How to choose your hiking tent ?

The purchase of your hiking tent is a very important part of your hiking package. In order to choose the right one, you have to identify what use, where and when you will sleep with your trekking tent and what kind of transport you will use.


The different uses of your tent

– Roaming

Whether by foot, by bike or by canoe, you will change location every day and set up and dismantle your tent daily. Choose a light, 3-season tent that is easy to set up thanks to the colour coding on the poles. For bikepacking enthusiasts, there are tents whose poles have been shortened to attach the storage bag to the hanger or frame.

– Lightweight touring.

You want to go fast, take the bare essentials and be on the lookout for the slightest gram in your equipment. Ultra light walking adapters will choose tents that are mostly less than 1 kg for two people. Nemo, MSR, Big Agnes, Helsport, Camp each provide products that are both extremely light and high quality. Of course, this minimal weight has a disadvantage with a greater fragility of the canvas. The hoops will not allow to face winter or too windy conditions.



– Expeditions and high mountains.

You will have to choose a 4-season tent whose construction and materials allow you to face snow, storms and heavy precipitation. The Scandinavian manufacturers Hilleberg and Helsport are specialized in expedition tents with a perfect manufacturing quality. Of course, each brand has a 4-season program in its offer.



– Camping

You will stay several days in the same place. The weight of the tent doesn’t matter, what you need is comfort. Space too, and above all height. Tipis can be a good choice of base camp. We have also seen the appearance of suspended tents in recent years. Tentsile is a forerunner on this segment. This is another way of approaching bivouacs.


The shape of the tent

There are 3 forms of tent :

The dome tent :

It has the particularity of being self-supporting, it means that it stands up by itself generally with two crossed arches. If the weather is good, no need to guy it. If the weather is good, there is no need to shroud it. This simplify the bending of the poles and makes the assembly of the tent even faster. For expedition tents, the construction is geodesic in shape with more poles crossing each other for better wind and snow resistance.




The tunnel tent :

It is not self-supporting and must be shrouded to stand. It generally offers a large apse to store your equipment and cook under cover. The walls are more vertical than the domes and offer more interior space. It has good wind resistance and is often used on polar expeditions for its large storage capacity.


The tepee :

Its pyramidal shape and central post make it a comfortable, spacious and often able to shelter 8-10 people. If you add a wooden stove, it will make the perfect base camp.




Number of seats and height

The number of places in your trekking tent will have an impact on the weight and the level of comfort required. If there are two of you who want to be really comfortable and store things in the inner tent, take a 3-person tent. Also check whether the walls are vertical or slanted and how high the tent is.


The strength of the materials and the waterproofing

The waterproofness of tent fabrics is measured in the same way as for clothing in mm or Schmerber. It varies from 1500mm for ultra light tent fabrics to 10000mm for expedition tent floors.

Also check whether the seams are welded or not and whether the fabric has water-repellent treatment or not. A distinction is made between the treatment with a rather basic polyurethane coating and the durable and flexible silicone treatment used on both sides of high-end tents.

The abrasion resistance of the canvas is expressed in deniers (D). The higher the denier is, the stronger the fabric will be. Between 15D for ultra light tents and 40D for 4 season tents.

The poles can be made of fiberglass for cheap tents, carbon for extremely light tents but most often they will be made of aluminum. DAC, which is the main supplier of quality brands, offers different technologies depending on the tents. The diameters are of course larger (10mm instead of 8.7mm) on 4-season tents for more solidity.

Easton has developed Syclone composite fibre hoops which have very good qualities of strength and flexibility. They are used in particular by the MSR brand