Ask someone to draw a picture of a tent and the chances are they will come up a ridge style. Look at a ridge tent from the front end and it has an A-shape frame. And for so many decades this was pretty much the only tent that was being made. Scout tents, you old man’s childhood tent and the tent bought for hanging out in the garden on long, hot summer days of yesteryear would generally have come in the traditional ridge shape.
And there is little wrong with the ridge shaped tent. It is a simple design, easy to erect and offers a sturdy A-shape that is good at withstanding wind, offers lots of living space indoors and keeps the rain out. Access is from the front or back or both.
Indeed, some modern tents are still made in this traditional style – but in the 21st century there are whole lot more tent designs and styles that are also worth considering. Take a lookaround a busy campsite and you’ll see tents in all shapes and sizes, including dome tents, geodesic and tunnels.
A guide to the wide range of modern tent designs
Dome: Simple dome designs have two poles that cross at the top of the tent. Some more complex dome tents also have the addition of a porch or have an extended living area. You’ll also find dome tents with bedrooms as off-shoots from the main dome area.
There are also geodesic tents, which are essentially more complex dome shape tents. These tents can be fully geodesic and include four or more crossover poles in their design, which gives amazing stability. Some tents are more of a semi-geodesic design, utilising three poles and offering a balance of stability and living and sleeping space.
And then there are hybrid dome tents, which have two dome shapes at each end with a living space in the middle.
All dome designs are great for giving lots of internal space for both sleeping and living. You’ll find that head height is good on a dome tent because the shape allows for height in all areas of the living and sleeping sections. Think of a ball cut in half and you’ll understand how the dome shape of a tent gives great internal space.
Tunnel tents: The design for tunnel tents is a series of large hooped poles that run parallel to each other and form, well, a tunnel shape! Internal space is good with a tunnel tent, although this does depend on the size and weight of the tent. Some tunnel tents are huge and are made for big groups with sectioned off bedrooms and living areas, as well as a porch area. Other tunnel tents are perfect for just one person.
Pop-up tents: Designs of these tents have come a long way and many pop-up tents are now considered to be an attractive option for al types of camping trips, not just for festivals! You’ll discover a wide range of pop up tents (see collection here) with larger sizes, better designs and good materials that combine to offer out-of-the-bag pitching easiness! Pop-up tents are usually similar in design and shape to the tunnel tent design.
Ridge tent: Also known as an A-frame tent, the ridge tent style is a more traditional style of tent. A classic ridge design has sloping sides and a roofline that runs parallel to the ground, which is why it’s called an A-frame because it looks like a big A.
Ridge tents offer good stability in bad weather conditions and even heavy snow, but they can sometimes be a heavier option. Ridge tents are perfect for car-to-pitch camping.
Hoop tents: These designs use one or two poles running head-to-toe and are usually very light. They are a great option for lightweight camping and some designs have just one main pole so they can be very lightweight indeed.
Bivvy bags: Often a popular choice with multi-day walkers or cyclists, a bivvy bag is like a cross between a sleeping bag and a lightweight tent. Some bivvy bags come with one pole to keep the outer layer off your sleeping bag while others simply rely on a highly waterproof outer layer to keep the rain and dew of your sleeping bag as you sleep.