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What is a Frame Tent?

Harriette Halepis
Harriette Halepis

A frame tent is a temporary, mobile, relatively lightweight shelter that is ideal for a number of different purposes from camping to larger tent events. While ropes are not generally required to set-up a frame tent, some of these tents may need to be secured with the help of ground pegs. Instead of using the traditional rope system, a frame tent relies upon strong steel poles for support.

Frame tents have two layers of durable weatherproof material. The first layer acts as insulation inside of the tent, while the second layer wraps around a steel frame that is created from the tent poles. Some frame tents may have various areas including a sleeping area, kitchen area, and common area. In addition, some versions may also include a small window or other opening.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

As far as tents go, frame tents tend to have very large walls. The average frame tent has sides that reach up to six feet, and larger tents can have walls that exceed thirty feet. Frame tents also have large sloping roofs that can be up to seven feet high. Due to the height of these structures, frame tents make excellent event and camping tents for larger groups. The one drawback to a frame tent is the fact that these tents can weigh upwards of 200 pounds (91 kg).

While frame tents provide adequate protection against the elements, and they also provide lots of head and leg room, these tents were not made for hiking or mountain climbing. For these particular sports, a light-weight specialized tent is a better option. Instead, a frame tent is an ideal option for campgrounds and level camping surfaces. One benefit to the weight of a frame tent is the fact that these tents are not easily blown over.

Frame tents can be made from all kinds of fabrics, though most of them are made from canvas or polyester. Poles tend to made from steel, though aluminum pole frame tents do exist. An aluminum frame tent does not include any center pole, and these tents can be pitched on any type of surface making them quite practical.

Additionally, aluminum frame tents can be placed next to any building, or adhered to another tent. Frame tents range in size from two person tents to tents that are large enough for recreational functions such as weddings. Smaller frame tents are easy to assemble, and many of these tents can be pitched within ten to twenty minutes.

Discussion Comments


How much would a frame tent cost? I have a fairly large family, and we have a lot of get togethers every year. I think it would nice if we had a big tent that we could set up in the summer. We usually end up standing outside, and it can get too hot for some people.

From this article, it doesn't sound like it would be too hard to set one up if we could find where to buy one. Even a used tent would be okay if it were in good condition.


There is a company in my town whose whole business is supplying frame tents. I didn't know that is what they were called until reading this article, though.

I have seen them used for dozens of different activities. Like the article mentions, they can be used almost anywhere. I have seen them at weddings, fairs, and big outdoor events. The company in my town even has a selection of different covering fabrics and colors depending on the occasion. It seems like a pretty good example of someone finding a niche market and making a successful business from it.


What is special about the aluminum tent poles that allows them to stand next to buildings and without a center pole? I figured that both aluminum and steel poles would work the same way.

I always thought of aluminum as being weaker and more prone to bending than steel. Am I wrong on that?

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