Features to consider while choosing 8-person tent
There are some very important features to consider when choosing a tent. The bottom line is you want to find one that’s going to keep you as comfortable as possible. There are a lot of things that contribute to that, so let’s take a closer look at what you should look out for.
One of the main things to consider about tent material is whether or not it’s waterproof. Most tents claim to be waterproof but you’ll find that isn’t always the case. When you’re trying to determine how effective a tent is at keeping you dry, there are some things to look out for. Double-stitched, taped, or inverted seams are a little more effective at keeping water from leaking in. You should also look for reinforced corners which help maintain the integrity of the tent so problems don’t arise in the future.
When thinking about waterproofing, there are two more things to consider. One is the floor. No matter how effective the top of the tent is at keeping out water, you still have to consider the floor. In heavy rains, water runs down the tent and collects with all the other groundwater under and around your tent. A good waterproof floor with sealed seams is needed to keep it outside where it belongs.
You should also consider whether or not you need to get a separate rainfly. Some of these tents come with one while some claim you don’t need one. A rainfly is a good thing to have because it gives you an extra bit of protection. You never know when the weather’s going to shift and you should make sure you’re protected as possible.
Another reason that the material matters is because it determines the time of year you can use the tent. Some of the lightweight tents we chose are better for warmer weather but the canvas ones, like the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe Tent, are thicker and can be used in fall and, in some cases, winter.
The area of the tent tells you exactly how much floor space is inside. This can be a little misleading because you always need to consider the shape to really know what you’re working with. Circular tents can be very spacious but they lack the straight walls and 90-degree angles that make it possible to line up sleeping bags and air mattresses to use up every inch of space. Also, some manufacturers label their products 6-person tents, but when you look at the dimensions, you’ll realise that most of them are suitable for 8 people as well.
Ceiling height might not be important to a lot of people but if you’re tall or have someone in your family who is, it matters. These tents come in a range of heights. The Psyclone Tents Bell Tent is the tallest with a center height of 9’9” while the Coleman 8-Person Instant Tent is one of the shortest at 6’5”. Keep in mind that this is the center height; as you work your way out to the walls, the height often gets significantly smaller.
Doors, Windows, and Ventilation
When it comes to doors, a lot of people prefer a tent with two doors because it allows campers to enter the tent from either side. So, for example, if your gear and sleeping bag are located in the back left corner and there’s a back door, you can come in that way and have easy access to your stuff rather than coming in the front door and walking through everyone else’s stuff. That said, some people might prefer a tent with a single door like the TOMOUNT 8-Person Tent because it controls entry to the tent a bit more and is one less thing to worry about if it starts to rain.
Windows and doors should be covered in mesh to allow air to move through while keeping bugs outside. The more windows you have, the better the ventilation. For example, the Americ Empire Tent for camping has six windows so air flows right through when they’re all open. On the other hand, the Coleman 8-Person Red Canyon Car Camping Tent only has two windows which can mean that the inside of the tent gets a little stuffy.
(You might be wondering if there is any circumstance in which someone might want a tent with fewer windows and there is. In the case of cold weather camping, too many windows can be a bad thing because there are more places for cold air to get in and hot air from your space heater to escape.)
Another thing that affects ventilation is the ceiling. Some of these tents, like the Gazelle 26800 T4 Plus Portable Camping Tent, have open mesh panels that work well letting hot air escape. If you go for a tent like this, though, make sure you choose one with an easy-to-attach rainfly so you don’t get caught in bad weather.
The pack weight is pretty important to transporting your tent to and from camp. We only found one large tent that was appropriate for backpacking with a weight of about 18 pounds. Our other choices are all pretty heavy, weighing from about 30 to about 100 pounds. As you can see, that’s quite a range. If you have regular help carrying the tent from the car to your campsite and back again, the weight isn’t as important. But if you regularly go camping on your own and like using a big tent, make sure you choose one that’s light enough to carry by yourself.
There are a lot of nice features available on some of these tents that don’t necessarily affect how well they hold up or how comfortable they are but are nice things to have to make life a little easier.
Storage is one thing you can never have enough of when you’re camping, especially when you’re in a tent with seven other people. Some of these tents have mesh storage pockets on the walls but if you’re worried about clutter, look for a tent with a gear loft. Gear lofts allow you to stow some gear in compartments near the ceiling instead of taking up valuable space on the floor.
Another feature that might come in handy is a room divider. Some of these tents have curtains that you can hang to separate the tent into two or three different areas. This is great for large families where the kids want some privacy but you don’t feel comfortable letting them have their own tent. It’s also useful for smaller groups because you can designate one area as gear storage and keep the other as a living area.
Electrical access ports are handy, too. They let you feed a power cord through to connect to an outside power source without having to worry about feeding it through a window or door where it can easily get stepped on.
A few of these options have a removable floor that connects to the base of the tent with Velcro. This is a great feature to have, particularly after a week camping in the rain and mud. Cleanup is so easy when you can remove the floor to scrub and spray it with a hose. It’s so much better than crawling around inside the tent trying to scrub it clean.
Prices vary a lot with these tents, from about $130 or so to around $700. So, there’s something for every budget. The more expensive tents are usually made of treated canvas and are a little more durable than other materials and will last a lot longer but they’re also significantly more expensive.