The traditional camping tent has changed little in the past few decades. It’s a design that just works and, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Sure, many of the best, most clever outdoor brands have shaved a few ounces, perfected waterproofing, and streamlined the setup process, especially in recent years. But there have been few significant changes in the overall design and layout of these tried-and-true backcountry shelters. Or, so we thought.
- The North Face 2-Meter Dome Tent
- Lotus Belle Outback Deluxe Tent
- DNYSYSJ Bubble Tent
- Terra Nova Expedition Cosmos Tent
- Heimplanet Mavericks 10-Person Dome Tent
- Mountain Hardwear Space Station Dome Tent
- The Tipi Company Baby Tipi
- Advanced Shelter Systems ShiftpodIII
- Smithfly Shoal Tent
- Cocoon Tree
- Canvascamp Patrol Deluxe Canvas Tent
Some of the very best tents in the world aren’t available from REI or Backcountry.com. For the most extravagant shelters, you need to look to the most premier brands, some of which you may have never heard of. Prepare to be wowed, camping friends, because these are the world’s most extreme and extravagant tents.
The North Face’s Summit Series represents the brand’s flagship line of gear, targeting world-class athletes and extreme adventurers. The simply named 2-Meter Dome Tent is designed to survive the harshest conditions on earth, from the Himalayas to Antarctica and everywhere in between. With a classic geodesic shape, it’s durable enough to withstand wind speeds up to 70-plus-mph. Inside, the 155-inch floorplan will sleep up to eight expeditioners or serve as a very lavish basecamp for one or two hunkered-down outdoorsmen.
Lotus Bell’s Outback Tent proves that, sometimes, bigger really is better. The 20-foot-diameter model boasts more than 300 square feet of floor space. That’s larger enough to host up to 24 people or set up three queen-sized beds comfortably. It’s more than just a novelty, however. This is a legit shelter with a fire-, water-, and rot-resistant construction and a Velcro “bathtub-style” groundsheet to completely seal it off from moisture and pests.
One drawback with traditional tents is that their opaque design separates you from the outside world. DNYSYSJ’s Bubble Tent is the perfect alternative for nature lovers, exhibitionists, and anyone who’s ever daydreamed of sleeping in a snow globe. The 100% transparent walls and roof are perfect for stargazing while camping in the backyard. The included pump ensures the bubble stays inflated for however long you plan to camp.
Like The North Face 2-Meter Dome Tent above, the Expedition Cosmos is built to stand up to the harshest conditions on earth. The eight-person shelter is made to order in the U.K. and features a spacious floorplan with four easy-access doors and dual porches for plenty of expedition gear storage. It’s guaranteed watertight with a taped fly and groundsheet. The only downside? Price. At nearly $7,000, it’s among the most expensive tents we’ve seen in a long time.
In true German fashion, there’s nothing cute or novel about Heimplanet’s shelters. The brand manufactures some of the toughest tents on earth, designed to withstand the harshest conditions. Its flagship Mavericks 10-Person Dome Tent is a massive, 60-pound multipurpose refuge with a 140-square-foot footprint large enough to serve as a basecamp for expedition teams venturing far, far off-grid. Like all of the company’s shelters, its strength stems from an inflatable geodesic construction capable of standing up to 112-mile-per-hour winds. No matter where on the planet you’re headed — the wilds of Antarctica, the North Pole, or the backcountry of New Zealand — this extreme tent will keep you warm, safe, and alive.
The Space Station Dome Tent is Mountain Hardwear’s flagship entry into the extreme tent market. It relies on a tried-and-true geodesic architecture for the ultimate in durability, versatility, and practicality. The structure is designed to survive the worst alpine conditions, with enough standing room for more than 20. A full-coverage rain fly with a rain-guard pole insert ensures the interior keeps dry and (relatively) comfortable in even the wettest weather.
It’s hard to beat the classic tipi for a vintage, romantic glamping experience. The Baby Tipi from Britain’s The Tipi Company is an upsized take on the traditional design. The 21-foot-diameter floor plan is big enough for 15 standing adults or eight people sleeping. The company can even dress it up with twinkle lights, throw pillows, and seating for a turnkey luxe glamping spot in your own backyard. Adding a wood-burning fireplace (yes, that’s really an option) makes this a legit year-round shelter.
If you’re after something with a bit more “survivalist chic,” the Shiftpod shelter series from Advanced Shelter Systems may do the trick. The exterior features a highly reflective, seven-layer “Dark-Out” shell designed to block out light and keep the interior cool. Loads of ventilation options — two doors with bug screens, six screened windows, and two screened vents — maximize airflow in any conditions. If the 144-square-foot floor plan isn’t spacious enough, the optional Tunnel System makes it possible to daisy chain an infinite number of Shiftpod units to create the ultimate shelter for your next Mars expedition. The latest ShiftpodIII is typically sold out, so this is one extreme tent that requires early pre-ordering.
Why limit yourself to camping on terra firma? Water covers 70% of our planet, so why shouldn’t you be able to camp there too? Enter Shoal Tent. It’s billed as a world-first inflatable tent raft, in which “the world is your waterbed.” We’re not sure if this is solving a problem that nobody’s complained about, but the thought of
Unless you’re a masochist, the Cocoon Tree is unlikely to be the sort of tent you pack for a casual backcountry camping trip. But we never said this list was going to be practical. As the name implies, this “tent” is more of a luxurious cocoon-like treehouse. The manufacturer even admits to a three-hour setup time, and that’s with three able-bodied people. But the payoff is an 8-foot-wide waterproof bubble large enough for a double bed and two tons worth of you and your friends.
A legit glamping experience requires the right luxury tent. The Patrol Deluxe Canvas Tent from Canvascamp is a full-sized A-frame shelter with a generous 150-square-foot floor plan perfect for large groups and families. The military-inspired design features fixed sidewalls and a durable, sewn-in groundsheet for added water and weather protection. Just add your favorite camp bed, floor pillows, and some authentic Turkish rugs, and you have the perfect nomad-inspired shelter.
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