The most obvious difference between the A-frame and dome tent is appearance. A-frame tents can look similar to the letter A or a tepee, with a triangular shape that peaks at the top and reaches down to the ground on the sides. The main frame component of the A-frame is one or more stiff poles to which the canvas is attached. Ropes and pegs attach at each corner of the tent's square base. Dome tents resemble more of an igloo shape, with a rounded top. Dome tents rely on their flexible poles, ropes and pegs to keep them in place.
A-frame tents are usually heavier and more cumbersome to haul around than dome tents. The A-frame's rigid poles add to their bulkiness and weight so, while durable, they are more suitable for car camping and not ideal for backpacking or packing light for a camping trip. The flexible poles of the dome tent make them more compact, lighter, and easier to cart around than the A-frame. Having a compact and lighter weight tent is essential to comfortable backcountry camping.
Dome tents are generally better at fending off extreme weather than A-frame tents. The domed shape offers less resistance against wind and heavy rain than the rigid, triangular A-frame. However, rigid poles are generally the strongest and most durable tent poles and will not easily snap, break or shatter.
Dome tents offer ample floor space for sleeping or sitting, but they do not allow much head room. A-frame tents feature a high peak in the center, some that are even high enough in which to easily stand and move around. When camping with a group or a family a large A-frame tent offers much more space.
Dome tents can be less expensive or more expensive than A-frame tents, based on quality, branding, popularity, and other factors. Pricing for a four-person A-frame tent sells anywhere from $60 to $200, while a four-person dome tent can start as low as $90 and easily sell as high as $500. In addition to size, prices vary based on a number of different features available.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.