A tent is a shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over, attached to a frame of poles or attached to a supporting rope.
Tents are used for a wide variety of purposes, including recreation, exploration, military encampment, and public gatherings such as circuses, religious services, theatrical performances, and exhibitions of plants or livestock.
Tents have also been the dwelling places of most of the nomadic peoples of the world, from ancient civilizations such as the Assyrian to the 20th-century Bedouins of North Africa and the Middle East.
Almost all modern tents are variations of three basic designs. The wedge tent is shaped like the letter “A.” The pyramid tent is wide at the bottom and draws to a point at the top. The baker tent is open in front and may or may not have a flap that closes. From these three designs, many other styles have evolved. Among these are the campfire tent, the wall tent, the miner’s tent, and the explorer’s tent.
Tents for recreational camping fall into two categories:
• Tents intended to be carried by backpackers are the smallest and lightest type. Small tents may be sufficiently light that they can be carried for long distances on a touring bicycle, a boat, or when backpacking.
• The second type are larger, heavier tents which are usually carried in a car or other vehicle. Depending on tent size and the experience of the person or people involved, such tents can usually be assembled (pitched) in between 5 and 25 minutes – disassembly (striking) takes a similar length of time. Some very specialised tents have spring-loaded poles and can be pitched in seconds, but take somewhat longer to strike (take down and pack).
Camping in luxury tents, otherwise known as ‘Glamping’, is the perfect way for you and your friends and family to get out in the great outdoors without sacrificing all creature comforts.
Tents are a continuation and an evolution of earlier structures that were originally built using animal hide, animal bones and tree branches. Bones from massive Woolly Mammoths were used as support materials to build shelters, by both Neanderthals and early humans during the ice age. The oldest known example of this type of shelter was found in Moldova and dates to around 40,000 BC.
Tents that look a lot more similar to our modern idea of a tent have been used at least as far back as the early Iron Age and probably a lot longer.
They are mentioned in the Bible – for example, in Genesis 4:20 Jabal is described as ‘the first to live in tents and raise sheep and goats’.
The Roman Army used leather tents, copies of which have been used successfully by modern re-enactors.
Various styles developed over time, some derived from traditional nomadic tents, such as the yurt.
A bell tent is a human shelter for inhabiting, traveling or leisure that has been used since 600 AD.
American Indians developed two types of tent, the conical tepee and the arched wickiup, the latter constructed of thin branches or poles covered with bark or animal hides.
Dating back as far as the Civil War, pup tents still play a significant role in the types of covered shelters modern militaries use around the world. Originally, pup tents were created as very small tents, often no taller than three and a half feet high – although some reports state that they may be as long as 7 feet in length and 5 feet in width – and were covered with a cloth, tarp, or canvas of some kind to keep people from being exposed to the elements. However, historic pup tents are notorious for their lack of waterproofing and are often referred to as “shelter halves” because of their menial construction.
A version of the bell tent, the sibley tent was invented by Henry Hopkins Sibley, who had studied the Native American tipi during the expeditions he carried out in the American Old West. He patented his tent design in 1858.
By World War I larger designs were being deployed in rear areas to provide shelter for support activities and supplies.
The largest travelling circus tent belonged to Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus (USA), covering 8,492 square meters (2.10 acres). Consisting of a round top 61 m (200 ft) in diameter with five middle sections each 18 m (60 ft) wide, it was used on USA tours from 1921 to 1924. The biggest circus tents currently in use have a floor area of just over half this size.
The largest circus audience in a tent was 16,702 (15,686 paid), for Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey, at Concordia, Kansas, USA on 13 September 1924.
The longest line of tents measures 1,482.44 metres (4,863 ft 7.78 in) and was achieved by Wugong Mountain (China) in Pingxiang, Jiangxi, China, on 21 October 2018. In total, there were 721 tents on the wooden walkway of the mountain for the attempt. Due to the weather conditions, it took more than 10 hours for the organizer to install all the tents in the line and the measurement took another 2 hours.
The largest tent number consists of 528 tents and was achieved by CHINA Feihe (China) in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, on 28 May 2021.