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The Amazing Evolution of Tents

Camping used to be simple. You would grab a small tent, stakes, poles, and shock cords and pop it wherever you wanted to stop for the night. While this is still possible, housing has evolved a lot.

History Basics

The history of tents is fascinating and complicated, all at the same time. People have been making shelters from the elements and wild animals since BC. Since the nomadic lifestyle, the structures started the progression towards what we now know. Fabric began to revolutionize in the 1970s to become more weather resistant after the popularization of camping in the 1960s. With the age of technology, tents began adjusting to various styles and offering several features. Poles switched to aluminum and fiberglass to reduce the weight. Zippers replaced the ties that were less waterproof. Even today, you can find tents constructed of fabric that absorbs solar energy to convert into powering interior lights at night.

Tent Types

Once you know the history, it is shocking to know the different types of tents now available on the market for campers. The following are not all that are on the market. However, they do cover the most common found.


This tent style is the most common style for children, comprised of a tarp stretched over two or three poles. The stability comes from the ropes and stakes keeping them in place. While they are often small and heavy, they are the simplest to set up. You will have protection from rain due to the design, but you want to make sure you tie them down properly.


The second style you will likely see in stores is the dome tent. These are comprised of two poles that create an x at the top of the structure. They will bend and slide into a corner pocket. The larger the tent, the more unstable it will become. However, they do fit up to four adults. These are popular for couples camping due to the speed they go up and down, and they are inexpensive.


If you are camping with a large family or group of people, tunnel tents are the desired style. They offer both headroom and space, but they will take longer to set up. Stability comes with guy lines that are attached to the different sections. Some special considerations you will want to contemplate include watching for pooling rain and plan on driving to the actual campsite. These are heavy tents that do not separate into different hiking bags.

Geodesic Design

For smaller families that want the headroom that dome tents offer, but need more stability, geodesic tents are a popular choice. They handle inclement weather much better, especially higher wind speeds. It is very good for vacationing in the winter; however, it is often more expensive than other styles.


A great style to investigate if you are camping during moderate to fair weather and with a larger group is the cabin design. They get their name from the way they appear after being set up. You will have enough room to stand up and walk around in and generally have divided living spaces. Unfortunately, this type of tent is often cheap in price and quality, therefore it is not ideal for avid campers.


Similar to the A-Frame, a pyramid tent is a very simple design that is great for people traveling and needing something quick. They are extremely stable at a small size, but they often do not include a ground cloth. Utilizing only one pole, users need sturdy guy lines and stakes for this structure to be livable.


This style of tent is exactly what it sounds like. If you are a large group or family of over six people, this design is ideal. While they are normally in the shape of a cabin or tunnel, this style offers features that many can enjoy. They should have multiple entrances, a porch, and pockets for your belongings. Due to their size, you will want to drive to the campsite and set it up during the day.


If you need a quick-to-pitch tent during the day, an inflatable might be the perfect selection. They do not handle inclement weather as well, but most will come with a repair kit. You simply inflate the beams to create a shelter, so they pack well. They come in a variety of sizes, so whether you are camping alone or with a large group, it will meet your needs.


Solo campers out for cross-country excursions find the bivy style design ideal. They are low to the ground, easy to pack, and offer great protection from the elements. One person can put this tent up in very little time, and they often come with plenty of ventilation for all weather. There are even some types of bivies that will attach to your mountain bike.


If you prefer not to sleep on the ground, a hammock or suspended tent is a perfect choice. This is also a good selection if you are camping in a rocky or swampy area. They are lightweight and come with suspension straps. Hammock tents are only designed to fit one person, so keep this in mind if you are traveling with a group.


Some tents are designed to be set up and remain for long-term stays, and the tipi is one of them. They come in a variety of sizes that can fit up to ten people. This style is very similar to the structures that Native Americans used and is perfect for people who wish to live remotely.


Finally, if you are a person who wants to pull to the side of the road and camp, rooftop tents are a great option. This design turns your vehicle into a living space. Options include structures for the beds of pickup trucks, backs of SUVs, and roofs of cars. They are easy to set up, and many offer ladders to crawl into. You will want to make sure the weight of your vehicle can support the people sleeping inside.

With the vast assortment of styles and material tents come in now, finding camping sites in the UK has become easier. You no longer are limited to roughing it in the elements, so a vacation in nature is possible whenever you choose.