Dome tents have grown increasingly popular for family camping, and you get them in many different sizes. But is such a tent really the right choice for you? Let's take a look at the different types of family dome tents, and especially at the strengths and weaknesses of this camping tent design.
Dome tent styles
Classic geodesic dome
Half dome or tunnel tent
The classic design shows a simple dome shape. There are also larger family tents that are made up out of several domes. Both are great for family camping which involves spending the whole time at one place, since they are larger and offer more space. Half dome or tunnel tents, on the other hand, are very good for backpacking. By reducing the dome size, they cut down on weight and produce a smaller pack size, which makes them more convenient to carry.
Main strengths of dome tents
Large floor space - This gives you a large sleeping area and sufficient space for your luggage.
Highly sturdy in extreme weather - Instead of a static frame, stability is reached through all tent components working together, with poles made of flexible materials like carbon fibre. The low, round shape of dome style tents lets them easily shed rain and snow, and makes them very wind resistant.
Lighter than cabin tents of the same size - This is mainly due to the absence of a heavy tent frame.
Easy setup - Dome tents often use shock-corded poles. These easily unfold to full length, and a color coding shows you where each pole must go.
Free-standing - Most family dome tents can be set up on any level surface, for example your backyard. However, the rain fly does need staking. Also, it's generally advised that you do stake your tent down, just in case strong winds come up.
Weaknesses of dome tents
Less usable space - Family dome tents offer less space for camping furniture than equally sized cabin tents. Large items can only be set up in the center part.
Less freedom to move - Due to the dome shape, head space is often a problem. Whilst larger tents might allow you to stand fairly straight in the center (if you are not very tall), the smaller sized ones allow you only to sit up and make you crawl rather instead of walk. Half dome or tunnel tents might not even allow a tall person to sit up straight.
These considerations clearly show you what dome style tents are good for, and when you should rather not pick them. Classic domes are a great choice for camping vacations that are likely to face heavy weather conditions, especially strong wind, but will find you most of your time outside. Half dome or tunnel tents are excellent options for backpacking or other types of travel-camping. In general, family dome tents are rather for people who can do with less space and comfort, whilst those travelling with half their household, or expecting to spend much time inside the tent, should rather opt for a cabin tent.
Weaknesses of frame tents
Longer setup - Frame tents are not necessarily easy to set up. They often take longer to pitch than dome tents or ridge tents, since the frame is larger and consists of more parts. Also, the larger size of the tent may require more people for the setup.
Higher prices - These tents tend to be more expensive than equally sized dome tents, but this does not always have to be the case. The price also depends on the brand and quality. You can get great deals on any kind of camping tents when you shop around a little.
Less wind stability - Due to their corner-design, frame tents are less suitable for extreme weather conditions like heavy winds. If you plan such an excursion, dome tents are the better camping tents.
Larger pack size - Since they are larger, frame tents also produce a larger package to transport. This might be a problem if you have a small car.
Bigger weight - Due to their heavier frame, these camping tents weigh more than other types. This can cause problems like overloading your car.
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