How to choose a tent

Buying a tent is a big investment. Generally, it’s the single most expensive piece of outdoor kit. With good reason. There are practical aspects: it provides you with shelter and a safe place to rest and recuperate before continuing your adventure. Then there are the feel-good factors: you can spend more quality time in nature, wake up to five-star views and be the master of your own space. So you want to choose the right tent for your needs from the get go. Ask yourself these questions before you make any decisions.

When will you use it?

Not all tents are created equal. Some are developed for spring/summer/autumn use, others for tougher winter conditions. Because of the extra toughness and sturdiness required for winter tents they are heavier, bulkier and more expensive. So it pays to think about how and when you’ll use your tent.

Our tents are divided up into three-season (spring/summer/autumn) tents and four-season tents.

Three-season tents use lighter fabrics and have fewer reinforcements, whereas four-season tents have stronger guy-lines and poles, more reinforcements and thicker fabrics.

Our tents are divided into three ranges, or families as we call them. Our Abisko range comprises lighter tents, with streamlined details and mosquito-safe vents. Keb tents are a little stronger, more resistant to water and come with larger tent pegs. Our most technical tent is the Polar Endurance 3. This is designed for winter camping (although it can be used year-round). It comes with snow skirts and lockable snow vents. It’s also our strongest and most durable tent.

Where will you use it?

At Fjällräven we have two different tent shapes to choose between: dome and tunnel. As you’d expect, both have their pros and cons and your choice should be based largely on where (and how) you’ll be using your tent.

Dome tents are sturdy and free-standing, so they don’t need guy-lines and pegs to stay upright. But, of course, if it’s windy you’ll want to attach the tent. But this does give you options about where you camp; you can camp on rocky terrain, for example. And they are less sensitive to changes in wind direction, ideal if you’re camping in exposed areas. There’s also a little more headroom, giving dome tents a more spacious feel. However, the vestibule – the area at the front, outside of the inner tent, but covered by the outer tent – is smaller than in tunnel tents and because dome tents require more poles they’re generally a little heavier than tunnel tents, so less appealing for long treks.

Tunnel Tents on the other hand needs guy-lines and pegs to stay upright and in place, but they offer better weight to space ratios – largely because they have fewer poles – so ideal if you’re trekking as a group. And fewer poles doesn’t just help make them lighter. It ensures they’re easier to assemble too. While there is less head room in a tunnel tent compared to a dome tent, the vestibule is larger, which is ideal if you’ve got lots of gear. Some of our larger tents even come with two vestibules, one at the back and the other at the front. However, tunnel tents are more susceptible to changes in wind direction, so stormy nights can be ‘exciting’.

Who will use it?

Are you a solo camper or do you prefer heading outdoors with friends and family? Do you like lots of space or would you rather get cosy? We have one-person, two-person, three-person and four-person tents, but because the size of a tent is directly linked to its weight, you also need to ask yourself whether you’re going to carry your tent over longer distances. Based on your answers you’ll probably need to make a compromise between weight and size. The bigger the tent, the heavier it will be. If you’re able to drive up or walk just a short distance to your campsite then weight isn’t too much of an issue. But if you plan to trek longer distances with it, trust us, you’ll want to think carefully about how much it weighs.

The little extras (That make the difference)

Most of the time all you’ll need is your tent (complete with pegs and poles). But in certain conditions there are some extras that can ensure you get your best night’s sleep in the great outdoors.

A mesh inner tent is ideal in tropical, rain free locations. Of course, you can use it inside the tent as extra protection from insects (it is called an “inner tent” after all), but you can also use it as a stand-alone tent when it’s really warm. Air can flow freely, but pesky mosquitos are thankfully unable to get in.
A tarp offers another layer of protection. You can tie it to trees above your tent to provide extra rain protection. When used together with a mesh inner tent you’ll fall asleep knowing you won’t get wet, too hot or bitten by bugs.

A tent footprint is basically an extra tent floor that’s been reinforced. It therefore provides extra protection, ideal for rocky locations, and can help extend the lifetime of your tent.