Dome Tent Vs Cabin Tent | 17 Pros and Cons of Each Type of Tent

Last Updated on 23/06/2023

Dome Tent Vs Cabin Tent

In this article, we compare the pros and cons of a dome tent vs cabin tents for camping. You will learn why dome tents are better for bad weather and how cabin tents are more comfortable for group and family camping.

When planning a camping trip, choosing the right tent can make all the difference. Two popular types of tents are dome tents and cabin tents. Each has its own unique features that make it suitable for different camping needs. In this article, we will compare dome tents vs cabin tents to help you decide which one is right for you.

Dome Tent Vs Cabin Tent

If you are stuck trying to decide between a dome tent and a cabin tent, here is a brief overview of the main benefits and downsides of both.

Dome tents are lightweight and easy to set up, making them a popular choice for backpackers and hikers. They are designed with a curved structure that allows them to withstand harsh weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy rain.

On the other hand, cabin tents are more spacious and offer more headroom than dome tents. They are designed with nearly vertical walls and a high roof, which creates a roomier interior. Cabin tents are ideal for group and family camping trips, as they can accommodate several people and provide plenty of space for gear storage. However, they are heavier and bulkier than dome tents, making them less portable.

Let’s have a look in more detail.

5 Benefits of Dome Tents Vs Cabin Tents

benefits of dome tents

Dome tents are named for their dome shape, which is created by flexible poles that cross over each other. Here are the benefits of dome tents vs a cabin tents:

1. Wind Resistance

Dome tents have an aerodynamic shape that stands up to wind from all angles better than any other type of tent. They pitch low to the ground and have curved walls so that any wind blows over the surface instead of hitting it with full force, like in a flat-walled cabin tent. You should still try and pitch with your doorway facing away from the wind, but this is so you can have shelter from it and maybe do some cooking in the porch vestibule.

2. Snowproof

Dome tents are much better for winter camping where snowfall is likely because the snow is unable to build up on the roof due to the domed shape, like with some cabin tents that can have fairly flat roofs. Geodesic dome tents, in particular, are the best for snow camping because they have incredibly strong frames to withstand heavy snowfall.

3. Lightweight

Dome tents, in general, are much lighter than cabin tents due to the shorter, thinner poles and the fact that you don’t need so many of them. Many dome tents only require two poles running corner to corner and crossing in the middle to create a free-standing structure. You might then have an extra pole at the front to create an arched doorway. Also, because dome tents are lower to the ground, they don’t have as much fabric as a cabin tent you can stand up in.

Compare an average 4 or 6-person dome tent against the same-sized cabin tent, and you will see that they are dramatically different in weight.

4. Compact Pack Size

As well as being more lightweight than cabin tents, dome tents are also much more compact when packed away, which makes them easier to transport and carry on your back. Unless you are camping close to your vehicle, then carrying a heavy tent can hit you harder than leg and arm day at the gym combined!

Most one to three-person dome tents can be packed inside a big backpack alongside a sleeping bag, mat, and supplies. In comparison, most cabin tents start at a four-person capacity and upwards. I don’t know of any cabin tents I could pack into my biggest backpack and still fit all my other camping gear.

5. Easy Setup

Dome tents are extremely easy to set up on your own in around 5 minutes once you’ve done it a few times before. This is because they don’t have many poles, and the way the design works means that once you have a pole connected in one corner, you can use tension to keep it there whilst you slot the other end into position. Many dome tents will only use two or three poles, and so once you have one pole in, you’re almost halfway there.

In contrast to this, cabin tents often require the frame to be built first and then the outer shell to be connected. Or, they require two to four of the poles to be erected at the same time, which requires multiple people and can be a pain in the butt if it’s windy.

3 Disadvantages of Dome Tents Vs. Cabin Tents

Disadvantages of Dome Tents Vs. Cabin Tents

For dome tents to be so compact and lightweight, you have to make a few sacrifices. Here are the three disadvantages of dome tents when compared to cabin tents:

1. Internal Space

While dome tents have a wide footprint that gives you plenty of space to stretch your legs out when laid down, because the walls are curved toward the center, you don’t get a lot of space to sit up. With cabin tents, you can sit right up against the straight walls, but if you want to sit up in a dome tent, you have to move towards the center for space to move around.

2. Headroom

Because dome tents are shaped to be low to the ground, even at the center point, you usually don’t have enough space to stand up. Larger dome tents for 6+ people might reach heights of five feet ten inches in the middle, but the smaller dome tents are only tall enough to crawl around in. With one or two people crawling in and out isn’t a problem, but with any more people, it can become a bit of a nuisance unless the tent has two doors.

3. Lack of Privacy

Dome tents typically have just one room for everyone to sleep in and then a porch space to leave boots and bags. This doesn’t give anyone much privacy, and if just one person snores or gets up to pee in the night, it can disturb everyone. Compare this to a cabin tent which can have multiple rooms or simple zip-on dividers to separate up the space. You are no further apart from each other, but the separation feels so much more comfortable and makes it easier to sleep; at least for me, it does.

6 Benefits of Cabin Tents Vs. Dome Tents

Cabin tent more comfortable than dome tent

Cabin tents are known for their spaciousness, headroom, and comfort. They have straight walls and pitched roofs like a cabin and can sometimes have multiple rooms coming off one main cabin. Here are some of the advantages of using a cabin tent vs. a dome tent:

1. Lots of Internal Space

Cabin tents are much more enjoyable to camp in than dome tents because you don’t have to crawl around inside or maneuver through any small doorways to get in and out. There is a lot more internal space to move around in as well as headspace, so you can stand up without crouching, and you don’t feel so walled in.

2. Easier to Keep Organized and Cook in

Because you can move around more freely in a cabin tent, it is much easier to keep all your gear organized and separate. It’s also easier to cook in a tent when you aren’t forced to do it on your knees or from your bed. There are also fewer disturbances at night because you can easily step over people to get in and out instead of having to crawl over bodies. Having a taller ceiling with more internal space also allows you to set up a clothesline to dry clothes at night.

3. More Privacy With Separate Bedrooms or a Screen Room

Cabin tents lend themselves to being divided into multiple rooms or to at least have a separate screen room as a living space that is independent of the sleeping cabins. If you are camping in the rain, then having this social and living space in a cabin tent is such a big advantage over a dome tent. Not only do separate living spaces and screen rooms help to keep things organized and easier to sleep in, but they also mean you can leave your bedding set up throughout the day instead of having to pack it away because you need the space.

4. Can Use Camping Cots

Camping cots are the comfiest type of bed, in our opinion, but you can’t feasibly use them in a dome tent due to the slanting walls and lack of space. In a cabin tent though, camping cots are perfect because they provide extra space for your backpack and gear so it isn’t all piled around the walls or by the door.

5. Can Use A Stove in Winter

Dome tents are rarely, if ever, designed to be used with a wood-burning stove inside, but there are many canvas wall tents that are. Camping with a wood-burning stove inside your tent is a game changer in cold climates and goes from bearing the cold to feeling warm and toasty. You, of course, need a chimney to avoid killing yourself with smoke, but this can make cabin tents a very appealing option in winter.

6. Better Long-Term Shelter

If you are sleeping in your tent for more than three days in the same location, then comfort becomes more important. Having the space to move around, organize your gear, and separate the sleeping area from your living area is much better for longer camping trips. This is where cabin tents beat dome tents every time.

3 Disadvantages of Cabin Tents Vs. Dome Tents

cabin tent with a view

Cabin tents have their problems, though, and the first one is so big that it can make this type of tent impractical for your needs most of the time. Here are the three main disadvantages of cabin tents vs dome tents:

1. Portability

Weight and pack size are the biggest problems with cabin tents. Cabin tents are often so big and heavy that it takes two people just to carry them, and there is no chance they will fit inside a backpack on a hike n camp. Even if you split the poles and inner and outer tents between three people, it weighs more per person than most entire dome tents. This limits you to camping close to your car, which is fine on a campsite but no good if you need to hike to your spot.

2. Wind Resistance

Cabin tents are very boxy in their shape, much like a house is, which makes them vulnerable to strong wind. If strong wind hits the side of a cabin tent, it can be noisy, flap about violently, and even rip or bend the poles. Compare that to a dome tent which allows the air to flow over it, and you soon realize this can be a severe disadvantage in blustery weather.

3. Difficult to Setup

Cabin tents are often more complex in their design than dome tents which makes them harder to set up on your own. Sometimes you might have to build the top half of your frame first, then drape the outer shell over, and then carefully raise it up and add more sections to the legs. This can be tricky with two people, let alone trying to do it on your own or if it’s windy.

In contrast, most dome tents are very easy to set up and can be done solely in a similar amount of time as with a buddy.

Which is Better? Cabin or Dome Tent?

Dome tents are better for backpacking, hiking, and camping wild because of their portability. They are also the better choice for strong wind and snow. Cabin tents have much more space, making them more comfortable to stay in, especially if stuck indoors when raining. Ask yourself what type of camping you are likely to be doing, and then choose the type of tent that works best. For most people, cabin tents are only viable if camping next to your car.

After reading the pros and cons of both types of tent, which one are you choosing? Dome tent vs cabin tent? Let us know in the comments

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

  1. I think it’s a personal preference. A dome tent is better at least for me. There are plenty of pop up dome tents with lots of room. We can even place air mattresses in them as many as two queen sizes. We probably can’t cook inside them,but we don’t have to stay close to our vehicle, they’re not extremely heavy, easier to put up, and I believe can with stand different types of weather than a cabin tent. Don’t get me wrong either one us good when you have nothing.

Gear Assistant