There are three common types of tents available in Australia
, and the first choice you’ll need to make when you are in the market to buy a tent, is which of these designs suits your needs best. The main deciding factor is whether or not you need standing room height Another determining factor is of course, price.
The Frame Tent
The traditional Frame Tent consists of a metal frame upon which a canvas outer layer is then affixed (these can also come with mosquito netting as a base layer). These tents are popular for a longer camp stay or if the tent is only going to be set-up in one location, as they offer a roomy construction with multiple rooms, significant head-room, and often a very large awning or outside annexe. The main disadvantage of this type of tent is that they are bulky and heavy, and they can also take a significant amount of time to setup. Newer designs use lighter synthetic/semi-synthetic materials tents with an integrated frame. These have a significant advantage in that they are very fast to set-up, but the frame components are very large, and must usually be stored on roof racks while travelling. An example is the OzTent RV range. Another variation is known as a Cabin Tent, made from either canvas or synthetic materials. These tents are usually smaller and have a more light-weight frame with fewer components than the traditional Frame Tent.
The Centre Pole/Tourer Tent
The Centre Pole Tent is a simplified version of the frame tent, as its construction is based upon the use of a “centre pole” as a frame. These feature a quicker and easier setup than traditional Frame Tents, but while they still offer relatively good head-room, the floor/sleeping space can be quite small. They are more lightweight than traditional Frame Tents, and are considered a good compromise between the heavy but roomy Frame Tent and the light but small Dome Tent. Centre Pole Tents will also usually come with an optional front awning add-on, and floor-space can usually be increased with the purchase of optional Side Poles. Southern Cross
and Freedom Tents are some of the well-known manufacturers of Centre Pole/Tourer Tents.
The Dome Tent
Dome Tents are by far the most common type of tent in use in Australia
. But that doesn’t mean they are best for everyone, or every situation. A Dome tent consists of a hoop frame, surrounded by synthetic fabric to create a dome shape with no corners. The frames can either be made from fibreglass rods which must be constructed into hoops and slotted into the material, or from hoops already integrated into the material which offer a far quicker setup time. Integrated hoops will either be fold out or “pop-up”, with the pop-up version usually reserved for very small Dome Tents. Larger types of Dome Tents may also incorporate an outer awning and/or front vestibule which can be used as additional storage. The Dome Tent is seen to be the most versatile and portable type of tent on the market, however it's not ideal for everyone. They tend to offer limited head-room in comparison to other tents, and do not withstand gale force winds. For vehicle-based camping the most common brands on the market are Jackaroo
, Stockman, Coleman, and OzTrail. Specialised brands with dome tents designed for hikers include Black Diamond, Sea to Summit
, Wilderness Equipment, Black Wolf.