What Are the Different Types of Tents?

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People who adore camping or just discover it are often curious about the potential types of tents which are available on the market. Knowledge about the different types is quite useful as it helps to choose the right tent which will bring the maximum comfort during the great outdoors escape. Some people hesitate to say which tents, four season tents or summer ones, are better, while others wonder whether wall tents are the best alternative to dome tents. Therefore, this article provides an overview of the main types of tents to make the choice of the ideal tent easier.

In general, there are diverse sorts of tents which are classified according to their structure, shape, seasonal specification, weight, and of course purpose.

Structure and Layers

When it comes to the tent`s structure and composition, there are one- and two-layer tents. The vast majority of tourist or camping tents have two layers with one of them being outdoor and another indoor. The first of them (the outdoor one) is designed to protect people from the weather: wind, rain or sun. The outdoor tent is made of stronger materials that must be waterproof. The indoor tent does not have to be waterproof. Usually, this is a thin, breathable fabric, the main purpose of which is to protect campers from insects or other small animal species. The exceptions are winter tents or climbing tents where both layers are responsible for weather protection and insulation which is required given the meteorological conditions.

The tent layers should not touch each other, there should be a few centimeters of air space between them for ventilation. It is important to stretch both parts well when setting up the tent, otherwise all the condensate formed at night will drip on people inside.

The bottom of the tent is usually the most durable and waterproof. Which is logical as it is the floor that has the best chance of being pierced by sharp stones or branches, or leaking from moisture.

Shapes and Forms

The most common forms of tents are dome-shaped, or so-called shells, or tunnel-type tents. They have many varieties and differ mainly in the configuration of their arcs.

Turtle tents usually have two arcs which are crossed and fastened together in the middle. There may also be an additional transverse arch that raises the walls, thereby increasing the internal space of the tent. Such tents are quite spacious and have an average level of wind resistance. They are used for hiking and biking, camping or other activities that do not involve extremely adverse weather conditions.

Dome-shaped tents are perhaps the most typical shape nowadays. They can have a more complex configuration of arches, which involves their intersection in two places. Visually, it looks like a schematic representation of DNA. Such tents already have greater wind resistance and can be used in more challenging weather conditions. However, they are not always very spacious.

Wall tents instead offer much more space. As their name suggests, this type of tent is made of four straight vertical walls which secures more headroom than other types of tents. This type is also called outfitter, safari, or sheep herder tents. In general, those tents are made of sturdy fabric which doesn`t make them overly heavy. Wall tents are quite suitable as an all-season solution and can even accommodate a wood stove. Another advantage of wall tents is that they are light in weight and not too difficult to pitch.

Tents with hub construction of arches have been especially popular in the last decade. This type involves in fact one Y-shaped arch, the links of which are connected by a so-called hub. The advantage of such tents is the speed and ease of installation, sometimes, in the presence of an additional transverse arch, they are more spacious. The disadvantage is not the best wind resistance.

Another type of tents is geodesic or semi geodesic ones. Those are the tents offering improved support and stability during camping. This stability comes from the tents` structure as it involves poles which cross many times and intersect making triangles which secures a stable position of a tent. Geodesic tents are a better choice as compared to the dome tents when it comes to camping in rainy or bad weather. Their disadvantage is that they take much more space to pack and are more voluminous. Besides, they are more difficult to pitch.

Tunnel or arch tents have several parallel arches that can be connected to each other. Such tents have good wind resistance, so often winter or mountaineering tents have this shape.

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Seasons and Weather

Depending on the seasonal destination, tents can also differ from each other. For example, summer tents have an inner layer only of mesh, for breathing, and winter, on the contrary of fabric, which will retain additional heat. Also, winter tents can have an extra layer of fabric around, namely a snow “skirt” that protects against snow drift inside.

The most popular are three-season tents. That is, those that are suitable for use from spring to autumn. Three-season tents are relatively light in weight as they are designed to shield people against wind and rain, so almost no anti-cold insulation is involved. They provide (or at least should provide) decent ventilation because they are equipped with numerous vents and meshy walls. This ensures good air circulation through the tent which is essential to avoid excessive condensation inside.

Recently, four season tents gain in popularity because they offer a universal all-in-one camping solution. That’s why they are also known as all-season tents. They are designed to keep people warm and cosy during cold weather with snow and wind. Their walls are generally without mesh but include some sturdy fabric which is responsible for protection against the high winds and preserving the warmth inside. These tents also have vents to regulate ventilation but it’s not sometimes less relevant in the winter. Their frames are more robust and are thicker than those of the three-season tents. All-season tents also feature more poles for improved protection and stability. For the same reasons, they go with full fabric sleeves which is also a disadvantage of this model, namely slower and more challenging pitching.

To sum up, there are various types of tents given their shape, structure, weight, seasonal use, and goal. The final choice of what tent to buy or rent always depends on multiple factors but most probably when, where, and what for it will be used.