Heheh, I’ve got the Twenty Dollar Special, which is a flimsy and yet hilariously full of heart little tent from Canadian Tire. I haven’t even used it out in the bush, but no doubt it’s terrible. But it’s good enough to get out of the house for, and it highlights why you need a good tent.
Camping can be host to a whole galaxy of weather. Snow, rain, and high winds threaten to give you a miserable nights sleep. A proper tent can shield you from that. However, even an expensive tent can get you drenched if it’s not a well-designed one. This is the result of the condensation which collects in an improperly ventilated tent. Single wall tents, tents with outer shells (flys) which don’t touch the ground, or no ground tarp can result in dew penetrating the outer hull of you abode! Which will suck if you have to pack it up wet, and then sleep in it after a long paddle.
So what DO you need in a good tent. First thing is space. Never assume the number of people the company SAYS can fit in a tent actually WILL fit in a tent. Add gear, a pet, maybe a few air molecules, and you’ll find the three people cannot sleep comfortably in a 3-person tent. Second, make sure the fly goes all the way down to the ground. This will keep rain off you, and deflect wind in a useful manner without flapping around like a jackass. Thirdly, make sure it’s easy to set up. The less poles needed, the less can break, and the easier it’ll be to set up. I also suggest getting a ‘stand alone’ tent, because some tents don’t have corner pegs and require staking into the ground/rocks for full deployment. Finally, I’m going to suggest aluminum poles versus fiberglass ones. They weigh a bit more than fiberglass, but are a million times less likely to crack or break.
Don’t skimp out on a tent. Anything under 200$ will probably let you down unless you’ve really done your homework. Get a good one, and it’ll treat you right!