Bell tents are one of the most stable tent designs around. The immensely stable design is based on the North American tepee (or tipi) and the similar Scandinavian shelter called a lavvu (which was developed to withstand violent arctic winds common to Scandinavia).
The basic circular shape works extremely well because it allows the wind to ‘roll around’ the tent, meeting with minimal wind resistance. The circular bell tent profile means that the wind energy disperses ‘around’ the tent rather than building up ‘against’ a single side or area of the tent – unlike a lot of modern tents.
Most bell tents these days have moved on from the originals in that they have A-frames at the entrance – which means that they have a raised entrance area (providing you with important added headroom) with vertical door flaps at the front. This in turn makes the entrance much more waterproof when the doors are opened in wet weather – because the absence of an A-frame (as with a tepee) means when the doors are open the rain has direct passage straight down to your groundsheet – in effect soaking your ‘internal floor space’!
Even though bell tents now mostly have A-frames at the entrance, for reasons stated above, they are still a very, very stable design (though I’d like to point out that we at Pukka do not currently sell multi-door versions of our bell tents as we are not sure how much this actually affects overall stability in windy conditions). Plus at Pukka we don’t offer a hugely confusing range of bell tents – we just sell the best and the most popular. We always have great ‘bundle’ deals available too.
It is also true that the smaller the tent, the more stable it will be – simply because of the reduced surface area. So a 4 metre bell will be more stable than a 5 metre bell, a 5 metre bell will be more stable than a 6 metre bell – and so on. Having said that, the 4 and 5 metre bell tents are both extremely solid tents. Where at all possible it is also better to pitch your bell tent with the entrance facing away from the direction of any prevailing wind – though as we all know wind direction can change.
Apart from stability, other pluses include the generous headroom, the great feeling of space and of course the incomparable feeling of being ‘under canvas’!
So if you’d like a great camping tent… try a bell tent!