When you are about to set out camping in the backcountry or planning to attend a festival, you will need to make sure that you have all your camping gear and essentials with you. Among the most important items is a good tent. It will shield you from the elements and allow you to make the most of your camping trip.
There are different types of tents to choose from and the right one for you will depend on your circumstances. Some are small and easy to set up while others are designed to provide shelter for multiple individuals. Some are ideal for festival-goers and may not withstand the harsh weather elements while others are built tough for backcountry camping.
1. Ridge tent
This is a classic design and has been around for a very long time. When you think of camping in the backcountry and sleeping in a tent, the ridge tent is usually what comes to mind. It features two poles at either end and a triangular shape.
While the ridge tent will not offer much headroom on either side if you plan on using it during the evenings for just sleeping then this design is very practical.
What’s more, ridge tents come in a variety of sizes from small single-person tents to two or more-person tents. You will also find large ridge tents for group camping.
Ridge tents are durable tents that can last for decades. They are simple to set up and can withstand the harshest of weather elements. This is thanks in part to their slopping set up. However, they are heavy to carry around.
2. Pop-up tents
The pop-up tent is perhaps the easiest tent to set up. All that is required is to take it out of your backpack and unfold it. It immediately takes its form and is ready for use. The only bit of work that you need to do is to tie it to the ground.
Due to its ease of packing and setting up the pop-up tent is a great choice for inexperienced campers. There is also plenty of room inside and most are designed for two people.
The pop-up tent is also relatively lightweight and its small footprint means that it can be set up almost anywhere.
However, the pop-up tent may not be ideal for backcountry camping as it will not withstand strong winds and harsh weather elements. It also lacks much headroom.
3. Inflatable tent
Inflatable tents are a relatively new design on the market and due to this fact, they can be quite expensive. They are similar in structure to the tunnel tent but instead of using poles, they have structures that fill with air which allows the tent to take its shape.
Inflatable tents may not feature solid poles but are still quite heavy to carry and are mainly ideal for people who are camping with their cars. They are roomy and can suit families or people camping in groups.
Setting up the tent is simple. As soon as you have selected the site, simply lay down the tent and use a pump to inflate it. Because they don’t have poles, there is less likelihood of the tent collapsing and causing an accident.
Another drawback is that for people who want to camp in larger groups, it might be difficult to find a larger sized inflatable tent. Also, to be able to pitch the inflatable tent, you will need to carry an electrical or manual pump. This makes it a bit time consuming to set up the tent.
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4. Dome tent
The dome tent is a popular type of tent that can be used in a wide variety of camping situations. Unlike the pop-up tents, the dome tents provide plenty of headroom. They are easy to set up and usually comprise of poles that arch into a semicircle.
At the bottom of the tent is a square or rectangular shape where the poles meet the ground. Dome tents are easy to assemble and set up and are also lightweight.
Dome tents are fairly strong and can withstand moderate winds and rain. They are also quite affordable. Due to their versatility, these tents can be used for backcountry camping. However, it’s important to make sure that you are not camping in a location with extremely powerful winds and very heavy rains.
5. Tunnel tent
If you are planning to go out camping with a few friends or family members then the tunnel tent is a good choice. It has several curved poles which when set up make a tunnel, thus its name.
Tunnel tents provide plenty of room inside and have even more headroom than the dome tents. Due to their larger size, they can be quite heavy to carry.
A point to note is that when camping in an area with strong winds, the tent should be set up facing the winds since strong winds to the side of the tent might cause it to collapse. However, thanks to its tapered ends, it is still a very sturdy tent when setting up.
Tunnel tents are versatile and can be used for most camping situations. They feature different designs. Some, for example, have rigid poles making them much stronger in strong winds. Others have more flexible poles which makes them lighter to carry.
One common feature between the different varieties is that the poles are set parallel to each other. It is this set up that results in the tunnel-like structure. The fact that they require guy lines means that they will take some time to set up.
6. Geodesic tents
These types of tents look similar to dome tents. The main difference is that geodesic tents come with extra poles that create a much sturdier structure and also feature an increased inner area space. They are stronger than dome tents which makes them better able to withstand strong winds and rains.
Geodesic tents feature multiple poles that form triangles over the fly. This design makes these types of tents very rigid and able to withstand strong winds.
While they can be a bit expensive, the semi-geodesic tents are a good choice for mountaineering. These featureless poles and appear as a cross between a dome tent and the geodesic tent. They have a roomier interior and good headspace thanks to the higher ceilings. Their much more technical build also allows the tents to last longer than most other designs.
Due to the extra poles, however, geodesic tents can be hard to carry over long distances.
7. Vis-à-vis tent
The vis-a-vis tent is ideal for family camping and features either a dome or tunnel design. Inside the structure are compartments on either side of the tent for sleeping with a center section where group campers can meet up and spend quality time.
The living quarters face each other which explains the name of the tent. Vis-a-vis is French for facing each other. One main benefit of this type of tent is not just the inner space but the greater headroom that can be found in most other types of tents.
Vis-a-vis tents are quite bulky tents and are not ideal for hikers and backpackers as they can be quite heavy. However, for people who plan to camp using their cars, it is a great choice tent.
There’s plenty of room in a vis-a-vis tent which makes it possible to spend considerable time inside without experiencing discomfort.
8. Pod tents
Pod tents are similar to vis-a-vis tents in that they have multiple compartments and a single center section. Unlike vis-a-vis tents that mainly have two side sections and one central section, pod tents have multiple sleeping areas.
One advantage is that smaller kids and older kids can have their sleeping quarters and the parents a different sleeping area allowing each group to enjoy their privacy. They can all meet up in the central area to enjoy some quality time.
Pod style tents are also ideal for group camping. However, they have a large footprint. The more fabric and poles make them heavier to carry and are not ideal for the backpacker or for hiking focused camping.
What’s more, some campsites will charge extra for pod tents due to the larger space that they occupy. Some may not allow them at all so it’s important to check the rules and regulations of your chosen camping area.
9. Backpacking tent
For hikers who spend long hours trekking, a backpacking tent is ideal. You don’t want to be weighed down by the backpack so the tent needs to be lightweight. The second advantage of a backpacking tent is that they are easy to set up and once you take it out of your backpack, you will be able to set it in a few minutes.
While backpacking tents may come with different designs, they usually have one wide end and another low end with a bit narrow porch area. The fact they are narrow on one side makes them streamlined and better able to handle strong winds.
They are set low with not much headspace which means the camper will not be moving around much inside the tent. However, they have a practical design and you can walk around carrying the backpacking tent for a long distance before getting tired. They are also easy to set up.
Backpacking tents can handle harsh weather elements despite their compact size and lightweight construction.
Related Review: Backpacking Tent
10. Tepee tents
Tepee tents feature a single-pole design and are increasingly gaining popularity. Due to their structure, they may not be the best for harsh weather camping. They are, on the other hand, a great choice for camping at festivals.
However, some tepee designs feature heavy cotton material which allows them able to withstand harsh weather. This also makes them heavier to carry around and are not ideal for hiking or mountaineering.
Related Review: Teepee Tent
11. Bell Tent
While some believe the bell tent to be a less practical option for camping, it is still one of the most durable and sturdy tents out there. The bell tent may not be as popular as the other types of tents, but people are starting to see the benefits which have turned many into bell tent fans.
The bell tent is ideal for camping in the summer. The canvas construction makes it best suited for warmer seasons as the canvas is known for regulating temperature quite effectively.
Bell tents appear similar to ridge tents in that they have sloping sides. This reduces headroom significantly. On the other hand, their circular design allows them to accommodate a larger number of people than the ridge tents.
Another feature that sets bell tents apart from most other types of tents is that they are compatible with wood-burning stoves. They are also available in many different and attractive designs.
The main feature of the bell tent is a single-pole that runs through its center. It is on this pole that the canvas is attached and stretched on the sides. It forms a bell shape thus its name. While bell tents are not the best types of tents if you are planning to head out into the backcountry especially when you may encounter harsh weather, it is a great choice for mild and pleasant weather.
Pitching the bell tent is simple and any first-time camper can have it set up in a few minutes. Since the side panels can be rolled up, this allows for greater ventilation. It can, however, be quite costly and the space to weight ratio is not ideal for most campers.
12. Cabin Tent
Cabin tents look just like cabins hence their name. They feature poles that are constructed from aluminum which makes them both lightweight and sturdy. 3 types of material can be used for cabin tents. These are nylon, polyester, and canvas.
These types of tents are known for providing campers with plenty of space. The headroom is great such that campers can even stand up straight in them. They are a good choice for camping with groups or with the family as they also feature dividers for privacy.
The downside is that all those aluminum poles and material makes them quite heavy. They are not for the minimalist or backpacker but are ideal for campers since they will often have their car.
Related Review: Cabin Tents
13. Bivy Tent
The basic design of the bivy tent makes it not only lightweight but a low profile as well. For campers who like to melt into the surrounding landscape, bivy tents are a great choice. They can be folded up and easily carried in a backpack and are simple to set up.
These types of the tent also come with a built-in bug net which keeps mosquitoes and other insects away. They can withstand moderate rain and winds and also offer good ventilation. Most bivy tents are designed to accommodate just a single camper.
14. Hammock tents
For campers who prefer to stay off the ground, a hammock tent is a great option. It looks just like a normal hammock only that it has a roof.
This tent is simple to set up and is most ideal in forested areas where there are trees around to help set it up. Hammock tents are also relatively inexpensive and are very easy to pack and carry.
15. Car top Tent
As the name suggests the car top tent is set up on the roof of your car. They are small and mainly accommodate just a single camper but some models will offer room for two or more.
Car top tents keep the camper above ground and away from crawling and biting insects. Another major benefit of these types of tents is that in case of floods or wet weather the camper remains off the ground.
Transporting the car top tent is simple. However, you may require an extra set of hands to pitch the tent.
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16. Pyramid tent
Pyramid tents also feature a single pole that runs through the center. A rainfly then drapes over the top and is then staked at the corners resulting in the pyramid shape. Most of the support and stability of the pyramid tent comes from the guy lines so these have to be staked firmly in the ground.
The larger the pyramid tent the less stable it is and the more it will succumb to the effects of strong winds. Most modern pyramid tents are lightweight and easy to transport.
These tents are also simple to set up. The downside is that most don’t feature any inbuilt groundsheet and since they do not have vertical walls, they have limited headroom.
17. Suspended tents
Suspended tents work similarly to hammock tents in that they keep the camper off the ground and free from the wet ground as well as crawling and biting insects. They are however somewhat larger than hammock tents which makes them heavier.
To pitch the suspended tents, trees need to be within range to offer support. They feature the geodesic shape and have quite a bit of room inside. The straps of these types of tents are extra strong to be able to hold the weight. They also feature mesh doors for breathability as well as keeping flying insects and mosquitoes outside.
18. Beach tents
These tents are designed for camping at the beach. They are lightweight and very simple to set up. What’s more, they feature a groundsheet that keeps the sands out as well as sides that prevent sand from blowing inside.
Beach tents offer UV protection which means that users do not have to rely on sunscreen alone. They are however lightweight and not ideal for stormy weather at the beach. These tents have a half-cut design and their main function is to block out the sun.
19. Frame tents
Frame tents have a more traditional design and their popularity continues to grow. These tents are well known for their rigidity and will hold their own against strong winds.
The frame tent features straight poles that are mainly made from steel. They have angled joints, have plenty of space, and feature good headroom. On the other hand, frame tents take a lot of time to erect and due to the steel poles and plenty of material, they are heavy tents.
20. Khyam tents
Khyam is a tent manufacturer that has been around for over a decade. They offer a unique design with their instant set up tents.
The Khyam instant tents feature an elbow joint design that makes it possible to hold a flexible pole. This can be set to run straight or bend. The skeleton of the tent is fixed permanently to the tent’s fabric.
What makes the tent so simple to set up is that once it is taken out of the bag, this skeleton is going to take its shape instantly with the pole falling into position. The elbow joint will help straighten the pole which then makes it possible for the tent to take its shape.
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There are different types of tents designed for either camping or backpacking. Some are smaller sized and are ideal for one or two users while others can accommodate several family members or groups. The larger tents are a bit heavier and bulkier and are best for camping while smaller tents are ideal for backpacking and hiking.
The right tent for you will largely depend on which of the two you are planning on taking part in as well as the number of people involved.
Some are simpler to set up than others. However, by knowing the different parts of the tent and how to correctly set up a tent, heading out into the backcountry will end up being a fun activity full of great memories and adventures to last a lifetime.
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