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Camping tents: A quick history of tents.

Tents have been around since 40,000BC where makeshift builds were constructed from the hides of large, dead animals such as mammoths. By 300BC, yurts and tepees were being used as the portable alternatives, and the Romans would utilise this as their armies expanded across the globe.

Since, there have been numerous iterations and upgrades on the original tent designs introducing new materials like canvas during the Industrial Revolution, linen at the beginning of the 20th century, and aluminium, nylon and polyester in the 70’s as manufacturers endeavoured to make camping tents lighter and more durable.

Previously used more commonly in such capacities as emergency shelter and nomadic housing, tents are now widely sold for recreational purposes. Now, you can find activity specific tents such as hiking tents, backpacking tents, festival tents, and so on.

Brands such as Coleman, Vango, Milestone and Yellowstone continue to evolve the industry creating more variety to suit every camping and outdoor need.

Choosing your ideal tent

Searching for tents for camping – in a professional capacity or recreationally – is simpler than it may first appear. Just going for the first cheap tents that you see based purely on the price will be less likely to fulfil the necessary criteria, but there are high quality tents that are affordable for all budgets. 

The wide range – from ultralight tents to large family tents – actually makes the choice quicker and easier, provided you know what specifications and features you’re looking for in your tent, and what it will be used for.

Choosing by type

Choosing by Capacity

Size really matters when searching for the right tent for your trip. Whilst most large tents, for example, make excellent family camping tents, they may only account for sleeping space. The best large family tents will provide adequate room to accommodate all campers and equipment, as well as offering standing room and a living area.

Choosing by Shape

Whether it’s a dome tent, tunnel tent or a tipi tent that suits your fancy, understanding how the shape of a tent will benefit you is important. The shape of the tent helps it to maintain its structural integrity through difficult conditions whilst protecting the user. Consider variables such as weather changes and possible collisions before making the purchase. 

Choosing by Activity

Not every tent is suitable for every event. For example, a festival tent would be no good for expeditions in wintery climates as they are not built to resist harsh environments and last. Tailor your tent’s specifications to suit the activity taking into account durability, portability, protection, interior comfort and duration of use.

Choosing by Pitching Method

tents that erect quickly and effortlessly are in high demand. Pop-up tents were the standard at one point. Now, with the arrival of the instant tent, air tent and quick-pitch tent, setting up camp has never been easier. Campers are now spending a lot less time fiddling with confusing camping equipment, and more time exploring the great outdoors.

Features to look out for in a camping tent

Size (L, W, H)

Do you know the length, width and height – both when pitched up and in pack size - of the tent you’re interested in buying? Gauging accurate measurements ensure adequate space for all users and belongings, as well as being conscious of portability and storage.


It would be great if you could find a lightweight tent for a long, backpacking journey, wouldn’t it? It’s essential that transporting your tent doesn’t become burdensome, wherever you go. Lighter tents are great if travelling unaided, whilst heavier tents may boast specifications that make them more resilient, hospitable and suitable for accommodating larger groups.


Finding the right capacity isn’t just about isn’t always just as simple as buying the first tent that sleeps as many people as are attending. For example, you’re camping with two other campers, so just get a 3-man tent, right? Not quite. To avoid a snug fit with your camping equipment and dirty belongings in tow, it’s prudent to pick a tent that can house a person more than you need.


tents that are far more resistant to the trials of dangerous elements such as wind, rain and fire than ever before. Accounting for these situations has become the standard – though the level of waterproofing and wind resistance can vary depending on how the tent is built, at what materials are used to build it.

Pitching Time

Not everybody is an adept outdoorsperson who can recognise a guy line from a tent peg; and we just don’t want the hassle of complicated pitching. Nowadays, tents can pitch in extraordinarily quick times – some in under a minute even. Any big tent that pitches in under 30 minutes is ideal, in most cases.

Hydrostatic Head

Linked to water resistance, the hydrostatic head is camping tent jargon that you will come across often. Essentially what it measures is the amount of water the exterior fabric of the tent can take on before it begins to seep through. Often, the thinner lightweight tents can take on less millilitres (mm), but it depends on the fabric.


Features like windows, additional doors, vents, interior pockets or even a porch aren’t things you think about immediately, but they can really improve the experience – particularly in hot surroundings.

Tent Accessories

Tent accessories can preserve the quality of your tent, or take your tent onto the next level. Fitting your tent out with the smart additions, such as tent canopies, tent carpets and groundsheets improve the liveability of your camp.

It’s also a good idea to think about stocking up on spares and camping tools should you lose tent poles or damage the fabric in any way.

Something to remember

Try not to be intimidated when searching for the best tents for camping. The jargon may sound completely alien at first but, once you know the basics, the rest is child’s play.

Ask a camping specialist for advice to help fill in the blanks in your knowledge and you’re just a few small steps away from owning an outdoor tent to be proud of. 

Where to get camping tents for sale?

Outdoor Camping Direct is the one stop for all your camping needs. We have a huge range of tents to choose from as well as tent equipment.  Outdoor Camping Direct makes choosing a tent simple and finding the right one for your camping trip. From beach tents to inflatable tents we have got you covered.