Camping 101: Types of Tents

Camping is an excellent way of ‘getting away from it all,’ connecting with nature, unwinding, and recharging. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the number of Americans hitting the backcountry for a date with nature. In this article, we’ll write about things to consider when buying a one and the different types of tents.

So, if you’re planning to head out this year(2018 already?) to the outdoors then you probably know you need to make some preps – to ensure you’re fully equipped for the trip. I would mention here a mini-first aid kit(it’s a must-have for any trip you’re prepping for, so it should not be missing your bag).

One of the crucial gears you’ll need for a memorable outing is the tent. It’s literally your shelter when out there, hence the need to give deep thought when considering purchasing one.

Some things to look out for in a tent include the material it’s made from, the size, how heavy it is, the ease of pitching, and then maybe how much it cost.


Things to consider when selecting a camp tent

Size of tent

Is it just for sleeping or would you be spending a considerable amount of time inside it during your camping trip? Answering these questions gives you ample knowledge of what size to go for.

The material used

Whether you decide to go for a tent made of canvas or nylon or polyester, one thing that should guide your purchasing decision is the location you would be camping and the likely weather condition there. For instance, a canvas is durable and a lot heavier and can withstand harsh weather conditions while Nylons are pretty much lighter. However, they’re designed for a calm condition. Polyesters, on the other hand, can withstand extended exposure to the sun.

Ease of pitching

They should be easy to set up. You don’t want to spend the whole day pitching it.

Weather conditions

You’d have to consider what weather condition it would be put to use. In a previous article we talked about how to make a campfire in bad weather conditions, it can be of a great use and save you time to enjoy more on your trip. Take, for instance, if you’re camping in a sunny location, then a tent camp made of polyester would be perfectly ideal for the area. 

So we’ve put together this guide to help you cut through the clutter of different types of tents out there while making it easy for you to identify the one that meets your needs quickly.

First, let’s start with the different shapes you’re likely to come across:

Tent Shapes

The Ridge

ridge tent shape

Easy to Pitch

This is the typical classical camp tent that comes to mind for a lot of us when we think of camping. It’s the oldest known camp tent, and yes, people still enjoying using it.

A ridge camp tent is made by sticking two poles at both ends of the tent and sometimes, using a cross pole to hold up the top; this forms an A-shape or the popular triangular shape he’s known for.

  • They are practical: They are no-fuss, straightforward, and get-the-job-done kind of shelters. And because of its practicality, it’s still widely used.
  • Easy to pitch: Another thing going is that it’s so simple to set up. Just knock the poles in place; place the cross pole if available; spread it over the poles, stretch out and hit pegs in place.
  • Sturdy: They are pretty sturdy and reliable hence their popularity and why they’ve survived to this day.
  • They’re lightweight: Depending on the material these camping tents can lightweight, hence making it easy to carry.

  • Less space: The major downer for this shape is that it has less head space when compared to other types of tents; this is due to the steeply sloping sides hence making them suitable for sleeping in only.
  • Might not be suitable for windy areas: Due to how light might be, they may turn out not to be ideal for camping in areas with a strong gust of wind. However, keep in mind that this can be remedied by using heavier materials.

The Dome

Easy to Setup

The dome tents are the favorite of families and group campers due to the more considerable headspace that’s available. They’re unfolded by bending a flexible pole and fixing both ends to the ground or base of the tent, then spreading and pegging the tent.

Also, some of them are made with 2-3 poles crisscrossing the center of the roof to form the tent.

  • Better headroom and broader floor area: A distinct advantage is that it’s more spacious and has better headroom.
  • Suitable for a snowy location: It’s better suited to be used during snowy days than any other camping tent on the market.
  • Easy to set up: one thing campers look out for when purchasing is how easy it is to use, which the dome tent has in abundance. Setting it up is really simple and doesn’t require any complicated thinking to figure out how to do it.
  • They’re mostly free-standing: this feature comes in handy during harsh weather or when the wind direction changes, one can just carry the tent to a safer area without dismantling it.

  • Unstable as it gets larger: One significant drawback is that it tends to become a lot more unstable as it gets larger. So you might consider going for smaller sized tents.

Geodesic/ Semi-geodesic Tent

semi geodesic tent shape

Suitable for Tough Conditions
For Pros

For campers pitching tents in extreme conditions such as on a mountaineering expedition or in exposed terrain, using a geodesic tent is their best bet for decent shelter.

Designed to accommodate several poles crisscrossing each other at strategic points to form several triangles, hence making it the most stable on the market. The semi-geodesic tent ha fewer poles and is designed to be used in less severe conditions than the geodesic tent.

  • Reliable and stable: It is designed to withstand harsh conditions which means a camper can use it in mountainous areas or on a long-term basis like living in a tent full time and confident that it would hold its own against the elements.
  • Designed from durable but lightweight materials: Geodesic tents are made from materials that can withstand the fiercest storms while also easily shrugging off the snow and strong winds, unlike less sturdy tents that would get torn to shreds under that same condition.

  • They’re quite heavy: it’s quite logical to expect the geodesic tent to pack in the weight since they’re designed for all-weather. However, to compensate for the weight; relatively lightweight materials are used in the construction. Also, the semi-geodesic tent provides another option to campers who are not expecting any extreme condition.


tunnel tent

Stable and Durable
Easy to Set Up

They are super spacious kind of tents out there today. In fact, when the weight-to-space ratio is compared with other tent shapes, it beats them out rightly.

It’s generally quick and easy to set up, some brands have strings, and specific places one can touch and they get erected. Also, for individuals planning to set it up every night, this tent is a great option.

  • More considerable headroom: One thing going is the better head space and larger floor space available. Hence, it’s quite popular with families, group campers and individuals planning to spend a lot more time inside of it.
  • Stable and durable: Depending on the quality of material used, size and the poles the tunnel tent can be stable and long-lasting.


cabin shape of a tent

Roomy & Comfortable
Sturdy & Durable
Not So Easy to Set Up

Would you prefer a separate room when camping? Perhaps you have a large number of people camping with you. How do you comfortably accommodate everyone without feeling space squeezed?

Well, the Cabin tent is the answer. They have more headspace than other shelters in the market, and they’re pretty tall too.

  • They are roomy: The truth is when camping with a cabin tent you wouldn’t have to worry about headroom and whether there’s enough room for everyone. Also, all living spaces are usable.
  • The ability to divide the interior: most cabin types of tents offer the option of dividing the interior of the tent into rooms to provide privacy.
  • Durable: they are built to last which means you can use them forever.
  • Sturdier than most tents: they are able to withstand harsh conditions than most types of tents which make them preferable for families wishing to camp together.
  • Vertical doors: it mimics the door shape one is used to back at home; also these vertical doors help keep away precipitations.

  • They are definitely heavy: this is unsurprising given the fact that it’s built to be sturdy.
  • They can be difficult to set up: that’s understandable considering that several complex parts need to come together to set it up. This undoubtedly leads to spending a considerable amount of time to pitch it.
  • May not be windproof: this depends on the material and quality of pole used.
  • Large footprint which means you might not be able to set up in some places.


Heat Efficient
Small footprint

They are literally waterproof tarps stuck to the ground and raised at the center with a pole. Also known as the Miner’s tent, they’re lightweight and pretty fast to set up.

Therefore, they’re just not the type of tent you’d want to take with you if you plan to spend a few days out in the wilderness since the tent would be super exposed to the elements. Nevertheless, it works as a 1-season tent, when the weather is pleasant and the wind is not making any issues.

  • Pitching and breaking camp is really quick which can come in handy for someone on the go that needs to pitch and break camp frequently.
  • Lighter for traveling: you don’t have to worry about how massive the tent is.
  • It’s more heat efficient.

  • The usable space is less compared to a cabin tent
  • There’s not enough headroom
  • A pole in the middle of the living space can be unsightly
  • The door might go way up to the roof which can expose a camper to the elements



Tents for families and festivals

Bring the comforts of home to the outdoors with these family and festival types of tents. Everything you need from the spacious living floor to the different interior divides that serve as rooms.

Dom/ Multi-room Tents

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike Tent

Big Capacity
Can have multiple doors

The multi-room tents are suitable for group camping with the whole clan – think, the kids, friends, and perhaps relatives. It provides a fun way to bond and shares memorable experiences with the loved ones.

However, They are typically bulky, difficult to pitch and in most cases will require more than one person to set up.

  • Most cabin styled types of tents are taller with vertical walls.
  • Have many windows.
  • May have multiple vertical or hinged doors. (We’ve put together a list of the best hinged door tents which you can check out here).
  • Large living space.
  • The ceiling is made of mesh to keep out summer flies.
  • They might not be able to withstand strong winds.

Choosing a festival camping tent is dependent on the number of people you would be camping with. Hence, you can find one with a sleeping capacity of 2 or shelters with a capacity well over 6 persons.

Most Dom types of tents are cabin shaped.

Instant/Pop-up Tents

TheNorthBlu Instant Popup Tent

Easy to Set Up
Can have multiple doors

They are an excellent solution to the grueling task of setting up or breaking camp. So with self-erecting tents, you can cut off the lengthy process of pitching.

  • Fast set up with the “pop” feature
  • They are generally lightweight
  • They’re not as roomy as dome of the same size.
  • The frames are made from fiberglass that opens instantly and is easy to fold
  • May have several doors and windows
  • Large-sized types of tents have interior dividers and rooms
  • May include mesh ceiling to regulate heat

Sleeping capacity of 1 -16 persons.

  • For a small-sized pop-up tent, they generally take a tunnel shape.
  • Mid-size to large instant tents are Cabin styled.

Inflatable Tents

Air Filled Beams
Easy to Set Up

They are the newest innovation in outdoor gear manufacturing. Just as the name implied, it involves pumping air into the deflated tent beams thereby making them turgid.

The firm columns also serve the same purpose as the poles in traditional tents. They’re usually filled with air via a pump hence, making it easy to pitch within minutes.

  • Air-filled sturdy beams to hold it in place
  • Summer-flies proof mesh windows to keep off the flies
  • May have several doors and windows for ventilation
  • Pre-assembled pop-up tent that is relatively quick to set up and pack

Sleeping capacity of 1-6

Just as with traditional types of tents they come in different sizes. You’d see the Dome shaped, Tunnel shaped and Cabin style inflatable tents.

Bathroom Tents

GigaTent Pop Up Pod

Easy to Set Up
One-Person only

They help you stay fresh and clean when you’re out camping. 

Also they provide privacy for grooming yourself or even to answer nature’s call.

It can serve as a changing room and shower tents when on camping trips, photo shoot sessions, and beach days.

  • Quick and easy to pitch
  • Enough headroom but accommodates one person at a time
  • Lightweight; suitable for the light traveler
  • Tricky to fold up after breaking camp
  • Most come with a carry bag
  • Relatively stable in windy conditions

Accommodates one person at a time

Pyramid Shape


Tents for Hiking and Wild Camping

Do you love taking the road less traveled? Do you enjoy hiking or camping out in the wild? One thing we all agree is that having it explicitly designed for the wilds is a no-brainer.

So here’s what to expect when making a purchasing decision for a wild camping tent.

Suspended Tents

Tentsile Stingray 3 Person

No footprint
Not so easy to set up

Immerse yourself and experience nature at a deeper level with these suspended types of tents that allow you spend the night above wet, uneven, and rugged terrains. Provide additional protection against snakes, ants, and creepy critters when you suspend it above ground.

  • They are built to be ultra-light
  • May have multiple doors with mesh roofing to keep away flies while providing adequate ventilation
  • Zero footprints which mean you can camp anywhere with trees
  • Sturdy and tough floor that sleeps like a hammock
  • Requires a little more effort to set up

Most are designed with a sleeping capacity for 1-3 person(s).

The Dome and Tunnel shapes are the most popular

Rooftop Tents

Feather-Lite Rooftop

No footprint
Quite easy to set up

Do you feel like doing something wild, different or breaking from your regular routine? Then, check out the Rooftop types of tents; they are taking the outdoor camping experience to a new high.

  • They can easily attach to any roof with crossbars
  • Most come with inbuilt thick mattress that more comfortable than the usual cots
  • They’re pitched above the ground prevent bugs from creeping into it.
  • Setting up camp is surprisingly easy.

Sleeping capacity of 2-4 persons

Most of them are cabin styled

Backpacking Tents

Alps Mountaineering Lynx

Easy to pitch

For the backpacking enthusiast, traveling light is a priority. Hence, it impacts everything that goes into the backpack. From the kind of clothing to carry to the gears, even the tent is not left out.

So, if you’re planning a backpacking trip, here are some features to look out for.

  • Most backpacking types of tents are designed to be lightweight
  • Smaller footprints which mean have more options of where to pitch it.
  • They’re generally fast and easy to pitch and pack when breaking camp
  • Might come with multiple doors
  • Most of them are freestanding.

You can get anything between 1-4 sleeping capacity

Dome and Tunnel shaped


Tents for Luxury camping and Glamping

The thought of camping out could be scary to some people. The dirt, barest conveniences, and roughing out in the wild could make some individuals develop cold feet to enjoying the thrills of being closer to nature.

Luxury camping is the solution, so nobody has any excuse not head out to the backcountry once in a while. Glamping as it is also called aims to provide the same comfort, amenities, and conveniences one is likely to enjoy in a hotel.

Bell Tents

Danchel 4 Season

Steeped Roof

Camp in style and luxury with bell tents; feel the liberating freshness of nature while also enjoying the perks of modern convenience.

  • Large front door
  • May have partitions for rooms
  • Steeped roof with vertical walls
  • Central pole to hold up the roof
  • Might have air vents for adequate circulation

Generally large-sized with sleeping capacity of 1- 4 person

Cabin shape

Tipee Tents

Winterial Camping Teepee Tent

Easy to Set Up

They are cone-shaped with a flap on top the roof that distinguishes it from the other cone-shaped types of tents.

  • Made from canvas
  • Different base shapes like circle, square, hexagon, etc.
  • Has central pole support
  • Multiple air vents to regulate airflow
  • Easy to set up

Accommodate between 2-4 persons

Cone shape


Wrapping it up

No matter your camping style; your budget; or the weather conditions there’s a camping tent suited for you.

Whether you’re a backpacker traveling light or heading outdoors with your family or in a group, or perhaps camping out in a rugged or sandy or wet terrain, there’s one made especially for that conditions, so a shelter shouldn’t be the reason not to spend some days in the wild.

Camping is an excellent way of ‘getting away from it all,’ connecting with nature, unwinding, and recharging. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the number of Americans hitting the backcountry for a date with nature. In this article, we’ll write about things to consider when buying a one and the different types of tents.

So, if you’re planning to head out sometime in the year to the outdoors then you probably know there are some gears to procure.

One of the crucial gears you’ll need for a memorable outing is the tent. It’s literally your shelter when out there, hence the need to give deep thought when considering purchasing one.

Some things to look out for in a tent include the material it’s made from, the size, how heavy it is, the ease of pitching, and then maybe how much it cost.

You might be interested in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.