One of the biggest purchases you’re going to make as an outdoor enthusiast is probably going to be a decent tent. It should keep you safe and warm, and be durable enough to withstand whatever adventure you want to go on next. However, it can be hard to figure out which tent brands to avoid as there are so many.
So, what happens when a tent brand is churning out sub-par tents that have the potential to ruin weekends away and family holidays? That won’t leave good memories. Instead, read this tent guide to know what to look for in a new tent and what to avoid.
How to spot a bad tent brand
Sometimes you might see a tent brand you’re not familiar with or a deal that you’re not too sure about. Without knowing outright if it’s a reliable tent brand or not, how to spot a bad tent from the outset? After all, you don’t want to spend all that hard-earned cash on something that might not last the month.
If you want tips on how to find a good tent, check out this handy video from GO Outdoors.
First things first, the main thing that you want to look for in a tent is craftsmanship. These are things like quality, stitching, fastenings, and material. All of these things go into a sturdy, safe, and durable tent. The work that goes into a tent is going to determine how long it’s going to last on your adventures.
If the stitching has been rushed and there are frayed edges or loose threads, these are indicators that the craftsmanship might not be up to check. High-quality tent companies will have managers and supervisors checking the items before they go out for shipping. However, if a company is doing business on the cheap, they’ll skip this person and just get the tents made and shipped as soon as possible.
One of the best ways to avoid a bad tent is to look at the reviews. Don’t just check the reviews on their actual site or Amazon page. Go deeper and check out Google reviews and what people are saying about them in the camping forums.
Other people’s real-life experiences are a great way to confirm your suspicions. They’re going to be brutally honest, and they’ll be using tents in a wide range of different scenarios. It’s a decent measure of whether a tent brand is good or bad.
Although this isn’t always true, a good rule to stick to is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. If you’re seeing tents that fit your requirements averaging around $500 and suddenly one pops up for $200, you need to check if there’s a serious sale on or question how they can be sold for so cheap compared to their competitors.
You can set alerts for price changes of your favourite products to see when they drop in price. However, if you see a seriously cheap tent, check the reviews and see what’s included in the package. This should be enough to see if it’s one of the tent brands to avoid.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great tents under $200 either.
Tents are supposed to last for a while. They’re not disposable products and most good tent companies will include a guarantee or warranty with the purchase. It might just be a year or it could be a lifetime guarantee and everything in between. This shows that the manufacturer is confident in the long-lasting nature of the tent.
Warranties only cost the company money if the tent breaks or doesn’t do its job, so the bigger the warranty, the more confident the brand is in the quality of the tent. If there is no warranty or guarantee, this can be a bit of a red flag.
Packing them away
One of the most annoying things about using a tent is having to pack it all away again. Check the reviews and product information for how to pack away your tent. How easy is it? How long does it take? Is there an easy-to-stow bag? These should be essentials, but it’s not always the way with low-quality brands.
If some chairs come with the tent, check our guide on how to store camping chairs.
All parts and accessories
Again, this feels like it should be a no-brainer, but a poor tent brand may not include all parts and accessories in the package, whereas the more reputable brands will. You might not get a mallet and extra pegs. You might not even have wind support lines. Check the inclusions before you buy and price up how much these extras will cost you in the long run. That cheap tent deal might not be quite so good once you do!
4 Tent brands to avoid
Okay, we’ve scoured the forums, checked the reviews and done the hard work. Here are some of the top tent brands to avoid according to real-world users and outdoor adventurers. Let’s find out who we should be steering clear of in the future!
The CCTRO tents are an Amazon staple. It’s also a classic example of the price point being super attractive, but the craftsmanship has definitely suffered. Some user reviews report that the stitching is pretty shoddy, the zippers and fastenings break after a couple of uses, and there are even some examples where the tents have started leaking in low-level conditions. It may be cheap and it might be okay for fair-weather one-off conditions, or for a festival, it’s not worth investing in for long-lasting adventuring.
On the surface of things, pop-up tents seem like a great solution for those adventures where you don’t want to spend ages setting up your camp. Unfortunately, the problem with these kinds of tents, and the Techcell brand, in particular, is that they’re really difficult to put away. The reviews have also said that the poles snap and break really easily, which obviously isn’t ideal.
So, Slumberjack is actually a pretty well-known outdoor brand, with tents, sleeping bags, and more. The thing is, their tents are pretty snug. If you’re tall or have broad shoulders, Slumberjack tents can feel claustrophobic. Combine this with poor ventilation and tons of condensation, and you can easily wake up with damp and cold gear. All in all, it’s not ideal.
On the surface, Geertop tents look great, however, it’s been mentioned in several reviews that they tend to be missing pieces when the tent arrives. That’s already not off to a great start. If you manage to get a tent with all its pieces and have a wonderful time, you’ll then have to deal with the pain of having to pack it all away again. It’s been commented on a lot that the packing bag is way too small for the contents, and you’re likely to get super frustrated, trying to get it all to fit away again.
The best tent brands
Okay, we’ve gone through some tent brands to avoid, so who should you go with instead? Let’s uncover some of the best tent brands.
Everyone’s favourite American outdoor recreation store has a ton of great tents that you can check out either in-store or online, with expert insights. Their tents tend to be roomy and lightweight and have ranges that go from beginner all the way up to intrepid explorers. You can also take advantage of their membership schemes and used gear selection to help regenerate old tents and make them useful again!
If you’re UK-based then you’ll have definitely heard of Vango. The Glasgow-based company is now the biggest tent brand in the UK and that’s for good reason. They’re roomy, utilise high-quality stitching and fastenings, and are normally at a reasonable price point. Vango are especially good for innovative family tents,
Finally, if you’re looking for a tent that can withstand the mountain trails, opt for a Big Agnes tent. As they’re based in the mountains, all of their tents are thoroughly tested on the trails to ensure they’re up to standard. Big Agnes tents have high-quality zippers and fabrics, excellent customer service, and warranty systems, which should give any owner peace of mind when you’re next out on the trails.
So, all in all, there are a few ways to spot a bad tent brand: quality, price, reviews, and accessories being some of the key things to look out for. If in doubt, go into your local outdoors shop and check out the tents on display to see the size and quality, or ask an outdoorsy friend for their advice. Reviews are always your friend here, so make sure you read before you buy!