Adventure-mobiles, like vanagons or dodge sprinters are trending these days. The idea of having a home on wheels in a more efficient (and stylish) manner than big RVs is attractive. Especially given the fact that camp becomes anywhere you can park the van overnight. The convenience there is hard to beat.
But, lets be honest nothing will ever replace the wanderers need for a tent. Don't get me wrong, I love a good VW Bus or Dodge Sprinter Van. But, eventually you'll run into one of two problems. Either an adventure-mobile doesn't fit in your budget or it will be a bit to heavy to tow behind on those off road backpacking trips.
I'll put up a good fight to argue that your tent is one of your most important pieces of gear. The adventurer's best friend. So, when it comes to picking out a tent, make sure it's your perfect match. Your camping soulmate, if you will. Do a little soul searching first and find the tent that best fits you.
Ask yourself these three questions:
How Will I Be Traveling?
How Long Will I Stay In One Place?
Who Will Be Camping With Me?
Here is a little sketch I whipped up to help you think through these three questions.
If you plan to backpack, every pound in your pack counts. Two important features you will want to look for in a tent are it's ability to be compact and lightweight. However, if car camping is more your style, you can afford a few more pounds. The car camper can think more about comfort and space and less about tent weight. Speaking of space, ask yourself ahead of time what your camping crew looks like. If you're a solo camper, good for you, no need for a big bulky tent. If you camp with a crew, make sure there's enough space. The max amount of people a tent will sleep usually only leaves room for each person's sleeping mat. If you want some spare floor space make sure your tent choice will accommodate.
Once you have a good idea of what you are looking for in a tent, you can start comparing and contrasting. OutdoorGearLab is a helpful resource, and my personal favorite, for any gear search.
J+G Top Tent Picks
When it comes to our gear of choice, we have two favorites tents.
Long road trips or car camping calls for a spacious tent with easy assembly. Cue our beloved lightspeed tent. Never have I had a more stress-free and simple camp set-up. This tent practically assembles itself. We went with the four person tent to insure comfort and extra space.
Our second top tent pick is our favorite. Joel and I seldom leave home base without our ALPS Mountaineer Extreme . I would go as far as calling this tent my baby. Great for backpacking, the ALPS Mountaineering Extreme tent is lightweight (6.8 lbs.) and packs down to 7" x 21". Structurally, this tent is a champ. The sturdy design and rock solid polyester fly makes the ALPS Extreme dependable in bad weather. And trust me, you will get caught in bad weather. Whether it's spontaneous camping, backpacking or even an out of town wedding the ALPS Mountaineer Extreme is always there for us. It's our portable hotel room.