It’s difficult to think of a wilderness guide book with a camping bent that Cliff Jacobson hasn’t written. His Falcon Guide titles cover cooking, canoeing, best knots, orienteering and on. There are videos to be had, too, for other means into his vast knowledge. He suggested “Top Secrets” as a worthy compendium of his guides. “It’s an A to Z lexicon of all those tips and tricks,” said Jacobson, a retired environmental sciences teacher from River Falls, Wis. Tents get their fair share, a topic he was happy to take up in a conversation. His five tips:

• Make sure your tent comes with a fly. Better still, a tent with the fly permanently attached. European tents are the standard. Generally, seam tape fails over time. “If you have even a pinhole on the a portion of the tent not covered by a fly, you have water coming in.” U.S. tent-makers, in general, include a fly separately, meaning you’re tent is going to get wet if set up in the rain.

• Just say no to fiberglass poles. “There is no such thing as a good fiberglass pole. Period.”

• Consider the weight and bulk. For a backpacker, weight is an issue. For a canoeist, not so much — but bulk is.

• Setup time is really important. A good tent should set up in under three minutes.

• Avoid tents with “cutesy things.” Jacobson isn’t a fan of tents with plastic windows or LED light strands, for example. They’ll fail, he said.

Learn more about Jacobson online at

Bob Timmons