Trekking tents

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What criteria should you take into account when choosing an ultralight trekking tent?

Whether you're planning a week of summer climbing with your family, or a winter ascent of Mont Blanc, your shelter needs will differ. Whatever your adventure, your tent will be your temporary home. So it's essential to carefully choose a tent that meets all your requirements. Whether you' re looking for a one-person, two-person or three-person tent, a tent suitable for seasons 3 or 4, or a tunnel or dome style tent, if you're off on a few days' adventure and you're undecided about your choice of backpacking tent, AlpinStore is here to provide advice on how to choose the right tent for you in terms of setup, waterproofing, habitability, and much more.

What are the different types of tent?

Tunnel tents

The tunnel tent is made up of several parallel poles, giving it an elongated shape and reduced height. You can sit inside, but you can't stand up.

The advantages of the tunnel tent are its lightness and very good wind resistance, thanks to its low height and specific shape.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. First of all, the tunnel tent is not self-supporting, which means it requires pegs or guy wires to stay upright. You won't be able to move it without completely dismantling it. What's more, because of its low height, it can be difficult to stand or even sit comfortably in some models. Setting up a tunnel tent can also be a little more complicated, as it doesn't have crossing poles. However, once you get the hang of it, you should be able to set it up quickly.

The tunnel tent is recommended for hiking, trekking and mountaineering. It's lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry in a backpack without taking up too much space. Its tunnel shape and good wind resistance make it an ideal choice for the tough conditions you may encounter in the mountains. It is particularly suited to solo or duo adventures.

The "Dome"

The dome tent, also known as the "igloo tent", is a popular form of tent. It is characterized by two arches that cross at a single point at the top of the tent. The base is rectangular, making iteasy to accommodate several mattresses or groundsheets, depending on the number of people indicated.

The advantages of the dome tent are as follows: it is self-supporting, which means it can stand upright without the use of pegs or guy wires; it is easy to erect; its rectangular shape, height and apsidal possibilities offer great habitability; finally, it offers good protection against wind and rain.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. Firstly, the dome tent is generally heavier due to the presence of several poles. What's more, although assembly is easy, it can take a little longer as it requires at least two poles to assemble.

The dome tent is recommended for camping and group or family outings. They offer great comfort and are ideal for multi-person outings. Spacious models are available for up to 6 people. However, due to its weight, it is advisable to use it when you have a vehicle for transport. If there are several of you, you can divide the tent's components between your backpacks to keep the weight down.

The geodesic tent

The geodesic tent, often considered the little sister of the dome tent, is distinguished by its igloo-like shape. Although similar to the dome tent, the geodesic tent differs in that the poles required for its construction cross over several times. It has at least 3 poles, all of which intersect at at least one point.

The advantages of the geodesic tent are as follows: the use of several hoops improves the structure's stability; its design makes it highly resistant to wind and snow, thanks to its increased stability.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. Firstly, because of the many poles, the geodesic tent can be heavier than other models. What's more, geodesic tents can take longer to set up , and can sometimes be more complicated due to the complexity of their cross-pole system.

The geodesic tent is recommended for alpine trekking and all other adventures planned in difficult conditions. Its enhanced stability and wind resistance make it a suitable choice for harsh environments.

The teepee or pyramid tent

The pyramid tent adopts the shape of an Indian teepee, but is distinguished by its structure. It can be erected with a single central pole.

The advantages of the pyramid tent are as follows: it's lightweight, and this lightness can be enhanced if one of your hiking poles can be used as the central pole. What's more, you can modify the tent's structure simply by moving the central pole.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. Firstly, the central pole can be a nuisance when setting up the tent, and it also reduces habitability inside the tent. What's more, the pyramid tent is not self-supporting, so it's important not to forget the pegs for securing it to the ground. Lastly, its wind resistance is not excellent, notably due to its height.

The pyramid tent is recommended for ultra-minimalist outings. You can use a single trekking pole as the central pole, allowing you to carry only the tent fabric, without the structure. This represents a significant weight saving for those looking to reduce their load on outdoor adventures.

The Canadian tent

The Canadian tent is often considered the tent of choice for scouts, and is also used at events. Although this type of trekking tent is quite old, it is less and less used. Its structure is characterized by a triangular roof reminiscent of a house.

The advantages of the Canadian tent are as follows: it offers generous space for comfortable living inside. What's more, it's comfortable to use.

However, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Firstly, the Canadian tent is quite heavy, which can make it more difficult to transport. What's more, setting up a Canadian tent is more complex than simply erecting it.

The Canadian tent is recommended for scout outings and, more generally, for large-group excursions. It is particularly suited to activities requiring a spacious, comfortable living space.

The suspended tent

Although the Tentsile concept is not yet widespread, it is a promising
one.
The first suspended tent was officially launched in 2012, and since then it has enjoyed growing success. And that's because of the real advantages it offers, beyond its playful and unusual aspect.

The advantages of the suspended tent are as follows: being separate from the ground, it avoids problems of dampness through contact and offers protection against stony and uneven terrain. What's more, you won't have to deal with unwelcome visits from snakes, spiders and other insects that can easily get into conventional tents. It also gives you the freedom to camp in unusual places, where no one has set up their tent before.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider. First of all, there's a weight limit to avoid falling over. However, this limit generally leaves a comfortable margin for maneuver. Secondly, set-up can take a little time, especially if you're not used to this type of configuration. What's more, a suspended tent can be relatively heavy to transport.

The suspended tent is recommended for camping, travel and expeditions where you have a vehicle to transport your equipment. It will enable you to enjoy your outdoor activities to the full without being constrained by the limitations of the ground.

Depending on the season?

The 3-season tent is specifically designed for spring, summer and autumn outings, as the name suggests. During these seasons, you won't generally be confronted with extreme weather conditions. Consequently, your 3-season tent must be able to meet the demands of these periods without more. Its design offers adequate ventilation for spring, summer and autumn, but won't protect you effectively in the event of heavy snowfall or high winds in winter.

The 4-season tent, on the other hand, is designed for year-round use, even in winter. It is able to withstand all kinds of weather, such as snowstorms and strong winds. Thanks to a structure with more hoops and fewer mesh ventilation panels, these tents are more robust and suitable for extreme conditions. Thicker linings offer better thermal insulation, but can also reduce ventilation and lead to increased condensation. Although 4-season tents are heavier and less compact than 3-season tents, they offer added security for your mountain expeditions or bivouacs in difficult conditions.

How many places?

It's important not to rely entirely on equipment manufacturers' specifications, as they often tend to overestimate a tent's capacity in terms of the number of people it can accommodate. This is particularly true if you have an adventure companion measuring 2 meters in height. It is therefore advisable to consider thata person needs at least 60 cm in width and 2 meters in length to be comfortable inside a tent. These dimensions generally suit most people. However, if you're over 1.90 m tall, it's best to opt for a tent with an even greater length to ensure your comfort while sleeping. So, whether you choose a 1 or a 2-seater tent for all your travels will depend on your needs and preferences in terms of space and comfort.

What about weight

?
Depending on your activity, it's important to choose a tent whose weight corresponds to your needs. If you plan to carry your hiking tent in your backpack, it's best to limit its weight so as not to be slowed down. A tent that's too heavy can be a burden. However, if you're traveling in a group, you can divide the tent's various components between the members of the group, allowing each of them to carry some of the weight.

We recommend a maximum tent weight of 1.5 kg per person. For example, for a 3-person tent, it's best to choose a camping tent weighing no more than 4.5 kg. You can then divide the tent's components among the group so that each person carries a reasonable weight.

It's also important to consider the tent's compactness. A light but not very compact tent can be just as difficult and uncomfortable to transport as a heavy one. It is therefore advisable to choose a tent that offers a good balance between lightness and compactness to make it easier to transport.

What is the schmerber level?

A trekking tent must provide effective protection against the rain. That's why it's essential for it to be totally waterproof, to guarantee peaceful nights. A tent's impermeability is measured in schmerber, a unit of measurement representing the height of a column of water that the fabric can withstand without letting a drop through.

For a tent fabric to be considered waterproof, it must have a schmerber level of at least 1,500, which is more than sufficient for a typical hike or a week's climbing in spring or summer.

To give you a better idea, here are a few guidelines:

  • An index of 500 mm is suitable for light, fine rain.
  • An index of 1,200 mm is ideal for a shower.
  • With an index of 3,000 mm, the tent will protect you even in heavy rain, even if the drops are large.
  • A 5,000 mm rating will withstand heavy rain.
  • Finally, with a 10,000 mm rating, you'll be protected from all types of rain and humidity. You'll be able to face all conditions with complete peace of mind.

Double-roof or single-wall?

The single-wall trekking tent is made of a single wall of fabric, making it light and easy to erect, which is advantageous for transport and difficult conditions. However, they are more prone to condensation. These tents are therefore ideal in cold, dry environments, such as the mountains.

The double-wall trekking tent is made up of a first canvas completely enclosing the interior space and a second canvas partially covering it. This is more waterproof, as moisture remains on the outer fabric, keeping the inside of the tent dry. The air space between the two walls acts as a natural insulator. It's important to maintain a distance of around ten centimetres between the two walls to prevent moisture from passing from one wall to the other and reaching the inside of the tent. The outer fabric must therefore always be correctly tensioned.

The inner wall also offers good protection against insects, especially mosquitoes. What's more, you can store your equipment away from moisture. Often equipped with guy wires, it offers additional storage space. However, they are heavier and require more complex assembly. You'll need pegs to secure the second wall properly.
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