There are different tents for different purposes. Some tents are small, lightweight, and intended to be carried. Other tents are very large and can almost be used as portable cabins. Others fall somewhere in between. You must accurately access your requirement in order to choose the right tent. Before discussing specific types of tents we must discuss the types of tent users, the environmental requirements for the tents, and then the types of tents available.

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ALWAYS setup your tent prior to using it. Some tents can be a bit tricky setting up the first time. You should be able to setup your tent with minimal light. Remember that it often takes longer than expected to get to your camping destination so be prepared.

Have repair materials including patches, sewing kit, pole splint, and tape. You should be able to make tent repairs in the field. A pole splint is a hollow cylinder whose inner diameter is slightly larger than the outside diameter of a tent pole. If a pole is bent or broken a pole splint can temporarily repair the pole (they cost around $5).

Carefully position the tent so that it is away from any fires and look for branches that could fall on the tent if you had unexpected rain, snow, or wind. Be sure to stake tent to the ground in case the wind increases.

Protect the tent floor using a footprint or tarp under tent. This is optional if you have to pack extra light.

If space is critical you can separate tent components. For example, bikers may fold the tent and rain cover separately so that they can distribute the components between paniers. You could also have one backpacker carry the tent and another carry the rain cover to distribute the weight.

Tent Alternatives

Bivy sack and sleeping bag can be a lightweight alternative to a tent. These are not as comfortable but they could be significantly lighter.

An Emergency Bivy can be used to protect you from the elements in an emergency situation. There are breathable and non-breathable emergency bivies. The breathable ones are more comfortable but offer less protection against water and wind. The non-breathable ones are small, less comfortable, but offer better protection against the elements.

Hammocks are lightweight, small, options include sleeping bag, enclosure, screen, etc.

A Vehicle can be used as a shelter. Vehicles work particularly well in bad weather or severe cold. They may not be comfortable but they offer a good degree of protection.

A Tarp anchored by paracord can become a makeshift shelter. You can also find materials and construct an improvised shelter if you have nothing else.