Go to any campsite – not just in the UK, but in most countries – and the vast majority of tents are will be dome tents. They’ve taken over the market. Indeed, the vast majority of tents in camping goods shops these days are dome tents.
What is it about the dome tent that’s made it so popular? How have they won over the camping fraternity so rapidly?
Dome tents are erected by sliding a framework of fibreglass rods into sleeves on the outside of the tent. When they’re all in place they create a strong dome shape. As many tents only require three or four poles, putting up the tent is a very quick process. Similarly, taking the tent down is fast and simple. Remove the poles and fold up the tent and everything is packed.
The tents usually come in a bag, so storage is a snap. The only tricky part can come in the folding, making the tent into a small enough package to fit in the bag.
The dome shape is very strong, especially in winds, and can resist items like falling branches, which the older style of tent won’t do. With taller dome tents it’s quite possible to stand up inside, which has often been impossible before.
As completely self-contained units, dome tents will have a sewn-in groundsheet as part of its construction, so all the camper needs is a sleeping mat and sleeping bag in order to make full use of the tent. Most models will also have a rain fly to help ensure those inside stay dry.
A great deal of thought has gone into the design of the dome tent. Even the largest ones, which can require up to eight fibreglass poles, are very cleverly constructed. They represent a revolution in camping. Instead of a long, frustrating time erecting a tent, the procedure has been reduced to a few minutes. The use of nylon as a tent fabric has helped make it all possible. It’s strong and extremely lightweight so it can easily be positioned by the use of poles. Once they’re in position the nylon will remain taut and keep its shape.
Dome tents are very good value for money. It’s quite possible to pick up a two-man tent for £20, one that will give years of good service if treated well. Larger tents are naturally more expensive, but it’s still possible to find an excellent, spacious six-man tent for under £100. Essentially, there are styles and sizes for all needs and all budgets. Small dome tents are de rigeur for festival camping.
Several different models are available, the larger ones offering sleeping pods as well as a central room. They can offer almost as much room as a small flat, with areas for coming together as well as privacy. Having an area where it’s possible to stand (although this will only be at the top of the dome) makes being in the tent a great deal easier.
A variant on the dome tent is the tunnel tent. There are hybrid dome/tunnel tents, where the tunnel is the sleeping area.