Posted by: old_user on Dec-05-06 12:50 PM (EST)
I just recently bought a new 3-man Kelty and am very happy with it. It's the first tent I've ever owned that has a "skylight."
Anyway, my biggest shopping criteria were:
1) Buy from reputable store. REI and Campmor have GREAT return policies. Make sure you can send it back if you get it and the front-door zipper doesn't work.
2) Bathtub style floor. It's harder to sweep out, but I made the mistake of buying a tent without this design once and...WHEW!...that was a mistake.
3) THICK floor material. Get the thickest you can (depending on your weight requirements). Adding a pad below it is great, but starting with a thick floor material helps more than a secondary pad.
4) Some type of "porch." There's nothing like slogging your way through the rain and mud, only to get to your tent and try to pull your rain-jacket and boots off while still standing in the rain. I got the Kelty that has the rainfly that extends out over the entrance. It was priceless on it's maiden voyage!! Some tents actually have an extended material "porch" so you're not standing in mud. I couldn't find one of those on sale when I was shopping, so I got an extra little (heavy) tarp to serve the same purpose.
5) Dome tent that doesn't require stakes to be set up. This may not be your priority, but it needs to be considered. Some dome tents still require stakes and I needed something that didn't require that.
Good luck with your search!!