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To Tent or Not to Tent, That is the Camping Question

Photo image courtesy of Brian Steele

You don’t need a tent to spend a night out under the stars in the great state of Texas, or anywhere for that matter.

That is, you don’t need one until you realize that you do. Let’s talk about the reasons you may need a tent when you go camping.

First, there’s the bug factor. No one wants to be woken up constantly throughout the night by buzzing mosquitoes, that’s simply the worst.

I experienced a very blissful evening on the Texas coast one night. The coastal breeze was strong, it was warm and very pleasant, so I decided to just put down a tarp and go to sleep on the beach. It was the best until the wind died at 3:00 in the morning and fleets of hungry mosquitoes came out of the dunes like a phantom in the night.

The only respite was to hunker down deep in my sleeping bag and tough it out until the early morning. It made for a fun memory, but one of a miserably long night sweating it out in a sleeping bag when the temperature didn’t call for it.

Of course, the weather can change quickly and that perfect night under the stars can turn on a dime. Imagine the ideal evening, the stars are out bright and clear and there are no bugs at all. You decide that it’s the perfect night to just tarp it.

You spread out your tarp, get your sleeping pad and bag in order and lay your head down. You stare out into the vast starry sky as you slip into a deep, fresh-air induced slumber.

There can be nothing finer than going to sleep in those conditions. However, if you haven’t paid attention to the weather forecast prior to closing your eyes, there can be a rude awakening in the middle of the night when the wind kicks up and the rains come a calling.

I’ve experienced this so I can speak with authority that it is best to have done a little research and pay attention to the sky to know if there is any weather change potential prior to making those decisions about not using a tent. It can be a challenge setting up a tent late at night, bleary eyed and half awake with the winds kicking up and a storm coming full strength. Once again, it makes for a fun story, but knowing what the weather is going to be like can give you the insight of when it’s a good night to tarp it and when you might err on the side of caution and set up your tent just in case.

And, let’s face it, this is one everybody thinks about: Snakes!

Yes, there are lots of snakes in Texas, and if it is warmer than 65 degrees at night, you need to be mindful that snakes like to move around and do their hunting for food at night.

If you are moving around in the dark of night and it is warmer than 65 degrees, you are wise to keep your snake radar on and watch where you step. Most snakes frown on being trampled, and will let you know it!

So with all that said, I will testify that sleeping in the open air on a tarp in the great outdoors can be an easy and refreshing alternative to bothering with setting up a tent and missing out on all the lovely stars of a perfect Texas evening. Tarping it for the night just isn’t for everybody.

Here are a couple excellent choices for tents that are easy to set up, provide bug free bliss for your outdoor slumber and will stand up to the strongest of Texas frontline winds.

Nemo Tenshi 2P SE

It’s a 2-person, 4 season tent that will take the strongest of storms with a smile on it’s face. Learn more about it by clicking here.

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3

Roomy, easy to set up, and will stand up to the strongest of thunderstorms with nary a drop of water in your tent as you snooze through the worst of weather. Learn more about it by clicking here.

Marmot Odyssey 4

Plenty of room to spread out, lots of ventilation for keeping air moving in the tent and structurally strong to withstand winds and heavy rain when the front moves through. Learn more about it by clicking here.

Those are just a few great choices out of multitudes in the outdoor marketplace. Remember, if you are purchasing your tent there are a couple of must have and must do items to prepare you for low stress camping and a better night sleeping.

Must haves include aluminum poles, a full coverage rain fly, solid and dependable tent stakes and guy lines that are staked out and tied down stoutly. The lower the profile (height) of your tent, the less it is going to be beat up and pushed around in a Texas blustery rainstorm.

RELATED: Camping Tent Fail: Check the Wind [VIDEO]

It also is always wise to plan your tent spot with the worst case scenario in mine. This means you shouldn’t place it where water can pool up and create a pond under your tent. Also, don’t put your tent under big old dead tree branches, either. Be smart and think about where you put your tent for the night, as the worst time to realize when you have chosen poorly is when you are sleepy and there is a storm coming.

On the must do list, know your tent. Set your tent up before you go camping. It is no fun to be trying to figure out how your tent goes together in the dark or with rain coming.

Whether you are tarping it for the night or you prefer sleeping in a tent, the fact that you are camping outside in the wide open spaces means that you are living the good life and getting out there! See you under the stars!

Have anything to add to this story? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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To Tent or Not to Tent, That is the Camping Question