Dome Tent Vs Cabin Tent – Which Should You Choose?

By: Ashley Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023
dome tent vs cabin tent

Are you looking to buy a tent but don’t know which shape is best for you? Dome tents and cabin tents are two popular tent types, but they have different characteristics and features that make them better suited for different types of camping. Let’s compare a dome tent vs cabin tent to help you decide which one is right for you.

What Is A Dome Tent?

A dome tent is a popular type of camping tent and it has a semi-circular dome shape. It’s typically made of nylon or polyester tent fabric and has tent poles that bend and flex to create the shape and provide support. Think igloo shaped – the roof is curved, and the highest part of the tent is in the exact center.

While they can be less spacious, dome tents tend to be more aerodynamic than tents with straight walls. They will typically have a full coverage rain fly, be lightweight and easy to setup, and have plenty of space for smaller groups or couples.

Dome tents are great car camping tents, but they also make for a great backpacking tent. It’s one of the most common shapes for backpacking tents because it conserves weight at the sacrifice of headspace while still providing ample weather resistance.

Dome Tent Performance In Rain And Wind

When it comes to performance in heavy rain and strong wind, dome tents are the preferred choice for multiple reasons. They usually have a lower peak height and contoured walls, which allows wind to blow over and around instead of catching the fabric like a sail. These features, combined with a full coverage rain fly, give optimal protection during bad weather. They can stay upright in windy conditions and dry during wet conditions.

Space In Dome Tents

When it comes to space, dome tents will have plenty of room for two to four people, but not many more. While you can get larger tents for larger groups, larger tents are usually more cabin shaped, which we will cover below.

As far as center height goes, dome tents will typically have a shorter max height than cabin tents, and that height is only in the exact center of the tent. They will be tall enough for you to stoop but very few will be tall enough for you to stand upright. If standing height is a preferred feature for you, you’re better off with a cabin tent.

Most dome tents also have vestibules, which provide extra storage space. Vestibules are located at the entrance of the tent and are perfect for storing gear and keeping it out of the rain. This is a feature you won’t see as often in other tent shapes.

The Kelty Rumpus 6 is our best stargazing tent and has an oversized vestibule with a dome shape design.
The Snow Peak Alpha Breeze is our top choice for best tent for high winds and it’s a dome shape tent.

Portability And Weight Of Dome Tents

Dome tents are quite portable and lightweight, but the specific weight depends on the model. Dome tents come in all different sizes from different manufacturers – some are 8-15 pounds, are made from heavier materials, and are designed for car camping. Others are made of lighter materials for backpacking and are meant to be carried on the trail.

Ease Of Setup For A Dome Tent

Because of their simple design that only uses a couple to a few poles, dome tents are also relatively easy to set up. Most models come with easy to follow instructions and color-coded poles, making it a breeze to set up in only a few minutes.

Dome Tent Advantages and Disadvantages

Dome tents have several advantages:

  • Sturdy Construction: Dome tents are designed to be sturdy and reliable, with a shape that lets wind blow around it effectively. Because of this, they’re usually able to withstand wind and rain better than other tent designs.
  • Easy Setup: Most dome tents are relatively easy to set up and take down, often requiring only a few minutes.
  • Good Ventilation: Dome tents usually feature multiple ventilation points and have lots of mesh, allowing for proper air circulation even in hot weather.
  • Lightweight and Portable: Dome tents are typically lightweight and easy to carry, making them perfect for backpacking trips.

While dome tents offer many benefits, they do have a few disadvantages:

  • Limited Interior Space: Dome tents have less room than other types of tents. The curved roof reduces headroom, and the sloping walls decrease the floor area, making it hard to store gear or move around.
  • Condensation Issues: The full coverage rainfly on dome tents can cause condensation to build up. With less ventilation than bigger tents, moisture from breathing and sweat can get stuck, causing moisture to accumulate.

What Is A Cabin Tent?

A cabin tent is a popular type of camping tent that has a rectangular cabin-like shape. With nearly vertical walls and a generous max height, cabin tents tend to be great for family camping trips where space is a big priority. On the downside, they don’t perform as well in windy weather and are best suited for fair weather camping in late spring, summer, and early fall.

What are the Advantages of Cabin Tents?

When it comes to the advantages of cabin tents, there are a few that stand out. The first is that they make for a great family tent, meaning that they can accommodate multiple people and provide a lot of space to move around and enjoy time in the great outdoors.

Another great pro of cabin tents is that they tend to be quite comfortable and spacious. The larger size means that there is plenty of room to spread out and relax, and the sturdy construction helps to provide a stable environment. Plus, the tall center height means you can stand upright and move around freely in a majority of the interior space.

Finally, many cabin tents are of the instant tent type, which means that they can be set up in a matter of minutes. Instant cabin tents great for those who don’t want to spend too much time setting up camp and just want to get out and start exploring.

The Eureka! Copper Canyon is our best tent for tall people and is a cabin shape that has lots of headroom. It also made our list for best 12-person tents.
The Gazelle T4 is our best instant tent and is a cabin shape that sets up in only 90 seconds.

Family Friendly & Spacious

One of the best features of cabin tents is the fact that they are designed to accommodate larger groups of people. This makes them perfect for families, who can set up their tent and all fit comfortably inside. Not only does this make the camping experience more enjoyable, but it also eliminates the need for multiple tents and makes packing and unpacking much more efficient.

Most cabin tents also come with features that are designed to make camping with children easier. Many have built-in storage pockets and organizers, which makes it easier to store and access items like toys and books. Additionally, most models have removable walls to make separate rooms and multiple doors for easy access.

What are the Disadvantages of Cabin Tents?

While cabin tents have a lot of great features, there are also some disadvantages that should be taken into consideration. The first is that they usually don’t perform very well in windy or rainy conditions. The taller, almost vertical walls catch wind like a sail, making them prone to collapsing and breaking during strong winds. Also, cabin tents can be quite heavy and bulky, which makes them difficult to transport or set up with one person.

Are Cabin Tents Good?

When it comes to camping, cabin tents can be a great tent style for many different reasons. They’re tall and have lots of floor space inside, giving car campers plenty of room to stand upright. They tend to be larger in size, which is great for families and groups. They are usually quite easy to setup, but also have a big downside. Because they’re taller, they don’t perform as well in windy conditions and are best suited as three season tents in ideal weather conditions.

Cabin Tents Vs. 2-Person Tents

The main difference between cabin tents and 2-person tents is their size and design. Cabin tents are larger, have lots of headroom, and often have multiple rooms or partitions, making them suitable for camping with a group or family. On the other hand, 2-person tents are smaller and designed to accommodate only two people. They are usually a dome shape and have extremely limited head space, but are lightweight enough to be used as backpacking tents.

Price Of Dome Tents Vs Cabin Tents

When it comes to price between a dome tent vs cabin tent, there are several factors that influence price. It’s not as simple as saying that one is typically cheaper than the other because the different sizes, qualities, and brands vary greatly in cost. Currently on the market, there are very affordable tents in both dome and cabin shapes, but there are also very expensive options that have high quality tent material and fabric from fantastic camping gear brands.

For example, our list for best tents under $200 features both shapes of tent. On the other hand, if you were to shop around online, you could easily find tents in both shapes that surpass $500 or even $1,000 dollars.

On the extreme end of things, you can find dome tents that are built for mountaineering and those can go upwards of $5,000 for larger sizes. Because they are built for extreme cold weather conditions, they are made of the highest quality fabrics and materials that are built to withstand the most severe of weather conditions. In this case, dome tents would ultimately be more expensive since you won’t see any cabin tents in this kind of environment.

If price is a concern, you can read our guide on when to buy a tent for cheap. It will give you insight on how to get the best price, then you can pick the right tent based on your individual camping needs.

What’s the Difference Between a Dome Tent and a Cabin Tent?

There are several main differences between a dome tent and a cabin tent besides their shape. Dome tents are lightweight and easy to set up, making them a great choice for camping and backpacking trips. They also usually perform well in wind and rain and have plenty of room for two to four people. Cabin tents are usually larger and heavier than dome tents, so they can be more difficult to carry. They have more headroom and are larger in size, making them a great choice if you’re camping with a large group or a lot of gear, but they don’t perform as well in adverse weather conditions.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in other shapes of tent, there are also tunnel tents (seen in the picture below) like the Zempire that uses inflatable supports instead of traditional aluminum or fiberglass poles. There are also geodesic tents, but those are much less common. The main two shapes are definitely the cabin tent and dome style tent, which we’ve talked about in depth above.

Whether you end up choosing a dome or cabin tent (or any other shape), we wish you many fun camping adventures for years to come!

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With over 60 years of experience in the outdoors, we don’t just talk about outdoor gear or recommend a good hiking trail.

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We are not journalists from a magazine telling someone else’s stories from behind a computer. We are the ACTUAL outdoorsmen that those people write about. 

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We started Know Nothing Nomads to share our passion and expertise with our readers to inspire, educate, and enable you to explore the outdoors in the way that we have. And you will be more equipped and capable than ever before with the knowledge you gain here guiding you along the way.

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About The Author

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, wildflowers, scenic snacking, and mushrooms. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent years enjoying time outside doing things like hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
Her goal with Know Nothing Nomads is to make these hobbies easily accessible through knowledgeable content and how-to's based on all the stuff she's learned on her journey. If she isn't writing an article, she's probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!

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