Basic Tent Parts  

The modern tent has come a long way from the tent designs of centuries past, where a few sticks and some animal hides were considered a sufficient form of outdoor shelter.  The various odds, ends and stretches of treated fabric that comprise the tent of today all come together to form a housing structure that can easily be transported to almost any location, and provides effective resistance from the fickleness of nature.  Each of the components of the modern tent contributes to this primary function, as described below:

  • Poles.  The skeletal framework upon which the rest of the tent hangs is made up of the tent poles, which support the rest of the tent and give it its shape.  Poles are typically either rigid or flexible, though some designs are inflatable to provide greater collapsibility.  Aluminum is the most used pole material, though fiberglass, steel and even wood are also relatively common.
  • Body.  This is the fabric that composes most of the tent, to which the poles provide structure.  The body may be made of synthetic material, such as nylon or polyester, or natural canvas.  In either case, the body is usually treated with waterproofing substances to make it resilient against rain and moisture.
  • Flysheet/Rainfly.  This portion of a tent, found only on tent designs with an inner and outer wall, is used to enhance the water resistance of the tent, keeping water out and trapping condensation that forms inside the tent, allowing it to flow to the ground.  The rainfly and the inner body are kept separate so that the body remains dry.  It can either be integrated into the tent’s design or attached as a separate piece.
  • Vestibule.  This is a separate small entryway, covered but without a floor, that is typically used to store gear such as boots, backpacks, and other equipment.  This portion can also be used to cook or clean objects, which activities would damage or tent if performed inside.
  • Groundsheet.  This is the floor of the tent, a waterproof and sometimes puncture resistant surface that separates the ground from the tent interior.  This is normally sewn in as part of the body, but a separate groundsheet may be used to reinforce the floor lining.  A groundsheet normally rises about 6 inches up the lower part of the tent walls to prevent water from seeping in.  Separate groundsheets provide less protection and protruding sections may be an avenue for water or insects to enter the tent.
  • Stakes, Pegs, Screws and Guy Ropes.  These objects are used to secure the tent to the ground and provide additional stability, since a strong gust of wind can easily blow a tent away if it isn’t somehow secured to the ground.  Guy ropes pull the tent downward and outward, and the tent stakes or pegs are hammered into the ground, normally at an angle instead of vertically, preferably at a right angle from the rope to which it is attached.
  • Air Vents and Windows.  Found on the body of the tent, these reduce moisture forming inside the tent, and allow air to circulate more freely as needed, so that the tent does not end up feeling unduly stuffy.
  • Bathtub floor: The bathtub floor offers great protection from rain seeping inside tents for camping, because the seams are a few inches from the ground.
  • Freestanding design: Many tents for camping are now made with the freestanding design. These do not need tent stakes to set the tent up, which helps when pitching and needing to move the tent in a better spot before staking. Its a great design for shaking out the dirt and crumbs too, by giving it a shake before packing away.
  • Loops and Pockets: These you will see advertised as having gear loops and pockets for gear. Loops are useful for hanging a lantern or a light from the ceiling of the tent and other items off the floor. Interior pockets can be found in some of the best tents for keeping small items inside which helps with organizing bits and bobs.
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