You must be asking that question – and here’s the right place to find the answer.

Dome camping tentsĀ are shaped by poles that bend and cross at the highest point of the roof. Sometimes the design may include a porch (often called a vestibule) made with one smaller pole and a flap of extra fabric.

Dome tents are spacious and more comfortable than most other designs in that you get a decent amount of headroom. That’s great if you expect to be spending long periods in the tent. There’s only so long you can stay lying down.

The dome shape is suitable for making multiple entrances unlike some other tent shapes. It is always nice to have a way for each occupant to get out without disturbing the others – and is definitely a safety issue to consider. Have you thought how you would get out of a tent in the unfortunate event of a fire?

Pitching a dome camping tent is very easy. Most poles will be the same length. Only porch poles will be a bit different. Some even come ‘ready to pop’. They are also very quick to take down. This makes dome tents ideal for the inexperienced or reluctant camper for whom the night under shelter is really only part of some greater experience.

Two domes can be put together, with a fly over the whole lot, to form large family-size tents with a common area between. This arrangement is ideal for long term camps with 2 or more children. They can have some independence without being completely on their own.

Pitfalls of the Dome Tent design

The biggest problem with dome camping tents is that they do not behave well in strong winds. They can become unstable, shaking violently (which is noisy and distressing) or even breaking. Should one pole break, you loose the basic rigidity that the crossed poles are meant to give and end up with a mess of flapping plastic. Fortunately, such winds are rare and fairly predictable; much more predictable than rain. If you put up your dome tent properly in a sheltered spot and keep an eye on the weather forecasts you have little to worry about.

Dome tents tend to have zips that follow the curved lines of the tent. These are more prone to jamming so either look for a dome tent with straight zips (more likely if there is a porch) or take care when opening or closing the tent. If you do get the zip jammed, take your time to establish which direction you need to pull to restore order. Yanking the zip at random is only going to break the thing, and a repair is not a cheap option.

One minor irritation these days is that dome tents have become so popular that you may not be able to identify yours in the field. You could make some bloke angry if you pop your head in unexpectedly. Think about making your tent stand out (or at least identifiable) without making it less waterproof. You can tie something colourful to the guy ropes or mark the fly sheet. Probably best if you do this near the main entrance where you, and other campers looking for their tent, are likely to see it.


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