Is my tent good enough?

The first section of this page has tents that are totally inappropriate for any of our camping trips, winter or summer, established campground or somewhere we go with a wilderness permit.

If you do not know why each is an unacceptable overnight accommodation, please read
Snow or rain camp must-haves
and let us educate you at a pre-trip meeting.

tent:

not a good winter tent:

tent with plastic sheet: cabin tent with green tarp:

tent with plastic sheeting:

big green box-shaped tent:

tent with tarp set up overhead:

good tent no rainfly:

cabin tent and raft:

This tent not only has an inadequate rain fly, pitched badly so the rain fly does not function at all, it also seems to have something in it that smells good to the bear:

bear sniffing at a tent

see details about proper food storage.

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Here is what it can look like when a bear gets done investigating a tent:

torn up tent

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This next section has good tents, but mistakes using or pitching them:

Pitch your tent by yourself when you arrive after dark and in the morning you might discover you put the rain fly and poles on upside down:

Jonathan with rain fly on upside down: guy stnading next to two tents of the same model, one with the rain fly on upside down

 
 
OOOOPs, he discovered when he got to the campsite and pitched the tent, that he
had not dried out his tent completely the last time he used it, so it had mold.
He and friend slept comfortably in the Chevy Suburban instead:

orange tent with snowman and Chevy Suburban

 
 
On the 2017 winter trip these people pitched their tent incorrectly.

(Many tents have instructions printed on the bag, did they read them? If they borrowed it from someone did they ask for instruction on how to pitch it? Did they try pitching it before the trip?) When they were having difficulty with it they did not ask other more experienced campers they were traveling with for help.

In the dark, from a distance, it looked to the other campers as if they were okay.

They were found trying to sleep in their car in the morning and complained that their tent was “unstable,” as if to say it was a fault of the construction/design of the tent, rather than their failure to properly put the ends of the rain fly tent poles into the ring pins at the base of the tent. As far as the rest of the group could tell, they had just stuck the ends of the rain fly tent poles in the snow.

tent with end of poles sticking into snow instead of set in tent

No good tent should have the ends of the rain fly poles in the ground or in the snow. All good tents will have tabs at the corners with grommets or pockets or ring pins for the ends of poles to go in to, as in the example below from this page: How to pitch the Cabella eight person tent.

Cabela corner:

 
 
And here a poorly designed tent with a rain fly that is not pitched taut and does not go all the way down the outside, so rain and melting snow drip down onto the tent fabric and soaks in, plus the classic mistake of having a tarp under the tent that sticks out the sides. Then the rain dripping off the rain fly collects on the tarp and soaks under the tent and through the bottom fabric. (It’s better to custom cut a thick plastic bottom protection that fits completely under the bottom of the tent if you want to protect it from rocks and twigs.) These people said their sleeping bags were wet after only one night. Would you pitch your 8 foot diameter tent in an 8 foot diameter puddle? That is, in effect, what these campers did:

tent with a rain fly that does not go all the way down the sides, and a group cloth sticking out to the sides

 
 

And here, a great tent, with a rain fly that goes all the way down the outside, but pitched on a tarp to protect it from rocks. But the tarp sticks out the sides and will create a puddle under the tent when it rains:

tent with tarp under:

For info on the logistics of where to pitch your tent and staying warm and comfy overnight camping in a tent in the snow, go to: First-timer’s instructions