Dome Tent vs Tunnel Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing a dome tent vs tunnel tent, the two different designs can change your weekend in ways you might not expect.

We’ve broken down the major similarities and differences of common tent types to help you make the right decision for your next outdoor adventure!

Dome Tent vs Tunnel Tent

First, let’s break down each type of tent:

Dome Tent

dome tent vs a-frame tent

One of the most common tent types, the dome tent is distinguished by having two crossed poles anchored in the four corners to form the tent frame.

Tunnel

dome tent vs tunnel tent

Tunnel tents use poles to form a series of half-rings that frame the tent (compared to the cross-pole design of a dome tent). Tunnel tents frequently have extended vestibules for more space to store gear, your shoes, and keep wet things outside of the living area!

Major Differences

The biggest differences between dome tents and tunnel tents are their construction and price. Each tent comes in capacities of up to about 8 people and may be large enough to stand in. Dome tents use a cross pole design to create their outer ‘dome’ structure that the tent and rainfly are attached to. Tunnel tents use multiple arcing poles in a row to provide structure for the tent. Since the poles do not cross, the structure is slightly less stable than the interlocking dome design (but still protective).

Dome tents typically employ a two-layer design to repel rain while tunnel tents frequently use single-layer protection. Each should suffice but the dual-layer always makes us more comfortable in poor weather. While they should both offer good rain protection, dome tents may be more reliable in harsher storms since their structure allows wind to flow around the tent better and the rain fly offers more coverage. A benefit of single-layers in tunnel tents is that they have larger windows and can allow for better airflow than many dome tents.

Both dome and tunnel tents may have a vestibule in the front of the tent which allows for gear and shoe storage to help keep things dry overnight or in the rain but tunnel tent vestibules will typically be larger than those found on dome tents.

Both tent types can typically be set up by just a couple of people without too much difficulty.

Best Uses For Dome & Tunnel Tents

Each of these types of tents is great for both family and car camping! Small dome tents can be used for backpacking (although there are better options) but tunnel tents frequently are heavier since they use more poles than dome tents to pack and walk miles with.

Dome

Tunnel


Family Camping


Car Camping


Backpacking

Feature Comparison | Dome Tent vs Tunnel Tent

Dome and tunnel tents are incredibly similar outside their structural design. We would recommend a dome for its flexibility over a tunnel tent but tunnel tents may run at a slightly lower price for the budget camper. If you forsee backpacking in your future, a dome tent might be the better long-term choice with its portability!

Product

Dome Tent

Tunnel

Sturdiness

Capacity

Cost

Portability

Lifespan

Want more?

Check out our infographic and larger article covering the ten most common tent types or use our tent finding tool to quickly find the tents that suit your needs!

About the Author

Photo of author

Robbie

Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over two hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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