Firstly what’s the difference between a tunnel tent and a geodesic tent? Simple a dome or geodesic tent can stand on it’s own without the need to peg the tent out. A tunnel tent on the other hand will only stand up if it’s pegged out and all guy ropes are put in place.
Generally speaking top mountaineering tents will be geodesic in design to cope with conditions where pegs may not be possible. Having more support from the structure in high winds/rain/snow. The jury is out on which is more durable. A tunnel tent will require you to be able to pitch the tent parallel to allow the wind to flow over the tunnel.
If you’re a backpacker and you know you’ll rarely be camping on rocky ground or ground so dry it’s impossible to peg out then a tunnel tent may be for you. Why? Because tunnel tents offer a larger space to weight ratio due to having less reliance on the heaviest parts of the tent, the poles! So if weight is important you’ll save around 1kg on a tunnel tent of the same cost vs a geodesic tent in the 3 man range.
If for any reason you know you’ll be pitching on tough ground then go with a geodesic tent. Other benefits of a geodesic tent include, not needing loads of a guy ropes. Seems silly but if you’re car camping or camping in still conditions not having to peg guy ropes makes manoeuvring around the camp easy.
We recently were camping in Yellowstone, at night Bison came through the camp and came really close to the tent. Had their been loads of guy ropes, things may have gotten interesting when he walked into them at 2 in the morning!
Personally having used both of Vango’s top 3 man geodesic and tunnel tents I would only every recommend to people a geodesic tent. We have the Vango Mirage 300 and have reviewed it so you can see our detailed thoughts on it.
All comparisons have been made based on the Vango mirage and banshee range. Available in the UK.