Today’s modern tents are refined achievements in design and engineering. While their main purpose is shelter, the way they pack, the weight and density of the materials used and certain features of the tent will determine its best uses.

Here are a few things to consider when buying your next tent:

1) Dashboard confessional

If you’re car camping, and that means camping close to a car, then there is no need to look for the lightest and most carefully designed tent on the market. In fact, this is a great place to look for comfort-rich features. You can sleep in the lap of luxury if you disregard weight, set up time and size. We like the NEMO Losi LS 3P Backpacking Tent, three person tent. It’s clever roll up pack design, huge use of space and innovative fasteners are easy to use, and while it’s a big tent, it’s perfect for car camping and pack trips.

For a look at a minimalist tent, see the MSR Flylite.

2) Tis’ the season

Unless you’re camping in the dead of winter, there’s no reason to go beyond a hearty three-season tent. Tents made for four-season camping are typically much heavier and costly, and for a good reason, to keep out the weather and cold. Often, a three -season tent, with a little help from a warm sleeping bag and the rain fly, will hold in the heat in all but the coldest temps.

3) Take the rain

While it’s a crime, some modern tents will come without a rain fly, and that should be noted. Rain flies not only seal out the rain drops, but also keep in the heat or let in the breeze. Most three-season tents will have ample ventilation and designs that encourages air flow when rain flies are on and open.

Another tip: use the guy-lines and tent stakes to fully expand and tighten the rain fly, so it performs as it was designed to. Wind will blow over the shape with less resistance, there will be no annoying flapping and precipitation will roll right off.