Manufacturers classify the different types of tent according to the number of people they can comfortably accommodate, and sometimes according to the structure type and its shape. These structures can be either fixed or freestanding. Fixed tents require the support of guy lines that stretch the tent fabric and stake them to the ground.

Freestanding tents do not need the guy lines, though in inclement weather and gusty winds, guy lines and stakes can be used to reinforce it and anchor it safely. Without the guy lines, the freestanding tent has the advantage of being easy to move to another location without the need to take it down.

Tent manufacturers employ different ways of categorizing the tents they produce

However, there are certain basic defining features that are employed in describing the tent. One is tent capacity, which means the number of persons that can comfortably sleep in the tent.

Thus, some summer homes are categorized as 2-person, 6-person, 10-person, etc., which is really an estimate made by the tent manufacturer, based on the tent size or floor area. You should not rely on this when picking up a tent!


It is good practice for larger individuals to inspect the tent before buying it, since the manufacturer’s estimate can be based on smaller persons packed together.

girl camping next to MSR tent

Another common way to categorize camping tents is by their seasonal support, meaning the degree of weatherproofing or waterproofing. Weather is always unpredictable, so these types of accomodations always require some degree of waterproofing and the right choice of materials, appropriate design, and reinforcement of seams and zippers.

​This feature indicates whether it is sufficiently sturdy and weatherproof to withstand storms without the occupants getting drenched inside the tent, which means it is rated as an all-season tent capable of providing shelter in snowstorms, or a three-season tent that can survive severe rainstorms.

Some tents are good for fair weather only, while most can easily withstand moderate rain and wind gusts.

One tent type that is becoming more popular is the inflatable tent which, as the term implies, requires pumping up and pegging down. Instead of fiberglass or metal poles, the tent utilizes inflatable beams that conveniently folds for easy storage or transport. These tents are also called inflatable beam tents or air tents, though manufacturers have coined their own unique brand names.

These tents are higher-priced than standard tents because the materials used are much stronger to ensure reliability and durability.

Inflatable airbeam tunnel tent

Inflatable airbeam tunnel tent

Whether the tent is inflatable, fixed, or freestanding, one of its most important classifications is its design or structure type. There are basic tent structures and spinoffs or modifications of these designs, which is immediately apparent when looking through brochures and catalogs to select your tent.

Each structure features advantages as well as disadvantages over others, and customers should be aware of the various pros and cons before deciding on the tent structure to purchase.


Plan It Out Before Taking Off

Before you run out and buy tents and supplies, you need to put together a checklist!

Especially if you will be purchasing a tent for your expedition, how many people will be in your group?

When purchasing tents, they pretty much tell it like it is. If you buy a tent to hold two persons, that is exactly how many people that particular tent is built for. Even then, a tent for two is going to be a pretty tight fit, and you might want to get a size larger if there will be only two of you. The larger the tent, the more space and the better the comfort.

The Main Types of Tent Available on The Market

A-Frame Camping Tent

A-Frame Ridge Camping Tent

traditional dome tent

Traditional dome tent

An Example of Hoop Tent

An Example of Hoop Tent

An Example of Pod Tents

An Example of Pod Tents

  • Ridge Tent
  • Modified Ridge
  • Dome Tent
  • Hoop Tents
  • Pod Style Tents

The pod tent is designed to have a central living area with several pods or sleeping areas leading off the central room, much like the spokes of a wheel. The structure is good for families since it provides children with their own spaces, while the center room can be a common area where the family can congregate.

The pod-style tent has various disadvantages, which include a large footprint, a larger volume of fabric that makes the tent heavier. Pod tents are also challenging to set up.

What kind of camping are you planning on doing?

There are 3 types of recreational camping that are commonly practiced:

Backpacking the Yosemite NP

Backpacking & Hiking

If this is your plan, you want to take the weight and size of the tent into consideration. You should purchase a small, light-weight tent.

If there are two of you, consider buying two tents, one each.

Off on a road trip


In this case, you will be pitching and striking your accomodation very frequently. Consider tents that erect easily and can be packed up rather quickly.

Tents that take some time to pitch and strike are going to wear you down pretty quickly.


Static Camping

Static camping refers to camping on one particular site for a good period of time.

You should pick up a tent that offer the best comfort because you will be living in it for some time.

Weather Elements

Obviously, the time of year you plan to go camping in will reflect certain weather elements.

Even if it’s the dead of summer, you might want to check with your weather bureau ahead of time. If you are planning a trip during the winter months, consider where you will be setting up camp and get some sound advice from experienced campers if you are a novice. You do not want to bring along a tent designed for the summer months!

There have been many survival stories when awful winter weather kicks in. Even if all stays calm, you are going to want as much comfort as you can possibly attain.

There are different types of tents to fit the season you are planning on camping in:

Seasonal Summer Tents

​These tents are made of mesh and light-weight materials. The fly of the tent is a good distance from the ground. As it is summertime, you want good ventilation, tents in the dead of summer can become quite hot and stuffy. These tents are popular in the North of Australia during the dry winter months.

Seasonal Tents Range From Summer, Fall (Autumn), Spring & Winter

​By rule of thumb, the colder the weather, the thicker the tent material should be. That in turn, heavier tents work best in colder weather. Other factors that must be considered are the distance of the fly from the ground, the number of poles and pole material will increase stability, tightness from water and offer added strength. The colder and harsher the weather, the higher rankings these factors should be brought into play.

gloomy view on a rainy day

Rainy weather can be fun when camping, as long as you are prepared and equipped...

The Price Tag

  • First, know if you are on a tight budget or have money to burn. This will dictate what you can spend on your tents and other camping supplies. If you answered the above question regarding the number of people in your party and type of camping you are going on, you should have a good idea of the size and weight of your tent. Know how easy pitching and striking will be and the level of comfort.

On A Budget

  • If you are backpacking, one or two pounds might not seem like a big deal, but you will be adding weight to your backpack, and that could cut into enjoying your trip. Lightweight tents are somewhat smaller and a little less durable, but they are excellent for hiking trips and will last for many years if taken care of.

The Cost

  • You really shouldn’t have to pay a king’s ransom for a decent backpacking tent. If you plan on taking many trips, you might want to spend a little more cash for a higher quality product. Plus the tent will last for many years of use. We have provided various options in a variety of price ranges for your convenience.

Don’t Cut Corners On Protection


Cutting corners on a backpacking tent that is inferior will not protect you from the elements and can be quite dangerous. Steer clear of big budget cuts on tents, your safety and well-being should come first.

Every one of the tents on my list is an excellent storm protector that will keep you safe, warm and dry!

Your Interior Space

In many cases, interior space balances between comfort and weight. These tents have been chosen to give you the best interior space while staying relatively light in weight. Look at tents that are designed with vertical walls, they tend to offer more space.

Take this into consideration: if you are hiking for a good amount of time, you don’t want to be always falling all over each other with no room to breathe.


Tent Design

The best tents are designed with a great deal of simplicity, offering many doors and adequate interior space. You will also have good headroom, less humidity/moisture and air vents. A minor design flaw can ruin your backpacking experience.

Overall Capacity Ratings

The standard two-person tent is the most popular tent for backpackers for a good reason. These shelters are relatively light-weight and are great for solo hiking or with someone else. People often tend to compare  two-person tents vs. group tents. Group tents are spacious and can accommodate a larger number of people can but are not practical when on the move. If you are interested in either a single/two person tent or a group tent (3 and more), the manufacturers I have listed on my website tend to provide these tents in various sizes.

Seasonal Tent Ratings

Some tents are referred to as three-season tents and are the most popular for backpackers. They are built and designed for spring, summer and fall seasons. They are flexible and suitable for bad weather experiences, helping you staying protected from bad weather while providing excellent air ventilation and circulation.

Tent Wall Construction

The difference between a single-wall tent and a double-wall tent is pretty straightforward. A single-wall tent combines two layers that aid in airflow to keep condensation low. Double-wall tents have two separate walls, the tent body, and the rain-fly. The upside to this design is the mesh inner tent offers a barrier against any moisture or condensation that could form on the rain-fly. Both these designs are excellent.

Tent Footprints

Footprints are ground cloths placed under the tent to protect the tent from wear and tear from the ground. Most tents do not come with footprints and are considered unnecessary for lightweight backpackers. Footprints give added strength to the floor of your tent, and if this matters to you, you can purchase them separately.

The Entrance

When looking at a tent door, take into consideration how someone will be getting in and out of the shelter. Some tents come with larger openings that are fine if the weather is great. But if it’s freezing, windy or raining they are not such a great idea. If it’s raining, water can easily drip inside the tent the minute you open the entrance. At some point in time, manufacturers stopped making these wider entrances but today, more of them are starting to design them again.

If you like the comfort offered by a larger access, check to be sure your tent has gullies and shelters to direct the rain away from the door.

view from the tent in the morning

To Conclude

Whatever style or types of accommodation you consider for a camping trip, you should carefully take into account the following points:

  • The campsite if you know it
  • Weather conditions
  • How much space you are going to need (single, couple or family/group)
  • Your budget for the tent

A Few Other Points To Take Into Consideration:

  • What is the size of the campsite you will be staying in?
  • Is your footprint too large for your campsite?
  • Is your shelter able to fit into a small site?
  • Is it easy to find spare parts for a tent?
  • How long will you be camping? The longer your trip, the more you should take comfort and size into consideration.

Looking for a specific brand?

Find my reviews here:

Watch this video to know more about the type of camping tent that is best for your use

Read the following Tent buying guide and Infographic to know more on the topic!

January 19, 2016
Choosing the Type of Tents

Choosing the Right Type of Tent for Your Camping Adventure in 2016

Manufacturers classify the different types of tent according to the number of people they can comfortably accommodate, and sometimes according to the structure type and its shape. These structures can be either fixed or freestanding. Fixed tents require the support of guy lines that stretch the tent fabric and stake them to the ground. Freestanding tents do not need the guy lines, though in inclement weather and gusty winds, guy lines and stakes can be used […]