What Does Freestanding Tent Mean

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You’ll probably notice that designs are classified as “freestanding” or “non-freestanding” if you’re in the market for a backpacking tent. This is because some designs are freestanding, while others are not. How can you know which style is suitable for you, though, and what these distinctions mean? We’ll go over the major differences between these two types of tents and shelters, including weather protection, ventilation, weight, interior space, set-up, and more, in the following sections. See our post on the best backpacking tents for a comprehensive list of all our top options in one one location.

Types of Backpacking Tents

Freestanding tents perform exactly as their name implies: the tent bodies are able to maintain their shape on their own without the need for additional support. These designs are supported by the tent poles that are supplied, and they are lightweight and portable, allowing them to be moved around camp without becoming shaky. Freestanding tents, like as the popularBig Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, are often equipped with a separate rainfly (thus making them double-walled), however some types are waterproof and just have a single wall.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is a freestanding structure.


Furthermore, most rainflies must be staked out in order to provide enough vestibule room for your gear while also adequately shedding moisture from the air.


Non-freestanding tents, in contrast to freestanding types, require staking out in order to maintain their shape. Non-freestanding tents are staked out initially, and then they are normally propped up with trekking poles throughout the setup process (some like theTarptent Double Rainbowuse a single tent pole instead). Typically, they are single-wall designs that place a higher emphasis on low weight and compact dimensions at the expense of comfort, convenience, and living area. As a result, non-freestanding variants are quite popular among experienced wilderness hikers and those who like to travel as light as possible.


Despite the fact that semi-freestanding tents are not as widespread as real freestanding and non-freestanding shelters, we’d be negligent if we didn’t include them in our list. These types, such as the REI Co-op Flash Air 2, come with a pole framework that helps to hold them upright, but a portion of the tent’s body must still be staked out in order for the tent to expand to its full size and form a strong frame all around. The fact that they come with poles causes some manufacturers and dealers to classify semi-freestanding tents as freestanding designs, and we do the same thing in the following section.

On the semi-freestanding structure, the corners must be staked out. Tiger Wall Number 2

Performance Considerations

The advantage of freestanding tents over erected structures when it comes to weather protection is due to two primary factors. A tent with a specialized pole structure that is not dependent on anchors will be marginally stronger in windy conditions than a tent held up with tensioned trekking poles. However, while non-freestanding tents are normally quite effective at withstanding severe winds, there is simply more that may go wrong as the wind picks up speed: a stake could come loose, a guyline could snap, or a pole could lose tension and collapse.

If you use a freestanding tent, you will benefit from an additional layer of protection from the elements—imagine the difference between wearing a rain jacket against bare skin and wearing a baselayer below.

Furthermore, several non-freestanding tents with double-wall construction are available as well (such as the Tarptent StratoSpire Li).

A freestanding tent’s sturdy pole construction and double-wall design make it a safe and secure place to stay.

2. Ventilation Advantage: Freestanding

When it comes to ventilation, the differential between single- and double-wall construction is critical. A double-wall construction ventilates far better than a single-wall design because the inside tent body is composed of breathable fabric, which allows moisture to leave more easily. On the other hand, the single piece of fabric that makes up a single-wall tent is expected to be both breathable and waterproof, which is a difficult undertaking to do. Also bear in mind that lightweight Dyneema (as seen in models like as the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo 2) has a low breathability rating and is not recommended.

However, as we previously discussed, it’s vital to note that there are certain exceptions to this rule, as we’ll see below.

3. Weight and Packed Size Advantage: Non-Freestanding

One of the most significant differences between the two tent constructions is their weight and packed size, which is one of the primary reasons hikers would prefer a non-freestanding variant. In brief, non-freestanding tents are often more lighter and more compact than their freestanding counterparts, thanks to their simple single-wall designs and the lack of tent poles that are often included. Consider that the Zpacks Duplex weighs 1 pound 5 ounces (with stakes and with the use of trekking poles for support) and packs down to 7 x 13 inches, while a relatively light freestanding option such as the Nemo Dagger 2Pweighs 3 pounds 14 ounces and packs down to an overall size of 6.5 x 19.5 inches.

Without a doubt, freestanding tents are rapidly narrowing the distance between them and their competitors—take, for example, the 1-pound-11-ounce Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Carbon—but you can expect to compromise durability and pay a high price for these focused lightweight designs.

4. Interior Space Advantage: Freestanding

Overall, freestanding tents outperform other types of tents in terms of livability, because to the steeper walls and improved headroom provided by the construction of specific tent poles. Alternatively, the traditional A frame-like design of non-freestanding tents results in a reduction in usable living area and is not recommended. Simply said, if we were stranded in a tent for several days due to a severe storm, we’d prefer to stay in a freestanding structure (such as the spaciousREI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+).

Furthermore, depending on the size, these designs may accommodate anywhere from one to four people, but non-freestanding, trekking pole-supported shelters are often limited to three people.

5. Durability Advantage: Tie

When it comes to durability, there isn’t much of a difference between freestanding tents and non-freestanding tents in most instances. These two types of constructions can be constructed from either robust materials or delicate textiles, and both include stress areas that must be handled with care. When we get into the ultralight realm, where producers reduce the thickness of fabrics in order to save weight, this subject becomes significantly more relevant. When it comes to weight, freestanding tents like the Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum employ extremely thin materials (7-denier) that must be handled with great care in order to match the weight of non-freestanding constructions.

6. Vestibule Area Advantage: Tie

Tents with and without vestibules are available for both freestanding and non-freestanding models, so the ultimate selection will be primarily depending on personal preference. Vestibules range in size from around 6 square feet apiece (the semi-freestanding) to approximately 12 square feet each (the freestanding). It ranges from 2 to 16 square feet (the non-freestanding Nemo Hornet Elite). The Gossamer Gear The Two) – Because vestibules come in a variety of sizes, you’ll need to look closely at the features and specifications of each tent to decide how much outside storage it provides.

Vestibules are excellent for storing and protecting things outside of your tent.

7. Set-Up Advantage: Tie

There are a few differences between freestanding and non-freestanding tents when it comes to the set-up procedure, which may appear insignificant at first glance. While non-freestanding tents may be set up almost anywhere and relocated, freestanding designs must be built and staked down in the location where you plan to use them. As a result, you may pick up your freestanding tent and move it about (if you made a poor choice in terms of location, for example), shake it out, and even set it up without stakes or other anchors (which we don’t suggest unless it’s a very quiet night).

The second key difference between the two designs is the simplicity with which they may be set up.

Setting up a non-freestanding tent has a steeper learning curve than setting up a freestanding tent—you’ll have to dial in your trekking pole length and the tension of your guylines—and it can be somewhat different each time depending on the terrain and anchors.

There’s also the added benefit of not having to worry about getting your insides wet while assembling a non-freestanding tent in the rain, as opposed to a double-wall freestanding tent, which requires you to set up the body first before putting on the fly.

Non-freestanding tents are simple to erect with a little practice.

8. Versatility Advantage: Freestanding

Double-wall freestanding tents provide the greatest level of adaptability for people who enjoy customizing their gear to suit the needs of each area and climate. On hot evenings, you might choose to skip the fly in order to have greater ventilation (and a great view). If you’re traveling light, you may leave the tent body at home and use the rainfly as a floorless shelter in lieu of the tent body (this typically requires a matching footprint). Non-freestanding tents, on the other hand, often have only one configuration, with little options for reducing weight or customizing ventilation.

9. Price Advantage: Tie

In order to present a comparable price comparison between freestanding and nonfreestanding tents, it’s necessary to consider the wide range of prices that exist even within each classification. If everything else is equal, expect lighter tents (both freestanding and non-freestanding) to be more expensive than heavier tents. This is due to the higher cost of lightweight materials (Dyneema fabric and carbon fiber poles are two examples) and the higher level of construction required to ensure durability.

The Big Agnes Copper Spur Platinum is compact due to its modest packing size.

Our Favorite Freestanding and Non-Freestanding Tents

We hope that the information provided above has helped you gain a better knowledge of the many types of tents available and has assisted you in narrowing down your search results. To summarize, most hikers will choose for a straightforward freestanding design, but non-freestanding tents do have their merits (mostly in terms of weight and packed size), and semi-freestanding tents are a last option to consider and provide a great balance between the two designs. When you’re ready to make a purchase, have a look at our article on the best backpacking tents, which includes all three models among our top recommendations.

Non-Freestanding Tents page.

Freestanding vs. Non-Freestanding Tents

What kind of tent should you get? First and foremost, some definitions are required: Tents that stand on their own without the need of incorporated poles are known as freestanding tents. The fact that they are not linked to anything means that they may be picked up and transported without changing their shape. MSR Hubba XP is a multi-purpose vehicle. (Weight: 3 pounds, 7 ounces) Temporary structures that need a rope or cord to be fastened to metal stakes that must be pushed or pounded into the ground.

  • They may also make use of your trekking poles to help them stand up on their own own.
  • 9 oz) It’s similar to the difference between a tent with an endoskeleton and a tent with an exoskeleton in terms of functionality.
  • A freestanding model has several significant advantages, including the fact that, despite their weight, they may be relocated simply if you detect pebbles in your back.
  • In addition to being stronger, they have greater space both inside and out in the vestibules (a big plus to keep your gear dry).
  • Alternatively, there is a greater learning curve associated with non-freestanding systems.
  • When it comes to putting in or clipping poles, there is very little fussing, and the experience encourages you to be more observant and aware of your surroundings as you learn knots, which types of soil hold stakes better, and what angle to lay up your tarp to reduce rain splash-back.
  • In addition, it is my personal opinion that a well- staked freestanding tent, regardless of design, is always more waterproof than an unstaked freestanding tent.

So, what does all of this imply? What does it look like when they’re side by side? The following graphic summarizes my (somewhat subjective) opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of both:

Freestanding Versus Non-Freestanding Tents

More Versatile – can be put up anywhere More prone to bad weather conditions, esp. wind
Faster setup initially Heavier
Easily moveable Less waterproof (if not staked as well)
Can be put up in a shelter/on a tent platform Difficult / more expensive to replace poles
Trekking poles / additional gear unnecessary More complicated assembly overall (debatable)
Can be picked up and shaken to clean out debris Less warm (if it is bigger)
More space inside usually
Bigger vestibule
Staked (non-Freestanding):
More Waterproof (if correctly staked) Stakes may come out
More Windproof Doesn’t work on gravel, rock, poor surfaces
Lighter Harder to set up at first
Easier to repair / find replacements Hard to move if your location is poor.
Faster set up once you are used to it May require you to have trekking poles
Warmer (if it is smaller) Less sturdy
Harder to clean out
Less space inside usually
Smaller vestibule (if any)
See also:  How To Stop Condensation In Roof Top Tent

There’s also the question of whether to use twin walls or a single wall. In addition to having two walls, most freestanding tents also feature a rainfly attached to one side of the tent. Many non-freestanding tent choices are now experimenting with a single-wall design, despite the fact that it is more expensive (the rainfly is the roof of your tent). This can save on weight, but there are some drawbacks to it as well. So, here’s another graph for you!

Double Wall
Less condensation on the inside More complicated design
More ventilation More seams = less waterproof (debatable)
Cooler Permeable bottom that requires footprint
Single Wall
Less complicated design Less ventilation
Fewer seams = more waterproof (debatable) More condensation
Bathtub bottom is waterproof, no footprint Warmer

If you pay attention, you’ll find that temperature is both a benefit and a drawback. This is because, during the summer months, when boyscouts are able to kayak down sweaty rivers on their backs, they will most likely want a well-ventilated tent that will keep them comfortable. During the fall and spring, on the other hand, you’ll be much happier in a poorly ventilated tent where you can bask in the warmth of your own warm methane fumes. The warm glow of slim jims that have been digested However, how can you extrapolate from raw data to the real-world situation?

  1. When it comes to equipment, I’ve always had a MacGyver mentality.
  2. I liked my old, rusty metal dinosaur of a bicycle over my posh new carbon fiber Trek bike since it reminded me of my childhood.
  3. No.
  4. Even the thought of changing a tire on it makes me feel like I’m doing delicate heart surgery on it.
  5. As a result, I’m at the mercy of bike stores, where I stand awkwardly and look at wall displays for internal gears or disk brakes while someone else handles my bike in close proximity to their own body.
  6. This similar frame of mind may be used to tents.
  7. No, not at all.

As I discovered after once attempting to duct tape together a frozen pole that I had broken wide apart, the answer is a categorical no.

But what about those bizarre tarp tents and their crazy set-ups?

Is it necessary to have greater knowledge?

Knowing how to tie a bowline and a trucker’s hitch comes in handy in this situation.

But what do you do if anything goes wrong and has to be repaired?

Then your tent is as good as brand-new.

It’s Mac against PC; automatic versus manual shifting; an alcohol stove versus a pocket rocket; and watches versus digital clocks, to name a few comparisons.

John Hodgman (the original PC) has gotten a new appearance.

It goes without saying that you must choose and choose what you are most comfortable with.

I made selections about which pieces of equipment I wanted to devote the majority of my time to learning, because everyone needs to strike a balance between automatic and manual modes of operation.

Perhaps this is why so many tent manufacturers are now going towards a more compromising approach to tent design.

It was quite convenient to be able to set up on a platform or a rocky outcropping after we reached New Hampshire and Maine, and we even took advantage of the opportunity to stay in a shelter on a couple of occasions.

So, in the end, everybody to his or her own.

Alternatively, you may sleep on a hammock.

The following are some useful resource guides: a few fundamentals about tents This evaluation and comparison of hiking tents (both freestanding and nonfreestanding), as well as lightweight shelters, is provided by the Outdoor Gear Lab (non-freestanding and tarps).

*Please keep in mind that this post is not intended for you grittier, nature-hardened tarpers.

In order to experience the full-on tarp lifestyle, I would recommend avoiding the major retail alternatives in favor of one of the tiny firms who specialize in it, such asSix Moon Designs, Tarptents, Mountain Laurel Designs, Zpacks, or Hyperlite Mountain Gear (to name a few examples) (although I have heard the sound of rain on a Cuban fiber tarp is like Chinese sound torture).

And here are a few styles of freestanding tents that are highly recommended:

  • Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur 1
  • MSR Hubba NX
  • MSR Hubba Hubba NX

Good luck, and please feel free to share any more tent-related links or ideas in the comments section below! Disclosure of Affiliate Relationships This website contains affiliate links, which means that The Trek may get a commission if you purchase a product or service after clicking on one of the affiliate links in the articles or adverts on this site. Although the consumer pays the same amount as they would have otherwise, their purchases assist The Trek to continue its mission of providing you with quality backpacking guidance and information on a year-round basis.

For further information, please see theAbout This Sitepage.

What is a Freestanding Tent?

Freestanding tents are tents that can stand on their own, making them simple to put up in a variety of terrains ranging from arid sands and snow-covered summits to wooden tent platforms and everything in between. The majority of freestanding tents are double-wall tents with a separate inner tent and a rainfly to help prevent internal condensation from getting into your gear. However, a small number of single-wall freestanding tents exist, which are primarily used by climbers and mountaineers to protect their gear.

Tent stakes are required for semi-freestanding tents to be set up, mostly to stake out vestibules, but fully freestanding tents can be set up completely without the need of any stakes at all.

It’s a little distinction that isn’t really significant because you should always stake up a tent to keep it from blowing away in the wind or during inclement weather.

This issue is covered in greater depth in the articleHow to Set Up a Tent on Sand.

  • The following types of tents are available: double-wall tents in which the Inner Tent is set up first
  • Double-wall tents in which the Rainfly is set up first
  • Single-wall tents.

Here are a few illustrations of each type:

Make / Model Design Setup Weight Price
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 2 lbs 11 oz $450
Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 2 lbs 3 oz $400
Nemo Hornet Elite 2 Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 1 lb 11 oz $500
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 3 lbs 8 oz $450
Paria Outdoor Zion 2P Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 4 lbs 2 oz $170
SlingFin Portal 2 Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 2 lbs 13 oz $485
Exped Lyra II Semi-Freestanding Inner Tent First 4 lbs 4 oz $249
Hilleberg Niak Semi-Freestanding Rainfly First 3 lbs 5 oz $800
Hilleberg Unna Semi- Freestanding Rainfly First 4 lbs 7 oz $725
Terra Nova Southern Cross 1 Fully Freestanding Rainfly First 3 lbs 4 oz $746
Exped Orion II Fully Freestanding Rainfly First 6 lbs 9 oz $649
Big Sky Chinook 2 Fully Freestanding Rainfly First 4 lbs $600
Black Diamond Firstlight 2 Fully Freestanding Single Wall 3 lbs $370
MSR Advance Pro 2 Fully Freestanding Single Wall 2 lbs 14 oz $550
Mountain Hardwear AC 2 Fully Freestanding Single Wall 3 lbs 7 oz $650

Double-Wall: Inner Tent First

The majority of semi-freestanding tents manufactured in the United States by companies such as Big Agnes, MSR, NEMO, REI, and others demand that you first put up the inner tent and then drape the rainfly over the top of it. Due to the fact that it is a relatively simple operation, the tents that employ it are quite popular. On the majority of semi-freestanding tents built in the United States, the inner tent is set up first. All you have to do is stake out the corners of your inner tent, extend the poles and insert them into grommets in the corners, then attach the walls and ceiling of your inner tent to the poles so that the structure stands on its own.

Most of the time, the vestibule doors will need to be staked out, although this normally only requires one or two tent stakes.

In dry weather, this inner tent first design is effective; but, if you have to put up your inner tent while it is raining, it may result in a soaked inner tent.

Even if the worst case scenario occurs, a camping towel can typically be used to wipe up any rain that has penetrated the mesh ceiling of the inner tent, allowing you to continue using the tent as usual.

Double-Wall Tents: Rainfly First

It is common practice in Europe to set up rainfly first on tents built in that country, such as the totally freestanding and semi-freestanding tents made by Hilleberg, Exped, and Terra Nova. The tent poles are inserted into sleeves sewed into the rainfly cloth, and the inner tent is hung underneath the rainfly for protection from the elements. You may also keep the rainfly and inner tent linked while taking down the tent in dry weather so that the complete structure can be pitched at once the next time you pitch the tent, if the weather is dry.

See also:  How To Repair Popup Trailer Canvas Tent

The Hilleberg Niak tent, as depicted here.

This type of tent is also often significantly more expensive than other types of tents since it is more difficult to make and is constructed of more durable materials.

Single-Wall Freestanding Tents

There are also single-wall freestanding tents that do not have a separate inner tent and rainfly, but instead have a single skin that is attached to the ground. These tents, which are frequently completely freestanding, are primarily intended for climbers and mountaineers who require tents that are simple to put up on small rock ledges in difficult winter conditions, when staking up a tent would be impossible otherwise. Freestanding tents are ideal for use on wooden tent platforms since they do not require any additional stakes to be placed around them.

This sort of tent has tent poles that cross within the tent, which means you have to crawl inside to place them in the tent corners, which might be difficult.

See also:

  • A review of the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent
  • A review of the Hilleberg Niak Tent
  • And a review of the Black Diamond Firstlight 2 Tent

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: If you’re considering about purchasing gear that we’ve reviewed or recommended on SectionHiker, you may contribute to our fundraising efforts. We may (but not always) get a small portion of any sales made using the links provided above. Simply click on any of the vendor links provided above. Although the cost of the product remains the same for you, your purchase allows us to continue to test and create unsponsored and independent gear evaluations, beginning FAQs, and free hiking guides for you.

What is a Freestanding Tent – And Does It Matter?

We were a little perplexed. What Exactly Is a Freestanding Tent, and Does It Make a Difference? Non-freestanding tents have received a poorer grade in recent years according to tent reviews that have been published. We made the decision to look into it. This is a brief post that will only take you 5 minutes to read through completely.

However, if you are in a hurry, our conclusion is that, for family camping tents, there is no difference between a freestanding tent and a non-freestanding tent. A tent’s freestanding capability may be mentioned in passing, but it will never be used as a ranking element in any of our assessments.

What is a Freestanding Tent

Despite more than three decades of camping experience, I must admit that I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of a freestanding tent. I had a nice idea – after all, I’ve pitched more than my fair share of tents – but I wasn’t convinced it would work out. As a result, I conducted some preliminary study. A freestanding tent is one that, when correctly built with poles positioned on their corresponding pins, grommets, and clips, will be completely self-supporting and self-standing. There are no external guy wires or pegs required to keep the structure and shape of the structure and shape of the structure and shape of the structure and shape of the structure.

  • Non-freestanding tents require staking out and guy lines to be attached to their poles in order to maintain the form and structure of the construction.
  • Others rely on you to bring a trekking pole, which you will use as your primary tent support, with you.
  • Without the front and rear guy ropes, the tent will not be able to stand or keep its shape and structure.
  • There are tents that are a cross between a traditional tent and a safari tent.
  • Some of the tent’s functions will not be available until the tent has been staked into the ground.
  • This is a big tunnel tent that is mostly freestanding, although it does require man ropes and stakes at the ends to be stable.
  • But what does it matter?

Does it matter if a tent is not freestanding?

I believe the discussion about freestanding vs non-freestanding began in the backpacking and ultralight circles, although I might be wrong about that. These campers are looking for the simplest and lightest tents they can find. For many, this simply entails setting up a bivouac with a sleeping bag underneath a tarp. As tent materials became lighter and lighter, and tent poles became lighter, stronger, and more flexible, it became possible to carry a freestanding tent into a bag without sacrificing functionality.

  • All you have to do is position and tighten the poles, and you’ve got yourself a tent.
  • If you come upon an unexpected rock, you may go out of your tent, pick it up, and rearrange it.
  • When the weather isn’t cooperating, freestanding tents usually come out on top.
  • Not only does it eliminate the need for a separate footprint or ground sheet, but it also aids in the prevention of pests and nasty crawlies from entering.
  • Because you may not be required to carry poles, they can be much lighter.
  • It is no more difficult to set up a non-freestanding tent with a little practice than it is to set up a freestanding tent.

The argument continues indefinitely. Just look up freestanding vs non-freestanding tents on Google to get a sense of the entrenched viewpoints. It appears to be a 50-50 split, and it appears to rely on pre-existing opinions, much like politics.

Freestanding vs Non-Freestanding for Family Tent

At CampingSage, we place a strong emphasis on providing a comfortable camping experience for families. We are unlikely to purchase an ultralight shelter or tent in the future. So, what does the difference between freestanding and non-freestanding entail in terms of family tents? I’m not aware of anyone advertising a tent as being non-freestanding. It has a rather negative ring to it. Quite a few, on the other hand, are touted as freestanding. In our opinion, there is no noticeable difference between freestanding and non-freestanding family tents in terms of functionality.

  • As previously noted, you may be need to stake out and tighten guy ropes in order to offer some structural support.
  • It would be a mistake not to stake down both types of tents at the same time.
  • Even a modest breeze can exert a significant amount of strain on the tent’s fabric.
  • We’ve seen it happen before.

Conclusion – What is a Freestanding Tent – And Does It Matter?

In the realm of family tents, there is no difference between freestanding and non-freestanding models. Choose the tent that has the qualities that are most appropriate for your needs and the size of your family. Ignore the marketing copy that extols the virtues of standalone furniture. Caution should be exercised in any assessments that employ the distinction between freestanding and non-freestanding as a rating element. Whether a family tent is freestanding or not will never be considered when ranking them on CampingSage’s website.

What Are the Different Types of Hiking Tent?

In terms of backpacking gear, your tent is likely the most important piece of equipment since it will have a significant impact on how the rest of your setup will appear. Having a clear understanding of your alternatives will make selecting the most appropriate tent for your requirements much simpler.

Types of hiking tents – Freestanding vs Pole Tents vs Semi-Freestanding Tents

To assist you in making an educated purchasing decision, we’ll take a look at the many varieties of hikingtents available and compare freestanding tents against pole tents versus semi-freestanding tents in this post. Backpacking tents are available in a variety of sizes and setup types, each of which has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It is necessary to consider factors like as durability and capacity in addition to the choice between freestanding, semi-freestanding, and pole tents when selecting a tent.

Freestanding tents

Freestanding tents are exactly what they sound like: tents that do not require any additional support in order for the tent body to maintain its shape. They are supported by a framework and may be moved without collapsing. Their springy frames make them relatively simple to erect, but they can be difficult to take down and stow due to their large size. The majority of these tents are double-walled and feature a separate rainfly, while some of them are single-walled and waterproof in construction.

Freestanding tents are quite popular owing to the convenience with which they can be set up, the excellent weather protection they provide, and the general comfort they provide.


  • Very adaptable and simple to put together
  • Provides excellent livability and ventilation
  • This tent may be used on land that is difficult to drive pegs into
  • It is lightweight and portable.


  • When parts are broken, it is difficult to replace them. If you’re interested in lightweight backpacking, this is not the greatest option. A properly established rainfly is not the most waterproof alternative if it is not firmly staked in place.

Non-freestanding tents (pole tents)

Tents that are not freestanding can only maintain their form if they are staked out. As a result, you stake them out and then support them up with trekking poles, much as you would with a standard canvas tent. These tents are often single-walled and extremely lightweight, placing a higher emphasis on packing space and weight than on comfort and convenience.


  • Lighter in weight than freestanding tents
  • Less difficult to maintain than freestanding tents
  • Tents that are more windproof than freestanding tents


  • It cannot be used on all types of surfaces (for example, rock and gravel)
  • Once the arrangement is complete, it is difficult to move. Interior space is less than that of freestanding tents.

Semi-freestanding Hybrid tents

Semi-freestanding tents are equipped with pole frameworks that help to hold them upright, but a portion of the body must still be staked out in order to make a firm tent frame. These tents are a cross between freestanding and pole tents, combining the comfort and weather protection of freestanding tents with the reduced weight of pole tents to create a hybrid that is both lightweight and durable.


  • Compared to pole tents, it provides better comfort and protection. The fact that it is exceptionally light and small
  • It does not require a lengthy setup process.


  • Tents that are more costly than freestanding tents and pole tents These tents, which are intended for ultralight camping, are not the most durable on the market. When working in less-than-ideal conditions, it might be difficult to get everything set up.
See also:  How Much Does A Roof Top Tent Affect Gas Mileage

Basics of hiking tents

Hiking tents include a number of features that should be considered while cutting down the selection. Here’s what you should concentrate on:


In the bush, ounces are more important than liveable space if you’re a weight-conscious hiker who wants to cover as many kilometers as possible. The larger the tent, the more space you’ll have to move around and the more opportunities you’ll have to utilize your tent for things other than sleeping. However, the larger the tent, the more weight you’ll have to lug along with you.

Ease of setup

Spending hours setting up camp while hiking is the last thing you want to do when you’re out enjoying yourself. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want a shelter that can be set up fast and without difficulty. Others require staking, which is a time-consuming process that takes significantly longer than with single-hub pole systems that collapse down and snap together.

Protection against the elements

A rainfly is required, and most tents are seam-sealed, so you won’t have to worry about water seeping into the structure. For best results, seek for a rainfly that can be anchored firmly away from the tent walls to help avoid condensation. Look for a tent that has a waterproof “bathtub floor” part that extends at least 4 inches above the base of the tent body to provide protection from the ground or precipitation. Because they are stronger than tents supported by poles, freestanding tents often have an advantage when it comes to weather protection.

Ventilation vestibules are staking out extensions of the rainfly in order to provide greater protection space outside the tent’s entrance.


A double-wall freestanding tent is your best choice if you prefer to customize your kit to meet the region and climate you’ll be traveling in. It’s possible to remove the rainfly on warm nights to allow for more airflow, and if you’re traveling light, you may leave the tent and only use the rainfly as a floorless shelter.

Final thoughts

We hope that this information has helped you gain a better knowledge of the many types of hiking tents available, as well as how freestanding tents, pole tents, and semi-freestanding tents compare to one another. Just to recap: most hikers will choose for a basic freestanding design, but that doesn’t rule out pole tents as an option because of their numerous advantages (such as their small packed size and light weight).

If you aren’t sold on freestanding tents and aren’t sold on pole tents, a semi-freestanding tent can be a good compromise between the two options.

What’s a freestanding tent?

When you join up for Outside+ today, you’ll receive a $50 discount off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you’ll discover a variety of brand-name goods handpicked by our gear editors. To be quite honest with you, Charlie, the phrase “freestanding” is a little deceptive in this context. In theory, it means that the tent supports itself; the poles are tensioned by putting them into pockets or grommets on the fabric, and then the tent stands.erect, as it were. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

  1. No, not at all.
  2. In addition, most freestanding tents contain a vestibule that has no poles at all, which means it must be staked out as described above.
  3. You get the picture—the stakes are higher now.
  4. So there you have it.
  5. For starters, they’re far easier to put up in a camping store display than traditional tents.
  6. As a result, I comprehend their point of view.

The MSR Hubba Hubba ($280), Sierra Designs Comet ($300), and Marmot NYX ($269, all of which are two-person, three-season tents that weigh between five and seven pounds and provide excellent protection from the elements as well as plenty of ventilation, are all excellent choices for three-season camping.

With regard to non-freestanding furniture, I favor Mountain Hardwear’s Waypoint 2 ($250), which weighs slightly more than three pounds yet can comfortably accommodate two people.

Stakes must be driven into the ground at the fore and aft ends of both structures, and the tension created by those stakes allows a center-arch pole to perform the task of generating internal space.

What Is Freestanding Tent And What Is Non-Freestanding Tent

If you look at a tent’s description, you’ll notice terminology like “freestanding” or “free standing tent,” “standing tent,” and other terms with hyphens like “self-standing tent,” “self-supporting tent,” “free standing tent,” and so on.

Of course, the non-freestanding tent is the polar opposite of the freestanding tent. So, what exactly is the point of all of this, and what exactly is the difference between a freestanding tent and a non-freestanding tent?

Freestanding tents

In a nutshell, a freestanding tent is a form of tent that may be set on any surface and does not require the use of stakes to hold it in place. This implies that once it is put up, you will be able to move it a small distance around if you see that the ground is not level or level enough. Moving about the Big Agnes Blacktail 3 tent is a good thing to do. So, how does this work? Having poles and grommets that are near to the ground of the tent has a typical impact on the floor of the tent. There are two types of poles that can be used in construction:

  1. As soon as the pole tips are sealed into the grommets, they become freestanding structures. This comprises two sub-types (please notice that the language used here is not mine):
  • Tents that are semi-freestanding
  • Tents that are completely freestanding

Once the tent is tied to them, they are no longer able to support themselves independently. There are two subgroups in this case:

  • Tents with multiple poles
  • s Tents with single poles

About the group 1

Together with the poles, you have one of the elements from group 1: one of the following elements: Once the pole tips are inserted into the grommets, they become entirely freestanding, thanks to the connection provided by these hubs. The following are photographs of the three different types of hubs: The intersection hub is also responsible for connecting the tent to the poles at the junction. It has a Swivel Hub, which means the poles are secured together yet may swivel independently. This is a flexible variety that is effective against the wind.

I’ve previously indicated that there are two groups in the freestanding tents; thus, I’ll say a few things about each of them separately.

What is semi-freestanding tent

Because of the previously described hubs, a very basic Y-shaped pole construction may be achieved. As a result, there are two grommets on one end of the tent, but only one grommet on the other end of the tent. As you may have guessed, these grommets are responsible for the three points of the Y. A common type of aluminum hub in this situation is the one seen above; you can see it in the photo below, taken from the Nemo Hornet 1 tent. Tent of the semi-freestanding style, the Nemo Hornet 1, with a Y-pole.

  • In concept, the Y-shaped pole structure may stand on its own, resembling a tripod in appearance and function.
  • As soon as you link the tent to the framework, the whole thing becomes even more sturdy.
  • For this reason, staking it down as shown in the photo is preferable, however you may get away with it if you’re on a hard surface and can’t stake it down as shown in the picture.
  • Is there anything you don’t like or want to say?
  • The pole tips that are connected to grommets.

An example of a multiple grommet adjustment may be seen in the image above. What is it and why do you require it? The reason for this is that the fabric’s tension changes depending on the amount of moisture present, and you may adjust the pole tip to get an appropriate tension.

Fully freestanding tents

A tent with two poles in this situation has an X-shaped construction, which is the most basic type of tent structure. In the case of winter tents, you can use extra poles to make the structure more solid overall. This is where you may locate any of the hubs that were previously mentioned. The hub pole construction of the Sierra Designs Meteor 3tent. Image via Sierra Designs. However, there are many other variations of this type of course. The top of yet another basic construction has a single pole, and it splits at both ends to produce a fork-shaped structure with two short poles on either end of the structure.

The group 2

There are two major sub-groups in this section:

  • Tents having a number of poles. This is a straightforward arrangement in which the poles are not locked. Because of the stress caused by the tent itself, the tent clips or sleeves ‘lock’ them together, and the structure becomes freestanding and sturdy. Single pole tents, such as this Big Agnes Rabbit Ears 6 Person tent and this Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Person tent, are typical examples of this style. Is it actually freestanding? More information is provided below.

Can a tent with a single pole be fully freestanding?

There is a chance that you will be startled by the response. Yes, it is possible. This is the same group 2 as previously indicated, however it is a subgroup known as “tent-cots” in this case. Here, you have an acot that acts as a platform for the tent to be pitched on. With a zipper or a permanent attachment, you may keep the tent linked to your bed. So you have a single pole with two points, which you insert into two grommets on either side of the cot to make a cot. When you join the tent to the poles, tension is formed in the fabric, which makes the entire construction extremely sturdy.

Take note of the additional brow pole or ridge pole.

The iUcar Portable Camping Tent Cot is a free-standing construction made of a single pole.

So then, what is a non-freestanding tent?

There are several tents of this sort described on the site, many of them are from the Sierra Designs manufacturer. In this instance, you will need to anchor the tent in order to keep the poles from falling over. To put it another way, you stake out the base of the tent and then add the poles, attach the inner tent (or the tent in general if it is not a two-layer design), and then stake out the top body of the tent to ensure that the poles are secure. Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 is a non-stand-alone flashlight.

It is not permitted to be put up on rocky terrain, sand or gravel, or on frozen ground.

I hope you found it informative, and if so, please spread the word.

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