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Buying Guide for Camping Shelters

Camping Shelters


By Steve Kopitz


Pouring rain, a plethora of thirsty mosquitoes or the evil ball in the sky we call the sun, whatever has the opportunity to plague you on your next camping, hiking or leisurely outdoor adventure can be combated with some simple shelters that can make a world of difference.


Okay, maybe I was too rough on the sun but sometimes that thing can be harsh!


Types of Shelters:


Freestanding Shelters:


When the sun is beating down on your tent or you want to enjoy a picnic, a Freestanding Shelter props up so that you can stay covered.


Tailgating-style Tents easily lift up over a picnic table or can be used at the beach when the brightness and heat can be more of a burden than a joy. These are generally taller so that people can walk in-and-out or stand under it with ease. Think tailgating tents or event tents.


More Packable Tailgating-style Tents are often used when car camping or if you have a camper. The poles tend to be closer in style to a tent pole and usually won’t cover an entire picnic table.


Screen Rooms are Tailgating-Style Tents that close off to help keep the bugs away. They are one of the more popular camper tents because of the added bug protection but pack larger than the others.


Other Freestanding Shelters are small enough to fit over a hammock as well or are designed to cover a camping tent.


Some things to be aware of though is how the Freestanding Shelter stays on the ground. Pounding stakes in the ground may be an option but some may have to be weighed down so they don’t blow away or tip over.




Tarp Shelters are generally used for covers over boats or chopped wood to keep them dry. There are Tarp Shelters used to cover your sleeping bag on those camping trips when it starts to rain or to cover your backpack if you’re hiking during a downpour.


Most prefer a waterproof tent though as opposed to just a tarp. Tarps are often back-ups in the event that it starts to rain.




Since you’re going to be fair game on the hiking trails, when you lay down at night to sleep, you might as well keep yourself sheltered against those pesky mosquitoes. Mosquito Shelters do just that. They are a netting designed to fit over your sleeping bags.


They are propped up to give you a solid barrier between you and the insect. They vary in sizes to accommodate multiple sleeping bags or even a tent.


Mosquito Shelters are also great for hammocks. If you find yourself in the backyard relaxing and there are mosquitoes about then you can use a Mosquito Shelter to enjoy the outdoors bug-free.


Mosquito Shelters are also great bug-nets if you’re staying in a hostel or an area known for lots of bugs.


When You Would Use a Shelter:Camping Shelter Family




You’re hiking through the woods and are stopping to sleep for the night or just to get in a quick nap. Mosquito nets will help keep you protected. Tarps would be used also to shield the rain from reaching you. Shade Shelters aren’t used as frequently in backpacking unless they are light and easy to set up.


Family and Car Camping:


These are your bigger shelters. When you’re tailgating and want to set up an area to hang out, these Shade Shelters are the way to go. They are also great for car camping when you pull off into a camp site and want to set up a place to cook dinner or not get too hot standing in the sun.




If you’re traveling and just want a shelter from the insects once you stop. Traveling is for the camper who is going to be out for a while and wants a light and durable shelter.


Pay Attention To:




If you’re going to take a shelter on a backpacking trip or are traveling and want a shelter, you’ll want something lightweight that fits easily into your backpack.




Not all Shelters are designed for all seasons.


3 Season – You’ll get the best use out of these shelters in the Spring, Summer and Fall. They will protect against the sun but not cold winds and very chilly temperatures.


4 Season – These are shelters designed for year-round use and are better equipped to handle wind and snow – like all shelters, they will keep you protected, not warm.


Packed Size:


This is important when you’re taking it on a camping or hiking trip where every inch of space in your backpack needs to be considered.


Peak Height:


How high will it go? Will it cover what you want covered or, if you’re using a Shade Shelter to block the sun or rain from ruining your outdoor plans will you be able to stand up inside of it?


Shelters are those extras that become life-savers. Whether you’re in your backyard sleeping on a hammock or in the middle of the forest hunkering down for the night, a Mosquito Shelter can seem like a miracle. Blocking the sweltering sun from hitting the picnic table in the park during a family outing makes everything more comfortable. Giving your self a place to hide from the sun at the beach makes a Shade Shelter all worthwhile.


Consider a Shelter the next time you head outdoors and avoid bug bites, sunburns and getting soaked while you sleep.


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