The tent - home away from home for mountain sports, trekking, and camping holidays
Every outdoor enthusiast will buy a tent sooner or later. If you are planning a trekking tour of Scandinavia or a cycling tour across Africa, an expedition to K2, or simply want to spend your holidays outdoors - there is a tent for every possible use. The variety of uses has given rise to a huge selection of completely different types of tents with individual features. Tents are initially differentiated by their structure. There are tunnel tents, dome tents, igloo tents, pitched roof tents and geodesic tents. Another important differentiating factor for tents, is what they are used for. When purchasing a tent, you have the broad choice between tent pros like Hilleberg, Exped or Helsport:
- Expedition tents for the highest functionality and durability
- Hiking tents with low weight and easy handling
- Group tents with plenty of space for people and equipment
- Tepee tents that you can even install tent ovens in
- Family tents with space for the whole family to sleep
- House tents for expanding camper vans and motor homes
- Trekking tents as loyal companions on long tours through the wilderness
- Ultra-lightweight tents for specialists who like things fast, lightweight and flexible
- Bivouac tents as a secure shelter on the most difficult terrain
- Camping tents for the more demanding outdoor fan
Not every tent can be used for every purpose, and the most expensive one is not necessarily the best for a particular use. It is important to maintain an overview in this jungle of different tent offers, and to find the one that's right for you and for the purpose you need. The probably most important criterion when selecting a tent is the number of persons it should hold. If you want to go camping with the family, you won't be needing a 1-man bivy tent. If you are planning a solo tour to the mountains, you won't need an 8-person base camp tent. Even taking a 3-person tent on a 2-people trip will waste space in your touring pack, and will weigh you down unnecessarily.
The most common tent structures - dome tent, geodetic tent, and tunnel tent
In addition to the question how many people should be housed in your tent, the type of tent construction is probably just as important. Tents are split into groups like tunnel tents, dome tents and geodesic tents. The most common tent structure is in all likelihood the dome tent, also known as igloo tent. It has a rectangular footprint and two arched tent rods, which cross over at the center of the roof. This shape allows the tent to stand up on its own, and mostly won't require pegging down, even in adverse weather conditions. Another plus: it can be moved around after it has been pitched. The shape offers a relatively good ratio of footprint versus usable area, with maximum height, however, only reached in the very center.
A dome tent with multiple crossing rods is called a geodetic tent. The additional crossed rods distribute the pressure of wind or snow load more evenly across the multiple rods. Geodetic tents are therefore significantly more robust than regular dome tents. They are therefore used mainly for expeditions, where maximized weather protection under extreme conditions is a key factor. Depending on the amount of baggage to carry, the tent should have a large vestibule, as the tent itself will not offer much space for large backpacks.
Tunnel tents also come in a rectangular shape, the rods, however, do not cross, but run in parallel arches from one side of the tent to the other. The resulting shape is reminiscent of a halved cylinder. Other than the dome tent, this type of tent will not stand on its own, and will have to be pegged down correctly using tent ropes and tent stakes. The benefit here is the significantly better ratio of footprint versus usable floor space. The walls are very steep in a tunnel tent, and the maximum inner height is achieved along its entire length. The types of tents usually have generous vestibules as well, which offer plenty of space for backpacks and equipment.
The purpose of an inner tent
Most tents comprise an outer and an inner tent, but there are also a few single-wall tents on the market, which are particularly light-weight and compact. An inner tent allows moisture created inside the tent by exhalation and sweating to escape. It condenses on the inner surface of the outer tent, and runs off into the ground. Good ventilation in the tent is critical to keep condensation to a minimum.
Not every inner tent is the same either. A tent developed mainly for use in summer will have an inner tent made of a thin mesh fabric. Its main purpose will be keeping mosquitoes at bay, and it will offer very little or no weather protection. Winter-proof Alpine tents, on the other hand, will have a dense nylon fabric inner tent, which offers good heat retention and wind protection.
The most common tent materials
In addition to the main fabric of the tent and its base, the coating is another key factor for the quality of a tent. The material of the tent rods can be another decisive factor for price, weight, and stability. One easy value for comparison here is the water column value. It defines the amount of water pressure a fabric can withstand before water will penetrate. A fabric is considered waterproof from 1500 mm water column. Like with so many things, these technical values alone will not tell you very much - the finish of the seams, premium quality DWR treatment, and covered zips, however, round off a quality tent.
The two materials used most often are polyamide and polyester. Polyamide has the advantage that it has a very high tensile strength and wear resistance. Negative points are its sensitivity to UV rays and the fact that polyamide will stretch when wet - this may require a retensioning of the pegging of the tent. In order to balance out the negative points, top quality tents will have a ripstop finish. The very strong additional seams increase the fabric's tensile strength and prevent stretching. UV resistance is significantly increased with a silicon coating. Polyester is a lot lighter and also UV-stable. It doesn't stretch when it gets wet, and doesn't need to be retensioned. One drawback of polyester is the higher noise levels - polyester will flap in the wind, which can be quite noisy at high wind speeds. Cotton tents are particularly useful for tepee or group tents. Their high weight is a testament to their durability and makes them better for staying up for longer periods of time rather than constant building up and taking down.
It is recommended to use Footprints to protect the tent floor against damage from sharp rocks or roots. These are special tent bases that are usually perfectly fitted to the size of your tent. This hugely improves the durability of your tent. Glass fiber or aluminum are used for the frame. Aluminum tent rods are usually higher quality and more sturdy. There will, of course be differences in quality here too, specifically in terms of alloys used. The rule of thumb here is: the thicker the rods, the more rigid the tent - and of course the heaver the load you must carry.
Our customer service will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have regarding the selection of your perfect tent.