Summer time is practically here and for many that means it’s camping season—time to pull the camping tent from the mothballs for another season of communing with nature. Since we’re all familiar with camping tents, it’s common to assume that structures, like air domes, that look similar, are practically the same thing.
After all, both are dome shaped structures with fabric walls, so they must be the same thing, right? Wrong! While they both have obvious similarities, those commonalities run out pretty quick.
Yes, both tents and domes have fabric walls, but the fabrics used in both are not close to the same at all! Of course, they’re both wind and waterproof to some degree but dome fabric tends to be a bit more ‘heavy-duty.’
Since domes are so much larger, and staying up is dependent on trapping the air inside, the fabric of a dome needs to be strong. Extremely strong. A large tear means more work for the inflation system, so a strong wall means repair jobs are seldom needed.
Tent fabric isn’t under pressure, so it can be thinner. This means that a collision or poke is more likely to damage a tent than a dome.
An obvious difference, but air-supported structures can be much larger that tents. While tents can get pretty big, generally speaking, domes are much larger than typical tents.
There’s always an exception, though. Check out these pictures of the world’s largest tent! But, it’s not very often that you’ll see a tent that’s big enough for a game of soccer or tennis. Domes are the king for temporary indoor sports facilities.
Frame…or Lack Thereof
Just like your skeleton keeps you from being a squishy puddle on the ground, a frame is what holds up any structure. In a tent, this would be poles or rods that give the fabric structure some rigidity.
An air structure doesn’t need a frame though, the mighty power of air is all that’s needed to hold up the most enormous of air structures. Hard to believe? We’ve already written about how powerful air really is.
Most people use tents for camping, or for temporary protection when sitting or working outside.
Because domes can be so big, there are limitless things that can be done with them! We already mentioned that the wide, open space is perfect for playing field sports like soccer or lacrosse, but domes are useful for plenty of other reasons too. You can use domes for large storage spaces or manufacturing facilities. At The Farley Group, we actually build domes underneath of a dome!
So you see, domes and tents are not the same thing at all! It’s very much like comparing apples and oranges, they both have obvious similarities but they are each fundamentally different. If you find yourself in a tent at some point this summer, be sure to stop yourself if you start thinking domes and tents are similar. They couldn’t be any more different!