Tent design has evolved far beyond the days of heavy cloth and sturdy sticks. Today, there are countless elements to consider, from the time it takes to set up to the environment for which it is intended. To help you determine the best fit for you, we've compiled a list of a few popular designs and models, along with their pros and cons.
Geodesic dome tents are constructed by cross-hatching poles in triangular shapes across the surface of the tent, making the tent structurally more durable due to the amount of reinforcement. A great choice to ensure your trip isn't ruined by the elements.
» Durable. Can withstand harsh weather, such as rain or snow, better than other designs.
» Long lifespan due to durability.
» Excellent resistance to wind due to their construction.
» Space is limited; geodesic dome tents often trade inside square footage for stability. Larger models exist, but you're liable to pay significantly more than for a simple dome tent.
» Relatively heavy. More poles = more weight, and more poles = more setup.
Example: Cabela's Instinct Alaskan Guide 4-person - $349.99
Pop-up tents are a cinch to assemble. In fact, some designs have gotten so convenient, it's as simple as tossing the tent into the air and watching as the tent unfolds itself. Pop-ups are excellent for impromptu trips or inexperienced campers.
» Many models take literally seconds to set up. Low-impact assembly.
» The folding design means pop-ups take up little space when not assembled, and they're very lightweight.
» Despite their small size when folded up, pop-ups often have more space than similarly priced counterparts.
» Taking them down isn't as easy as putting them up. Folding them properly can be a chore.
» More susceptible to wind and rain than more durable designs.
» Can be pricey. Buyers will be paying for the convenience of setup.
Example: FiveJoy 4-person Instant Pop Up - $189.00
Tall, spacious and accommodating, vis-a-vis tents are built with families and car camping in mind. They're the perfect selection for introducing your children, nieces or nephews to the magic of the outdoors.
» Really, really big. Most models comfortably sleep at least four people, and have enough headroom to stand up in.
» Models with a porch or awning attached allow for easy shade under the sun.
» Separate rooms allows for levels of privacy unmatched by any other tent design.
» Really, really big. Not something easily carried on someone's back. Will necessitate a car and a wide area camping area.
» Size means lengthy and often complex setup. Not something put together in a few minutes.
» Can be prohibitively expensive, although budget models are also available.
Example: Regatta Great Outdoors Atlin 6-man - $650.00
Tunnel tents eschew the hard angles and ridges of other designs for curved poles that create a rounded top. They're a good middle ground between the complexity of a geodesic dome and the simplicity of a pop-up tent.
» Height advantage over other designs. Most models provide ample headroom.
» Fairly good wind resistance due to the rounded top.
» Provides more interior space than pop-ups or geodesic domes, while less cumbersome than vis-a-vis tents.
» Setup can be a challenge, and is especially difficult solo.
» Sudden changes in wind can be disruptive. While the long, rounded edges of the tent are wind resistant, the flatter ends are not.
» Larger-than-average size restricts placement in backcountry or more rugged camping situations.
Example: MSR Dragontail - $549.95
Dome tents are the bread and butter of recreational camping. Straightforward and rarely complicated, a dome will typically get the job done.
» Inexpensive. Domes are simple to make and don't come with many frills, making them a great budget-conscious option.
» Setup isn't difficult. Fewer poles than a geodesic design cuts down on setup time and effort.
» Their shape gives reasonable headroom in the center of the tent.
» Less stable than geodesic or tunnel models, especially in the face of wind.
» Cheaper models often don't last as long compared to higher-end designs.
Example: Coleman Sundome - $89.99