Here’s the short answer: yes. If you’ve been carrying around the same tent on your backpacking adventures for more than a few years, if you’ve been dealing with a sticky zipper, mysterious leaks, or any of a dozen tiny nuisances, consider replacing that old tent.  You’ll find that tent technology advances with great speed, and a new tent will have many advantages over one only five years old. Here are the important considerations to examine when shopping for a new tent.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 8.55.04 PM

Weight: One of the many ways tent technology has advanced is in the area of weight. Considering that backpackers have to carry their shelter with them, this is a primary concern. With lightweight fabrics, fiberglass rods, and designs which simply require fewer parts, tents have reduced their weight profile by 70% in the past 30 years, and by 10% just in the past ten. Decreased weight gives you more room to pack other essentials, or alternately makes your trek a little bit lighter.

Climate: Tents are designed for specific seasonal use, and you should take this into consideration when planning a trip.  Most tents are “three-season,” for use in temperate conditions, while mountaineering tents are designed to stand up to the cold.  Likewise, dedicated summer tents are devised with better ventilation and even more lightweight walls. Pack the right tent for the season and conditions, and avoid a lot of discomfort later.

Capacity: Tents generally have a number in their brand designation that indicates the ideal number of occupants, but tent manufacturers don’t have a consistent method for determining how much room occupants will need, so some research is required.  Similarly, there are features like separate entrances for dual-occupancy tents, or rain vestibules that can help your comfort level tremendously. Remember that capacity is dependent on occupant familiarity–a married couple or two long-term backpacking partners need less room than a couple fishing buddies who’ve just met.

By giving careful consideration to the needs your new tent needs to fulfill, you can ensure years of comfortable and nuisance-free trekking, anywhere you choose to travel. Get out there and see the world!