The 10 Types of Tents Buying Guide

What are the four bare essentials you need to survive outdoors? In almost every situation, you need food, water, fire, and shelter.

All four sound pretty simple, in theory. But try searching for the “best tents” online. The results will hit you with a wave of overwhelming information on tent designers, models, weights, sizes, materials, and uses.

What does it all mean?! You just want a simple shelter for your next outdoor adventure!

The good news is, we have the 10 types of tents buying guide, which will help you start at square one, which is what

Some tent styles will be appropriate for your needs, and some won’t.

 This straightforward guide will break them all down and help you figure out which type of camping tent is right for you. Some will have a rain fly, mesh windows, mesh roofs, and storage pockets.

Also, there are several tents that have room dividers, perfect for those times when privacy is needed.

ProductWeightWall DesignDimensionsShapeSeasons (3 or4)# of people comfortablyRating
NTK Cherokee GT 5 to 6 Person 9.8 by 9.8 Foot Outdoor Dome Family Camping Tent 100% Waterproof...

NTK Cherokee GT
$189.99
15 lbs9.8ft x 9.8ft25 x 8 x 8 inchesSquareThree and Four-season 5-6 Person
GEERTOP 1 Person Bivy Tent Ultralight Backpacking Tent for 1 Man Double Layer Waterproof Camouflage...

GEERTOP Ultralight Tent
$89.99
3.3 lbsDouble Layer17 x 4 x 4 inchesRoundThree Season1-3 Person
Eureka! K-2 XT Three-Person, Four-Season Backpacking Tent, Yellow

Eureka! K-2 XT
$449.96
14.25 lb
107 x 92 x 48 inchesRoundThree and Four-season1-3 Person
The North Face Homestead Shelter Mens Tent Light Exuberance Brown Orange/Timber Tan/New Taupe Green

The North Face Homestead Shelter
$299.95
11 lbs 3 oz87.5 ft² (8.13 m² 5 x 10 x 3 inchesRoundThree Season1-3 Person
Surplus French Military F1 Tent, 2 Person, New, Olive Drab

Surplus French Military F1 Tent
$71.00
5.8 lbsNot Provided‎ 19 x 10 x 6 inchesRectangularThree and Four-season1-2 Person
Pop-up Tent and Automatic Instant Portable Cabana Beach, Camping Tent Pop Up Shade Tent - Suitable...

Pop Up Tent - Automatic Instant Tent
$61.99
3.7 lbs
27.2 x 27.2 x 2.6 inches88 x 47 x 37.5RectangularThree and Four-season1-2 Person
Moon Lence Instant Pop Up Tent Family Camping Tent 4-5 Person Portable Tent Automatic Tent...

MOON LENCE Instant Pop Up Tent
$84.68
10.25lbs114.2*121.3*52.4inRoundThree Season4-5 Person
Marmot Crane Creek 3-Person Ultra Lightweight Backpacking and Camping Tent, Macaw Green/Crocodile

Marmot Crane Creek
$299.25
5 lbs41.5-square-foot22 x 4.5 x 5.5 inchesSquareThree Season1-3 Person
DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4 Season Cotton Canvas Yurt Tents for Family Camping, Luxury Waterproof Glamping...

DANCHEL OUTDOOR
$549.00
60 lbs8.2ft(2.5m)4M=13ftRoundFour Reason4 Person
HEIMPLANET Original | Backdoor - 3 Season | 4 Person Dome Tent | Inflatable Tent - Set Up in Seconds...

HEIMPLANET Original
$939.00
13 lbs6.3m2 (68 sq ft)51 x 26 x 21 cm (20 x 10 x 8 inches)RectangularThree Season4 Person
Inflatable Bubble Tent Transparent D-Ring Single Tunnel Bubble House Dome Greenhouse 2-3 People Tent...

Inflatable Bubble Tent
$958.00
66lbs27.2"x16.9"x16.9BubbleThree Season3 Person
Naturehike Opalus 2 Person Tent for Backpacking Lightweight Waterproof Camping Tunnel Tent with...

Naturehike Opalus
$156.80
6.5 lbs 93(L) x 75(W) x 43(H) inchesNot ProvidedThree and Four Season3 Person
CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents, Waterproof Windproof Family Tent, 5 Large Mesh Windows, Double...

CAMPROS Tent
$156.80
17.4 lbs 14 x 9 x 6(H) 14 x 9 x 6(H)Not ProvidedAll Seasons8-Person

Dome Tents

NTK Cherokee GT 5 to 6 Person 9.8 by 9.8 Foot Outdoor Dome Family Camping Tent 100% Waterproof...
  • Best For: Short people, festivals, and windy weather
  • Usual Style: Freestanding
  • Setup: Easy

Dome tents are square or rectangular tents with diagonal poles crossing at the top to each opposing corner. It is one of the most common tent styles, and many have a small tent vestibule on the front.

Because dome-shaped tents are such a classic style of tent, different models are available across the price spectrum. So, they are ideal for those on a budget who need a tent for a one-off occasion like a festival. 

And because of their square shape, they aren’t as ideal for tall people who might find the tunnel tent shape a better fit for them.

Pros and Cons

Dome tents are very easy to pitch due to them having only two main telescoping poles. Instant camping tents are popular because of their quick and easy setup.

Their shape also makes them wind-resistant. And because of their popularity, you can find any size, from a one-person tent to an eight-person tent in the dome shape.

But dome tents that are too high become less resistant to wind. They are often too heavy for backpacking, but if you are car camping, you may as well get a bigger (and taller) tent for convenience.

Unless you are on a budget, there are likely better tents for your style of camping.

Check out the NTK Cherokee tent for an excellent example of a dome tent.


 Bivy Tents

Eureka! K-2 XT Three-Person, Four-Season Backpacking Tent, Yellow
  •  Best For: Wild camping and multi-day treks in winter weather
  •  Usual Style: Freestanding
  • Setup: Medium

Geodesic tents are the next level above bivy tents. While a bivy tent is great for wild camping in mild climates, a geodesic tent (or semi-geodesic tent) is for hardcore expeditions. And they have a similar shape to dome tents but have one or more extra poles to make the tent more robust.

You should buy this type of tent if you want to camp in winter weather. Don’t opt for this tent if you are a fair-weather camper or are on a tight budget.

Pros and Cons

As well as being the strongest tent around, they also offer decent headroom and interior space. Geodesic tents can often withstand winds up to 60 mph, though it’s unlikely (fingers crossed) you will ever need to test the extent of their windbreak capabilities!

Geodesic tents are a little more difficult to set up than tents that only have one or two telescoping poles. And because they are suited to extreme weather conditions, there aren’t many affordable models on the market.

Most geodesic tents are high-quality, have a waterproof camping tent mesh ceiling, and have a price tag to match.

Check out the Eureka! K-2 XT tent for a good example of a geodesic tent. And look at this Homestead Shelter North Face tent for a good example of a semi-geodesic tent. Either of these choices will give you great ventilation too!


A-Frame Tents (Ridge Tents)

Surplus French Military F1 Tent, 2 Person, New, Olive Drab
  • Best For: Couples staying in campsites and low budget camping
  • Usual Style: Non-freestanding
  • Setup: Easy

When you think of a classic tent from the 1950s or children’s books, the A-frame tent is likely what springs to mind. Back then, the material was a heavy canvas, but now it is lightweight nylon or polyester, like other tents. It has an “A” shape and is also known as a ridge tent.

If you are on a budget, most A-frame tents are cheap and affordable. But if you are looking for a tent to fit four or more people, ridge tents are not suited to more than three.

Pros and Cons

They are an easy set-up tent and one of the few non-freestanding tents around. This means you can stake it yourself (though you should stake all tents for security). A-frame tents are perfect for couples and you can stand up in many of them.

If you need to buy a large number of tents for a field trip, for example, A-frame tents are a great choice.

But they are not a very stable tent, so would only fare well in mild climates.

Check out the Surplus French Military F1 tent for a good example of an A-frame tent.


Pop-up Tents (Instant Tents)

Pop-up Tent and Automatic Instant Portable Cabana Beach, Camping Tent Pop Up Shade Tent - Suitable...
  • Best For: Festivals, backyard camping, and camping in calm winds
  • Usual Style: Freestanding
  • Setup: Easy

As the name suggests, pop-up tents are tents that “pop up” into shape when removed from their bag. You only need to stake it, and it’s up. That’s why this type of tent is known as an instant tent, too. They fold up into a large disk when not in use.

You should opt for a pop-up tent if you only camp in summer and in campsites or your backyard. A pop-up tent is not for you if you are trekking in the woods or need to carry your tent for long periods.

Pros and Cons

Pop-up tents are light, super easy to set up, and are available in many sizes. These tents are often cheap and perfect for sporadic, good-weather camping trips.

They are very easy to set up but difficult to re-pack without practice. And most are not made for more than four people.

Check out Abco Tech Pop-up Camping Tent, Moon Lence 4 Person Instant Tent, or Marmot Crane Creek for a good example of a pop-up tent.


Bell Tents

DANCHEL OUTDOOR 4 Season Cotton Canvas Yurt Tents for Family Camping, Luxury Waterproof Glamping...
  • Best For: Backyard camping and couples with young children
  • Usual Style: Non-freestanding
  • Setup: Easy

One of the most Instagrammable tents, bell tents (or yurts) have one central supporting pole. You achieve the shape of the tent by staking the outside of the canvas yourself. They are breathable tents but still water-resistant as water rolls right off the side of the tent.

Bell tents are perfect for families with lots of young children. Opt for a different tent if you have to carry or transport this tent more than once – it’s bulky!

Pros and Cons

Bell tents are perfect if you want the glamping experience and they do look cool. They are easy to erect and their height makes them a great stand-up tent.

But the canvas is an impractical material for most types of camping. If you love camping in campsites or in the wilderness, there are far better tents.

Check out the Danchel Outdoor Cotton Canvas tent for a good example of a bell tent.


Inflatable Tents

HEIMPLANET Original | Backdoor - 3 Season | 4 Person Dome Tent | Inflatable Tent - Set Up in Seconds...
  • Best For: Car or campsite camping and mid-range budget camping
  • Usual Style: Freestanding
  • Setup: Medium

One of the least common tents, you do not use poles to hold up these tents, but use air instead. The inflated ridges hold the tent in place.

Unless you have exceptional lungs, you need a good power source to blow up an inflatable tent, so it is perfect for car campers. But any other camper would find this tent far too heavy.

Pros and Cons

It is one of the easiest types of tents to set up, as long as you have an air pump.

Their material is often excellent, waterproof pop-up tent material but they are also expensive and heavy.

Check out the HEIMPLANET inflatable pop-up tent for a good example of an inflatable tent. Another fun choice is this glamping inflatable bubble tent,


Tunnel Tents

Naturehike Opalus 2 Person Tent for Backpacking Lightweight Waterproof Camping Tunnel Tent with...
  • Best For: Backpacking, solo mountaineering, and tall people
  • Usual Style: Non-freestanding
  • Setup: Medium

Tunnel tents are a long, cylinder shape and the poles do not intercept. They can be only slightly bigger than a bivy tent, up to a large eight-person tent offering lots of headroom.

The larger ones are an affordable option for car campers, while the smaller ones are better for backpackers.

Pros and Cons

Even smaller tunnel tents offer more space than bivy tents for storage, but larger ones are an affordable option for families.

Though setting up the tent is straightforward, they are more difficult than others and need staking well. Their shape can allow rainwater to collect on the roof, too.

Check out the Naturehike Opulus tent for a good example of a tunnel tent.


Multi-Room Tents

CAMPROS Tent-8-Person-Camping-Tents, Waterproof Windproof Family Tent, 5 Large Mesh Windows, Double...
  • Best For: Large families or groups of friends and campsite camping
  • Usual Style: Freestanding
  •  Setup: Difficult

A multi-room tent is any tent that has separate compartments, whether they are a 2-room tent or larger. The separated room design offers privacy as well as space.

Tents with rooms are perfect for families with older children who want their own space. Multi-room tents are one of the largest types of tents, so they would be too large and heavy for backpackers or couples.

Pros and Cons

With the extra space, you have more privacy or room to store large sports gear. Headroom and ventilation are also good in most multi-room tents.

They can be difficult to set up due to all the poles, stakes, and material. And they are heavy, too.

Check out the CAMPROS family tent for a good example of a multi-room tent.


 Cabin Tents

Ozark Trail 20' x 10' Dark Rest Instant Cabin Tent, Sleeps 12
  • Best For: Tall people, large families or groups, and campsite camping
  • Usual Style: Freestanding
  • Setup: Easy

Cabin tents are huge, one-room tents that often have windows and a high ceiling. They offer similar features to bell tents. But their material is often a common tent material, like nylon as opposed to canvas.

Cabin tents are perfect for large young families or couples who want lots of space to walk around in their tent. Only car campers could use a cabin tent.

Pros and Cons

Space is the main pro, and they are easier to set up than multi-room tents. Even with many people sleeping in a cabin tent, the ground vents, and windows offer plenty of ventilation.

Only car campers can use cabin tents because of their size and weight, and they do take up a lot of room. This also makes them less wind-resistant and couples sleeping in such a large space may find them drafty.

Check out the UNP family camping tent for a good example of a cabin type of tent. If you want to find the biggest cabin tent in existence, then the Ozark Trail 12-person tent is the shelter for you. Lastly, if you want to sleep in, Ozark Dark Rest Instant set up Tent has 3 rooms, inverted seams, and easily fits 4 queen air beds.


10 Types of Tents: Choose The Right Tent For You

You should have a much clearer idea of which, out of the 10 types of tents, is best for your needs. There are, of course, lots of different brands selling each kind of tent, but having this information should help you narrow down your search.

When it comes down to it, the wrong kind of tent is no tent. As long as you choose the best one you can and start getting outdoors, you will soon become a tent expert through practice.

Need to buy more camping equipment? There are tons of camping gear reviews on the site, so you can find the right kit for your style of camping.

Last update on 2021-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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