Whether you are a novice camper or experienced backpacker, it's important to review the same key criteria when selecting a hiking tent. Follow this checklist and decide how important each of these features is to you, and then check out a variety of tents to find the one the best meets your needs.

Weight: If you are carrying your house on your back, so to speak, a lightweight tent might be one of your most important criteria.

Waterproofing: If you are camping out for any length of time, you will likely encounter some rain. Even one rainy night can put a damper on a family camping trip, so look for a tent with taped seams for waterproofing. The flysheets of some tents are coated with additional water-resistant material, such as polyurethane, which can increase the life of the tent, but it also will increase the initial cost.

Weather: If winter camping is your goal, your criteria are different than a summer camping trip. Look for a specialty cold weather tent that is designed to provide more insulation. Extreme hiking and camping? You'll need an extreme weather tent.