Are Cabin Tents Good? 11 Pros and Cons (with REAL Pictures!)

In this blog post, I’ll be breaking down all the pros and cons of cabin tents, and how they compare to other tent shapes.

I’ll also be going through whether they’re any good, and if you should buy one yourself. Strap in, and let’s get started.

The author pushing her Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 back after it blew away.
That’s me pushing the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 back after it blew away.

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RELATED: Best Cabin Tents

Pros of Cabin Tents

Cabin tents have 6 main pros, and here’s all of them.

1. Higher Peak Heights

I’ve noticed that cabin tents tend to have, on average, higher peak heights than dome tents.

I’ve bought and tested quite a few cabin tents in a 6-person capacity, and here’s the peak heights of all of them, from highest to shortest:

6-Person Cabin TentPeak Height
Eureka Copper Canyon LX 684 inches
REI Co-Op Wonderland 681 inches
Caddis Rapid 677 inches
The peak heights of my 6-person cabin tents.

The peak heights range from 77 to 84 inches, with an average peak height of a whopping 80.4 inches. That’s almost 7 feet tall.

The author standing under the peak height of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6.
Me on tiptoes and stretching out as much as possible to touch the top of the Eureka LX 6 (I couldn’t).

Now, what about my 6-person dome tents? Here’s the peak heights of all of them:

6-Person Dome TentPeak Height
The North Face Wawona 677 inches
Coleman Sundome 674.5 inches
REI Co-Op Base Camp 673 inches
NTK Cherokee 670 inches
The peak heights of my 6-person dome tents.

What a difference. Notice that the tallest peak height in a dome tent (77 inches in the Wawona 6) is equal to the shortest peak height in a cabin tent (77 inches in the Caddis Rapid 6)?

The author standing under the peak height of The North Face Wawona 6.
Me easily touching the top of the Wawona 6.

And the average peak height across my dome tents only is 73.5 inches. That’s a whole 7 inches shorter than the average cabin tent peak height.

2. More Headroom

Not only do cabin tents have much higher average peak heights than dome tents, their vertical side walls also extend this high peak height across the entire tent.

Here’s what the vertical side walls in a cabin tent looks like:

What the side walls of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 look like.
One of the vertical walls of the Eureka.

Let me explain how this works.

With dome tents, they do not have vertical walls. Instead, the peak height is only at the center of the tent, and this tapers down loads as you move out towards the sides of the tent.

The tent shape of The North Face Wawona 6.
The dome tent shape of the Wawona 6. Notice they’re not as straight as the Eureka’s.

For example, my Wawona 6, you saw the peak height of the tent earlier. Now, what happens is that when I take just 2 small steps away from the peak height, my head would touch the side of the tent.

The author standing in the corner of The North Face Wawona 6.
Here’s where my head touches the top of Wawona. Look at my feet. Notice they’re nowhere near the corner yet, and yet I can’t stand upright anymore.

On the other hand, with a cabin tent like the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6, you saw the peak height earlier as well.

Now, because of the vertical side walls, I have standing room throughout the entire tent. Even as I walk towards the very edges (the corners) of the tent, I can still stand upright. Here’s me standing right at the corner:

The author standing in one of the corners of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6
Me easily standing upright in the corner of the Eureka.

And that’s why cabin tents have so much more headroom than dome tents.

3. More Usable Space

With more headroom in a cabin tent also comes much more usable floor space. Here’s another experiment that I did with my cabin tents and dome tents.

In my dome-shaped Wawona 6, because of the sloping walls of this tent, when I slept at the sides of the tent, it felt really claustrophobic.

My hand would still graze the wall when I raise my arm up, and here’s a closer look at what sleeping at the sides would look like. Not exactly the most spacious.

The author sleeping at the side of The North Face Wawona 6
Me lying at the side of the Wawona. Look at the wall sloping above me.

On the other hand, here’s a look at what sleeping in a cabin tent with vertical walls looks like:

The author sleeping at the side of the Gazelle T4 Hub Tent
This is me lying at the side of my Gazelle T4 Hub Tent. Notice the wall doesn’t slope down above me?

Notice that my hand isn’t even close to grazing the wall when I raise my arm up? In fact, it’s so many inches away from the wall. This definitely felt a lot less claustrophobic to me, and I was able to sleep at the very side of the tent.

And that’s what I mean by more usable space. With dome tents, you have very little usable floor space at the sides, while you can use the sides with cabin tents.

4. Large Windows

Moving away from the issue of spaciousness, we’re going to be talking next about ventilation on hot days.

First up, I notice that cabin tents tend to have larger windows than their dome-style counterparts.

Because of the 4 vertical walls around the cabin tent, there’s usually ample room to fit 4 large windows around the entire tent.

The author measuring the dimensions of the windows in the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6.
Me opening up the relatively large windows of the Eureka.

This is awesome for better airflow and for letting in lots of natural light during the day.

On the other hand, dome tents have sloping walls, which feature much smaller windows, since their walls taper up towards the top. Here’s what a typical window in a dome tent would look like:

The opening up the back window in the Coleman Sundome 6.
Me opening up the back window of the Coleman Sundome 6.

5. Ceiling Mesh

And still on the issue of ventilation, cabin tents do not just have larger windows, but they also usually have copious amounts of ceiling mesh as well.

So, in addition to the 4 large windows on each wall of the cabin tent, they also usually have a large skylight at the top of the tent too.

What the ceiling mesh of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 looks like without the rainfly.
The Eureka without its rainfly.

This is a little bit more rare in dome tents, and especially the budget-friendly ones. They usually have fairly decently-sized mesh panels, but not huge open areas of mesh for stargazing.

This is what the Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent looks like with the rainfly off.
The Sundome without its rainfly. Notice the front (in the picture) and back walls (not in picture) are made of full mesh.

6. Range of Capacities

I also noticed this trend when it comes to cabin tents – they tend to come in a larger range of capacities than dome tents.

For example:

  • The North Face Wawona (my favorite dome tent): Comes in 4, 6, and 8-person capacities
  • Eureka Copper Canyon (one of my favorite cabin tents): Comes in 4, 6, 8, and 12-person capacities

Eureka! Copper Canyon LX 12
  • Durable, steel and fiberglass frame features pole sleeves corner hubs, and quick clips for simple 2 person set up.
  • Steep walls create lots of standing room and are ideal when camping with air mattress and cots.
  • Two massive doors at the front and rear that make it easy for everyone to get in and out.
  • Large mesh windows with waterproof curtains offer scenic views and plenty of ventilation.
  • Measures 14 feet by 12 feet (floor) and 7 feet tall
  • Packs to 11 by 29 inches; minimum weight of 36 pounds, 13 ounces.

On top of that, some tent manufacturers (Coleman, Core, and Ozark Trail) also offer cabin tents in 10, 12, and 14-person capacities, but rarely offer dome tents in such large sizes.

What 10 single sleeping pads looks like in the Outdoor Products Instant Cabin 10
This is a picture of my Outdoor Products Instant Cabin 10 with 10 sleeping pads (a mix of 2 single, 3 double sleeping pads, and 1 full mattress) inside the tent.

I think that’s because tent brands figure that folks who buy cabin tents tend to want more space and roominess, so offering large capacities is the way to go.

7. Room Dividers

I also noticed this other trend – Cabin tents are more likely to come with room dividers than dome tents.

For example, when I was buying and testing my 6-person tents, I noticed that The North Face Wawona 6 (dome tent) and the REI Base Camp 6 (dome tent) didn’t come with room dividers.

However, surprisingly, my REI Wonderland 6 (cabin tent) came with a room divider, despite being of the exact same size.

The author zipping up the room divider of the REI Wonderland 6.
The room divider of my Wonderland. There’s also 1 queen bed in each room in this picture here.

This is really great for privacy and splitting your tent into 2 separate rooms. I found that each room in the Wonderland could fit either 3 single sleeping pads, or 1 queen bed. That’s perfect for a small family of 4.

What 2 pads in each room of the REI Wonderland 6 looks like.
What 2 pads look like in each room of the Wonderland.

Take note here that if you buy a larger tent that’s at least of an 8 to 10-person capacity, they will likely come with room dividers, whether they’re a cabin or dome-shaped tent.

Cons of Cabin Tents

Now, moving onto the cons of cabin tents, here are the 4 main ones that you need to take note of, before you buy a cabin tent.

8. Blows Away Easily

The first and most important con is that because cabin tents have such massive, vertical side walls, these walls catch wind really easily.

As such, if your cabin tent is not staked down and guyed out, it will blow away even in a light wind. I’ve had experience with that.

The Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 blowing over in a light breeze.
My Eureka blowing away in a light wind.

If your cabin tent is staked down and guyed out, it can stake light to moderate winds decently well.

However, I still would not recommend using your cabin tent in strong wind, even if you do stake the entire tent down.

9. Smaller Rainfly

I also noticed that cabin tents tend to have smaller rainflies than dome tents.

Take a look at some cabin tents on Amazon or some other retailer. Look at their rainflies.

Notice that their rainflies are usually very short. They’re at most 5 to 10 inches long, and the only purpose these cabin tent rainflies serve is to cover the ceiling mesh panels.

The author's heavy rain test of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6
My heavy rain test of the Eureka.

In fact, they’re so short that they usually don’t cover any windows at all, so your windows will be drenched completely in the heavy rain.

The windows of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 soaked in the rain.
The Eureka’s windows drenched in the heavy rain.

That means you can’t open them in the rain, and rainy day ventilation will be limited for you.

And since the rainflies are so small, more water will run over the tent body and the seams on the tent, and this will leak into your tent more easily.

10. Longer Setup Time

Rain and wind protection is the biggest con for cabin tents.

However, there’s a couple of smaller cons, and one is the longer set up time.

For dome tents, a simple no-frills dome tent like the Coleman Sundome 6 has only 3 poles to set up:

  • 2 tent body poles
  • 1 rainfly pole
The 3 fiberglass poles of the Coleman Sundome 6-Person Tent.
The 3 poles of the Sundome 6. The first two are the tent body poles, the last pole (third from the left) is the rainfly pole.

On the other hand, a simple no-frills cabin tent like the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6 has 7 poles instead (double the number of poles to set up!):

  • 2 roof poles
  • 4 leg poles
  • 1 rainfly pole
The 7 poles of the Eureka Copper Canyon LX 6.
All 7 poles of the Eureka. From left to right: 4 leg poles, 2 roof poles, 1 rainfly pole.

The Sundome took me 11.5 minutes to set up, while the Eureka took me 14 minutes to set up, so that’s about 20% more time taken to set up.

One way to solve this setup problem is with instant tents.

Instant tents typically come in a cabin shape (there are very few instant dome tents), and all the poles, pole clips and guylines usually come pre-attached.

So, when setting up these instant tents, I didn’t have to insert any poles through any snaggy pole sleeves. All I had to do was to extend the pre-attached poles upwards, and the tent is almost set up:

The author setting up the Caddis Rapid 6
Me setting up a 6-person instant tent. This is the Caddis Rapid 6. I’m extending one of the pre-attached poles right now in this picture.
A close-up shot of one of the extending wall poles of the Caddis Rapid 6
A close-up of the extending pole. When it’s fully extended, the silver button (where the red arrow is pointing to) will pop out and lock the pole into place.

11. Slightly Heavier Weight

And of course, because cabin tents tend to have more poles than dome tents, they’re also usually quite a bit heavier.

For example, my Sundome 6 weighs 16.0lbs. for everything, while my Eureka LX 6 weighed 22.4lbs. for everything, which is about 40% more weight that you have to lug around.

Are Cabin Tents Good?

Now, are cabin tents good? Yes, they are good if:

  • You absolutely LOVE a spacious tent with lots of headroom.
  • You love moving around your entire tent without hunching over.
  • You’re usually camping on hot summer days.
  • You’re not camping in heavy rains.
  • You’re not camping in strong winds.

These are the conditions that cabin tents are great in. Overall, I quite like cabin-style tents myself, and I found myself listing way more pros than cons above.

If you find yourself camping in heavy rains and strong winds, but you still love spacious tents and would like a cabin tent, don’t worry because I’ve still got options for you.

Recommendation #1 – For heavy rains, you would want to get a cabin tent with a full rainfly.

These are not that common, since cabin tents are mainly for casual summer camping, but here’s a great one that you can consider:

Editor’s Choice
Big Agnes Bunk House Camping Tent, 6 Person
  • SPACIOUS! – Features two large doors and two vestibules.
  • SHELTER MODE – Shelter using just the fly, poles and included webbing harness (without the tent body)
  • FULL FEATURED – 2 removable corner pockets, 4 interior mesh pockets and 2 media pockets
  • READY TO PITCH with color-coding, pre-cut guy lines, and tensioners attached to fly. Also comes with reflective guy lines and webbing
  • SPECS – All seams taped. DAC lightweight aluminum pole set. Packed weight is 19 lb. 12 oz. and packs down to 27.5 x 17 x 10 inches.

And because this Big Agnes Bunk House has a full fly, you can also use it in slightly colder temperatures, because full rainflies keep the heat in much better than partial rainflies.

Recommendation #2 – For heavy rains, look out for cabin tents that have more guylines.

Typically, the more guylines your tent has, the more wind it can withstand. And I found that the REI Wonderland 6 has a whopping 14 guylines, better than any other family tent that I’ve ever tested so far.

The author guying out the REI Wonderland 6.
Me guying out the Wonderland.

Please take note here that I still do not recommend using cabin tents in strong winds, but I figure I should still give you some options in case you absolutely need to.

Who are Cabin Tents For?

Folks who usually buy cabin tents tend to fall into one of the following categories:

  • Larger groups of people (like large families)
  • Tall folks who dislike constant hunching over
  • Folks who like casual camping or fairer weather camping in the summer

If you do not fall into these categories, you might be better off buying a dome tent instead, and here are the differences between a dome tent and a cabin tent.

When NOT to Buy a Cabin Tent

Now, here are some conditions where you absolutely should not buy a cabin tent.

If you’re camping in terrible weather with super heavy rain and huge gusts of wind, do not buy a cabin tent. I listed some exceptions and recommendations above, just in case you need to.

The North Face Wawona 6 in the heavy rain.
My Wawona withstood 3 days of heavy rain and 50mph winds.

If you’re hiking and need to go light, cabin tents and family camping tents tend not to be light. You should not buy one.

Must read: If you’ve made up your mind that you want to get a cabin tent, I’ve created an entire blog post on some of the best cabin-style tents in the market. This took me thousands of dollars and months of research, so I hope you like it.

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