Your tent is your home away from home at the campsite, so you want to make sure you’re getting the best one for your camping style, group size, and price range. With all the options out there, how do you pick the right tent? The first decision you’ll need to make is between a dome tent and a cabin tent. We’ll give you a hand.
What’s the difference between a cabin tent and a dome tent?
A cabin tent has vertical sides, while dome tents rise from the edges of the tent to a high point at the center. The angle of the walls determines the interior space in your tent. Even if a dome tent has the same floor dimensions as a cabin tent, it will feel smaller inside.
When is a cabin tent the best option
Pros of a cabin tent
Cabin tents are easier to move around in with their consistently high ceiling. If you are camping with a larger group, it’s easy to stand up inside the tent and access gear or sleeping areas.
Some cabin tents have room dividers, which is great for families with small children. The kids can go to bed early while the adults stay up, or two families can each have their own space.
Cons of a cabin tent
With more tent material and longer poles for their size, cabin tents tend to be heavier than similar-sized dome tents. This makes cabin tents a great option for car campers. If you will be staying at established sites, or off road areas near your car, then a few extra pounds is a small price to pay for the advantage of all that interior head room.
If you are a backpacker, even occasionally, you’ll want to consider a dome tent for your wilderness adventures. The extra weight in your backpack will become heavier with each step you take.
Cabin tents also have a high profile due to their vertical sides, which makes it harder for them to stand up to strong winds. Add to that the fact that many cabin tent rain flys do not cover the entire tent. Stormy weather doesn’t mix well with a cabin tent. A gentle rain will be fine, but if storms are in the forecast, opt for a dome tent.
The verdict on cabin tents
Cabin tents are great for fun family trips or camping with friends in good conditions near your car. You’ll love the roomy feel inside and the ease of access to every corner.
Best cabin tents
For the short, spoiler version, we’ll give you a list here. If you want an in-depth look at each tent, read our article on Best 4 Person Cabin Tents by clicking here. Many of these tents have a 2 person and 6 person version as well.
- REI Kingdom 4 person tent – Best luxury cabin tent
- Eureka! Space Camp 4 person tent – Best summer cabin tent
- Big Agnes Big House 4 person tent – Best cabin tent
- REI Grand Hut 4 person tent – Best tall person cabin tent
- Core 4 person tent – Best budget cabin tent
- Night Cat camping tent – Best tent for kids
- Coleman Instant 4 person tent – Best instant cabin tent
When is a dome tent the best option?
Pros of a dome tent
Generally lighter and more versatile than a cabin tent, dome tents are great for campers who sometimes head into the back country and want to take their tent with them in their backpack. The tapered, dome shape allows manufacturers to use less material and shorter poles which lightens the weight of the tent.
The dome shape is more aerodynamic, too, making it a better option for stormy conditions. The wind may buffet your tent, but you’ll ride out the storm more easily than in a less stable cabin tent.
Dome tents also tend to have more coverage from their rain flys which often come all the way to the ground to protect from side-blowing rain. In good weather you can roll it up for air circulation, but it’s nice to know you’ll be protected just in case the weather turns ugly.
Cons of a dome tent
That tapered shape means less interior head room. The center height is actually just at the center, so moving around inside can feel cramped. The corners of your tent can be inaccessible as a result. This also means that when you lie down, you’ll feel as if there is less sleeping room than a cabin tent with the same floor dimensions because the side of the tent is right above your head.
The verdict on dome tents
If you spend any time backpacking, then a dome tent is a must. While you sacrifice a little in interior room, you also cut down on weight and bulk.
Best dome tents
Here is our list of the best dome tents. We’ve tagged the 4 person version of each, but if you click through you can opt for 2 or 6 person dome tents instead. To take an in-depth look at each one, you can read our article on Best 4 Person Dome Tents by clicking here.
- REI Half Dome 4 plus person tent – Best tall person backpacking tent
- Marmot Limestone 4 person tent – Best car camping/backpacking hybrid tent
- ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 4 person tent – Best budget backpacking tent
- Coleman Sundome – Best budget dome tent
- Core Instant Dome 4 person tent – Best instant dome tent
Camping can be a great adventure with just a little prep work. Buying your tent is the first step but it will pay big dividends on the time you invest in research. Ask yourself these questions as you get ready to shop.
- What is your camping style?
- Will you be car camping or backpacking?
- How many many people will be in your group?
- Are you camping with kids? Teens? Pets?
- What seasons and temperature ranges will you be camping?
- How tall are you?
- What is your budget?
Armed with the answers to these questions it’ll be much easier to narrow down your selection, starting with dome vs cabin tents. Have fun out there, and stay safe!