There is no single best tent design. Instead, there is the type most suited to your intended uses. Picking the outdoor shelter is a combination of weight, portability, stability, comfort and ease of use. Some tents have a number of poles, which may make the tent more stable but add weight, while other tents will rely more on stakes, reducing weight but requiring soft soil. These are just a few of the considerations that should go into an investment in a new tent. Arming yourself with the proper knowledge will ensure a valuable purchase that will serve you in your outdoor adventures for years to come. Starting with the variety of tent shapes is an excellent jumping-off point.
The classic pup-style tent, A-frames should be a familiar sight to anyone who has spent time in the outdoors, or even just seen a cartoon portraying a campsite. These tents can be lightweight, typically requiring only a front and back pole. However, they can be poor performers in high wind, relying entirely on the tautness of the staked-down ropes to stay standing. Moreover, A-frames can be a little cramped, with only the center of the tent achieving the maximum interior height.
Hoop tents usually involve two or more poles that are formed into hoops. The tent consists of a "tunnel" held between the hoops. These tents can be roomy and easily packable. However, they are more appropriate for more expert campers, since they require precision assembly and a knowledge of the environment. While they perform well in winds, they are only effective if the opening or closing is facing directly into the breeze.
Monstrous in size, cabin tents will never be practical for backpacking. Instead, they are meant for camping within walking distance of the car. Cabin tents are typically large enough to stand inside, with long, thick poles holding up a four-walled structure. Many cabin tents even feature separate rooms which can be closed off with zippers.
Probably the most popular design with backpackers and those looking for an all-around tent. Dome tents typically have two to four poles. They perform well in wind, having a number of angles to divert the weather. They are roomy inside, but often have an odd shape that leaves floor space unsuitable for additional sleepers.