If you’ve ever gone to an outdoor equipment store or shopped online for a tent, you would discover an impressive range of tent shapes and designs to cater to your need for basic shelter on your next camping or hiking trip. Whether domed, rectangular, pyramid or the traditional double A-frame, the style you choose is much more than a simple matter of taste or personal preference. The tent that you choose should be able to accommodate the climate, terrain and other demands that you will force it to endure during your personal adventure.
Perhaps the most basic tent design, reminiscent of the housing used by the Native Americans centuries ago, the teepee style tent is shaped like a cone or pyramid, with a single pole in the middle holding up the fabric and the sides securely posted to the ground. It is the easiest to set up, and the center pole can actually double as a walking stick. The tent has no floor, and as such, it is used often as a secondary tent for equipment and gear, and in other instances, it is utilized for showering or other bathroom activities. Whether you use it for these purposes or as a regular sleeping facility, you should be aware that this tent is rather frail and will buckle under all but the mildest of weather conditions.
A classic tent design from the 1960’s, this standard tent is supported by sturdy end frames that form an “A”, with the canopy fabric held up by a single ridge pole between them. The sharply sloping sides of the tent do not provide much space for maneuvering, much less head room, so the tent is almost exclusively used for sleeping purposes. It fares better than the teepee tent against wind and rain, but not by a lot, and is susceptible to sagging in these situations.
The feature that distinguishes this type of tent from its ancestor, the A-frame, is its curved pole along the ridgeline in the center, giving it the appearance of a hoop tent. This version provides more head room and stability, without sacrificing the efficient rectangular floor space of the older A-frame, and in some models, one end is smaller than the other to save on fabric and make the overall tent lighter.
Shaped like the top half of a ball, the dome tent is the most common camping tent style today, utilizing a hexagonal pole arrangement that provides excellent stability and space. Dome tents are easy to set up, and some have their tent poles built in for added convenience. The tent also folds up easily for swift transport, though it may be heavier than other tent styles. The dome tent is quite durable against rain, wind and snow, but in snowstorms or considerably heavy downpour, sections of fabric may collapse due to lack of adequate support.
A prime choice of backpackers due to its lightweight design, the tunnel or hoop tent looks like the top half of a covered wagon from western films, sporting a tent fabric that is supported by a series of hoop-shaped poles, which form a tunnel. This style is good for summer camping and mild weather, as it does not hold up well against wind and snow, although there are some variants of the tunnel tent that are specially reinforced to withstand harsher conditions.
Cabin Style Tents
These are one of the most popular family size tents design available today with some of the best brands providing some great cabin tents that offer easy access in and out, with plenty of ventilation for summer camping for the family.
These often have screened rooms to convert into a bedroom or to keep open to be used for a large room. The walls are near vertical, which is why they have become so popular, offering ample room to move around.
The cabin style family size tents are not be used for winter camping, but for summer camping for a large family, I rate them as no1.
A camping hammock is a choice for lightweight backpacking and it’s pitched by being attached and suspended by a tree. A quality hammock can also be used as a bivy sack when set up on the ground as a camping tent.
These have advantages and disadvantages with many having a personal preference for what works well for them when backpacking lightweight.
Tarp tents are the minimalist’s choice when searching for the best tents suitable for backpacking light.
These are a basic shelter to protect a user from the rain whilst keeping it light, with some users loving them and other backpackers wanting a more comfortable shelter that also keeps the bugs at bay.
These are another basic shelter to be used for hiking/backpacking and popular for mountaineering or climbing trips. Your not likely to find these pitched next to family size tents in campgrounds.
Simply, a Bivy is something that sleeps a person with a sleeping bag and nothing more.