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A Guide To Lightweight Tent Design

Amongst the excitement of planning your next adventure, you’ll want to find out which tent is best for your trip. For example, if you’re cycle touring you’ll want shorter pole sections to fit inside the bike pannier bags, or for a trip around the world you might choose durability over weight.


If you’re starting to think about which tent is best for the conditions of your expedition, it can be difficult to navigate through tent terminology and the benefits of one tent over another. In most cases the key is striking a balance between maximum durability and sleeping space, whilst minimising weight and pack size.


Our guide shows varying designs to help you determine which style tent you need.

Semi-Geodesic Tents

Great For Backpacking

  1. An angled roof tapering from the front to the back, gives you more head room when sitting up. Pitched with the back facing into the wind this shape also aids stability.

  2. They are mainly free standing, so you can pick them up and move them to a new spot if you’re after a scenic view or want to get out of the wind.

  3. Easy to pitch and lightweight with only three poles to configure the Semi -Geodesic shape.

Geodesic Tents

Great For Camping In Winter
Or On Exposed Sites

The fully Geodesic design is at its best wild camping (where it’s difficult to find shelter), kayak camping (where there’s little space to choose from), or above the snow line at a Base Camp, (camping for longer periods when weight isn’t the key factor).

  1. Many Geodesic models are pitch inner first. This enhances stability but also allows the inner tent to be used without the outer flysheet in warm and dry conditions, for a cooler night’s sleep.

  2. Some have two entrances, vital in bad weather to protect your gear from getting soaked, whilst still allowing easy entry and exit.

  3. With at least four overlapped poles, the Geodesic design is incredibly stable in strong winds and heavy snow fall.

Tranverse Hoop Tents

Great For The Ultra-Lightweight
Backpacker Or Adventure Racer

  1. Configured with one or two pre bent lightweight tent poles over the centre of the tent, minimising the overall size when carrying in your back pack.

  2. Lightweight fabrics are perfect for the weight conscious backpacker.

  3. Quick to pitch, but need guying out properly for stability.

Tunnel Tents

The Best Space To Weight Design

  1. Constructed with two to three independent, flexible poles, it’s very straightforward to pitch and easy to carry, compromising weight and packed size.

  2. The flat roof gives a consistent internal height, great for rainy nights spent inside, or for a change of clothing.

  3. An extended porch increases the amount of useable living and storage space.

  4. When guyed out correctly they perform well in windy conditions.

Dome Tents

Ideal For Basecamp Use

  1. This shape often has two entrances with a useable amount of internal space making it ideal for storing kit without compromising entry/exit.

  2. Crossover poles aid stability and the symmetrical shape sheds wind from any direction.

  3. Equal length poles make pitching straightforward.

Ridge Or Triangular Tents

Great For Expeditions

  1. It’s easy to pitch, so you can get on with exploring your surroundings.

  2. Stable in bad weather and heavy snow, a welcome respite from harsh conditions.

  3. Some have a porch on either side offering flexibility in wet weather.

  4. Maximum height offers head room in the centre, allowing you to sit inside comfortably.


  • Tip 1   Most modern lightweight tents are made from either nylon or polyester, with a waterproof coating and UV inhibitors in the flysheet. These dry out quickly but always make sure your tent is completely dry before storing it away.

  • Tip 2  Fibreglass poles are great for tents used on valley campsites in calmer weather.

  • Tip 3  It’s worth bearing in mind if it’s likely to rain whilst pitching your tent, one that pitches flysheet first prevents the inner from getting soaked, before you’ve even started.

  • Tip 4  Sewn in ‘Bath Tub’ Groundsheets help keep the water out but we would recommend a groundsheet protector for maximum durability.

  • Tip 5  If your trip involves wild terrain or bad weather then stronger aluminium poles are definitely worth the investment.

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