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Family Tents

I’ve personally owned a 2 room family sized tent, the Columbia Cougar Flats II, which has since been discontinued.  It held 3 people in each room comfortably with all their gear. Currently, I own a 3 person dome tent, as well as a 3 ½ person tunnel tent.

3 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Tent


  • Always underestimate the boxes’ specifications.
    • When it says the tent fits 4-6 people on the box, it usually means it’s spacious enough for 2-3 people.
  • Is this tent just for you, or do you plan on sharing?
  • Do you want a tent with a vestibule, to store your gear/shoes?


  • What type of fabric is the tent made out of?
    • Most tents today are made out of either nylon or polyester. For the most part, they’re equally good fabrics. Polyester is a bit better because when wet the material doesn’t get loose or baggy and it lasts longer under UV light exposure.
  • Are the seams double stitched?
  • Are the zippers cheap/flimsy or are they heavy duty?
  • What are the quality of the tent poles?
  • How many seasons is the tent rated for?
    • 2 season tents: Spring, Summer, and Fall (for mild rain and winds)
    • 3 season tents: Spring, Summer, and Fall (can withstand heavy rain and winds)
    • 4 season tents: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter

Rain Protection

Tent fabrics have a waterproof rating system, also known as Hydrostatic Head. The hydrostatic head rating for tents are as follows:

  • 1000mm– protection from “light showers”
  • 2000mm– for general year-round use (i.e., heavy rain/wind)
  • 3000mm– for extreme weather conditions (i.e., expedition/mountain tents)

The higher the number, the better the protection. For car camping, I personally wouldn’t buy anything under 2000mm. You never know what type of weather conditions you may run into.

Coleman Shelter - Car Camping


This is the place for everyone to hang out in to get out of the rain and/or away from bugs. I’ve owned a few canopies over the years and the Coleman Instant Shelter Screen has by far been the best.

Coleman Instant Shelter Screen

  • Extremely spacious (12×10)
  • Can fit a 6 foot folding table inside with room for 5-6 people and their camp chairs
  • Easy and fast to set up
  • Encased with a mesh netting

Canvas Treatments

Seam Sealer
Treat your tent and canopy with a seam sealer before use.

Spray Sealer
At some point down the line, your tent/canopy’s waterproofing will begin to deteriorate; use a spray sealer. Can also be used to waterproof tarps.


hammock - carcamping.org


You can buy a hammock for a relatively cheap price ($15-$20). Strap it between two trees and you have a place to sleep for the night. Tie another rope above you from tree to tree, lay a tarp over that rope and stake the 4 sides of the tarp to the ground. There’s your protection from the rain.

They also sell hammocks that have a netting, so bugs don’t bite you during the night. Also, one’s with netting and a cover for the rain.

One of the most versatile and thought out hammocks that I’ve come across is the Hennessy Hammock.

Basic Tarp Shelter

Paracord tied between two trees. Lay the tarp symmetrically over the paracord and stake the 4 corners of the tarp down.

photo credit: Jomegat™ via Wikimedia Commons cc