Glossary of Tent Terminology

Below are some of the camping terms and phrases that are commonly used in camping.

1-season tent

A tent for summer use only, and may only be capable of coping with light showers.

3-season tent

A tent that’s intended for spring, summer and autumn uses. This type of tent should be capable of withstanding fairly heavy rain, or very light snow.

4-season tent

A 4-season tent is used for winter camping. The tent should be able to withstand the harshest conditions, strong enough to cope with heavy snow, strong winds, as well as heavy rain.

A-frame tent
A-frame tent
A simple, light, and often inexpensive tent. A-frame design has a pole supporting the middle of the tent and the tent walls drape over the pole in an A shape.

Bathtub floor

Or tub floor, is a seamless tent floor that extends a few inches up the sides of the tent before connecting with the tent walls.

Bivy sack or Bivouac
Bivy sack
Also called a bivy bag or bivy shelter. A Bivouac is an extremely lightweight alternative to a traditional tent. It’s just big enough to accommodate one person and a sleeping bag.

Cabana
Cabana
A cabana is a small shelter designed to provide temporary or permanent shade. Cabanas are typically used at the beach or alongside swimming pools. Apart from providing shade, cabanas are used as dressing rooms and even for cooking meals at seaside picnic. Most cabanas are freestanding.

Convertible tent

A type of tent that aims at campers who dabble in all types of conditions. It’s a hybrid design that features pole, vestibule, and rainfly options that allow the camper to strip it down for summer trips or fortify it for stormy adventures. Convertible tents are typically heavier than other options.

Dome tent
Dome tent
A round or oval tent with two or more flexible poles looping over the
tent in a crisscross fashion. Dome tents offer good stability in wind, and good interior space.

Double-wall tent

A double-wall tent uses an inner canopy and a rainfly (to keep water out). Double-walls tend to be less expensive, drier in wet conditions, and have better ventilation.

Flysheet

A flysheet consists of a single rectangular sheet with two opposite sides held up in the middle by poles.

Freestanding tent

A tent that can be erected without the use of stakes. A freestanding tent is easier to pitch and move around camp to find the perfect flat spot.

Gear loft
Gear loft
A piece of net that ties to loops suspended from the top of a tent to serve as a small storage. Many different shapes and designs (such as square, triangular, trapezoid, etc).

Grommet

A reinforced metal eyelet used for securing the ends of tent poles.

Guy-rope
Guy-rope
A guy-rope, guy-wire or a guy, is a tensioned cable designed to add stability to tents as well as other structures.

No-see-ums

Very small two-winged flies found world-wide, known as biting midges, including no-see-ums, midgies, sand flies, punkies, and other tiny bugs. They belong to a family of small flies found in almost any aquatic habitat throughout the world.

No-see-um netting

A kind of netting that has 625 holes per inch to keep out mosquitos, bugs other tiny insects.

Polyurethane coating

A kind of material coating for waterproofing a tent floor and rainfly.

Rainfly
Rainfly
A water-resistant covering (mostly removable) that’s placed over the outside of a tent to provide additional protection against the elements ( wind, rain, and sand, etc) outside, keeping you dry and comfortable inside.

Ripstop nylon

A kind of fabric material used in tent walls. Ripstop material possess favorable strength-to-weight ratio. Fabrics used to make ripstop include polyester, and polypropylene, cotton and silk, with nylon content limited to the crosshatched threads that make it tear-resistant.

Shock-corded poles
Shock-corded poles
Tent poles that come in sections and are held together by an elastic cord that runs the length of the pole. Can be collapsed and folded for easy packing.

Single-wall tent

A single-wall tent uses only one layer of waterproof fabric, which makes them lighter and often easier to set up. However, condensation can be a problem, so look for vents or a hybrid design that uses a partial rainfly, often over the front door to help reduce condensation.

Tarp tent
Tarp tent
A tarp is one solid nylon or polyester sheet that can be rigged to trees, boulders or trekking poles, used in place of a tent. Ultralight backpackers prefer tarp tents because they are lightweight compared to other backpacking shelters.

Tent footprint
Tent footprint
The tent footprint is groundsheet protector, a separate flat groundsheet placed under the main groundsheet. It is used for protecting the main groundsheet, especially when camping on rough terrain. It is much cheaper to replace a separate footprint groundsheet than it is to replace a sewn-in groundsheet.

Tent peg or stakes
Tent peg or stakes
A spike with a hook or hole on the top end, typically made from wood, metal, plastic, or composite material, for holding a tent to the ground.

Tent poles
Tent poles
Poles used for erecting tents. Usually made of aluminum or fiberglass.

Tunnel tent
Tunnel tent
Also known as a hoop or tube tent. Tunnel tents offer a good combination of weight and weather-resistance. However, they are not freestanding — which means that adequate staking is required to achieve their shape.

Vestibule

The vestibule is a floorless covered area located outside a tent door. It is very much like a foyer where you make a pit stop to ditch wet boots and drop your pack before getting into the dry inner area of your tent. A vestibule can either be included as a removable attachment or integrated into the tent itself.

Wedge tent
Wedge tent
A tent that’s higher at the head end and lower towards the foot. Wedge tents are aerodynamic and lightweight. The disadvantage is lesser interior space, especially headroom.

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