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What Is A Tent

What Is a Tent?

Most people are already familiar with the concept of a tent. However, if you are not as familiar as you would like to be with tents, and planning your first camping trip, be sure to read on.

Below, you will find an overview of the various tent types and common materials used for the finest camping and hiking tents!


The tent can be dated back to the Iron Age, with a similar structure that has been around almost as long as humans have. Originally used for survival, they also became a tool for conquerors, with the Roman Empire famously using leather tents to house their troops before battle.

Tent Assembly

Tents can be assembled in a number of different ways, depending on the style and type of tent you have purchased. Campers who go camping for the first time may feel more confident with an inflatable or a quick-pitch tent, since these tents are incredibly easy to set up and enable you to get familiar with the camping experience.

No matter which tent you purchase, it will always consist of a fabric material, which is draped over the general construction of the tent. Smaller tents can be freestanding, which means they do not have to be attached to the ground. However, when you have a large tent, you might have to anchor it in the ground with ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs.

Tent Materials

A tent can be made from a variety of materials, so campers need to consider their camping environment before they choose a specific tent.

The most common materials are canvas, nylon and polyester. Each of these materials have thier own characteristics, so let us take a closer look at each one so you can determine which material suits you best.


Most canvas tents are fairly durable and are suitable for various weather conditions. The canvas tent is best suited for the leisurely camper, as canvas tents tend to weigh the most out of all available materials.

Canvas has excellent thermal regulation properties, although canvas can get a little heavier when wet; this is why most hikers will choose nylon over canvas for their hiking trip.

That being said, the swelling caused by water does make the tent waterproof, with many campers setting up their tent and leaving it outside for a couple of days prior to emarking upon their camping trip, more specifically to let their tent undergo the ‘weathering’ process.


Nylon tends to be the preferred tent material for hikers and campers who are travelling light.

When compared to canvas, nylon is lighter and easier to carry. It does not absorb water either, so a nylon tent will not be heavier after heavy rainfall.

With nylon the preffered choice for hikers, canvas is still a better choice for avid campers. Canvas has better thermal regulation than nylon, ensuring that the camper in question will stay warmer in colder environments and cooler in warmer environments.

A nylon tent can be treated with a waterproof coating by the manufacturer. However, campers need to be aware, this waterproof coating can disappear with use due to exposure to ultraviolet light. To prevent damage to your tent over time, it can be useful to give your nylon tent a new waterproof coating every couple of years.


Polyester has many of the similar qualities to nylon, as they have almost identical properties.

Polyester is one of the most affordable tent materials on the market, making this tent material the number one choice among teens and young adults looking for a festival tent.

A polyester tent can have a waterproof coating for extra protection against rain, but this is not always necessary considering some weaves provide waterproof properties automatically. Given its light weight and good protection against rain, the polyester tent is also well suited for hiking and trekking.

While polyester tents provide a number of benefits for hikers and trekkers alike, they can be difficult to handle during windy weather conditions. Due to them being lighter than other material types, if you do intend to camp in wide open spaces, you may be better suited to a heavier cotton tent which can withstand windy conditions that little bit better.

Tent Components

Each tent consists of several components, for example the flysheet, inner tent, vestibule, groundsheet, poles and more. Not all tents are the same though, since certain tent types only contain a flysheet and not an inner tent.

Before purchasing your tent, read through our list of common tent components below to understand the functionality and purpose of the tent.

The Flysheet

The flysheet can be described as the exterior layer of the tent, which protects the interior against water. The flysheet must always be waterproof and be able to collect condensation, so it can guide water away from the interior of the tent.

The Inner Tent

The inner tent is the name used to describe the interior of the tent, but it can also refer to the second layer of fabric between the flysheet and the interior.

The Vestibule

A vestibule is another word for an additional room, which is usually connected to the entrance or the middle of the tent.

The vestibule of a tent is mainly used to store personal items or clothing, but a vestibule can also be large enough to create an extra sleeping space for another camper.

In some cases, the vestibule can be used to perform activities that are not executed in the main area of the tent, for example cooking and equipment cleaning. Although, the function of the vestibule will depend heavily on the size.

The Groundsheet

The groundsheet can be described as the floor of your tent.

This groundsheet can be full-on flooring such as a PVC tub floor, but also a simple tarp that separates you from the ground the tent is standing on.

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