Category Archives: Tents

Why I Bought A Coleman Instant Tent For My Family

With their famous one minute setup claim, Coleman instant tents are rumored to combine all of the best benefits of a instant and traditional tent into one unit. The canvas is made with a special weathertec material that is sure to keep you dry, but what do customers think about the one minute setup? With it’s unique exoskeleton design, all that is required for setup is to unbag the tent and lock the legs in place. With several different tent sizes available, Coleman has made it accessible for all family sizes.

Most people are drawn to the Coleman instant tent because of it’s one minute setup time. With some users reporting a setup of just over 40 seconds, it could take you longer to unsheathe your survival knives than set up the whole base camp! With less time figuring out tent pole assembly and more time with your family, you can enjoy the hiking, canoeing, or fishing that you planned in your short says at the campsite.

Although there are plenty of upsides to the exoskeleton design of the tent, there are several coleman instant tent review sites online that outline some of the drawbacks of the design. First and foremost you’ll notice when the tent first arrives in the mail. The box and tent ships at a weight in excess of 43 pounds. Needless to say, this design is not well suited for a hiker trying to find a peaceful campsite in the middle of the forest. No, it more suited towards a large family planning to drive to their campsite. Second, many reviewers have discovered that the tent does not ship with a rain fly. Meaning, in any sort of rain, the inside of the tent is going to get extremely hot and humid. However, for those families who plan their trips in good weather, this tent is a perfect way to squeeze more fun out of a camping trip and less work.

Editor’s Note:

I used to have a tent like this, and loved it! It was an earlier model, and I do not recall if it was a Coleman brand, but the poles were “built in” to the tent like the tents mentioned here. It was great to set up, and you could even do it late at night in the dark quickly. Check out this guide for the best camping tents too.

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Essential Equipment For Family Holiday Camping Trips

Most families have been camping together at one time or another. For some it was a first and last time. Not everyone enjoys the outdoors. But for those families that do take to the natural world of camping they tend to find every opportunity to get outdoors again. Holiday seasons are particularly popular times for family camping trips. The ease of making arrangements while school is out and the range of activities on offer from Park Rangers is inviting. The key to any family camping adventure is to make sure you have all the necessary equipment to enjoy all weather conditions and to be comfortable away from home.

Of course the most essential part of any camping equipment inventory is a tent. There are tents to suit every family, as well as single person or twin hiking domes. Depending on the size of your family and your tent you could find a tent that one person could carry while hiking. Alternatively you could find a secure structure that you could leave up while you spend the day exploring the trails. Large family tents commonly have two rooms that both open onto a corridor down the center. This in turn has two openings at either side. The advantages of corridor tents is that they avoid letting dirt and sand into the sleeping quarters. There are other, slightly smaller tents, with only one room that have an entry ‘foyer’ where you can come in and take off your shoes comfortably before going into the main sleeping areas.

Apart from a tent you’ll also need some warm sleeping bags that are going to stay dry in any weather. Because of the advances in technology most sleeping bags easily fit the bill. Unless you are planning a snow camping expedition a standard sleeping bag should be sufficient. Also, make sure you have good quality packs for hiking, a quality cooking stove and utensils, a tarpaulin to create shade and possibly a fold-out table and chairs. It is also advisable to invest in a fully stocked first aid kit. Because you are going to be away from emergency services it’s essential to make sure you can respond to any injuries with first aid. Finally, it’s advisable to have some old towels, fuel, ropes, torches and a radio.

Unfortunately, camping equipment can be an expensive investment, particularly for families on a tight budget. In my experience if you want to build up a good supply of quality equipment (it’s always best to buy something that will stand the test of time rather than save money and run into maintenance or replacement problems later on) you should discuss as a family the idea of each member of the family devoting their gift giving and receiving to building up a camping inventory for 24 months. Everyone can buy some things and contribute this way and with Sear’s coupons and several stock-take sales during this time you’ll have a great supply of equipment in no time.

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Quality Outdoor Equipment Tested In The Toughest Terrain

Outdoors enthusiasts, campers, prospectors and adventurers need the best equipment to explore the natural environment, but the cost of this equipment can sometimes be staggering. Even family-targeted camping equipment comes at a cost and when the expense of buying your outdoor equipment goes up the temptation to sacrifice quality can be hard to resist. But what if there was a great way to buy the highest quality outdoor adventure and camping equipment and save money at the same time? At military surplus retailers and online stores you can get the quality you need at prices you can afford.

I’ve been camping and exploring for years. It started with family fishing trips when I was young and now as a father I often take my own children outdoors on the holidays for a little adventure. Like me, my children love getting outside for fishing, hiking and prospecting. It’s a family tradition enjoyed by millions of people across the world, but it can be a costly pastime. The cost of tents, clothing, equipment and hunting and fishing gear is staggering, but since I’ve discovered military surplus I’ve been able to save a lot every year when adding to and updating our equipment.

One of the best purchases I’ve made from military surplus has been sleeping bags, tents and clothing (check out considerations for the best camping tent). The range of clothing and backpacks in particular is exceptional and my kids love to dress up in camouflage and go spotlighting at night. I admit I love the look of camouflage clothing too, but I also appreciate the quality and the durability of the materials, and the fact that I’m not going to have to replace it after every trip. I also love tucking into a warm and dry sleeping bag at night to rest after chasing after the kids all day.

But it’s not just family trips that I’ve been able to enjoy more since discovering surplus. I love hunting, and while it’s not everyone’s favorite activity, for enthusiasts like me it’s important that I can carry the right knives and guns for each outing (check out what to look for in a hunting knife, too). Military surplus is a great source of knives, sheaths and netting. The quality is made for combat so it is sturdy and reliable. The range of rifles are also impressive.

Hunting equipment is a specialized necessity for sporting enthusiasts and while many military guns are not appropriate for sporting activities it’s possible to modify some combat rifles for these purposes. I recently purchased an AR-15 builder instruction manual and have been able to adapt my rifle to suit the exact purposes I’m looking for. You can also buy handguns and collectors weapons from World War I & II.

Whether you are strictly a family camping hobbyist or adventurous outdoor explorer, military surplus stores offer a great range of supplies for any expedition. Tested in harsh environments by our brave soldiers, surplus stock is a fantastic idea for building your store of outdoor gear. Compasses, portable bathrooms, sleeping bags, clothing and more. Military surplus stores stock everything you need at prices you can afford.

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Considerations for the best camping tents

There is something primal about camping—it helps connect us back to the natural world. In most of our everyday lives we are removed from the natural world. We sit in air conditioned offices typing on computers and talking on cell phones. The natural world goes on without our notice. But spending time outdoors, sleeping away from our homes and beds, helps bring us back down to ground (literally and figuratively).

However, having a nice tent can mean the difference between connecting to the natural world and becoming its victim. It is worth learning about the many features of a camping tent that you may want to consider when making a purchase. Tents range widely in price, and how much you spend can correlate highly with what you get in this case. Below are some features to know about.

Free-standing vs. not

A free-standing tent is one that will support itself. If you are camping in rocky areas, such as in the mountains, or in sandy areas, it can be difficult if not impossible to pound stakes into the ground or get them to stay. If the stakes are essential to making the tent stand up, you could be very frustrated. However, even free-standing tents should be staked out whenever possible. This allows the tent to be taut which maximizes its weather proof properties and keeps the tent from blowing away in winds.

Tent Shapes

Tents come in a variety of standard shapes, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. The simplest structure is a tarp. A tarp is a large sheet of material with many anchors for tying to, and it is tied to whatever in the area can be attached to; trees, mostly. A well set up tarp is extremely weather resistant, but having no floor and sides means that there is no protection against insects. Being eaten alive while you sleep is no fun. And if you are camping in an area without handy trees nearby, setting one up is a challenge.

Basic A-frame tent

Basic A-frame tent

The standard A-frame tent, or slight modifications on the A-frame style, can still be found. They often require being staked out in order to set up, and their high, broad sides mean they do not stand up well to winds. They work best in benign weather conditions and camping in your backyard.

Dome tent

Dome tent

Dome tents feature arched ceilings created by poles that crisscross the tent in one of several common configurations. They often have more ceiling height and the curved sides can usually withstand a bit more wind.

Tunnel-shaped tents remind me of something like a parking garage for you to sleep in. They are elongate, sometimes not much larger than your sleeping bag. Being low they can withstand wind, but often do not have much living and storage space. However, they are not always free-standing and may require staking.

Wedge shaped tents are modified tunnels. They slope such that they are higher on one end and low at the other. This gives more ceiling height which can add comfort, and they can be very wind resistant if set up with the low end facing the on-coming wind.

Living Space

Wedge-shaped tent

Wedge-shaped tent

There is more to the living space of a tent than just the floor space. Floor space and configuration are something to be considered, but remember that we exist in three dimensions. Wall heights and ceiling heights greatly influence how much space there is inside the tent in which to move around. Curved walls cut into the space inside. If you have ever tried to get dressed inside a tent without enough interior room you will appreciate this fact. As I get older, more interior room is becoming more attractive.

In my experience, take the number of people the tent is supposed to sleep with a grain of salt. Realistically, I assume one fewer than advertised because when you are camping, you do not just take up the footprint of a person in a sleeping bag. You have your clothes, a bunch of miscellaneous small equipment like flashlights, snacks, eyeglasses, and other personal items. This is especially true if you are backpacking. It is one thing if the car is a few feet away, and you can stash stuff there, but if you are carrying everything, it has to go somewhere when you sleep.

A 2 person tent can fit two without any gear, or one person with some inside storage space. A 3 person tent can accommodate two people. The rule of “one fewer” is less critical as the tent gets larger. A 4 person, 6 person, or 8 person tent might be able to fit the number advertised easier than a 3 person tent can fit three. Also, if the tent has a vestibule this helps a great deal as not everything will need to go inside (see below).


In many conditions you want to be able to ventilate your tent. This is true in both hot and cold weather conditions. In hot weather, you want to have air movement to help keep things cooler. In cold weather, you want to ventilate to help avoid condensation inside the tent, which in the long run will make your sleeping area wet, and less able to keep you warm. Many tents have sections of mesh screen, either in windows or in a chimney opening at the top of the tent to provide ventilation.

Rain Fly

A rain fly is a crucial part of a good tent. It is basically a second skin, another layer of fabric that you set up over the top of your tent, providing a double wall of weather proofing. Many inexpensive tents offer a rain fly that only partially covers the tent. A partial cover means that ventilation is easier, but I would highly recommend a full rain fly if you expect to encounter wet conditions. Ideally, the fly will come all the way down the sides of the tent as well.

High-end tents sometimes are designed to be used without a fly, being single walled. The material of the tent is intended to be both breathable and weather proof. These tents are lighter, but might not be as weather resistant, especially in extreme weather conditions. Their appeal is mostly their reduced weight (see below).


Often the rain fly is designed to overhang the opening of a tent to form a small vestibule or porch. I have seen vestibules on some tents that are laughable in being so small as to be completely useless. A real area outside the tent opening that is protected from the weather can be critical for providing a space to take off wet boots and storing your pack and gear, under a roof, but not taking up valuable interior space.

Ground Cloth

Most tents have a built in floor. However, it is best to not rely on the floor alone to keep you dry. A ground cloth is any material that you place under the tent during set up that provides a barrier between the tent and the ground. A sheet of heavy duty plastic works well. Many tents have pre-made ground cloths you can buy. The ground cloth should be a few inches smaller in all directions than the tent floor so that it does not hang outside of the tent. If any part of the ground cloth is exposed during a rain, water runs off the tent, hits the ground cloth, and can run right under the tent, soaking you from below.

Tent Poles

The tent poles provide the skeleton for the tent, with the poles either sliding through a sleeve channel in the tent fabric or by clipping to the poles with plastic clips. The poles themselves come in fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber material.

Fiberglass poles are the most inexpensive, and are not as durable as the other two. They usually are supplied with less expensive tents.

Aluminum poles are used for most quality backpacking tents. They are strong and durable, while also being light. Carbon fiber poles are super light and strong, but are not as durable as aluminum. They are included in high-end tents typically.

When the poles slide through sleeves, the structure is usually stronger and more wind resistant. Plastic clips provide for easy set up, but only provide a few points of attachment between the tent and its skeleton, which can be a problem in more extreme weather.


Weight may not be an issue if you are using your tent mostly for camping from the car, but if you backpack at all, every ounce counts. You will pay more for a lighter tent, but your will appreciate it on the trail, believe me.

There is on one perfect tent for every situation. But by knowing some of the things to consider, you can make a more informed decision. Happy camping.

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Tent Rentals for Smarter Camping

Camping remains a very attractive entertainment for many, yet can seem on the expensive side in order to be able to purchase most of the gear necessary. However, this does not have to be the case at all. You can find most of the gear needed right at home, and you can borrow or lease the rest. A good example of this approach is with tent rentals.

Quality outdoor supply and camping stores offer quite an array of gear that is available for rent, and this makes sense for several good reasons. For the beginner, they have the opportunity to discover if this is something that they want to pursue without investing in supplies that they may not be using in the future.

For the experienced camper, this gives them the opportunity to test out new, or different, models that they are interested in without purchasing them outright. The option to rent a tent as opposed to buying one makes even more sense when considering how many designs, sizes, and models are available.

Whether 1, 2, or 3 man tents, or even larger sizes, these numbers are relative when considering real world application. What may work for one pair of campers will not be suitable for another, and what one family considers cozy another may consider intolerable. Renting first can teach consumers these differences.

While out camping and backpacking one becomes very attached to one’s equipment, and at times they are truly a matter of survival, so getting the right gear is of vital importance. Shopping on impulse and emotion will never do in such cases. It would be wise to try before you buy, as the saying goes, and knowing what will be best for your needs.

Tent rentals can only serve to create smarter consumers. Again, this can be extremely important when out in the wilds and while on the trail. Camping is great fun, indeed, but does have an element of danger arising out of necessity. Getting the proper gear will increase both pleasure and safety.

Related Posts:
Considerations for the best camping tents

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