What’s the Difference Between a Dome and A Tent Structure?

Domes and tents are both structures that are easy to erect and give you a space that is protected from the weather and sun with clear span structure – an architectural term to describe the distance between the two inside surfaces of the span supports. Both of these have often a supporting framework over which various kinds of fabrics are used that make the interiors of the enclosed spaces weatherproof and protected from the wind.

Tents are commonly used for camping and can be just small enough to accommodate just one or two persons. Many domes are air-filled structures that have practically no framework and are held up by the air pressure that the outer fabric is subjected to. Because of this, the fabric that holds up domes has to be stronger, as a tear in it can cause the collapse of the entire structure. Tents will still function even if there is a rip on the sides of the covered structure.

Tents have always been fundamental in camping and in earlier days have served as homes for many nomadic people who had no fixed places for living. The use then was made of branches of trees to create a basic triangular structure over which hides of animals, leaves and other material were made to provide the required coverage that provided the shelter from rain and sun. Modern-day camping tents follow the same basic use of poles made of metal or other materials, with the covering being provided by waterproof canvas or other materials. Tent technologies steadily developed as extensive use was made of them by armies that were on the move. Their sizes grew larger due to needs for larger sized tents.

Domes are architectural elements that resemble the upper halves of spheres that are hollow inside. Their shape and configuration are such that all loads get transferred to the bottommost edges. The same shape has been used for tents, and these tents can provide a cover for a rectangular area, while the supporting structure is made up of two poles that run from one corner to the other diagonally and cross each other at the peak. This design can withstand strong winds and makes for a more stable structure than ordinary tents. Dome tents can also be made of just fabric that is held up by air pressure.

Dome tents do not require any stakes or guy ropes as conventional tents do. This makes them easy to erect, and smaller tents can be set up very quickly by just one person. They are freestanding, though they can always do with being pegged out so that they are more secure and remain rainproof and windproof. Air domes can be of large sizes and have been extensively used to hold exhibitions, conventions and even games between teams.

There is no limitation to the uses that can be made of both tents and domes for providing temporary accommodation for campers, or for events that require cover to protect those attending them. Large span tents or domes will require sturdier support structures and more pegging. Circuses are prime examples of large tents that are erected for conducting shows of acrobats, animals, and clowns for days and weeks at a time.

Most tents available nowadays come in kits that allow for easy assembly. Before you go camping with a tent or dome, it can always help if you practice its erection and dismantling in your backyard, so that you are completely familiar with it, and will be able to put up the needed temporary home as soon as you reach the site you have selected for camping. If you are not comfortable with this, you can even buy some tents and domes that are classified as self-erecting.