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A tent is a temporary or semipermanent shelter device, consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over or attached to a frame of poles. It is fairly easy to assemble (pitch) or disassemble, and is usually portable. Tents may be attached to the ground with stakes and guy lines[?] (ropes). Tents were first used by nomadic peoples, but today, their main application is camping. Modern tents are usually made of fire-resistant material. Tents range in size from single person camping tents to huge circus tents. Outdoor weddings and festivals often take place in large tents.

Basic modern tent parts

  • The tent fabric makes up the roof, walls, and usually also the floor of the tent.
  • The poles provide the structural support. They may be collapsible for easy storage. Some designs use rigid poles, typically made of metal, or sometimes wood. Other designs use semirigid poles, typically made of fiberglass, or sometimes of special metal alloys.
  • The rain fly is an extra sheet of fabric that is draped over the top of the tent. It is designed to minimize contact with the tent fabric itself, and sometimes has a small pole of its own. Neither the fly fabric nor tent fabric is waterproof. Minimizing contact keeps the wet fly from getting the main tent wet.
  • Stakes serve a variety of purposes. Some designs use stakes attached to ropes to prevent the tent from collapsing in on itself, or to anchor the corners and prevent them from pulling inward. Other designs do not require stakes for structural purposes, but only to anchor the tent to the ground and prevent it from blowing away in the wind.

Modern tent types

  • A dining fly is the simplest form of tent. It consists of a single rectangular sheet of material. Two opposite sides are held up in the middle by metal poles. The tops of the poles are attached to guy lines, the other ends of which are attached to stakes, in order to keep the dining fly from falling in on itself. Dining flies are not intended to be used to shelter people. Their primary purpose is to store gear and protect it from rain. (Campers may choose not to store it in their own tents if those are too small. Also, gear tends to have odors that attract animals.) A particularly large dining fly may be used for dining[?] purposes, but not for cooking, due to fire-safety considerations.

This is a dining fly.

This is a basic dome tent, shown without rain fly or stakes.
  • An A-frame tent is similar in structure to a dining fly, except that the tent fabric also includes walls and a floor. A-frame tents also usually have rain flies. They are comparatively difficult to set up, particularly because of the large number of stake anchor points, but very easy to take down.
  • A cabin tent is similar to an A-frame tent, but larger and taller. It has a smaller pole in each corner to ensure that the side walls stand vertically, and each of these poles is secured with its own guy line. These tents are somewhat more difficult to take down than A-frames, and considerably more difficult to pitch. A further modification of this design is an extensive metal framework that allows the cabin tent to stand without any guy lines. These tents usually have durable canvas tent fabrics, and may be attached to permanent floors, typically wooden. These freestanding tents may be found at permanent camps, where they are usually pitched once for the entire camping season. However, they are very heavy and not very portable.
  • The dome is the most popular basic design. It differs fundamentally from the previous designs in that its two poles are somewhat flexible, and run along the corners from the floor to the peak and back down to the floor on the opposite side. They differ from A-frame tent poles in that they run outside the tent fabric, which is attached to the pole framework by sleeves, and sometimes also clips. Dome tents are more difficult to set up than A-frames, but easier to take down. They do not require stakes for structural integrity, but may blow over if pitched without stakes. They are more resistant to wind-induced collapse than cabin tents, but strong winds may bend the poles to the breaking point. The basic dome design has been modified extensively, producing tents with three poles, tents with irregularly-shaped bases, and other unusual types.

Traditional tent types include the yurt[?], the wigwam[?], and the tipi.

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