Pick and pitch the perfect tent: Carl shares his tips
With some know-how and a few helpful tips, choosing the right tent and setting it up is fairly straightforward. Here’s our Event Manager – and tent expert– Calle Hård af Segerstad to guide you.Guides | 8 Minutes read
Whether you are going on your first family camping trip, or setting out on a long-haul solo trek, having the right tent on hand is essential. It is also a rather personal choice. With everything from the activity to your expertise level influencing your decision. But with some know-how and a handful of helpful tips, choosing the right tent and setting it up is fairly straightforward. We talked to our Event Manager – and in-house tent expert – Calle Hård af Segerstad to get all the info.
Understanding the basics. The anatomy of a tent.
To the uninitiated, the construction and components of tents can be intimidating, but it can all be broken down into a few basics.
First, the outer and inner tents. The outer tent, also called a “flysheet”, is meant to protect the inner tent (and you) from the elements. Fjällräven outer tents are made of a Ripstop nylon, which is coated on each side with four layers of silicon for durability and longevity. Our aim is unambiguous: make tents that last a lifetime.
The inner tent is essentially the space in which you live and sleep. Fjällräven inner tents are made with a water-resistant treatment that is free of toxic fluorocarbons. Furthermore, we do not use flame-retardants or PVC plastics in the production process. That means no harmful chemicals or hormone-damaging substances are released during their making.
All Fjällräven tents are made with a Nordic Pitch Construction. That means the outer and inner layers are combined in one unit. When you pitch them, they are both pitched at the same time.
The vestibule is the entrance to your tent. Here, you have extra space take off your boots, leave your backpack and protect your gear from the elements. Leaving your gear here gives you more room in the tent for sleeping.
Tent poles provide structure and Fjällräven’s are made with both sustainability and user experience in mind. Aluminium, they are made by world-leading manufacturer DAC. We choose to work with them because their production facility has the best possible levels of resource use, chemical handling and emissions. In terms of handling, the aluminium poles are inserted into sleeves on which our designers applied a clever colour-code. The sleeve openings at the base of the tent are trimmed with silver fabric to indicate where to insert the pole. At the top of the tent, the sleeve openings are trimmed in red or yellow. You simply guide the pole through the same colour trim.
Finally, tent pegs and guy lines keep your tent secure and taught. The nylon fabric of Fjällräven tents are meant to expand with moisture, so the guy lines in particular help the material wick away water.
Tunnel or Dome. Which do you pick?
All Fjällräven tents are designed to last a lifetime and produced with as minimal impact on the environment as possible. In our range, we have three tent families: Abisko, Keb and Polar. Abisko tents are lightweight and suitable for many types of outdoor life. Keb is durable and reliable all year long. Polar tents are specialised for use in the demanding conditions of winter.
Within those tent families, we offer two core constructions: dome and tunnel. Which is best? Depends on your needs and preferences.
For a novice camper especially, a dome tent is an ideal option. Due to its dome construction, it is self-supporting and therefore less dependent on pegs and guy lines to stabilise. As such, dome tents are easy to shift around to find the ideal spot. They are also less sensitive to changing wind directions.
Tunnel tents on the other hand must be secured to the ground. They are a favourite in Scandinavia as they are particularly well-suited to more challenging weather conditions. Not only are they extremely wind resistant, but they have a spacious vestibule with which to divide the tent. You can use one area for sleeping, and the other for storing equipment and preparing food in poor weather.
Pitching your tent. Tips for security and comfort.
Pick the perfect area
According to Calle, you want to look for a spot that is relatively flat with a fairly hard surface for your pegs to get a good grip. You also want to check the ground for minimal vegetation so as to not to disturb nature.
The best option according to Calle? “Search for an already established campsite. That way you ensure you don’t break in any new tent spots.”
Count those tent pegs.
“It’s always important to make sure your equipment is complete before you leave the house.”
If you’ve watched Calle’s video about pitching a tunnel tent, you know why it is so important to count your tent pegs before pitching your tent, and when you take it down. Even the most experienced campers forget theirs from time to time.
Consider the wind direction.
While dome tents remain relatively unaffected by wind, tunnel tents need to be positioned with the wind at your back. If it is windy when pitching your tent, Calle suggests starting setup by putting tent pegs in the corners of the vestibule side of the tent and rolling out the rest of it from there. That way, the tent won’t blow away.
Always use the guy lines.
After pitching a dome tent, using your guy lines may feel like an unnecessary chore. Calle thinks otherwise:
“Guy lines are important in order to get the right tension on the fabric of the tent; not having the fabric too soft and loose because it will flap and make sound in the night. It causes abrasion and wear and tear of the fabric.”
You may need to adjust the guy lines as the night goes on, as the outer tent expands and contracts. But the effort has a clear reward: product longevity, and a good night’s sleep.
Settling in. Get comfortable for the night ahead.
Get the temperature right.
The golden rule before you enter a tent: ensure your body is warm. Body heat is particularly important during cold-weather camping, so do something active, like a short workout, before entering the tent. As Calle says, “The sleeping bag is exactly like a thermos. If you put something cold in it, it will remain cold. If you put something warm in it, it will insulate it and stay warm for a long time.” If nature calls in the night, and you are also cold, take the opportunity to do your business. It won’t be particularly fun, but the activity will warm your body and prepare it for a cosy return to the tent.
Create a comfy surface.
A well-planned tent floor is also important. According to Calle, staying warm is a matter of creating space between you and the ground:
“Maybe the best insulator is the air. Getting a barrier between you and the ground is the theory behind it.”
He recommends layering products to insulate the floor, starting with a ground sheet, like the Fjällräven Footprint reinforcement sheet. Made from durable and waterproof nylon with a PU coating, it protects the tent floor against moisture. On top of that, he layers a 14mm Fjällräven ground sheet made of closed-in plastic. On top of that, he places inflatable sleeping mats.
If the floor still isn’t quite right, Calle suggests using extra clothes to enhance insulation, fill in gaps and even out lumps.
A comfortable night is a dry night. According to Calle, the first thing you ought to do upon entering your tent is open up all the ventilation:
“My rule of thumb: open up (the ventilation) as much as possible. If it is super cold and windy and you’re not retaining heat at all, then you start to close (each ventilation source). It’s all about moisture management.”
In fact, poor ventilation causing moisture is one of the most common mistakes new campers make. You may even think your tent is leaking, but what is actually happening is your tent is collecting condensation inside.
Want to learn how to pitch a tent step-by-step?
Watch Calle’s videos on YouTube. You can also see them in action on Fjällräven Classic TV. This year, we’re streaming our Fjällräven Classic events, so you can immerse yourself in nature from the trekker’s point of view.