The Eureka Timberline 4 backpack tent is the flagship a-frame tent of all time. It is also one of the most popular tents of all time. Eureka will claim that they have sold over 1 million of these tents. All things considered, it is not the most attractive tent in the world, but it sure garners a lot of attention (and purchases for that matter). What is it that makes it so popular? Better question: What makes the a-frame such a good design to use for camping?
1. Recognize-ability: Of all the dome tents, outfitter tents, and pup tents, nothing says there's no place like home than an a-frame (except for a wall tent I suppose). This tent design has been used for a lot of years. You could almost say that it brings a sense of emotional comfort for those who use it. Just ask those who have a Eureka Timberline 4.
2. Body Conformity: Not that dome tents and lightweight backpack items are not OK to sleep in, but a long a-frame is all the body needs to lay down. For the same amount of floor space, an a-frame will beat a dome tent any day. I can not count the times I have had to cram my long frame into one of those small dome tents that claim to have good floor space. The Eureka Timberline 4 is one of the best tastes for just this kind of thing.
3. Aerodynamic: This one is a little counter-intuitive. There are many who would claim that an a-frame does not hold up in a windy environment. While this can be true, there are one or two situations where an a-frame would indeed be better than a dome tent. If you camp in an area that has a very predictable wind pattern, simply align the tent long ways with the flow of the wind and the sleek a-frame slices through the wind like a knife.
4. Simplicity: If humans were all made of edges and corners, master seamstresses would be a non-necessity. It's the curves of the human figure that makes sewing fabric together expensive, time consuming, and potentially wasteful. Other designs of tents require fancy tailoring, extra work, and more time consuming and expensive efforts. A-frame tents conform to traditional geometric figures and shapes. This reduces time, cost, material, and weight. These are all things that every camper and backpacker look for in a tent. These are some of the keystone reasons the Eureka Timberline 4 is one of the most sought after tents ever.
A-frame tents do not really conform to the sleek new camp style of today, but they seem to capture the interest of campers every year. Their basic design, good use of space, and old-fashioned, recognizable design make them invaluable in today's camping world. Next time you are scoping out tents, remember the simplicity of the a-frame tent. Remember the camping days of old. Remember what makes a good tent good.