quote:Originally posted by trask
Dude, as with anything in life, you get what you pay for.
This isn't always true. The only attribute you can guarantee the most expensive solution to a problem has is that it is the most expensive solution.
The lifetime of a tent is probably a lot more related to how you care for it than how much you paid for it. Keeping the zippers clean, not heaving on the zippers, using a proper ground sheet, drying out properly after use, keeping the fabric clean, not stepping on it while setting up, etc.
With tents, more expensive gets you brand names, lighter materials, more complicated construction, and higher sensitivity to mistreatment.
That being said, for car camping I have an MEC Funhouse 6. I can stand up in it (I'm 6'5"), it has been through torrential thunderstorms on several occasions without a tarp overhead, and has never leaked a drop. It was like $599 or $699, I don't remember which, and regrettably it appears to have been discontinued.
I would start out cheap if you're just learning to use and care for outdoor gear. If you ever feel it's not good enough, and you're convinced the reason it wasn't good enough was because it didn't cost enough, then you can move up in price.
My MEC Funhouse tent was purchased because I could stand up in it (due to some bends in the aluminum poles that created a larger peak height area), size, and brand loyalty. I've also camped in Coleman and and Outbound tents and have found them to be completely satisfactory, and have seen many families camping in such tents and having a great time.