You’ll undoubtedly note that designs are classified as “freestanding” or “non-freestanding” if you’re in the market for a camping tent. This is because certain 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 primary differences between these two types of tents and shelters, including weather protection, ventilation, weight, internal 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
Despite the fact that semi-freestanding tents are not as widespread as real freestanding and non-freestanding constructions, we’d be negligent if we didn’t include them in this section. 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 create a strong frame around it. 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 section below.
The semi-freestanding structure’s corners must be marked out.
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.
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. The sheer walls of the REI Half Dome SL 2+ are a challenging climb.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
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. Additionally, interior pockets are excellent for keeping your things organized, so that’s something else you might want to think about.
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.
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.
How to Choose Backpacking Tents
Because it has such a significant impact on both your budget and your pack weight, the backcountry shelter you pick is one of the most crucial gear purchases you will make throughout your backpacking trip. And, to make matters even more complicated, hiking tents are available in an astonishing range of styles, ranging from minimalist to mansion-like. To make the process of selecting the best backpacking tent more manageable, you may divide it down into the following decision points:
- Capacity: the estimated number of people that will sleep in the room. Seasonality refers to the timing of tent erection in relation to anticipated weather conditions. The ratio of weight:ounces carried to dollars spent
- Livability includes features such as well-placed internal space, simplicity of access, and ease of setup, among others.
Backpacking Tents are available for purchase. Read our roundup of the top backpacking tents of the year for a brief overview of the tents that REI Co-op members have rated as the best of the year. Are you looking for family camping tents or base camp tents instead? See our post, Tents for Camping: What to Look for and How to Choose One.
Video: How to Choose Backpacking Tents
Backpacking tents are classified according to their capacity, which ranges from one to four people. The capacity of most tents is indicated by a number in the name: REI Half Dome 2, for example. Tent interiors are designed to be “cozy” in order to conserve weight. Because there is no industry standard for per-person measurements, the size of a 2-person tent might vary from brand to brand. In addition, lightweight variants are likely to be more compact in design. If your party is larger than typical in size, or if you simply like a little extra room, one option is to look for tents that are one person larger than your group’s size.
Some companies include hints in their names, for as by using the word “plus.” If having greater floor space is vital to you, make sure to examine the particular measurements of the tents you’re considering before making a decision.
Backpacking Tent Seasonality
The most important distinction is between a 3-season tent and a 4-season tent.
A three-season tent will be selected by the great majority of hikers, particularly those who are new to the backcountry. Because the worst-case weather circumstances may not be the same for every trip, regular hikers may want to acquire more than one tent for their belongings.
3-Season Backpacking Tents
These tents strike a compromise between the requirement to keep weight down and the need to be able to withstand the vast variety of circumstances that spring, summer, and autumn may throw at you. 3-season tents, when properly set, can endure downpours and light snow, but they are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to severe storms, powerful winds, or heavy snow. The following are the main characteristics:
- A large number of mesh panels to increase ventilation while keeping insects out
- Increase the number of upright walls in order to provide more internal headroom. Reduce the number of poles and use lighter materials to keep the weight down.
a large number of mesh panels to increase ventilation while keeping insects at bay. In order to increase internal headroom, taller walls should be used. Reduced weight is achieved by using fewer poles and lighter materials.
Extended-Season Backpacking Tents (3-4 or 3+ Season)
Although designed for summer usage, these tweener tents are also excellent for treks in the early spring and late fall, when snow may be encountered. Traveling to exposed, high-elevation places where snow might surprise you is also an excellent use for these items. The following are the most important characteristics (when compared to pure 3-season models):
- Panels of fabric that may be zip-tied over mesh regions to block out blowing snow and to keep in additional warmth
- One or two more poles (in comparison to a 3-season tent) for added strength
Shop for Backpacking Tents for the Extended Season.
4-Season Mountaineering Tents
They are designed to endure strong winds and heavy snow loads; nevertheless, they have limited ventilation and can get stuffy in mild weather conditions. The following are the main differences between 3-season and extended-season models:
- Increase the number of poles and the number of heavy-duty materials. Designs with rounded domes that can withstand strong winds and avoid flat roof gaps where snow might accumulate
- There may be fewer mesh panels, or there may be zip fabric panels that allow you to cover the mesh panels as necessary. Rainflies that are near to the earth in their reach
Four-season tents can include lightweight single-wall tents with waterproof/breathable walls but no rainfly, which are ideal for warm weather. Because condensation can build up inside a tent in humid circumstances, a single-wall tent is recommended for cold, dry climates. In order to deal with a humid tent inside, see How to Prevent Condensation in a Tent for some helpful hints. Tents for Mountaineering in Four Seasons are available for purchase.
Backpacking Tent Weight
Because the weight of your camping tent accounts for a significant portion of your overall burden, tent designers strive to keep weight as low as possible. The most significant drawbacks in order to reduce weight include having less room, fewer features, and poorer durability over the long term. However, if you shop about, you should be able to find a lightweight tent that is both large and comfy for you and your family. While heavy-duty materials make a tent more durable, ultralight tents may be surprisingly resilient when constructed using lightweight materials.
Also, the word “ultralight” is thrown about a lot by businesses; if every ounce counts, make sure to scrutinize the specifications before making a purchase.
Key Tent Specs
- Only the tent body, rainfly, and poles are considered to be the minimum trail weight
- Anything else is considered to be excess weight. You will most likely bring additional tent-related equipment (e.g., pegs, footprint), but this is the most accurate specification for comparison. Notice that certain ultralight shelters are designed to work without the need for an additional rainfly or tent poles, therefore the minimal trail weights for those shelters will reflect only the basic components that come with those shelters.
- Packaging weight: This is the total weight of the components you receive with your order, which includes the body, rainfly and stakes, as well as any other items such as instructions and the stuff bag pole sack and other extras. This is the maximum weight you’ll be carrying on the path, and this is the least weight you’ll be carrying on the trail.
- Dimensions of the package: The amount of space a tent takes up in a pack has a direct relationship with how simple it is to carry a tent. You may make this space more manageable by dividing up components—for example, have your spouse carry the poles and rainfly while you carry the tent body—and splitting up components. You may also save a few more ounces by leaving the tent storage bag at home when you do this as well.
The majority of hiking tents are constructed with a double-wall construction that comprises a main tent body (also known as the canopy) as well as an outside rainfly for protection from the elements. If you’re a hiker who is concerned with conserving every ounce of your weight, you have a few extra alternatives. Several double-wall tents are available with an ultralight setup option, in which the footprint (which may be purchased separately), poles, and rainfly can all be pitched together without the main tent canopy present.
The term “hammock tent” refers to a sort of hammock that incorporates, at a bare minimum, a tarp-like rainfly as well as insect netting.
Insect shelters: The majority of bug shelters are made of netting and a few poles with no floor. Insect netting tents, which are more ornate in design, include a complete canopy constructed of bug netting.
Backpacking Tent Livability
“Livability” is a general term that refers to qualities that make the time you spend inside your tent more pleasant and convenient. Whether a tent appears to be spacious or confining depends on how you perceive it. Backpacking tents have typically featured sharply slanted walls, little floor area, and little headroom. This is no longer the case. This helped to keep the weight down, but it came at the expense of comfort. Tents now seem considerably more open and inviting as a result of technological advancements in materials and design.
- Then decide which mountain storm you’d want to see: Which one of the following models would you select if you had to sit out a storm for several hours straight?
- Because many tents do not have completely rectangular floors, you may find measurements such as 85″ x 51″/43″ (L x W head/foot) in some cases.
- Floor area: The entire square footage of floor-level space is represented by this value.
- Peak height: No one enjoys bumping their heads while they are getting out of bed in the morning.
- It is significantly more accurate to evaluate this using the test pitch (as mentioned above).
- The more vertical the walls are, the more open the interior of the tent will appear to be.
Additional Features that Improve Tent Livability
Color of the rainfly: Light, brilliant fly colors transfer more light into the inside, making the interior appear brighter. If you are stranded in your tent for a lengthy period of time due to a storm, this will provide the impression of greater space and make it a more comfortable place to stay. Doors: Tent designers spend a lot of time thinking about the shape of the doors, zippers, and other changes, but the most crucial issue is: how many? It’s convenient to have a door for each sleeper. In contrast, opting for a multiperson tent with a single door reduces both weight and expense.
These rainfly extensions provide a dry and protected storage space for boots and other equipment.
Most tents feature vestibules, and the size of the vestibule is specified in the tent’s specifications.
A tent’s ventilation system must be capable of dealing with the moisture that you breath while sleeping.
In addition, having the ability to roll up rainfly doors or panels helps improve ventilation. As an added advantage, it allows you to open up vistas so that you may stare at the sky or watch the sunrise.
Practicing setting up a tent a couple of times before venturing out into the wilderness is always a good idea. The following features can help you set up your tent no matter where you put it: Freestanding design: This simply means that the tent can stand on its own without the use of stakes, which speeds up setup and makes it simple to reposition—just lift and move the tent to a new location. Because of this, most tents are freestanding; however, non-freestanding tents can be lighter because the pole structure does not need to be as strong as a freestanding tent.
- The beauty of hubs is that they eliminate the need for guesswork during the assembly process.
- Even if there are smaller cross poles that are not connected to the hub, these can be easily identified after the main pole assembly is complete.
- Using pole clips, poles can be connected to tent canopies in a variety of ways, including sleeves, clips, and a combination of the two.
- Pole clips are more lightweight and easier to attach to poles.
- Using color coding to quickly orient each pole tip to the correct tent corner, as well as to identify which sleeves or clips go with which pole sections, will save you time and effort.
Poles: Aluminum poles with great strength and low weight are used in backpacking tents. You’ll find the name DAC (Dongah Aluminum Corp.) in a lot of specifications because this business is the world’s leading pole manufacturer. Fabrics and denier ratings for tents: Tents are made of a variety of nylons and polyesters that are specially designed for their purpose. One spec that you may notice from time to time is denier (D), which is the weight (in grams) of a fabric yarn based on a 9,000-meter length of the fabric yarn.
Unless the textiles are comparable, don’t compare denier since intrinsic changes in fabric qualities have a higher impact on strength than the denier specification.
Strong poles and materials are used in the construction of the strongest tents, which are then combined to form durable design structures.
Poles: Aluminum poles are used in backpacking tents because of their great strength and low weight. Due to the fact that this firm is the world’s leading pole manufacturer, you will often find DAC (Dongah Aluminum Corp.) mentioned in specifications. Fabrics and denier ratings for tents are as follows: Tactile materials such as nylon and polyester are available in a variety of specific formulations. There is one specification that you may notice from time to time: denier (D). Denier is defined as the weight (in grams) of fabric yarn measured over 9,000 meters.
If the textiles are not the same, however, don’t compare denier since intrinsic changes in fabric qualities have a bigger impact on strength than the denier specification.
Strength is determined only by the seasonal rating of a tent, with a 4-season tent being significantly more durable than a 3-season tent, as one example:
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|
|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)|
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!
|Less condensation on the inside||More complicated design|
|More ventilation||More seams = less waterproof (debatable)|
|Cooler||Permeable bottom that requires footprint|
|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?
- When it comes to equipment, I’ve always had a MacGyver mentality.
- 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.
- Even the thought of changing a tire on it makes me feel like I’m doing delicate heart surgery on it.
- 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.
- This similar frame of mind may be used to tents.
- 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 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?
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:
- 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):
- 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 numerous poles
- Tents with a single pole
- Tents with no 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.
NWHikers.net – View topic – Semi-freestanding vs freestanding tents
|KillerCharlieMemberJoined: 27 Oct 2007Posts:483|TRs|Pics||After 10 years with a 5lb marmot 2p tent, my back is telling me a I need a new solo tent. That tent was freestanding, and so many times in typical sub-alpine conditions the ground was rock hard and I couldn’t get stakes in, but was able to keep things in place with a few rocks assuming there was no wind.How bad are “semi-freestanding” tents? Namely, the REI quarter dome SL1 and tarptent rainbow 1?Am I too worried about not having a free-standing tent? Do you guys with staked tents always find a way to make do on rocky ground?I’m also looking at the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1, which is the same packed weight as the quarter dome (38oz – the absolutely upper limit) – both are on sale right now.I’m not ready to step up to a fully non-freestanding tent, especially ones that exclusively use trekking poles for the main poles.|
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|KillerCharlieMemberJoined: 27 Oct 2007Posts:483|TRs|Pics||I guess my question is do those of you who use non-freestanding tents always find a way to make do on any terrain? I don’t want to get a tent that requires a lot of staking if it’s just not possible to make it work on hard ground.Is it worth carrying around an extra 6-8 oz to have a freestanding tent (one that stands without stakes), or will a non-freestanding tent work fine?I’m talking about “good” weather conditions here – any tent needs staking in inclement weather.|
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|RanditoSnarky MemberJoined: 27 Jul 2008Posts:8373|TRs|PicsLocation: Bellevue at the moment.||
Part of the marketing pitch for freestanding tents is the idea that you can camp anywhere.Using more minimal shelters, such as tarps or tarp/tents that use trekking poles for supports rerquires more care in site selection.IME even a freestanding tent needs to be staked out securely – even an brief errant gust of wind can sweep a tent, pads and sleeping bags away and out of reach – resulting in a cold and miserable night sleeping in only an emergency blanket and all available clothing.
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|coldrain108Thundering HerdJoined: 05 Aug 2010Posts:1813|TRs|PicsLocation: somewhere over the rainbow||
Here is my favorite semi-freestanding 1 person tent:BSI Chinook 1PThe footprint is pretty small, fits in to small spots, it’s 3.5lbs and plenty long for a 6′ guy to sleep in comfortably.The 2P easily fits 2 people, unlike other light 2P tents I’ve tried.This is lite weight, not ultralite, but I need the “4” season stability more than shedding a few grams.I have the 2P version and the 1P+ interior as well.In nice weather it doesn’t need any stakes to stand up perfectly.In blasting windy sideways rainy weather it stakes down like a bomb shelter.I’ve been in some unbelievable bad weather in these tents and they held up like champs.I like to camp above tree line, at passes and on exposed ridges.I found out that Grand Pass is a massive wind tunnel.I spent 3 days of a continuous downpour in my 2P and there was not a drop on me.My 2P after a couple of days of heavy rain in the Olympics.-Since I have no expectations of forgiveness, I don’t do it in the first place.That loop hole needs to be closed to everyone.-Since I have no expectations of forgiveness, I don’t do it in the first place.That loop hole needs to be closed to everyone.
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|BowregardMemberJoined: 05 Feb 2019Posts:276|TRs|PicsLocation: Sammamish|| Not sure about the freestanding discussion but if I was in the market for a solo tent I would be taking a good look at the X-Mid.
At 28 oz and $200 seems like a weight/cost balance and it looks like a clever design.
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|RumiDudeMarmota olympusJoined: 26 Jul 2009Posts:3165|TRs|PicsLocation: Port Angeles||
Personally I have found few places I could not get in a stake. It is usually the opposite problem, too soft of soil that allows the stake to easy pull out. Even so the solution to both problems is to use rocks to hold the stakes in place.I use the Easton Nano stakes most of the time. They work better in hard soils than do MSR Groundhogs. And in soft soils they work just as well. YMMV.As far as the free standing issue goes, Like what others have noted you have to stake almost any tent out to use properly.
It wasn’t me, but I witnessed it.
I’m far more dangerous now, because I don’t care at all.”-“This is my Indian summer.
I’ve occasionally had to tote some big rocks from quite a ways off, but have always managed to get the tent up.I’ve almost had as much trouble with loose/sandy soil as rock hard ground.But either way, I just find some big rocks.
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|RatherBOutdoorsMemberJoined: 17 Jun 2017Posts:50|TRs|Pics||
I have the Big Agnes Fly Creek.I’ve not yet found an instance where I couldn’t stabilize it by using rocks on, or in place of, the stakes.
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|SwitchbackFisherBoot busterJoined: 24 Feb 2018Posts:364|TRs|PicsLocation: Wa||
I have been rocking this a lot this year fits pad sleeping bag pillow and me great. If I need to make sure it stays put i put my backpack or a rock on it I think I weighed mine at 20 oz or maybe 25I also like that after I deflate my pad. I can put my entire sleep system bivy and all in 1 compression sack and get moving.I didn’t buy mine, used it while in the military and got rid of the bulky and heavy parts of the modular sleep system.But I also have a eureka spitfire 1 which is a pain to set up because it’s not freestanding.
I’ll take the weight penalty for convenience.
I only want to be the best I can be.-I may not be the smartest, I may not be the strongest, but I don’t want to be.
In addition to the typical REI offerings there are a number of excellent tent options from smaller specialized companies.TarpTent, Six Moons Designs, Zpacks, et al have offerings that are lighter (20 ounce or less) and offer more design variations.Most of these tents use a single (occasionally two) trekking poles to support them.If your not a trekking pole user almost all offer a collapsible carbon fiber or aluminum pole that you can use instead.The one outing I forgot my trekking poles, I just carved a stick in about 5 minutes.Multiuse of equipment (trekking poles) is a way to save weight.-�I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.�― Henry David Thoreau-�I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.�― Henry David Thoreau
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|rossbMemberJoined: 23 Sep 2002Posts:1507|TRs|Pics|| As others have noted, staking really isn’t a big problem.
In general, free-standing tents don’t offer anything special, they just make things easier.
If you have a tent that requires four stakes, you can probably get by with three.
I’ve used a tarp tent for a while now, and haven’t had much problem getting the stakes in the ground, or finding rocks that will do the same job.2) It is much easier to move the tent.
Maybe you realized too late that there is a root under you, in the wrong place.
I’ve been in a group situation and helped one of the guys move his tent with his sleeping bag and pad in it to a different location entirely (as folks from a different camp left).
Not necessarily faster, mind you, just more straightforward.
With most free-standing tents, it is simply a matter of putting in the poles and plunking it down.
Oddly enough, even with all of that, I usually get my tent up faster than my friends (it takes a surprisingly long time to attach the tent to the poles).
I’m not that handy (e.
I am terrible with knots) so I don’t fit the usual profile, but I wouldn’t go back.
Or just get a Big Agnes.
Easton Nano stakes apparently have been discontinued. They have always been my favorites
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|SwitchbackFisherBoot busterJoined: 24 Feb 2018Posts:364|TRs|PicsLocation: Wa||
Easton Nano stakes apparently have been discontinued. They have always been my favorites
That’s what I heard to. I’ve also heard they do break pretty easily but no first-hand experience. I do love Easton arrows and assume they are made the same way approx. For stakes I can’t find anything I like more than MSR groundhogs. I’ve heard some people break them but I believe they were mostly using hammers. I just step on them.-I may not be the smartest, I may not be the strongest, but I don’t want to be.
I only want to be the best I can be.-I may not be the smartest, I may not be the strongest, but I don’t want to be. I only want to be the best I can be.
Back to top bertmanMemberJoined: 17 Jul 2006Posts:354|TRs|Pics
Perhaps it’s not about the tent but the stakes? Or better yet, the method to which you tie your corners and guylines down? I’m starting to modify my system following Skurka’s method with good success.I have the previous model REI Quarter Dome 1 which is free standing. I’ve also started using the X-Mid UL 1P trekking pole tent since last year and am really impressed. Haven’t tried it in a storm but did snow camp in it, with the aforementioned guyline system.
Back to top texasbbMisplaced TexanJoined: 30 Mar 2009Posts:1080|TRs|PicsLocation: Tri-Cities, WA
texasbbTopMisplaced Texan Fri Jul 03, 2020 6:28 pmTop
RumiDude wrote: I use the Easton Nano stakes most of the time
Easton Nano stakes apparently have been discontinued. They have always been my favorites
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