The History Of The Humble Tent

The evolution of the tent in history has been quite fascinating to see. What began as a need for shelter and a way to keep people out of the elements has definitely come a long way.  

Tents were created as a necessity for survival. Man has always fashioned tents to provide shelter and protection from his environment. Tents have been a part of civilization as early as 40,000 BC. 

At that point, they were mostly made of mammoth hides. The ancient Roman and Greek armies used tents covered in animal skins.


Discovery of teepees and yurts also influenced tent design of the time. It allowed soldiers and pioneers more mobility in their movements west. 

The adaptability, durability and portability of these models allowed for continued evolution and modification of the tent.


The Civil War also required the use of tents on a large scale, although their popularity was somewhat dubious. 

They were reportedly called “pup tents” because it was said they were not fit to shelter dogs. Seems a little harsh, perhaps.


Whether nomad or gypsy, the tent maintained a similar standard with wooden and metal poles and durable fabric to cover them.  

Military forces and armies were responsible for many of the upgrades and innovations made to tents. They recognized that durable and weather resistant fabrics were needed to endure frequent packing and unpacking. 

This continued to contribute to the evolution of the tent as we know it today.


Recreational tents became very popular in the mid 1960’s. Tents became symbolic with the increased allure of outdoor recreation and connecting with nature. 

They symbolized man returning to nature’s rugged expanse on a voluntary basis. The tent has made some of the most significant strides in development over the past 60 years. 

While it is true that the tent still provides the essential function of providing shelter from the elements, it now allows families to seek the outdoors and nature – wherever the venue.

1960s camping

Coleman Tents were at the forefront of these changes, and made adaptations with durable materials like nylon, and creating lightweight poles with fiberglass or aluminum alloys made for a better tent and easier assembly. 

Coleman popularized the recreational tent and these new improvements made camping a very popular pastime as early as the 1960’s. 

The lightweight transportability, and man’s desire to reconnect with the outdoors made this a perfect marriage. The improvements have continued and Coleman continues to be on the forefront of innovation. 


Tents are now available for a variety of outdoor recreational needs.  They are accessible and affordable to all individuals and families. 

Tents are not just survival shelters anymore. They are now an accessible and lightweight option for all of your recreational and outdoor needs. So accessible, lightweight and portable that they fit in a small carry bag.  

So, let’s take a moment to thank our tenting pioneer forefathers who made these innovations possible.  

Thousands and thousands of years of trial and error have come together to make these 21st century tents a reality. Fast forward to now.  Your options are as limitless as your imagination.

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