Dome Tent Vs. Cabin Tent: The Big Discussion

Choosing the right tent goes beyond just finding the right sized one that comes with all the bells and whistles. There is the issue of the shape and figuring out if a dome or cabin suits you best. 

The shape of a tent equally matters because it affects other aspects such as the amount of floor space available for use, and in turn, the amount of gear you can fit inside. The hard truth is that the perfect tent does not exist, but the right one sure does. It falls to your intended use and specific needs. 

It does not quite put the matter to rest, should you go for a dome or cabin tent?

Dome Tent Vs. Cabin Tent Comparison

What Are The Advantages Of A Dome Tent?

These tents come in a geodesic dome model, and the average units can comfortably accommodate six to eight people.

Regular dome tents use a crossed-pole model meaning that they squeeze in extra poles to support about every inch of the fabric covering the structure. In turn, it provides better load stability making them able to handle the strongest of winds and heaviest of snows better than other portable outdoor shelters. However, the extra poles add to the overall weight of the structure but still keeps them in the lightweight range of family-sized portable shelters. 

They are also free-standing and do not need supporting guy lines or pegging to stay up. It makes them the best choice for camping in rugged terrains such as rocky cliff where it would otherwise be difficult to stake an outdoor shelter. They also come in instant/pop-up designs making for easy set-up.

Domes also come with a markedly broader peak making it comfortable to sit or move within them standing depending on the particular size. There are several variations of the dome, and some feature a network of interconnected tents to form a more massive family-sized structure. 

Half domes come in lighter packages making them better suited for backpackers and hikers. 

What Are The Advantages Of A Cabin Tent?

Anyone who settles for a cabin style tent does so as a future investment because they come built to last. Families and larger groups of campers often go for cabin tents because they are bigger and more spacious than domes and other outdoor shelters.

They feature walls that are nearly vertical making it possible to move around the outdoor crib while standing. Their spaciousness and adequate floor room make them ideal for use by 10 or more people, see our 10 person tent article for more info.

Their straight-wall model accords you more floor space allowing you to make use of every square inch. That means more room to setup airbeds/ air mattresses and your camping gear too. Cabins also have more headroom with the peak heights ranging between 6 ft. to 8 ft. tall. They usually come with several windows and multiple doorways promoting better ventilation. 

Also, as implied, they resemble a small cabin or house making them as close to home as it gets. The cabins typically come with room separators making it possible to transform the structure in a multi-room shelter. In general, it accords you more privacy compared to the rest. 

They tend to be very heavy making them suited for single location camping as opposed to hiking or backpacking. Likewise, the outdoor shelters come in variations of designs including single-walled units that are suitable for car camping. 

The cabins also prove to withstand harsh weather better, particularly the canvas-made models that feature a ground anchoring.

How Do They Differ?

In essence, both cabin and dome tents would suit the needs of a camping group. In the end, it often comes to preference, but some noticeable difference between the two options could make one tent better suited for your needs over the other. 

Peak Height

When pitted against each other, the cabins rise higher compared to the dome-shaped tents. The domes come with a peak height averaging 6-foot tall while the cabins can go as high as 30 feet tall.

The dome style ends up being a disadvantage because the curve of the poles makes the edges of the floor unusable. It, unfortunately, makes it impossible to set airbeds/ mattresses against the wall. On the flipside, cabins allow you to use all the available floor space and also gives you room to accommodate additional camping gear. 

The domes also limit your freedom of movement within them because of the limited headroom when compared to what the cabins offer. Even the tallest of domes cannot match the amount of headroom space cabins provide. The half-domes do not have the necessary room to sit up straight.

Assembly

Domes often come in instant/pop-up designs and do not require complicated assembling processes. However, cabins often need grounded pitching and a bit of effort to set up. The same applies to the process of dismantling the cabin-style tents, and they do not function well as grab-and-go options. 

Construction

Another difference between the two is the materials used for their development. The domes-styled shelters, in general, use lighter fabrics while cabins make use of weighty materials including canvas. The construction differences also extend to the poles/stakes used, and the cabin models feature heavier/durable materials.

That makes the cabin-style variations suitable for a semi-permanent set-up and ideal for longer outdoor excursions. 

The design of the cabins allows them to accommodate awnings at the front entrance. It creates a sheltered outdoor space, and for the covered models, it makes it possible to cook and store gear away from the elements. 

Portability

A collapsed cabin tent still proves quite weighty compared to a dome. In fact, the dome-styled variations pack down to a disc shape making them more convenient to transport. 

Price

The size of the outdoor shelter, its construction, and features often determine its cost.

Surprisingly, the price of the two options stands reasonably at par with all factors considered. However, the canvas-made cabin tents are the most expensive followed by their nylon counterparts. 


The Dome Tents Reviews

Coleman Montana 8-Man Tent

Coleman Montana

Some notable specs

  • It features an extended door awning
  • The cabin rises 6 feet 2 inches high at the center.
  • It can accommodate up to 8 people.

What makes it different?

It comes with a front porch that extends out as well as a fly that forms a protective awning at the entrance. Some extras such as a polyethylene doormat and an electrical AC power port access come with the tent. See our Tent Air conditioner article for some nice extras.

The polyester fabric used to construct the tent is fire retardant. A quick assembly gets the tent up in just 15 minutes, and an included carry bag makes it highly portable. 

Who should buy it?

The Montana dome is for the family of campers who want a mixture of high quality and function out of a budget outdoor shelter. Its generous 16 by 7-inch floor space sleeps up to eight happy campers. 

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


Coleman Evanston Tent

 Coleman Evanston Screened

Some crucial features

  • It comes in 6-man and 8-man options.
  • It features a screened front porch

What sets it apart?

The entirely meshed rear back of the tent provides enhanced ventilation. The screened front vestibule offers a sheltered chill out spot and additional space to accommodate gear. 

The dome also comes equipped with Coleman’s Weathertec system that incorporates protected seams, a wind-strong frame, zippered closures, and waterproof floors.

Who should get it?

Given that it comes in 6-man and 8-man options, the dome is suitable for a camping family or group of friends. Its meshed rear does not come with a closure, which means that it is best for scenic campers who are not all too concerned with this element. 

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


Sundrome 4-Person Tent

Coleman Sundome

Some standout features

  • It comes in two color variations and options that include two sleeping bags and a sealant.
  • A rainfly awning offers shaded protection at the entrance.
  • An instant-clip stake attachment reinforces strong winds. 

What gets it on this list?

The 9ft by 7 ft floor area can sleep up to four campers or accommodate a queen airbed. A 4 ft 11-inch center height gives it a decent enough headroom. Like most other Coleman tents it features a rainfly awning that offers weather protection. 

It also comes with the WeatherTec patented inverted seams and welded floors. Snag-free pole sleeves make its assembly a quick process. 

Who is it for?

A camping duo will appreciate this tent even more by going for the option that comes with two complimentary sleeping bags. It is amongst the most affordable domes available making it a suitable choice for the budget-friendly shopper.

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


The Cabin Tent Reviews

Coleman 6-Man Instant Cabin

Coleman 6-Person Instant

Some cool features

  • It features an integrated rain fly.
  • The cabin rises 6ft high at the center.

What makes it different?

Coleman invests in the durability, and this cabin is no different featuring a rugged 2X poly guard construction. 150D polyester taped seams further reinforce the structure alongside the WeatheTec patented welded floors.

The integrated and vented rain fly provides improved airflow alongside the incredibly huge windows.

Who should get it?

The ten by 9-foot floor area with a 6-foot center height offers enough room for a family of six to sleep and comfortably move around within while standing within. It is also a suitable choice for hunting and long trip campers.

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


Wenzel 8-Man Klondike Tent

Wenzel 8 Person Klondike

Some noteworthy features

  • It comes with a screened porch room.
  • The roof is fully meshed.

What sets it apart?

The polyester construction gives the cabin weatherproof protection from top to bottom. It also features lap felled, double-stitched seams throughout creating a shingle effect that keeps water away. All the zippers, webbing, and threads offer water repellency too.

Its screened room that extends out from the rain fly can function as a storage space, sheltered porch or sleeping area for pets or an additional two to three people.

Who should buy it?

A group of campers or a family camping out with their pets. Although the screened room has a shorter center height compared to the central sleep area, it can accommodate three people comfortably. The main vestibule can sleep four to five people.

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


Ozark Trail Family Cabin

Ozark Trail

Some cool features

  • It comes with complimentary twin and queen air mattresses.
  • Two spectators convert it into a multi-room tent.

What got it on this list?

The fact that it can create three rooms inside using two dividers sets it apart from most portable outdoor shelters. It further comes with two doors creating separate entry/exit ways and six windows for enhanced ventilation. 

Taped fly seams reinforce the structure and prevent buildups in fog and rainy weather. A full-coverage rainfly further enhances the unit’s weather protection. It also does not hurt that the cabin tent comes in six color choices and 8-man/12-man options.  

Who is it for?

A family or group of ten campers will appreciate this spacious cabin. 

Check Prices / Reviews On Amazon


To Wrap It Up

Specific needs purely drive the choice of going for either a dome or cabin tent. A cabin tent suits long-trip campers as well as larger groups of individuals out on hunting trips. The dome tents work better for short-duration camping and hiking. However, that is not enough to help you settle for an ideal one. 

It is crucial to figure it just how much weather-protection any tent comes with because it indicates just how much beating the unit can handle. The last thing any camper wants is to get holed up inside during bad weather and have water leaking through the seams or other over-looked openings. Beyond the rain fly, make sure that the unit features reinforced seams and flooring to keep the water out entirely. 

Out of the products we reviewed, we nominate the Coleman Evanston dome and Coleman 6-Man Instant Cabin tents as the top option under each category. 

Scott Moey
 

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