My lovely wife and I went on-line tent shopping today. We looked at hundreds of tents, which is much better than we could do within reasonable driving range. The stores within 50 miles of us have very limited selections. That's the way things are when you live way out in the woods.
We were looking for some key features. After spending many months living in tents, we know what we want. For two people, we find a tent rated for 6 works out about right. The ratings are very optimistic and only account for space to spread a sleeping bag. A "six person" tent works great for two. There's room for a queen sized air mattress, and a good amount of gear. Six person tents seem to have about a 10' X 10' floor plan.
I'm over six feet tall, so headroom is important.
There has to be a certain level of construction quality. We eliminated any tent with fiberglass poles. As a rule, they don't stand up to hard use. Aluminum is more durable.
One person must be able to set up the tent without being an Olympic gymnast.
We like a vestibule big enough to set up a couple of chairs. It's nice to have a dry place to sit on a rainy day.
In the end, we decided on a Kelty Palisade 6 tent, bought from REI. There were 3 or 4 tents from other dealers that looked good. LL Bean and Cabelas had some good choices. REI was running a sale on the Palisade 6 and that made the difference.
It is possible to spend a lot less on a tent. They'd cost me more in the long run. It's one thing to buy a tent for a the occasional weekend use. It's another thing entirely to live for weeks and months out of a tent. Not only that, we are nomads who rarely stay more than 3 days in one place. We need a tent that can be set up and taken down over and over again. Even top quality tents wear out after 2 or 3 years of that kind of abuse.
My lovely wife actually prefers a good tent over an RV. She thinks it's romantic, and I'm not going to argue with that.
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