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Thread: Picking the right Tent

  1. #1
    Administrator Trailace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Houston, TX

    Question Picking the right Tent

    Types of Tents
    • 3-Season - These tents are usually just right for motorcycling as they will perform well in hot, cold, windy and/or wet conditions.
    • 4-Season - These tents are typically overkill when it comes to motorcycling since you are less likely to be riding in the blizzard-like conditions that require such a tent.
    • Convertible - These tents allow the conversion from 4-Season to 3-Season tents by omitting poles and sections allowing for more ventilation - they are typically more expensive.
    How Big?
    • The average sized person will appreciate the extra room allowed by getting a 2-person tent. The 2 person tents don't pack much larger than a 1 person tent so you aren't giving up much in that area and it's still enough room when camping for two.
    • There are some 1 person tents that are a little cheaper and pack smaller however you are trading cost for head-room and comfort.
    Rain Fly or Single-Wall?
    • This ends up being a personal choice.
    • Single-Wall tents have the convenience of a quick easy setup especially in the rain as the tent walls also act as a Rain Fly. These tents can also become hot in warmer climates as the ventilation is not typically as good as a tent w/fly that can be removed.
    • Tents with Rain Flys do pack larger and require extra effort to setup and take down but, as mentioned above, provide additional comfort options.
    • There are several configurations of tents available.
    • The one that we here at recommend the most are the free-standing tents. A free-standing tent is one that, once the poles are connected to the tent, it stands in place and all that remains is to stake it down.
    • They are the easiest to move to another location if necessary just in case conditions require a quick relocation of the campsite. We've been in low lying areas where a sudden rainstorm dictated we move. With free-standing tents it was much easier than it would have been with some other tents.
    • They are also very easy to get the dirt out of them by picking them up, with one door open, and shaking.
    • Not all Tent manufacturers sell Footprints for their tents.
    • A Footprint is basically an additional layer of material between the ground and the floor of the tent. This extents the life of the tent by preventing rips tears or abrasions which might occur from direct contact with the ground.
    • The dimensions of the Footprint, personal choice:
      • Some feel the footprint should be larger than the tent floor dimensions to keep water out
      • Some feel the footprint should be smaller than the tent floor dimensions to keep water from collecting between the tent and footprint.
      • I haven't found enough references to confirm more one way than the other but I would choose the fold any excess material under itself so it matches the tent floor size.
    Last edited by Mellow; 01-31-2006 at 07:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Aging Hacker Ron_Ces's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Sunny Riverton, NJ

    Tent Re: Footprint size?

    Quote Originally Posted by RickD
    [*]The dimensions of the Footprint, tarp or groundcloth used should be at least a couple inches larger than the floor of the tent on all sides.[/LIST]
    I may be mistaken, but I thought that the ground cloth should be a few inches smaller than the size of the tent. This prevents standing water to run down into the tent area like a wicking effect. Any thoughts?

  3. #3

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    I think that is a personal choice. Some think that a ground fly that is larger that the tent actually catches water and diverts it under the tent, some think that a smaller fly lets water in on the uphill side, and holds it in the floor. I think bath have their advantages/disadvantages. The next tent I buy will have the cloth built into the floor, they come up about 6-8 inches on the walls. That is if my old tent wears out it is pretty old, but has a lot of memories.

  4. #4

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    That's a good point, that may be what I meant to say.. can't think of when having it larger would be a benefit. The footprint I had on my previous REI tent was the exact dimensions of the tent.

    This REI link mentions any excess should be folded under itself to avoid catching rain.

    Thanks for helping keep this Tutorial accurate, great first post and welcome to the site.

  5. #5

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    I have been using a 3 man dome for the last 15 years and it has worked well.

    My next tent will be a Tipi either a Kifaru 4 man or the Vaggi Tentipi. Both are very light weight and provide alot of vertical and horizontal room .

    The Kifaru has a foot print of 10.5 feet by 15 feet and a vertical hight of 6 feet 6 inches and the total weight is just under 6 pounds.

    These are very durable tents and have the capability of adding a stove which I will not use for motorcycle camping but maybe for snow camping.


  6. #6

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    I'm using an 8ftX8ft 4 man dome that has 5ft headroom.

    I can set up the tent in pouring rain and keep all my other gear in it's waterproof bags.

    Once the tent is up and all gear is inside I can setup my air mattress and sleeping bag, in relatively dry conditions. I don't think I would be able to accomplish this feat easily with a smaller tent.

    I chose a 9ftX12ft tarp from Wal-Mart for my groundcloth. At first I thought this would be a great idea with the extra 3 ft that extends out from the tarp being larger than the tent's footprint it would give me a porch to take my muddy boots off to help keep the tent cleaner. The plan went well until one night in Daytona Beach with my tent setup on level ground there came one of those thunderstorms that wouldn't let up for 3 hours. My floor seams weren't sealed and I started to take on water. It's very disturbing to put your elbow down in 2 inches of water at 2AM.

    I still use the tarp and the cure to the problem is to setup your tent on a small rise or with the porch facing downhill...I needed drainage, OH! and seam sealer is a must.

    Since I moved to an air mattress with a four inch rise I stay off the floor enough now not to worry about a little river runs through it episode.


  7. #7

    Tent Re: Picking the right Tent

    I use the 4 man Eureka Timberline. It's cheap, strong, & simple. It's only a few inches bigger than the 2 man packed, and put-up & take-down times are equal for the 4 man vs the 2 man. The extra pound of weight is no problem either, as long as I'm camping off the bike, though it might be an issue if I were backpacking. In return, I've got an absolute embarrasment of space. When camping off the bike, where everything must come in with you if it's going to stay dry, the extra space is appreciated. I've been using it for 12 years now, & 2 years ago I considered getting something newer & more Hi-Tech. After reviewing a lot of options I elected to buy a tube of seam sealer & go over every seam in the bottom & up about 8-10 inches up the sides, both inside & out. Then I invested all of about $35.00 in a snap-on vestibule & a footprint. Viola! like a new tent! My saddle bags & muddy boots now live in the vestibule...I have even more room than before, it's even actually comfy for 2 when I'm camping with my Sig. Other. The footprint is great, it really protects the tent bottom from dirt & small rocks & sticks. It does, however make for problems in the wet. It's a little bigger than the floor, maybe one all around. After one bad experience when rain water got in between the floor & the footprint, I now just take a little more care about placement. It helps to make sure that the uphill side is fully under the floor & the extra footprint area exposed is all on the downhill side.

    Jim Keane

  8. #8
    Trailace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Houston, TX

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    Jim Welcome!

    I feel the same way about my tent I got it about 10 years ago and can't find anything I would replace it with. A few years back I tried to add up all the times I used it but stopped at 100. I hope I never have to replace it.

    Last edited by Trailace; 01-07-2010 at 03:34 AM.
    Trailace/ Rick
    “You can tell the size of the man by the size of the things that bother him”

  9. #9

    Re: Picking the right Tent

    We are using the Euraka Timberline TL-4XT. 4 man tent with an attached vestibule. Not high tech but simple and reliable. It works fine for 2 people and gear from 2 bikes. Never had a problem getting wet from rain or condensation. It is a little bulky to pack though.

  10. #10

    Tent Re: Picking the right Tent

    I've gone through 4 tents in the last year trying to find just the right tent. After 4 years I felt my 2 man Colman Exponent was now a little short on space. Next was a 4 man tent with a huge vestibule. So big two people in Kermit chairs could hide out from a storm with room to spare. But there was something like 16 tent stakes involved and as much as I liked the tent I still needed something different. Next was an REI Half Dome 2 man. Nice tent but smaller than what I started out with. REI has a GREAT! return policy and they took it all back. While at REI I noticed a Mountain Hardware 3 man Wedge 3. I bought it even though it was a little pricy but I was getting tired of looking. This is without a doubt the perfect tent for me. Plenty of room, lots of storage up high and considered a 3 1/2 season tent. I have now used it many times and once again, the perfect tent for me.

    For pictures of the other tents look in my webshots below in my signature. Look in the album marked Camping Farkles.
    Last edited by Blues Traveler; 03-19-2006 at 01:00 AM.
    Keith R.
    Sun City, SoCal
    05' Honda GoldWing
    AKA ownst100 STOC 1211

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