Find the right tent
A tent is just like an insurance. Something you pay for, but the real value of which you only realize when push comes to shove. When it rains horizontally and the wind whips against the tent side, the insurance pays off and you get what you paid for. If you never camp in such weather, you don't have to spend that much money on a tent.
But a tent also has other important features. In Scandinavia and especially in the northern parts, protection against insects is just as important. In addition, having your own portable retreat, as opposed to spending the night outdoors, offers a certain amount of protection against other people. Two questions and the details determine your choice.
The first question is whether you want a tunnel tent or a dome tent?
The dome tent has many obvious advantages. At least in theory, these tents are more or less self-supporting. However, often the apsis has to be stabilized with a few pegs. Dome tents are unrivalled in the archipelago, where they sit safely on the cliffs. Nevertheless, they always have to be secured additionally. A couple of storm lines in the ground also ensure that the tent is better protected against rain. In general, dome tents withstand all kinds of weather and wind better than tunnel tents. The steep walls ensure that water and snow can easily slide off the tent wall. Crossed poles make the tent wind resistant. The poles also keep the tent fabric properly tensioned. This solution prevents a damp inner tent from hanging loose and getting people or sleeping bags wet. This construction and the firm inner tent offer plenty of space and a good seating height. Good ventilation options are also a general plus with dome tents, which also means that dome tents dry quickly after rain. The tent can also be easily moved for optimal placement and can be lifted and shaken out when necessary.
1. Often, but not always, the apsis is rather small.
2. The weight per person is usually slightly higher than in tunnel tents.
3. Inner tent and outer wall are set up separately, which can be problematic in rainy weather.
In Scandinavia, we like tunnel tents. This is our own tent tradition, and we have been building tents like this for many years. In recent years, the segment has grown from robust four-season solutions to a wide range of tunnel tents for various areas of use. From airy summer solutions to pure winter tents with storm mats and many mountings for storm lines. Today's tunnel tent is as versatile as the dome tent, but has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
It rains in Scandinavia, and not least in the mountains. The advantages of setting up inner and outer tent at the same time, as you would normally do with a tunnel tent, are obvious. The inner tent never gets wet, and you don't have to be as considerate as with a separate outer tent. When it rains, most tunnel tents score points with at least one large apsis, which provides protection for cooking and equipment, and also acts as a “hallway” where you can change and hang wet clothes.
Tunnel tents are very easy to pitch. The basic construction consists of two poles, each of which is inserted into an arched channel. Of course, the tent is pitched in the wind direction, and a flat silhouette makes these tents storm-proof. Possibly with one exception: When the tent is opened facing the wind, which can cause the tent to inflate like a balloon and burst in all seams. Furthermore, tunnel tents are generally lighter per unit area than other tent models.
There' s not much negative to say. However, the seating height is generally lower than in dome tents, and the ventilation options suffer from the fact that the tent's ventilation areas are usually limited to the two short sides due to its shape. In a tunnel tent, there is also not the same tension of the tent wall as in a dome tent. For some reason, tunnel tents are traditionally produced mainly in green. If you are looking for a lighter interior, many models made of lighter fabrics have also been introduced in recent years. The fact that tunnel tents are not self-supporting like dome tents is a relatively marginal aspect, as all tents, regardless of model, should be fixed in the base to avoid unpleasant surprises. But in an archipelago on bare rock, the dome tent is still the best solution.
Question number two, where and when?
The most important question you have to ask yourself as a tent buyer is when and where the tent is going to be used. The seasons dictate different tent characteristics. A forest walk closer to home requires different tent characteristics than an excursion in the mountains.
The average camper sleeps in a tent in spring, summer and fall, and on the occasional mountain hike. A summer tent or a three-season tent will do. This type has many mesh-covered surfaces for good ventilation and rarely more than three poles. The number of poles is a simple indicator of wind stability, the more of them the more stability, but that also means more weight. In these tents, the tent floor stops low on the walls, making it sensitive to the combination of strong wind and rainfall. These tents perform well in the summer in the northern parts of Scandinavia, but should be used with caution in spring and autumn in the mountains above the tree line. If you are looking for a tent for the winter, you should look for a sturdy construction with multiple poles, closable mesh inserts and a raised tent floor.
Important features for you
Storm-proof, light and breezy - this combination cannot be found in one single tent. The choice will always be a compromise. Some points should be taken into account more strongly.
Good ventilation ensures a dry and comfortable sleep. However, note that mesh panels that reach down to the floor also let in rain and cold drafts. Closable mesh panels are advantageous. They work just like shutters. Pay attention to ventilation options in the outer tent as well.
Tent fabrics are made of nylon or polyester. Nylon is elastic and tear-resistant, but tends to stretch and hang loosely when wet. Polyester withstands the sun's UV rays better than nylon. The floor should have a polyurethane coating as this improves abrasion resistance. The color of the canvas is important; a darker fabric makes for poorer light conditions in the tent. A light-colored tent fabric is more pleasant.
Tents today are lighter, more flexible and stronger than ever before. The development of new materials makes sheets and fabrics more durable and at the same time increasingly lighter. Thinner fabrics lead to less packing volume.
The dimensions and number of poles determine the strength of the tent and indirectly the weight. DAC brand poles manufactured in Korea are among the best. The Yunan brand poles are also made in Korea. The quality is best seen at the joints - make sure to compare!
The floor surface of a dome tent is sometimes irregular, hexagonal or octagonal. The remaining surface along the walls partially replaces a small apsis. A proper square meter of floor space per person is a minimum. The manufacturers' recommendations for two, three or four people are very general. So make sure to test the tent with equipment, especially if you are tall. Note that for camping in winter, spring and autumn a slightly larger floor space is usually required. This is because the equipment takes up more space, and more time is spent in the tent than in summer.
If you are unsure about the choice between, for example, a two-person or three-person tent from the same manufacturer, choose the larger one if comfort is more important to you than the smallest possible weight.
A well-made tent impresses in every detail. The seams are straight and even, and the poles glide apart easily and have smooth joints. If the poles are of different lengths, the arch channels have to be color coded. Pockets and loops for storage and hanging are invaluable, even if it doesn't seem so important when you are still standing in the shop.
How to pitch the tent
Choose the right place: Try to set up the tent in a spot that is a little elevated. This way you avoid cold ground hollows and at the same time benefit from some wind which helps to ventilate the tent. The wind direction is crucial, especially in the mountains. A tunnel tent can easily be placed correctly with the narrow end facing the wind and the opening protected. With a dome tent, you have to consider a few more factors, depending on how the tent is set up. The opening should face the side away from the wind. Consider where the sun rises and try to place the tent in the shade. This extends the life of the fabric and makes for a more comfortable climate, especially in summer.
Use the right pegs: Rounded pegs made of aluminium are most common and are ideal for hard ground. V-shaped pegs are required in softer ground, or pegs for winter use in snow.
Right from the start: Stretch the corners correctly when setting up the tent so that the ground is even.
Use your imagination: If the surface is too hard for pegs, use what is available. Make a big loop in the storm line and attach it to trees, tree trunks or rocks. Sometimes you can wedge pegs between rocks. In winter, skis are a good way to anchor the tent. Even snow-filled nylon bags buried in the snow work very well.
Retighten the tent walls: Some materials, especially nylon (polyamide), expand when they get wet, and then the storm lines have to be retightened.
Avoid moisture: Close all ventilation options in the evening when the dew falls. Open the ventilation completely at night, but avoid draught.