Frame Tent vs Pole Tent: Which is Best?

The battle of frame tent vs pole tent has been an ongoing one, especially when people don’t understand the differences between the two. The differences have to do with where the tents are situated and the aesthetics that they create.

The type of tent you use will also probably be determined by the application of the tent, and that is how the tent will be used and for what occasion. You would also be a tad bit biased and choose the tent that costs the least. Nevertheless, there are some tent basics you should know before getting a tent.

First, not all tents are suitable for all surfaces. It is, therefore, necessary for you to conduct some basic research to determine which tents are best for which surfaces. Also, you would want to ensure that your rental service or seller provides you with the option to have side walls because you just never know if it would rain while you’re in the tent.

With all those in mind, let us now learn the differences between a pole tent and a frame tent so that you can decide which is best for your outdoor adventure.

Frame Tent vs Pole Tent

What is a Frame Tent?

As the name implies, a frame tent has a framed appearance that is usually square or rectangular looking. The poles are on the outside of the tent so as not to compromise the interior of the tent. Hence, a lot of labor is required to set up the tent with precision.

The frame of the tent is usually made of aluminum pipes. These pipes may be visible on the inside, but it is easy to cover them with a pipe or fabric liner. These tents are a bit more reasonable to set up and can be laid in almost any area including grass, asphalt, and concrete because they are free standing.


The frame tent offers the advantage over the pole tent in that it lacks a center pole that would obstruct anyone’s view or restrict space in the tent. The tent allows you to have flexible layout options in that it can be placed on basically any surface and because of its free-standing design, unlike the pole tent that has to be staked. Aesthetically, the tent is better to look at as most of its hardware is not visible or can be easily hidden with decoration. Though hiding the internal hardware may drive up the decorative cost.


The frame tent sounds amazing to use, but it does have several disadvantages that will help make the pole tent more favorable. With its shape and structure, it has a lot more hardware and components which makes setting it up a bit more difficult and longer than setting up a pole tent.

It may also mean that you can suffer transportation issues as it may be a bit difficult to get a truck that is large enough to transport all its components, making it expensive to rent. Frame tents are also generally small, and the largest tent you may be able to rent would be 40 feet or 12 meters.

What is a Pole Tent?

A pole tent is usually your first choice for grassy areas. The tent is secured or anchored with stakes that are driven into the ground. Ties are also attached to the tents to provide additional support to it. This is why these tents are mostly suitable for areas with dirt and not asphalt or concrete surfaces.

The tent is usually designed with one center pole. Aesthetically, a pole tent is more pleasing for the eyes to look at on the outside because of its dips, peaks, and curves. Usually, on the inside, besides the center pole, there are no other metal pipes showing.


Pole tents offer several advantages over framed tents. Firstly, they are cheaper to rent or buy when compared to a framed tent. The tents are also easy to install, and there are several “do-it-yourself” videos available on the internet to assist you with self-installation.

The tents are also really large, and you can purchase one that is as big as 80 feet or 24 meters wide. Though if you don’t want a tent as big as that, smaller options are available. The tents are also easy to transport as they have fewer parts; thus, taking up less space than the framed tent.


Though the pole tent seems advantageous, it also has its disadvantages. Installing the pole tent requires a large installation space. If the space for your installation is not large, then you should not bother to use a pole tent. Additionally, the area should be grassy because staking is required, and it is difficult to stake harder surfaces like concrete or asphalt.

Finally, the space inside of the pole tent may be obstructed by the center pole. While it can be used for decorative purposes, when setting up tables, the center pole can be a nuisance and it would obstruct views.


There is no best way to answer which tent is better to use between the frame tent and pole tent because the answer is based on where they are used and how they are used. It would also boil down to a case of personal preference.

If you prefer to have a center pole supporting your tent, then a pole tent may be the best option for you. However, if you prefer to have the inside of your tent free from visual obstructions or center poles, a frame tent will be more appropriate. The problem is, they are small, so if you require a large tent, then the pole tent is more suitable.

If you need to rent a tent, usually, your tent rental company will advise you of the best tents to use based on the surface it will be placed on, your budget and the occasion. The best news is that both tents come with side walls!

Overall, if you are investing in your own tent, the best way to compare frame tent vs pole tent is to consider the cost of buying the tent as well as the time it takes to set up the tent, and where you are going to set it up. For personal use, a pole tent may be better because it’s cheap and easy to set up, but you will have to put contingencies in place to set up the tent on asphalt and concrete surfaces.

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