I was on Canada AM this morning talking about tents and what to look for in choosing one. It went well, except for for a few bloopers - like my sad attempt at showing the hammock tent (I put it up wrong and I slowly lowered to the ground as the host was interviewing me. And I had a very difficult time pronouncing pinata (my nickname for the hammock tent happens to be "bear pinata").

Here's the detailed info on tent selection I choose and what I didn't have a chance to go over during the interview:

Family campground tent samples

Bonnavista - $400


  • huge front vestibule

  • lots of head room

  • climate control doors — exceptional air circulation -"meaty" #10 door zippers

  • taped seams

  • side doors with no-see-um netting for cross-ventilation

  • heavy-duty waterproof floor

  • duffle bag for packing

Northern Breeze Screen House - $450


  • number one selling tent accessory

  • make sure it has no-see-um netting and not mosquito netting — smaller holes will keep all bugs out, - - -- including blackflies and no-see-ums

  • 12' x 12'

  • light weight and portable due to aluminum frame

  • also includes waterproof awning walls

  • 150 D polyester splash cloth vs the usual 75 D for protection of UV rays

  • 7 ft. 7 in head space

  • Family interior tents

Summerwind $200 (Kevin's personal favourite)


  • double door — side door is a big plus

  • full coverage fly

  • generous use of no-see-um netting for good ventilation

  • good size vestibule

  • El Cap — two person interior


  • clip to pole construction

  • low ventilation system at the base of the vestibule

  • easy set up

  • good pole set up for wind conditions

  • no pegging necessary

  • Alpentlite 4 — season - $300


  • high quality ventilation system — vents on side and in ceiling

  • high quality zippers

  • high quality poles

  • V pattern roof for snow load

Solo Spitfire - $100


  • light aluminum poles

  • small vestibule

  • lightweight but durable material

  • fly goes completely over tent

  • good headroom,

Hammock Tent Cryallis


  • has the comfort of a hammock but weather protection of a tent

  • two pole system that allows you not to sag while sleeping — meaning you can roll over and sleep on your side as well.

  • two door system allows you to enter from either side

  • mesh ventilation on walls

  • heavier then most hammocks but provides more protection

Key Points about tent selection

  • you get what you pay for — but don't spend too much.

  • you can get a good quality family based tent for $300 to $400 — under $100 you better hope it doesn't rain

  • pick a tent that suits your style of camping — meaning to choose a tent for the worst possible weather you'll be camping in

  • free-standing tents — ones that do not require to be staked down to hold themselves up — are the best — dome style does this and are the most common

  • 4 season tent are not free-standing because they need a wall design to shed snow

  • choose one size bigger then what it says in the box — a 3 person is perfect for 2 people

  • choose aluminum poles and not fiberglass

  • place shock cords on the tie down ropes to place less stress on the fly

  • a full fly — reaching the ground — is needed for poor weather but ventilation becomes an issue

  • look for how the design deals with ventilation — more openings the better

  • UV protection polyester-nylon coating is a must

  • sealed seams

  • durable floor

  • high quality zippers

  • clips are far better then tent sleeves for the poles

  • tent fly should not touch the tent body — look for how the pole system allows for that