The mouth of the Murray River in flood.

A Big Clumsy List of Camping Tents

Don’t have a lot of experience with tents?

It’s OK.

I’ve been putting up tents for at least 25 years and I’ve sold thousands of them. I know all the materials. I know all the tips and tricks. I’ve seen people make every single mistake you can make with a tent. 

Your tent can make or break your camping trip. Imagine it’s the middle of the night and you’re warm and tangled up in your sleeping bag, loving the comforting sound of rain just the other side of the fabric. Then you get that sinking feeling when you hear an ominous dripping sound inside your only shelter for miles. Or the horrifying sound of a pole snapping as the tent collapses around you and your family.

Some of these tents are just gimmicks, this article is meant as a lighthearted explainer and covers a lot of ground.


A camo hoochie
You wanna be hardcore?

It’s a ground sheet or a tarpaulin, just thinner, lighter and stronger. When you add some mozzie mesh and hang it from a tree, you have a Jungle Hammock. Don’t forget hoochie cord. That’s how you hang it in a tent shape over you, by tying the cord from tree to tree.

Gee, that looks like fun.

A Frame

The original flimsy and obnoxious tent style. From back before the days of fly sheets when the slightest movement inside the tent would bring drips of your own breath moisture showering down. If you can’t tension the only two guy ropes properly, it pretty much falls apart. Historical value only.

Tunnel Tent

Tunnel tents used to be those big old army green canvas things that they parked trucks in, or had a kitchen in. There are some questionable interpretations though.

Old army tunnel tent

Big green tent
Hope you brought the truck and ten people to set it up.

New style tunnel tent

cheap nylon tunnel tent
C’mon now….that’s just cruel, we can’t expect people to pay for that…


The advent of the dome tent was a great leap forward for tent style and technology and it’s now the most common type of tent. They’re widely available, albeit sometimes with cruelly cheap and nasty materials and components.

Thankfully there’s a wide variety, from the cheap and nasties right up to dome tents made from materials developed by space programs (with a suitably orbital price tag).


Bivy Bag
Is it a sleeping bag shell? Or is it a lightweight swag? No one knows.

3 season hiker

Backpacker hiking tent
Your basic Aussie hiker tent. It does a great job for under two hundred bucks.

Four season hiker

Four season tent
Designed for extreme conditions including heaps of snow, this thing is tough.


Cheap dome tent for 2 people
It’s twenty bucks mate, what do you expect?


Remember to get a bigger tent than they tell you. This 4 person tent would be ok for 2 or 3 people.
Get a bigger tent than they tell you. This 4 person tent would be ok for 2 or 3       people.


Huge. Mine's called 'Rancho Relaxo'
Heaps of space, but almost an hour to set-up. Mine’s called                                        ‘Rancho Relaxo’.

Nylon dome tents come in too many different configurations to cover in detail.

Any questions you want an honest answer to? Email or comment.


The good old tourer 9. Great if you can chuck it on the roof racks. This one is easy to set up, but beware of the multi room 50kg behemoths.

One of the original styles of tents and not much has changed. They’re heavy, and range from basic one pole, 3 metre square styles… to multi-room, ‘built-like-a-brick-shithouse’ types that you need a team of people working on to set up. It’s not worth bothering with the big ones if you’re staying in one spot for a few days at a time. Remember, canvas needs to be seasoned (initial treatment with water) but is waterproof after that.

Also available in ‘lite’ versions made with nylon but… not so inherently waterproof.

You can get canvas instant up tents too (covered later).

Pop Up

I am honestly unsure as to why anyone needs to pay over a hundred bucks for these.
I am honestly unsure as to why anyone needs to pay over a hundred bucks for these.

Just like pop up sun shades for car windscreens. These tents have come a long way and they’re easier to pack up than when they were first introduced.

Pop up shower tents are still useless, but the recent crop of two and four person tents are pretty good.

I bet people still bring them back to camping stores after weekends spent sleeping in the car with blank looks on their faces, saying ‘I don’t know how it happened….’ Yet somehow the tent looks like a crashed weather balloon and goes straight in the bin.

Practice at home first.

Fast Pitch

They started out simple.
They started out simple
Then they made them complicated again.
Then they made them complicated again.

These tents are for backyarders, festival campers and caravan park camping.

 Beach Shelters

Fast pitch beach tent.

Most of them are pop up or swift pitch. Swift pitch is the best option, there are some really spacious and shady beach tents, and they pack down well.

Instant Up

Pioneered here in Australia by Blackwolf. Featuring sturdy aluminium legs and a central push-up hub.

Turbo Tent

They’re big and heavy, but set up and pack down really easily, and are popular with regular campers who move around most days.

Oz Tent make very quick to set up and sturdy tents with a completely different take on design.

Oztent RV-3
Oztent RV-3

Canvas is stronger and lasts longer but it’s expensive. If you’ve got space and cash, canvas instant up tents are the winners.

Nylon instant-up tents are getting larger all the time and really complicated. They can withstand heavy weather but are easily broken during set up or pack down.

Budget models are somewhat less sturdy.
Budget models are somewhat less sturdy.

Stretcher tents

stretcher hanging tent
Unique, if you’re halfway up a cliff.
Oz Tent Bunker, almost a swag really.
Oz Tent Bunker, almost a swag really.

Now, we’ll move on to the really ‘interesting’ tents.

Solar Tent

These keep popping up around the internet like they actually exist.

They don’t.

Solar dream tent
No really, they’ve been looking for someone to crowdfund this for ages. So far, no one is that stupid.

They’ll also sell you a solar panel and battery kit, but calling it a solar tent is a bit of a stretch.

Cinch pop up tent
$350??? Really?


Yurts obviously take up a lot of space due their framework, but the design and the philosophies behind these have driven the rest of tent evolution over time.  If I was considering a large canvas tent, maybe these could be an outside option.

A personal favorite of mine. A full glamping style shelter.


Like yurts, but with class. They ooze sophistication and glamour and are completely unsuitable for camping. Having said that, as a luxury outdoor sleeping quarters they make a very compelling option.

Another interesting option.
A glamorous option


Why? Because no one said they couldn't.
Why? Because no one said they couldn’t.

Gazebo Hub


If you have a gazebo, and you want to lug that around, then a hub tent which hangs off the gazebo frame is an option worth considering. Also available for the new ‘Event shelter’ style of gazebo.


Great idea tho.
Great idea tho.

Featuring internal air poles that you have to pump up. People are slowly becoming aware of them. Spare air poles?  Forget it…they’re just not that popular.

Now for the really weird tents….


Yellow wearable tent
Alan, why are you wearing that stupid hat?

Reminds me of a cross between Devo and Men without Hats.


Dewdrop Tent

Pocket Tent

That's not a tent, it's an emergency blanket.
Tent flyin away
Yep…pretty much.

Isopod and connecta tents

Connecta tent

These tents connect to each other through little corridors you can attach. ‘Social camping’ is the term. In reality, these have been tried in Australia in camping stores and they didn’t sell. I’m unsure as to why they’d sell now – at three times the price of the ones that didn’t sell.

Bubble Tent

Clear inflatable tent.

These would be cool in a really secluded spot. Obviously impractical.

*LATE EDIT* –  you’ll hear a lot about darkroom ‘technology’. This is simply an inner tent fabric that has been treated to stop light getting through so that the inside of the tent is darker. Not a bad idea.

So thanks for reading to the end. I hope you enjoyed. Comment or get in touch with me if you have any questions about these tents. I don’t sell them anymore but I’m happy to share my knowledge.

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Michael G

View posts by Michael G
Adelaide based writer studying a Bachelor of Media. I'm obsessed with media, communications and digital storytelling. My passions are road trips, camping, hiking and my family. I write about things to do and see around South Australia and occasionally about media, design and communications related issues. Find me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube @outdoorstype.

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