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Finding the Right Kind of Tent: Dome vs. Tunnel vs. Modular System Tents

Not all tents are created equal – that is why choosing the right one to suit your needs and fancy is a task that should not be taken to lightly.

Think of it as buying a new house or a new car. As much as possible, you would want to have the best one available, so you set your own criteria and standards and think hard before opening your wallet or signing a cheque.

The same approach should apply to buying your tents. You may need to do some research in order to know what tent would suit you and your family best. You need to think about what size is right for you and your family and if it will be able to accommodate everyone. You also need to consider the make and quality of the tent and the materials, from the fabric to the ropes and the poles. You can learn more about the different things to put in mind when choosing and buying your first or new tent from our guides.

Now, another thing to consider is the type of tent. In general, there are three kinds of tents to choose from, namely dome tents, tunnel tents or modular tent system. Each of these types has their own pros and cons you should know in order to make the decision a less daunting task.

Dome Tents


Taurus 6 Person Family Camping Dome Tent

As the name suggests, the common dome tent is shaped like a dome – much like one half of a sphere set on the ground. This is especially true in the case of smaller dome tents. However, recent improvements have led to the development of bigger dome tents which are pretty much out of the conventional design. These new designs may have been a deviation from the usual, but they do come with several advantages which make them a much more appealing choice than the other tents available.

For one, the new design allows the tent to accommodate more people inside. The tents usually measure more than 20 x 20 feet or more, and can accommodate groups of seven or twelve. The spacious interior of the tents has enough room for energetic children who want to run around and can't keep still.

Now, you may think that a tent of such proportions maybe difficult to set up, but that is not always the case. Sure it may require a bit more work than the other types of tents, with more ropes and pegs, but these things are important in ensuring that the tent stays upright and is secured to the ground.

Big dome tents can be quite heavy since there are more poles and attachments, sometimes going a little over 30 kilograms. This maybe heavier than the other tent types, but they are not so heavy that you'll have problems putting them in the back of the car. Besides, when properly packed down, the whole thing measures a small 15 x 30 inches so you don't have to worry about your tent eating up space.

One of the many worries of people who use dome tents is the lack of ventilation. For smaller tents, this can be a real pain, but bigger dome tents have screen and wire mesh for located in various points in the tent, thus allowing the air to flow continuously and freely inside.

In sum:

Big dome tents do offer some very good advantages when it comes to space and convenience, but these come at the price of extra weight.

Tunnel Tents


Gettysburg 12 Person Family Camping Tunnel Tent

Another kind of tent is the tunnel tent. While dome tents look like the one half of a sphere, tunnel tents look like one half of a cylinder.

The basic tunnel tents will need at least two pole or more to serve as the tent's frame. These poles are then positioned as arcs and parallel to each other. The tent fabric is then overlaid on the frames and pulled and secured to the edges of the tent's flooring or to the grounds.

Big tunnel tents are structured pretty much in the same way. The main difference of course is the size. Big tunnel tents will require longer and thicker poles in order to support the weight of the tent fabric. Also, the longer and bigger tents are divided into different sections, with some of them as dedicated sleeping quarters where you can set up your inflatable mattresses and the bigger section for storage. In addition, this divided tent is great if you have older kids.

One problem with small tunnel tents is that they tend to be prone to being blown away by strong winds, which is basically because of the almost vertical wall on the sides. This is the main reason why tunnel tents need to be tethered to the ground unlike most small dome tents which are free standing. However, such a concern need not be a problem with bigger tunnel tents since they can be fastened to the grounds securely with quality guy lines and ropes using tent assembly kits.

Smaller tunnel tents also have a problem with ventilation, since the only source of air is the opening at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, ventilation shouldn't be any problem with these big tunnel tents since they can be opened not only on both ends but on the sides or walls as well.

High ceiling is another great thing about tunnel tents, with heights reaching up to seven feet. Together with the wide space, you can set up a dining table and some chairs inside  and have your family dinner there when it's raining outside.

In sum:

Tunnel tents may have the need for space, headroom and other things covered, but may fail slightly by comparison due to its structure and ventilation. Don't fret however, as there is a third kind of tent which may just be a little better than both tunnel and dome...

Modular Tents


Axis and Zulu 10 Person Combo Family Camping Tent

Modular tents are some of the latest innovations in camping shelters. Unlike dome and tunnel tents, modular tents make use of two components: a main hub and the pods. The main hub, which pretty much looks like a dome tent, is the biggest piece and serves as the trunk where you connect the pods by zipping them together. The pods, which look like tunnels, become an extension of the hub and can serve as the individual sleeping quarters or storage area. You can connect two to four pods to the main hub.

The hubs and pods are usually sold as different items, but there are great deals where you can get a combo of both for a very reasonable price.

What makes these kinds of tents great is that you can adjust them according to your family and camping needs. For example, when out camping with your spouse and two little kids, then you can simply choose to leave the pods behind since the main hub can easily accommodate all of you. However, if there will be more people tagging along, or if your kids want a room of their own while camping, pods can provide that extra space for you to use. On the other hand, if you're going solo, or your young one is going to scout camp, the pod without the main hub makes an exceptional single shelter.

In sum:

Modular tents are pretty much convenient in the sense that you don't need to bring everything when you go camping, and thus help you save space in your car and effort from setting them up.

Our Final Verdict:

When it comes to floor space and standing room, any of these big tents will generally accommodate. On the other hand, if you are looking for a tent with compartments which can serve as bedrooms for your kids, then you can go for tunnel tents or modular tents. However, modular tents might just be better since you can add to the number of rooms by attaching the hubs, but they do come at the expense of a little extra weight. If you don't need individual rooms as you'll be camping with young kids, then a large dome tent where you can all sleep together should suffice...

An After-Note:

Of course you wouldn't put your family's safety and comfort on the wrong kind of tent, which makes choosing the right one for everyone very important. It can even make or break your camping trip as tents will serve a variety of purposes during your stay outdoors: where you'll sleep and spend the night; your protection from insects, wildlife and the elements; and just basically be your family's shield against natural conditions while you're out there camping.

There may be more kinds of tents out there, but these three are the most common ones to choose from. However, you'll still need to make sure to look closely at each of these types as they have their own pros and cons. Therefore, do your research, read recommendations, and take your time before making a final decision. Or Contact Some Help so that expert advise can be given.




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