Which type to choose?

Choosing the right tent is half the pleasure. Are you exploring the mountains in winter by yourself or are you a few friends trekking the lowlands in the European summer? You need to identify your needs and then choose the right kind of tent accordingly.




Dome tents have a very simple structure and are available in many sizes. Some models pitch outer-tent first, while others pitch inner-tent first. The former helps keep the inner tent dry, but the latter could be used as a mosquitonet in very hot areas.

The basic dome has two poles which runs in a smooth curve from one bottom corner to the diagonally opposite bottom corner. The pole tension keeps everything in shape and dome tents do therefore not require guy ropes and pegs as they are free standing. Dome tents must be pegged down in high winds.


Tunnel tents may offer more usable internal space than a dome tent with the same ground area, but almost always need guy ropes and pegs to stay upright. A basic tunnel tent uses three flexible poles, arranged as three parallel hoops, with tent fabric attached to form a tunnel.

The most common designs have a sleeping area at one end and a porch/storage/ living area at the other. Smaller designs may use only 2 poles and larger designs 4; the latter may have a sleeping area at each end and a living area in the middle. Tunnel tents are most sensitive to strong winds.


Geodesic tents are essentially dome tents with 2 or more extra poles which criss-cross the normal two poles to help support the basic shape and minimise the amount of unsupported fabric. This makes geodesic tents more suitable for use in snowy conditions and in strong winds. To help withstand strong winds geodesic tents are rarely more than 120 or 150 cm high (4 to 5 ft).


The ridge tent is the classic a-shaped tent. A ridge tent is easy to pitch and quite sturdy. The symmetric or asymmetric A-shape provides lots of room. Ridge tents are sensitive to very strong winds.