The Ultimate Tent Guide For Australian Campers | Which Tent Is Best For You?

We live in a country known to be one of the world’s premier camping destinations. Our country’s lush rainforests, breathtaking coastlines, and bright starry skies attract tourists and outdoor enthusiasts from all around the world. You may be someone who has not camped out in a while, a first timer waiting to experience the bush, or a seasoned camper looking to optimize your camping gear. Regardless of experience, camping is a classic Australian outdoor activity everyone can enjoy.

Of course, camping won’t be possible without a tent. There are numerous types of tents to suit any possible camping scenario, from large families to solo campers and everything in between. We’ve made it easy for our readers to identify the appropriate tent for their needs with the ultimate tent guide. 

If you want to learn everything you need to know about tents before you make that all-important purchase, then read our handy buyer’s guide below.

Dome Tents

A dome tent is a dome-shaped tent with a rectangular floor, supported by poles running diagonally corner to corner. Commonly considered the best tent for family camping, these tents provide generous shelter from the elements, and are easy to set up and carry. 

There are actually different types of dome tents: some have vestibules, multiple rooms, and even irregularly shaped floors.

Dome tent size can vary — from light dome tents that can house one or two people, to large dome tents with multiple rooms capable of housing eight or more people. If wind is a principal concern at the camping site, make sure you go for a low-profile dome tent. These are generally less comfortable to move around in but their short stature ensures that wind pressure poses no problem. You may also go with regularly-sized tents that have three poles instead of the usual two.

Although dome tents are usually used by themselves, campers may opt to also set up a vestibule. The vestibule is a small covered entryway that allows you to store your things inside a protected area. It proves useful for when you take off your boots, shoes, and/ or jackets after fishing or hiking. This attachment keeps dirt and other unwanted things outside your sleeping space.

Another attachment you can use is the garage add-on. It is a covered place that allows you to keep larger things such as bikes. It is not considered an essential part of the tent but it has its use especially when you like to bring a lot of large things with you during your trips.

Pros Of A Dome Tent

Dome tents are known to be strong, stable, and easy to set up. 

The pros of a dome tent are:

  • Able to withstand and remain stable in strong winds
  • The sloped roof ensures no buildup of water or snow
  • Set up is easy and is usually completely doable by just one person
  • Its freestanding design allows it to be set up without using tent stakes or guy ropes
  • Can be easily be picked up due and moved

Cons Of A Dome Tent

The only real downside of a dome tent are the sloped walls, which reduce the usable interior space by a little.

Why Use A Dome Tent?

Although dome tents are designed to be used in a wide range of use and conditions, they are best used for those who do a mix of overnight and/ or weekend trips. They are versatile enough to be used in any weather condition — dry, wet, or windy, provided that the weather is not too extreme. If you plan on using the tent primarily for sleeping, then dome tents are highly recommended due to the easy set up and stability.

How Expensive Is A Dome Tent?

Dome tents can go for as cheap as $85, or as much as $520 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favourite Dome Tent – Skygazer 3XV Dome Tent

Our favourite dome tent is OZtrail’s Skygazer 3XV Dome Tent. It is a three person dome tent which has a lightweight and compact design that is convenient to use and carry. The tent is ideal for short trips with the family during the weekend, festivals with friends, or even just to give the kids some privacy from the parents.

This tent weighs just 3.7kg with a floor area of 265 x 205 cm and a tent head height of 125cm. It comes with a carry bag made from 150D Polyester, and is covered by a 2 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty. Other features are:

  • Ideal for tropical conditions
  • Floor is made from heavy duty 230gsm PE floor which incorporates a bucket-style floor with elevated seams to keep moisture away
  • Equipped with an enclosed front vestibule giving you extra space for your gear
  • Equipped with a skygazer window system that can be rolled back for extra ventilation. It features a full height zip open side windows which will allow hot air to leave the interior
  • The tent is made from silver coated UVTex® 2000 fly, reflecting heat from the environment
  • Uses Duraplus Fiberglass poles with stainless steel joiners

Rooftop Tents

Also known as roof tents, these are tents that are attached to the roof of a vehicle. It allows people to experience camping in a slightly different way. Although you set it up just like most tents, it attaches to the roof of your car instead of being planted on the ground. It is popular among those who want to experience the “van life” without actually purchasing a camper van.

Due to the nature of these tents, you get an elevated view, and better protection from elements on the ground such as mud, dirt, sand, and even crawling bugs. They are also a tad more comfortable than traditional tents because they usually come with built-in mattresses. In addition, its placement on top of your car means you won’t feel any pebbles or rocks poking your back while sleeping at night. Although they are meant to replace a full blown camper van, trailer, or RV, rooftop tents act as a way to “test” if such a lifestyle suits them.

Rooftop tents can be set up in two ways; fold-out or pop-up — both still faster than traditional ground tents. The fold-out method is common among soft-shell rooftop tents, while the pop-up method is common among the hardshell variants.

Pros Of A Rooftop Tent

Rooftop tents are known to be durable, comfortable, and quick to set up. 

The pros of a dome tent are:

  • The elevated setup gives a much more magnificent view of the terrain 
  • The elevated setup provides an extra layer of protection from elements on the ground
  • Built-in mattresses and the car roof as the foundation makes the interior smoother and more comfortable
  • Materials used for rooftop tents are usually very durable and can withstand most weather conditions
  • Some roof tents have annexes that can be added. Awnings can also be added to both soft and hard shells rooftop tents
  • Although best used on 4×4’s, these tents can fit on almost any vehicle

Cons Of A Rooftop Tent

Rooftop tents are known to be costlier, less portable, and not as friendly to children and pets. 

The cons of a rooftop tent are:

  • Rooftop tents are very expensive
  • Although it is possible for one person to set it up, most of the time it takes two people to set them up on a vehicle for the first time
  • Since they are attached to the roof of the car, you can only really use them where your vehicle can drive
  • The added wind resistance from having the tent attached to your vehicle can negatively affect your fuel mileage
  • The high mounting position makes it difficult to take small children and pets camping with you

Why Use A Rooftop Tent?

A rooftop tent is good for those who want to move around with their vehicle when camping, since the tent only requires minimal setup or when secured on the vehicle. It is ideal for all weather conditions but performs extraordinarily well in wet weather since the elevation prevents buildup of snow, rainwater, and/ or mud around the tent.

How Expensive Is A Rooftop Tent?

Rooftop tents are extremely expensive compared to other types of tents. They can cost anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $5,300 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favorite Rooftop Tent – Roofnest Sparrow

Our favourite rooftop tent is Roofnest’s Sparrow XL. It is a two to three person rooftop tent perfect for small families or  campers who prefer some extra room. It features a built-in gear storage area, solar panel mounting area, and three larger doors and windows.

This tent weighs 70kg with a floor area of 213.3 x 147.3 cm and a maximum headroom of 101.6cm when open. It comes with a waterproof storage bag, a 259.1cm ladder, an anti-condensation mat, detachable pocket, and a 4’x4’ ground mat. Other features are:

  • Constructed with Fiberglass-reinforced ASA/ABS
  • Allows the storage of thick bedding
  • Compatible with any vehicle
  • Has a wide range of accessory compatibility

Pop Up Tents

As the name suggests, this is a tent that ‘pops’ into shape. It usually comes with its own storage bag, and can be thrown up into the air to expand into its shape. These tents set up a lot faster than regular camping tents but are generally not as durable or weather resistant due to their lightweight design.

They are a good choice for very casual and/or light excursions such as going to festivals, camping out at a park, at a beach, during a fishing activity, or camping out for a day or two max. It’s not always worth carrying a large and heavy tent so pop up tents fill this role very well.

Most pop up tents are not designed for extreme weather conditions. It is important to look at the tent’s advertised suitability for seasonal changes.

  • 1 season – Offers little to no waterproofing. This is offset by being a lot more lightweight for ease of carry. Best for festivals or camping in the backyard
  • 2 seasons – Offers slightly more waterproofing than a 1-season tent, but still not durable or resistant enough to keep out prolonged rainfall.
  • 3 seasons – Regarded as the most versatile, these are much more capable of keeping out rain the first two, and can hold up well against windy weather. These tents generally provide good ventilation.
  • 4 seasons – Designed for cold weather conditions and is the most expensive variant.

Pros of A Pop Up Tent

Pop Up Tents are easy to set up, easily stowed away, and do not come with any additional and/or separate parts. 

The pros of a pop up tent are:

  • Requires only one person to set up
  • Can be pitched very quickly, generally done by simply uncorking and throwing it in the air
  • Has an ‘all-in-one’ design which prevents losing any parts
  • Its disc shape allows it to be stowed easily for storage

Cons Of A Pop Up Tent

Pop up tents are known to be susceptible to strong winds and are not easily repairable. 

The cons of a pop up tent are:

  • Generally struggle to withstand high wind pressures and may cause joints to fail. This is especially true for lighter models
  • Cheaper pop up tents are not designed to be as resistant or weatherproof as other tents
  • Pop up tents that break during use are incredibly difficult to repair
  • The disc shape is not very ergonomic for transportation, especially for trips that involve a lot of walking or hiking

Why Use A Pop Up Tent

Pop up tents are relatively cheap and very easy to set up. They are a good option for first time or very casual campers who do not camp in harsh weather conditions, or those who do not camp outside for too long. Due to their lightweight design, they make for a very good backpacking tent.

How Expensive Is A Pop Up Tent?

Pop up tents’ prices vary depending on the manufacturer. They generally cost as low as $80 to as much as $260 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favorite Pop Up Tent – Explore Planet Earth Speedy Blackhole Pop Up Tent

Our favourite is the Explore Planet Earth Speedy Blackhole Pop Up Tent. It is a three person pop up tent that is quick and easily deployable. The tent is ideal for short trips with two other friends, a small family, or a casual backyard camping session.

This tent weighs just 4.5kg with a size of 280 x 225 cm and a headroom of 105 cm. It comes with the Intents Lighting System, SpeedyFlex Resin Poles, accessory pockets, reflective guide ropes, and is covered by a 3 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty. Other features are:

  • 3,000mm aqua rated
  • The outer material is made from 210T Polyester with a 3,000 mm water rating, and PU coated for ‘Blackhole’ treatment
  • The inner tent is made from 190T breathable polyester
  • The floor is made of 150D Oxford Polyester with a 4,000 mm water rating
  • An airflow system via side windows for ventilation

Inflatable Tents

Inflatable Tents are tents that use inflatable beams to provide the structure, instead of the traditional poles made from metal, plastic, or fiberglass. The tubes are inflated using a pump, which also makes them somewhat faster to set up than some traditional tents. 

Inflatable tents are preferred by people who prefer a streamlined set up process, or by those with no experience camping and/or setting up a tent.

Pros Of An Inflatable Tent

Inflatable Tents are easy to set up and can be done by one person.

 The pros of an inflatable tent are:

  • Can be set up relatively fast by only one person
  • No poles to tinker with
  • Has a novelty factor

Cons Of An Inflatable Tent

Inflatable tents are known to require pumps and cost a lot more. 

The cons of an inflatable tent are:

  • Requires a device to set up; either an electric pump or a foot pump
  • Generally heavier than more traditional tents
  • Costs a little more for what you get compared to traditional tents

Why Use An Inflatable Tent?

Use an inflatable tent if you want the streamlined set up, novelty factor, and/ or are curious about the experience camping in one. Inflatable tents do not really excel in a specific situation but still have its uses. Some people prefer the simplified set up despite the higher price when compared to similar traditional tents. If you are someone who is annoyed or hates tinkering and/ or setting up tent poles, then this type of tent is definitely for you.

How Expensive Is An Inflatable Tent?

Inflatable tents are priced broadly, and may run you anywhere from $530 all the way to $4,700 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favourite Inflatable Tent – Zempire Airforce 1 V2

Our favourite inflatable tent is the Zempire Airforce 1 V2. It is an eight person inflatable tent that can fit a maximum of 10 people, and up to three sleeping areas. The frame is constructed from lightweight oversized inflatable airsystem tubes, with a UV rating of UPF 50. The tent is ideal for short trips with the family during the weekend, festivals with friends, or even just to give the kids some privacy from the parents.

This tent weighs just 57.1kg with a floor area of 7.74m2 and a peak height of 210cm. It comes with a canvas carry bag, a canvas awning pole set, a high pressure pump, repair patches, and a bedroom dividing curtain. It is covered by a 5 Year Warranty. Other features are:

  • Fly fabric made from 220/ 340gsm Polycotton Canvas
  • It has a waterhead Rating of 1,200 mm that also improves with age
  • Equipped with seven ventilation points, six external windows, and three entry/ exit points
  • It can be configured with an extended awning, full front opening, full head height, full side openings, and open plan layout among others

Bivy Sacks

Bivy sack is short for bivouac bag/sack. The sack is made from lightweight waterproof floor fabric such as Nylon, and usually constructed with a waterproof and breathable top. To make it simple, it is a thin and light waterproof outer bag that is placed around your sleeping mat and bag. Although some people consider bivy sacks too “cramped”, they are key to mastering the art of light travel when used under the right conditions.

These single-person minimalist shelters were originally developed as emergency shelters. Although most weigh less than a one-person tent in a very utilitarian approach, some come equipped with its own internal pole for expanded headspace, with full-length zippers.

Pros Of A Bivy Sack

Bivy sacks have exponentially less weight than tents, and are much more portable and mobile. 

The pros of bivy sacks are:

  • Extremely lightweight, with the top models used by professional alpinists
  • Ultra-compact nature allows them to be carried in smaller packs
  • Only requires a space as large as the length and width of your sleep system
  • Similar to a rain shell jacket, they trap a few degrees of heat inside better than traditional tents

Cons Of A Bivy Sack

Bivy sacks are known to be susceptible to condensation, and lack sufficient space for additional gear. 

The cons of bivy sacks are:

  • Condensation is practically assured, and affects all bivy sacks especially in warm weather
  • Although most bivy sacks are water resistant, they are not a stand-alone shelter and will not protect you from extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain
  • They lack space for any additional supply or gear
  • It cannot offer a reasonable amount of privacy such as when changing clothes
  • It is always only designed for one person, and is a purely solitary experience
  • Getting in and out of a bivy sack is not as quick or easy as one would expect it to be
  • You are more susceptible to pests such as ticks, ants, spiders and mosquitoes

Why Use A Bivy Sack?

Use a bivy sack if you are among those campers who want to move swiftly with low-volume packs. It is a good choice for those who prefer the freedom and the feeling of being unencumbered by heavy gear. If you do not mind trading comfort for a lighter, smaller load during an excursion, then a bivy sack is best for you.

For the camping enthusiasts who adhere to minimalism, a bivy sack is tantamount to freedom. And they see this as a way of enhancing their connection to the environment.

How Expensive Is A Bivy Sack?

The price of bivy sacks vary greatly, and may be as cheap as $40 or as expensive as $500 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favorite Bivy Sack – Outdoor Research Helium Bivy

Our favourite bivy sack is Outdoor Research’s Helium Bivy. It is a hanging/freestanding bivy sack with a pole to give more headroom. The bivy is designed for the Spring and Summer seasons and is meant for camping and hiking activities. It is also good for those traversing alpine terrain and wilderness,

This bivy weighs just 0.48kg measuring 91.44 x 25.4 x 38.1 cm. and is constructed from waterproof materials. It comes with Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer membrane, TPU floor lamination, and fully taped construction. Other features are:

  • Ideal for alpine terrains during spring and summer seasons
  • The upper is constructed using a 30D Ripstop Nylon, and 40D Nylon with TPU lamination for the floor
  • It has a clamshell design which comes with a Delrin Single-Pole system to stabilize the bivy’s structure.
  • Equipped with dedicated straps for attaching the sleeping pad
  • Equipped with an internal mesh pocket, stake-down points for added security

Pyramid Tents

Pyramid tents are lightweight, quick deploy shelters that are good for those who prefer to camp solo. These tents have steep walls that give ample interior space and prevent condensation build-up. These tents’ form is held in place by a single central pole, where the rainfly (the tent itself) drapes over and is staked down by the corners/e edges into the ground. Pyramid tents require guylines/stakes in order to maintain stability.

Pros Of A Pyramid Tent

Pyramid tents are very easy to set up and are among the most lightweight of all tent types. 

The pros of pyramid tents are:

  • Extremely simple and easy to set up
  • More modern iterations of pyramid tents are very lightweight
  • Very stable in inclement weather, provided that it is staked/ pitched well

Cons Of A Pyramid Tent

Pyramid tents are disliked by some due to the lack of vertical walls, and very low headspace. 

The cons of pyramid tents are:

  • Does not generally come with a built-in groundsheet
  • Limited headspace and storage space
  • Prone to pitching mistakes, which can cause instability

Why Use A Pyramid Tent?

Pyramid tents are good for camping in exposed terrain which does not have natural windbreaks such as trees or vegetation. They are also good for camping in the winter, wherein the sloped walls aid in shedding snow. 

How Expensive Is A Pyramid Tent?

The price of pyramid tents vary greatly, and may be as cheap as $200 or as expensive as $1100 AUD. The price largely depends on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favorite Pyramid Tent – Backpacking Light Six Moon Designs Solo Ultralight Tent

Our favourite pyramid tent is Six Moon Designs’ Lunar Solo Ultralight Tent. The tent has a distinctive low hexagonal shape which easily breaks the wind whichever direction it is coming from. The short and steeply sloped walls are also very much capable of handling snow during the winter. The canopy generously covers a 2.4m2 sleeping area and an additional 0.8m2 of vestibule storage.

This pyramid tent weighs just 0.74kg and is constructed from 20D and 40D Silicone Coated Polyester, as well as 20D Ultralight No-See-Um. It comfortably sleeps one person and is rated for three seasons. It requires six stakes for pitching. Other features are:

  • It requires a single 49” pole and six stakes to be pitched properly
  • It provides 26m2 of sleeping space with a peak height of 49 inches
  • Equipped with an Easy Tension Adjustment
  • Equipped with an internal gear area to ensure that your gear is easily accessible
  • Equipped with a 150mm deep bathtub floor which prevents splashback

A-Frame Tents

A-Frame tents are the classic triangular tents that resemble the letter ‘A’ , hence the name. These tents come with a rectangular floor, and are free-standing. Most A-frame tents have quick-clips to make set ups easier. These tents usually come with five poles, two each at the front and back that create the ‘A’ shape, and another one across the top to connect the poles at both ends. These tents are small and lightweight, and are considered to be minimalist.

Pros of An A-Frame Tent

A-frame Tents are provide strong protection and are good for one person camping. 

The pros of an A-frame tent are:

  • Durable enough to protect from all weather conditions
  • Fairly easy to set up, especially the smaller ridge tents
  • Best for solo camping

Cons of An A-Frame Tent

A-Frame tents are notorious for their low headroom. The cons of an A-frame tent are:

  • May require multiple guy lines depending on the size of the tent
  • May not be able to comfortable sleep multiple persons, especially for smaller ridge tents

Why Use An A-Frame Tent?

A-frame tents are ideal when you only need a structure for two days up to a week. These tents are strong and durable enough to withstand a range of weather conditions. For more particular campers, you can add solid flooring such as wood panels and other surfaces depending on your event/ activity.

How Expensive Is An A-Frame Tent?

The price of A-frame tents vary greatly, but generally cost around $130 to $240 on average. Of course,  the price will largely depend on its size, capacity, features, and store of purchase, among others.

Our Favourite A-Frame Tent – OZARK TRAIL 4 Person A-Frame Tent With Awning

Our favourite A-frame tent is the OZARK TRAIL WMT-080752B 4 Person A-Frame Tent with Awning. The tent can house four persons, and can be set up in about 30 seconds. The tent is free-standing, and requires no assembly since all the poles come pre-attached to the tent — you only need to unfold and extend. A queen air bed or four campers in sleeping bags can fit inside the roomy interior.

This A-frame tent weighs just 9.18kg when assembled, and is constructed from durable polycotton. It is covered by a 6-month limited warranty. Other features are:

  • Equipped with a large steel-pole awning which provides weather and sun protection
  • Durable polycotton fabric provides increased absorbency
  • Equipped with a oversized side vent for air circulation
  • Comes with a carry bag, and ten stakes
  • Equipped with an electrical port access as well as organizational pockets

Related Questions

What Tent Should I Get For Glamping

Much like most things in life, there isn’t a one size fits all for a glamping tent. There are numerous tents that each excel in a specific category. Considering comfort, quality of construction, packability/ portability, price, and sizing options among others, we have compiled the list of the best glamping tents:

How Long Do Tents Last?

On average, you can expect your tent to last 1 to 10 years, depending on quality and frequency of use. It is difficult to give a straight answer since there are different types of tents with different use-case scenarios. But generally speaking, tents can last anywhere between a few years to a lifetime.

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