Every family needs a tent or two for their bug out plans. Choosing the perfect tent to be used as temporary shelter during a crisis or a camping trip requires a little bit of experience. Here are my tips for choosing a survival tent for your prepping plans.
Tents come in various sizes and shapes, and one needs to be picky when choosing a survival tent. You need something that is portable but also lightweight. The tent you eventually pick should cover your every need.
Since back-packable shelters come in a variety of sizes, shapes, materials, and weights, sometimes making the right choice can be problematic. Most tents are simple enough to be set up and taken down, and it’s usually a one man job. However, the type of tent you chose depends greatly on two factors: why you want to use it and when.
Before you settle on a certain model, you need to cover some characteristics that are common to all tents. Only after you’ve settled on all of them, you can pick a model suited for your plans.
How to pick a survival tent
What size do you need?
This one is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself, and you need to figure out the proper answer for it. If you plan to carry your tent for 20 miles or more over rough terrain, you will need something lightweight that provides plenty of room. Think about how many people you will need to fit inside your survival tent. The standard formula to check how big a tent is shouldn’t be hard to decipher: height X length X width. Although this is useful information to figure out how much room it offers, there’s more to it. In fact, most tents use an old mountaineering standard to establish how many people can sleep in a tent.
To put it simply, a four-person tent is designed to allow floor space to fit four adult sleeping bags in it. That space is strictly for the sleeping bags, so if you plan to keep your gear inside, well…Tough luck! If you don’t want to leave everything outside exposed to the elements, you can divide the sleeping bag number by at least two. It all depends on how big your gear is and how much sleeping room you need. A four-person survival tent should provide more than enough sleeping and storage room for two people and their gear.
What about seasons?
Tents are rated by how many seasons you can use them in. This is mandatory information, and you should know that there are three main ratings. We will cover them below to help you decide what tent is best for you.
Tent Season Ratings:
This type of tent is usually designed to be used in mild weather as the summer season brings. However, it can also be used during the changing of the seasons, between spring and summer or summer and fall. These tents provide good ventilation, but the fabrics can only handle light rain and winds.
This model is a more advanced tent which can keep you comfortable in weather during all milder seasons. You can use it in spring, summer, and fall without worrying about comfort or temperature. It can withstand mild rainstorms and winds, being one of the preferred types of tents of many campers.
This one is the type of tent that can be used year-round, and it’s the perfect survival tent for bugging out. It is ideal for all three mild seasons, but also for harsh winters. The materials are much stronger, and its structure can support strong winds, pelting rain and hail. The structure of these tents is designed to withstand three inches of snow accumulating on it overnight. Also, most designs keep condensation from accumulating and freezing on the inside of the tent, thanks to their two tent walls.
Is that the right fabric for you?
Now when it comes to fabric choices, the technology keeps advancing and you can find all sorts of fancy names. However, you should pick the fabric due to its design and effectiveness and not because it sounds catchy.
There are high-tech fabrics like cubin or silnylon that are lighter and are designed to dry faster. However, these materials are more prone to damage and abuse. They may not hold up as well to heavy weather.
There are also traditional materials such as nylon and Cordura, but these are a bit heavier than the new high tech materials. However, these types of materials provide better protection from abrasion and flame. They are designed to withstand abuse from rough weather and are known to hold heat better due to their thicker composition.
Before you chose a tent made of a certain fabric, inform yourself about its use. Tents also require maintenance, just like any other gear you have. Make sure you read more about the fabric and look online for reviews and other useful information.
Suggested article: Tent Maintenance Tips For A Long Lasting Tent
How much room do you need?
This is something that few people bother to ask themselves. You shouldn’t sacrifice your comfort just to survive for a few days. You will just become miserable, and you will not be able to keep going. There are many options available that can provide enough room even for the pickiest of people. A survival tent should provide you with all the space you need for various tasks. Ask yourself if you will need to be able to stand up straight and move around. Do you need to have a vestibule for dirty clothes and gear? Do you need a floor or you can do just fine with a simple tarp. Any openings needed, like windows or vents?
These are all questions you need to have an answer for if you want to spend the night in the woods. I can’t stress enough how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep in the wilderness. You need to feel comfortable in your survival tent and have enough room to move around.
Options for your survival tent
As I said before, when it comes to buying a survival tent, there are many options you can choose from. You can pick a dome tent, a tipi tent or even a tarp if you know how to build various shelters. Let’s look briefly at each option.
This tent has a structure (frame work) that creates an igloo-like shape. These tents are easy to move once you set them up and they usually come with an integral floor. A dome survival tent doesn’t have a central pole to support the shelter, so you have much more room to move around. The more vertical walls provide better and more usable floor space.
On the downside, these tents can be complicated to set up due to their rib-like frame work. If you manage to break a pole or two, you can’t repair them on the field. They are heavier and bulkier than other types. You don’t have proper ventilation and enough head room unless you pick a large size.
This model can become a good survival tent when the packing weight is not an issue. It is ideal if you need maximum room inside your tent for people and gear
This one is also called a pyramid tent and is made with a single center pole that supports the tent. Their lighter weight recommends it for your bug out bag. Since it can provide coverage for all types of weather, I recommend this as a survival tent for one person, two persons maximum. It provides good ventilation and enough space, but also more headroom compared to other designs.
On the minus side, the center pole breaks up the available space. You need to pick a larger model if you want to fit comfortably two adults and their gear. These types of tents are recommended for flat surfaces and usually require a large area for setup
Although not a tent per se, the simple tarp is the most versatile option for the experienced prepper. A tarp is made from a rectangular or square piece of fabric and has attachment points along its edges. You can improvise various tent designs using a tarp, and its simplicity is a major advantage when you are constantly on the move.
You can improvise a survival tent from a single tarp and there are various adaptable styles which you can pick. It doesn’t require a flat surface to set up, and you can improvise all sorts of designs using elements from your environment. It is also the most lightweight option of them all.
On the downside, you need a lot of experience to set up sophisticated designs. If you do not use the proper type of shelter, you will be exposed to the elements. A lot of practice and experience are required for using this option in various types of environments (extreme heat or shivering cold).
Related article: How to set up a tarp Shelter – 15 Designs with Pictures
As you can see above, picking the perfect survival tent for your prepping plans depends on a variety of factors. Each factor is different for each reader and situation. You should consider all the above before swiping your credit card. Only when you have an answer to each of the questions listed in this article, you will be able to pick the style and size of your survival tent.
Since there’s a chance you might not be able to fit one design and size for all situations, consider buying more than one tent. You could also use the one you have in conjunction with a tarp. And last but not least, each family member should have enough room in the tent(s) you picked. Just because they survived does not mean they should be miserable and lack comfort and privacy.