When you go camping, choosing the right type of tent is an important decision. Two of the most popular options are dome tents and cabin tents.
In this article, our team of experts goes over everything you need to know about both; their features, pros and cons, and what style is best for you depending on your camper type. Continue reading below to learn more.
Dome Tent vs Cabin Tent: Quick Answer
You should buy a dome tent if you’re going backpacking or camping with a small group of people. If your trip is on the shorter end and/or you expect to spend a lot of time outside of your tent, dome tents tend to be the better choice as well.
A cabin tent is better if you’re camping with a larger group, like your entire family, and want to all stay under the same roof. They also are better for when you want to spend more time inside your tent or are taking a camping trip that will last a weekend or longer.
What Are Dome Tents?
As the name suggests, dome tents are tents with a dome shape. This means that their height peaks in the center of the tent and slowly slopes down towards the ground as it reaches the edges.
Below, we go over all of the features of dome tents.
Height & Overall Space
We mentioned above that dome tents have their peak height in the center of the tent while the walls quickly slope down towards the edges. Because of this design, the average dome tent will have less overall space inside.
It can be difficult to stand up anywhere except the exact center, and sometimes you won’t be able to stand up straight in a dome tent at all.
They’re designed more for sleeping inside rather than spending your entire camping trip in there.
While a dome tent’s weight can vary from anywhere between 1 to over 7 pounds, on average they are much easier to carry around than a cabin tent.
Most can be folded up quite small and fit into a backpack, which is great for any campers who frequently go on backpacking trips. If you’re car camping, the tent will take up very little space and you’ll hardly notice it.
While you can get a high-quality dome tent that will last you as long as any cabin tent, they are usually made of thinner fabric that won’t last quite as many years.
However, this metric is more based on the price you pay and how well you care for your tent, so it shouldn’t be the most important thing you look at when making your purchasing decision.
Weather resistance is an area where dome tents shine. While it is highly dependent on quality, the sloped design of a dome tent along with a built-in rain fly allows it to easily shed off high winds and rain when it’s pitched properly.
Dome tents also typically have very good ventilation, which can help a lot when camping in hot weather.
Ease of Setup
Dome tents are usually fairly simple to set up. All you have to do is lay it out, assemble and add the poles, and stake it down. The tent design makes it fairly easy to do all of these things.
Most have a simple set of instructions and things like pole sleeves and stake loops so you know exactly where to put everything. We typically can get it done in under 5 minutes.
This section covers things like vestibules, extra gear pockets, lofts, separate rooms, and more. Due to size alone, a dome tent will have fewer of these features on average.
Some, like a vestibule space or storage pockets, are easy to find if you want to pay a bit extra. If you want all the bells and whistles, however, a cabin tent might be better for you.
Because they’re typically smaller, made of thinner material, and not designed to be lived in 24/7, dome tents cost less than cabin tents on average.
Like other factors, this can also vary greatly depending on the quality you’re looking for.
What Are Cabin Tents?
Cabin tents are home-like structures made to feel more like a cabin in the woods than a traditional camping tent. Read on to learn about all of their different features.
Height & Overall Space
Unlike dome tents, cabin tents are designed with a flatter roof that extends over the entire tent.
The walls are much straighter and are divided from the roof, looking more like a house or cabin.
This makes cabin tents overall very roomy. Their roof design means that you can stand up anywhere inside.
You also get a lot more room with the same sized floor space as a dome tent due to the straight walls.
Cabin tents are usually on the larger side, which makes them tougher to carry around. They’re not easy to fit into a backpack and we wouldn’t recommend trying to.
Stick to using cabin tents when you’re car camping and only have to carry them short distances.
Cabin tents, especially high-quality ones, are very durable. Since they’re designed to spend a lot of time in, they’ll often have thicker fabric that will last longer.
Since they’re often used for family camping trips, many are made to take the punishment that might come from kids who aren’t experienced campers.
The structure of a cabin tent makes it a bit less weather resistant than a dome tent. Because of the straight walls, cabin tents are much more vulnerable to being blown over. This means you must stake them well, especially if you’re expecting bad weather.
The rain fly on cabin tents also often only covers the roof, so if you’re expecting it to rain sideways then you might need to bring a tarp along for extra protection.
Ease of Setup
The setup of a cabin tent is similar to a dome tent, it’s just a bit tougher since it’s larger.
This usually means more sleeves for your tent poles, more places that you’ll have to stake it down, and it might be hard to reach some spots on the roof.
Overall, however, it’s not any harder to set one up. It just takes a bit longer.
Most cabin tents come full of extra features. They have lots of extra pockets and spaces to put gear, and many will also come with room dividers for added privacy if you’re sharing it with several people.
Cabin tents are without a doubt more expensive than dome tents on average. Their size typically means you can’t even buy one built for less than 4 people, which sets a minimum price a good amount higher than most dome tents.
The average quality, livability, and extra features drive up the price tag even further. However, keep in mind that they can still be great value if you’re camping with a larger group where you might need multiple dome tents to fit everyone.
Cabin vs Dome Tents: Summarizing The Differences
The following table summarizes the key differences between dome and cabin tents.
|Dome Tents||Cabin Tents|
|Height & Inside Space||Low||High|
|Ease of Setup||Easy||Medium|
Which Choice Is Best For Me?
The type of tent you choose depends strongly on the type of camping you’re doing. With that said, here are a few things to think about when deciding what style is best for you.
If you’re going on a standard car camping trip, then you have essentially any option open to you that you’d like.
What you choose depends on other factors that we discuss later, such as the amount of time you’ll be camping and the people coming with you.
Every backpacking tent is dome-style, without exception. Cabin tents are too heavy to carry on a long trip and the companies selling backpacking tents know this.
If you’re going on a backpacking trip, there’s no need to complicate your decision. Get a dome tent.
Camping With Family
A cabin-style tent is ideal for family camping trips. If you’re bringing along young kids, they might be hard to deal with at times, and a spacious, comfortable tent can make that much easier.
If your children are teenagers or older, the room dividers for added privacy are also a nice perk and are something the whole family will appreciate.
Length of Trip
The longer your camping trip lasts, the better off you’ll be going with a cabin tent. The extra space and comfort will be a nice perk if you’re staying out in nature for multiple nights.
Additionally, you’ll likely want to spend at least a bit of your day inside your tent if you’re camping for a weekend or longer.
It’s nice to be able to do that while standing, or at least sitting up straight, rather than laying down.
Time Spent Inside
When you go camping, are you more of an outdoor adventure type of person, or do you like to stay near the safety of your tent?
If you’re more the former type, then you probably won’t be using your tent for much more than sleeping and can get a dome tent. A cabin tent will be better for you if you fit the second category.
Ultimately, both cabin and dome tents are the right choice for certain situations. Now that you’ve read this article, you know what they’re both best for and how they fit with your specific needs and preferences.
If you have any other questions about dome or cabin tents, please let us know below in the comment section. Happy camping!
Carl is a content writer for The Camping Buddy, specializing in informational camping articles and product reviews. Carl has been a freelance writer for outdoor news sites while spending his time backpacking across the world. His favorite camping spot is Malaekahana Beach in Hawaii.