No matter what the size of your group, if you are going to be camping “under canvas” for any length of time, a large and roomy tent is a great advantage. It is even more important if the number in your group is greater than 5 – 6.
The advantages of an extra large camping tent are primarily in its ability to provide more storage and living / playing space than a smaller tent, say of a 2 – 4 person capacity. If the weather turns nasty while you are camping, then it is good to have a dry area in which to shelter and to prepare and eat meals in comfort.
Another advantage of an extra large tent is in being able to divide the tent into separate rooms. Many modern day extra large tents come with dividers that can be used to make rooms inside them for privacy and sleeping, or for storage. There are even tunnel tents that come with matching smaller tents that can be erected inside the larger frame creating private rooms for different members of the group.
So, what are you looking for when deciding on an extra large tent for your camping needs?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Decide on the number in your group for a start. Usually, in the tent description there is a maximum capacity shown. This is an estimated at best and should be viewed as such. Ideally, to allow for more camper comfort, deduct 1 person per room as stated for the tent you are exploring. This will allow for personal gear storage around the beds.
2. The tent should have an easy-assembly design for quick setup and takedown. Any camper who has arrived at their camping destination late in the afternoon as the sun is setting, and it is starting to rain, will agree with this! Regardless of this though, you do not want to be spending a reasonable amount of time trying to figure out how to assemble the tent or trying to work out which pole goes where. Most tents available on the market today are easy to assemble, but some have a simpler design than others, so it is worth checking out this feature. And with extra large tents the assembly is complicated more by the sheer extra volume of tent material you are faced with and the extra number of tent poles. If the tent you are checking out has color-coded tent poles that match the tent sleeves for easier setup, this is a bonus!
3. To minimize condensation inside the tent, make sure there is adequate cross ventilation with decent-sized windows and a breathable tent fabric. If your tent comes with a vent in the roof area, all the better.
4. It goes without saying that the tent windows and doors should have good quality zips, and screens to keep out insects.
5. Flooring is a very important component of any tent. Ideally, the floor of the tent should be a 'tub' style to keep out the wet and it should be made of a heavy-duty, reinforced, and leakproof material. Polyethelene is used extensively for flooring in tents these days. Whatever the material used, make sure that the flooring is fully sewn in to give protection from the elements, bugs and any other sort of creature that might like to crawl inside the tent to escape the cold or look for food.
6. Ideally, the tent should have a fly for extra protection from the elements. Ensure that the fly seams have been taped to prevent leakage in wet weather and that the fly is made of a waterproof material, or has been coated with polyurethane to make it waterproof.
7. An extra safety feature to consider is wherever, or not, the tent and fly fabrics are fire retardant. This is especially important in an extra large tent where it is more difficult to exit the tent in a hurry, should the need arise, simply because of its larger size and, sometimes, more complicated design.
Camping holidays with the family and friends are wonderful experiences. They are affordable for most and offer such a variety of different types in different locations. Invest in good quality camping equipment which should last you for years, if you look after it properly. An extra large tent is a great investment for families or larger groups who are serious about this type of holiday experience. Check the market carefully and choose wisely. More than likely, your extra large tent will still be around and in demand when your children start to venture off camping on their own!