Things to know before you buy a tent

Tents are usually supplied by your DofE Leader and carried between your group. You’ll need to check they’re not broken and have all their parts well in advance.

DofE recommended tents come in different sizes and layouts, for groups of two to four people, and are suitable for sleeping either mixed groups or just boys or girls. There are different styles of tents available including tunnel, geodesic, and semi geodesic, so look around to understand the right tent for you and your expedition.

Whilst it might seem like prices vary for similar tents, what you’re paying for are things like double-stitching, tensioning, waterproofing and lighter materials – the things you can’t see.


Tent jargon-busting

The number of features and differences between tents can seem bewildering at first glance. Here’s a short glossary of terms.

  • Tunnel tent: three similar height arched poles to create long and spacious tents. Great for lots of kit.
  • Semi-geodesic: a three-pole tent where the crossing poles create structure and rigidity. Good for exposed areas.
  • Geodesic: a four-pole interlocked tent. Very strong mountain tent for the most demanding of Gold expeditions. The extra pole and strength does add weight. Fully geodesic tents have five interlocking poles.
  • Hydrostatic head: this is a standard measure of water resistance. It tells you how many mm of water can be applied before it gets through the material. DofE recommended tents have a 5,000mm HH. Read our blog to find out more about tent features.
DofE recommended tents

All DofE recommended tents are lightweight, strong and very waterproof with a hydrostatic head (HH) of 5,000mm.

Vango Trek Tents Range

The Vango Trek Tents range focuses on functionality to ensure everything you need is on hand when you need it most. This range is lightweight and durable for wherever your multiday expeditions take you.

Vango Nevis/Cairngorm

  • Available in 1, 2 and 3 person
  • Compact tunnel tent design
  • Cairngorm features ripstop fabric and higher hydrostatic head rating



Vango Scafell/Nova

  • Available in 2 and 3 person
  • + models include extended porch area
  • Gothic arch style tunnel tent



Vango Helvellyn 

  • Available in 2 and 3 person
  • Stable semi-geodesic design



Vango Banshee 

  • Available in 2 and 3 person
  • More spacious tunnel tent design


Vango Earth Trek Tents Range

Vango Apex Compact

  • Available in 1, 2 and 3 person
  • Flysheet made from recycled single use plastic
  • Tunnel tent design with shorter poles for more compact pack size



Vango Apex Geo

  • Available in 2 and 3 person
  • Flysheet made from recycled single use plastic
  • Stable semi-geodesic design



Vango Halo 

  • Available in 3 person
  • Flysheet made from recycled single use plastic
  • Very stable geodesic design



Vango Omega 

  • Available in 2 and 3 person
  • Flysheet made from recycled single use plastic
  • Spacious tunnel design with added porch sections





How to look after your kit
  • You should dry the tent before packing it away during your expedition. If not, ensure the tent is dried completely after your expedition; this will stop the tent from getting mouldy and smelly for the next use.
  • Unpack and check tents when they’re returned to the kit store. The easiest way to do this is to pitch them if you have the space.
  • If a tent needs repairing or broken poles replaced, Vango Spares and Repairs can help. They repair and have parts for all brands of tents, not just Vango, and you can also save 10% with DofE code 19561966.
Poster downloads

Tent terminology poster

Understand what all the different bits of your tent are for with our handy jargon busting poster.