If you’re off on a weekend camping trip or heading to your first ever festival, it’s essential to pack all of the, well, essentials. The most important piece of kit you’ll need, though, is a tent. Depending on weather conditions and the location of your venture, there are different types of tents to suit a variety of requirements.
In this tent buying guide, we’ll introduce several tent designs and provide you with a breakdown of their pros and cons to help you in making an informed decision for your next camping trip. You can purchase all of the styles mentioned below on the tent section of our website. There’s a selection of tent sizes, easy-to-pitch tents, some more technical types and many discounted options to choose from for when you’re buying a tent.
- Pop-up Tents
- Dome Tents
- Tunnel Tents
- Ridge Tents
- Geodesic and Semi-geodesic Tents
- Inflatable (Air) Tents
- Backpacking Tents
- Family (Vis–à–Vis) Tents
- Bell Tents
Over the last few years, these have exploded in popularity. As their name suggests, Pop-up Tents are designed to pop open and take shape with little-to-no construction, often only requiring to be tied down. Most commonly designed for two people, these tents offer unparalleled ease of use, making them the perfect choice for inexperienced campers or no-faff festival-goers.
If you’re one of the lucky ones heading to a music festival, chances are you’ll see many Pop-up Tents throughout the campsite. The tents are lightweight and very easy to carry, packing away into a circular bag. Simply remove, pull open and voila: instant domicile.
But if you’re wondering any of the following –
Are pop up tents waterproof? Are pop up tents good? … What is a pop up tent?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading for our comprehensive guide to pop up tents.
The Swift 200 is a highly recommended Pop-up Tent available in a range of styles, catering to the subtle camper and the bold festivalgoer alike. Sleeping two, the tent has a simple door opening and a single-walled design, with a built-in floor further simplifying the set-up process.
- Advantages of Pop-up Tent camping:
- By far the easiest type of tent to set up. Installation is simple, taking only a few seconds
- Compact and lightweight, making them very easy to transport and stow away
- Relatively roomy in relation to compactness
- Footprint is always small, so these tents can fit virtually anywhere
- Disadvantages of Pop-up Tent camping:
Dome Tents are one of the most popular tent styles for a wide range of pursuits. They can be identified by their curved pole structure, which features two or three poles that arch at the top in a semi-circle. This then creates a square or a rectangular base and spacious headroom, thanks to the rising sides. Dome Tents typically feature a detachable groundsheet.
A Dome Tent is relatively easy to put up and works with an interlocking pole system that feeds into a simple webbing structure, holding the tent in place. While Dome Tents are not ideal in harsh weather situations, they will withstand a fair amount of wind and rain. Many of our Dome Tents feature porch sections, which are great for storing gear separate to the sleeping space.
We offer a variety of Dome Tent styles and sizes, with or without a porch. These tents are perfect for a range of uses and don’t weigh much – especially the two-man styles. There’s the Ghabhar, the Beatnik and the Tarmachan to choose from.
- Advantages of Dome Tent camping:
- Easy to set up and transport, usually only requiring a few poles thread through
- Good headroom due to the shape
- Dome tents are reasonably strong if they incorporate more than three poles
- Can be easily joined together to a larger living space, making them ideal for families
- One of the cheapest and most widely available tent styles
- Probably the most versatile tent type around, able to be used for a wide range of camping trips
- Disadvantages of Dome Tent camping:
If you’re looking for a little extra space when camping with family or friends, a Tunnel Tent is a fantastic choice. These tents feature a series of curved poles which create the long, tunnel-like structure. Tunnel Tents are straightforward to pitch and once up, offer plenty of space and headroom in comparison to the dome style.
These tents are better suited to campsites or longer stays, as their size means they are awkward to carry for long. Tunnel Tents are best pitched facing into the wind, as if they are hit by heavy gusts side on, there is a risk they may collapse. Besides this, when you have a car for transportation and can afford the extra space in the tent, a tunnel tent is the perfect choice.
Our Caterthun Tent is an excellent example of a Tunnel Tent that provides ample space and a comfortable sleeping arrangement.
- Advantages of Tunnel Tent camping:
- Tapered ends offer optimal protection in windy areas
- Ideal for larger groups such as families due to their above-average capacity
- Headroom is ample, especially when compared to other styles
- Exceptionally versatile and are suited to most environments
- Comfortable and spacious, making for a real home-away-from-home
- Disadvantages of Tunnel Tent camping:
- Installation takes some time and may require more than one pair of hands for the job
- Larger footprint than most other tent types, which can be a problem if pitching space is limited
- Due to its shape, ventilation in the middle of the tent can be restricted
- Difficult to reposition if the tent collapses due to a change in the weather
The Ridge Tent is one of the most recognisable styles of tent due to its popular use. The notable ‘classic tent’ shape features two poles at either end which form a simple triangular design. Any guide or scout will likely have spent a night in one of these, and while they have been around for some time, they are still used due to their practicality.
Ridge Tents vary widely in size, ranging from one- or two-person styles up to roomy versions for larger groups. They have a sturdy build and are easily pitched, but there isn’t too much space nor headroom. This can be a problem if you’re spending time inside during the day, but if you’re simply using it for sleeping, they are perfect for camping trips.
- Advantages of Ridge Tent camping:
- Can be sturdier than most other tent types, especially with multiple guy ropes
- Remains stable in wind and bad weather
- Comes in a vast range of sizes, starting from one-person tents up to huge marquees
- Durable, with some models lasting for years or even decades
- Disadvantages of Ridge Tent camping:
Geodesic and Semi-Geodesic Tents
Geodesic Tents have a similar structure to Dome Tents but include extra poles that cross over each other. This creates a spacious inner area with a strong structure that can tolerate substantial wind and rain without collapsing. The all-weathers-appropriate style can be expensive but is ideal for tough conditions and expeditions, especially mountaineering.
Another form of tent in this style is the Semi-geodesic Tent, which has fewer poles for a lighter, more streamlined structure. They don’t hold up to the same weather conditions but offer a much more compact design and shape that is better suited to backpacking. Semi-geodesic Tents feature an aerodynamic shape to aid in wind resistance.
Geodesic Tents come in various sizes, with their sturdy structure making them ideal for windy conditions. Their design allows for a roomy internal space with higher ceilings, and are a great choice for spending time inside when waiting for the weather to ease up.
- Advantages of Geodesic Tent camping:
- Suitable for extreme weather camping and mountaineering, being able to withstand heavy snowfall, wind and rain
- Strong and robust structure with excellent stability
- Good headroom and interior space
- Lasts longer than the average tent due to a technical build
- Disadvantages of Geodesic Tent camping:
Inflatable Air Tents
A relatively new design, Inflatable Tents have the same structure as a tunnel tent but have no poles. Instead, they have hollow panels that fill with air to form a rigid structure.
Inflatable Tents require a pump to inflate and can be heavy to carry, making them better for campsites, longer stays or when travelling with a car. As they are rather new on the market and innovative in design, they are often costly.
The main benefit of an Inflatable Tent is that they’re simple to set up. They are a great choice for glamping and offer a more comfortable and spacious sleeping option.
- Advantages of Inflatable Air Tent camping:
- Very easy to pitch by a single person with no extra aid
- No poles means less weight as well as a flexible configuration
- Offer plenty of headroom, storage and living space
- Lower risk of accidents and are safer
- Disadvantages of Inflatable Air Tent camping:
The compact Backpacking Tent is ideal for those who will be carrying their tent themselves, such as hikers. They are easy to pitch and are designed first and foremost with practicality in mind.
Backpacking tents come in several styles, but in general have a low end, a wider end and a small porch area. This makes them ideal for windy weather as they are streamlined and compact.
These tents have very little headroom and you won’t be able to move around much inside, but they make up for this with their small size and practicality.
- Advantages of Backpacking Tent camping:
- Lightweight with minimal functionality
- Simple, no-fuss installation
- Compact and small – a highly practical solution for hikers
- Tackles harsh conditions confidently without giving in to heavy precipitation or high winds
- Disadvantages of Backpacking Tent camping:
Family (Vis–à–Vis) Tents
An ideal style for family camping is the Vis-à-Vis Tent. They tend to sleep four or more and are designed with two sections meeting at an internal communal area.
Vis-à-Vis Tents often follow the structure of a tunnel or dome style-tent. The extra sections contribute to the bulk and size, however, making them fairly heavy and are generally not advisable for backpacking.
This style shines most on family camping trips and when travelling with friends, as it allows privacy with personal compartments, but also a covered communal area to relax in the evenings.
- Advantages of Family (Vis–à–Vis) Tent camping:
- Layout emulates a real home and provides ample comfort and facilities
- Multi-bedroom style with separate entrances is attractive and adds a welcome dimension of privacy
- Large capacity allows families or groups to cohabit comfortably
- Face-to-face configuration is pleasant and creates a great, spacious common area
- Sheltered porch is a main feature and a big bonus
- Disadvantages of Family (Vis–à–Vis) Tent camping:
Although Bell Tents are one of the least common and practical outdoor tents, they are slowly but surely becoming more and more popular in the UK.
Its panels are often made of canvas, making it perfect for the warmer months as this material is an effective temperature regulator. Bell Tents are also compatible for use with wood-burning stoves, which is a unique feature you won’t find in any other styles. Some are decorated with eye-catching patterns and accessories, but the staple feature is the pole that runs through the centre.
While we don’t recommend Bell Tents for activity-based camping trips, this type fits the bill for camping sites and festivals when the weather is mild and pleasant.
- Advantages of Bell Tent camping:
- A stylish, trendy option for design-conscious campers
- Pitching is straightforward, often a one-man job for the smaller models
- Canvas panels help to moderate temperature
- Side panels can be rolled up for optimal ventilation
- Floor space can be massive, ideal for sleeping lots of people
- Disadvantages of Bell Tent camping:
- Costly and can be prohibitively expensive
- Not the best tent type to complement outdoor activities
- Space-to-weight ratio is poor