAIN – Strong, stable designs suitable for extended use in severe weather conditions, will withstand heavy snow-loading and strong winds.
  • HIGH ALTITUDE – Lightweight, stable, single-skin designs suitable for high mountain use and polar expeditions.

Note that these categories are for guidance only.  If you are unsure, we always recommend seeking advice from a specialist retailer or simply contact us directly.

Shop Terra Nova or Wild Country tents.