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The Evolution of Camping In A Tent

The very first time I camped-out was under the stars at my friend Connie’s house. We had no tent and minimal parental supervision. We had some old blankets and a beat up quilt we dragged off her brothers bed. It was a time in life when we had no cares. I like to think we were fearless, but in retrospect we were just young and naive’. We had her mutt Daffy, a scruffy blonde dog, no bigger than a cat. He was bitty but brave as any hero. That dog stuck to Connie like gum as we fell asleep under the stars that night long ago.

Tent Evolution

I eventually graduated to camping in a tent. The first tent I owned was a canvas model and no matter how many airings, was musty and reeked of mildew. On a warm summer’s afternoon it baked you like bread in the heat of the sun, and leaked worse than an incontinent bladder when it rained.

After waking up soaking wet on more than one occasion I upgraded to a newer canvas tent, it was still old, but it smelled better. Had all it’s tent pegs too!

Camping in a tent
Camping in a tent

I still remember the day in 1972 when Mom and Dad bought the BIG tent. I swear there was room to hold a revival; at least 16 sinners could seek shelter within its confines. It was not practical and took at least a dozen disciples to pitch. Hogged all of the space in the trunk of the car and was too heavy to hike anywhere with.

When I got my first Igloo tent, it was like buying a Porsche. No more aluminum poles to sort and sleek as an otter. It popped-up in what seemed like minutes. I loved that tent with its spiffy zippers, awnings and windows. Unlike the previous tents I had camped in, this one had great ventilation. Unfortunately the tent fell victim to a hasty break-up, shame on me for not noticing until the weather warmed, that my beloved tent had not made the move.

Tents, as with most things, are on a continuum. Sort of like the Neanderthal man, hunched and hairy, walking towards extinction and modern man on the right side of an evolution chart. I went from no tent, to canvas tents, to revival tent, to my igloo. I evolved as most campers do. Now, not yet in my twilight years, but closer to sixty than fifty–stuffed full of wisdom and life experience–I can share this: Buy the best tent you can afford!

Consider Your Tent’s Purpose

Knowing what you are planning to use your tent for will help you determine what type of tent to buy. Is it for packing into remote mountain campsites, or to park under the pines in your backyard for the kids? In what type of weather will your tent shelter you from storms? How many campers are you planning to accommodate? How well do you like the tent mates you’re sheltering? Do you have the space to haul and store, and the strength to carry and pitch?

Before your purchase a new tent, do your homework. Talk to friends who camp. Look up reviews online and seek information from outfitters and guides. If you’re new to camping, you must educate yourself on the “do’s and don’ts” of setting-up camp. For example, donuts do not belong in your tent. It’s like sending an email to the local bears “Hey, snack in a sac under the canvas!”
Oh, and by the way, if you see me riding shotgun in an RV these days, all I can tell you is, “It wasn’t me!” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

For easy setup, consider an instant tent. Here are our choices for best instant tents and best 8-person instant tents.

Are you in the process of choosing between hammock and tent camping? Here’s our guide to making the decision.

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