Tents: Choosing the Right Home Away From Home

Ian Bellert — 13 November 2023
Choosing a tent can be bewildering, given the range of tents available to today’s camper.

Let's have a look at some of the options available and how to decide what is the best tent for you. Where do you start? The first question to ask is ‘how will you use your tent?’ 

Before buying a tent it's important to look at how you intend to use it. 

On one hand a $40 tent from BIG W may be fine if you are only going to stay one or two nights and only camping out occasionally. At the other end of the tent-spectrum, if you’re taking on extended travelling, with a daily set-up and pull-down of your tent for weeks on end, then it's a totally different proposition. If you need your tent for your annual three-week Christmas holiday pilgrimage to that idyllic seaside location, that also requires a totally different tent. If you are a keen hiker, you will want the lightest tent possible, so your pack (and back) isn’t overloaded. 

Let's look at the options depending on the above situations. 

The cheaper your tent, the lesser quality components will be used in its construction. Usually, it's the zippers that cause the most grief. They are a high use component and poor-quality zips will snag and zip teeth can foul, rendering them useless. As a tip, run a piece of soap around the zip to help keep them running. The industry standard is the YKK brand. If that brand appears on the swing tag of your zipper, it is likely to provide ease of use for years. 


If you are looking at a tent which you will use for weekend camping, and you want something that will last, then you’re in the sweet spot of options. Dome tents are a really good choice to consider, as they are generally easy to set up, are plenty roomy enough and can withstand a pretty good storm. The choice is extensive, so you need to have a good idea of how many times you will use your tent in a year, how many people will be sleeping in it and if you need separate rooms. It's a good idea to have areas to store bags and shade areas as part of the tent. Most dome tents are made from lightweight fabric such as nylon or polyester, have a PVC floor and have flexible poles. The tents can flex in high winds. They can take a beating and you will remain safe and dry, albeit with the dome being pushed around by the wind. Brands to look at include Coleman, OzTrail and home brands from major retailers - Wanderer (BCF) and Dune (Anaconda). They are very competitive on price and quality. 


If your annual holidays involve setting up for a few weeks, plenty of sunshine and surf, then your home away from home becomes pretty important. Family tents can take a bit to set up but once you're done, it should only take a daily tweak to guy ropes to ensure it can handle the weather and the family use. There are plenty of options on the market. Look for established brands that use quality materials and smart designs. Insect mesh is essential. As are flexible options to get airflow and privacy needs. Check the inside height so you don't have to stoop every time you are in the tent. Many family tents have rooms which you can section off, so you can bed the kids down and keep enjoying your summer evenings. A handy additional option is a gazebo that is very handy for a food preparation area and additional shade. A tarp strung across the complete set up keeps the weather off and your tent’s outer dry. 

If you want a family sized tent, that is easier than most to set up, then check out the Oztent Air Tent 6 which can be pumped up for an easy set-up.  


For intrepid travellers among us, there are a range of options for extended use and daily unpack and pack ups. Due to wear and tear, canvas tents, such as the Southern Cross Canvas range of touring tents, are the pick. Not the only option by any means but Southern Cross Canvas touring tents are indestructible, often outlasting their original owners! They are made in Australia, use the highest quality waterproof, tear resistant, low shrinkage canvas and zips that keep on keeping on.

Another iconic touring tent is Oztent's RV range of tents. These tents take 30 seconds to set up and range from a single person through to a five-person tent. They are a very high-quality tent and superb as an everyday set-up pack-down proposition. And yes, it does only take 30 seconds to erect and the same to pull down. They are best suited to transport on the roof of your vehicle as they are 2 metres long when packed up. The range is modular so you can make your camping experience as you want it. 


For the hiker, there are many, many tents to choose from. With many different options and applications. The one thing for a hiker is weight. The less weight the more expensive the tent due to the use of carbon poles and lightweight fabrics. Stick to the well-known brands (The North Face, Kathmandu) and expect a two-person tent to weigh as little as 1.5kg. But be warned, that can come at a considerable cost. 

As mentioned, work out how many times you will use your tent, how you will use it and then set yourself a budget. Like anything you can go cheap or pay top end for quality. Be comfortable with your purchase. There’s nothing worse than being let down by a cheap tent (water, bugs are never welcome). It really is your home away from home whenever you use it. Spend as much as you can if you're a dedicated camper. 


If you need help choosing your first Camper or are considering upgrading your existing one, check out all the campers available on TradeRVs today. 

The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.


Dometic Introduces New Compact Camping Tents

Review: Camp King Rooftop Tent

Gear Review: OzTrail Forbes Camp Chair


Tents Camping Gear Choosing the right gear Dome tent Coleman Oztrail Wanderer Dune OzTent Air Tent Southern Cross Canvas The North Face Kathmandu