Friday, December 14, 2012

Buying a Tent

tents @ Mt Madja-as
Trekking and camping ordinarily involve the use of tents. Your tent is your shelter when you’re out there. And just like any shelter, it should protect you from the elements. Shopping for a tent is like buying a premade house. Houses should be user-and-environment-specific. Before you buy your tent you may want to go through this first.


Two major classifications of tents

Free-standing tents

Free standing tents are tents that can be moved and still be kept in its original shape. They can stand even without the use of guy lines and stakes. They are easier to pitch, easily transferrable and more comfortable. In the wind, they are quieter and are less prone to swaying. They are also easy to drain and clean. You just have to pick it up and joggle it upside-down to rid it of dirt or water. The trade-off—they’re heavier and bulkier.

Fixed tents

Tents that need guy lines and stakes to stand are fixed. If you want to move them, you’ll have to take them down and re-pitch them. The advantage in using fixed tents is that they are lighter and space-friendly.

Traditional tents

The following fixed tents are the crudest types of camping tents. You can often improvise these tents by using a canvass and sticks. Being so, these are the lightest but at the same time the least resistant to hostile weather condition if not pitched well.

The Pyramid Tent
A pyramid tent is a fixed tent that utilizes one or two central poles and has a fly sheet spread taut over the ground to maximize the sitting room. The central pole subdivides the floor area into smaller regions which makes this tent not ideal for sleeping. If floorless, the central pole could be buried a few inches into the ground to make it sturdier and resistant to pressure. This is probably the least resistant to wind. If a pyramid tent has around ten faces or more, it becomes a bell tent.  These tents could range in size from one that can accommodate one person to one that can shelter around fifty persons.
The only time I saw a tent of this type was during a scout jamboree in Leyte back in grade school. The bell tent consisted of a bamboo central pole and the multi-colored fly sheet that swayed in the wind. It sheltered around fifty chairs and persons during the evening program.

The Avian Tent
The avian tent follows the same concept as the pyramid tent except for the additional second internal vertical pole. Just like the pyramid tent, the avian tent is normally floorless and is often used as an emergency shelter. The edges of the fly sheet are also tautly guyed out to stakes on the ground.
I have not seen an avian camping tent in my life except for the industrial versions which are fixed by large metal frames and are used for outdoor performances and bazaars.   

The A-frame Tent
The A-frame tent of my friend Jigz Santiago at Margaja Valley in
Mt Kanlaon
This type of tent utilizes two erect terminal poles made of one piece aluminum material or improvised with the use of sticks. The poles are buried a few inches into the ground with the upper ends (of the poles) guyed out tightly to pegs or stakes at the front and rear of the tent. This mechanism keeps the tent upright and creates a ridge on the roof which sags even without rain. This unavoidable sag prompted tent manufacturers to come up with a modified A-frame tent where a central hoop or an upper ridge pole is added.
This tent is very light and space-friendly but the downside is that, it doesn’t provide ample headroom. Moreover, the central poles obstruct passage into and out of the tent and just like other traditional tents, this is very vulnerable to wind.

The Ridge Tent
The ridge tent of my guide in Mt Nangtud
A sturdier version of the the A-frame is the ridge tent. Compared to the A-frame, the ridge tent makes use of a central ridge pole that carries most of the weight of the fly sheet and gives the tent a permanent triangular frame. One or two of the central poles may be replaced by a wall or a branch with or without the help of guy lines.

The modern trekking tents

The following modern tents can rarely be improvised in that the poles are sheet-specific. The poles which may be made of fiberglass or aluminum are flexible and should fit into sleeves and hooks or clips attached to the tent wall. These tents are more resistant to the elements and are easier to pitch compared to the traditional tents. 

Wedge tent
A wedge tent in Mt Romelo
This free-standing tent is what you will most often see in campsites for non-technical climbers. This could come in a variety of configurations the most basic being one composed of two flexible poles that intersect at one point. Two poles form a square dome figure and three poles intersecting at one point makes a hexagon dome. This design makes the wedge tent often called a dome tent.  But not all wedge tents are dome-like. If the poles are made to intersect at two or more points, this comes close to the look of a geodesic tent.
Wedge tents provide more headroom and the more poles used and the more faces created, the more the tent becomes resistant to wind.

Tunnel tent
This fixed tent is formed by a set of hoops along its length. The hoops are of equal length, which gives the tent a tunnel-like appearance. This type of tent provides more headroom than the A-frame. Most often the front and the rear parts are fixed by stakes and guy lines.
A tunnel tent and two hoop tents of Cebu-based
Silangan Outdoor Equipment
Hoop tent
This fixed tent is ideally formed by one central hoop. The rear end may be supported by a minor hoop, an upright pole or, which is often the case, guyed out to a peg or any anchor. This may not be the most stable tent but the minimalist nature of a hoop tent appeals to the light backpacker.


Bivvy / tarp
A simple bivvy system in Mt Lanaya (Cebu)
The word ‘bivvy’ is a contraction of the word ‘bivouac’ and ‘tarp’ is for tarpaulin (which is a common material in setting up a bivvy). This minimalist shelter falls under the fixed tents category. It’s just that most campers would be reluctant to call it a tent because it doesn’t have walls. Guy lines are necessary in setting up a bivvy. The simplest way to set up a bivvy is to find points of attachment for the guy lines. Most often these are small but rigid branches of trees or shrubs. Some improvise attachment points with their trekking poles. Good knot tying skills and basic knowledge on mechanics may help a camper come up with a comfortable and weather-resistant bivvy system. Once a bivvy shelter has been set up, the camper can rest in a sleeping bag, a bivvy sack, a hammock, a bug bivvy, a ground sheet or just rough it on the ground.  Depending on the add-on that you bring with you, the weight of the bivvy system could come close to that of a tent. The advantage in using a bivvy set is that it’s less bulky. But it’s undeniably much easier and more convenient to pitch a tent than to set up a bivvy. 

Bivvy sack
Bivvy sacks
A bivvy sack is the fusion of the technology and physics behind the tent, the bivvy and the sleeping bag. This is for the minimalist who wants to be more comfortable than the bivvy-lovers and more hassle-free than the tent-fanatics. In the Philippines, this may not be the best choice unless coupled with a tarp or a bivvy system. Rain is its foremost enemy.  Moreover, most of the heat your body produces is also trapped in the sack so it will leave you sweating your sleep away when camping in not so cold places.
I am inclined to also discuss other shelters in campsites like the tentsile, inflatable tents, hanging tents, Myhab, the seconds tent and other types of camping shelters, but the ones included in this discussion are pretty much what you’ll need and find in the Philippines.


Buying online or offline

It is always wiser to buy in shops rather than online. This way, you can personally check the fabric, the seams, linings, poles and other parts of the tent. If you wish to buy online, go for those with warranty. Also, go for the reliable and recommended brands.  But some online sellers offer free checking before purchase.

Price range

my generic tent in Sagada (2006)
The cheapest almost disposable tents you can buy are those that are priced less than P1500. These ‘generic’ tents are the blue wedge tents you see in sports sections of department stores. The fabric is mainly polyester and the poles are fiberglass. These tents are ideal for those who do not see a career in trekking. However, it is best to use these tents only in perfect weather conditions. My co-workers who camped with me in Osmeña peaks had their worst sleep when the fiberglass poles of their ‘generic’ tent succumbed to the strong winds. They spent the night in the collapsed tent. The waterproofing of these tents isn’t dependable either. It normally lasts for only two uses.
The next range will be P3000-P5000. These tents are ideal for camping in the Philppines. This price range is normally for the local brands. Brands like Conquer, Sandugo, Apexxus and Silangan are in this range. The two tents I used (after my generic tent) fall under this range. I got my Coleman Pioneer 2 for P3600 in 2006. I got my Apexxus Tadpole for free from a friend who bought it for P3800 directly from the maker in 2011.  For this price don’t settle for wedge tents. Go for the wedge-tunnel hybrid or anything that has a vestibule and an extensive rainfly.

Parts to check

the tub should fold a few inches above the floor
The tub—this is the floor of the tent. The most important feature of the tub is waterproofing. A wet floor cannot give you a comfortable sleep. Plastic tubs are not very resistant to water. After getting folded four times they become prone to leaks. Better tents use specialized waterproof fabric for their tubs. The tub should be made of one piece of material and should fold a few inches up the wall of the tent and shouldn’t have seams/stitches at the bottom perimeter to avoid leaks. The other important feature of the tub is tear-resistance. Waterproofing is compromised as soon as the tub is torn or pierced by twigs, stones and other sharp objects. Before buying your tent, check whether the tub is made of material that is durable enough to withstand tear. If not, then make sure you have a dependable footprint or groundsheet.

The inner canopy—this feature is present only in double walled (double skin) tents. The inner canopy should be breathable to let vapor pass through to the flysheet and prevent condensation on the inner surface of the tent. During summer months, noseeum meshing will keep you cool and still keep the bugs out. Inner pockets on the inside of the canopy are useful for keeping important stuff dry, off the ground and easily accessible. There could be a lantern loop on the ceiling which you could use to hang your lantern. In my case, I use it to secure my sunglasses.
The flysheet and inner canopy of my Coleman Pioneer 2
@ Mt Talamitam

The flysheet—for double walled tents, the flysheet is your main protection against the rain and wind. Most camping tents in the Philippines come with flysheets. This is the external one-piece fabric that you see when a tent is fully pitched.  It should be waterproof and preferably light. Apart from keeping you safe from the rain, this also catches the condensation made from the warm air inside the inner canopy mesh. Store your flysheet and other fabric components of your tent in well ventilated places. When washing these fabric components, avoid using detergent. If you should, just use mild soap. And if possible air-dry it and keep it away from direct sunlight when drying.

The vestibule with my stuff
The vestibule—this is the compartment of your tent usually formed by the flysheet in front of the entrance to the inner canopy. Shoes, bags, and other dirty stuff that you don’t want to keep inside the tent, are kept dry when stowed in the vestibule. You can also use the vestibule for cooking when it’s raining or windy outside. Just be careful not to scorch the fabric of your tent.
double zipper system with velcro locks

Zippers—Make sure that the zippers of the inner canopy and the flysheet are durable and easy to slide. A double-zipper system is preferable. In case one of the sliders or pull tabs blows out you’ve got an extra set. Velcro locks at entrances are also a good backup for your zippers. Plus, it facilitates in the ease of opening and closing your tent when you have to go in and out of the tent more frequently.

the groundsheet in our campsite in Calinog (on our way to
Mt Baloy)
The footprint—the footprint is the layer of sheet underneath the tub. This optimizes the waterproofing and tear-resistance of the tub. It is best to tuck fringes of the footprint under the tub or at least within the bottom perimeter of the fly sheet. Footprints should be congruent to the shape of the tent floor. Be careful not to let the footprint sneak out of the flysheet perimeter. Otherwise, this will collect water when it rains and will defeat its waterproofing purpose. In the absence of a footprint, a groundsheet is used as a substitute. You can customize the ground sheet according to the shape and size of the bottom perimeter of your tent. Most ground sheets are made of plastic but other improvise using a tarpaulin.  

Guy lines—these are the strings that you may need to tie to the fly sheet in order to maximize wind resistance. The flysheet may be guyed out to stakes or branches of trees and shrubs. In the past, I never found use for the guy lines included in the package. But when I shifted to minimalism, I realized the importance of these unnoticed black strings. Your guy lines make good clotheslines too. And you can use them to tie together just about anything in the campsite.

guy lines

Guy loops—these are the attachment points on your tent usually on the flysheet for the guy lines. On a normal day, you won’t be needing them. But when the weather gets rough, you may have to find use for them.

metal stakes or pegs
Stakes/pegs—these are the metal rods you use to fix your tent to the ground. They come in different shapes and weights. The most common ones are the round rods bent to form an angle at one end. A lighter stainless version is also popular. But recently I’ve seen stakes that have angular bodies. The advantage of the angular body is that it doesn’t get bent easily unlike its round counterparts.
These pegs are most often lost and misplaced. Take care of them! They play a vital role in fixing your tent to the ground on turbulent weather conditions. If one peg is missing, you might have a hard time securing your tent.
Whether or not they are stainless, it is wise to clean and dry them as soon as you get home from a camping trip.
In case you need additional pegs, you can buy them individually. The last time I checked, one generic peg sells at P20.

aluminum poles
Poles—they serve as the framework of your tent. It gives form and headroom to your tent. There are two common types of tent poles—aluminum and fiberglass. Fiberglass poles snap when bent too much and they tend to break into slivers as time go by. Aluminum poles are the poles of choice among campers. They are lighter, more durable and stronger. But along with this power-combo comes the price. The downside of aluminum poles is that they are susceptible to corrosion. But most of them have tin coating to keep corrosion off the poles.
Take care of your poles. They are like the bones of your body. Don’t smash or pound them. Lay them carefully on the ground. Once they’re broken, they won’t be able to support your tent as much as they should.

the door on the left opens down
the door on the right opens up
@ Dumaguete after our failed Mt Kanlaon attempt

Access / entrance—The entrance / access to the inside of the tent should also be taken into consideration. Most tents have one front entrance. Others have side entrances in addition to the front entrance.  Most tents have two-layer doors or entrances—the polyester outer layer and the inner mesh. The entrance should be wide enough for the camper to conveniently pass through. Most doors open down. But some tent makers have decided to make doors open up to avoid getting the door soiled. Still others have doors that open sideward forming a D-shaped flap. Whatever the orientation is, the door allows a few inches of margin above the ground to keep dirt and floodwater out.

Pole sleeves and hooks—these are where you insert the poles. The sleeves allow for optimum distribution of tension compared to the hooks. On the other hand, hooks facilitate in the speed and ease of setting up a tent even when it’s done by just one individual.

Weight—lightness is preferred but most often, stability is compromised the more you keep the weight to a minimum.


Clean the parts.
After camping and before storing your tent, make sure the poles, pegs and zippers are free of silt and sand. Corrosion is irreversible so keep all metal parts dry.

Don’t eat in your tent.
Avoid eating in your tent. This attracts vermin and animals that could tear your tent. If not cleaned, spills could develop into molds and other harmful life forms.

Keep you tent away from direct heat.
Long exposure to heat may affect the durability of the fabric. Smokers and campfires can also scorch your tent keep your tent away from them or the other way around.

air-drying my tent late in the afternoon
Wash it sparingly and carefully.
When washing, use cold water and avoid using chemicals such as detergent and soap.  Don’t wash your whole tent too often. Do localized cleaning instead. When doing localized cleaning, you may use a sponge with hot water. It is ideal to air-dry your tent by pitching it or line-drying it under a shade. It is common advice not to spin-dry your tent or dry it under the sun.

I store my tent in a breathable laundry hamper 
Store you tent in a well-ventilated area.
Avoid storing your tent in non-breathable bags for a long time and in moist places. Mildews can damage your tent. If you have enough space, store your tent outside the bag. Don’t fold it too much. If possible, concuss your tent regularly to avoid permanent folds. Don’t store your tent pitched for a long time. This might deform your poles and give it a permanent curved shape. The fabric might also be overstretched.


  1. umorder ako ng tent from cebu (silangan outdoor). Single pole at 1.5kg..
    susubukan ko kung ok ang waterproofing at kung matabigay sa hangin.

  2. nice! this is very helpful for somebody like me who's just starting to seriously experience the mountains. thanks for posting this informtion. have a blessed day! :)

  3. Where to buy tents from Silangan Outdoor Equipment here in Manila? your reply is greatly appreciated

    1. I'm not sure there is a more convenient way to buy tents from Silangan other than ordering online or through mobile phone. You may also communicate with them through their fb group

  4. Aluminum pole na ba yung pioneer 2 mo na tent?

    1. nope. pioneer 2 comes with fiberglass poles. pero pwede kayo magapasadya ng poles. yun nga lang, mejo mapapagastos kayo.

  5. san b pwede makabili ng stakes/pegs? mejo hirap kc ung iba d alam qng ano un.

    1. Sa outdoors shops po like Habagat, Conquer, Bombproof, Sandugo or those selling their pre-loved items online. :)

  6. Whats your review of the Coleman Pioneer2 tent Sir?

    1. Coleman Pioneer 2 was the tent I used for the longest time.
      It is ideal for the 'new camper' who has just started to get serious with climbing after his first three climbs (with a generic wedge/dome tent). It is not very expensive and the design is competitive with the 'hardcore tents'.
      There are only two things I would want to have improved of the Pioneer 2:
      1. The poles. It has fiberglass poles (which are heavy and easily get bristled at ends). I prefer aluminum/alloy poles
      2. The tub/floor. Pioneer 2 has polyethylene tub (which is heavy and easily loses its water resistance). I prefer one which is made of nylon or polyester taffeta.

  7. What do you think of poncho/tarp as a shelter dito sa pinas sir. Im planning to use it on my next major climb (Kanlaon) to save weight. Ill just use a single trekking pole then guy out the other sides. Nag research na ako ng set up like the half pyramid setup etc. Pwede kaya?

    1. friend did that in Margaja Valley. That would be very minimalistic. Cheers!

  8. ang ganda ng info sa site natoh! dami kong natutunan! Thanks you Sir/Mam!

  9. hi, first of all, very good post!! We are a couple from Spain looking to buy a tent in Manila, and we don't know where. We can not buy online, so can you tell us of affordable tent shops in Manila, please? thanks a lot!

    1. it's rare to find shops that sell tents exclusively. You can buy dependable tents (P3000-P5000) at most malls all over Metro Manila. Go to Robinson's Pioneer (mall) and look for Conquer (outdoor equipment shop) and Olympic Outlet (sports equipment shop)...Near Robinson's Pioneer there's SM Megamall look for Habagat, Toby's, Olympic Village and other sports equipment shop etc. You can also buy at The North Face in SM Megamall...but TNF tents are apparently not what you're asking about. Another mall next to SM Megamall is Robinson's Galleria. These malls have concierges ready to address your questions. Just tell them you're looking for 'camping tents' and they'll direct you to sports shops and outdoor equipment shops. If they direct you to the department store of that mall, you'll find what I labeled as 'generic tents' above.

    2. by the way, you may buy tents online at

  10. good day recommended b ang halcon yj in rainy weather? thnx for info

    1. Halcon YJ is one premium local tent! It should do you good in any tropical weather condition!

  11. Sir, do you know a place to buy a tarp tent or ponchos? I'm building my lightweight kit for my future adventures. I've been using the Conquer Tadpole Tent for 2 persons and I want to upgrade my kit to make them lighter.

  12. hi just wan to ask if nafifix pa ba un tent pag nasira yun isa sa mga bakal? fixed tent kc un foldable sya eh. . .at san kaya nagagawa un? tnx.

  13. nasira po un tent may gawaan p0h ba ng tent? kase po fix p0h un tent foldable po kase sya eh, no need to assemble. . .please advise p0h kung napapagawa pa po ba or need to buy new one, if need to buy san po meron and how much? thanks!

  14. sir, saan po ba nagpapa waterproof and seam sealing ng tarp within metro manila? your answer will be a great help. TIA!!

  15. SIR, saan po nakakabili ng extra peg? Thank you in advance. :)

  16. Great post for beginners like me. Thanks!

  17. this is a great post. thank you for sharing.

    i am about to buy my first tent and i cannot make up my mind to either buy apexus or jetstream. what are the pros and cons? would you please help me make up my mind? thanks a lot.

  18. Hi Anonymous! you might want to consider this.I bought my Brown Trekker Tadpole tent last month for my Akiki trekk. However, I wasn’t able to use during the course of my trekk because apparently there were camp stations during my stops. The week after, I went for a short trekk in Mt Batulao with my nanay and guess what? I finally found a chance to use my BT Tadpole. The day we arrived in camp 1, it was drizzling. I installed immediately my BT Tadpole and voila! it took me just few minutes. What I really like my BT is that the outer vestibule is primarily coated with polyester taffeta which i believed thicker than nylon. Just to make a comparison between BT and Apexus made mention by Pred, “it has an excellent tear strength, abrasion resistant, UV resistant, low moisture retention, resists stretching and sagging, & dries as quickly as nylon. Again, when it comes to flysheet fabric, BT Tadpole used 210T PU2000mm coated Ripstop Polyester Taffeta (thicker than nylon, excellent tear strength, abrasion resistant, UV resistant, low moisture retention, resists stretching and sagging, & dries as quickly as nylon) and Apexus used 190T PU coated Nylon Taffeta (light, quick drying, poor resistance to sagging, not as abrasive resistant as Poly Taffeta, Less UV resistance, thinner than Poly Taffeta) which are both seam-taped and waterproofed. Both brands also used the same type of tent poles, Aircraft Grade/Aviation Aluminum 8.5mm. To sum it up, the materials used by BT is much better but slightly heavier. I hope this will help you choose between other brands. ”
    Personally, I picked BT because aside from reasonable prize and aerodynamic features, I also wanted to have an excellent strength tent that can withstand extreme rainfall especially during August- November season.

    I hope the details below will help you.
    Brown trekker tadpole
    Length: 86
    Width: 61
    Height: 48
    Number of Vestibules: 1
    Vestibule area: 6.3 ft
    Packed weight: 2.3 kg

    Please check the site below. You may find also camping/trekking apparel, gears etc. at a very reasonable prize.
    Inside Rebel Grafix Printshop, G/F, Taft Central Exchange Mall (Atrium Mall) formerly EGI MALL, Taft Ave. corner Buendia Ave.,
    Infront of Arellano University and TRITRAN bus terminal.. same building with Jollibee, Greenwich, Pasay City. Metro Manila

  19. Good day!

    gusto ko lang malaman kung ano ang mas maganda, sabi kasi ng iba parehas maganda ang epexus at conquer pero ano po ba ang mas ok na tent conquer or epexus... thank u

    1. you can coordinate directly with the proprietor through facebook

  20. where can I buy silangan outdoor tent in cebu

  21. Ok po ba anv silangan outdoor tent especially pag umulan? Kc yung generic namin na tent nung nag camp kami sa mt. Lanaya tapos umulan, lahat ng gamit namin sa loob is basa. And we're planning to buy in silangan outdoor. Ok po ba?

  22. sir , same tyo ng tent coleman pioneer 2. nabali kc yng isang poles ng main pole(middle pole) may alam k bng pde gumawa ng poles or replacement? aluminum sna if ever? im a from Laguna. Thanks

  23. Sa basekamp makakabili ka ng aluminum pole pioneer 2 din kc yung sakin at dun ko balak bumile ng aluminum pole

  24. Good day! pa advice lang po sana kung ano ok na tent pag dating sa durability and sa weight. Brown trekker toadpole tent or coleman pioneer 2. Both for 2persons po sila.
    Thank you!

  25. hello po.... tanong ko lang po sana kung saan may pagawaan ng tent sa manila?..... kasi may nakapagsabi sa akin na tropa ko, may nasabi daw sa kanya yung tropa nya na may pagawaan ng tent along quezon city.... di ny lang masabi kung saan, and snong name nung pagawaan.... baka may nakakaalam lang...... ^_^

    1. Sa may kamuning...along kamias rd. Jan ang bahay ng gumagawa ng apexxus tents.

    2. meron po ba kayung contact number ng pagawaan ng apexxus boss??cebu po kasi location ko at gusto ko sanang magpa customize ng tent!

    3. meron po ba kayung contact number nila gusto ko sana ipagawa ng tent tong 40D sil/pu ripstop nylon fabric ko d2!

  26. Hi gud morning po. Gusto ko sana malaman kung may by parts na binebenta para sa tents? Pls reply. Or text me 09222159910

  27. hi. May I ask for your opinion tungkol dun sa dome tent na binebenta sa Brown trekker? yung Waterproof po na dome tent and good for 2. Balak ko po kasi bumili. Thank you.

  28. have a nice day,,how to order tadpole tent,silangan brand Rev 20-php 3200

  29. Hi! Very grateful for all this information which is very useful for us first time trekkers. I just want to know where I could buy footprint or groundsheet here in Manila? Thanks!

    1. Thanks for visiting. You can buy and customize footprints using that orange and brown nylon sheet used in construction. This is available in many hardware stores and in Divisoria. Dedicated footprints are available in outdoor shops in malls.

  30. May old tent ako maayos pa pero Wala na yung poles Meron ba kayong ibinebentang poles?


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