Nowadays, all different sized and shaped types of tents are readily available. There is a tent that is perfectly suitable for any application, from a bivy tent that only weighs a few ounces to huge, multi-roomed tents cabin tents that can sometimes weigh 50 pounds or even more. Tents were initially manufactured from thick canvas, but nowadays they can be made from a wide variety of materials. Different types of tents are better suited to heavy winds or bad weather than others, so if harsh weather conditions are likely, an ideal choice won’t necessarily be the most popular one.
A-frame tents were at some stage very popular due to the simplicity of their design, and they look like a capital A, hence name. Made originally from canvas with wooden or metal poles, modern varieties of this type of tent are made from materials weighing much less. These tents are surprisingly stable and very easy to set up, but they are heavy, bulky when packed, and do not really have any headroom.
The most common design available today is the dome tent. Two flexible poles are used and cross in the centre to then be anchored at the tent’s corners. It is easy to distinguish this tent from other types. Dome tents are available in many different sizes, and their capacity range from a single person to around eight people. There are designs that use a breathable inner tent in a double-wall configuration. The inner tent is normally made mainly from mesh with a waterproof floor. The second wall is a rainfly that rests on top of the poles. The interior of single wall tents is waterproof throughout, which does eliminate some breathability.
Dome tents have decent headroom, are lighter than many other tent options, and are easy to set up. Although the area around the tent door that is sheltered by the tent’s rainfly (vestibules) is often included for storing extra gear, not every dome tent has them. One downside of a dome tent is that they often catch the wind and are then blown away or flattened.
A backpacking tent is a good choice if you plan on doing a long-distance trek from the car to the camp, or a multi-day hike. Backpacking tents are normally smaller than other designs and weigh less. Their design tends to focus on the small size, and the quality of materials used has a direct impact on pricing. Backpacking tents have small packed sizes and fewer poles. Their limited capacity and low ceiling make them mainly suitable for one or two people.
A multi-room tent or cabin tents are the best option for big families, and they can be closer to a house than a traditional tent. The main advantage of this type of tent is privacy. The multiple rooms however also offer space for storing gear and they have the space required for a large family. This tent style’s main drawback is its size and weight and pitching it takes more time and practice. Strong winds are also a significant issue for multi-room tents. Despite these drawbacks, multi-room tents are an ideal option for large family gatherings where extra space is required.
Pop Up Tent
This type of tent is relatively new and is also called an “instant” tent. Pop up tents jump into shape in only a few seconds due to them being spring-loaded. These tents don’t do well in extreme weather conditions; other options are more suitable for camping in lousy weather. A crucial advantage pop up tents have is ease of use.
The teepee is the original, often cotton canvas, tent. This type of tent tends to have a high ceiling, is easy to pitch, and only needs a single pole, but it is heavy and has a high pitching point (the point where the pole meets the tent). Flooring is often not included as well.
Semi-Geodesic and Geodesic Tent
Geodesic tents offer all the advantages of a dome tent with additional stability and support. Geodesic and semi geodesic tents’ poles cross numerous times, and these intersections create triangles to give the tent added strength. They perform better than dome tents in holding up in bad weather and heavy rain but are challenging to pitch and more significant to pack.
Inflatable tents are also newer and their poles are inflatable. Although this makes one-person setup easy, an inflatable tent requires an air pump and is heavier than other models.
This type of tent is similar to dome tents but more cylindrical and longer. A tunnel tent uses guy ropes to pitch and is not normally freestanding. Tunnel tents’ space-to-weight ratio is great and the identical pole length means you won’t have to be worried about mixing up poles. The biggest issue with a tunnel tent is that they have to be pitched properly, or they may sag in the middle.